This post will be Geek centric, and so, for our excluded members, I offer the following alternative post:

Sometimes when my friends are having problems, I will say:


but secretly what I mean is:


I feel a little bad about it, but then I remember that I almost died and stuff, and it feels reasonable again.

Now for the Geek part:

I am, as anyone who cares about the subject would expect, anti DRM. Mostly. I sum up my argument thusly:

the noble newspaper stand

Now, some of you might be saying “That’s a picture of a newspaper stand.” And you’d be wrong. It’s actually a picture of a giant balloon shaped like a newspaper stand. However, the point is valid, and I’ll explain.

Newspapers cost very little. A quarter most days, a buck fifty on Sundays. One of the primary distribution vectors is the newspaper stand. The barrier to access is very low (drop in the coins) and the potential for redistribution or theft is very high (hand off the paper, steal more copies). Yet no newspaper ever went broke from losses suffered due to the lax rights management of newspaper stands. This is because they make buying SO EASY that many people buy, offsetting any people who may choose to steal.

I feel that in general, this is the direction that digitally distributed media should move. The payment process has to be about as easy as getting some coins from your pocket and dropping them in the slot, and delivery equally simple. Now, currently, this isn’t usually the case. Apple’s iTunes is about as smooth as this gets, but it fucks up on the other end.


I was given an MP3 player by my office. It’s not an iPod though. In fact, its firmware is explicitly designed for use with Real Networks’ Rhapsody software. This is a lot like a newspaper stand selling papers you can only read with special glasses. If I’ve bought rights for a media, I should have the use determined on my end. Burn to a CD, add to my MP3 player, stream through my home stereo, or (and here’s a big sticking point) send to a friend.

There are a bunch of ways to deal with the passing on of media, but none of them are very customer friendly, and I can’t help but feel that a business focused on getting people to pay them will be more successful that a business focused on stopping people from stealing. And what are they stealing?

Remember, people will use the “But digital is so easy to copy and reproduce!” as an argument for why it has to be harder to steal. That’s retarded. That means that your losses to theft are almost nothing, because there was so much less overhead. Thieves are thieves. They’re going to keep stealing. You need to make it so easy and convenient to buy that you make money from the honest people. And what do newspaper stands teach us? Most people, faced with a cheap, easy way to buy something, will take it.

BUT WAIT! There’s one BIG exception here, which is something I think content providers should get behind full force: subscription services. I still expect a certain amount of freedom in how I use my file while I have access to it, but it’s pretty reasonable to make sure it only plays on devices that will stop playing it when it expires, and to limit my ability to share. The secret to success here is that the charge is monthly, and likely automatic, and the ease is almost total. So while I can grumble about not being allowed to burn a CD, I’m currently streaming the theme from Ghostbusters, and well aware that while I’d never PAY for it, I’m glad to pay for ACCESS to it.