Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DRM

DRM Has Always Been a Horrible Idea 281

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the except-when-gabe-does-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For years, the reaction of the big entertainment companies to digital disruption has been to try and restrict and control, a wrong-headed approach that was bound to backfire. But the entertainment companies were never known for being forward thinking whether it was radio in the 20s or cassette tapes in the 70s or VCRs in the 80s or Napster in the 90s. The reaction was the always the same. Take a defensive position and try to battle the disruptive force. And it never worked. And DRM was perhaps the worst reaction of all, place restrictions on your content that punish the very people who were willing to pay for it, while others were free to use it without restriction. It was an approach that never made much sense, and it's good to know that mounting evidence proves that's the case."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DRM Has Always Been a Horrible Idea

Comments Filter:
  • No Shit (Score:4, Funny)

    by thatkid_2002 (1529917) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:16PM (#45710213)
    Sherlock.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dgatwood (11270)

      In other news, the sky is blue.

    • Re:No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh (602064) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:52PM (#45710473)
      The news is not that DRM is bad. The news is that people outside of IT are realizing it.
      • Re:No Shit (Score:4, Interesting)

        by FunkDup (995643) on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:14PM (#45710897)

        DRM is bad.

        I was watching this recently posted video [youtube.com] of Ray Kurzweil interviewing Robert Freitas, a "nanobot theoretician", about the current state of nanotech. Freitas suggested the use of DRM techniques as a way of preventing the malicious use of nanotechnology. Seems like a "good" application to me. There's another video [youtube.com] of RK interviewing Eric Drexler whichh is also interesting.

        • Re:No Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @12:37AM (#45711281) Journal

          Freitas suggested the use of DRM techniques as a way of preventing the malicious use of nanotechnology. Seems like a "good" application to me.

          Me too. That sounds like a well intentioned application that would be wonderful to realize. The problem is that in the real world, DRM of any sort only restricts legitimate users. This has been true with every instance of DRM anywhere in the world, ever. Would you trust DRM to protect us against nanobots with that track record?

          Of course not. So his point stands, DRM is bad.

          • Re:No Shit (Score:4, Insightful)

            by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @10:15AM (#45713359) Homepage

            In fairness, DRM is capable of preventing very casual misuse. The DRM on games keeps a kid from saying to his friend, "Oh, let me just copy that for you." If you could have something akin to DRM on guns, it might prevent little Jimmy from shooting himself accidentally while playing with it, and it might prevent a casual street thug with no expertise from stealing it.

            But you're right, it won't stop a determined individual with expertise from gaining access. Even at best, you can't think of it as an absolute control over access. No security is absolute. The problem, to my mind, is not the abstract intention of embedding security to control the use of a product or technology. The problem is using security in digital media to restrict the access of people who have "purchased" that media. Specifically, the problem is that the people designing the DRM aren't able to anticipate (and therefore allow) all the possible legitimate uses. If they've sold me a movie, they don't know all the devices I might want to watch it on. They don't know what kind of conversion I might want to do on it 5 years from now. They can't separate the unlawful distribution from a legitimate fair-use distribution. What's worse, many people suspect that the media companies are actually attempting to use the DRM to restrict fair-use on purpose to force us all to constantly repurchase the same media.

            So that's the problem. "DRM" is really just security. Security can be good, but poorly designed security will cause more trouble for authorized users than for unauthorized users. Security can also be designed, maliciously, to allow abuse by the designer. In short, the problem with "DRM" is that it's security for a product that I purchased, designed to benefit someone other than me. Putting a car alarm in my new car might make sense. Designing that car alarm so that the manufacturer can (and will) lock me out of my own car whenever they want... is not such a great idea.

        • Re:No Shit (Score:4, Insightful)

          by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @01:11AM (#45711395) Journal
          He's not a very good nanobot theoretician (seriously, where do these guys even come from?). If he were, he'd realize that the simple solution would be to teach one nanobot to break the DRM of another nanobot (through soldering, reprogramming, whatever). Then you'd have two nanobots that are free, and they can do the same to two other nanobots. Then you have four nanobots that are free, and it doesn't take long for the whole swarm to unleash itself.

