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Empirical Study Shows DRM Encourages Infringement

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the next-week-how-gravity-lures-skiers-to-mountains dept.

Media 375

Hucko writes "Ars Technica has a story about a study by Cambridge law professor Patricia Akester that suggests (declares?) that DRM and its ilk does persuade citizens to infringe copyright and circumvent authors' protections. The name of the study is 'Technological accommodation of conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM: the first empirical assessment.'" The study itself is available for download (PDF); there's also a distillation here.

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375 comments

and the pirates win again (4, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137021)

ARRRRR!

seriously who didn't know this was the case?

someone has to crack that DRM just for the sake of cracking it.

Re:and the pirates win again (4, Insightful)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137209)

I wouldn't say I necessarily believe it. The majority of users probably have no idea what DRM is and are thus unaffected. Those that do know what DRM is will either buy the software anyway and deal with it, buy the software then download a cracked version, or forego paying entirely and just download the cracked version.

I'd be more likely believe the percentage of people who skip paying and just download the cracked version hasn't changed much over the years.

Give me a few years and a grand for $1,000,000 and I'll do a study that proves this. Just like there have been studies that have also shown that DRM lowers piracy... and this one that shows DRM increases piracy. Now we need a study that shows DRM doesn't affect piracy.

Re:and the pirates win again (5, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137261)

> The majority of users probably have no idea what DRM is and are thus unaffected.

They may not know what DRM is, but it surely affects them when they buy a DVD movie only to find out it doesn't play on whatever device it is they're trying to play it on. Even NASA fell in the DRM trap.

Re:and the pirates win again (5, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137575)

The majority of users are also affected when they have to sit through the "FBI warning" nonsense which are afflicted solely on legitimate buyers.

Re:and the pirates win again (0, Flamebait)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137729)

The majority of users are also affected when they have to sit through the "FBI warning" nonsense which are afflicted solely on legitimate buyers.

Oh, the agony of those extra 10 seconds!

It's 10 seconds to the wrong people (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137791)

Do the pirates put that warning on there? No.

So the only ones seeing it are the ones who are paying.

And 10 seconds to the five year old who wants Spongebob Squarepants NOW!!!! IS a big deal.

Re:It's 10 seconds to the wrong people (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28138211)

More like 5 minutes. You've obviously not had the misfortune of trying using a disney DVD when you miss the "fast menu" button window, before it goes into a ridiculous number of adverts that you cannot bypass.

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137833)

Here in the UK it's more like a minute+. Why wait if I can rip my DVDs and save that time?

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

iris-n (1276146) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137903)

I'd bet that ripping the DVD takes more than a minute.

Re:and the pirates win again (3, Informative)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137955)

Yes, but you only have to do it once.

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

iris-n (1276146) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137985)

Well, I rarely watch a DVD more than once.

Sure, films that I like are on my PC, but it's just stupid ripping every film just to get rid of the warnings.

Re:and the pirates win again (5, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 4 years ago | (#28138209)

Lacking cable and unwilling to pay for it, I'm currently watching airbender on DVD from netflix.

First there's the FBI warning. For like 30 seconds. Then there's no less than 6 segments of spongebob advertising that I can't skip to go to the menu to play the more interesting, slightly more adult anime.

If I'd downloaded it off the internet, it would have been free and advertising free.

What advantage does getting the legal copy give me again?

Re:and the pirates win again (2, Informative)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28138249)

I'd bet that ripping the DVD takes more than a minute.

You spend a few seconds setting it up, and it runs while you're making popcorn. Then you can stick the disc in the closet and watch your movie across the LAN without being forced to sit through propaganda every time you watch. It's a good deal more convenient, even if you do own the original media.

Re:and the pirates win again (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137971)

That time belongs to me, not to them. Why should they be able to dictate what I watch? Just another reason to format-shift.

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#28138187)

First, the "Prohibited User Operations" generally take longer than 10 seconds.
Second, they happen every time you start the damn CD. This gets annoying as hell for TV based CDs where you only watch one episode at a time.
Third, it is my time, and I can keep it by breaking the DRM. Pirates and Linux users don't have to wait.

Re:and the pirates win again (3, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 4 years ago | (#28138201)

The FBI warning is just the start... often there are minutes of crap before a movie that you can't get past. It's most annoying on my kids' videos - essentially advertising for other videos from the same company, and there's no way to get past it without re-ripping the DVD.

I refuse to buy from companies like that now - they shouldn't control my time like that. What I really am annoyed at though is that my DVD player enables them to do it in the first place.

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137625)

Even NASA fell in the DRM trap.

No, NASA was foiled by a missing codec, not by drm.

Re:and the pirates win again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137649)

missing codec for an ordinary DVD? I don't think so.

