Yesterday, Nilay Patel over at The Verge posted a piece on the return of Digital Rights Management (DRM). He speaks with Mark Teitell from UltraViolet about Hollywood’s newest attempt to impose restrictions on the files they sell.
Why did the movie industry spend several years and millions of dollars building a system no more effective at stopping theft and less flexible for consumers than no system at all? Teitell told us that without DRM, “the business of producing compelling video content couldn’t pay for itself over time,” and said that the “big guiding belief” behind UltraViolet is not stopping piracy, but rather presenting “a truly compelling legitimate alternative for those consumers that weren’t fixated on stealing — they want freedom and flexibility, and we’re giving that to them.”
Without DRM video couldn’t pay for itself? Patel points to the fact that the music industry is on the mend even though it has done away with DRM, but this used car salesman just spouts more nonsense. “The R is for rights — people like rights. We have the Bill of Rights.” Uh huh.
Video can absolutely “pay for itself over time,” but it can’t pay the salaries of the uncreative paranoid millionaires who run the studios. No one wants restrictions on their files, not even these fantasy “consumers that weren’t fixated on stealing” he mentions. People want to own the things they buy. DRM subjugates video ownership to the studios, removing the consumer’s rights. Perhaps Teitell should read the Bill of Rights one more time before whipping that line out again.
The company that gets this right and does away with DRM will make a whole lot of money. Enough, I’ll bet you, to finance a lot of great, original work.