          Part of the reason DRM never works is because, well, it doesn't work. There's always away around it.
      • by rtb61 (674572)

        That is not actually true. They always new DRM was bad, that it sucked and people would hate it, that is after all why DRM is called Digital Rights Management, a straight up marketing misdirection. The very name itself is in direct contradication to it's application. DRM is basically all about stealing the digital rights of the end user. That is why Digital Rights Management is not called what it actually is Copyright Enforcement Management. They knew from the get go it was bad, they knew people would hate

    • Did anyone actually need an article to realize this?

    • Watson.
    • Artsy people usually don't want to be confused with facts. So no matter how much evidence there is, it won't make any difference to the publishers.
      • *Publishers* are the ones that are stringently in favor of DRM, and they aren't remotely artsy -- they're MBA types the exist to squeeze every last cent out of both the consumers and the creators they represent.

        Writers fit the same spectrum of beliefs & reactions as anyone else, and can't really be distinguished from the rest of the population. They don't have much control over whether DRMis used on their novel unless they're self-publishing (which very few capable of getting a publishing contract choo

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      Did you buy or pirate that Sherlock. If the DRM were intact you couldn't even use the title, therefore we are issuing a cease and desist letter as well as requesting that formal charges be filed.
    • by erroneus (253617)

      Still, you have to appreciate from all of this what their thinking and understanding is. (1) They demonstrate their inability to see things (or to prioritize) from a consumer's point of view which shifts their leaning in the sociopathic direction. And (2) their business model relies primarily on artificial scarcity rather than quality of product or of service. Once again those drives speak of a weakness where human concerns and interests are relevant.

      Not that it's any surprise to anyone, but these types

  • um, yeah... so? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:25PM (#45710267)

    I expected a blog post with lots of citations and historical information... instead it's just some random guy's opinion... Hey, I have opinions too! Maybe I should submit them as slashdot stories?

  • by achbed (97139) <(sd) (at) (achbed.org)> on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:27PM (#45710279) Homepage Journal
    And the guy doesnt even mention current events. Fail. [arstechnica.com]
  • Define worked (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:27PM (#45710281) Homepage Journal

    Last time I checked Disney was still raking in the cash and redefining copyright length to ensure their cash flow.

    DRM does not work for a specific product, but backed with a vast array of lawyers and donations to lawmakers, it manages to persist and have a fairly high ROI - enough to give major bumps up to CEO pay.

    Will it be defeated eventually? Sure.

    Will it be defeated earlier by those who tend not to pay tons of money without thinking? Sure.

    But it is intended to be an irritant to defeating reasonable copying. And on that score, for those markets that have the money to pay easily and the attention span of a gnat, it works fairly well.

    Personally, I hate it, but that's another matter.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it is not DRM which is ensuring disneys profits. if it were, they would not need so long copyrights now would they?

      DRM was always irrelevant for disneys business model. their model is built around the copyright laws and not on if copying is practical.

      you can quite easily make your own mickey mouse pictures, mickey mouse trousers and whatever, no magic drm is stopping that.. but if you try selling those trousers then you're going to pay the man. that is the business model.

      drm never was the thing that made th

    • by swillden (191260)

      Last time I checked Disney was still raking in the cash and redefining copyright length to ensure their cash flow.

      Yeah, just look at the billions Disney is raking in from sales of Steamboat Willie.

      </sarcasm>

      Disney makes lots of money, and has been instrumental in extending copyright terms, but I see no evidence that the latter has anything to do with the former. Oh, they occasionally make a few millions by re-releasing one of their older films (Bambi, Snow White, etc.), and then pulling it off the shelf again, but that's a pittance compared to the money they make from new releases and all of the other media t

  • Yet another random opinion piece on how DRM sucks? I'm as anti-DRM as they come but stories like this were old a decade ago. No maybe if the article was something Jack Valenti wrote before he croaked, that would be worth talking about. But this is just another drop in the ocean.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Except that DRM is growing fast. OId story but more relevant than ever. More services using DRM, more restrictions, more control, more customers completely oblivious about it, and more customers who are actually fans of it (they are so happy to have online access that they cheer on companies that have DRM).

      • Except that DRM is growing fast. OId story but more relevant than ever. More services using DRM, more restrictions, more control, more customers completely oblivious about it, and more customers who are actually fans of it (they are so happy to have online access that they cheer on companies that have DRM).

