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DRM Content Drives Availability On P2P Networks 211

jgreco writes "The music industry once feared that going DRM-free would drive a massive explosion of copyright-infringing music availability on P2P networks. Now, a new study seems to suggest otherwise. The answer is obvious: if you can easily get inexpensive DRM-free content that works on your devices through legitimate channels, most people won't bother with the headache of P2P networks. It appears that users largely turn to P2P to acquire DRM-free versions of content that is distributed with DRM. The MPAA, of course, will not come away from this with the obvious conclusion."
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DRM Content Drives Availability On P2P Networks

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  • by DarkSabreLord ( 1067044 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:18PM (#30962816)

    How many more years of this before other industries like software (SecuROM anyone?) come away with the obvious conclusion as well? DRM doesn't do anything but restrict legitimate purchasers of the product, people who illegally obtain things don't have to deal with such inane restrictions

  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:20PM (#30962828) Homepage

    Basically, this is based on the correlation that "hey, most of the stuff through a trackerless BitTorrent setup is pirated movies/tv, porn, and software, almost no pirated music" and "you can get DRM-free music easily, but not movies/tv, porn, and software" as implying "its because of DRM that people pirate stuff".

    Unfortunately, there are two problems here:

    a) Music is not just DRM-free, its also SMALL. BitTorrent's strength is moving big files, while pirated songs are very small in comparison, you can just email em to your friends.

    b) A lot of porn online is DRM free, so why so much porn in BitTorrent?

    Correlation does not mean causation.

  • by Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:21PM (#30962844)
    Lest anyone think that TFA is saying that BitTorrent is used almost exclusively (to a degree of 99%) for copyright infringement, remember that this study focused on DHT-based, trackerless torrents. Legit torrents, like Jamendo and Linux distributions, usually use their own trackers. There's no reason for them to use DHT. So the study will naturally underrepresent legal BitTorrent content.

    Also, the bit about DRM doesn't surprise me one bit. Nobody likes DRM except rights holders. It causes many more problems than it solves (which are very few already), not the least of which is perpetual content control even after the copyright expires. Far from banning circumvention of it, we need to heavily discourage (or outright ban) the use of DRM as we know it.
  • Paying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:21PM (#30962850)
    I do not necessarily mind paying for music. I do mind being told what type of device I can play my music on. That, my friends, is tyranny. This leads me to another gripe: The iPod and its ilk. We bought the device, therefore we own it and should have the right to modify it to work the way we want it. This is very much like purchasing a car, truck, or motocycle and customizing it. We purchase the vehicle so we own it and can modify it (legally) to ways we see fit. In this day and age, it looks like we purchase the license or right to use something which stifles innovation and puts us even further technologically behind other countries.
  • by xiando ( 770382 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:38PM (#30962984) Homepage Journal
    DRM does not work on some operating systems such as the one I (ab)use. It is so very strange that those who can not use legally purchased DRM content, and in most cases can't even do the legal purchase, look elsewhere.. isn't it?
  • by LordAndrewSama ( 1216602 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:39PM (#30962992)
    Perhaps restricting the legitimate purchasers is the new reason for adding DRM. I'm sure game publishers like wiping out second hand sales, making people buy the same game twice for different computers, forced obsoletion, etc etc. They probably just use piracy as a cover, write off the 'losses' from piracy, then make money from well and truly shafting the purchasers.
  • Lesseee... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cptdondo ( 59460 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:45PM (#30963074) Journal

    I pay for music - because typically I look for specific artists or songs. It's easier for me to find it on Amazon rather than wade through piles of junk.

    I would also like for the music industry to clean up its licensing. Let me buy music that I can play anywhere, in public, to any group of people smaller than, say, 100.

    No strings, no fear, no stupid RIAA tricks. Come on RIAA, make it easy for us to be legal. You make it as hard as possible, with impossible convoluted licensing (you need a separate license for public performance and for copying a CD) so that it's nearly impossible to remain within the licensing restrictions and play the music I like.

    Heck, I could make a strong argument that the music industry licensing is so convoluted that it is impossible to play music and be legal.

    So clean up your act.

  • by msclrhd ( 1211086 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:46PM (#30963090)

    We'll see what conclusion Ubisoft comes to.

