DRM just does not work

Eureka! Ditching DRM Decreases Piracy article tells that new paper to be published in the upcoming issue of Marketing Science shows that removing DRM from music leads to a decrease in piracy. Or phrased differently, DRM appears to be an incentive for people to pirate music instead of buying it. The researchers from Rice and Duke University used analytical modelling to come to this seemingly common sense conclusion. They conclude that DRM doesn’t prevent piracy at all. Quite the opposite what music companies expected. “DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy,” Steve Jobs said back in 2007.


“In many cases, DRM restrictions prevent legal users from doing something as normal as making backup copies of their music. Because of these inconveniences, some consumers choose to pirate,” DinahVernik, assistant professor of marketing at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business says.

DRM does not seem to work on games either. DRM Drives Gamers To Piracy, Says Good Old Games article says that it can actually drive gamers to piracy, rather than acting as a deterrent. In an interview, a spokesperson for Good Old Games said that the effectiveness of DRM as a piracy-deterrent was ‘None, or close to none.’ ‘What I will say isn’t popular in the gaming industry,’ says Kukawski, ‘but in my opinion DRM drives people to pirate games rather than prevent them from doing that. Would you rather spend $50 on a game that requires installing malware on your system, or to stay online all the time and crashes every time the connection goes down, or would you rather download a cracked version without all that hassle?”. According to Kukawski, the situation with restrictive DRM has reached the point where gamers often feel pushed into buying a game at full price, but then still download a cracked version to avoid the DRM.

DRM interrupts the user experience. Since when did any DRM solve piracy? I’d love to hear some high-level exec answer the question of “Why use DRM if it doesn’t stop piracy?”. The problem is that pirates don’t care about copy protection, it does not stop them. DRM doesn’t do a damned bit of difference to piracy – the pirated versons have been cracked to remove the DRM sometimes weeks before the main release – the ONLY people affected by DRM are the legitimate buyers. DRM is really just painting everyone with the same brush and treating everyone as a criminal/pirater.

The “we need DRM, otherwise we can’t provide all the content we want to!” argument is horrible, stupid, and insulting. DRM does not allow businesses to provide content in new markets. DRM allows businesses to provide old markets in places where they make no sense. Every company which complains they can’t do X without DRM really means they don’t want to do X without magic fairy dust. Meanwhile, everyone else is busy providing X without DRM, and the only difference is the companies which want magic fairy dust aren’t getting paid what they expect.

Monopolies do not exist in modern digital world. People will always acquire the product they want, and if you aren’t willing to sell it, all that means is that people will always acquire the product they want without paying you. A lack of DRM doesn’t make piracy legal, but it sure makes paying for stuff a lot more enjoyable.

To understand why DRM can’t work well in practice needs mature thinking and/or very good abstract thinking applied to real life operating environment. It seems that many people making decisions on using DRM do not seem to get this. The electronic publishing business seems to be going the same route as music and movie industries have been going through. DRM offers made by companies are promise a lot to the publishers. And publishers think that it would be nice if that would work as promised.

The whole idea of DRM relies entirely on security through obscurity, and if you publish a standard then that obscurity is gone. Even with an obscured scheme, if it’s worth it to anyone (ie there aren’t easier ways to get the same content) then someone will reverse engineer the format and work out how to extract the data from it in a usable way. This will always be possible, because the player itself has to get the data into a usable format itself in order to display it. All DRM does is inconvenience legitimate users, pirates will just download media that is not drm encumbered and have a better user experience. Many DRM schemes backfire and give users a lot of trouble.

Reality has already pretty much already rendered DRM as obsolete. DRM does not and has not protected music industry. DRM does not and has not protected video game publishers. DRM does not and has not prevented every significant song, movie, or other work from being easily, readily, and widely available on torrents. So, other than annoy the end users, what purpose does DRM serve?

Besides DRM there are also other methods the content producers have tried with not much help either. Report: Piracy a “global pricing problem” with only one solution tells about that a major new report Media Piracy in Emerging Economies from a consortium of academic researchers concludes that media piracy can’t be stopped through “three strikes” Internet disconnections, Web censorship, more police powers, higher statutory damages, or tougher criminal penalties. That’s because the piracy of movies, music, video games, and software is “better described as a global pricing problem.”


The End of Content Ownership article tells that the cloud, along with subscription and on-demand services, will transform our perception of content access and ownership.

