DRM doesn't work

Mark Shuttleworth gives several reasons why DRM is ineffective. All DRM depends on some kind of encryption, and all encryption will be cracked eventually. All it takes is *one* copy to be broken and it’s all over. They’re only hurting legitimate users who want to watch the movie they bought on their iPod, PSP, or other device while it won’t even slow down the high volume pirates.

I never realized the true rationalization behind DVD region coding, something I’ve always found irritating:

In the case of movies, a big driver of DRM adoption was the unwillingness of the industry to get out of the analog era. Movies are typically distributed to theaters on celluloid film, great big reels of it. It costs a lot to print and distribute those films to the cinemas who will display it. So the realities of real-world distribution have come to define the release strategy of most movies. Companies print a certain number of films, and ship those to cinemas in a few countries. When the movie run is finished there, those same films are shipped to new countries. This is why a movie is typically released at different times in different countries. It’s purely a physical constraint on the logistics of moving chunks of celluloid, and has no place in today’s era of instant, global, digital distribution.

Of course, when DVD’s came along, content owners did not want people to buy the DVD in the USA, then ship that to Australia before the film was showing in cinemas there. Hence the brain damage that we call region encoding – the content owners designed DVD-CSS so that it was not only encrypted, but contained a region marker that is supposed to prevent it from being played anywhere other than the market for which it was released.

There’s no longer any real reason movies can’t be released simultaneously all over the world digitally. If the dinosaurs in the industry would realize that, they wouldn’t insist on staggering releases in different countries.

The old business models no longer work in the current world. The big entertainment companies need to understand and take advantage of modern technology instead of fighting it. They are going to lose in the long run. All they’re doing is slowing down progress.

There’s no longer a good reason for the big music distributors to exist. Musicians can produce and distribute their albums on their own and make a bigger profit by eliminating the middleman. As a case in point, Jimi M’baye’s album “Yaye Digalma”.

Jimi sent me a few original CDs he made on his own Mac in his studio. I uploaded the audio files and artwork to The Dub House and got 200 CDs professionally made with packaging for about $2 a piece. To get them distributed through CD Baby and digitally distributed through iTunes and other download services, I only had to send them 5 CDs. Almost all of the profit goes directly to Jimi and he makes a lot more than he’d make by selling through a major label.

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