Monday, October 26, 2009

ARCHIVE: MLB + DRM = foul ball!

by Kellia Ramares

[Originally published on my baseball blog on January 6, 2008]

I downloaded the Tony Gwynn documentary from last night. I have yet to watch it, but I have made an important discovery about MLB downloads: You are not downloading a file to keep and play as much as you want, you are only renting the file for a limited number of viewings, or in my case, attempts to view.

I am a novice at using Windows Media Player. And my experience with it last night and this morning have made me long for the days when you just opened a file in Real Player and it played. Now there are libraries, and playlists, and all sorts of complications.

One such complication is Digital Rights Management (DRM). When I first tried to play the file, my computer went out and searched for a license. I was not surprised by this. I assumed that somebody somewhere would want assurance that I had a legal copy of the documentary. But I was surprised that the computer retrieved a new license every time I tried to get the documentary to play. This morning, after I tried, unsuccessfully, to turn the documentary on twice, I got a message saying that I had maxed out on the number of licenses for this download and I should call customer support or email them.

So you basically get 5 or 6 opportunities to view a download. (Opportunities only, the license count is triggered before the documentary actually plays so if it fails to play, you are out of luck).
F**K DRM. When I buy something, I expect to be able to use it whenever and how many times ever, I want. And F**K MLB for not making it clear that you are only renting a limited number of licenses.

Frankly, it isn't worth my time to call or email customer support and I am certainly not going to pay any more money; I have received no value for the money I have already paid. Now I didn't pay a whole lot ($3.99) but that shouldn't limit the number of times I can watch what I paid for. I figured that the low price was a function of both the fact that the documentary was a download, and therefore much cheaper to produce than a DVD, and the fact that boasts huge traffic stats, meaning that MLB could go for volume sales. But no, they went further, using DRM to turn downloads into de facto rentals.

I will never buy another download from MLB and I hope that this post spreads far and wide and other people decide to boycott also. The fascist DRM regime has got to end! The only way it will end is if enough consumers reject it so that rights-holders realize that there is more money to be made from selling a product than from withholding it.

The purpose of copyright was to allow creators a chance to control distribution of their work. But nowadays, a creator typically makes things on a "work for hire" basis for a large corporation, like MLB, or any of the Hollywood studios the Writers Guild is currently striking, and the big corporation reaps the benefits while most creators get next to nothing. With Digital Rights Management, the big corporations have found a way to give the consumer next to nothing also.