If Movies & TV shows were DRM free, I would buy a lot more...

I remember being very excited by iTunes and buying a bunch of DRM'd music. Then my tastes changed in a music player and my music buying went downhill fast. After DRM was dropped, I have started to spend more money on music then I did even as a kid.

For some reason DRM'd books do not bother me as much. I am fine being locked into Amazon because I do not collect books and with the exception of reference books, I rarely read a book more than once.

However, dropping $20 on a movie or $30 on a TV series and being locked into a particular vendor really inhibits my spending. When do you think they will let go of the DRM? Is the video DRM so much superior to the music DRM that it is preventing piracy or are they just preventing sales?

Is the video DRM so much superior to the music DRM that it is preventing piracy or are they just preventing sales?

Well, I can't speak to sales, but it's definitely not preventing piracy.

Thinking about it some more....

It seems to me that buying entertainment should not be so complicated. Between DRM and mile long EULAs, it is getting a little ridiculous.

I have to sign less documentation to buy a car than to play a game on PSN.

So there is an interesting, independent experiment on this front running right now. The comedian Louis CK paid to record and produce his own stand-up special (typically these are paid for and distributed by someone like Comedy Central). It is on sale now at his website, https://buy.louisck.net/, for all of $5. There is no DRM on the file, it is just an mp4 file. After purchasing it, you can download it or stream it several times to replace it if you lose your copy of the file or want to show it to someone else. I heard about it through an NPR story (Fresh Air episode), where he stated that he had already made back the money put into the production. I'm very interested in the outcome of this experiment, and I encourage anyone who likes his work to purchase a copy of the show.

EDIT: He put up an update on the 21st, here.

I love what Louis CK and Radiohead have done with regard to releasing their material DRM free at low prices with no middle man. But the standard argument against them is that they're already famous, so of course they can do something like that. I'm not sure the truth is that simple, however. The Internet and social media has dramatically disrupted traditional marketing/branding/etc. strategies, creating a cognitive dissonance between the licensing agreements, studio contracts and copyright laws of the 20th century and the market realities of today. DRM in all its forms are a poor attempt at what is at best be a stopgap measure until the RIAA, MPAA and the businesses they represent cut off their dying limbs and focus on developing business models that make money by meeting people's needs.

China may be a breeding ground for the sort of innovation required to take place. Piracy is as rampant as ever; there has been no change in the ease of access to cheap but remarkably good quality DVDs and even pretty good Blu-rays now. In spite of that, businesses are growing around the streaming of music and video content through deals with search, Internet and even cable TV service providers (I imagine the latter will weaken as broadband becomes more readily accessible and more TVs include Web connectivity, however). There are major Hollywood film studios getting involved in these business ventures as well, so it's not like they're not open to the idea, they're just responding pragmatically to China's market situation--slowly, but it is happening.

This particular model might not be the answer in the US, where personal ownership of copyrighted content is probably more important than a place like China. I don't know enough to say what the answer is, but I think it's really going to boil down to convenience. When I buy your product, I want to own the rights to watch in any medium, on any platform that can be reasonably assumed to be a private viewing space in which I make no commercial gains. I have a hard copy I can share with friends, and an online copy, tailored to whatever device I'm watching it on that I can view from wherever I'm logged in. That's really it. Priced right, and you could be the leader in a whole new marketplace. I won't be surprised if they hem and haw too long and then Apple steps in with a solution before anyone else gets off the toilet, though.

Right... the record companies got rich and powerful by copying music, when music was difficult to copy. They once provided a very valuable service; they found good music, paid to have it recorded, and paid to have it manufactured and distributed. Without record companies, there wouldn't have been popular music in this country.

But nowadays, the actual manufacture of music can be done better and cheaper by individual people. They are, in essence, in competition with hundred of millions of tiny factories, all capable of producing exact copies of any arbitrary piece of music for so close to zero cost that it's not really measurable on a per-album basis.

But they still want to be paid for making copies, and that is what's causing the vast grief in the system. They're trying to use the guns of the government to preserve obsolete business models by force. There's still room for marketing and music production, but the act of just making a copy is no big deal anymore, and they need to price appropriately. It was hard to make a record. It's very easy to burn a CD, and it's easier still to open an MP3 in email and play it.

The same is true for video, it's just taking longer, because video files are bigger. It's now about as easy to copy movies as it used to be to copy albums. And the movie companies haven't yet truly realized that the business of selling copies of things needs to go way downmarket -- it needs to get cheap, because they're competing with free. They need to make it up on volume, and they certainly could, if they got the prices down where they should be.

Movies and albums really oughta cost about five bucks. As Kraint points out, Louis C.K. is now sitting on at least a million bucks he didn't have before, just by pricing properly.

I would settle for unrestricted personal use. It isn't the money that gives me pause. I have learned that there is a whole cottage industry to software companies that will remove the DRM. So pointless.