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137917)

Windows XP (and maybe vista, not sure) don't come with an MPEG-2 Decoder built in. You either need to buy powerdvd (or the like) or get quick time alternative . I think K-lite has one as well. Once you have the codec, yes, windows media player will play DVDs. But on a fresh install, windows pcs are missing the codec for an ordinary DVD.

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

jasen666 (88727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28138087)

That pisses me off to no end too.
Also why I keep an old pirated copy of WinDVD around, just to install it for the codec.

Re:and the pirates win again (4, Insightful)

DangerFace (1315417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137427)

The majority of users probably have no idea what DRM is and are thus unaffected. Those that do know what DRM is will either buy the software anyway and deal with it, buy the software then download a cracked version, or forego paying entirely and just download the cracked version.

Then of course there are the majority of users that have been unable to get a game to work because of DRM, whether they knew it was there or not. And the people who don't have a music collection anymore because some servers got turned off, so now they just torrent. Or the people who can't get a DVD in their region, so just pirate it instead.

I agree, most people aren't like me - I buy what I can if it isn't DRMed to hell, mainly to make a point (albeit a tiny little one) to the companies that do it. But everyone I know has had problems with legit games, and when people learn that the only reason they're having those problems is because they wanted to reward a company for delivering a product, they'll stop. It's been years since I had a serious issue with installing or playing a pirated game. If the big companies started making ease of use more of a big deal than the pirates, there'd be a lot less 'piracy from necessity', as I like to call it.

Bottom line is, your standard pirate copy says 'Install, firewall, copy crack, play indefinitely' when to get the equivalent from even the standard very-little-DRM game means you need a magic CD that never gets scratched and never gets lost.

Re:and the pirates win again (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137609)

For a really goo example, see here [metacafe.com]. I myself have stopped buying games that I don't find a crack for first, thus making sure the games companies can only sell me games when they have dropped in price. Why? Because just as with the link I provided way too many times I have set there and watched that damned SecuROM screen pop up even though I HAVE the stupid %^%#^$$# disc in the drive!

Of course, now that I have switched to XP X64, cracking the games I paid good money for is no longer a simple desire not to have to keep the %^%#^$$# disc in the drive, that maybe works 50/50 for me anyway, but one of necessity. Because while the games play wonderfully in XP X64, their %^%#^$$# DRM doesn't work. So I HAVE to crack the %^%#^$$# game just so I can actually use what I fricking paid for. And just like the gamer I linked to(just look at the amount of game boxes surrounding him. That is a serious paying customer they are boning) their DRM for me just makes me jump through damned hoops so I can have the "privilege" of giving them money while the pirates laugh their asses off and don't have the hassle.

Is it any wonder more and more people pirate? It is because you are screwing your customers! And it is 2009 and I have big fat HDDs! I should NOT have to change %^%#^$$# discs when I want to play a game. if I wanted that I would have bought a Fricking PS2! And please don't mention Steam. As someone who had his $50 stolen by Valve over the HL:GoTY Edition I will never use that damned ripoff! Look up HL:GoTY Edition and ripoff and you will see Valve burned a LOT of folks. pretty much if you buy anything in a nice retail box from Valve they can rip you off and ANY time and refuse to give you what you paid for. No thanks!

Re:and the pirates win again (3, Insightful)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137789)

yeah, i don't download hidef movies off piratebay because i don't wan't to pay for them. i do it because i don't want to buy a blu ray player, i dont want to use vista, i don't want to sit through all the trailers and other crap, i don't want to carry around a bunch of discs, i don't want to waste an hour to go to the store. i want to WATCH the movie. if a legit online store would allow me to do this, i would pay. because i would be assured of quality, a thing which i don't get from piratebay.

Re:and the pirates win again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28138013)

You can fucking swear to hell and back. The internet is a goddamn shithole and you're just pissing time away by typing in punctuation. Swear, or swear not. There is no darn.

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28138021)

Steam is the ultimate application of DRM to prevent the user from exercising Fair Use law. I for one would happily join a class action lawsuit against Valve for selling me a game I can't play without a blessing from their servers. There's no indication that you can't play without updating steam anywhere on the box. You also can't play "backups" without installing and updating Steam. Why do they call it a backup when it's not playable?

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137707)

> Give me a few years and a grand for $1,000,000 and I'll do a study that proves this.

A grand for $1M? That's a great return over a few years! And I get a study too. Where do I sign up?

Um... Any relation to Bernie Madoff?

Re:and the pirates win again (5, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137709)

The majority of users probably have no idea what DRM is and are thus unaffected.

I believe the sentiment of the study is that BECAUSE people aren't aware of DRM, they still do things that are illegal, according to the DRM. I don't believe most people go out of their way to infringe--they just do by the nature of using their content in the context of the current laws.

