Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The absurdity of DRM, cont.

Bought 2 DVDs yesterday, WALL-E and Tropic Thunder. Annoyance ensued the moment I put WALL-E in my computer's DVD drive.

You see, I refuse to play most commercial DVDs straight off the disc. They come with way too many ads, warnings, and other cruft before I can get to the actual movie that I almost always rip the movie to my hard drive and play it off that instead. (Our computer being wired to the big screen TV helps.) Disney is one of the worst offenders for this, yet still I buy their movies when they're good enough.

So I put WALL-E in the drive and tried to start ripping it with DVD-Decrypter, but no dice. Almost 10 years since DeCSS made DVDs a de facto open format, Disney has decided to crap up their DVDs with yet another layer of copyright protection. So -- 10 minutes of googling and downloading free software later -- I had to circumvent the copyright protection, but do it in a modestly different way. This, apparently, is what Disney calls victory -- a 10-minute incremental increase in the time it takes me to liberate their content.

Tropic Thunder had no extra DRM on it, allowing me to use my normal software.

I truly don't understand all this work. Whatever it cost Disney to implement this new layer of DRM, it cost me less to defeat it. I bought their DVD legally and legitimately, and without distributing it to anyone else I would simply like to cut out a lot of the bullshit that Disney seems to think I must be subjected to in order to watch their beautiful and haunting film. The people at Dreamworks are not similarly bothered by the possibility that I might want to watch a movie in whatever way I choose once I buy it.

But what I've described above is already illegal in the US, and in all likelihood will be soon in Canada. Such a bizarre world we live in.


Anonymous said...

I believe it is already illegal in Canada to defeat copy protection on movies.

Utterly beside the point, because you're right. The existence of DRM to prevent you from using a product you purchased is infringing on your liberty. Under DRM its not a purchase, its a perpetual rental agreement.

Try using a VCR (I know I'm dating myself, but it should be a quick technical solution) to split the DVD player feed to two televisions (using the monitor jacks) and you run into the same thing. The DRM tech in a VCR that prevents copying the DVD to tape also scrambles the signal to the second television.

DRM tech prevents the playing of a legally purchased DVD, in a legally purchased player, through a legally purchased VCR to two legally purchased televisions. All because I might attempt to copy the DVD to VHS.

Asinine. I'm of the opinion that when you treat honest people like potential criminals you turn them into criminals. If I'm going to be damned for potentially doing the "crime" or for actually doing the crime, then I choose the latter.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Catelli. To paraphrase a college-age acquaintance of mine, in reference to the entertainment-acquisition options available to those with the appropriate technology: I'm never going to have to pay for another DVD or music track if I don't want to, and I'm never going to have to watch another TV show when the station says I have to, so they can Suck. On. That.

The plugged-in generation has already sussed out what you said about the choice between doing the crime or just being de facto accused of it, and decided they'll do the crime thank you very much.

OT - over at CC's place they're mentioning the Word Verification word if it's appropriate.

For this comment mine was WV = sucto.