Fun with DRM
The other day my students got an earful from me about the ills and evils of Digital Rights Management, better known as DRM. I loathe most DRM techniques, since as most reasonable people realize, they do nothing to thwart illegal file sharing, but contribute plenty to increased blood pressure and stress levels in legal media users.
Today I encountered yet another bit of DRM absurdity. I was surfing around and noticed that my beloved Steelers were locked in a death match with the Bengals, with about seven minutes to play. Neat, I thought, I will find a radio broadcast of the last few minutes. What I found instead was this:
Now I sort of get this kind of blocking (even though in the end I still find it protectionist and worthy of derision) when it comes to content that has a clear commercial outlet in Germany, e.g.- studio movie productions. But NFL radio broadcasts? Please. Who is making money on those in Germany? If they are available here somehow, I envision having to go through the seven layers of technical and bureaucratic hell to get access to them.
What I know, of course, is that there are myriad backchannel (read: illegal) ways to get live sports broadcasts from around the world. I used them this summer, often, when my legally paid for Eurosport Web feed crapped out during every single critical moment of the Tour de France because the French firm behind it clearly does not know what “server capacity” and “peak load” mean when used in the same sentence.
In this case, the game is so close to being over it makes no sense to find an illegal site through which to view/hear the game. But I would like to thank all the parties who made the annoying message pictured above possible. You underscored the main point of my lecture last week: DRM sucks, and turns us all into criminals at some point.