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Can Hollywood Learn From Intuit? 232

Ironica writes "Readers will recall the furor over Intuit's activation scheme for TurboTax 2002, which prompted a lawsuit and subsequently was removed from TT2002 and all future products. Here's an interesting editorial on CNNMoney suggesting that other DRM proponents could take a page out of Intuit's book ... if they have the sense."
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Can Hollywood Learn From Intuit?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:15PM (#5994997)
    Would the MPAA/RIAA/etc want you to pay royalties for remembering things?
  • by Lord Kestrel ( 91395 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:15PM (#5994998)
    In Intuit's case, they actually saw a loss on the books, and realized it was a Bad Thing. Hollywood hasn't seen any such loss, and so doesn't understand.
    • by Motherfucking Shit ( 636021 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:18PM (#5995016) Journal
      In Intuit's case, they actually saw a loss on the books, and realized it was a Bad Thing. Hollywood hasn't seen any such loss, and so doesn't understand.
      I'm not sure about the MPAA, but the RIAA is claiming millions and millions of dollars in "losses." And they still don't understand. I know several people (myself included) who flat-out refuse to accept any crippled, copy-protected, DRM'd imitation of a real CD, even as the record labels continue pumping them out. Their losses are only going to grow.
      • How much of that "loss" was real, and how much was just made up bullshit? I don't think they can actually lose money, as the amount of content that is released every year by RIAA/MPAA is enormous, and there are always people there to snap it up. A normal user doesn't care what they can't do with a cd, as long as it plays in their Walkman/home stereo.

        • by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:31PM (#5995085)
          Maybe, but you might be underestimating what a "normal user" is these days. What you say might have been true in, say, 1998... but these days I think most people at least are aware of the fact that there is "free" music out there, many of them get it free while those people may pass it to their friends which might not be able to get it for free.

          Not to mention I think that those people who have enough money to buy any significant number of CDs at $20 a pop are very likely to be people that also have enough money to get a PC and use it.

          MP3s and P2P are no longer the realm of techies...

          • by Lord Kestrel ( 91395 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:10PM (#5995290)
            I get my concept of a normal user from supporting my sisters with their computers/tvs/vcrs. You would think that they could figure out how to operate them correctly, but they seem to lose all sense and knowledge when they approach anything electronic in nature.

            While I do know many younger people have no problems with, and infact embrace technology, it would seem to me like many/most people still haven't a clue how to download music, or copy it onto a cd.

            • dear god, i know exactly what you mean. I have family members calling me at all hours of the day to tell them how to run winamp or install morpheus and what not. There is definitely a large portion of older people who still don't know waht they are doing.
            • I would tend to agree with you, except this.

              Napster let the cat out of the bag. I put it on the machine I built for my parents in the early days of Napster, expecting that she maybe possibly might use it, but not really expecting her to.

              She used napster until it's dying day, I haven't put another p2p on the machine (burn it on cd, remember the cd, remember to install, hamster is in my name for a reason), but I'd be willing to bet she would be downloading again. The nice VCR I bought her still flashes 12:0
      • by deadsaijinx* ( 637410 ) <> on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:33PM (#5995094) Homepage
        somehow, they actaul claimed billions of dollars in loss. Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but how can they possilbe claim billions in loss and still support the lifestyles they do. Unless they were a trillion dollar industry, billions of dollars would be making a big dent in their lives. I could go on and on about how filesharing is helping them out, but I just wanted to mention their ridiculous claims of loss.
        • If file sharing is helping them out, why are revenues down? Your arguement makes no sense. They had no copy protection and revenue went down. Intuit started using copy protection and their revenue went down. Two entirely different situations.
          • by deadsaijinx* ( 637410 ) <> on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:32PM (#5995393) Homepage
            their revenues went down because the ENTIRE economy went down.

            the reason it helps is because of people like me. I never purchased a cd before, the radio took care of all my music needs. But with the advent of the internet, i was introduced to new artists. Because these artists aren't played on the radio, and because I wanted to support them, I bought their cd. Never would have paid for music otherwise.

            not to mention that people have been swapping music LONG before the dawn of the internet. tape to tape recording and such.
          • by tuba_dude ( 584287 ) <> on Monday May 19, 2003 @11:59PM (#5996471) Homepage Journal
            Revenues are down due at least in part to their slowing of the release schedules for the major artists. According to the statistics, they started slowing down the release schedules about 9 months before they began their attacks. Slower releases mean less revenue, and since it's usually overlooked, it can be blamed on something else, like filesharing.
          • by AftanGustur ( 7715 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @04:17AM (#5997179) Homepage

            If file sharing is helping them out, why are revenues down?

            Crappy product ? Seriously how many artists have some kind of a "message" today ?? Very few, They all look alike and are as much food for the mind as corbonated water with colorants is to the stomach.

            Your arguement makes no sense. They had no copy protection and revenue went down.

