"DRM is Bad"

Sitting here late at night, beating my head against a deadline. Of course, I thought I'd download the latest episode of The IT crowd - the channel 4 comedy. And being a decent sort of chap, thought I'd use the perfectly legal Channel 4 download site. Cool.

So it forces you to use XP, and it forces you to use the utterly crap Windows Media player. And of course the version is the latest - 11 - that just infests your machine with DRM. Lovely. You can tell I'm just loving this.

Anywhoo, it breaks. And the channel 4 program tells me to click on a link - this one - to get some help on debugging this. So what does this link do ?

  • It tells you to delete the contents of a directory - c:\public\drm

  • If this directory doesnt exist, it tells you to open the registry editor - I'm not making this up - and find a registry key. It then says that the (binary, unicode encoded) data will tell you the path. In this case, its c:\documents and settings\all users\drm". Lovely.

  • It gets better. I'm the local admin of my machine - and I wasnt allowed to use this directory. So I'd to use my MCSE level information to open explorer, click on advanced about a million times, take ownership, etc. Joe Public could NOT do this. Its not in the instructions. I suspect PC world is going to make a fortune on this.

  • And finally -this is the money shot - delete everything. Yes. All those rights you've already collected - gone. Thanks. Just ask those companies for all that media back. Like thats going to happen.

  • Finally, because its windows - reboot the machine. Thanks.

Mr and Mrs "Joe Public" is NOT going to do this. Mr and Mrs Joe Public is going to ask a mate down the pub to slip them a copy on a DVD that dodgy mate downloaded off a torrent. It'll be higher quality, easier and of course the same price. Almost nothing.

Congratulations Channel4. You picked a really bad DRM vendor. One that encourages an almost impossible solution. One that is going to convince people more than anything that windows/vista is crap, and DRM is bad. Congratulations. You couldnt have done a better job if you'd planned it.

And who suffers ? The Pirates ? No. The consumers.

Repeat after me, as Volker would say: DRM is bad.