Dvorak: Music, Movie Companies Don't Deserve Our Dollars

I have mixed feelings about so-called digital-rights management and its benefits.

My concerns don't stem solely from DRM itself, but from the fact that it's not only illegal to crack DRM systems — it's essentially illegal even to think about cracking them.

This, of course, stems from the onerous Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It and other laws and structures were pushed into play by lobbyists for the movie and record industries.

These lobbyists argue that this somehow serves the public, by making it safe to put content on new digital media without fearing that one copy can turn into 100,000 copies through peer-to-peer copying or whatever.

When you look into it, these folks do not even like the idea of personal backups, because they believe that personal backups are nothing more than bootleg copies!

The record industry needs DRM more than the movie industry does, because it needs a surefire way to keep people from copying the one good song from an album.

It needs the leverage of that one good song to continue to gouge the public with high prices.

In many instances, the one good song per album actually amounts to the user spending $15-$18 for one song, since the other ones are junk.

The record industry folks hate iTunes and other single-song distribution mechanisms for this reason. They've even suggested that certain singles be sold for more money than usual. They are trying to recoup all the money they would have made selling albums with one good song and 13 pieces of crap.

For the people who run the movie industry, these DRM systems are important so they can carefully orchestrate the worldwide marketing campaign for a movie and not have to worry about it getting into the hands of, say, the Germans months before its theatrical release in Germany. That would ruin the marketing campaign.

Movie-business executives also see themselves as being in the music business, with they themselves being the orchestral directors. They pose as conductors wearing tails, directing a marketing symphony.

The Irony of It All

Now, it's fairly well known that each time a new medium comes along for the distribution of content, the sales of that content increase. Book publishers who actually put books online for free, for example, see an increase in book sales.

The Grateful Dead during their long heyday became one of the top live acts in the world, making millions on their concert tours. The group allowed and encouraged fans to bring recording gear to tape their shows.

When executives are confronted with these sorts of examples, they brush them off as anomalies.

Here's where I like to mention that CD sales actually increased during the heyday of Napster. When Napster was shut down, CD sales fell.

Recording executives will tell you that CD sales would have increased even more without Napster and they fell later because, uh, they just did.

Let's not forget the VCR and the fact that the recorded movie ended up becoming the most profitable aspect of the movie business. That happened despite efforts by executives to ban VCRs when they were introduced.

So here's the deal: Screw these jokers. They won't listen to reason. They do everything they can to ruin their own business by refusing to change anything and making it difficult for the consumer to do what he or she wants to do.

These industries already make too much money and obviously have too much corruptive influence. Besides that, the products that come from them generally stink. So why give them any more of an edge with logic and good advice?

Generally speaking, there is nothing all that important about any particular movie released in any given year.

Yeah, this or that product might be fun once in a while, but there are other ways of being entertained. How about having dinner with friends and talking? Or how about going for a walk?

Can't we find alternative ways to be entertained? Do you really need to listen to music all day long?

Try classical music. You'll find genuine and sincere musicians who are not there to crank out pop junk. Move to indie bands if you need a dose of rock.

Stop going to the movies and go see some plays — even a high school play. These kids need your money more than anyone in Hollywood.

Do you really need to watch a movie? Find an art theater and watch something thoughtful, if you must.

Above all, let's stop complaining about the P2P situation with our mouths, and start complaining with our pocketbooks.

Discuss this article in the forums.

See John get cranky about technology in his new Cranky Geeks IPTV Show.

Go off-topic with John C. Dvorak here.

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