            No, actually while they had no copy protection, the revenue was at a all time high. It didn't start going downhill until Napster was shut down..
            Personally I think that's a coincidence but people should remember the things as they were.

            Intuit started using copy protection and their revenue went down. Two entirely different situations.

            Says who ? The recording industry for sure, but they (belive they) have a good reason to want you to belive that .

      • I know several people (myself included) who flat-out refuse to accept any crippled, copy-protected, DRM'd imitation of a real CD, even as the record labels continue pumping them out.

        I've only laid hands on one copy-protected CD, the VNV Nation "Genesis" single, and cdparanoia [] made a perfect copy of it, as if it had never been copy-protected at all.

      • The percentage of copy-protected CD's is extremely low. Blaming copy protection for RIAA losses is weak, especially given the popularity of p2p networks for trading songs. I think you don't understand. If there's a consumer backlash against the RIAA, it's in the form of people wanting to pay $0 for music instead of $15 and having the opportunity. I don't know anyone who refused to buy a cd because they were worried about copy protection. On the other hand, I know a lot of people who use p2p networks rather
        • by ChadN ( 21033 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:45PM (#5995790)
          You have now met one. I haven't bought a new CD in approximately a year (when I heard that copy-protected CDs were gonna hit the shelves en-masse; don't know if it has happened). Before then, I bought ~50 - 100 CDs a year (some new, some used).

          My strategy is to call in to radio shows that interview artists (whether "big time" or "small time"), and tell them that I would like to buy their CD, but probably won't, because of my concerns over not being able to eject a CD from my iBook (these are apparently VALID concerns). Many seem to be unaware of the situation, but the ones who are, aren't happy about it (they realize that their fans will blame THEM, even though they have little control over distribution).

          The business people will never be on our side (their jobs are directly threatened, not just because of revenue, but because their jobs are only relevant if they have control of distribution). But the artists need to know that we DO care about them, and are willing to support them, even if we hate their corporate masters. The artists DO have media clout (fans want to hear from them, not the marketing drones), and they are the ones who can bring these concerns to the attention of the masses. At least, I hope so.
    • by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:20PM (#5995022) Homepage
      In Intuit's case, they actually saw a loss on the books, and realized it was a Bad Thing. Hollywood hasn't seen any such loss, and so doesn't understand.

      One might argue that this is because Intuit has competition, while Hollywood is in fact several dominant companies working together in a de facto monopoly.
      Losing a customer to a boycott is nothing -- there's a line behind you, skippy.
      Losing a customer to your competition, now that's a real problem.

      • by ryanr ( 30917 ) * <> on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:22PM (#5995034) Homepage Journal
        Exactly. I'm not sure why they aren't regulated as public utilities, and why our anti-trust, anti-cartel laws have been so poorly enforced lately.
      • by ramzak2k ( 596734 ) * on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:38PM (#5995119)
        Hollywood is in fact several dominant companies working together in a de facto monopoly.

        thats it ! i am switching to Bollywood. I might as well pick up some hindi before I move to India for some good programming jobs.
      • by lightspawn ( 155347 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:38PM (#5995122) Homepage
        One might argue that this is because Intuit has competition, while Hollywood is in fact several dominant companies working together in a de facto monopoly.

        Providing an alternative to the MPAA that will be as attractive to an average consumer is not really feasiable, but for the RIAA it can be done.

        Imagine a P2P sharing network that contains only legal content (how? probably something to do with only allowing non-anonymous posting, and a DMCA-protected login (flame away), among other things). Consumers have a legal, non-threatening way to get so much new music RIAA can feel a two-digit-percentage sales drop (on top of the current situation). You'll effectively be cutting off the RIAA's "ear supply", if you will.

        In less than a year, they'll sign up for accounts to post some of their own tainted music.
        • Like people are going to download music they've never heard before instead of what they hear on the radio. The RIAA makes money by sorting through the crap, picking bands they think people will like, and promoting them. That's their contribution to the music field. I won't even go into the economics of bands producing music with no chance to earn money from their work.
          • Two points:

            The RIAA makes money by sorting through the crap, picking bands they think people will like, and promoting them.
            To be more accurate, the RIAA makes money picking the bands that most people will like enough to buy the album. This is different, in that someone who really likes one style of music won't be pleased, as the music they find of that style will have other styles blended in for largest audience.

            I won't even go into the economics of bands producing music with no chance to earn money from

          • The RIAA makes money by sorting through the crap, picking bands they think people will like, and promoting them. That's their contribution to the music field.

            Only in approximately the same sense that McDonalds does this for food. It makes them a safe choice but not necessaraly the best, or even good.

            I won't even go into the economics of bands producing music with no chance to earn money from their work.

            The vast majority of bands allready do this.

        • Imagine a P2P sharing network that contains only legal content (how? probably something to do with only allowing non-anonymous posting, and a DMCA-protected login (flame away), among other things).