For example Spotify is a digital music service that gives you access to millions of songs for free or with a small fee. Spotify is funded by paid subscriptions, advertisements in the Spotify player for non-subscribers and music purchases from partner retailers. And you can listen a lot of music at Youtube for free as well.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Steven Levy on Facebook, Spotify and the Future of Music

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Piracy problems? US copyright industries show terrific health

    Pity the poor people who work in the US “copyright industries.” Battered by a decade of digital piracy and facing even more of it thanks to cheap computers, fast Internet, P2P file-sharing, and online file lockers, the US creative industries teeter on the verge of collapse. You can tell because the industry:

    Pays better than most American jobs
    Has outperformed the US economy through a horrific recession
    Sells record-setting amounts of product overseas, earning more foreign revenue than the entire US food sector or US pharmaceutical companies

    The report is bullish on the copyright and creative industries. Nothing in it suggests that radical expansions of copyright power are necessary, though MPAA Vice President Michael O’Leary used the report to argue for them anyway.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Game Changing Study Puts Piracy in Perspective

    To counter the many one-sided piracy studies that have been released by the entertainment industry in recent history, a group of dozens of academics have bundled their powers to write the most objective and elaborate piracy study to date. As many would have predicted, the results differ quite significantly from the message pro-copyright lobby groups have put out over the years.

    “What we know about media piracy usually begins, and often ends, with industry-sponsored research.”

    The researchers wisely stay away from calculating the losses piracy may cause to the various industries, but the report does hint that it is not always as bad as the messenger suggests.

    Here are the report links:

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Copy Culture Survey: Infringement and Enforcement in the US

    The note excerpts a forthcoming survey-based study called Copy Culture in the U.S. and Germany

    Preliminary Conclusions

    ‘Piracy’ is common. Some 46% of adults have bought, copied, or downloaded unauthorized music, TV shows or movies.* These practices correlate strongly with youth and moderately with higher incomes. Among 18-29 year olds, 70% have acquired music or video files this way.
    Large-scale digital piracy is rare, limited to 2% of adults for music (>1000 music files in collection and most or all copied or downloaded for free) and 1% for film (>100 files, most or all from copying or downloading).
    Copyright infringement among family and friends is widely accepted (75% and 56%, respectively, for music; 70% and 54% for film). In contrast, activities that imply dissemination of copyrighted goods to larger networks receive very low levels of support.
    Only a slim majority of Americans (52%) support penalties for downloading copyrighted music and movies—and limit this support to warnings and fines.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ofcom grills pirates, loses report under fridge for two years
    ‘Music, vids pirated because they’re too expensive’ shocker!

    On Monday Ofcom published two studies it commissioned into digital piracy: one attempting to quantify the level of piracy, the other a smaller study collecting pirates’ opinions.

  6. Lynnette Geant says:

    Harry, you are awesome!!! As one who registered voters, marched etc in the ’60s you will always be an inspiratio-n. It has to be boring and tedious to be marched from studio to studio talking to one young studio personalit-y after another and remain the same engaged, smart, activist you have always been.. shame on them for being petty.. when they grow up or maybe when they take action for the better good, they’ll behave.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Scarcity Is A Shitty Business Model

    Making movies is expensive and risky. I totally get that the studios need to make a lot of money on those movies to make their business model work.

    But denying customers the films they want, on the devices they want to watch them, when they want to watch them is not a great business model. It leads to piracy, as we have discussed here many times, but more importantly it also leads to the loss of a transaction to a competing form of entertainment.

    We would have paid good money to watch Sherlock Holmes or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But it simply was not an option. So we went with a TV show that was free and then went to bed.

    I am sure there was a time when scarcity was a good business model for the film industry.

    But restricting access to content is a bad business model in the age of a global network that costs practically nothing to distribute on.

    Where the hits are streaming in 2011

    I looked at the avail­abil­ity of recent block­buster hits in online stream and dis­cov­ered some inter­est­ing pat­terns in online stream offer­ings

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A new DRM-free experiment: ‘Diesel Sweeties’

    Rock band Nine Inch Nails tried it. Comedian Louis C.K. tried it. Now Web comic “Diesel Sweeties” is trying it: DRM-free content.

    Selling merchandise is nothing new–everybody from old-guard strips like Doonesbury to Web-era ones including XKCD, The Oatmeal, and Cyanide & Happiness has a Web store. I’m looking forward to the Hyperbole and a Half book, too. Giving stuff away for free is a bit riskier, though–once content is released as free, it can’t be put back in the bottle, and with e-readers ever more polished, a PDF comes closer than ever before to a physical book.

    And while paywalls and DRM are certainly a content creator’s prerogative, it sure would be nice if there were a way to get by using free content.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ubisoft Has Windows-Style Hardware-Based DRM For Games

    Ubisoft is thanking me with the message that I ran out of activations.’ Guru3D subsequently discovered that Ubisoft was less than helpful: ‘Sorry to disappoint you — the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that.’


    At least we don’t have to put up with too much of this activation DRM hassle on the console versions…for now anyway.
    Of course, consoles do tend to follow on the heels of PC developments. And you can bet Ubisoft and other developers would love nothing more than killing off the secondary and rental market for consoles the same way they’ve killed them off for the PC market. I don’t look forward to a day when I start up and console game and it saying “Sorry, you need an internet connection to activate this game,” or the day when I can’t loan a game to a friend or sell it (or buy it) used.

    I’m not a pirate, but I can definitely understand why some otherwise honest people might turn to it (in light of the way honest people get screwed these days).

