The industry fights some unnecessary battles

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 5, 2006
Updated • May 15, 2013
Music and Video

I watched the movie Crank last Saturday in a cinema near my hometown. It was a great movie but something that happened before the film really annoyed the hell out of me. Why the hell are they showing clips that it is illegal to record the movie with cams and that you will face jail time for it before the movie starts? How likely is it that someone who has the intention to record the movie is actually in there? How much more likely is it that many visitors who paid lots of money to watch the movie are pretty annoyed by this message?

And don't you think that people who watch the movie with the intention to record the movie do not care about this warning? I pay money to watch the movie, not to see some crap that makes no sense at all. Another example, a friend recently bought a movie on DVD of a major label - again clips that say how evil piracy is and that it is illegal to copy the movie. He actually bought the movie and has to watch this? You can't even forward to the next chapter.

What the industry currently is doing is to criminalize their customers. Can't they see that this has one major effect? Customers are getting annoyed by this. If I buy something I don't want to be reminded that piracy is evil - I want to use it directly and without being forced to watch annoying messages.

Let us head over to DRM and see what they do there to make the live of their customers as miserable as possible. I don't want to reheat the discussion about Sony's attempt to plant rootkits on their customers computer systems to prevent them from copying the music; and I don't want to talk about all those customers who get sued by the RIAA because an IP address was sharing music with another which they traced back to the user. We all heard about RIAA suing the dead for instance, does not look like a fool proof system to me.

Let's say you bought some tunes from Apples iTunes store, or another store that uses DRM. It works fine, you are able to burn the songs on CD. Some years later you decided to buy the now top notch player from Microsoft which does not support Apples format. What would you do? Buy all songs again and hope that this time the next player you buy will support the format of the new songs? Will you illegally remove the DRM so that you can listen to songs that you purchased?

Some decades ago live was easier, you had records, you had tapes and later on compact discs. Nowadays you have a variety of competing systems which are incompatible with each other and make the customers life a living hell. In former times you could purchase music and was sure that it would run on devices that came out later in time. Today you can't be sure about that.

Windows Vista has the ability to lock out users who missed to activate the system in 30 days. Microsoft plans to make the users life miserable instead, surf for one hour only, no email checking and other features will work after  the 30 day period. This may help their sales but this surely has another effect that they probably did not think about. Users will either migrate to systems that do not impose such power over the user or become very annoyed by this measures.

Will all of this stop the commercial pirates? No it won't. Commercial pirates have the tools to make copies of movies and music even though the industry adds DRM and other measures to them.

So, who will is affected by this? Right, you and I, regular customers. Let me quite a nice analogy:

What could have been said is that DRM is like a toaster that only toasts Pepperidge Farm bread. You’ll pay full price for both the toaster and the bread, but they’ll sick the FBI on you if you figure out a way to toast a Thomas’ brand english muffin in the thing.

Here is a short list of things that you can do to show the industry that we, the users, are in power..

  • don't use services that sell DRM infested files, use services without drm instead.
  • switch to an operating system where you have control, not the company who sells it
  • don't buy CD's in retail stores that are copy protected
  • let your congressman know what you want
  • let your friends and family know about this and convince them to join the cause

More? Other suggestions? Let me know. Oh, one last thing, support EFF, they are doing a tremendous job.


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  1. Michael said on October 6, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    Yep, I hate it when I pay for a DVD and have to watch a 1 minute add on movie piracy (forcibly!). Hey…didn’t I PAY for this….why am I being forced to watch this crap. It’s a legit original and I’m still subjected to this!
    Somethings wrong in the world !


  2. Marc-O said on October 5, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Now that it has alienated most of its public by acting like rapacious industrial barons (what they are), the big labels of movies and music are miserably trying to get back the upper hand in the battle for cunsumer’s money. The latest tactic? Paint themsevles as matyrs of the evil “worldwide piracy”.

    They have so little support left in the artistic fanbase that they swtiched to paranoid dreamland. It’s alright to have a mean, predatory, relation to your consumers as long as you hold the leash, but the day the situation turns, you get a little scared that the people you more or less took money from will want to get even. Now they rightfully understood that some of the paying users are pirates. Some. And on that basis, they strike everywhere they can. And that includes annoying the hell out of all the legitimate, paying, honest customers.

    In order to hinder one pirate, they’re ready to sacrifice a part of the pleasure the rest of the public came into the theater to get. But I think in the end, it’s not much of an attack to the pirates. These messages, they’re Public Relations. A pathetic exercise in public self-pity.

    It’s been so long that they are treating their customers/consumers with disdain that they don’t understand them anymore. And they don’t even try. They don’t try to track down where exactly in time did the public ceased to love/respect them. They don’t see that people are leaving the theaters because the megaplex(es?) are not really about movies anymore – they’re about eating terribly unhealthy junk, making gross noises, chatting, and playing hi-fi video arcade games. It’s noise, flashy lights, and no intimacy at all. The problem is that maybe they never expected the public to love and respect them. They just acted as industry usually treats them: consumers. They’re a target, they’re a prey, they have the money you want.

    Now they’re trying to get a little symathy, the one people keep for victims. It’s for the public at large, and it’s for the governments. To grant them new rights, new powers to reclaim and keep the control they once had over the media itself. It’s not about the people, it’s about the product.

    In the meantime, every consumer is treated equally – as a potential pirate/spy/ennemy.

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