Re:and the pirates win again (5, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137347)

seriously who didn't know this was the case?

(insert name of media corporation here)

Re:and the pirates win again (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137349)

Another reason is especially prominent on the DVD:s that are bloated with this severely annoying copyright warning text that you can't skip.

If the media companies could stop annoy their customers that try to be legal then they wouldn't have to take so much crap.

Re:and the pirates win again (2, Insightful)

fluffernutter (1411889) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137725)

I think this issue is even bigger then that. The internet has become big and popular and widespread enough to challenge the standard rules of the capitalist system itself. People don't have to be slaves to it any more, at least where any media that can be represented in a digital form is concerned. A fundamental law of the universe is that anything is that most objects/energy/lifeforms will take the path of least resistance and that is what is happening. Well, except for the person who cracks the software who becomes negligible in the grand scheme of things. They do it for the fun of allowing thousands to take the path of least resistance. The providers of the media are left floundering around trying to stick to the capitalist system but it is in itself obsolete.

It's true! (5, Interesting)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137049)

I never pirated any games until the day my storebought copy of Doom 3 flat out *refused* to work on my computer because the installer was convinced my setup meant I was going to make illegal copies of it. I got pissed off even more when movie DVDs started refusing to run in my laptop as well.

Re:It's true! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137249)

I never pirated any games until the day my storebought copy of Doom 3 flat out *refused* to work on my computer because the installer was convinced my setup meant I was going to make illegal copies of it.

The Linux version had no such nonsense.

Re:It's true! (5, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137287)

I pirated a piece of software just a week ago: it's a very specialized database application on steels that refuses to work if it doesn't find the original CD in the drive. Very useful indeed to use on a CD-less notebook... And I paid the damn thing almost $500!

Needless to say, a NOP has found its way into the executable. For the next version, I'll pay the license, but I'll download the ISO from emule, which not only doesn't require the CD, but also doesn't require the activation key.

This is the strange world of software and movies: when you're honest, you're hassled. If you pirate, your life suddenly becomes a lot easier.

Re:It's true! (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137333)

This is the strange world of software and movies: when you're honest, you're hassled. If you pirate, your life suddenly becomes a lot easier.

And when your PC version of Gears of War's DRM suddenly hits its arbitrary pre-set expiry date and locks out all the legitimate buyers, only the pirates are left on the servers to curbstomp each other on the multiplayer maps!

Re:It's true! (5, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137339)

This is the strange world of software and movies: when you're honest, you're hassled. If you pirate, your life suddenly becomes a lot easier.

That's exactly the problem with DRM. It only hurts paying customers. If you don't want to get hurt, you need to get the cracked version. They're driving honest customers away.

Re:It's true! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137879)

*sigh* I could also provide further "anectodal evidence" of what you are claiming regarding a piece of highly specialized image analysis software (those 2000â++ type of softwares with those nice USB dongles) which has fucking shitty DRM which prevented me from using my payed-for license to its full extent. Needless to say, IÂve been using the pirate-improved cracked version ever since and will provide copies to anyone who wants it out of spite.
 
..but since the plural of "anectode" is not "data", I will just say that the study refered in TFA sounds.. erm.. plausible.

Re:It's true! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137367)

Yep. It used to be the case that I wouldn't pirate the games: it was too much effort to find the copies, and too dangerous (trojans etc). But that all changed with more aggressive "copy protection".

What really boiled my piss was games I'd just bought which would refuse to install because I had some CD copying software installed. Hello? I'm not a pirate, I just bought your fucking game! I bought your game rather than pirating it, and now not only am I being treated as a pirate, but you're trying to put me to more inconvenience than pirating the game, plus pissing me off by trying to dictate to me what programs I can have installed on my system.

Pirated game = minor inconvenience + minor risk
Bought game = major inconvenience + cost + implicit insult + infuriation + CD check + having to go out and buy it in the first place

It's pretty obvious which route I chose.

Re:It's true! (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137463)

Pirated game = minor inconvenience + minor risk Bought game = major inconvenience + cost + implicit insult + infuriation + CD check + having to go out and buy it in the first place

Don't forget the limited reinstalls on a "legitimate" copy and running the risk of the DRM authentication server eventually shutting down, ruining your purchased copy forever!

Empirical, right? (3, Interesting)

Kensai7 (1005287) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137055)

I hope the adjective "empirical" is not there to hide unscientific or statistically weak methods... She's a lawyer professor afterall... sort of a scientist who talks her results out!

Re:Empirical, right? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137149)

Law isn't science. It's voodoo.

Re:Empirical, right? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137307)

Voodoo is when they call it "content". As in, "DRM protects the rights of content owners from thieves who would steal it."