    I agree in principle. I don’t think I have ever pirated a PC game, but I would never buy a game that I can’t continue to use in perpetuity. I understand their efforts to prevent piracy, but this rises to the level of me paying full price for a game and only getting a temporary license for it. No thanks.

    At least if I buy a console game I can be sure I won’t get zapped with a “Sorry, you have to pay for this game again” screen eventually.

    It doesn’t seem smart at all for Ubisoft to alienate their best customers, power gamers who probably make more hardware chances than anyone.

    Right. When I buy a game, I want to be able to use it for 20+ years, whenever I feel the desire. How many computers have you had in the last 10 years?

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    World music sales slide despite digital dividend

    Industry organisation IFPI said recorded music sales revenues fell from $16.7bn in 2010 to $16.2bn in 2011.

    Digital music accounted for $5.2bn of the latter figure – 32.1 per cent of the total. In the US and South Korea, digital’s share is more than half the local total: 52 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Pirate Party Releases Book of Pirate Politics

    If the SOPA/PIPA blackouts were a wakeup call to many people, then the U.S. Pirate Party has released a book that might help explain some of the issues. The book covers issues such as Corporate Personhood, the 4th Amendment, the history of copyright, and how DRM laws are made

    No Safe Harbor

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Is it legal to stop people from selling their used games?

    Recent stories about potential technical efforts to limit the future playability of used games, as well as commercial efforts to limit the content included with used copies, got us wondering: is it actually legal to hinder someone from reselling a game (or piece of a game) that they legally bought in the first place?

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Angry Birds boss: ‘Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business’

    Rovio’s Mikael Hed tells music industry audience that embracing pirates can attract new fans


    “We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans. We do that today: we talk about how many fans we have,” he said.

    “If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow.”

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why Piracy Is Indispensable For The Survival Of Our Culture

    The central problem is that even if the recordings can be digitized before they deteriorate, very few people will hear them because of their complicated copyright status.

    Actually, the situation is even worse than that, because software publishers in the 1980s spent a huge amount of effort trying to make it impossible to copy their programs, through the use of things like hardware dongles that had to be plugged into the computer, or intentionally-corrupt sectors on the discs. That makes the creation of backups a non-trivial matter.

    That’s great, apart from one slight problem: under today’s copyright laws, all these wonderful backups that will probably ensure the programs’ survival while civilization itself is still around, are illegal. The choice is stark: follow copyright law, and watch decades of computer culture literally fade away on their unreadable floppies, or save them for posterity – and break the law.

    This is a deep and fundamental problem with not just computing culture, but all artistic expression that is locked down with DRM. The only way that its glories will be preserved for future generations is if considerate “pirates” make illegal back-up copies, stripped of copy protection. For DRM is a guarantee of oblivion: the term of copyright is so disproportionately long, few will care about breaking ancient DRM to make backups of long-forgotten digital creations when it eventually becomes legally permissible to do so.

    This is a crucial point: whatever qualms people might have about piracy now, posterity will have no doubts whatsoever. It’s not simply that the supposed harms of piracy to culture are exaggerated, as more and more evidence suggests: it’s that in the long term, piracy is actually indispensable for its preservation.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Digital music subs up as CD sales fall

    2011 was a particularly strong year for UK music

    UK record company revenues should be at record levels, given the phenomenal export success of the domestic music industry – but income declined slightly by 3.4 per cent last year. Once again, the increase in digital revenue failed to make up for the decline in CD sales, which were down by 14 per cent.

    DVDs and Blu Ray discs were worth £25.8m to the recorded music industry, but that’s still more than subscription music streaming (£24m) or free streaming services (£10.7m). Digital album downloads rose 43 per cent to £117.8m while single tracks, ordered a la carte, were worth £120m.

  16. DRM to HTML5? « Tomi Engdahl’s ePanorama blog says:

    [...] will be required by content providers even though usually DRM just does not work well. DRM is a way to prevent data from flowing freely, but usually fails in that. Very many people [...]

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    SXSW 2012 on BitTorrent: 7.51 GB of Free Music

    Since 2005, the festival has published thousands of free tracks from participating artists.

    For some of the previous editions, the festival organizers offered torrents of the artist showcases themselves, but since 2008 this task has been handed over to the public.

    All of the MP3s are still freely available for download on the festival’s site, so it only takes one person to get a torrent up and running.

    7.51 gigabytes of free music in total.

    This is clearly a lesson to RIAA – who must be astonished that people will goto the personal effort and expense of not only making these torrents for ZERO cash and ZERO profit, but folks will actually d/l mp3′s that are more than a pathetic 3 to 5MB lol.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Stop innovating, please: Kaleidescape loses DVD ripping case

    A California judge ruled last week that Kaleidescape, the company behind a line of high-end home media servers, violated the terms of its DVD licensing agreement by allowing consumers to rip DVDs.

    The DVD Copy Control Association sets rules that all manufacturers of DVD players must follow. The organization objected to the DVD-ripping functionality of Kaleidescape’s products and went to court to force them off the market. On Thursday, Judge William Monahan issued a broad injuncton barring Kaleidescape from selling its DVD-streaming products.

