Looking at the world of media: from music to RIA.

I’ve been screwed by DRM

September 24th, 2007 Posted in Digital Rights Management, General Media / Stuff

Anti-DRMOver the last three and a half years I have been commenting on how bad Digital Rights Management (DRM) is. I have ranted on the Fake Science Lab Report, kvetched on the Fake Science Blog and finally I have been burnt first hand by DRM. In fact, I was screwed by DRM twice in one week, twice!!!

First off, let’s start with the most obvious DRM burn: iTunes video. A few months back I was going on a longish flight with my girlfriend back to Dallas to see the family, and I decided to fill up my new video iPod with a few seasons of South Park. Now, I knew that the video was DRM’d but I felt like being a good little citizen and actually pay for the content since I didn’t own it on DVD. I grabbed a few seasons (not cheap) and downloaded them. They worked great, birds sang, whoopdeefuckingdoo.

Last week, I was home and my TV was in the shop (this tidbit is important because it plays into part II). Wanting to watch something while I ate dinner I grabbed my iPod and hooked it up to my LCD monitor via my MacBookPro. iTunes fired up and I tried to play an episode, and what do you know it wants me to authenticate the machine, since I didn’t buy and download the videos from my laptop. Fine… I knew this was part of the process. I choose my AOL account and try log in. EHHHHNT… oh I am sorry, you hit a whammy. It appeared that my password for the AOL account is invalid, which is fucking impossible since I used the password to buy my content and log into AIM all the time. But no, it doesn’t want to let me in nor is there a way to get my password.

Fine, be that way, I will just create an Apple account and transfer my account over to it. EHHHHHNT… wammy number two. Seems that the credit card I used on my AOL account expired and my new card doesn’t match the data on record. Shit. Now what? Okay… customer service. I have to actually call AOL to figure it out. I waited ten minutes on the phone and navigated through a bajillion options before I finally freaked out and said enough with this fucking ass backward piece of shit experience. I am actually a valid, honorable customer who had no intention of piracy, I had paid good money to use this content and now I am locked out!??! This is retarded. Meanwhile, all those other people can just go bittorrent the show and bam there you have it. And you wonder why people hate DRM and run to Pirate Cove?

Round 2. As I mentioned, my TV was in the shop. Why, because DRM strikes again. It appears that the Samsung 46″ LCD HDTV I have has a little HDMI issue. Some devices can not handshake properly with the mainboard (two hours of testing cables and research on the web led me to this fact). See, the way HDMI and HDCP work is that both devices have to verify that they are legal partners and can actually share data. The idea is to prevent people from ripping the content from the pure digital stream. Because of a improper mainboard design my TV could not talk to my new Oppo DVD player. Luckily, Samsung has awesome support and they sent out a TV repair team to review and then take my TV to the shop. This was all covered under warranty too. From what I understand, the issue with the mainboard is due to the lack of robust standards for HDMI/HDCP before HDMI 1.3. (I could be wrong on this, I would love someone to fill in the details) All because of DRM, and you know the worst part… people are ripping the digital stream no problem.

This is what gets me so pissed off. Billions of dollars are spent on DRM to prevent theft. Yet the “thieves” get what they want and the people that actually play by the rules end up getting fucked over. Right now is a really, really bad time to be dealing with new technology. Will my TV work with this video player? Will my receiver handle the new format for HDMI when it gets updated? What happens when they change the standard and I want to upgrade to a new HD-DVD player? Will my TV even work with it? And I do a lot of research and actually know a bit about what is going on. Can you imagine the pain an average consumer has deal with?

In the past I could buy a TV and it would work with any new devices I decided to add to my entertainment center for at least ten years (my Toshiba lasted 12). Today, if I try to go out and get a decent TV it may not even last five years… its totally, totally ridiculous what is going on and all of this to do what? To try and protect crappy media that I don’t even really want anyway. Seriously, spend the money on making quality material so that I feel like my purchases are worth it. Or lower the price so its to the point where I don’t feel like I am being ripped off if I don’t like what I bought and I will buy it because I do want to support the people who have the creativity to make the content. Don’t make me jump through hoops to get there when they honestly don’t need to be there nor make me look at the price and feel that downloading it is way worth it because the cost is out of my range. Well, at least my TV is back in time for Halo 3…

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