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Hollywood's Love of DRM Mars Kickstarted 'Veronica Mars' Launch
by Karl Bode 02:31PM Friday Mar 21 2014
Warner Brothers recently tried something interesting: the studio allowed the crew and cast of the show "Veronica Mars" to try and kickstart funding for the production of a movie. That effort was successful, gleaning $5,702,153 for what is, at least according to Rotten Tomatoes, not an awful film. Amazingly though, Warner Brothers still managed to find a way to screw the entire thing up.

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When the film was being kickstarted, funders who spent $35 or more were promised "a digital version of the movie within a few days of the movie’s theatrical debut" alongside a few extras. What they got instead was access to the film via the film industry's painfully-clunky DRM-soaked UltraViolet platform, which wound up causing all manner of trouble for users:
Some fans were unhappy with the speed of the streaming service or were unable to access it due to their geographical location, so ending up paying to see the film at a cinema. Others said they wanted a copy of the film to keep, and had therefore spent money on a digital download via more traditional means instead, effectively paying twice to see the same movie.
Warner Brothers is offering refunds to users who are having trouble, but it's yet another example of how Hollywood's lust for closed, DRM-locked solutions not only annoys customers -- it actually drives users to those same pirated options the DRM was intended to thwart. It's unclear just how many examples like this Hollywood needs before they actually begin to understand the new business realities they face, and begin more seriously developing easy and open distribution platforms.

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3 recommendations

reply to IowaCowboy

DRM is bad

DRM is bad and even with it, piracy is just as widespread as it ever was.

DRM doesn't affect pirates at all and affects only every single one of us who buy content. There is not a single piece of content out there that has never been pirated and was protected because of DRM. The best any DRM technology did was delay the piracy of the content a few hours if that much. Though we all know 2 fundamental truths about that pirated content, 1) the quality is not bad enough to discourage people from getting the pirated copy, and 2) it is more easily accessible to any device. Music dropped it's DRM because of these facts, and the video companies will eventually learn this lesson also. You can't protect the content unless you never let the people watch/hear it. As long as the user can see and hear it, there will be a way to copy that data. The problem with Hollywood is they can only see the "you can't fight free", but as games and music has shown, that is absolutely untrue. You can fight and win against piracy by offering inexpensive, legal, easy to obtain, and convenient alternatives. Hollywood fights this FACT because of the one word they don't like "inexpensive". They would rather inconvenience users and charge more for "DRM infected Technology" under the false idea they can prevent piracy and make more money. The truth is for every inconvenienced user that gets converted to using piracy as an alternative, they loose a customer (possibly permanently). Remember inexpensive and convenient will always trump legal in the eyes of the majority of people. The illegal nature of pirated content is it's main Achilles heel, while the content it provides is more convenient to the user, the way to obtain that content is much more inconvenient. So while it is hard to fight "free + illegal + convenient" in most people, "inexpensive + legal + convenient + easily obtained" does beat it in those same people.

Bottom line, treat customers as customers and not as thieves. DRM is the very definition of a company saying, "Thank you for purchasing our product, you thief."

Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Tulsa, OK

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reply to IowaCowboy

Re: DRM is good

Stop being naive. That's like saying fatal drunken driving crashes are good or we'd have a lot more alcoholics still driving around. DRM is not good for anyone and does not prevent piracy. DRM only screws up the legitimate consumers, not the pirates.
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini



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reply to IowaCowboy

Re: My revenge against "entitled" Hollywood...

Cost of making a movie is not a reason to ever use any DRM.

Having the DRM on a movie file is like having the security box on a package of razors at Walmart/Target, people are still going to steal it but it makes it harder.
This is nonsense. DRM doesn't make anything harder, since 99.9999% of pirates never deal with any DRM, they simply pirate what the other 0.0001% of pirates take and strip off DRM the moment that thing comes out. Always remember a simple rule - DRM never stops any piracy, it only hinders legitimate customers and cripples the quality and usability of any product.