    The case is a useful reminder that, thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, major content companies continue to enjoy veto power over the design of digital media devices. Include a digital lock in your spec and the DMCA keeps anyone from bypassing it, even if the intended use might well be legal. Hollywood is using this power to prevent “DVD jukebox” products from reaching consumers.

    Just as iTunes allows users to rip their CDs to their hard drives for later playback on a variety of devices, so Kaleidescape’s DVD products allow users to rip their DVD collections and later stream them to a variety of devices around their homes. But Kaleidescape faces a challenge Apple did not: DVDs are encrypted and the DMCA, passed in 1998, gives Hollywood the legal power to prohibit firms from “circumventing” copy protection.

    Kaleidescape CEO Michael Malcolm speculates that the DVD CCA’s hostility to his product is due to the fact that “large consumer electronics companies in Japan and the big computer companies in the USA, on the board of the DVD CCA, are afraid that Kaleidescape is building a better way to enjoy DVDs and Blu-ray Discs than they are. Imagine a world where Apple wasn’t allowed to build the iPod because Sony wanted a ‘level playing field’ for the Walkman.”

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Films-on-USB kiosks come to airports

    Travelling to the US this summer? Take your Android tablet or Windows laptop with out and you may be able to grab a movie or two on USB stick for the flight home.

    The oddly named Digiboo this week began rolling out kiosks at US airports which allow travellers to buy or rent one or two films which are copied onto a USB Flash drive.

    The films are DRM’d, of course,
    Windows is supported now; Android support will be in place by June, Digiboo said.

    But there’s a problem with DRM. Quite apart from the inherent rigid nature of the technology, Digiboo admitted users will have to contect their computers to the internet and register before they get to watch their films.

    it’s an extra level of faff that is sure to stymie many an impulse buyer.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Games sales overtake videos for the first time in the UK

    MARKET ESTIMATES reveal that games sales have overtaken entertainment videos in the UK for the first time.

    ERA estimated that games accounted for 40.2 per cent of the entertainment market, compared with video at 37.6 per cent and music at 22.2 per cent.

    Kim Bayley, ERA director general said, “This is a dramatic time for the entertainment market. It is an historic development for the games sector to have overtaken video last year. Video has long been the biggest entertainment sector. Sales so far this year, however, suggest video is not going down without a fight.”

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cinavia DRM: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blu-ray’s Self-Destruction

    DRM (Digital Rights Management) is intended to protect media from being played in an unauthorized manner. However, more often than not, it fails to serve the purpose. Many people in the content industry are fully aware that it is not possible to stop media piracy. They view DRM as a method to slow down the pirates. The panel discussion on anti-piracy measures at the HPA 2011 Tech Retreat compared this to using a key to lock a car, even though a thief with proper equipment could still steal it.

    High definition content is valued by the content owners, resulting in extra efforts being taken to protect them from being pirated. For example, while standard definition Netflix streams play on a variety of platforms, high definition streams require more secure systems with protection across all stages of playback. Similarly, not much effort has been taken to stop the usage of open source DVD decrypters / decoders, which mean that the consumer doesn’t need to invest in a licensed player to play back DVDs. Open source software like VLC can play back protected DVDs without any issues.

    Blu-rays, on the other hand, with their high definition content, are yet to be hacked enough to be played back with full experience using open source tools. There is a constant tussle going on between the decryption tool makers (who enable the Blu-ray disc content to become unprotected) and the Blu-ray publishers who don’t want this to happen

    The rise of VoD services will definitely threaten Blu-ray, particularly because of the ease of use associated with them. In almost all cases, one can start watching a movie on Netflix or Vudu with a few clicks. Compare this with current Blu-rays where users have to put up with a number of trailers and copyright messages before the movie starts playing. It is no wonder that consumers with high speed Internet often prefer services like Vudu over Blu-rays. Given this situation, Blu-rays continue to come with pesky DRM mechanisms.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Online video is overtaking physical sales

    Americans will spend more online than in stores

    MOVIE WATCHING AMERICANS are spending money on video streaming and downloaded film services, so much so that online sales there have overtaken physical ones.

    Numbers from bean counters at IHS show that this will be the first year that online films and streaming services will take in more money than sales of DVD and Blu-ray discs combined.

    There will be 3.4 billion legal and paid for movies watched in the US this year, around one million higher than hard copy sales.

    “The year 2012 will be the final nail to the coffin on the old idea that consumers won’t accept premium content distribution over the Internet,” said Dan Cryan, senior principal analyst for broadband and digital media at IHS.

    “In fact, the growth in online consumption is part of a broader trend that has seen the total number of movies consumed from services that are traditionally considered ‘home entertainment’ grow by 40 percent between 2007 and 2011, even as the number of movies viewed on physical formats has declined.”

