Something that I feel has been bubbling under my threshold of rage for the past little while is the ever increasing presence of DRM in my life and all the problems it’s causing me. So I’m going to talk a little bit about why I’m so opposed to it.
First up, let me get this straight from the very beginning, I fully support the writers, developers, artists etc. A number of good friends of mine make their living in the creative industries and they deserve to get paid for the awesome work they do.
Right then DRM first; this is the core of all the problems and, in my opinion, also the cause of a lot of piracy as the more intrusive the DRM gets the higher the incentive the get the pirated version. DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, it is basically a way that the providers of content (note this is not the creators) or the creators of hardware trying to assert their ownership of the thing you have just purchased.
Now you can probably tell from my wording above that I have a huge bias here, I HATE DRM and all that it stands for, the DRM/Walled Garden model is one of the primary reasons I have such a problem with Apple and their products. DRM is, in my opinion, actively harmful to the development of new technology and any kind of creative innovation as well as a method of actively punishing consumers.
The pro-DRM group always try to make the case that we are not purchasing the product only a licence to use it under conditions they can specify. This is bullshit in my opinion. If I buy something I own it, I can modify it and resell it however I want and you can all fuck the hell off.
Again, in danger of getting a bit ranty about that, so moving on….
But what about the pirates?
The reason often given for companies calling for stricter DRM and other controls is that piracy is costing them a fortune, this is (I believe) a total lie. Most people who have downloaded a pirated album, game or movie simply wouldn’t have bothered to buy the product in the first place, hence why the figures quoted by the ass-hats over at the RIAA & MPAA (I’m using the American organisations in this example as they are both louder and more obviously evil that the UK versions) are nonsensical.
DRM & The Future Games market
This is the problem at the moment, the reliance on DRM and the legal ‘stick’ is now at a point where it is actively harming things. I know several people who are massively into the computer games scene who have actively refused to by recently released titles because of the requirement for an always on internet connection for DRM verification. I also know at least one or two who went out and purchased the game, then downloaded the pirated version just because it was a more fun experience without the intrusive DRM.
Microsoft have suggested that the next generation Xbox may require you to have an always on internet connection to play _any_ game at all, if that’s the case then I simply won’t be buying one, same with Sony and the next gen Playstation, if it requires an always on connection then I’m simply not buying it.
Read All About It
Ok then, books. Everyone loves a book (or should do in my opinion) and eBooks have exploded onto the scene in the past couple of years, unfortunately this again brings up the topic of embedded DRM.
I have a Kindle (which I have fallen utterly in love with) and I am fully aware of the DRM issues surrounding Amazon’s format and the limitations an eBook has, for example I cannot lend or gift an eBook to anyone at the moment, which is quite annoying, and I cannot buy a Kindle book as a gift yet. Hopefully these things will come and in general Amazon is considerably less evil than Apple.
The biggest issue for me at the moment is the stupid pricing in the UK, we are charged VAT on eBooks (an extra 20%) but not of the physical ones, this means that in a lot of cases an eBook is actually more expensive than its dead tree counterpart despite having much cheaper manufacturing costs (i.e. the layout and upload to Amazon).
What This Means for Me
Pretty basic, I object to DRM in all its forms and companies who consistently endorse stronger controls on these things will be companies I will not be doing business with.