DRM from 1998 to the Present: A Brief History of Copy Protection



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If RIAA is not a buch of phunk money whores, and cares nothing of musik or songwriting !!!!





Being in music industry for over 17 yrs. passing music didn't kill it. The corporate uppity stuffy boardmembers did. They failed to see about putting "Good" artist out from 90's on. If you were not the sterotype whore well you don't get signed. PHUCK That. I can out program,or mix,produce, or pick artist out before some 50+ whiteman, in stuffy collared suit anyday! 


Top performers sell out, push the Web on new ways to inovate themselves in making money. Where was the stuipid Corparates suits in early 90's and Web distribution?!?! NOWHERE. They were just trying to push corporate shares to milk the system for what is was and put the new whore on to dance, or fake sing.Cut the Whiteman corporate suit out, stupid shareholders(Crucifiy them). What do you have left talented artist,or crappy air head bimbo whores from corporate!


One of favorite examples is Yazoo with top programer Vicne Clark(Depeche Mode,Erasure),and Alison Moyet. they hit #1 UK but far from look the part of Sterotype whore/bimbo look of today. But you put a great show on, and produce a superior album the fans see that. Alison Moyet would never be able to get signed to major label today despite her voice.





They are so nice

please plut: www . soozone . com





They are so nice

please plut: www . soozone . com


Holly Golightly

Oh my goodness... Is everyone I know and speak to brainwashed? Steam is a format of DRM. By far the worst kind! I do not even know where to begin!!!

I am with Eric Schmidt, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Any form of DRM is bad for the consumers! Pirates always find a way around, so what difference does it ultimately make?

We need to outlaw DRM, because this stuff is going too far. Self Destructing consoles? When will it end? Pirating is inevitable, just like other crimes. They can't be stopped because a new one happens every day.

I bet if the RIAA could, they would sue every man, woman and child who "borrowed" or watched a movie without paying. At some point, their madness does not make any sense!

This capitalistic greed is ancient, and primative. Celebrities should be more like Trent Reznor of N.I.N. and make music solely out of heart... For the people! if people like it, they will ultimately pay for it.

Anything that needs a special password and account just to have access to enjoy, is by far the worst method of DRM. I seriously do not know what else to say... But it definitely needs to end!



Look, DRM is stupid. It makes things a PITA for regular consumers, and pirates WILL (actually, already have) find ways to circumvent it. It's a waste of people's time. And if products are DRM'd or overpriced, I WILL pirate them. Oh wait, then the companies don't get any money from me. That's certainly not the best way to do things, no?



DRM  = Winning the battle, losing the war.

I'm not a pirate, though I used to be. I pirated a lot of my music, a few movies, even Adobe CS (which I promptly upgraded and paid for later on, yes, *paid for*). I don't mind DRM if it meets three of these standards: It doesn't infringe on your right to keep a backup (crypt technologies), it doesn't infringe on your right to privacy (phoning home) and it doesn't cause problems in any way (such as activation servers failing).

Product/serial keys and activation = fine with me, as long as I can reuse the key if my installation or maybe even the entire computer was to go up in smoke (only on the computer it was installed on of course). MS is actually, in my experience, accomodates you, even with OEM Windows, if you ever need to call. As far as phoning home *after* activation: I don't think so.

Encrypting movie DVDs with CSS = not OK. Doesn't Big Media know that DVDs get scratched, lost or stolen? IOW, allow me to legally make a backup. It can be done anyways with various tools (I won't elaborate), but it's illegal per the DMCA and the stipulation that it circumvents DRM.

Installing rootkits onto someone's computer to prevent them from ripping the contents of the CD = definitely *not* OK. The coders and anyone involved with the rootkit at Sony should have been sanctioned for criminal charges, personally liable for hundreds of thousands in damages, *and* thrown in the clinker for five years, if I'm not mistakened, the rootkit in question was installed on consumers' machines without permission. It did cause widespread damage, being that it disallowed the consumer to legally rip a CD, and would require attention from a professional to remove.

I say that IP holders and legislators need to sit down, along with lobbyists from the consumer side and find a replacement to DMCA. Consumer lobbyists would of course be the only party to get something like this initiated. It's quickly becoming outdated and allows no rights for the consumer. It needs to be fair for the IP holders, too, but shouldn't impose heavyhanded restrictions on you and I. There's a way, it's just that IP holders want a power grab for the most part, which they cannot have if they want to stay successful in business.



I have a legit Borderlands DVD and it I can't play the game becuase it fails the verification process.