    This is weird. We’ve heard the horror stories about so-called ‘piracy’ but they do not seem to be ringing true. We thought it was ruining businesses, but perhaps it’s just nipping at their profits.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Aussie Case Unlikely To Solve Piracy Riddle In Fast Broadband World

    “When some of Hollywood’s biggest movie and TV studios took Australian ISP iiNet to court in 2008 — accusing it of facilitating piracy — it focused the eyes of the world downunder. Internet users and media companies alike were keen to see if the courts could figure out how to resolve the ongoing battle caused by easy, and essentially illegal, access to copyrighted material.”

    The piracy riddle is not impossible, but the two sides of the argument have taken irreconcilable positions. Zero respect for IP is not ideal, and neither is absolute authority to enforce IP rights in all media and devices.

    Why can’t we all just get along?

    That’s just an opinion, but I do agree with it.

    But between the two, I’d much rather have the former. The problem with the latter is that it advocates collective punishment. DRM, nonsensical bills like SOPA, etc, all hurt innocents and restrict freedom. Probably more than pirates who know what they’re doing. I think collective punishment is immoral.

    That said, I don’t really agree that it’s possible to stop it. The scope of the internet is too vast, and there are many who simply don’t care. I think it’s something we will have to live with, and learn to adapt to it.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    If You Resell Your Used Games, The Terrorists Win

    Game designer Richard Browne has come out swinging in favor of the rumored antipiracy features in the next-gen PlayStation Orbis and Xbox Durango. “The real cost of used games is the damage that is being wrought on the creativity and variety of games available to the consumer,” Browne writes. “The real cost of used games is the death of single player gaming.”

    David Braben: “It’s killing single player games in particular, because they will get pre-owned, and it means your day one sales are it, making them super high risk. I mean, the idea of a game selling out used to be a good thing, but nowadays, those people who buy it on day one may well finish it and return it.”

    According to both men, studios implement things like DLC, DRM, and multiplayer in an attempt to reduce game churn. This reduces the resources available to the single-player teams, while spiraling costs drive midrange developers out of business.

    The 3% decline in retail sales from 2010 to 2011 was Nintendo’s fault.

    Braben goes so far as to claim that used games are actually responsible for high game prices and that “prices would have come down long ago if the industry was getting a share of the resells.”

    The game developers calling for a share of used market profits are advocating the death of First Sale doctrine in the name of perpetuating a doomed business model.

    In 2010, Gamestop did $2.46B in “used video game sales and other products.”
    Total game sales in the US for 2010 was $10B according to NPD

    Killing the used game market wouldn’t bring down prices. It wouldn’t solve the problem of too few good games carrying the responsibility of paying for an ocean of crap — and it would require consumers to give up their right to sell property they previously purchased or agree to digital-only distribution systems with draconian lockdown methods.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Pirate Bay eyes the pop charts
    Rapper Dan Bull steps up with chart stormer

    The Pirate Bay has high hopes for the latest unsigned act that it is promoting for a spot at the top of the UK charts.

    The Pirate Bay faces a lot of criticism from rightsholders and media cartel companies, but it says that it stands up for artists. Recently it started promoting unsigned artists on its web pages in a move towards legitimacy, and now it has someone with a real chance at pop stardom.

    “We’re doing more for unsigned artists than the major labels who are trying to shut us down. We’re throwing our full weight behind Dan, whose lyrics tackle the things that really matter in the digital age,” said a Pirate Bay spokesperson.

    “I want to smash the glass ceiling and show that there is another way of doing things. The charts are dominated by popstars with major record deals It’s time the other 99 [per cent] of us, who aren’t part of the industry circle jerk, made some noise.”

    The song is by internet rapper Dan Bull and is called “Sharing is caring”. It is available legally as a free download on the Pirate Bay and as a paid track on web sites like Amazon.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google’s Fiber Makes MPAA Skittish. Why Does Hollywood See All Technology In Terms Of Piracy?

    One of the points we’re always trying to make about piracy is that it has less to do with people just wanting everything for free and more to do with people rushing to embrace the possibilities of new technology. The industry has been slow to offer products that take advantage of these possibilities, and when they do they usually cripple them and charge too much for them, because they refuse to acknowledge the impact of better distribution systems on the market. Instead of recognizing that technological capabilities dictate how they should distribute their content, they think they get to dictate how far people should utilize technology. So piracy moves in to fill the gap, offering people the sort of comprehensive, on-demand service which they know is possible but which can’t be bought at any price.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Avengers: Why Pirates Failed To Prevent a Box Office Record

    Despite the widespread availability of pirated releases, The Avengers just scored a record-breaking $200 million opening weekend at the box office. While some are baffled to see that piracy failed to crush the movie’s profits, it’s really not that surprising. Claiming a camcorded copy of a movie seriously impacts box office attendance is the same as arguing that concert bootlegs stop people from seeing artists on stage. …

    This means that roughly 100,000 Americans have downloaded a copy online through BitTorrent. Now, IF all these people bought a movie ticket instead then box office revenue would be just 0.5% higher. Not much of an impact

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DVDs and Blu-rays will now carry two unskippable government warnings
    The old FBI copyright warning gets an upgrade.