    The sad thing about this is that if you have a good quality product that meets the consumers needs and is at an affordable price, then people will buy them. People these days have many different media devices (desktop, laptop, portable media player, car stereo/player, netbook, ...). Most of these will have their music on their computer, synced to their portable media player and car, possibly backed up to an external drive.

    With software, restrictive DRM will only push people away. For example, I have moved over to Linux, but still play games through Wine. I try out (and regularly buy) several casual games and some of the bigger ones as well (like StarCraft). DRM on this software will make it harder to run on this platform, and will drive me away from those companies. For example, I don't buy any Oberon Media games anymore, but look to Awem Studios and Big Fish Games for the casual games that I play/buy.

  • by Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:51PM (#30963116)
    As an Ubuntu/Debian user I just stay away from any and all DRM. It gets between me and my content, and is illegal to break. I don't need to put up with that hassle, not with the existence of freely licensed alternatives (part of why I run Linux).
  • by Imagix ( 695350 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:51PM (#30963124)
    Apparently you don't understand the idea of faulty arguments. By stating CDMC the person isn't dismissing the results out of hand. The person is stating that the argument is faulty and that the conclusion hasn't been proven (not necessarily wrong, but hasn't been proven right either).
  • Re:Paying (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:58PM (#30963200)

    You bought the device, yes, but it may be more or less easily modifiable - researching the device beforehand is probably a good idea, and if the "iPod and its ilk" don;t suit you, then DON'T BUY ONE - instead buy something that CAN BE modified the way you want.

    My car was partially built by robots on an assembly line, so as a result it's tricky to modify the chassis much from the stock configuration, compared to a different car I have worked on - a Cobra with a separate rolling chassis and body which is much more suited to home tinkering. Building my factory car with a single monocoque design has advantages, but it also has some disadvantages. If I was going to build a new kit car at home I wouldn't start with a chassis like that - why is it different for electronics?

    My oven has a computer, albeit a simple one - should I complain that I can't install Linux on it and thus it's tyranny because my oven is closed source/hard to modify, or my DVR, or my sat nav?

    Yes, you should have the right to do what you like with things you buy, but you should also consider what you are buying in the first place to determine if the thing you are buying will do what you want it to do. I would argue that if you want to buy an iPhone and install apps that aren't sourced on the app store then you shouldn't have bought an iPhone... you should have bought a Nexus One. (or you could just jailbreak it - Apple doesn't really care if you do, it just doesn't want to support that model)

    Also consider that for all the moaning about how Apple locks things up, they have been a major force for online DRM free content: they were on record before the iTMS opened that they wanted it DRM free, plus the "Rip, Mix, Burn" adverts, and even with DRM tracks on the early store implementation including the ability in iTunes to burn them to CD, stripping all DRM off. They just have to do it for movies and TV shows now. I know they're not the only online music store, but they have made major strides in this area.

    Sure, the iPhone and the iPad uses a closed developer "appliance device" model, but OS X does not. Their other hardware can be used as you describe - install OS X, install Windows, install Linux, have a blast.

  • by Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:59PM (#30963216)
    I don't think rights holders implement DRM to curb piracy (which it doesn't). I think rights holders implement DRM to make customers pay for the same media multiple times, and/or to tie them to specific devices, software or services. Why else would they be pushing it despite the fact that all DRM is cracked sooner or later? "Piracy" is just a convenient excuse.
  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:00PM (#30963230)

    Agreed. It basically comes down to these choices:

    1. Pay for crippled copy of media, and accept that you won't be able to play it on all your devices.
    2. Pay for crippled copy of media, then have to seek out uncrippled one on P2P network in order to play it on all your devices, and be considered a pirate anyway.
    3. Get uncrippled copy from P2P that will play on everything.
  • by TerranFury ( 726743 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:01PM (#30963236)
    I know you're joking (yeah, ok, most BT traffic probably is "piracy"), but my only recent use of the protocol was to download Knoppix; it seems they can't afford all the bandwidth to serve ISOs directly (unless you pay a small fee), so they've turned to Bittorrent... Precisely its intended use!
  • by TerranFury ( 726743 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:09PM (#30963298)

    A lot of porn online is DRM free, so why so much porn in BitTorrent?

    People are embarrassed to be associated with porn -- they don't want it showing up on their credit card bill, or to be seen purchasing it -- whereas a subscription to Netflix or one of the music stores causes them no embarrassment at all.

