UK study claims DRM encourages piracy

By Justin Mann on May 28, 2009, 2:22 PM
Depending on your perspective, DRM is a necessary evil, an unnecessary annoyance or the last bastion of hope for modern software development. Regardless of which way you view it, whether or not it actually accomplishes what it intends to is debatable. It is precisely this question which has led to a study in the UK on DRM, with the goal of determining the effectiveness of these anti-counterfeiting measures.

DRM doesn't come cheap, so developers likely want some assurance that the headaches and PR issues it can cause are at least offset by a drop in piracy rates. The study, which polled people in the industry for several years, unsurprisingly concluded that any DRM technology ultimately will work to restrict legal use of content. The reason seems obvious; it's impossible to predict in advance all the potential legal uses of software, so invariably some are bound to find themselves cut off.

The study covered some grey areas of copy protection, such as users wanting to duplicate or rip their own content. While you may be suspicious of claims that DRM inherently breeds piracy, as there are too many factors to make such a statement, the study did come to one conclusion that many can agree with. As a whole, DRM technology doesn't appear to be doing anything to stop piracy. Of course, many of us could have told them that without spending years studying it.

User Comments: 9

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TomSEA said:
Hmmm...pretty slanted article. I mean they start right off the bat with:"Sure, it (DRM) sounds bad and Ars (website) complains about it all the time..."As you read further into the article, it delves into various types of potential copyright violations by educators and libraries. To me, that's not a DRM issue, but copyright language issues.DRM is for one thing only - to prevent theft. It's broken, it doesn't work - we all know that and there needs to be other, non-intrusive solutions developed for theft prevention. The intent is fine, I don't begrudge developers to try and protect their profits.But it appears to me this article is throwing daggers at DRM for the wrong reasons and because it's very fashionable to do these days. ;-)
captain828 said:
I for one am not against the developers to prevent their work from being stolen.But, as Tom stated, the current DRM is broken. It's clear it doesn't help in vanquishing piracy, since the scene doesn't seem to care about it, cracking protections on 0-day usually.The current DRM is, however, making honest buyers think twice about their purchase: limited number of installs, always on internet connection, DRM server downtimes, ring 0 drivers, always having the DVD in the drive, needing 2 or more extra apps to get their game to work, plus numerous bugs because of the complex DRM.Yet pirates have none of the above headaches and, guess what, they don't spend a dime on it!Personally, I contribute to devs for their great games... and use a no-dvd, sometimes not even installing from the DVD at all, downloading the game straight from the torrents, but buying it. For me, DRM is nonexistent.
tengeta said:
Thats a straightforward lie, DRM pressures people to pirate something THEY ALREADY OWN.
aksd said:
I feel that piracy is wrong. It is stealing someone's work and then making less of the hours spent in the production, whether it be movies, music, games, operating systems or photoshop. Thus DRM exists, if we could have a game for free then why pay for it? Stealing is not the way. However the current DRM is ridiculous (referring to one install per purchase - yes I have a program with this level of DRM). I mean the next step is hop on one foot while touching your nose talking on the phone with a foreign customer service agent while connected to the internet and sending proof of purchase to the manufacturer (of the game/software).Where's the happy medium? For necessary DRM I prefer Valve's Steam system and also Stardock, both of which I find unobtrusive yet effective. Should software be free of DRM? No, but the DRM in use shouldn't require you to through so many hoops. Stealing is stealing no matter how it is justified. I won't say someone should not steal but I will say that I won't illegally download software, music, or movies. My happy medium is the open source revolution. There isn't a Microsoft Office without it's Openoffice, or Photoshop to Gimp.Here's number one from the Ubuntu Philosophy: 1. Every computer user should have the freedom to download, run, copy, distribute, study, share, change and improve their software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees.Viva la open source revolution!I feel the only true fix to piracy (or the drug trade) would be to step up the severity of the crime. If you were guaranteed to have jail time if you download that torrent would you download it? And as in the drug trade if you were caught with in possession (no matter the quantity) and were guaranteed jail time (1-3years) would think twice about drugs? I would think so but with online piracy, you don't even get a slap on the wrist. What is there to stop you from downloading that new hit game?