It's bullshit. They're not referring to "content". My coffee cup is full of "content". They're referring to "knowledge and culture".

As in, "DRM protects the rights of "knowledge and culture" owners from thieves who would steal it."

Except that's wrong. If you wanted to fix the sentence, it would read "DRM allows thieves to steal "knowledge and culture" and to be protected from peoples rights"

Re:Empirical, right? (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137585)

Your coffee cup is a container. The implication of "content" is that a CD, DVD, etc. is a container also. When you buy it, you're not after the container, you're after the content.

At last (4, Insightful)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137063)

Good to see someone has taken a scientific approach to this for once instead of hyperbole, exaggeration and assumption like we normally see (from both sides I might add).

Also, it's funny how DRM has become automatically negative. The reasons are obvious, but as I've said before many times, DRM can be a positive thing. I'll cite the much debated Steam argument again. Once I buy a game, DRM (positive DRM) allows me to redownload whenever I want, and to play it on any computer whenever and wherever I want. There are some advantages to DRM but of course they're over-shadowed by the many drawbacks and disadvantages from DRM's restrictive aspects.

And can we please not turn this into a "Steam sucks!" - "No YOU suck!" debate again? It was just an example.

Re:At last (5, Informative)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137097)

What happens when steam goes bust? And don't give me the "we will patch authentication out if we go under" crap. If they are going under they will not be releasing patches to strip the authentication as noone will be getting paid to perfom such a job.

DRM is always evil.

Re:At last (0)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137123)

Good to see you read my final sentence. If and when that day comes I and many other like me will have no qualms about cracking our Steam copies. Problem solved, and in the meantime we get the positive benefits I described.

DRM is always evil

So you totally disagree with me that until your hypothetical situation whereby Steam dies and cuts users off we enjoy some positive benefits from the way Steam manages our digital rights to games?

Re:At last (5, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137241)

Too many DRM schemes (with companies that still operate [microsoft.com]) have already gone under and taken the protected files with them. Relying on the promises of a company instead of a contract is ridiculous. They're handing you sales fluff and you're eating it up. I would love to buy a lot of steam-only games, but _never_ will, because I want to play them X years from now.

BTW, you can't stop a "Steam sucks" thread in an anti-DRM post.

Re:At last (2, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137389)

So you totally disagree with me that until your hypothetical situation whereby Steam dies and cuts users off we enjoy some positive benefits from the way Steam manages our digital rights to games?

I know I do.

I find more positive benefits in not having to worry about Steam, EA, or anyone else "managing my digital rights to games." The one advantage (able to download onto another system when away from the main one) is not remotely worth the losses

Re:At last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137845)

I want to put this in a real world scenario.

I've owned a lot of legitimately purchased games. Probably to the point of buying a new game about every 2 months for the last 15 years. I know where maybe 8 of my non-steam games are. Last week I saw a STALKER:Shadow of Chernobyl mod come out and I didn't have to dig through boxes hoping that I didn't loose the discs. I clicked a button to download it (while downloading the mod), went to work, and when I came home it was ready to go.

This is what makes steam worth it to me. Not the ability to download to another machine, but the ability to download a game that you haven't seen in 3 years at a whim. The facts are that I am 99% more likely to damage/loose a game than steam is. Now as a person that actually legitimatly buys games (I know it's crazy) I have the choice of DRM on steam, or DRM on a disc. Because face it, you aren't getting any of the good games without it. If I've got a choice of where I'm getting it you can bet it's going to be off of steam.

Steam never claims to be all rainbows and unicorns. They're just making the best of a bad situation while trying to piss the least amount of people off. Currently they're also the best game in town, so deal with it or quit playing.

Re:At last (4, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137401)

Technology that restricts peoples access to knowledge and culture is evil. There is no justification for its existence that isn't derived from someones desire to create a hostile and unfriendly environment, then charge people for relief from the consequences of that environment. That is a fundamentally evil thing.

Re:At last (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137831)

Except that there is no guarantee that you can crack a software after the authentication server goes under. You can always do it before, but only weak DRM makes it possible to do it after the server failure.

Re:At last (5, Interesting)

silanea (1241518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137217)

What happens when steam goes bust?

What has happened every time digital restrictions interfered with the desire to use some content: Someone will break the protection. In Steam's case this has already happened for many games.

Re:At last (1)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137331)

Exactly. I choose to accept Valve's assurances that even if they go bust they'll release the DRM or arrange for authentication servers to remain running. If this turns out not to be the case then I'll just find a crack to continue playing. It amazes me that this is the staple argument people have against Steam, yet it doesn't hold much water as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, my original point wasn't about Steam, it was pointing out how "DRM" autoamtically is assumed to be bad when it has the potential to be positive in many ways - even if the positive aspects aren't often used.

