Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Daily Reading: Anti-piracy in iTunes

Cnet has a story based on an interview with an NBC exec, who basically says nothing directly, but implies that iTunes isn't secure enough for his liking.
"One of the big issues for NBC is piracy. We are financially harmed every day by piracy. It results in us not being able to invest as much money in the next generation of film and TV products."

Which seems a bit silly, because no matter how good the DRM is, there is, as in audio, a rather large hole that can be driven through. In this case, it isn't even an analogue hole. All you need is screen capture software, and you can just record the video.
Here's the trouble, though. Most people who aren't going to pirate video aren't going to pirate it unless the barrier to legal entry becomes too high. Case in point. Canadians have started using HotSpot Shield to watch Hulu, even though that is currently not allowed by Hulu. Case in point. Canadians aren't able to buy movies and TV shows from the iTunes store (at least, not anything interesting....), and so they resort to...what? Handbrake? Buying iTunes gift cards from the States? Bit Torrent? None of these are allowed, but because the barrier to entry is so high, people resort to things that are not allowed in order to participate.
As soon as it becomes easier for me to buy a legit copy of Battlestar Galactica Season 4 than it is for me to download it on Bit Torrent (and I use me in the generic sense, as I don't download Bit Torrents), I will go with the former. Charge me too much to buy or rent a movie, and once again, it might just become easier for me to Bit Torrent than it is to buy.
Is everybody going to buy? No. Because the flip side of this argument is that some people like climbing walls. Some people will invest days and weeks and months into figuring out how to crack DRM and break into closed systems. They will invest hundreds of hours and even hundreds of dollars, just so they don't have to pay $1.99. Why? For the challenge. In these cases, piracy isn't damaging their sales, because these people wouldn't buy anything anyway.
The other sticking point is still pricing. That, I have no argument over. I do hope things get resolved soon, though. While Hulu is a good service, I want to buy an Apple TV, and lose my DVD player and my cable subscription. I want to spend money on your TV shows and movies, guys. Make it easy for me. Or maybe, just maybe, I'll go elsewhere.

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