redwallo1 said:
[b]Originally posted by aksd:[/b][quote]I feel the only true fix to piracy (or the drug trade) would be to step up the severity of the crime. If you were guaranteed to have jail time if you download that torrent would you download it? And as in the drug trade if you were caught with in possession (no matter the quantity) and were guaranteed jail time (1-3years) would think twice about drugs? I would think so but with online piracy, you don't even get a slap on the wrist. What is there to stop you from downloading that new hit game?[/quote]your theory may have weight on the drug trade... it would make for an interesting concept... however... for internet piracy that is the policy...(at least for the USA) if your caught you are fined and jailed!the problem isn't the severity its the elusiveness of the crime, thats what most fail to realize, its not how much trouble your going to be in, its how likely is it that your IP will be flagged and caught as a Downloader? And even if they catch your IP how can they prove it was your computer and not someone stealing bandwidth from your router? And another governmental secret(again for the USA), it currently isn't illegal to download hacked or pirated software, it is only illegal to upload or share said software!So to sum what I was saying, your theory of upping the severity of the crime would do little to nothing for fixing/curing piracy, the best would be 1 of 2 options:1: Reform/Banish/Rewrite copyright laws to focus on a lesser form and lean more towards an open source community2: have the UN step in and become Internet Nazi's and monitor every bit from every computer to catch Internet Pirates
m0nty said:
what people don't realise & what the industry does realise but doesn't care, is that when you purchase a CD/DVD or PC game, xboxz game etc etc. You aren't actually BUYING the disc itself or the movie/ are in fact buying a license that allows you to use that movie/game/music disc etc. that license is what gives you permission to use that disc within it's terms of doesn't matter where on earth you got your movie/game disc from, if you have purchased a valid license, then you have done nothin they are trying to say it is illegal to copy the disc. what exactly is the difference between me buying a disc from a store (which comes with the license) or whether i download the disc image or whatever, and then buy a license seperately??? tthere is no difference really.. the discs are the if you have 3 kids, loads of discs, discs get damaged, won't play on your machine, movies jump and freeze cos of a damaged or worn disc.why on earth should I have to buy a brand new disc and yet another license in order to play the movie/game again etc? i ALREADY purchased a license with the original disc i bought.. i don't need another license, i have one.. so to punish me for downloading a new copy is just ridiculous and borders on the verge of extortion. we should be allowed to backup our discs in order to preserve the original disc from damage. DRM tries to prevent you doing that, they want you to keep spending money on something that you have already paid for.the truth of the matter is: DRM does absolutely nothing to prevent copyright infringement, but does everything it can to inconvenience & make the industry more money out of the general public, to put it bluntly.. DRM affects & causes more inconvenience to legitimate users than it ever has & will against copyright infringement.
Per Hansson said:
The biggest hinderance to Linux adoption is that copy protection is so weakIf it really where impossible to get hold of a pirate copy of Windows or Office then I bet you 100% that Linux would jump to over 50% in the home user sectorSome companies are however very afraid of that happening, I mean what if commercial software really was impossible to pirate, know what, then just maybe people would look to open source and realize that many many commercial apps already have eqvalient open source alternativesAnd since the number open source software is so big already, with only a 3% adoption rateThink what would happen if it went to 50%...You could say goodbye to most monopolies in the industry overnight!
JDoors said:
I HATE, HATE, HATE having to deal with all the anti-piracy nonsense, but it's never "driven" me to steal anything. Add DRM to people's infinite list of excuses to justify their behavior.
darkshadoe said:
m0nty has hit the nail on the head. Software companies are the biggest con men around making up the rules as they go along.1. Buy our software (oh wait..WE still own it)2. Feel free to use and enjoy our software (how WE allow you to use and enjoy it)3. Our ToS allows you to make 1 backup copy of our software (but don't do it or WE will sue you and take your first born)4. Follow our easy installation instructions (you must be connected to the internet, have a hand written permission slip from Bill Gates, enter our easy 342 digit password using a mixture of the latin and hungarian alphabets, andsign over your soul to an evil demon.
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