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Your opinion of Digital Rights Management?

drm digital rights management security protection content protection

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#1 Ian W

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 01:47

After I had viewed the comments at Neowin's news entry regarding digital rights management (DRM) support in Mozilla's Firefox, I decided to create this topic. I am wondering how many of you Neowinians have an opinion about DRM? Do you condone its use, despise it completely, or fall somewhere in between? For many, the abbreviation alone is enough to prevent a person(s) from buying or using a product with the technology or cause intense backlash (think of Microsoft's Next-Generation Secure Computing Base architecture, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and more recently, the Xbox One). Corporations would be at a competive disadvantage if they did not offer services designed to play protected content.

DRM does have a legitimate purpose. It implements and enforces policies related to the use of information. Content creators and service providers use DRM to decrease software piracy. Where is the incentive for content providers to create if they receive nothing in return? How can they continue to create without the funds required to do so? DRM can also be used by businesses and consumers to protect sensitive data, including financial and medical records.

I believe that DRM is a perfectly acceptable security model and much of the hostility towards the technology is misplaced. My belief is largely due to the documentation that I have read regarding Microsoft's Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) architecture. Its designers believed that the problems related to copyright protection were the same problems related to privacy protection.

#2 vetastropheed



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Posted 03 June 2014 - 01:50

DRM cuts into the budget of the Game/Application so much so that I often wonder if the lost funds to piracy is less than the lost time to implementing a defense against it.


DRM doesn't matter much anyways, if I purchase a game with strict DRM I just go download a version online without it. Hmm, odd, that kind of defeats the point, duzinit?

#3 Nagisan


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Posted 03 June 2014 - 02:45

Content creators and service providers use DRM to attempt to decrease software piracy.



The only DRM I have seen that works to heavilt decrease software piracy client/server systems (like MMO games have....systems like WoW, Path of Exile, Diablo 3, etc) where a large part of the software is ran on the server (which clients do not have access to). But even then, these can eventually be emulated and played more hassle-free than the legit owners.


Aside from that, I have not seen a single DRM that doesn't generally affect the legit users in some manner more heavily than it does the people who pirate the software. In this day and age of heavy DRM restrictions, we still have games leaking and being pirated before people who paid for the game can even attempt to play (and I say attempt to play because every major game that uses a system other than Steam seems to completely crash the day of release, while people who pirate the games continue playing like normal).


I believe people who pirate software are generally people who would not be willing to buy that software to begin with (or do not have the funds/means to do so), therefore software piracy has little effect on overall sales IMHO. Though there are people who buy software after pirating....using the pirated copy as a trial of sorts (and potentially wouldn't have bought it without trying it first).

#4 McKay


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Posted 03 June 2014 - 02:54

When it makes the pirates have a better experience, they're doing it wrong. Valve has it right I think. 

#5 Andre S.

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 02:58

DRM is bad when it penalizes the legitimate customer. That said, I'm ready to accept some level of annoyance in exchange for superior service. To illustrate, I've seen no need to pirate any game since Steam came around. To me the convenience of fully-working, up-to-date games available on all my machines along with cloud saves far outweigh the negatives of having to install and go through the Steam client. Also Steam provides me with games at reasonable and often bargain prices.

#6 The_Decryptor



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Posted 03 June 2014 - 03:53

I don't mind DRM when it's done well (Steam being a good example, the DRM functions much like a password would, doesn't stop me from playing the games, but stops other people), but when done badly then obviously it's annoying. Blu-Ray being an example, the DRM there is designed to limit what the consumer can do instead of helping them, I can't play Blu-Ray disks I own on my computer without buying special software, etc.

Region locking too is a purely anti-consumer measure, pirates aren't going to be stopped by a region lock, but it stops a legitimate customer from buying something from out of the country (I can't buy movies from US Amazon because they're in a different region, etc.)

Edit: The Google Play store is actually a good example here, click buy on a movie or TV show and I can instantly stream it.

#7 Skiver


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Posted 03 June 2014 - 08:49

I think it depends on how its implemented, sometimes the restrictions put in place are so heavily relied upon a constant call back home connection, once that goes down the product is basically useless. I have absolutely no issues with companies trying to protect their products, they just need to come up with better ways to manage it.

#8 jamieakers



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Posted 03 June 2014 - 09:25

DRM simply has to provide financial security for the content providers without infringing on the experience of the consumer.


The italicized part is where as a consumer I make my decision on the DRM.  E.g. Steam is a DRM system, but it doesn't infringe on my experience of my games hence I have no issue with it. For the most part your typical consumer is unaware it's even a DRM system - it's a great game delivery system.  It brings out timely releases at competitive price points and for the content provider secures the content in a way that keeps me from freely distributing the content.


On the flip-side... Blu-Ray (and to a lesser extent DVD) require I use specific software and mandate I watch several adverts and announcements before I get to watch the film.  Also as a Brit I have to wait several additional months to get the latest movies (region locking).  This infringes on my experience and I take issue with this DRM.  Whilst I don't condone BitTorrent, the experience as a consumer is far better - faster releases of the movie that can be played on any device I own and without having to be forced to watch adverts first.

#9 +DonC



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Posted 03 June 2014 - 09:34

I am fairly neutral about DRM technology itself but I find matters is how it is applied.

Steam is the obvious success story for DRM as it didn't impinge on pre-existing legitimate activity and yet liberated us from annoying (and unreliable) anti-piracy measures like needing a CD drive just to play games. Though I don't intend to buy an Xbox One, I think it's a shame that its online DRM scheme was scaled back. It has enabled things like Steam's "Play game X for a weekend, during which the game is on special offer etc."

DRM on music, however, is a good example of bad DRM. It removes various methods of enjoying music that people use. I only bought one album with DRM, and that was because I didn't realise that it had DRM! It was a hateful experience.

* It restricts the choice of equipment on which the music may be played.
* It often requires the music to be played using particular software, which might be unreliable or simply awful.
* Some schemes require you to be on-line to play the music.
* DRM schemes provide music companies with detailed information about when and where you play the music.

DRM on DVDs and Blu-ray is much better consumer-wise than the attempts at music DRM because it was so much better organised by the vendors from the start. There were still some ways that it affected consumers, for example the PlayStation 2 degraded the DVD output when used with certain connectors to the TV.

And of course on computers DRM on DVDs is largely irrelevant thanks to products like VLC.