Study: DRM turns normal people into pirates out of necessity


We’re all pirates because of DRM. That’s the conclusion of a new UK study—and it’s a long one, coming in at 200+ pages—. The idea here is that the DRM schemes imposed by rights owners do just as good a job at restricting people who have legitimate claims to the material as it does restricting those without any claim at all.

Consider this: you’re blind, so you’re used to handing off e-books to text-to-speech software. Nothing wrong with that, right? You pay for your e-book, then do with it what you want. Here, in order to actually “read” the book, you use software that reads it to you. But what happens when the e-book you buy is wrapped with DRM, as happened to someone interviewed for the survey? You buy the book, fully expecting to be able to listen to it, like you always do, and that pesky DRM, ostensibly used to prevent misuse, denies you your paid-for content.

Or what if you’re trying to show a few clips from a DVD to your students? Sorry, DRM won’t let that happen. (True story: in 10th grade I had to do a small report on the atom bomb for chemistry class. I copied a scene from The Simpsons DVDs that explained nuclear energy to a VHS. Should I have been sued for that?)

Yeah, we already know that DRM, largely, is just a hassle, and, in the real world, it does more to adversely affect would-be legitimate users than pirates; pirates will just grab the crack off The Pirate Bay.