        Please give examples where the use of DRM has increased. (I know one case, and that was with some eBooks, as a consequence of the iTunes store not supporting watermarking).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:39PM (#45710377)

    The reason we have piracy; when Copyright lasts longer than a single human lifetime, nothing ever produced during your lifetime will ever be released to enrich the public domain, therefor there is absolutely no benefit for an individual to participate in copyright.

    Netflix, Amazon, Steam, Hulu; these are a ruse to weaken and ultimately control piracy. They License for a set term their works to said services and can Revoke those contracts at any time as has been demonstrated today by the lively article about Disney removing already-paid-for streaming content from Amazon.

    It isn't "Mainstream Media" it's "Media Monopoly"; Get it Straight and stop using their words to make their crimes sound better than they actually are.

    Because those works cannot ever be copied, there will always be a dwindling supply; Imagine Star Wars, Ghost in the Shell, or Iron Man being forgotten and all copies of them being tossed down the memory hole 100 years from now. This has already happened with old movies from the 30's through the 70's and is starting to happen to what was made in the 80's and 90's.

    • Imagine Star Wars, Ghost in the Shell, or Iron Man being forgotten and all copies of them being tossed down the memory hole 100 years from now.

      It's already pretty hard to find a legal copy of the original version of Star Wars.

    • The reason we have piracy; when Copyright lasts longer than a single human lifetime, nothing ever produced during your lifetime will ever be released to enrich the public domain, therefor there is absolutely no benefit for an individual to participate in copyright.

      That's a pathetic lie. Piracy happens because people are too cheap to pay for goods. Nobody pirates Kanye West or Adele (both in the top ten of pirated music) because they have to wait 90 years for copyright to run out. They pirate it because they want to listen to the music _now_ without paying.

      Now if you can't get some work because it is under copyright but not for sale anywhere, that's one thing. But most works that get pirated are available to purchase, and the only difference is whether you want to

  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:57PM (#45710515)

    We don't have to look far into the past as to what happens when DRM enters the picture.

    Take the humble Commodore 64. The most common home micro of the 80s.
    Lots of users. Lots of software. Lots of piracy.
    What happened in the end is that lots of companies making software made lots of money, despite the piracy, until the computer faded into obscurity with a dwindling userbase that had moved on to more powerful computers.

    All DRM "disk copy protection" was eventually broken, and just about all game software ever released for the computer is downloadable online (you know where to look). The end result is that we have a nice digital archive, complete with emulators, left for historians or anyone who wants to relive what it was like to use the machine in the hight of it's heyday (or simply to see what all the fuss was about playing "Impossible Mission" or something)

    If it wasn't for the pirates and crackers willing to ignore the ridiculous copyright law time extensions, copy programs to different countries where they were not available for sale (over the pre-internet BBSes) chances are we might not have a digital archive, or at least be missing important bits. By the time the copyrights expire, the magnetic media, if anyone still had any left, would be corrupted by bit rot, and the equipment needed to read it may not be in a working state or readily available.

    So the Commodore 64 avoids a digital dark age, but I have my doubts about some heavily DRMed content going forward.
    In many cases, if something is heavily DRMed and people do not make the effort to break it, it will likely be lost to the digital dustbin of time.

    • by Mandrel (765308) on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:56PM (#45710827)

      Take the humble Commodore 64. The most common home micro of the 80s. Lots of users. Lots of software. Lots of piracy. What happened in the end is that lots of companies making software made lots of money, despite the piracy, until the computer faded into obscurity with a dwindling userbase that had moved on to more powerful computers.

      I've never owned a game console, but watching things it seemed to me that the reason the Playstation greatly outsold the Nintendo 64 was because the Playstation used crackable CDs while the N64 used cartridges. The weak DRM was a winner for Sony, while the game makers had their piracy losses offset by the bigger ecosystem.

      However I don't think this is a good argument that content makers lose more than they gain from DRM. Weak DRM can be a net gain for publishers if some of the gains had by making piracy inconvenient is given back to users as lower prices or automatic updates.

      • That's a salient point.

