Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
I think most of us have now grown weary of the antics of the recording industry
in its vain attempts to thwart the average user's ability to make backup copies
of audio CDs or rip them for the purpose of format-shifting.
By messing around with the basic format of these CDs and/or introducing errors
that significantly reduce the effectiveness of the inbuilt error-correction,
the industry has made no dent in piracy -- yet they have rendered a growing
number of car stereo and other playback devices incompatible with their wares.
I know quite a few people who no longer spend money on these
"enhanced audio disks" simply because they be bothered with media that may or
may not work with their CD players.
Instead, these people consider these copy-protection mechanisms sufficient
justification to simply download already-ripped copies of those albums
from their favourite P2P network.
Obviously the industry is doing nobody any favours by engaging in a battle
of wits with pirates, in which they're clearly outgunned by a huge margin.
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Well knock me down with a feature -- but the movie industry seems to be following
the same lame path.
News this morning is that, as of mid this year, commercial DVD releases will
likely include a new copy-protection scheme from Macrovision.
Just like the lame methods used by the music industry, there are no guarantees
that this new anti-rip technology will be compatible with existing DVD players --
so you might end up buying or renting disks that you can't actually watch.
I feel sorry for the DVD rental and retail shops when this technology starts
rolling out the doors. If there's any real degree of incompatibility then
the complaints will likely come thick and fast.
Then, to make the whole thing seem even crazier, the movie industry acknowledges
that this copy-protection system won't defeat all ripping software.
Ain't that sweet?
Inconvenience goodness knows how many customers and resellers for the sake
of adding a copy-protection scheme that, it is admitted, probably won't work
I can see that it'll be only a matter of weeks before those who delight
in creating the latest and greatest ripping software will have come up with
versions that happily ignore Macrovision's technology -- and then the industry
will be right back at ground zero -- except that they'll have just pissed off
a certain percentage of their market because the new disks won't play properly.
Here's a thought..
Maybe the recording and movie industries ought to wake up to the fact that there
is a certain percentage of the population who won't buy a genuine disk no matter
how cheap it is. When these people illegally rip a copy, they're not depriving
anyone of revenue.
There's another chunk of the market who'd buy the genuine disk if the price
was right but want to be able to make a backup copy or perform some format-shifting
for convenience. The copying activities that these guys engage in is also not
a source of lost revenue.
Finally, there are the professional pirates who rip disks and sell the copies.
These are the guys that the industries need to focus on. The problem is that
the lame copy-protection schemes being used, or about to be used, are so
trivial to circumvent that they have no effect on these pirates.
But, once again, we have an industry which assumes all of its customers are
I haven't bought a new CD in maybe four years (but I don't use P2P networks either)
and if I find that DVDs have become incompatible with my DVD player (when I get
a new one to replace my stolen one) then I'll also stop buying those too.
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