Here's the bottom line:

The content distributors/protectors (Warner Bros, RIAA, etc) are right, and the pirates are right. By the same token, the content distributors are also wrong, and so are the pirates. Some pirates wouldn't buy the content if they couldn't download it, so you're never going to get their money. There is, however, a middle group like myself that thinks $60 for a brand new game (and even $40 for a game like MW2 over 2 years and 1 newer version later) is ridiculous. As well as charging $30 for a Blu-ray, simply because it comes with a DVD and digital copy that I don't want. I would buy a ton more Blu-rays if I could get them for $10 a piece without any frills or extras. Same with games, a while ago I bought Metro 2033 for PC. Never heard much about it, wasn't that interested in it, but I bought it. Why? It looked cool, and it was only $10. Steam gets a lot of my money that way too, a $10 sale here or there really makes games attractive. At that price point, I think most of the pirates would at least consider purchasing software.

The point is content distributors aren't lowering prices because they're in the right; their content is being stolen and they don't have to appease anyone.. in fact they can just sue to try to get what they feel they deserve. At the same time, they're wrong. These exorbitant lawsuits and DRM schemes aren't helping. I conjecture if they lowered their prices, they would make more sales and more revenue. Instead, they're just interested in being a group of stubborn jackasses. The same could be said for pirates. They keep stealing because they see these rich record companies suing the poor man for billions because they downloaded a few songs and immediately go into Robin Hood mode to rob the rich, and feed the poor. In the end, they're wrong because they're stealing, and regardless of how many yachts and vacation homes the CEOs have, the law is on their side. Pirates have to cut back and actually start buying content and stop pirating if they want the record companies and movie studios to lighten up. That doesn't mean buy anything for any price, but you do have to support what you like and refuse to support predatory marketing and sales practices.

At the end of the day, it's all about that great human compulsion "I want". The record companies want what they feel they're entitled to. The pirates want content for free (or at a reasonable price). The battle will go on forever so long as each side is unwilling to compromise. Everyone's a little right, everyone's a little wrong. I personally would buy a lot more games and movies if they were cheaper, and that's revenue the studios are missing out on.


Fecal Face

I agree with your point on game pricing. Lots of games are coming out nowadays that just aren't worth $60. I doubt this will ever happen, but it would be nice if game developers / (publishers?) priced games more appropriately based on the actual quality of the game, rather than slapping "$59.99" on it.

Steam is great with sales though, so that helps. You can just wait for a sale and buy the game you want for 50% off or something. Duke Nukem was even 10% off for pre-ordering, if I remember correctly, making it $45. (I still wouldn't buy it for that much, but that's a different story). 

Much like you, I was also looking to buy Metro 2033. Ended up buying the THQ pack for $49.99! Instead of spending $49.99 on just Metro 2033, I ended up spending $49.99 on every THQ game that steam had.


As for music, well, I'm very guilty of piracy there. I've paid for one album out of my entire music collection, and only because it came with a T-shirt, and signed poster from the band, all for $25.


Based on what you said, and what I've done, I think piracy would.. slow down if companies just didn't charge as much for things, or offered something extra to justify prices. They have to think like pirates - why would I pay $30 for a Blu Ray movie, when I can just go download it? They need to offer something extra, something you can't download, to make it worth the $30. In the case of that album I bought, well, you can't download a T-shirt, can you?



Definitely. Adobe, your software is NOT worth several hundred dollars. That's WHY I pirate it. I'll pay a resonable price, but that's absurd.



You're along the right lines, however, I don't want a T-shirt with my $30 album, I want two additional new albums.  Or 6 Used albums for the same $30, and I damn well know that's not unreasonable, because I can often find albums for that price at my local music store, and target has most new releases for $10 in one of the weeks surrounding their release.



The music industry claims to be loosing billions of dollars because of piracy, but those mother f#$%%ers make billions of dollars anyway.

Bill Gates lost billions of dollars thank to the piracy, but that mother f$$%%^er made billions anyway.

Remeber the Metallica guy against napster ?

Piracy is a legal crap.

No one can stop people from downloading "pirated" stuff from internet.

Copy protection ??? Not even my a$$ can be copy protected these days.



This makes me think of SouthPark episode of Chistian Rock Hard! You know they don't have a super duper Gulf 7 to fly! LMAO!!



A few thoughts on a truly thought provoking article.

Stealing is wrong period. But so is artificially inflating the worth of a product by dubious "value added" additions that you have to take as a package deal. There was a time when entertainers only had contact to their audience threw live performance. Edison and Marconi changed that by enabling both the reproduction and broadcast of an entertainers work. That's how the middle men or as I like to say the "gate keepers" came in to the picture. And for a long time they were needed as the only way other then a "bootleg" recording of a live perfromance for the artist and audience to connect outside said live perfomance. 