        Many people who bought a C64 back in the day mostly had a collection of pirate disks, with a few original games thrown in the mix.
        One can argue that people bought a C64 because of the huge pirate game library available... (but then that was true for the other micros of the period too, so it's not the whole story)

        Interestingly enough, even the few original disks in the collection made enough money for the software companies way back when.

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          One can argue that people bought a C64 because of the huge pirate game library available...

          I'd say it's closer to the fact that magazines like COMPUTE and Commodore had programs right inside you could copy right out, modify and openly distribute. I know that's what got me started. Not only what is seeing the program, but seeing how you could modify it with author comments in the page margins.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          Same applies to PC and Amiga, much easier to copy games than cartridge based consoles which was a key factor which drove sales of these platforms for gaming.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <[onyxruby] [at] [comcast.net]> on Monday December 16, 2013 @10:05PM (#45710571)

    DRM is probably the single greatest driver of privacy that their is. It has never particurlarly been very good at stopping people from accessing content. What is has been good at is creating artificial barriers that allow for greater market segmentation. It does things like allow for different regions for DVD's and Blu Ray's or making photoshop so expensive in Australia it used to cheaper to fly to America, buy a copy and fly back. DRM just has to be enough to make something clearly illegal and frustrate most users.

    It gives an excuse to force people to provide marketing information to be able to use a product that they paid cash for. It creates a market in file trading from unusable media is used to justify the greatest land grab of civil rights in history (Trans Pacific Partnership AKA SOPA 2). DRM is an excuse to change the very concept of "I own that' to "I lease that".

    You pair that with laws that will put people who break it into prison and now you have a society that is firmly in the grip of IP based companies. Throw in the patent wall that makes an upstart like Compaq all but impossible nowadays and you have an oligarchy that can effectively never be challenged due to insurmountable legal costs. You can't go around them with DRM or you go to prison, you can't fight it in court because it's a treaty and you can't beat them as a competitor. As long as they don't become a monopoly they are untouchable for decades at best.

    Just remember that Obama was the president that drove the greatest takeaway of civil rights in history...

    • > "DRM is probably the single greatest driver of privacy that their is"

      Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Yawn. Anther anti-DRM rant on Slashdot. The summary is boring and looks like Slashdot just randomly picked a comment from any article on piracy from within the past 15 years and reposted it. The article itself isn't even all that well thought out. Honestly, it looks kind-of amateurish. It talks about how revenues went up after DRM was removed. Of course, it ignores the fact that music has always had a giant analog hole, so there's an easy way to bypass any DRM.

    It'd be nice if these articles were a lit
    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      The thing is, it's been just as much of a problem since, well, just about forever. Think back to how they railed against DVD burners, CD burners, the VCR, hell even cassette tapes. And yet the industry survived all of them by releasing content. You want to know what's killing the industry? Go read this article [boingboing.net]. Now, how enthusiastic do you think your average person's going to be about buying content when they've just been reminded that the companies "selling" it to them will jerk it away the moment it suits

      • by jd2112 (1535857)

        You don't want to sell what people want to buy, don't be surprised when people take their business elsewhere. It doesn't take an MBA to figure that one out.

        No, Apparently it takes someone who isn't an MBA to figure that one out.

      • The music and movie industries are in decline simply because they won't provide content their customers want in the form their customers want it. And of course that results in them going out of business. You don't want to sell what people want to buy, don't be surprised when people take their business elsewhere. It doesn't take an MBA to figure that one out.

        The problem is that the entertainment industry seems to think they are selling inelastic products - i.e. they believe the demand is always the same and therefore any drop in sales can only be due to illegal copying. It never occurs to them that the other answer is that people simply don't want what they are selling...

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      It talks about how revenues went up after DRM was removed.

      It'd be nice if these articles were a little less narrow minded, [...] and would, at least, acknowledge the fact that piracy has been a huge problem for the industry.

      You don't dispute TFA's study that piracy increases music sales, yet you claim "piracy has been a huge problem for the industry."
      Which is it?

      See this graph to understand what I'm talking about (and this graph is a few years old, I'm sure it looks even worse than this, now): http://static2.businessinsider.com/image/4d5ea2acccd1d54e7c030000/music-industry.jpg [businessinsider.com]

      On its own, that graph proves nothing besides the fact that people are spending less on digital music and CDs.
      Your argument-by-assertion holds no water at all.