  • Ipod (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:17PM (#30963386) Homepage Journal

    I do not necessarily mind paying for music. I do mind being told what type of device I can play my music on. That, my friends, is tyranny. This leads me to another gripe: The iPod and its ilk. We bought the device, therefore we own it and should have the right to modify it to work the way we want it. This is very much like purchasing a car, truck, or motocycle and customizing it. We purchase the vehicle so we own it and can modify it (legally) to ways we see fit. In this day and age, it looks like we purchase the license or right to use something which stifles innovation and puts us even further technologically behind other countries.

    Ok, so write your own firmware on the device and do what you want.. No one is stopping you.

  • Re:Paying (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:36PM (#30963608)

    Don't buy it seems the obvious answer, but it only works if you're representing the majority of users and your gripe with a tool is what most users' problem would be. Your example of your car and oven are exactly the reason why "don't buy it" won't work for appliances like the iPod or other locked down devices.

    You don't care that you can't modify your oven or car because you don't want to. And the same applies to most users of iPods out there: They don't know about the locked nature of their device and don't care. There are a lot of car enthusiasts out there that lament the same problem geeks complain about in the iPod: The increasing inability to modify, to tune, to adjust to their liking.

    "Don't buy it and it will change because they lose sales" also only works as long as there is an alternative. And that it does not work out in the content field has already been shown with DVDs and BluRays. Would you buy an unlocked BluRay player? I know you would. But there is none, despite a huge market for such players. Why doesn't anyone produce one? Because they wouldn't get the BluRay seal of approval. Ok, then why not build a player with a different, free, unlocked format? Because no content would be available for it. Vicious cycle, anyone?

    And the same applies with iPod and "free" (not the beer kind) alternatives: Content will only be available for the iPod, so people will buy the iPod and whatever company provides a free alternative will go under.

    Free market only works under a few unfulfillable premises. First of all the total market transparency, which simply does not exist. Nobody knows all alternatives and the difference between them. Then the free competition, meaning that every device would play on a level field. Which simply does not exist because any "free" device would be devoid of any commercial content. And the combination thereof means that "don't buy it, but this instead" will not work out. You, as the customer, do not get to fill your role in the free market system as the "decider" which system shall thrive and which shall perish. That decision is taken out of your hands, thus the free market system fails in this particular scenario.

  • by MyFirstNameIsPaul ( 1552283 ) <> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:47PM (#30963732) Homepage Journal

    Obviously RIAA and MPAA will commission a study of their own that will find that the reason people pirate is that they are evil and want to steal the property of their poor, starving artists. But of course the bias of the study is in favor of the rights holders because they foot the bill for the study.

    OTOH, this study suggests that people just want to own what they purchase and use whatever means available to make the ownership permanent. But of course the bias of the study is

  • by Thoreauly Nuts ( 1701246 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:54PM (#30963804)

    I have yet to see a single 'work' that does not use someone else's 'work'

    Indeed. As a musician myself, I literally cringe when someone uses the word "create" in reference to writing music. It's so utterly arrogant and delusional. No one creates music. We build by accretion upon the works of past artists and within the influence of the culture and technology we grow up in and with.

    Human beings have been playing music on instruments for about 40,000 years and much longer without. Funny how all these nonsense "rights" only sprung up in the last couple centuries and the lies that music wouldn't be written without them as well...

  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @02:10PM (#30963976)

    The sad thing about this is that if you have a good quality product that meets the consumers needs and is at an affordable price, then people will buy them.

    Actually, the sad thing is that this theory has been pretty much disproven in recent years by the iPhone phenomenon, in particular the way apps which cost $1 end up with 90% piracy rates (ie, rates comparable to desktop apps).

    Pirates are, by definition, people who take something without paying for it. Whether an app costs $1 or $99 probably won't make much difference as long as piracy is equally convenient.

    For example, I have moved over to Linux, but still play games through Wine. I try out (and regularly buy) several casual games and some of the bigger ones as well (like StarCraft). DRM on this software will make it harder to run on this platform, and will drive me away from those companies

    Oddly enough, I used to work on Wine (have several hundred patches in there). So I've "examined" more than my fair share of copy protection schemes. There are two things you should know.

