In addition to all the garbage we already have to sit through to get to our movies on DVD and Blu-Ray, ICE and the FBI have come up with new logos that you will be forced to sit through every time you want to watch your legally purchased movie.
The US government yesterday rolled out not one but two copyright notices, one to “warn” and one to “educate.” Six major movie studios will begin using the new notices this week.
The main change is that Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has, in the last several years, made itself a key player in the copyright wars. The FBI has shown extremely limited interest in going after individual websites, but ICE has done so with gusto; it has so far seized more than 750 domain names after rightsholder complaints. This new prominence is reflected in the broader logos used.
ICE now appears on both notices. The first notice shows the traditional FBI seal and a warning that “the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.” The logo for ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit now appears beside the FBI’s.
The second notice shows the logo for the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which involves 20 different US government agencies. It features one extremely angry eagle who would probably pluck your eyeballs from your sockets if he could get those talons near you. ”Piracy is not a victimless crime,” says the notice. “For more information on how digital theft harms the economy, please visit www.iprcenter.gov.”
The order of forced watching ridiculousness is as follows:
As ICE Director John Morton announced in a statement yesterday, “Law enforcement must continue to expand how it combats criminal activity; public awareness and education are a critical part of that effort.”
And pissing off paying customers is, apparently, how they’ve decided is the best way to combat criminal activity. Meanwhile, anyone who knows how to will either make a rip of the movie themselves without the warnings or rely on their favorite pirating site to get the movie sans repetitive garbage tacked onto their movie.
As usual, the pirates will get more “customers” because they don’t annoy customers and have a better product than the DRM-laden offerings of the MPAA.
Rhapsody has announced that they will be shutting down their RAX DRM encumbered music system and that users will have until November 7, 2011 to convert any music downloaded before July, 2008.
On November 7th, 2011 Rhapsody/RealNetworks will no longer support certain music files you purchased before July 2008. These songs will continue to play after November 7th unless you change to a new computer or substantially update your current computer. However, we strongly recommend you back up these RAX tracks to audio CD to ensure you can continue to enjoy your music.
Once you take this small step, you can continue to play these tracks on your audio CD or rip them to any format you desire and play them on your PC.
Please don’t delay – after we shut off support for RAX files, you will not be able to play them if you move to a new computer or upgrade your operating system.
While Rhapsody is allowing its customers to back up and convert their music, it is not as easy as they claim. If you own a few tracks, it might by easy, but if you own hundreds or thousands of music tracks, it becomes a cumbersome and time-consuming task.
There is also a question of legality. While Rhapsody is telling people how to circumvent the RAX DRM, it may not legally be able to. According to US law, unless Rhapsody owns the copyrights to the songs that use RAX DRM, then they are actually aiding others in breaking the law.
Section 103 (17 U.S.C Sec. 1201(a)(1)) of the DMCA states:
Q No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.
(A) to 「circumvent a technological measure」 means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and
(B) a technological measure 「effectively controls access to a work」 if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.
In the closing of Rhapsody’s RAX DRM, we see, yet again, how the music industry is punishing those who wish to legally purchase digital music. There are so many of these companies that have shut down over the past ten years that it is difficult to fault those who turn to piracy. By doing so, users do not have to worry about the DRM. They also do not worry about making upgrades to their computers and risking the loss of their music. They also do not have to worry about the limits of how many computers they can keep their music on. They simply listen to their music where ever and whenever they want. After experiencing ten years of attempting to do the right thing only to be screwed over again and again, why would anyone want to return to unhelpful DRM schemes?
Today is the Day Against DRM.
Awareness is a key part of defeating DRM. Whether protesting outside Apple Stores in Hazmat suits as we have done in years past, handing out leaflets in front of public libraries, or sending direct complaints to senior executives at Sony, action gets attention, and creates space for change.
Bioware forum poster, Arno, recently had his account suspended by EA for 72 hours because he complained on their forums. Arno could not even play his Dragon Age II game in single player mode because the DRM that comes with the game won’t allow it unless you connect to the server first. So what did Arno do that was so wrong? He said this:
On EA Live Chat they told me that that I said: “Have you sold your souls to the EA devil?”
While this is hardly worth banning someone for three days over, the bigger picture is the fact that you cannot play a game in single player mode without checking with the appropriate server.
How is this possible? When a game is purchased through the EA Store, one of the things the buyer pays for is the “licensed right” to access DRM which EA has made necessary to play their games. In the case of Dragon Age II, a single-player game, the DRM takes the form of an online authentication upon installation and then periodically afterward. While this form of Digital Restrictions Management is sometimes seen as less intrusive, this incident shows it can be more crippling than the average person perceives.
EA has since reversed their decision, but questions remain. Why would you want to force people to have DRM that periodically checks your authentication if you’re only playing a single player game? This is type of DRM is what played a large part in why I stopped purchasing video games. I have no desire to play games online and/or with other people. If I want to play in single player mode, I shouldn’t have to have my computer connected to the internet, pinging EA’s servers to do so.
With EA, you never actually own the game. You are simply purchasing a license to play the game. Once their servers shut down, for whatever reasons EA will give, you can no longer play that game.