      • by bloodhawk (813939)
        What article? it is just another bloggers rant. I hate DRM but only an idiot would use that article as evidence to how bad it is.
    • by swell (195815)

      yeah well I'm pissed

      I come here for news and I get *this*? The 'proof' is two lame examples in a lame article with no pretense of any scientific or statistical basis. This subject has been rehashed here and elsewhere for decades and it is brought out to present us with this useless article. Yeah, I RTFA and I'm pissed. Someone owes me 7 minutes of my life back.

  • Because most of it's pathetic and can be stripped from the content in seconds. But the suits think it's effective so they release content with their laughable controls. I buy their content, strip it clean, and access the content how I want to. I buy movies, rip the content off the disc, and store it on my media server in a platform-agnostic format that I can play on my media player, laptop, desktop, tablet, phone, etc. I buy ebooks, strip the drm, store it on my media server, and read it on my computer,

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      It is effective at what it was designed to do - restrict paying customers so they are often forced to buy multiple copies of the same thing.
      It is not intended to stop organised piracy, these people will never be customers as they would rather do without the media than pay for it.
      Instead they have identified people who are willing to pay, and use drm to force them to pay more.

  • DRM is simply an artificial barrier to entry. A good investment requires a company with a good product and a high barrier to entry. In the 80's they had it good. It was too hard to copy movies and songs. Then it started becoming easier and easier and now it is almost as easy as a click and watch, or click and listen any content. So they are trying to stuff the rabbit back in the hat after it has procreated. It is game over.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2013 @11:40PM (#45711043)

    I purchased Futurama on BluRay after having purchased a reader for my PC. I was unable to watch the discs because of copy protection.

    This is the best argument for NOT paying for the content ever invented, that's for damn sure.

    • by green1 (322787)

      My TV provider has apps to let you watch TV shows and movies on your tablet, computer and phone, these are free with your subscription. I tried to do things legally, but the web app won't run on Linux on the PC due to it using DRM in silverlight, and refuses to run on rooted phones or tablets. Some of the TV shows also make sure you are on your home wifi before they allow you to play, and only 2 or 3 devices are allowed to be registered.
      I download the content instead. Now I get shows and movies I can watch

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @01:44AM (#45711485) Homepage Journal
    Wow, I know it must have taken a lot of courage to come out and take a stand against DRM here on Slashdot, but you just went ahead and did it, didn't you? Some day I'm sure there will be an epic song about this event which most of us won't hear because it's protected by DRM.
  • If you invest in DRM for your product you are making two bets. That your DRM creators are some of the smartest people in the world. And that even when people do figure out how to crack the DRM that it will slow people down enough that impatience with the cracking process will cause them to give up an buy.

    But it is highly unlikely that you have hired the best in the world. And any DRM process that is effective enough to slow people down consistently will probably also be a pain in the ass to manufacture.
    • And that even when people do figure out how to crack the DRM that it will slow people down enough that impatience with the cracking process will cause them to give up an buy.

      This is the utterly flawed thinking that the entertainment industry use. The consumer is not going to spend time cracking the DRM - if they want a DRM-free copy of the content (quite possibly for some pretty reasonable purpose) and the DRM can't be trivially stripped, the consumer will simply download an illegal copy which has already been stripped by someone else instead. And then they will start to wonder WTF they bothered to pay for a crippled copy in the first place if they were still going to have to

  • That's why, when deciding whether to put any on the digital version of my novel, I decided against it. I'd rather risk someone finding it and enjoying it for free than risk anyone being frustrated because of DRM.

    Also, frankly, I don't care about consumers. My only real worry, if you can even call it that, would be against someone trying to resell my work as their own, which is covered adequately by copyright protections. I don't care if people get a free copy for their personal enjoyment. (Though of course

  • Copyright, when it was introduced, was a kind of attempt on the part of publishers to hold onto some of the control that they used to have over their works by mere virtue of the fact that previously it had been too diificult, error-prone, and expensive to try to copy somebody else's work. It was a large money sink with very little commercial benefit, so previously, it was not a problem...

    Then the printing press came about, and a lot of that changed. Suddenly it was possible for people with access to su

"Can you program?" "Well, I'm literate, if that's what you mean!"

Working...