One-third of consumers in the US and UK have made a copy of a DVD within the last six months, according to a report from Futuresource Consulting. The firm surveyed 3,613 people in the US and 1,718 in the UK to discover their "home piracy" habits, and attempts to paint a somewhat ugly picture of casual copyright infringement even though a majority of users who make copies are doing so "legitimately" (for personal use).
36 percent of UK respondents and 32 percent of US respondents have made a copy of a DVD within the last six months, which Futuresource says is an increase from only a quarter of survey respondents in 2007. Respondents in the UK who copied DVDs primarily made copies of movies and TV shows, although movie copying dropped between 2007 and 2008 while TV copying went up.
Unsurprisingly, the preferred method of copying DVDs were some of the simplest. Roughly a quarter of both UK and US consumers who made copies of DVDs connected a DVD player to a DVD recorder using a composite/S-Video cable, while roughly another quarter of the two groups preferred using a single PC application for burning DVD copies.
Futuresource notes, however, that some 62 percent of US users and 49 percent of those in the UK are making "legitimate" copies of their own new release DVDs that they purchased. 58 percent and 54 percent of those who made copies of older movies made copies of their own DVDs too. Although the numbers for burned DVDs from those that were rented or borrowed are nothing to sneeze at, the large majority of those surveyed appear to be doing what they believe they have a legal right to do.
Of the remaining group (those who borrowed or rented the DVDs), Futuresource asked whether these consumers would have purchased a DVD if they were unable to make a copy. 63 percent of UK respondents and 77 percent of US respondents saying that they would have purchased at least "a few" of the titles, which Futuresource says is evidence of the "scale of the lost revenues to the home video industry from home copying."
In the music biz, Warner joins EMI and Universal in offering DRM-free music downloads, making SonyBMG the last hold-out among the major recording labels. Hard to imagine they wont break before the end of 2008.
On the video side, yet another DRM-laden online video business dies a quiet death. Why won't people use them? Well, for one, their download speeds tend to be somewhat slow and two, according to the article above:
Videos purchased on Walmart.com can be played using the Microsoft
Windows Media Player or the Wal-Mart Video Download Manager, but cannot
be transferred to a computer other than the one used to download them,
according to the site.
Once again, digital media retailers mistakenly believe consumers will adopt new technologies that offer less flexibility and fewer options than current ones. If I buy a DVD, I own it and can play it on most any DVD player or computer.* So why would I "upgrade" to a service that restricts me to a single device? Why pay more for less?
The bottom line: Music companies are finally giving customers what they want - DRM-free content. Video companies are still towing the DRM line and failing. I doubt this trend will change in 2008, but its an interesting study in contrasting approaches to new business models for online content distribution.
* Yes, yes, I know they have to be DVD-CCA approved, but most computers these days come with a software player that is and stand-alone players are under $40 and widely available. This is, of course, notwithstanding the DVD-CCA's severe contractual restrictions on competition and innovation that pose their own threats to economic growth in the DVD market.
A lot of folks have had questions about the preliminary settlement we've reached in the Sony BMG Rootkit litigation. We've just posted an FAQ to try to answer some of those questions and clarify exactly what the settlement addresses and what it doesn't. Two things worth noting right up front:
This not only gives people what they originally bought (unencumbered MP3s of every song) but also seriously pushes back on the draconian EULA terms Sony was pushing in the software; and
This still leaves open an avenue for people to get additional compensation if they are unable to remove the software from their computers with the new uninstaller or were somehow damaged by the software.
There's even a handy-dandy little chart to show you what money/free MP3 downloads you get depending on what you bought:
In response to the offensive DRM use restrictions on Coldplay's new CD, some folks over at GROKLAW have come up with a wonderful/frightening parody applied to a new product, ColdPizza:
This FOOD PRODUCT cannot be re-heated using an unauthorized FOOD PRODUCT Reheating (FP-R) device, nor can it be converted into smaller slices for food sharing.
You may not, through the use of external implements, alter the size of the FOOD PRODUCT.
