Why DRM is evil, in one easy lesson

A lot of people don’t understand what DRM is, or why geeks like me are so deadset against it. For starters, DRM is a software “anti-piracy” tool… at least, that’s how the people who use it try to spin it. In reality, it’s a software used to give the people who sell you things control over the product, even after you buy it. Not upset about it yet? You must not be a Google Video customer.
Google Video was nice enough to volunteer to teach people a valuable (and costly) lesson about DRM. Unfortunately, that means I can no longer defend Google from its detractors as I have in recent months, because this is irrefutable evidence that Google does indeed do evil from time to time.
What did Google Video do? Well, imagine you go down to Wal-Mart to buy a DVD. Or a dozen DVDs. And a month later, the manager of Wal-Mart shows up at your house and says “I’m sorry, but we’re discontinuing our video selling program. We’re going to have to take back all the DVDs you bought. We’ll give you a Wal-Mart gift card in exchange, but it expires in 60 days”. That is what Google did, and can do easily, because of DRM.

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  • Jeff  On August 11, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    I’d tell you what’s *really* going on here but you know how I enjoy conspiracy theories so you will likely never believe me. But here it is for good measure anyway…

    The Twelve guys who really run the world decided one day that Hollywood was a nice way to make lots of money. It’s all just make believe and the blockbusters make hundreds of millions of dollars — maybe more by the time you include t-shirts, action figures, related McDonalds toys and other such things. It’s all entertainment so quite naturally the record companies and TV producers all became part of this giant cartel of “infotainment” that makes an ass of money.

    Contrast that with industrial manufacturing. There are all kinds of problems there; from environmental issues, to government regulations and then you have to actually compete with others who may be smarter than you and that’s never a good position to be in.

    So the the Twelve decided right then and there to get rid of all industrial manufacturing in America and to replace that big hole in the GDP, we would expand and enlarge out export of “entertainment” where there is less regulation and competition doesn’t really exist.

    That plan was going along well until digital downloads, file sharing and bit torrents came along and now challenges the Twelve’s hegemony in this market. If record companies and movie studios can’t produce billions of dollars of profit then swapping our manufacturing base for that will have been a stupid decision.

    But that is just what is happening — why else do you suppose the RIAA is going after teenagers with armies of lawyers? Why is it that just last week a swarm of agents from Homeland Security busted a bunch for file sharing? Is there a national security interest in keeping kids from sharing Madonna songs?

    Of course!

    The Twelve’s “Big Plan” is being threatened and they will stop at nothing to hang on to what they have (bits) since they already exchanged them for atoms… And since Google is completely controlled by The Twelve, this should come as no surprise. They are reading your Gmails and tracking what you are doing online right this minute. With those kinds of resources they can’t help but be evil.

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