          This type of system would actually be fair if, and only if, the underlying copyright and other IP laws were fair also. DMCA is not fair, it's even unconstitutional; copyright laws are not fair, it's not fair that congress can extend copyright unlimited times; nothing will ever go into public domain this way and
        • Are you suggesting a 2nd cartel that competes with the RIAA to be more evil and put out music so horrible as to make a soda can bleed?

          In all actuality, the internet itself is huge competition for the RIAA and major media organizations, and the only reason they aren't doing poorly financially is because (big suprise here) mainstream media companies don't report on what they are doing bad and they already have name. Going to MSNBC and beliefing whatever they tell you is so much easier than using google to
        • Imagine a P2P sharing network that contains only legal content

          Hmmmm.... you mean like []

    • I think that Intuit realised that if you treat all your customers as criminals, then they're not going to be very impressed. Perhaps Hollywood has been slow to realise this as there doesn't seem to be one single place where people can voice their complaints.
  • by TedTschopp ( 244839 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:17PM (#5995008) Homepage
    The problem can also be laid at the feet of the Copy protection software/hardware companies which see Hollywood an opportunity to sell their product into a new market.

    They have had a devil of a time trying to sell other software companies for the last 10ish years on the idea, but now they have a new market open and this market isn't as technically sauvey as the Software Industry was back in the late 80's early 90's when we all decided the copy protection wars were not feasible.

    Ted Tschopp
    • Indeed. I remember the copy protection wars of the 80's. All that software copy protection did was annoy legitimate users and give warez traders an opportunity to learn how to reverse engineer. The companies that dropped copy protection stayed in business, as a general rule.

      Now the (MP|RI)AA are going to learn the same lesson the hard way, it seems. Though I predict that they just won't get it, and will go out of business. And honestly, I can't wait. When they go under, we'll have a lot less bad mus

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:18PM (#5995012)
    Wasn't there a DVD recently released of a major picture (Harry Potter?) that has no protection and the publisher said it just wasn't worth the effort?
  • by ryanr ( 30917 ) * <> on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:20PM (#5995024) Homepage Journal
    No, Hollywood is incapable of learning.

    But seriously, I joke, I kid...

    Hollywood will learn eventually, after they've been subjected to extreme pressure, loss of profits, and humiliating defeat of any copy protection mechanism they can devise. The same goes for any group of companies that have forgotten they exist because their customers allow them to, and not by some natural right.
    • If you think nobody will pay for DRM controlled entertainment because they don't like it, you're wrong. We're already doing things we don't like to do so we can see movies.

      • Do you dislike watching trailers in the theater?
      • Do you dislike the fact that when you watch a DVD, you often can't skip opening sections on a disk?
      • Do you still go to the theater and rent/buy DVDs?

      I have to answer yes to all those questions, and so do a lot of people. Why do you think DRM will be any different?

      • Why did DIVX fail? There is actually a point when even regular consumers will decline to put up with a certain level of crap.
      • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:44PM (#5995787)
        >Do you dislike watching trailers in the theater?

        Not at all! I like them very much. Not the self-promotion in the local cinema's trailer, or the slideshow, but I do like the trailers. The ones that represent movies I dislike, I get to see what I'm not missing. All the groaning and cringing I would do during the movie, I'm done with, and I will NEVER be in a position where I think I might enjoy the film. The trailers for the films I *do* like, are part of the experience that is not included in the movie itself.

        I remember the first trailer for Alien, back in '77 I think. I knew that was a movie I had to see. Think about how you feel when you see clips for movies you really anticipate, like Star Wars (admit it), or LOTR.

        >Do you dislike the fact that when you watch a
        >DVD, you often can't skip opening sections on a

        What I dislike about it, is the theory that the production company owns both my DVD *AND* my $20.

        For rentals, I don't really give a crap. I think it would be cool if there was a writeable trailer section so the rental places could put localized adverts, current trailers, etc. It doesn't really bother me that I can't skip them, but it does bother me a lot that it's a crime in the US to make a device that can skip them. I don't really believe the DMCA will stand the test of time, but I also realize that "the test of time" takes a hundred years or more.

        >Do you still go to the theater

        Hardly ever. Only for the films that I really, really don't want to miss. The ones that come every 5-10 years, if that. LOTR. Maybe I'll go see the Matrix, probably not. Certain foreign films that I'll only ever see screened one time and might never make it to home video. This has more to do with my life priorities than my regard for the film industry.

        >and rent/buy DVDs?

        Again, there are certain films whose subjects or whose importantce transcend "entertainment" and are essential. I'd buy them for 4x the price. Rentals are cheap enough also, and I don't see the problem, DRM or no.

        My problem with the restrictions of digital copyright stems entirely from my views as a musician. I do not appreciate being constrained in my means of production by artificial barriers. Many of the barriers between amateur and professional music production are created specifically to raise the bar, and are not really based that much on technical merit.