    The first is that you're in a tiny minority and always will be. In my years of using Linux, its market share has never increased and shows no sign of doing so anytime soon.

    The second thing is that fortunately, that probably won't matter in a few years. It seems likely that PC gaming DRM will move to internet binding rather than media binding in future, which is likely to not only make it far more robust but also make it a lot more compatible with emulators like Wine, because the game won't have any interest in poking around in kernel mode trying to distinguish fake DVD drives from real. So I wouldn't try and overgeneralize from the sort of DRM we have today to all DRM.

  • by Turmoyl ( 958221 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @02:14PM (#30964024)
    I understand what the article is implying. I used to pirate music, but then Amazon came along with decent quality MP3s that I can purchase at a reasonable price through an easy interface, and which play on anything. If I want something that can't be found on Amazon I still go P2P for it, but this activity is lessening as my library becomes more complete and Amazon keeps adding content. I used to pirate movies but then the Roku player came out and I was able to tie our Netflix account right into it. Now I get decent quality movies and episodes on demand, for no more ongoing cost than I was already paying for the Netflix account and an Internet connection. In other words, when things work to my benefit I spend money. When they work towards an evil empire's benefit I do everything I can to rip it off. So if you want me to spend money you've got to let go.
  • Yeah, it is sooo fun to pay $50+ for something that doesn't actually work [] (warning: language NSFW, but can you blame him?). And be sure to pay close attention to the shelves behind him. Notice what is on those shelves? See the thousands of dollars worth of games the guy has bought, only to have the vast majority not actually work?

    I won't even buy at release anymore, because running a 64bit OS I have gotten that stupid "Insert disc in drive E:" bullshit (It IS in Drive E: you stupid &%^$^$&^$! And why did I buy big honking hard drives so your stupid company can make me change discs like a PlayStation anyway?) one time too many and now refuse to touch any game that I don't already have the cracks sitting on my hard drive ready to go. Is it any wonder why people pirate? Your DRM don't work morons!

    And the worst part? The part that feels like a big kick in the nuts? It does NOTHING to stop piracy, it simply screws up your machine! Working PC repair I have thrown away more customers drives because the stupid DRM decided they must be a "filthy pirate" for daring to have a DVD burner (who doesn't nowadays? Hell even the shitty Dells come with DVD ROM/CDRWs now) or two drives and thrown one or more into PIO mode and burned them smooth up, meanwhile the pirates are laughing their asses off because unlike my retail discs which want me to keep switching discs and jumping through flaming hoops only not to work a good 60%+ of the time, their pirate versions actually work. No need for discs, or jumping through hoops, or DRM that can make your PC more unstable than Win98 with a bad VXD driver, nope, theirs just works. And they wonder why there are so many pirates? Try not kicking your customers in the balls, how about that?

  • by Mix+Master+Nixon ( 1018716 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @02:20PM (#30964108)

    To my shock and amazement, the Region 1 DVD release of the film JCVD from Peace Arch Entertainment has two non-DRM "digital copies", one in MP4 and one in WMV format. Both play fine in Ubuntu and on any device which supports MP4 and/or WMV. It's nice to see a company do this correctly. I've been meaning to write them a thank you note - think I'll do that now.

    I hate the term "digital copy" though. Did DVDs and Blu-rays become something other than digital copies at some point?

  • by yacc143 ( 975862 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @02:30PM (#30964196) Homepage

    Well, the $1 app piracy phenomen has still two problems:

    -) most of the iPhone apps that I've seen are not worth even the time it takes to install them, and surely not $1
    -) itunes is not exactly the best tool to discover which apps might be worth their price or not.

    Now we've got a market with incomplete (or potentially totally missing information), now look up in some standard economy literature, why markets without complete information (e.g. private 2nd hand car dealing) favor bad products.

    (Basically, without a way to prove how valueable your good is to your customer, the cheapest vendor wins out, because the customer without the quality information about the products has only the price as criteria. It's usually so much cheaper to produce crap than quality, ...)

  • by FlyingBishop ( 1293238 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @02:34PM (#30964228)

    They counted the number of files, not the size of the downloads. If size was a factor, it would follow that there be far more music data shared than video - but there wasn't. Music is almost non-existent when compared to video, at least when looking at data. Even if it's a full album, that's still only 150mb compared to a minimum of 300mb for an hour-long tv program.

