DRM is pretty much useless

I know, I’m kicking the hornets nest here. There’s no doubt about it. Before we continue I want to make it clear that I’m basically only talking about streaming in this post and it does not relate to downloadble content, this because I don’t work with that – yet.

The base of my decision on that no DRM will ever prevent me from being able to copy content if I really want to copy it. Therefor it’s useless.

Yes, I’m not a fan of DRM and mainly because it adds load to servers and makes it more or less impossible to make content available regardless of platform. Today, if I’m not going to use very expensive DRM-systems I’d have to use about 3-5 different servers to serve up content for different platforms and at least the same amount of DRM-systems. At least if I’m not going to use some proprietary client that costs an arm and a leg to make and distribute.

Usually, when I a client comes to me and says ‘what about DRM? I want my content to be safe!’, I describe the problem and solution like this:

‘If you want DRM you can have it. But….’

And then I explain to the client the cost with it and continue to tell him that I can, if I get to the content legally, without any big problems copy the movie and there’s nothing he or me can do about it. As long as someone, legally, has access to the content – such as a viewer who’s paid his subscription or the onetime fee to watch a clip – he/she can copy the content. As long as I can see the content on the screen and hear the content on my soundcard I can copy it. In my case I can copy it in HD-format since my computer can play that without much hassle. So I get quite good quality, and I can do it semi-legally as long as I’ve paid to see it once (or get it for free). But of course, since I copy it it’s illegal but nothing I do can’t stop it being done.

There are of course up and ‘coming’ techniques such as UltraViolet but even that has gotten a lot of grief from users about quality and if I had anywhere to test it, I could probably still get around the ‘protection’ and dump it to disk. The costs are for me, as of yet, either non-existant (as in I don’t know) or the sites I’ve seen that seems to provide some kind of middleware then we’re talking loads of money going away from me and heading for the middleware-makers… some of them made hilarious pricingtables, or what would you say about $200.000/year (and oh, you have to sign up for 5 years)… good luck with that…

Cheaper and simpler? Watermarking. Either the old version with burning in a logo, that of course can be covered in almost any videoediting software, or still untested by me doing it digitally in the background so you can see who spread the content. The latter seems most interesting to me so I can see who the culprit is but still it’s a hassle.

So what do I suggest instead? Nothing! Huh? The short answer is price your content in a way that makes the hassle of ripping it and distributing it illegally less interesting.. That’s my three cents after tax. I’d like to hear what you think. And yes, you can call me an idiot if it makes you feel better – but it won’t make me change my opinion about it.