DRM you, DRM you to hell

An open letter to NBC.
(you’re free to copy/paste this letter, or a version of it, and send it to NBC Direct, their online video distribution channel, at nbcdirect@nbcuni.com.)

I would love to watch high-definition archives of Heroes online, as I can’t always get in front of a TV at the scheduled time. I went to your site to watch them, and I am now very offended.

First, I’m offended that you would choose to purposefully exclude me as a patron, or extort additional money from me. You pay a lot of money to get people interested in your shows, then more money to draw them to your website, only to then limit who gets to view the content.

I use a Macintosh, at home, at work and on the road. You have chosen to use a system that is not open to everyone, but is instead limited to a subset of people who patronize Microsoft as your “free” distribution channel. So unless I pay Apple $3 per episode to download them from the iTunes store, I have to pay Microsoft for their operating system.

I am also offended that you choose to treat me like a criminal, for no other reason than I want to enjoy your product. You won’t let me view your content because you’re worried I might give it to someone – someone who could also get it from your site.

I chose to visit your site to view your content. The first choice is always the easiest and most accessible. I expected that the only encumberment to doing so would be viewing advertising, which I accept. The irony is that, out of concern that people might find an illegitimate distribution channel which would not generate advertising revenue for you, you limit who can access your product legitimately, which reduces your potential ad revenue.

After all the money you spend on advertising and marketing just to get people to watch any particular program, you say, “here, but don’t show anyone else.” Why, because they might become fans, too, and more people would come to your site to get more content? You want as many paying customers to see the show as possible (even if we are “paying” by viewing ads), then you limit who can come in, just to make sure everyone who’s in has paid.

Perhaps the ultimate irony is the people who can do the most damage, the bootleggers and pirates who would appropriate your content and redistribute it for their gain, are already doing so. They don’t get the content through legitimate means (hello? VCR?), so they aren’t encumbered by the DRM embedded into legitimately obtained content. The only people inconvenienced are the ones trying to do things the right way.

So until you come up with an open DRM system that’s accessible to everyone, regardless of which software they use, one that doesn’t consider every patron a potential thief (that is, none), I’m going to steal it. I still plan on viewing your content. I’ll look at products other people want to sell me as the price of admission. But I don’t appreciate being told I can’t see something because I might steal it. That means I’m going to patronize the very people you’re trying to stop (when instead you’re stopping me). They actually want to make the content accessible.

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Published in: on October 20, 2008 at 2:37 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] drm you, drm you to hell […]


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