        Also the whole attitude about copying music actually works against the independent artist who doesn't seek any money at all from his work, but would like it to be heard, shared, etc.

        Whenver I hear something that implies that "downloading copyrighted material" is always wrong, or a crime, I see red -- because that blanket statement would also cover my own copyrighted work. But what if I *want* it to be downloaded, P2P'd, etc? Copyright law is going in a direction that will severely curtail the rights of independent content producers.

  • by Ark42 ( 522144 ) <> on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:21PM (#5995029) Homepage
    I don't see a problem with it. It prevents piracy and also leads to many *schools* to purchase more then 1 copy from me, as I can easily proove from my logs. I don't write to people's boot sectors or anything though - just some simple DSA PKI.
  • What lesson? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:22PM (#5995032)
    They'll learn that the copy protection mechanisms must be phased into use, and shouldn't provide enough drastic changes to enrage normally enthralled masses...
  • One would think so (Score:2, Interesting)

    by s4ltyd0g ( 452701 )
    Except they've proven time and again how little regard they have for their customers. Personally I don't give a fsck anymore, they've already lost me. I don't do buisness with anybody that treats me like a criminal.
  • by sould ( 301844 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:26PM (#5995059) Homepage
    Is that Software has to be updated every few years. Software makers don't expect to pay coders a flat fee to produce a product and sit on the profits for the next 70+ years.

    Movie makers do. They pay artists a flat fee to make a movie, grab all copyrights & sell the movie for the next 70+ years.

    So - Software makers dont *need* DRM as much as movie makers.

    We're going to have to wait for (or force) a change in the (frankly corrupt) Hollywood business model.

    So. No. Hollywood won't learn.
    • by Steveftoth ( 78419 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:39PM (#5995130) Homepage
      Only because software is so young and the technology moves fast.

      Also, most software written for PCes at least won't run on current machines without kludges. I mean it kinda works, but it's hard to integrate WordStar into a workflow with any new program. Basically, if you want to use old programs, you can only use old programs.

      And of course, most old games just don't work any more. Maybe wing commander one still works, but I don't know. Anyone tried to play Ultima One for the PC lately?

      PC software makers innovate because that's what everyone else is doing and it hasn't stagnated like movies have.
    • >>They pay artists a flat fee to make a movie

      What?!? Have you ever heard of royalities? Actors get them, writers get them, directors get them, producers get them.
    • That's not really true. Sure, TurboTax I'd have to update every year because the tax laws change, but if I'm making, say, a game, I need to rely on making nearly all my sales in the next few quarters, just like with a music CD or new movie. There's no "update" in a year unless I've made a whole new game. Software makers have much more of a vested interest in copy protection than the movie industry, I reckon; a pirated VCD doesn't compare to a good cinema.
      • I need to rely on making nearly all my sales in the next few quarters, just like with a music CD or new movie.

        Difference being: you might be able to re-release your game 20 years later as a "classic," *if* it was really tremendously successful and you bundle it properly... and you'll make not very much. Disney can re-release their animated features about every 16 years to a whole new crop of kids, and make consistently strong box-office grosses. And it is those kinds of expectations that have broken cop
        • Disney, Yes. Everybody else... the value of their IP depriciates.

          That's really the bottom line; everything depriciates, and the copyright should respect the fact that the value of a movie or any other IP is reduced over time, as new products come out, and as tastes and needs change.

          Every so often, you get a band or movie that has a cult attraction, but the laws should not be based on the exception to the rule.
          • Re:Every few years (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Ironica ( 124657 )
            Every so often, you get a band or movie that has a cult attraction, but the laws should not be based on the exception to the rule.

            The MPAA would not care one whit about piracy if it relied on initial box office to line their pockets. A whole lot of the gross revenue from your typical movie is expected to come from video sales, television licenses, and so on.

            IP can depreciate or appreciate over time. The Star Wars franchise isn't a case of no depreciation; it's worth a whole lot MORE than it was when it
        • But I thought movies never made any 'profit'.
    • by John3 ( 85454 ) <> on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:05PM (#5995556) Homepage Journal
      Intuit gets to sell you the same software each year with minimal changes. Sure they create bloatware versions with videos and extra garbage that nobody uses, but the core product is the same thing they were selling five years ago. They update the tax tables, make the changes for any changes in the law, and sell you the product all over again.

      Intuit realized that many customers were sharing their product with others and that probably looked like lost profits.

      But if someone lets a few others copy TurboTax, odds are one or two of those people will buy their own copy next year rather than hassle with chasing down the shared CD to install the program. Instead Intuit alienated the users that purchased the product as well as those who didn't. When they asked their buddy to borrow the copy of TurboTax, they were told "Sorry, the CD has some lame copy protection stuff". Now the purchaser and his/her buddies say "Intuit s**cks".
  • Keep dreaming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NetDanzr ( 619387 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:26PM (#5995063)
    It would be surely nice to see similar action being taken elsewhere, but I don't think it will happen.