But times have changed

As far as Im concerned Trent Razor is a visonary artist and one of the few that really understands the new digital media age we're entering. The RIAA on the other hand is kicking and screaming because many of it's most influential members will be rendered redundant by the new mode of digital media commerce. This new deliver method will reduce if not out right eliminate the importance of the gate keepers, who have grown fat by abusing the power they have over both artist and fan. It's not about combating piracy, if it was they would of given up a long time ago because it doesn't work. It's about putting the genie back in the bottle, which can't be done.

Oh, lastly Steam doesn't require a constant internet connection. It only requires the connection when you install and run a game for the first time. Once the game is installed the Steam client will work in offline mode and allow you to play without a connection. On the other hand Steam doesn't replace any DRM scheme the publisher uses, that may or may not need a connection.



DRM is kinda like the argument against the right to bear arms. The argument goes soemthing like this... since guns kill people, let's outlaw guns or severely restrict access to guns by passing a law that says so... yet the act of using a gun to murder someone indescriminately is already illegal therefore it falls naturally in the domain of criminality since murder by definition is a criminal act. The gun owning law abiding citizen is therefore restricted but not the criminal.

So the law abiding who go out and purchase the music, movie etc... is now encumbered with a product that is restricted in it's use but the criminal will find a way to circumvent it SO WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT OF DRM????



You've just hit the nail on the head.  what you ask is the answer we all seek.



That was as well-written article on the subject as I've seen.  Will definitely be passing it on.

I have always bought my own electronic media going back to the late 70's.  I've worked both in the music and IT software development industry and seen first hand what pirating does to the artist and the developer.  The thing that bothers me the most is the arrogance and presumption of self-entitlement that pirates flaunt when asked about their stealing.  And the litany of excuses is laughable, especially the #1 excuse, "I wouldn't have bought it anyway, so I'm not really stealing."

But DRM has been a mess too.  Your article documented that very well.  And I think Steam is definitely the wave of the future in theft deterrent.

Oh yeah, and I agree with the crap music comments.  This is why I love being able to pick and choose songs from iTunes and Amazon for .69 to .99 each.  There is SO much garbage being shoved down our throats out there these days it isn't even funny.  You think the recording industry would get a clue.

Thanks again for the article - that was a great read.


Mighty BOB!

You know, the article was actually pretty good right up until the last section where it all fell apart (the steam model).


But we humbly ask that if nothing else has worked thus far, if pirates and assorted ne'er-do-wells continually find ways to circumvent current measures and effectively facilitate the theft of bazillions of dollars worth of intellectual property/copyrighted material, and if a never-ending stream of both money and time hasn't stopped what is by most accounts a purely criminal act, is it such a bad idea?


Yes for the love of god yes it is a bad idea, that is the entire point!  The pirates will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS circumvent ANY scheme including such draconian legislation that further places the interests of giant multinational corporations over that of the citizenship.  Just like almost all other DRM schemes (which you yourself pointed out) this will only hurt the legitimate content users.


But we think it's the way of the future - a future where media is stealthily and without any impact on its user "validated" each and every time it's accessed. Granted, the criminals won't much like it, but hey...they're criminals.


Really? REALLY?  "If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about" is an extremely dangerous thought path to take, and it is one that is helping to degrade our liberties at an accelerating pace in this digital age where information is easily attained.

Thanks to my magnificent armchair Googling abilities I found this response to that thought written few years ago by AC Grayling.  It was in the context of government surveillance, not DRM, but the same principle applies and, quite frankly, with ICE, DHS, and good chunks of the Senate and the House being bought and paid for by 'big media' (lobbying) this is starting to overlap with such surveillances and unlawful intrusions into our private lives.

(Edit: Note - it looks like the comments won't parse this much italicized text so I put the quote inside asterisks for clarity.  Bold emphasis mine.)

**"The assumption behind the "if you have nothing to hide" claim is that the authorities will always be benign, will always reliably identify and interfere with genuinely bad people only, will never find themselves engaging in "mission creep" with more and more uses to put their new powers and capabilities to, will not redefine crimes, and even various behaviours or views now regarded as acceptable, to extend the range of things for which people can be placed under suspicion - and so considerably on.

It is all or some of naive, lazy and irresponsible not to be maximally vigilant regarding civil liberties and human rights, because it is a datum that the liberties of individuals are inconvenient for all states and their security services, and in dispensations where there are few if any restraints (think the Soviet Union, or even today's Russia - and China) it is liberty which quickly and comprehensively suffers.

