incite insight   iconoclastic synchronicity  

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The joke that is DRM...

There've been a lot of complaints about the BBC utilizing a proprietary streaming media system that only works on Windows. It's all about the DRM contained therein.

The funny thing is, with some of these DRM systems, even if you have the platform that it is supposed to work on, many people still can't make it work. I downloaded a legal FREE download of a TV program from AOL and found that it just wouldn't run on my Windows XP box due to some DRM issue with the computer (now, this is a FREE download, mind you). I'd like the program bad enough to actually PAY for a DVD of it if one were available. Whoever the content provider is can actually get MONEY out of me for this if what they provide isn't defective, but given they haven't I'm spending this weeks media budget on someone else's content. Doesn't matter if it's FREE, it's useless if it's defective. Ya gotta laugh at the arrogant and clueless minds that conceived of this stuff.

In my book, it's not about free stuff. I'm perfectly happy to pay for content. But, it must have these characteristics for that to happen:

1. Not just downloadable. I want something physical for my money-- a disk in the mail, primarily. Frankly, if I'm paying, one of the things I'm paying for is something that preserves the value of my purchase-- my purchase must be resaleable, and that legitimate disk is that resaleable entity. Etherial datastreams have little percieved value, and the media corporations insistence on it in the face of new distribution and replication technologies is IMHO the reason for the drop in their sales.

2. No time limit. It can't "stop working" after awhile, either based on elapsed time since purchase or the number of times it's been watched or listened to.

3. In an OPEN format. A format that can be made to play on future devices that don't even exist yet, possibly on a different media, that can be converted and that can be backed up.

4. Reasonable cost. DVDs <$20, CDs < $10 (don't ask me about HD, I'm in no particular hurry to go there and it doesn't yet meet #3). Note that most of these criteria are about preserving value. I rarely go to the movie theater because the experience does not justify the cost for me. I will go to a live concert or live theater performance, and there the cost is justified-- I can't see paying $8 or whatever movies cost these days to sit in a too-small theater and have to pay inflated prices for unhealthy snacks when I can buy the DVD and watch in the comfort of my own home and pause it when someone has to take a leak or refill their snack dish. Even at home though, I'm not willing to pay $5-$20 for media that I can only watch for a limited time, won't work with the next generation of playback systems, that I can't let friends borrow or can't resell. Just like I won't buy a book whos pages will fade to white after a couple of months, I won't buy crippled or short-term media.

Can such a combination be abused? Undoubtedly, but that's the age we live in-- even without P2P music trading, college students can still convert their CDs to MP3 and trade them en-masse to their local circle of friends, which can significantly propagate the content. Welcome to the information age, guys. GET USED TO IT. The RIAA isn't gonna fix it, and their pathetic attempts are *really* bad PR. And DRM doesn't stop the abuse, it just pisses off those who try to legitmately access the content and motivates them to look for alternatives that actually work.

That's my criteria for spending $$$ on content. I buy quite a bit of media that fits all the above criteria (though DVDs only do because of deCSS, and not all DVDs because many are overpriced). But I don't buy ANY media that does not, and waste no more time on supposedly FREE media that's simply, broken.

Want my money you big media corporations? It's simple-- all you have to do is EARN it.