    TurboTax is an unique piece of software in the sense that it has a very specific goal. It is used only once, and then it needs to be replaced by a newer version. Combine this with the fact that it would appeal even to users who would never install anything else on their computers, and you get a large number of disenchanted customers. You will never get the same protest base with programs like Windows, which come largely preinstalled, or different office suites, which the user installs and forgets, until he replaces the computer.

    As for entertainment products, there is a possibility of such a backlash only when the products don't work on common players. The people who want to play CDs on their computers may be vocal, but they are too small of a minority to hurt the companies' revenues signifficantly, in the case of a boycott.

  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:27PM (#5995068) Journal

    ...Hollywood made a movie about this?

  • piracy. But DRM, like a soufflé, is incredibly hard to get right


    DRM = soufflé

    soufflé = to blow (in French)

    Therefore, DRM Blows!

    And thats a wrap!

  • Software of all kinds is a tool. In general the more ways you can use a given tool the more valuable it is. Digital Restrictions tend to reduce the value of the things they are applied to. If you reduce the value of an item without reducing its price you shouldnt be surprised if you sell less.
    • You forgot to include losses through theft. Paying a security guard to watch your merchandise doesn't increase it's value either, but if that expense kepps people from walking off with it, you increase your profit. The issue isn't black and white from a profit stand point.
  • Boycott Intuit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:33PM (#5995095) Homepage
    I've been using TurboTax for eight years now. This "product activation" nonsense was a rude surprise for me this year. I certainly did my part in bitching, pissing, and moaning as loud as I could.

    And, I might take this opportunity to mention that product activation wasn't the only thing that made doing last year's taxes with TurboTax a completely disgusting, and revolting experience. Almost every other screen was filled with Intuit's sales pitches for other unrelated garbage that I didn't need, or want. First, Turbotax haggled me to upgrade to a premium version of TurboTax. All they want is my credit card number to "unlock" the extra crap; there's nothing to download. Of course, after reviewing the list of additional "features" in the premium version it was pretty clear that no more than, perhaps, 1% of people could possibly use it.

    Then, TurboTax haggled me to use Intuit's electronic filing service, against for a premium cost. Then, another sales pitch to upgrade to premium TurboTax features, Finally, TurboTax wanted me to pay for storing my tax return in an "electronic vault", for safekeeping (whatever the fuck it means).

    This year, doing my taxes was a totally nauseating experience. Literally, my wallet had a bullseye painted right on it, in bright red colors, and Intuit tried everything they could to grab as much of it as they can. I JUST WANT TO DO MY TAXES AND LEAVE MY WALLET ALONE.

    Intuit is hoping that this controversy is over. But I hope that it's not over. Even though Intuit is now furiously backpedaling and groveling that's not enough for me. I will follow through on my promise, and no matter how many times Intuit will now swear that their spyware/DRM is history, I will still use a competing product next year. And if I like it, I'll continue to use it. If not, I'll perhaps go back to Turbotax the following year.

    I firmly believe that Intuit should not be allowed to get a get-out-of-jail-free card simply by issuing a bunch of warm-sounding press releases, full of vague and nebulous promises. They must still have to deal with the consequences of their decisions, and I'm hoping that others feel the same way too, and will still use some other competing tax preparation package next year.
    • Re:Boycott Intuit. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jardine ( 398197 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:08PM (#5995276) Homepage
      Then, TurboTax haggled me to use Intuit's electronic filing service, against for a premium cost

      Your government doesn't have a free e-filing service? Every tax program in Canada will generate a .tax file which you can then upload to the government's site. The file is just a comma seperated file so any spreadsheet program should be able to read it. Something like 70% of the people in my area e-filed rather than mailing last year. I didn't realize the US was so far behind that you need a specialized service to do this.
      • Re:Boycott Intuit. (Score:2, Informative)

        by bla ( 96124 )
        >Your government doesn't have a free e-filing service?

        we do. this year i got blanketed by junkmail from the IRS telling me to "use e-file!" i assume turbotax is just preying on the ignorant or fearful ("i can't trust myself or my own computer, so i should trust a corporation's since they're sure to be secure").
      • Since we pay so many taxes, they decided to make it easier for us to do so ;)
    • Re:Boycott Intuit. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IronClad ( 114176 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:33PM (#5995400) Homepage
      I certainly did my part in bitching, pissing, and moaning as loud as I could.

      I did too, making a point that I had been their customer for 6 years straight. In fact, I don't thinks the issue is "Can Hollywood learn from Intuit?" Rather, the issue is, "Can Hollywood's consumers learn from Intuit's consumers?"