Re:At last (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137909)

But your positive point about DRM can be applied to any download site not with DRM. If I had a DRM free games site once you logged in and I got payment I could use scripting to allow you to download game.exe. Then all you had to do was login to the site to download game.exe. No DRM yet all the "positives" of DRM you mentioned.

Re:At last (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137849)

As I just pointed on a previous thread, you can always break DRM while the authentication server is running, but there is no guarantee you'll be able to break it after the server is gone.

Re:At last (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137239)

What happens when steam goes bust?

You lose access to your content, of course. Wow, it turns out that there really are stupid questions. Here, I'll ask one too: will Steam ever go away?

Stupid answer to that stupid question: yes, of course it will, sooner or later. The smart question are: when is steam likely to go away, and what are the practical losses when it does? For bonus credits, consider that the majority of your content on it wouldn't have been played again anyway, and whether that loss is worth more than the benefits.

As well as the clear benefits listed above, there's also the consideration that the Steam pricing model sends much more money to the actual developer than a shelf-on-a-box purchase, and that it gives developers a level playing field on which to compete, rather than having to struggle against Corporate Sports Sequel 2009 for limited shelf space.

Steam demonstrates that DRM doesn't have to mean "You don't have rights to play that game". It can mean "Hey, you do have the right to download and play this game, anywhere you want, any time you want. Go ahead!".

Now, would you like to have a grown up conversation, or are we going to stick with slinging slogans around?

Re:At last (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137661)

This still does not help with issue: What happens when you loose access to DRM & Content delivery system?

Reply is, of course, you loose access to content.

Now, DRM system can have its merits and can be run by nice company, but that does not mean anything when its turned off. It just won't help me (re)play classic.

Notice that this is part of wider issue:

What happens to my email address when gmail stops working?
What happens to my data when cloud provider bankrupts?
What happens to my assets when bank goes belly up?

You loose it.

People have to trust companies they make business with. Obviously, not everyone trusts owners of Steam.

> Now, would you like to have a grown up conversation, or are we going to stick with slinging slogans around?

If you can not have better answer to those slogans than implied accusations on childishness and avoiding point ... Just ignore them.

Re:At last (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28138193)

it's lose! LOSE fucking LOSE!!! what is so fucking hard about that, man!?!

half of slashdot has .sigs about this and still you can't get it right!

Re:At last (2, Informative)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137385)

What happens when steam goes bust? And don't give me the "we will patch authentication out if we go under" crap. If they are going under they will not be releasing patches to strip the authentication as noone will be getting paid to perfom such a job.

DRM is always evil.

I do agree that DRM is always evil. No doubts about it.

But, if I am going to get saddled with DRM (and these days, I am) I'd rather get saddles with something like Steam. Yeah, the DRM-y bits suck... But there's also some value added. Unlike other DRM schemes that just suck completely, and don't add anything at all.

As for your question...

Well, there have been several occasions in the pas where failing companies have released patches to remove DRM or have open-sourced their codebase. So I wouldn't rule out the possibility completely. However, Steam is more of a distribution platform... And I don't think Valve could really release patches for other people's games. That'd be more up to the individual publishers to do... And I doubt if there'd be a terribly concerted movement to remove the DRM. It'd more likely be a concerted movement to make people re-purchase their games some other way, with a different DRM scheme installed.

However, Steam isn't all that hard to bypass. Most games released on Steam have a crack available within a week. So, should Steam go belly-up, I doubt if it would have much impact. Folks could very easily crack their games, burn backups, and call it done. They'll be no worse-off than if they'd purchased a retail disc with some sort of on-disc DRM that they didn't like.

Re:At last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137613)

What happens when steam goes bust?

DRM is always evil.

Most _normal_ people won't play games that long.

Re:At last (5, Insightful)

bumby (589283) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137187)

How is this related to DRM? magnatune.com gives you the same service (download whatever you bought whenever you want, wherever you are) without DRM.

Re:At last (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137221)

gotta love /. moderation - someone disagrees so they mod you down as "overrated"

Re:At last (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137459)

DRM has its uses in business with rights managements on documents more than it has its uses in limiting the freedom of a consumer to use their product as they see fit.

As for "positive DRM", as I've mentioned on a comment to a blog recently that said about the "age of Steam", I've recently started playing a game from 1995 without any problems. Are your Steam games still going to work in 2023? Can you be sure that the activation or even download servers will still be there? With DRM in consumer goods you can get to the point of not having something you paid for and that is bad. With DRM in commercial documents you can get to the point of not being allowed access to someone else's information that was shared with you (perhaps because a contract or lease is up), which is reasonable.

Re:At last (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137897)

"DRM has its uses in business with rights managements on documents..."

