Digital Wrongs

It seems that lately a single day hasn’t gone by without me reading something about DRM, whether it is some new take on DRM or someone’s personal experience of DRM.

I can see both sides of the argument, why companies feel it could be a good way to prevent piracy and why it annoys the hell out of the end user. There are many factors involved, but fundamentally I’m one of those that sees DRM as evil (at least in its current form).

My personal experience of DRM has being quite limited – I’ve basically avoided anything that comes with DRM as part of the deal, if I buy a CD, DVD, game etc. I want to be able use it in the way I want, and have become accustom to over the years.

The first time I think I experienced some sort of DRM was on a Cave In’s debut major label release, whereby I could only play it on my PC with the audio player that came with the CD at some ridiculously low bit-rate, oh and the first track couldn’t be ripped to MP3. As I have a CD collection of a few hundred CDs I moved them all to MP3 a long time ago to suit my listening and lifestyle habits, so this was very annoying – I eventually circumvented the problem.

My most recent experience was when searching for audio books to load onto my MP3 player to listen to on my commute. The best site I found had some slight problems (subscription service & cost) but I ignored those and had a hand full of books picked out ready to buy. However once I digged into the site I found they had lots of different formats, all with DRM and none of which supported my MP3 player (which supports all major types of audio including wav, MP3, ogg, wma etc.). That was it, I was limited to having to listen to the books on my PC or circumvent their limitations. Neither of which I could be bothered with so they lost all my sales and any future potential sales (along with any recommendations), and that was before I even started using their service.

Companies are pointing to online piracy as the reason for their “loss of sales”. If indeed sales have gone down, which is debatable, I can see a host of other reasons and from my personal perspective, I have:

Not been to the cinema that much recently because:

  • The number of films that have perked my interest has been very low.
  • Cinemas annoy me, now more than ever. Some people cite the experience of the cinema as being the reason to go, for me that is the reason not to go. Noisy people, eating nosy/smelly food with a overly quiet/loud presentation, bathroom breaks without pause, the expense and lots more.
  • I can watch it on DVD or Digital TV for less, with superb quality in the comfort of my home.

A couple of the above reasons are also a factor in the recent slowdown in the growth of my DVD collection.

Not bought many CDs recently (but still quite a few):

  • The number of albums that have perked my interest has been quite low.
  • I’m sick of buying CDs off the back of a good single that are appalling and I only listen to once.
  • They cost too much, when CD reproduction is at pennies, even taking marketing and production into account, the margins involved must be massive.

I think the point is that the industries involved have being giving the end user more and more for years – more content, at continuously better quality, which you can get when you want it and use how you want it (VCR, recordable CD/DVD etc.) . Now they’re trying to back out of the deal and we don’t like it, they should be embracing the appetite for content they have created with new distribution channels (and I don’t mean iTunes).

I could go on about DRM all day long, but I like to look at it like this; if I bought a book which had similar restrictions applied then I could only read it in my armchair, once.

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