    You know those FBI warning messages that appear at the beginning of DVDs and Blu-ray discs? They’re getting an upgrade—and they’re multiplying.

    The US government yesterday rolled out not one but two copyright notices, one to “warn” and one to “educate.” Six major movie studios will begin using the new notices this week.

    The first notice shows the traditional FBI seal and a warning that “the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.” The logo for ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit now appears beside the FBI’s.

    The second notice shows the logo for the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center
    “Piracy is not a victimless crime,” says the notice. “For more information on how digital theft harms the economy, please visit http://www.iprcenter.gov.”

    Will the two screens be shown back to back? Will each screen last for 10 seconds each? Will each screen be unskippable? Yes, yes, and yes.

    The idea isn’t to deter current pirates, apparently (the new scheme requires all legal purchasers to sit through 20 seconds of warnings each time they pop in a film, but will be totally absent from pirated downloads and bootlegs). It’s to educate everyone else.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ On Track To Be Crowned Most Pirated Show Of 2012

    With its popularity swelling and no easy way to watch for viewers without cable, HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” is inspiring massive levels of piracy, according to numbers from the BitTorrent-tracking and analysis firm Big Champagne. By the firm’s rough estimate, the second season of the show has been downloaded more than 25 million times from public torrent trackers since it began in early April, and its piracy hit a new peak following April 30th’s episode, with more than 2.5 million downloads in a day.

    “It certainly appears to be the most pirated show of the year,”

    the second season of “Game of Thrones” so far consistently top “Dexter”‘s piracy numbers from the same point in its season last year.

    While “Game of Thrones”‘ filesharing rates are probably driven in part by its appeal to the young, geeky male demographic that’s most prone to using torrent sites, HBO hasn’t helped the problem by making the show tough to watch online for the young and cable-less. The show isn’t available through Hulu or Netflix, iTunes offers only Season 1, and using HBO’s own streaming site HBO Go requires a cable subscription.

    “This is absolutely a reaction to the show’s not being available elsewhere online,” says Big Champagne’s Robinson. “It’s a very tricky game trying to create this kind of scarcity.”

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Who’s Pirating Game of Thrones, And Why?

    With over 3 million downloads per episode, the HBO hit series Game of Thrones is without doubt the most pirated TV-show of the season. Data gathered by TorrentFreak shows that most of the pirates come from Australia, while London tops the list of pirate cities. But why have these people turned to BitTorrent?

    One of the prime reasons for the popularity among pirates is the international delay in airing. In Australia, for example, fans of the show have to wait a week before they can see the latest episode. So it’s hardly a surprise that some people are turning to BitTorrent instead.

    And indeed, if we look at the top countries where Game of Thrones is downloaded, Australia comes out on top with 10.1% of all downloads (based on one episode).

    But delays are just part of the problem. The fact that the show is only available to those who pay for an HBO subscription doesn’t help either. This explains why hundreds of thousands of people from the U.S. prefer to use BitTorrent.

    The same is true for Canada and the United Kingdom

    To a certain degree one could claim that HBO is to blame for Game of Throne’s success on BitTorrent. They want to keep access to the show “exclusive” and even Netflix wasn’t able to buy the rights no matter what they offered.

    Comments from page:
    “I download because if I wait for TV I would get it about a year later and only dubbed and censored.”

    “in Europe violence is bad, and sex is good (or at least not everyone runs around screaming “think of the children” when a nipple is exposed ;))
    in the US it is the other way round”

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    From gigabytes to petadollars: copyright math begets copyright currency
    We’ve got billions of dollars worth of songs on our iPods.

    American law sets the maximum penalty for pirating a single song at $150,000.

    My $249 iPod Classic has room for over 53,000 three-minute songs in immaculate fidelity. Under our anti-piracy laws, that’s about $8 billion worth of music.

    It wasn’t always like this. Last Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the bankruptcy of Napster—the notorious startup that was sued into oblivion with a multi-billion dollar piracy lawsuit. When Napster first launched, the world’s hottest MP3 player could hold just 10 songs. That was a measly $1.5 million worth of pirated goods

    As music player capacity has grown, so have the lawsuits. Some were shocked when LimeWire was sued for $7.5 trillion two years ago. That was over ten times the gross revenue that our music industry had racked up since Thomas Edison first filled a 20-ton wax cylinder with an early rendition of “Free Bird” (something that today’s scientists can manage with a mere eighty pounds of wax—such is the march of technology).

    But my $8 billion iPad has helped me see how silly it is to use market data to evaluate the cost of piracy. Actual value is determined in a bare-knuckled battle of ideas, waged by professional lobbyists and persons-of-congress. That value is then reified in legal brawls with the likes of LimeWire

    Piracy apologists will dismiss the measures of value reflected in trillion-dollar lawsuits, $8 billion iPods, and our $150,000 piracy law (1999’s Copyright Damages Improvement Act). They’ll make flimsy claims about the law being “bought” by “media interests” from “senators” who are so rapacious that’s they’ve quite literally lost their sense of the absurd, resulting in laws that are so disproportionate, grasping, and harebrained that they can barely even be parodied.