      Piss. Moan. Tell them about the titles you will *not* buy because of it. Compare them to seal-clubbers and boys who wear Jeff Foxworthy shirts to school. Tell your neighbor all about region coding. Send your congressman a voided check saying "this is what you would have got if not for your support of the DMCA (or replace with the name of your particular nasty legislation)."

      Even an issue backed by a silent majority of consumers will fail without a vocal minority getting the message across in this day of megacorps, highest-bidder legislation, and perpetual copyright.

    • After mucking around with TurboTax for a couple years I just started doing my taxes by hand. You can download the forms from the IRS, print out the 10 neccessary forms and tables pages, and with a calculator complete your taxes in less time than it would take to read all the advertisements, type in your serial number and activation codes and click "No" through the 5 million popups to buy shit. What pissed me off was after an hour of doing all of that it prints out some forms I have to mail in. WTF? I th
    • TurboTax isn't the only product that Intuit makes that forces you to put up with this bullshit. QuickBooks is just as bad - your screen is always littered with ads offering everything from overpriced check printing services to overpriced electronic payment systems. Bookkeeping with it is as obnoxious as surfing the web with Internet Explorer.
      • This is why last year I dumped Quickbooks (after using it for seven years) and switched to Peachtree.

        Yes, Peachtree is far more convoluted and obfuscated that Quickbooks. Quickbooks (at least up until Quickbooks 99, the last version I used before dumping it) is definitely much easier to than Peachtree.

        However, I'd rather stick to Peachtree, and my mind is at peace knowing that I'm not subject to privacy-invading spyware that phones home, and rest of Intuit's bullshit. Peachtree has a steep learning curv
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:35PM (#5995107)
    The FAQ:
    Q: Can Hollywood Learn From Intuit?
    A: No.
    • Um, it goes more like this...

      Q: Can Hollywood learn from Intuit?
      A: That's not the right question.
      Q: Well, what is the right question, then?
      A: The right question is, "Will Hollywood learn from Intuit?"
      Q: Oh, OK, then. Will Hollywood learn from Intuit?
      A: That would

  • by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:37PM (#5995113) Homepage
    From the article:
    "Customer reviews on (AMZN) tell the tale. For the 2001 version of TurboTax (which had no activation feature), the average customer-satisfaction rating was four and a half stars. For the activation-enhanced 2002 edition, the average rating dropped to one and a half stars, and the reviews bore titles such as "scumbags," "disaster," and, perhaps presciently, "the demise of TurboTax.""

    I think the lesson the DRM-and-associated industries will take from this is the Boiling Frog story.

    For those not familiar with it (there might be a few), the theory goes that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out. If you place that frog in a pan of warm water and slowly raise the heat to boiling, the thing won't budge until it's dead (and then it still won't budge. =)

    In other words, the lesson learned is "erode their rights slowly, don't yank the carpet out from under them all at once. Start with the minor potatoes like so-called "fair use." They're entitled to protection from litigation if they're copying something for their own use but that doesn't mean we have to make the item copyable so we can leverage the DMCA for all it's worth. The politicans are cheap. Consider them as insurance or rent money -- just another cost of doing business. The consumer (and oh how I love that word) won't even know they have rights nevermind miss them in 20 years. Just do it slowly."

    Oh yeah. Holywood can learn. The question is "can we?"
  • Unfortunately, they have more "cents" than "sense", so I doubt things will change any time soon.
  • From an article in Time Magazine (I think) where he said "If we have to file 1,000 lawsuits a day, we'll do it!"

    That was a couple a years ago and the subborn old man has learned nothing.
  • Another article (Score:2, Interesting)

    by simenon ( 674496 )
    This time about why inuit would do the whole product activation scheme in the first place: []
  • Why.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eric256 ( 625188 )
    do these industries continue to alienate there target audience?

    I mean software companies would rather sell you a product every year than once for life. (Not including M$ wich wants to sell you 1 product for life.....every year.) Why don't the music and movie companies see this?

    I am not a real music person but there are several songs I would enjoy owning, but only if i can get them for a reasonable price. I mean I would be happy to pay a couple bucks to download a song, so long as i can then do whatev

  • by CanSpice ( 300894 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @07:51PM (#5995178) Homepage
    These two words to not go together.
  • This is a small article in a relatively unknown magazine, and even there, Intuit's claim that the consumer backlash was "completely unexpected" tells the real tale:

    They still don't get it.

    This isn't about technology, rights or anything. This is about simple plain good business sense. This is about bad management. It is a fallacy for a company to think that their product is so delightful that people will put up with being treated like a criminal for the right to use it. Intuit only has one major competitor (H&R Block's Taxcut). The RIAA has thousands of small labels that are chomping at the bit in anticipation of the market the big labels are about to surrender.

    The nice thing about a market economy is that the RIAA's folly is our opportunity. It's actually in the small labels' best interests for the RIAA and Microsoft to continue down the DRM path.

