Tom Rhodes | 17 Apr 2007 12:04
Yarr! - RSS 2.0

Ragnar Tornquist, creator of The Longest Journey, wrote on his blog, "I'm not defending StarForce, but there's no way we can justify the cost of making a single-player PC game without mechanisms in place to battle piracy - we'll just lose money." Unfortunately, DRM and copy protection don't seem to be accomplishing the task of combating piracy. As Steve Jobs wrote, "there are many smart people in the world, some with a lot of time on their hands, who love to discover such secrets and publish a way for everyone to get free (and stolen) music." Or movies. Or software.

And the arguments for piracy don't really fly either, I'm afraid. Increased exposure? Maybe, but more likely just a bunch of people getting stuff for free. It doesn't make an impact? I think it does. As an example, I was in a group that released an album on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and several other places. This was a Creative Commons group, which allows artists to release their work freely to be downloaded, shared and remixed among people without restriction. It lasted for awhile without being ripped, selling quite well, but as soon as someone did, sales petered off to mostly nothing. These two events were certainly not unrelated. Imagine walking into work for two weeks and then, when it comes time for your paycheck, to be given a shrug and a promise that your work was given more exposure.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'm perfect in this regard; far from it. I was there with Napster in its heyday, right alongside everyone else booing Metallica and wishing horrible diseases on Lars Ulrich. It's been a slow, gradual realization, but people deserve to be paid for their hard work and not have it indiscriminately posted and downloaded.

But DRM is not the answer. It only frustrates and angers legitimate consumers who have already purchased the content. But, if you must, why not take a note from Steve Jobs and EMI and offer DRM and DRM-free versions of your movies and games? Give people a choice. Who knows, it might just be the thing that makes you stand above the rest.

Tom Rhodes is a writer and filmmaker currently living in Ohio. He can be reached through Tom [dot] Rhod [at] Gmail [dot] com.

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