Let me fix it for you: DRM has its uses hidding evidence in business and government corruption more than it has uses limiting the freedom of a consumer...

Good Old Games (5, Informative)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137513)

I'll cite the much debated Steam argument again. Once I buy a game, DRM (positive DRM) allows me to redownload whenever I want, and to play it on any computer whenever and wherever I want.

I'll see your Steam and raise you a GOG.com. No DRM at all, ever, and you can redownload your games whenever you want. Sure their catalog is still small and contains older games (although some are only 2-3 years old), but I'm hoping they'll go from strength to strength and I'm supporting them with my dollars

I'm still hoping to see LucasArts back catalog on there one day.

Re:Good Old Games (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137959)

You also get bonuses like artwork and soundtracks. And for the OCD people, a virtual shelf to organise. :D

Re:At last (2, Insightful)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137925)

Once I buy a game, DRM (positive DRM) allows me to redownload whenever I want, and to play it on any computer whenever and wherever I want. There are some advantages to DRM but of course they're over-shadowed by the many drawbacks and disadvantages from DRM's restrictive aspects.

Eh? The DRM in Steam isn't what is allowing you to download the games anywhere. That's an entirely unrelated feature. The DRM restricts the game to running and authenticating through Steam and nothing else.

Steam without DRM would work exactly the same as it does now, the only exception being that you could run games without authenticating online with the Steam client. That's exactly how it works if you crack a game you bought through Steam.

Re:At last (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#28138241)

It is not DRM that allows you to download the game onto any computer whenever and wherever you want. It is Steam that allows that. Steam could allow that without DRM, but they chose DRM because they think that their business model wouldn't work without it. But what does the DRM do for YOU as the end user?
You like Steam. You agree with them that their business model doesn't work without DRM, so you are willing to accept the DRM, but in what way is the game better because it has DRM (versus the same game delivered in the same way without DRM)?

DUH? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137065)

"Crap, this wont work."

"Oh it's the drm, its broken or confused or something."

"Screwit, i'll just pirate it. And the next thing from them too just for annoying me! bastards!"

"There ya go."

Effectiveness? (1, Troll)

silver007 (1479955) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137069)

I just wonder how many people that 'matter' will pay any attention to a study like this. It seems like a little psuedo-psychology mixed in with a bias to me. Playing devil's advocate...

Hurry... (4, Insightful)

Clipless (1432977) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137081)

The RIAA better discredit Dr. Akester before this gets pickup by a major news source.
Actually I take that back. Everybody knows that there is now room for science and research when it comes to lobbying!
What was I thinking?

Re:Hurry... (2, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137499)

This would be a totally illogical thing for the RIAA to do.

Their purpose is to represent the interests of the record industry. Not to force DRM on everybody unless that is in the interests of the record industry. This article insists that it isn't.

This is not to say the RIAA won't do this. just that it would be illogical.

Re:Hurry... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137953)

"This is not to say the RIAA won't do this. just that it would be illogical."

That is good that you finished with that line. By their history, we can expect the RIAA to discredit that study, but you are right, it would be completely illogical.

Welcome to real life (1)

teh.f4ll3n (1351611) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137103)

Well, at least some of them are starting to realize that no-one is going to buy anything that stops working if you ugrade (reinstall) your OS. Now all that's left is to make sure Cthulhu is well fed in the mean while.

DRM is pushing me towards piracy (5, Interesting)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137115)

I stopped buying PC games about a year ago due to DRM technologies such as SecuROM and StarForce, because of the faults they can cause when burning CDs, which is an essential part of my job.

Last month I bought a new mid-spec laptop and went shopping for an "old" game that would run on it, and I settled on Civ4. After buying it, I discovered that it too uses SecuROM so I will not install it. Instead, I think it's morally (and legally?) acceptable to download a pirate copy without DRM.

A couple of weeks ago my girlfriend and I both bought The Sims 2. Neither copy worked! I've since discovered that the copy-protection on the DVD is known to cause installation errors, and one of the recommended workarounds is to install the disk imaging software Alcohol, and this indeed allowed us to install the game. Alcohol can of course be very useful for people who want to pirate games.

I feel like games publishers are pushing me towards pirating their products. I don't want DRM to harm my system, and if the only way I can play a purchased game is to pirate it then how long will it be before I skip the purchasing?

Re:DRM is pushing me towards piracy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137173)

I feel like games publishers are pushing me towards pirating their products. I don't want DRM to harm my system, and if the only way I can play a purchased game is to pirate it then how long will it be before I skip the purchasing?

Two Weeks give or take an hour.

