Frustrated consumers forced into piracy

Frustrated consumers forced into piracy

Summary: Finally, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) might be starting to realize that their attempts to control and reduce piracy might actually be having the opposite effect, and are driving honest consumers to piracy.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Piracy
76

Finally, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) might be starting to realize that their attempts to control and reduce piracy might actually be having the opposite effect, and are driving honest consumers to piracy.

The music industry could break Apple's grip of steel on digital music sales by selling DRM-free musicSpeaking last week at the Digital Home Developers Conference, Brad Hunt, the executive vice president and chief technology officer for the MPAA, conceded that many people are frustrated at having to buy multiple copies of the same content to use on different devices and that this is driving them to piracy.

"I understand that if we frustrate the consumer, they will simply pirate the content," he said. "The issue we face today is that consumers are buying content that uses specific DRM and that, in turn, is gradually creating a world of separate DRM systems."

Wow!  Finally a glimmer of hope.  Many people (myself included) have been saying this for years, yet the MPAA are only now starting to accept it.  The fact is that DRM is ineffective and that piracy is too easy. It doesn't take too much energy to push an honest, law-abiding citizen from consumer to pirate. By pirate, I don't mean someone who sells counterfeit goods or who illegally distributes copyrighted material. I mean an ordinary guy or gal who just wants to use what they bought and in doing so is forced to bypass DRM.

The catalyst that's needed to get this reaction going is an annoyed or frustrated user who feels that a big, faceless corporation took their money and ripped them off.  Often the consumer feels cheated because the restrictions weren't made clear enough early on.  I've watched the process in action several times and it's quite interesting.  Someone buys some digital content (say a DVD) and they want to copy it to their laptop so that they can watch it while on the road without having to take the disc with them.  They discover that there's more to the process than just copying the disc to the hard drive.  This is frustrating and so they start typing a few keywords into a search engine and within minutes they have a DVD copy tool downloaded and working.  That act didn't cost the movie industry anything, but it did take a consumer, who was previously happy to pay for a product, and introduced them to a community who make movies available for free.

I've seen the same thing happen with games.  Someone buys a game and becomes mildly annoyed at having to have the disc in the drive each time the want to play it (even though all the game content is stored on their hard drive).  They do a little research and discover a world of cracks and patches.  All that it takes is someone being "mildly annoyed". That, and the satisfaction of sticking it to the man and defeating a copy protection technology which cost the company a small fortune in a few seconds using free tools.  That crack didn't cost the games industry anything, but again it introduced a legitimate consumer to methods of acquiring games for nothing.  That hurts the games industry.

Also, DRM could be an Achilles' heel for media companies.  For example, one simple way that the music industry could break Apple's grip of steel on digital music sales would be to sell DRM-free music.  It's simple and would be a very effective way to counterattack iTunes - all it needs is for the industry to have the vision and see this as a road to profits.

Topic: Piracy

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

76 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • iTunes DRM

    {i}Also, DRM could be an Achilles' heel for media companies. For example, one simple way that the music industry could break Apple's grip of steel on digital music sales would be to sell DRM-free music. It's simple and would be a very effective way to counterattack iTunes - all it needs is for the industry to have the vision and see this as a road to profits.[/i]

    Isn't that there only because the RIAA demanded it? In other words, if they start selling non-DRM'd music, couldn't Apple start doing the same on iTunes?
    brble
    • Who needs the RIAA?

      Head over to eMusic and you can see things done right.
      tic swayback
      • No DRM=No Friction=Happy Customer

        And let's not also forget that Yahoo is experimenting with selling DRM-free music with two labels. And Magnatune is also worth mentioning, as well.
        Tony Agudo
  • This is why DRM will always fail

    For DRM to be truly effective, it has to be really strict, and that creates inconveniences and frustrations for the legitimate purchaser. Which results in lowered sales and drives those legitimate purchasers to versions that aren't crippled. If your DRM is usable without the frustrations, it's way too lax to prevent piracy, and there's no point in adding it to your product. Hence, effective DRM is the impossible dream.
    tic swayback
  • Creative's Customers get Hosed

    Here's a great example of what's wrong with DRM and what's wrong with EULAs in general. When you buy a product, you do so under certain conditions--you see what the product offers you and make your decision based upon that offer. But here, as with most DRM and anything with a EULA, the manufacturer can change the nature of the deal at any time and you have no choice in the matter.

    So if you bought a Creative Zen player with FM recording, you're pretty much out of luck as Creative (at the behest of the RIAA), has decided to "upgrade" your device so it no longer records from FM radio. How about that, what you bought is no longer what you bought. Neat trick. Story here:
    http://tinyurl.com/y68vd5
    tic swayback
    • Now they don't want us recording radio broadcasts...

      for personal use? You'd think they would just copy-restrict the recordings so they'd just stay on the player at least. Plain stupid. Good thing I have a Coby player that I can use with Amarok on Linux, no DRM/C.R.A.P. here, and I can record FM if I catch a good song on the radio. :)
      Tony Agudo
    • Oh, GREAT! Just after I bougt a Zen Microphoto this past weekend.