    For instance, should the feds catch every California high schooler filling an iPod Classic with pirated music, they can announce a 16 PetaDollar ($16PD) bust (the petabyte being the next step up the ladder from the terabyte).

    Copyright math is heady stuff. But that’s why it’s best left to experts—like lobbyists and persons-of-Congress.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    David Lowery On the Ethics of Music Piracy

    Musician David Lowery (of Cracker fame) takes NPR intern Emily White to task for her stance on paying for (or failing to pay for) music. Quoting: ‘By allowing the artist to treat his/her work as actual property, the artist can decide how to monetize his or her work. This system has worked very well for fans and artists. Now we are being asked to undo this not because we think this is a bad or unfair way to compensate artists but simply because it is technologically possible for corporations or individuals to exploit artists work without their permission on a massive scale and globally.

    Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered.

    Recently Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered and GM of what appears to be her college radio station, wrote a post on the NPR blog in which she acknowledged that while she had 11,000 songs in her music library, she’s only paid for 15 CDs in her life. Our intention is not to embarrass or shame her. We believe young people like Emily White who are fully engaged in the music scene are the artist’s biggest allies.

    I’ve been teaching college students about the economics of the music business at the University of Georgia for the last two years. Unfortunately for artists, most of them share your attitude about purchasing music. There is a disconnect between their personal behavior and a greater social injustice that is occurring. You seem to have internalized that ripping 11,000 tracks in your iPod compared to your purchase of 15 CDs in your lifetime feels pretty disproportionate. You also seem to recognize that you are not just ripping off the record labels but you are directly ripping off the artist and songwriters whose music you “don’t buy”. It doesn’t really matter that you didn’t take these tracks from a file-sharing site. That may seem like a neat dodge, but I’d suggest to you that from the artist’s point of view, it’s kind of irrelevant.

    Over the last 12 years I’ve watched revenue flowing to artists collapse.

    Recorded music revenue is down 64% since 1999.

    Per capita spending on music is 47% lower than it was in 1973!!

    I Never Owned Any Music To Begin With

    I never went through the transition from physical to digital. I’m almost 21, and since I first began to love music I’ve been spoiled by the Internet.

    I am an avid music listener, concertgoer, and college radio DJ. My world is music-centric. I’ve only bought 15 CDs in my lifetime. Yet, my entire iTunes library exceeds 11,000 songs.

    I wish I could say I miss album packaging and liner notes and rue the decline in album sales the digital world has caused. But the truth is, I’ve never supported physical music as a consumer. As monumental a role as musicians and albums have played in my life, I’ve never invested money in them aside from concert tickets and T-shirts.

    But I didn’t illegally download (most) of my songs.

    All of those CDs are gone. My station’s library is completely digital now, and so is my listening experience.

    If my laptop died and my hard-drive disappeared tomorrow, I would certainly mourn the loss of my 100-plus playlists, particularly the archives of all of my college radio shows. But I’d also be able to rebuild my “library” fairly easily. If I wanted to listen to something I didn’t already have in my patchwork collection, I could stream it on Spotify.

    What I want is one massive Spotify-like catalog of music that will sync to my phone and various home entertainment devices. With this new universal database, everyone would have convenient access to everything that has ever been recorded, and performance royalties would be distributed based on play counts (hopefully with more money going back to the artist than the present model). All I require is the ability to listen to what I want, when I want and how I want it. Is that too much to ask?

  33. Tomi says:

    DRM, Pricing and How We Can Help Piracy End Itself

    Nevertheless, it also raises one of the big three issues which is causing consternation and confusion in the publishing industry — whether to DRM or not to DRM (the other two issues being the agency model and territorial rights). It’s already difficult enough for customers to find, purchase and read e-books in the manner in which they would like

    we must not construct any extra barriers such as DRM.

    Focusing on DRM, in our experience, in an increasingly diverse “e-reading” environment — where the same e-book can be accessed on different hardware devices, using different software platforms and also via cloud-based services — DRM militates against giving consumers easy access to e-books.

    It is no wonder that Amazon, with a dominant position in online book selling and very deep pockets, has used its proprietary Kindle format and device to dominate the e-book business. Amazon does apply DRM to Kindle e-books, but buying a Kindle e-book is such a seamless experience that most consumers neither know nor care that their book is DRM-protected — until they want to share the book or access it on another device, and discover they have to do it on Amazon’s terms.

    Right or wrong, in a rapidly evolving digital publishing world, the “Big Six” took the view from the outset that their e-books had to have DRM to protect against “piracy” and that e-book prices needed to be at least the equivalent of the hardback (and more recently the paperback) version. What have the consequences been?