    So let's keep this news quiet, okay?
  • "Can Hollywood learn?"
  • They won't learn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShatteredDream ( 636520 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:05PM (#5995252) Homepage
    They can't even grasp basic economics. They flood the market with trash like Dumb and Dumberer and Final Desination 2 and wonder why, according to Jack Valenti (can he be trusted at all?), they gross an average of only $52M a year. The movie studios basically know how to make a movie that will bring in heaping piles of cash. Look at the Matrix and LOTR. The problem is that they are so greedy that they can't accept that at the end of the day, if they produce a few good movies a year and call it even, they will more likely than not come out ahead more easily than if they put out many times that.

    The music industry has an excuse, music fans are often fickle and can throw out a band after one CD because their style "isn't cool anymore." Most music is disposable because people don't want anything artistic or refreshingly original. I listen to old stuff by The Cult occassionally as well as more recent stuff like Stabbing Westward. You don't see that kind of rock anymore. It's the same tuned-down, crunch-your-head-off distortion filled, 3 power chord bullshit. I mean WTF is up with a band like the All American Rejects? I just started playing bass a week ago after having been playing guitar on a semi-active basis for 5 months and can play at least one of their bass lines they're that fucking simple! Swing, Swing has only 4 notes in the entire bass line and you just hit them as 8th notes in sets of 8. Again, pathetic... even I a total newbie write cooler bass lines than that. I want my recording contract now that I know that the bar has been thrown out, not lowered.

    The IP cartels are greedy and they're not bound to full market forces. Whoever heard of a Korn CD competing with a TRUSTCompany CD? They don't, except for this week's $15 allowance. Buy one this week, buy the other next week. They won't learn because the government is going to step in like a good fascist state and save them from the pirhannas of capitalism that are now about to descend upon them. America will slip backward, other countries will take our economic lead, but a bunch of neocons will be able to sleep peacefully at night knowing that the market is safe for Britney Spears and Limp Bizkit. Too bad that a bunch of our IT sector will be in ruins and our economy's growth will be fizzling out. "Property rights" will be have been protected, except for your right to modify your DVD-R/RW or DVD player so it can play non-CSS DVD-Rs. Hey, property rights in the neocon world belong only to those who produce, not those who consume.

    I'm a neo-liberal/libertarian and yes, I openly and freely admit that I vehemently hate neo-conservatism and wish enlightenment for them first, and if that doesn't work a pox on them.
    • So you're saying Hollywood's problems are not related to copy protection, but qulality of product. BTW, liberal != libertarian. Libertarians are in much better agreement with conservatives than liberals on a number of issues.
  • by ehudokai ( 585897 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:22PM (#5995342)
    "The customer reaction was unexpected."

    They really thought that creating softwer that when installed actually wrote something on my MBR was not going to upset me?

    How dumn are they?

    Up till this year I used turbotax for the past several returns, but this year I use TaxAct []. And although their interface was not as nice as turbotax, it saved me money and didn't tamper with my machine!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:24PM (#5995353)

    Think Intuit is giving up on drm?

    Maybe timothy and the slashdot crowd should check their facts first [], before crediting Intuit with anything.

    Looks like Intuit's spin is working wonders.

  • by geekee ( 591277 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:33PM (#5995401)
    Intuit's problem was that their DRM was too restrictive. They need a way to allow the sw to be installed on 3 computers for instance, but no more. Then people couldn't complain about legitimate uses of the sw being hampered. However, Intuit is still losing money on people passing the sw around the office, etc., so to maximise profit they need some less noticeable DRM.
    • Absolutely. The problem wasn't the activation process per se, but the fact that it was actively annoying to typical users... it's as though they decided on a particular license to enforce, without actually examining how legitimate users were really using the software.

      Rule #1 of all DRM schemes should be to make 'em just restrictive enough to keep the honest users honest... since the crooks will find a way to rip you off no matter what.
  • The RIAA had no copy protection on CDs, and suddenly profits started decreasing (coincidently around the time Napster came out). Apparently, no copy protection isn't the answer either to maximize profits.
  • ..Users of the Turbotax software can be considered outside the realm of normal consumers..There's a big difference between the mindsets of a person who goes out to buy a tax package to use for Uncle Sam's extortion and your garden variety 1337 kiddie trading DVD rips on IRC rather than taking a trip to the Suncoast to buy it..Apples and Oranges man, apples and oranges.. ..See, I look at it like this: Most Turbotax users are going to be pretty saavy at doing their taxes no? They're probably middle income wit
  • On the other hand... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bergeron76 ( 176351 ) * on Monday May 19, 2003 @08:48PM (#5995488)
    This could easily backfire and put more power into the hands of MSFT. Since they're currently the only (IFAIK) OS distributor that is "enabling the consumer by adding DRM to the core OS", some software companies may turn to them in an effort to protect their stranglehold on consumers. I'm not necessarily saying that TurboTax was doing this, but the RIAA certainly is; and as such, they're very likely to help push MSFT's propaganda and ultimately help proliferate DRM.