I am patiently withholding my dollars until they give me the product that I want.

Yeah, and I bought 4 $5 albums today from Amazon which will be downloaded and uploaded to Google to play on all of devices.

Greg wrote:

I would settle for unrestricted personal use. It isn't the money that gives me pause. I have learned that there is a whole cottage industry to software companies that will remove the DRM. So pointless.

I am patiently withholding my dollars until they give me the product that I want.

Yeah, and I bought 4 $5 albums today from Amazon which will be downloaded and uploaded to Google to play on all of devices.

On the money front:
The idea is that, with the reduced cost of production and distribution thanks to modern technology (and the associated removal of studios and other middlemen that take a large cut of the profits), a real win-win scenario appears. Creators can get a much larger cut of the profit from their works, and we consumers can enjoy more content for our entertainment dollar. That also makes entry into and success within the various entertainment markets much easier to obtain.

I had no idea who Louis CK was before he released his video DRM free. Bought and downloaded it sight unseen and wrote him a nice email thanking him for even trying.


Louis C.K. said he was shocked as he watched the orders come in -- and then began to feel guilty about the amount he'd netted.

"I've never had a million dollars all at once. I grew up pretty poor and I was like, this is not even my money," he said. "This is just a five-dollar impulse that 220,000 people had, and now I have it. And I felt uncomfortable about having that much money."

So Louis C.K. set aside $250,000 to cover the cost of the expenses of producing the special, then doled out another $250,000 in bonuses for his staffers.

He then donated $280,000 to five charities: The Fistula Foundation, The Pablove Foundation, charity: water, Kiva and Green Chimneys.

"I was going to [donate] $100,000, but it's like blackjack -- I just kept dishing it out," he told Fallon.
That leaves $220,000 left over.

"Some of that will pay my rent and will care for my childen [sic]. The rest I will do terrible, horrible things with and none of that is any of your business," Louis C.K. wrote in a statement posted on his website.
A $220,000 profit is plenty, he added.

"I never viewed money as being 'my money' I always saw it as 'The money.' It's a resource. if it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system," he wrote. "If I make another million, I'll give more of it away." 

There's a great boogaboo among the record companies that Internet music piracy via Napster and torrents "destroyed" the music industry. Of course, they were wrong. Napster was a portent of the future, not a harbinger of creative destruction. Apple's iTunes was that foreseen future - a future where you charge small amounts for content, but make more money because you're cutting out the CD factories and shipping lines.

Louis CK's experiment is a success for one very basic reason: people want to pay for things that they like, in the hopes of getting more, especially when the cost is very small. Since the content was pirated, 100% of his sales were people throwing money at him in gratitude, and in appreciation - essentially an open hat at the corner, only his corner is the entire Internet.

Apple and Amazon show that there is room in the Internet Economy for middlemen, but it's not to make copies. EULAs and all the crap copyright grief is all about the dying moans of obsolete models. Middlemen in the Internet Economy organize, find, and store content. Copies are made wherever and whenever needed - the process is so cheap that it becomes ubiquitous.

Where in the old model, I pay you to make me a copy, in the new model, I pay you to keep my copy for me, and to supply me a copy on demand, from your archives. GOG already does this with old games.

The sooner everyone understands the new economy and modes of media consumption, the sooner we can move on from this piracy moral nonsense.

Buy DVDs or CDs -> rip in lossless format -> resell on half.com or at your local used media exchange.

Viola, DRM free media that you can do whatever you want with. Now go 'buy a lot more'.

I've been meaning to add to this thread for a little while.

I got a blu-ray player for Christmas. i love the picture, but hate the time it takes to load the movie. The movie studios decided to add a huge layer of DRM to their product in the hopes of keeping pirates from stealing their movies. They even made it so that blu-ray players have to be updated to play films when they try to enhance their protection schemes. This means that I have to buy a player that can connect to the internet, either through a wired connection (no where near my entertainment center) or a wireless connection (which adds $50-$75 dollars to the price of the player).

I also noticed that on some of the "combo" blu-ray packs, that I get a "digital copy". On the last Harry Potter film, I get a code for a Ultra-Violet streaming copy of the film. Great, this really helps me. If I am out of my house, I can just stream it to my phone except that the bandwith used will put me on Verizon's bad guy list and they will either try to charge me more or "manage the network" to the point that I will get a slide show. Thanks but no thanks.

This does nothing to protect their movies, it only serves to piss off their paying customers. It makes you want to smack their CEOs around and ask them why they hate their paying customers so much (yes, I am a gamer and have seen this done to my PC games as well...)

At the same time, I see Warner Brothers might start making Netflix and RedBox wait 56 days to get their movies. I understand they want to protect their pay-per view windows, DVD sales, and their deals with "premium" channels, but really? 2 months between the DVD release and allowing the movie to be rented out? I like movies, but this is a joke.

Hey, 2 months is a long time and I get distracted easily, I may never get back to watching your videos.