Where an alert populace can use its liberties such as free speech to defend its other liberties vigorously, the universal tendency of states to increase their policing powers can be resisted: but even in such countries as the UK and US it takes real effort to mount and maintain such resistance. Consequently it is not acceptable to rest content with the "if you have nothing to hide" argument, for it is one of the most seductive self-betrayals of liberty one can imagine.

The creation or adoption of instruments of control, surveillance, and eavesdropping, along with laws and powers to detain, proscribe, silence and punish in areas of thought and activity which were once not subject to such interference, is like loading a gun: we put the loaded gun in the hands of a benign and concerned government wishing to protect us from terrorism, illegal immigration and organised crime, then they pass the gun to the next generation of government, and they in turn to the next ... and so unpredictably into the future, in the hope that things will always be such, and times such, and people such, that benignity can and will reign all the way, with the ordinary citizen still functionally free and secure throughout.

History teaches a painfully different lesson about such naive hopes. If one would try to protect oneself against things going wrong, do not create instruments that could all too easily go wrong in the wrong hands - and very, very wrong at that."**

Full text Linky



First of all, great article as usual. But drm and copyright protection will always be a source of conflict, because there is a certain grey area there. What if there is no demo version of a game I want to buy? Is it okay for me to download a pirated version and try it out? What if I just want to "see" the new features in a game. Do I want to upgrade from the previous version? We are somehow going to have to find some kind of compromise the makes both sides happy. Perhaps it is legal for ten days, and after that it is illegal? now, I do not like or condone pirating, but some kind of compromise has to be reached.



You forgot to mention that many studies have shown the percipitous drop in music LABELS income is less due to piracy (10-20%) as other factors (a whopping 80-90%)!

Those other factors include:

- Fall of the very profitable Album and CD format

- Return to the less profitable singles format

- Increased live performances (That sector is flourishing)

- Analog to Digital replacement phenomenom that spiked profits before thislarge decline had run it's course

- increased competition for peoples time (web surfing, console games, WoW) as well as their pocketbook's entertainment budget.

The list goes on ... the RIAA is just crying in their soup cause the good ol' days are gone and they can't seem to sue everyone to go back there.



Thank You SIR!!!!!!!!!!! Applause!!!!!!!!!!



Sometimes piracy can be good, other times bad. Sometimes i might decide to pirate a $3000 dollar piece of software like maya or something just to screw around with it and then uninstall it. This can only help the industry, since I would never buy it for full price on my own just to screw around with it, and if I decide i like it alot or want to make money using it then I will buy the software for full price. However I would never pirate a video game or music or something like microsoft office.

Long story short: If there is no way in hell that you would ever buy software at its full price AND youre not making money or using it alot, then only good can come from it.



The record companies state that their sales have slumped and blame piracy.  Could it be that people are now able to only buy the exact muisc they want, instead of having to buy one song they want, plus 10 or 11 others they don't?  Certainly that should make a difference, right?



I can see both sides. I hate piracy and I always pay for what I use but on the other hand most DRM is a real pain for the HONEST user and the pirates can just get around it. I had to rebuild/reload various family members computers after the Sony rootkit mess and I have not bought a Sony product since.

As for music sales droping, just perhaps it just might be because of the garbage that the music industry comes out with lately, most of it you could not pay me to take up spece on my HD. Even for free I would not want most of it. I will bet that a great percentage of music that is sold is older stuff.



no kidding on the quality of music out there. they try to push off hot young artists as being in one genre or another (the hairy boy or the swift blonde for instance) when they're not, and sell the gagasizzle instead of the quality of the music. MTV didn't stop playing music videos because the other stuff they do sold better, they stopped playing videos because no one was doing music anyone wants to sit through three minutes of. And of course playing the few catchy songs into the ground. (the filler issue)

What happened to selling quality content of any kind?



Always-on, always-validated schemes will continue to be a failure for one simple reason.

NOT EVERYONE IS ALWAYS ON. Yeah, great, you live in new york city, have a 32mbps FIOS connection, and never once hurt for connectivity unless you turn on bit torrent on every computer you own and start seeding your terrabyte harddrives.

Between the coasts, we are OFTEN lucky if we have a choice between dial-up internet or satelite's anemic dribble. even in places that have anything that passes for broadband, it's not neccessarily "always on." I would love to be able to play some steam games, but if I leave the apartment, I'm offline until I get to the public library or another opace providing free wifi, or I decide to steal someone else's.