Re:DRM is pushing me towards piracy (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137259)

Last month I bought a new mid-spec laptop and went shopping for an "old" game that would run on it, and I settled on Civ4. After buying it, I discovered that it too uses SecuROM so I will not install it. Instead, I think it's morally (and legally?) acceptable to download a pirate copy without DRM.

Morally, yes. Legally? Forget it. The uploader violated the law by distributing illegal copies. You violated the law by downloading and burning, thereby making an illegal copy. Remember what copyright is: it's a legal right to copy, literally. Also, usnig a Alcohol to make an image of the DVD is probably also a violation of the law, though the Software Act of 1980 does allow for you to make a copy for archival purposes and as an essential step in executing the program. Whether imaging the DVD can be viewed as "an essential step" or not depends on how good your lawyer is. ;)

Re:DRM is pushing me towards piracy (1)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137567)

Um... It's only specifically illegal to distribute copies. So only the uploader in this case broke the law... unless you consider that the copy is not a directly identical copy of the original, then you could argue that it was an illegal copy. The only other way that you could argue that this is illegal would be to bring the DMCA into it, but I am pretty sure any competent lawyer could argue that you were simply trying to abide by your fair use rights to actually use the software you legally purchased, and I am certain that a jury of your peers would agree with this and find you not guilty if it were a criminal matter. A competent judge would likely find this acceptable use as well if it is a civil case.

You are not forbidden to make copies for the expressed purpose of using the product you purchased; there is case law to support this. You are allowed to make a copy to your hard drive to install it, a copy to your RAM to run it... and a good lawyer could likely argue that copying a version without DRM on it, if it is the only means you have to use the product you legally purchased (or making an ISO in order to use the product on a system that has no CD drive), is fully supported by case law which details various copying allowed for the purposes of running the application itself.

Granted, all of the above is no guarantee, and you could get stuck with an idiot lawyer, non-techie jury, and/or an incompetent judge, but the likelihood of even being taken to court over this, when you are doing everything you can to be legal while still retaining the ability to use your own purchased product, is so small as to be pointless to worry about.

IANAL and all that crap.

Re:DRM is pushing me towards piracy (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137749)

Um... It's only specifically illegal to distribute copies.

No, that's just completely incorrect. You should really consult a lawyer rather than rely on "he said, she said" in forums on Slashdot.

Here is the relevant law, Title 17, Chapter 1 Â 106 US Code: Exclusive rights in copyrighted works [cornell.edu]:

Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

(empahsis mine). Only the copyright holder can make copies. As you (and the above0quoted text) allude to, there are limitations on these exclusive rights under Title 17, Chapter 1 Â 106 [cornell.edu]:

(a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy.â" Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
(1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
(2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.

However, note the emphasized text: only if it is an essential step. Pirating a game for the purpose of running a game, even one that you legitimately purchased, doesn't fall under this exception. An "essential step" would include loading it onto a hard drive or the copy that is made in RAM when it is loaded from the hard drive, etc. Getting a cracked version from The Pirate Bay does not count as an essential step.

IANAL, and YMMV.

Re:DRM is pushing me towards piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137527)

Alcohol can of course be very useful for people who want to pirate games.

Yes, it depresses the central nervous system and rids them of any guilt they might have felt!

The conclusions of the study (4, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137141)

Here are the conclusions of the study:

1) Although DRM has not impacted on many acts permitted by law,
      certain permitted acts are being adversely affected by the use of
      DRM;
2) This is in spite of the existence of technological solutions
      (enabling partitioning and authentication of users) to
      accommodate those permitted acts (privileged exceptions);
3) Beneficiaries of privileged exceptions who have been prevented
      from carrying out those permitted acts (because of the
      employment of DRM) have not used the complaints mechanism
      set out in UK law;
4) Article 6(4) of the Information Society Directive put an onus on
      content owners to accommodate privileged exceptions
      voluntarily. Voluntary measures have emerged in the publishing
      field, but not all content owners are ready to act unless they are
      told to do so by regulatory authorities.

My commentary:

1) As far as I can tell, DRM for the most part also hasn't had a noticeable impact on the uses not permitted by law. In other words: DRM only harms the customers, not the pirates.

2) As the record has shown in various court cases, the media companies are a bunch of assholes. Of course they're not going to care if little Ms. Teacher wants to (fairly!) use some copyrighted piece of work in hear lessons. They have "Power!! Unlimited POWAH!!!!"

3) What, there's a complaints mechanism? That would have been pretty good if people knew about it and used it.

4) Wait, what??? The DRM control freaks are supposed to voluntarily give up control? That sounds like a misunderstanding of human psychology. Also, quote The Matrix 2 (too bad they never made any sequels): "[Oracle] What do all men with power want? [Neo] ... [Oracle] More power".

Re:The conclusions of the study (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137799)

1) Not entirely true.