    The lack of data on how many were downloaded is problematic, but would you like to propose a methodology for determining the number of downloads? The best you can do is record the number of seeders over the life of the torrent, but you can't make any statistical claims from the data without downloading each file yourself and seeding it for a while. In fact, you would need to download it several times to get a feel for how much data, on average, the seeders gave, and how long seeds and leeches remained in the pool.

    Even then, I would expect there to be no relation between the amount of time someone might seed a legal download vs. an illegal one, and even different illegal media would likely exhibit wildly different seeders.

    I would expect, for example, to find that Battlestar Galactica would have a very different seeder demographic than Friends, and I don't think you could guess downloads on the other by looking at the one.

  • Re:Paying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @02:39PM (#30964266)

    That, my friends, is tyranny.

    And that, my friends, is hyperbole. This [] is tyranny. Choosing an iPod and iTunes over one of the many unencumbered music players on the market and then bitching about the well-known restrictions it imposes is just ordinary, garden-variety cluelessness.

  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @02:40PM (#30964272)
    Yeah but it's not like the iphone piracy scene has found a way to make a radically better app store. Besides, there's piracy on Android too, and you can get a refund for any app after 24 hours there. Basically no matter how great the deal is, some people will find an excuse to pirate.
  • by morcego ( 260031 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @03:25PM (#30964610)

    DRM is just part of this race to P2P.
    I always payed for my EBooks. They were cheap and easy. I get them in a few seconds, instead of having to wait days for delivery.
    Ok, I live outside USA, so ordering paper books is always a exercise in patience.
    Now, the last time I tried to buy an e-book, I've got a message I could not buy it because I was outside the USA. It was a restriction imposed by the publisher. Now:
    1) I can't get those in my country
    2) Even if I could, it would be a translated version (which sucks)

    So my only option was to get a pirated version of the book. Took me 5 minutes, tops and, since I could not download that single ebook, I ended up downloading (and reading) other books by the same author.

    I WANT to PAY for my content. But things get to a point where they simply won't take my money. And then they complain about piracy. It is just ridiculous. I contacted the bookstore and even the publisher to try and sort this out, but simply could not BUY the ebook.

  • by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <fred_weigel&hotmail,com> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @05:57PM (#30965820) Journal

    I like content
    I used to buy content
    But then you asked for money for every blank

    So fuck you

    I would like to see HD movies
    But you said Macrovision is a must
    And I can't upscale to my TV

    So fuck you

    I bought into HD-DVD
    And picked up a few nice movies
    But the content cartel said no

    So fuck you

    I have divx on every player
    And terrabytes of storage
    But I can't buy movies that way

    So fuck you

    My mp3 player does wireless
    And its legal to share songs*
    But the player won't do it

    So fuck you

    *In Canada

  • by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @08:40PM (#30966924) Journal

    People pirate the $1 app because there's 25 similar apps all costing $1+, and only one does what you actually want.

    Rather than DRM being the failure, it's Apple's search system and app descriptions. :P

    Different cause, same result.

  • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @10:21PM (#30967538) Journal
    You're just distracting from the essence of the debate by discussing what people said and not what they obviously meant.

    I don't think it's a good practice to assume that people who say one thing mean another. When I hear someone talk about "theft" in the context of copyright infringement, I don't think they mean "copyright infringement". I don't think it's obvious at all that the distinction between the two concepts is understood to be an accepted truth, and need no more discussion.

    The point of copyright is to blur the line between information and physical property, economically, to provide a market in which the fruits of intellectual labor can be traded

    See, from my perspective you're the one who's hoping to just hand-wave away a difficult situation. Yes, this is the point of copyright. It also has no bearing on a discussion of whether or not infringement == theft since it doesn't address the value of a given "property".

    In my opinion, by blurring the line between infringement and theft you're really trying to blur the line between value and control. You would have to say that the value of a particular piece of intellectual property is inherent in your ability to control it's dissemination and use, and the problem that I and many many other people have with that concept is that it is an attempt to turn a commercial transaction into a form of governance.

    Now, you may not agree with that point of view, but I would beg you to try and understand why I hold it and why it would be a large concern.

The world is coming to an end--save your buffers!