    Here's the bottom line, if we (media users) don't act responsibly and avoid the urge to pirate videos, music, and software (at least buy it or otherwise support the creator somehow), these companies will force DRM onto us.

    As consumers we do have significant "wallet" power, however, if we don't act responsibly, the powers that be will make sure that we do [act responsibly].

    Call me conservative, but the creators of digital content (videos, audio, etc) should be able to make a living; however, they also shouldn't be able to destroy consumers by partnering with an unavoidable monopoly either.

    If we don't take responsibility for our actions (and our peers' actions) now, we can't complain about losing our [said] rights in the future.

    • by dentar ( 6540 )
      Significant wallet power means not buying their tripe, and making sure they know it.

      Significant wallet power also went to Apple's new site to download buck a piece songs. Apple has already sold millions of them.

      The market has spoken and RIAA/MPAA -STILL- hasn't listened to it.
  • by coene ( 554338 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:26PM (#5996016)
    Can Hollywood Learn From ______________.

  • by richg74 ( 650636 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @11:13PM (#5996249) Homepage
    The situation with this reminds me a lot of what I expereienced with software copy protection in the early days of PCs (early 1980s, for you young folks :-)

    Our investment management firm was, for the time, highly IT intensive. All of our investment selections were based on statistical/computer models; the only way anyone could order a trade was through a (mainframe) computer interface. We started buying PCs early on, together with an early version of Lotus 1-2-3.

    Then, Lotus introduced copy protection. Initially, we didn't have a big problem with that, in principle; but then we started to encounter the practical realities of unusable machines, software that we could not reload, and so on.

    I can remember a meeting with some senior people from Lotus in my office. I told them a couple of things:

    --We liked 1-2-3: it was really useful.
    --We would never, from that time forward, buy any software with copy protection, under any circumstances.

    As I told them then, and as I want to make clear now, we were NOT trying to cheat or get more licences than we were paying for. We were, however, unwilling to do business with another firm that treated us under the assumption that we were criminals.

    This story had a happy ending. we were able to negogiate a deal for a "non-copy-protected" version of Louts's software. Not long after, the offer was made generally available.

    I'm glad to hear that Intuit has figured things out. Perhaps some day others will ;-).


  • Intuit has plenty of competition, there are many equivalent DRM free SW packages that can produce the same results.

    Hollywood has no serious competition, even less than MS. Nobody can match their global marketing prowess and astronomical budgets. Certainly none can match their political clout either, the lobbying power of the RIAA is but a shadow of the MPAA.

  • by Newer Guy ( 520108 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @12:11AM (#5996517)
    Hollywood didn't learn from VCR's, didn't learn from videodisks, didn't learn from DVD's and now can't learn from digital media. To put it simply, Hollywood's arrogance won't LET them learn!
  • D.R.M. is D.U.M. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Another AC ( 151302 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @03:23AM (#5997049)
    So Apple sold 2 million songs in about 2 weeks at 99 cents each, right?

    Why would these people buy these songs instead of just downloading them for free on Kazaa/Gnutella/etc?

    Getting a song for free:

    - cost: $0
    - ease of use: pretty easy
    - time to get: depends
    - availability: depends
    - quality: depends
    - platform: mp3s will play on any system
    - usage restrictions: none
    - legality: not legal.

    Getting a song from apple:

    - cost: 99c / song, $9.99 / album
    - ease of use: really easy
    - time to get: really fast
    - availability: about 20% of commercial music
    - quality: guaranteed good.
    - platform: mac only
    - usage restrictions: medium-restrictive D.R.M.
    - legality: legal.

    And those are basically all the issues.

    So apparently, ease of use + time to get + quality + legal vs cost + platform + restrictions results in $1 million a week for apple. Not too shabby!

    Now what if they dropped the last two strikes against them (besides cost).. platform and usability restrictions? As they upped their cd library they'd soon find the ONLY advantage Kazaa would have would be price, whereas apple would now win (or at least tie) in every other category! How much money would they maybe gross then?

    They make $1M a week now right? Let's say opening up the service to non-mac users (95%+ of the users) only triples their revenues. Let's say dropping all restrictions on use again doubles the usage. Finally, let's say them quintupling their collection to include everything ever recorded doubles their revenues again. It looks like they stand to make about $625 Million a year from this service.. if they'd just loosen up on the DRM (and complete their selection)!
    • There's one further point.. Generally speaking, most people will want to reward a producer, as long as they feel as if its a fair transaction. I think that is another thing in favor of Apple's service, as it is very fair IMO. Of course, to me, it's still not P2P and it's still RIAA controlled. As in my opinion, the P2P wars have less to do with actual infringement than they do with content control, and making sure the big labels keep the mindshare. Not that I'm a strict boycotter or anything, but even w

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.