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Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 3/10/2005Yesterday's paper had a free DVD: The Madness Of King George. Yippee!

Monday 3/10/2005

Yesterday's paper had a free DVD: The Madness Of King George. Yippee! Nigel Hawthorne. Kew Gardens. Eccentric Englishness at its best, what what? Slap it into my newly constructed and utterly updated PC, and settle back for a pleasant hour or so.

"Windows Media Player cannot play this DVD because a problem occurred with digital copyright protection". Problem? What problem? Click on the "More Information" button. "The page you are trying to view has an incorrect address and cannot be displayed. Please try another page." Oh, that problem.

The free DVD is courtesy of Film Four, which has presumably paid good money to get me this minor delight — and in return, I'm to be convinced of their fine taste and subscribe to their services. As a brand with interests in film making, distribution and broadcasting, Film Four is exactly the sort of beast for which DRM is designed to help. But look, ma, it's hurting them. It's rendered their expensive promotion worthless.

This isn't a one-off. Like many people, I won't buy music from iTunes because I don't trust the DRM. Even if it works, I'm locked in forever. Does this help Apple's revenues? No, it hurts them — Apple may have included DRM to keep the labels sweet, but it's even now learning quite how nice the record companies are to deal with once they've scented a dime.

Another friend reports that he's now taken three CDs back to HMV because they wouldn't play in his PC — thus won't transfer onto his iPod — so there's another set of revenues hurting.

So how much revenue is being lost now because of bad DRM, both in direct sales and in exasperated punters diving back into P2P? More to the point, how many people are going to take one look at the bright and shiny world of next-generation digital entertainment, ask "will I be able to play what I like, when I like, how I like?" and wander off when the answer's no?

DRM — Digital Revenue Minimisation. Spread the word.