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(Note: this was originally posted on Tuesday, January 05, 2010; I've updated to date so people see it, since it was left as a draft and never actually visible.)
Have you ever heard of DRM? It stands for "Digital Rights Management," and at first you might think it is something that protects you digitally, right? WRONG.
DIgital Copies--You Know, That File You Downloaded
DRM is a terrible, terrible thing that was conceived by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) to prevent people from doing useful things with movies and music. You know, digital things. Like putting copies of a movie you own onto your PDA/phone/gizmo to watch on your 3 hour flight to Whereverville.
Yes, now DVD's come with "Digital Copies" that can be downloaded onto your computer. "But what is this code," you ask? It is a bunch of garbage that only allows you to copy that digital file once or twice... there are a few other methods, and I've not actually used them, but that is essentially it. In the days of yore, one could simply drop a DVD into a computer, run a "ripper" program, and get a full digital copy in no time. But this is a digital copy that could go anywhere.
Just 'Cuz You Paid For It Doesn't Mean You Own It!
The RIAA and MPAA went crazy at the thought of people spreading these files around willy-nilly. They cried "piracy" and "copyright infringement" and threw tantrums in courtrooms over it, going as far as suing teenagers, college campuses, and even grandmas for illegally obtaining or transmitting these files. Worse yet, many of them didn't even know they were doing it. And they justified it afterward by giving out these "digital copies" that are now present on just about any DVD around, and implementing crazy DRM schemes that force innocent people to constantly be online in order to listen to their music... and may the Lord have mercy on your soul if you moved or (*gasp*) copied it somewhere.
The New Way
Now the MPAA is trying to be "more user-friendly" by introducing an even stricter set of requirements, being built by an organization calling themselves "DECE" (Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem). Sounds cool, right? Maybe like they're starting to think of the consumer a bit instead of focusing so much on that dwindling bottom line? Nope.
This new proposition involves an even tighter stranglehold on digitizing copies of their movies: now you're going to need to have an internet connection to contact their special servers and special hardware installed. Oh, and presumably an account with whatever online system they're devising.
Does this sound like a good thing?
If you answered anything but "hell no," you need to get your head checked. To use this system in simple terms? Buy a brand-new computer that specifically has their new hardware installed and ONLY with the operating system THEY SAY you can have.
Seeing the Forest Through All Those Trees
Apparently the MPAA's bottom line is really starting to hurt. Of course they're blaming this problem on "pirates," because they obviously aren't hurting themselves! I mean, how would restricting people from doing what they want with what they bought have any possible affect on their bottom line?
Seriously, the MPAA can't seem to find the forest because all those damned trees keeping getting in the way. They just don't get that their restrictions are causing people to become frustrated and revert to simpler ways of getting digital copies of their movies. You know, like finding them on a Bit-Torrent site or other file sharing system, regardless of the dangers of being infected by viruses.
What does all this mean? Well, I think this XKCD comic puts it into perfect perspective: