Lots of things made our modern all-online, all-video era possible: Internet connections got faster, tech got cheaper, and so on. But the thing that made companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu willing and able to become household names in TV is a little invisible: it’s the ability to keep you paying for content.
digital rights management
Reader Justin is steaming because he just found out that the promised “digital copy included” isn’t actually a normal file, but a license to watch the flick through the movie industry’s new “UltraViolet” system.
It’s been in vogue for PC game publishers to use heavy-handed digital rights management software that severely limits games unless they are constantly connected to the internet. Gamers hate these piracy-combating restrictions because a network error on anyone’s end can interrupt their sessions and make their purchases unusable.
Amazon customers are complaining that Fox has gummed up the Avatar DVDs with DRM, rendering them unplayable on many Blu-ray players in an effort to prevent piracy. That is, if you consider making a copy of a DVD you own as piracy.
After a reader complained that a computer game he downloaded from Stardock was broken, company president and CEO Brad Wardell refunded the money but said the problem was probably caused by a fan-created patch.
Tim downloaded a computer game from Stardock but found that it’s been crippled by DRM issues that treat him like he’s a common pirate. At first he found customer service unresponsive and thought he would be out $10 (Stardock ended up refunding his money).
Dan, the Kindle owner who last week found that some of the books he’d purchased were no longer available to download due to unspecified limitations set by the publisher, spoke to more Amazon reps on Sunday. They clarified the DRM policy. Well, sort of.
Amazon Kindle Books Can Only Be Downloaded A Limited Number Of Times, And No You Cannot Find Out That Limit Before You Hit It
[The CSR said] that there is always a limit to the number of times you can download a given book. Sometimes, he said, it’s five or six times but at other times it may only be once or twice. And, here’s the kicker folks, once you reach the cap you need to repurchase the book if you want to download it again.
EA’s DRM spyware on the long-awaited game Spore turns out to have an added side-effect: if you live in a household with multiple players, you all have to share the same account. The game’s manual says otherwise, but after repeated queries on the EA forum, a company spokesperson confirmed this. That’s right—if you’re in a household with several potential Spore players, and you want each of them to have their own account, you will have to buy multiple copies of the game.
When Yahoo announced last week that they were turning off their DRM-restricted music store store in September, thereby abandoning customers with songs that would no longer play, people were understantably angry. At the time, Yahoo suggested you burn the songs to CD while you still can, then re-rip them into unprotected MP3 files—but that was a lousy solution that took time and money, and resulted in lower-quality audio files. Now they’ve come back with a proper solution that seems to more than make up for the trouble—especially if we can believe what their spokesperson told the LA Times.
Sony has agreed to sell its songs DRM-free on the Amazon MP3 store, completing the set—now all four big record companies are on board. It’s amazing how a little iTunes competitiveness will bring a bunch of executives together.
20th Century Fox has announced that the special-edition DVD for “Live Free or Die Hard” will include a “DRM-free” computer file of the movie, playable through Windows’ PlaysForSure software. We suppose you can call this DRM-free, but it obviously doesn’t mean it’s not restricted. To access the file, you will have to insert the disc into your computer, then enter an authorization code that’s included in the DVD case. Once it’s copied over, you can play it on your PC or portable media players that use the PlaysForSure software.