The maximum ratio of FOOD PRODUCT portions is limited to no more than 2.4154219441 servings per person per purchased item. By purchasing this FOOD PRODUCT, you agree in advance to purchase in sufficient quantity so as not to exceed this limitation.
Only officially licensed and legally purchased ingredients and/or toppings may be used in conjunction with this FOOD PRODUCT. As such, you agree not to alter the finished FOOD PRODUCT by either adding unauthorized ingredients or removing any existing ingredients.
By purchasing or consuming this FOOD PRODUCT you agree not to
reverse-engineer the FOOD PRODUCT via disassembly for the purpose of
obtaining a list of ingredients or calculating the proportions of same.
By purchasing or consuming this FOOD PRODUCT you agree not to independently produce, or aid in the production of, any similar product, whether for personal or commercial use.
Kevin M. Clement, leader of Sony BMG's DRM initiatives, has just jumped ship to head up MediaMax, the other invasive DRM system Sony has pumped out on millions of CDs:
MediaMax Technology Corp. announced today the appointment of Kevin M. Clement as president and chief executive officer effective today, November 21, 2005. He has 18 years experience in the information technology industry. Mr. Clement joins MediaMax from Sony BMG Music Entertainment where he held the position of Senior Director, New Technology.
Clement helped pioneer BMG's digital music distribution
business, CD copy
management initiatives and the strategy in the area of new
2003, Kevin led BMG's initial launch of copy managed CDs
in the US market
using MediaMax products. He has been active in numerous
the industry including Sony BMG representative on Microsoft
Council, leading BMG Consumer research on Content Protection
surveys and consumer focus groups, Member RIAA working groups
protection technologies and Member Board of Directors --
DVD Audio Council.
Hmm.. coincidence that he's leaving in the wake the rootkit fiasco? I think not. It will be interesting to see if Sony sticks with Mr. Clement and his SunnComm/MediaMax technology after the smoke clears.
So people keep asking why Sony's recall and offer to exchange its rootkit-ed DRM music CDs isn't enough to make up for the damage they've done. One problem, among many, is that this exchange program lets Sony keep your money and forces you to get a replacement CD, even if you no longer want it. Despite Sony's resistance to refunds, Amazon.com has already offered to provide them to customers at its own expense, and now the United States Army and Airforce Exchange Services is doing the same.
What's sad about this to me is not only Sony refusing to offer its own refund, but that our own armed services were forced to use our own tax dollars to clean up Sony's mess while Sony gets to keep its profits from their sale. So much for the age of corporate responsibility.
Big news. We (EFF) have filed suit today against Sony BMG over the invasive XCP rootkit and the Sunncomm MediaMax DRM programs that surreptitiously install themselves on your PC when you insert a store-bought music CD. It's going to be quite a ride.
Update: Here's a copy (2.9 MB PDF) of the complaint.
The global music giant Sony BMG yesterday announced plans to recall millions of CD's by at least 20 artists - from the crooners Celine Dion and Neil Diamond to the country-rock act Van Zant - because they contain copy restriction software that poses risks to the computers of consumers.
The move, more commonly associated with collapsing baby strollers, exploding batteries, or cars with faulty brakes, is expected to cost the company tens of millions of dollars. Sony BMG said that all CD's containing the software would be removed from retail outlets and that exchanges would be offered to consumers who had bought any of them.
The article also included some quotes from yours truly, which I'm pretty happy about:
For some critics, the recall will not be enough.
only one of the many things Sony must do to be accountable for the
damage it's inflicted on its customers," said Jason Schultz, a lawyer
with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group in
On Monday, the foundation issued an open letter to
Sony BMG executives demanding, among other things, refunds for
customers who bought the CD's and did not wish to make an exchange, and
compensation for time spent removing the software and any potential
damage to computers.
The group, which has been involved in
lawsuits over the protection of digital rights, gave the company, which
is jointly owned by the Sony Corporation and Bertelsmann, a deadline of
Friday morning to respond with some indication that it was "in the
process of implementing these measures."
Mr. Schultz said:
"People paid Sony for music, not an invasion of their computers. Sony
must right the wrong it has committed. Recalling the CD's is a
beginning step in the process, but there is a whole lot more mess to