And of course... I'm SOOOOOOOOO glad that ICE is spending its time and money bringing down hackers and evil movie thiefs instead of actually doing something about illegal immigration, drug trafficking, human slavery in the US, and on and on.

and don't get me started on DMCA, and Copyprotection, and ACTA. i'm all in favour of paying content creators their dues, but I'd also like to know that I've paid for the right to use something as I see fit. back in the day, if I owned a dead tree media item, I could legally photocopy it and use that photocopy as well, or take a highlighter to it, or even chop the whole thing up and use it for origami if I so pleased. Now, with some items, I'm lucky if I can even have it on more than one device of any type at any one time, and just TRY transfering the song from your Apple iPad to your Android cellphone, to your linux PC, or streaming it to your chromebook or mozillatab.

The scary thing though, is how many things in this wonderful world of ours are copyright protected these days... if you have a government initiative to sieze anyone or their virtual selves who even hints at doing something untoward with the little circle C... and combine that with the sheer magnitude of things which have that very symbol attached to them, it's not a substantial logical leap to see the abuses possible. Imagine a world where you print a flyer of your senator attacking his position on issue X. or blog about it, to keep things purely digital. Well, did you know his campaign slogan, image, and what he said on the radio the other night are all copyright protected by "Citizens to Reelect Senator Dingleberry"? You're exercising your freedom of speech just caused you to violate the Protect IP Act, and ICE is going to come kick your door in for it and roust you out until you're either financially broken, or in need of vaseline, while he laughs all the way to gestapo headquarters.

just like that grandma of three who got ruined for sharing 12 songs, right? and people wonder why I wear a tinfoil hat.



There's one thing that still worries me about services like Steam: at any time, for any reason, Steam can block your account. I have nearly $2,000 in purchases made on their service since its original launch (probably more since that calculation is based on the games' current price, not price at time of purchase). If I got some malware due to my own stupidity and someone stole my Steam account, I could find myself locked out of enough money's worth of software to get myself a used car with with no way of recovering that expenditure.

I think the Steam model is excellent other than that. If a federal-level law were passed stating unequivocally that consumers who made purchases on a system like Steam were protected from having their access revoked without clear reasons having to do with loss of sales should the individual maintain access to their existing catalog and had clear litigious recourse if such an event would occur outside those bounds, then yes, Steam would absolutely be the way of the future. Without such consumer protections though, I don't think we should be wedding ourselves to such a service too quickly.



Steam is protected against that... I had my steam account hacked and I got it back... what you do to get it back is email steam and notify them of the hijacking and they are either going to ask you if you have a CD copy of one of their games (I had half-life2 cd) and provide the cd key to them to verify it is your account. If you dont have a cd game of theirs then the other option is to verify your billing information with them and they will change your password and give the account back to you. Also steam has a new protection feature that sends you an email when another computer/device tries to login to your account and you have to veryify that it is valid through the email they send you. Its a very good system so no worries! Now just give me your Username and Password and I can also protect your account...................Joking, hehe, haha



if you roll around the sandbox a little longer, you will realize that steam has constantly been pursuing securing accounts and not drm. awhile back, valve's CEO challenged everyone to take his account (which has EVERY steam game).



i rather deal with steam than draconian ubisoft assassin's creed 2 drm's



I'm not referring to securing one's account, but Valve's policies for locking them. Steam's account locking policy is still the same as, say, the reasoning for why someone can lose their Netflix account. Except this isn't an ongoing service where the immediate termination of one's account causes no loss of purchased products. Steam ONLY sells products, yet it functions like an ongoing service, including reserving the right to terminate your account forever for no other reason than you got hacked/lent your account to an idiot buddy/got mistakenly flagged by their security systems, and they have no reasons right now to behave otherwise. What do you think the reaction would be if every person who's WoW account got hacked had their account terminated and deleted by Blizzard? This MUST change and the consumer protected if Steam and services like it are to be viable long-term DRM and digital distribution options.

Although your brilliant tactic of "this is worse than what you take issue with, so your argument is invalid, and also you're juvenile" was certainly entertaining, so thank you for that.



I tend to agree with you, and have a fundamental problem with "always connected" DRM mechanisms.

With services like Steam you are no longer buying a game, you're purchasing a right to play the game subject to the terms and life of the company you are purchasing it from.  A look towards Sony's recent troubles with their networks illustrates one problem with this type of mechanism.  Should something like Valve fail you'll also lose the ability to play your games.  You're also at the whims of their policies and policing which may not always be fair or just.  Finally, as was mentioned, nationwide broadband just doesn't exist in the US, and there's been rumblings of capped or tiered data plans, as well.

I wouldn't mind taking on some risk in these sorts of schemes if the prices reflected the risk the consumer is taking. The problem is, it hasn't, and has actually one UP.

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