Movie Industry: DRM Is For Customers, Not For Members

A DVD-player that has been designed to prevent DVD-screeners from leaking to the public will be phased out because industry insiders say the DRM hurts their viewing pleasure. It seems that DRM is fine when it's annoying the public but unacceptable when it's affecting them.

This week several DVD-screeners leaked on BitTorrent. “I Am Legend”, “Gone Baby Gone” and several other movies showed up at BitTorrent sites, presumably leaked with the help of industry insiders.

December is traditionally the month when a lot DVD-screeners are sent out to the Oscar voters, and also the time when a lot of these screeners leak. Unfortunately for some, there are pirates among the members of this elite group of movie industry insiders, and measures have to be taken to make it harder to leak the films.

One of the measures is watermarking where the DVD-screeners all get a unique, hidden watermark, so potential leaks can be traced back to the source. Another, perhaps even more effective preventive measure that was used by some studios is the SV-300, a custom-made DVD player that’s been in use since 2004.

The player is developed by Cinea, a division of Dolby Laboratories, and it is used to play encrypted disks that will only play on this particular player. The SV-300 makes it nearly impossible to copy and leak a screener, but surprisingly, the developer decided to phase out the machine because of the negative feedback from the Academy members. It turns out that the Oscar voters don’t like the DRM-machine because it hurts their viewing pleasure:

The machine operating the S-View software that scored few points for being user-friendly in its brief run. Its user base complained of the impracticality of having to lug the machine around on vacation during the holiday season, the height of the screening period.

So what they basically say is: “We don’t like DRM”. I can’t agree more of course, but it is kind of ironic that they tend to get more aggressive in imposing DRM on their customers because they are afraid of piracy, while they abandon this effective anti-piracy player because the DRM doesn’t allow them to watch the screeners on vacation.

Don’t think that the industry insiders are unaware of this, hypocritical as they are, they try to talk it right with some strange arguments. Industry insiders now say that Oscar screeners are not considered a primary contributor to movie piracy. This is strange because only 4 years ago Hollywood lobbied for a total ban of Oscar screeners.

I guess it’s all different when your personal viewing pleasure is at stake.

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