Debated Puzzled Over

What A Business Plan

Got a bunch of posts in me today.

But firs, the NY Times, [via Jonathan Greene]( [Software Exploited by Pirates Goes to Work for Hollywood](

> Hollywood studios are going into business with one of their biggest tormentors: the peer-to-peer pioneer BitTorrent.

> On Monday, the company, whose technology unleashed a wave of illegal file-sharing on the Internet, plans to unveil the BitTorrent Entertainment Network on its Web site, The digital media store will offer around 3,000 new and classic movies and thousands more television shows, as well as a thousand PC games and music videos each, all legally available for purchase.

> The BitTorrent store will work slightly differently than rival digital media offerings like the iTunes Store of Apple and the Xbox Live service of Microsoft. BitTorrent will commingle free downloads of users’ own video uploads with sales of professional fare. And while it will sell digital copies of shows like “24” and “Bones” for $1.99 an episode, it will only rent movies. Once the films are on the PC, they expire within 30 days of their purchase or 24 hours after the buyer begins to watch them.

> New releases like “Superman Returns” cost $3.99, while classics like “Reservoir Dogs” cost $2.99. The studio’s content plays in Microsoft’s Windows Media Player 11. It is secured by Microsoft’s antipiracy software, which blocks users from watching rented movies on more than one PC or sending them to others over the Internet.

I’m sorry, I’m not getting the point. There are no technological advantages to this over the existing online video stores – in fact, from first glance, the DRM seems more crippling than what Apple offers. Oh, and you’re providing your bandwidth back to help speed up the downloads. What a deal this is to your average consumer!

What’s really enraging about this is how the studios really don’t get it at all:

> “Somebody once said you have to embrace your enemy,” said Doug Lee, executive vice president of MGM’s new-media division. “We like the idea that they have millions of users worldwide. That is potentially fertile, legitimate ground for us.”

Just a second, need to take a deep breath.


* You’re not embracing your enemy. You’re embracing a tool of the enemy.
* “They” don’t have millions of users worldwide. The technology “they” made has millions of users worldwide. Undoubtedly this service will have to use a new, special BT client to manage the DRM. Where are your users now?
* Those million of users aren’t using BitTorrent because they’re wedded to the technology. They’re wedded to the content that’s available to them – and the speed it is available – through that method.
* The content you’re offering? It’s the same content as iTunes, as Amazon Unbox, as Walmart, as Netflix, as Gametap, as Xbox Video Marketplace. They can already buy it, and usually with better usage rights.
* They’re not pirating because the items aren’t available legally, it’s because your DRM is making interop impossible.
* And hey, people are still pirating things through HTTP, FTP, Hotline, and Usenet. (Shit, why don’t we have some Gopher piracy servers?) You want to try co-opting those? Nope, you want to co-opt another technology with brand recognition, just like you did with Napster. How’s that working out for you? Last I heard, eMusic was second behind iTunes.

The land is fertile, yes. And you’re going to come in and pour some goddamn DRM Brawndo over the land and ruin the crops. Idiocracy, indeed.

(Not like any of this really affects me – Windows Media Player 11 doesn’t run on a Mac. Who needs interop, anyhow?)