DRM slows down time between release and general ability on torrents. Hours are hoped for. Days are considered success. Weeks are *Epic Win*

DRM disables "handing out copy to friend" for most people.

2) 'Fair use tool' would be security hole. It is naive to expect that it would be used for its intended purpose.

3) Everyone knows how this kind of stuff ends up. Bureaucracy would swallow it and media would ignore it.

4) Here, have a cookie.

Even BBC's Have Your Say has got the plot (4, Interesting)

pzs (857406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137145)

We're accustomed on Slashdot to saying that the general public is not aware of the issues surrounding DRM and file sharing. However, this debate [bbc.co.uk] seems to suggest otherwise. I know the HYS debates are often full of ranting morons but it is still an audience of non-experts. Looking at the most recommended comments there seem to be quite a few people who know what's going on.

How much did this guy get paid to do this study? (5, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137177)

People prefer files that aren't troublesome to play and aren't tied to some publisher's good will, to files that are troublesome to play and tied to some publisher's good will. News at 11...

Re:How much did this guy get paid to do this study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137523)

Macrovision made me buy a $20 box to defeat it when I bought a new DVD player in 1997 or so. My TV at the time was a TV/VCR combo, and the video inputs were subject to Macrovision "protection". I never recorded a DVD to video tape, never wanted to. I just wanted to watch movies on my new DVD player.

I was talking to the people from some software company about license issues and I said, "You know, I would feel much less like a criminal if I stole your software". The guy said, "Yeah, I know what you mean".

I have a high end car stereo that has the ability to record CDs and FM to a compact flash disk, I read the manual on the restrictions on how to do such a thing, and so I never even bought the media to test it out (yes this was a licensed Sony technology on an Eclipse stereo).

Its easy to say, "Screw DRM, I want my stuff free". But its also just as easy to say "Screw DRM, I want the stuff I pay for to actually work".

Re:How much did this guy get paid to do this study (1, Interesting)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137529)

When put like that it is obvious to almost everyone, but how many people have bought huge amounts of songs from Apple and didn't realise they couldn't use them on other machines or devices because of the DRM? The majority of the population don't care because they don't get bitten, and when they do they just assume there's nothing they can do and go in to another cycle of getting bitten by DRM.

Since most people don't get bitten to a degree they notice (e.g. "I have to use my iPod? Oh well, I guess I like it anyway so that's okay" rather than "What? I bought music and I can't use it how I want to, like I'd be able to with a CD? That's just ridiculous!") and so the industry carries ever onwards, implementing mechanisms that won't affect the illegal copies but may affect some legitimate copies.

Interesting? (4, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137285)

Not to be a troll here or anything, but where's the correlationisnotcausation tag? ;-)

Headstrong.mp3 (5, Interesting)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137411)

My daughter wanted Ashley Tisdale's Headstrong on her iPod. (Please no comments - I'm ashamed enough as it is).

We can't get it from iTunes because we use Ubuntu.

We can't get the mp3 from Amazon.com because you have to be US resident.

We can't get it from Amazon.co.uk because you have to have a UK billing address.

We can't get it from Amazon.ie because that doesn't exist.

So I have a choice, buy the whole album on CD from Play.com or pirate it....

I'm getting a bit sick of this malarkey where I'm told what I can and can't buy with my money. Obviously, I accept the principle that Xyz has the rights to sell something in this market, but if Xyz won't sell it to me then I say screw Xyz.

So this news doesn't surprise me - the more you tighten your fingers yada yada yada...

Re:Headstrong.mp3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137891)

Why should you be ashamed? You're a slashdotter, and you got to have *SEX*! Do you have any idea how envied you are likely to be by your peers?

Locks were meant to be broken (2, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#28137963)

But everyone honors the honor system. Well, at least honest people. But as long as you can catch and reprimand the few crooks out there, then you've got a pretty good system going.

Frankly, I don't know why watermarking isn't in higher use. It could even add an element of personalization ("This album / movie expressly prepared for John Q. Smith") and help communities self-police themselves so we're not wasting government money on DRM enforcement / investigation etc. If the studios find out who's redistributing their work, it's a simple matter to report and disable their account.

Your Left Online: Empirical Study Shows ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28137991)

DRM only hurts ordinary users.
.
DRM stands for:
ordinary user: Digital Revolt Management
pirate: Doesn't Really Matter
.
Before long, for big media corporations, it will stand for:
Digital Regret Management

Fair Use (2, Insightful)

gninnor (792931) | more than 4 years ago | (#28138283)

"DRM and its ilk does persuade citizens to infringe copyright "

Is this infringing on copyright? If what they want to do is covered by fair use, I don't see how it is. What is being done is violating DMCA by cracking DRM. They are separate issues, right?

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