      Got it at a flea market for $60 (compared to $200 retail), including a bunch of songs that I deleted since they sucked. Had some trouble trying to use it with XP at first so I did the firmware "upgrade." Creative's site told me that the upgrade would disable the FM recording feature, but I went ahead anyway since I don't plan to record off FM. Besides, the reception where I work isn't the best.

      As long as I can still rip my CDs to play on my Zen, I won't mind the lost feature. If the next "upgrade" disables the my CDs from being played on it, then I'll get pissed.
      Mr. Roboto
  • Piracy is a choice - a bad choice.

    No one is forcing anyone to do anything. There is no God given right to free music or a free lunch. Piracy is a crime. Choosing to steal is a personal decision and it could be a costly one.

    DRM is like locks on doors... It keeps the honest people honest. Criminals will still attempt to steal and when caught they should be heavily fined and go to prison like any other criminal. Laws apply to the entitled generation just like everyone else.
    BeGoneFool
    • DRM and locks

      [i]DRM is like locks on doors... It keeps the honest people honest.[/i]

      Tell you what -- I'll put locks on your bathroom doors and we'll see how honest you stay.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • Oh, Good One!!

        Man, I'm still laughing!

        "He can't download his stuff ..."
        Cardhu
      • Hey, Yagotta!!!

        You have to buy the music you get from E-Music, right? SO how can he claim that is stealing?


        GREAT comeback!! Loved it!!
        jlhenry62
      • Ban keys ...

        ... and see how honest people remain.
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • I agree

      Lets think of a way that honest people have better control of what they bought. You should see China, its so bad that 80-90% comes from the copy sold, not the original, there trying to do something about it, it could put people out of business they said.
      troubled241
      • Don't bump your halo on the door on the way out (NT)

        .
        P. Douglas
        • Sorry ...

          ... I posted this message at the wrong place.
          P. Douglas
    • Don't bump your halo on the door on the way out (NT).

      .
      P. Douglas
      • Aggressive sociopathy, my favorite

        What is it about having principles that Americans find offensive? It smells a bit like penis envy.
        mickmca9
    • Brainwashed?

      So, buying a used CD or Book is priacy too? Copying cassettes in
      the 80's and 90's hurt RIAA? Don't forget all the made-for-TV
      movies, taped and watched at a more convient time as well ...
      Oh, and whose getting the funds from the extra pennies we pay
      for 'recordable media' every time we buy a stack of CD-R's?

      I doubt musicans see any of it. Most musicians rarely see a dime
      out of every dollar a RIAA label recieves for 'thier' work - and
      that is if they are 'big name'. Same ones usually end up in debt.

      They want a protected market. They want us all to listen to
      Brittnay Spears and have no knowledge of anything else. They
      don't want independant artists or labels and that side of the
      market more than makes up for any claimed losses (which they
      don't seem to claim to stockholders).

      Nowhere do they discuss 'quality' of music and the poor quality
      of CD-R's that people use will degenerate in a couple of years
      anyway.
      du2vye
      • Typical example

        http://www.boingboing.net/2005/03/28/david_byrne_launches.html

        How do you feel about the fact that some of your fans are downloading your music for free?

        David Byrne: It's a mixed bag. Sure, I would love to have compensation for that. But the argument of record companies standing up for artists rights is such a load of hooey. Most artists see nothing from record sales -- it's not an evil conspiracy, it's just the way the accounting works. That's the way major record labels are set up, from a purely pragmatic point of view. So as far as the artist goes -- who cares? I don't see much money from record sales anway, so I don't really care how people are getting it.
        tic swayback
    • An All-Too Simple Mischaracterization

      The mom who buys a CD or DVD and makes copies for strictly personal use at the exercise machine or in the car without distribution or commercial gain is [u]not[/u] a thief.

      That is "fair use," expressly permitted in U.S. Code Title 17. See, for example, "Fair Use and Fair Dealing" in:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

      Public freedom to make personal copies of copyrighted material was also firmly established in the famous Supreme Court decision on the Betamax case on 17 January 1984:

      http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/B/htmlB/betamaxcase/betamaxcase.htm

      Digital Rights Management is a deliberate attempt to undo the legal framework of "fair use" to allow music and movie makers to charge for each and every [u]copy[/u] just as Universal and Walt Disney Studios tried to do back in 1977.

      It's a pat characterization to portray DRM strictly as an anti-theft issue rather than also a revenue-generation strategy.

      Yes, I agree that theft is wrong. But DRM treads on public rights well-established in copyright law.

      So no, we do not support DRM or any other approaches akin to it.
      Cardhu