    Piracy has flourished — whether by people who have cracked the DRM, or those who merely scan the relevant books and make them available on torrent sites for free. Less tech-savvy customers, who aren’t trying to pirate the book, run up against DRM barrier in their normal use, creating a frustrating experience and resulting in, our experience at least, lost sales.

    There are a number of specialist publishers, e.g. Wiley, who have successfully operated DRM-free e-book businesses but until April of this year, no leading trade publisher had taken such a step.

    The (early) evidence from Pottermore’s experience suggests that social DRM with proper pricing is the way to go. I sincerely believe this to be correct — within two years very few e-books will be sold with “hard” DRM. Publishers like O’Reilly already offer .mobi files that are directly compatible with the Kindle. If more publishers went this route, they could circumvent Amazon as retail channel, while still making books available to consumers with a Kindle.

    When (not if!) we list The Winemaker e-book, the biggest barriers to selling it will be the price and DRM. If Books4Spain could sell ePub and .mobi versions of The Winemaker with social DRM at a “sensible” price, our sales would be much higher. The challenge facing publishers is therefore to find the right pricing, marketing and distribution mix for e-books, and in that process, DRM should certainly be consigned to the dustbin. This means publishers need to focus on “servicing” and supporting independent book shops, such as Books4Spain, to break the hegemony of Amazon, Apple and Google as online book retailers.

  34. Tomi says:

    Publishing Execs Arrested, Face Jail Time, Because Book Tells People How To Back Up DVDs

    The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Yoshiaki Kaizuka, 43, an executive of Chiyoda Ward publisher Sansai Books Inc., and three other company employees on suspicion of violating the Unfair Competition Prevention Law, and sent papers on the firm to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office. According to a senior police official, these are the nation’s first arrests over the distribution of software to remove copy protection.

    It’s interesting to note that Japanese cyber Police could arrest the Amazon Japan CEO too as the online giant is selling a lot of magazines, books and software packages for DVD copy and ripping: exactly what put in trouble Sansai Books staff.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New DRM-Free Label Announced

    Awareness has been spreading among individuals, businesses and other organizations that DRM is a completely unnecessary restriction of freedom, and it drives people away. As that awareness spreads, going ‘DRM-Free’ becomes more and more valuable for patrons.

    New DRM-Free Label

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Project To Turn Classical Scores Into Copyright-Free Music Completed

    “Just under 2 years ago Musopen launched a Kickstarter campaign covered here on slashdot. Today that project is complete with the release of a large amount of classical recordings into the public domain. This brings an extensive collection of high quality classical music into the public domain. The project music is hosted on the Musopen site, and on archive.org.”

    Although the actual symphonies are long out of copyright, there is separate protection for every individual performance by an orchestra.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Beck’s open-source challenge to freetards: play it yourself!

    Fans of the artist Beck must wait until December for his new album – and if they want to hear it, they can play it themselves. As you may have heard, Beck has said he’ll issue his next album Song Reader as sheet music, rather than as a performed and produced sound recording.

    The McSweeney’s site will host fan-contributed interpretations of the songs – for which (we trust) they’ll receive a performance royalty.

    According to Lee Brackstone, Faber’s publishing director, it “makes a radical statement about the value and importance of performed and recorded music at a time when these very things are under threat”.

    Whatever the motivation, it’s a brilliant marketing move – it’s got people talking about Beck – and an artistic statement. Here’s the source code, make the record.

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  42. Burma Vargas says:

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  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Discussions about DRM often land on the fundamental problem with DRM: that it doesn’t work, or worse, that it is in fact mathematically impossible to make it work. The argument goes as follows:

    1. The purpose of DRM is to prevent people from copying content while allowing people to view that content,

    2. You can’t hide something from someone while showing it to them,

    3. And in any case widespread copyright violations (e.g. movies on file sharing sites) often come from sources that aren’t encrypted in the first place, e.g. leaks from studios.

    It turns out that this argument is fundamentally flawed. Usually the arguments from pro-DRM people are that #2 and #3 are false. But no, those are true. The problem is #1 is false.

    The purpose of DRM is not to prevent copyright violations.

    DRM’s purpose is to give content providers control over software and hardware providers, and it is satisfying that purpose well.

    As a corollary to this, look at the companies who are pushing for DRM. Of the ones who would have to implement the DRM, they are all companies over which the content providers already, without DRM, have leverage: the companies that both license content from the content providers and create software or hardware players. Because they license content, the content providers already have leverage against them: they can essentially require them to be pro-DRM if they want the content. The people against the DRM are the users, and the player creators who don’t license content. In other words, the people over whom the content producers have no leverage. 

    Source: https://plus.google.com/+IanHickson/posts/iPmatxBYuj2

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ubisoft: DRM Can’t Stop Piracy

    VP of digital publishing says, “I don’t want us in a position where we’re punishing a paying player for what a pirate can get around.”

    “What becomes key for us is making sure we’re delivering an experience to paying players that is quality,”

    To fight piracy, Early explained that Ubisoft needs to not only focus on making better, more compelling games, but also ensure that these games have more online services (which are not available to pirates) baked into them.


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