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How the music industry turned against it's own customers

Music CD history
Feel free to skip this page = it's just a rant at the "media moguls" who implemented a 'DRM' system designed solely to limit the playback options of their paying customers (especially those wanting to play surround sound via their older Home Cinema systems, connected to their computer via S/PDIF)

How did the Music Industry convert it's paying customers into 'Pirates' ?

Despite the views of many 'conspiracy theorists', this was accomplished by overwhelming arrogance, total incompetence and an absolute inability to comprehend the paying customers "point of view"

"Never assume conspiracy when exactly the same result can be achieved by simple incompetence"

How did copying of music start ?

As the music industry is always quick to point out, even in the 'old days' when you 'purchased' a 'record' (a 'single' or 'LP') what you ACTUALLY paid for (in addition to the plastic) was the restricted 'right' to personally listen to the contents in it's 'original' form.

Few customers were even aware of this restriction, so with the invention of the 'Compact Cassette' (and the rise of the Sony Walkman and almost immediate ubiquity of car radio-cassette players) record owners soon started copying 'their' music onto cassettes.

Whilst some recording from the radio to cassette also occurred, even in those days some moronic 'DJ' would be sure to talk over the start and end of every track they ever played, so if you wanted the whole track you still had to purchase the record.
 
Of course the school-kid who 'taped' his record and exchanged copies with his mates knew he was somehow 'cheating' = however the quality of the tape was always worse than the record. So those who could afford it, would still purchase the record.

The customers point of view is simply put == "I've paid for it, so what's your problem if I choose to listen to it in my car or on my Walkman ?" .... and it is this point of view that the music industry totally failed to comprehend

How did the industry react to copying onto cassette ?

As soon as the Music Industry started selling their own pre-recorded cassettes they started to view the sale of each blank cassette as a 'loss of revenue'. Of course it was impossible to prevent copying - so they successfully lobbied many Governments into placing a 'Copying Levy' on the blank media.

Few consumers noticed or even cared .. and they continued to copy 'their' records onto 'their' cassettes without giving any thought what-so-ever to 'copyright' or license issues.

Those individuals who became aware of the 'levy' no doubt believed that they now had the Industries full permission to make as many copies as they liked .. after all, the 'Copying Levy' could only mean they were paying for that 'right' every time they purchased a blank cassette.

How did it all go right ?

When music CD's were invented, the industry found that consumers were willing to pay again for the 'exact same' music they already 'owned' (as a single or LP), so (at least initially) they may have believed that the 'copying' of music was over.

However customers purchased CD's not because this was 'the right thing to do' (under Copyright Law), but because of the massive jump in quality and durability - and were soon copying from CD onto Cassette just as they always had.
 
Of course the quality of the copy on a cassette was much worse than that of the CD, so again, whilst school kids may have continued to swap cassettes, those who could afford the CD purchased one..
 
.. and when "writable" CD's started to appear, the 'blanks' were so expensive that they were only used for data storage by computer professionals

How did it all go wrong ?

Having sold the same music to the same customers a second time, this set an expectation in the minds of the Music Industry that, with every new 'format' invented, they would be able to 'sell' the same music to the same customers again, again and yet again.

Needless to say, this is not how their customers saw it .. having paid 2 or 3 times as much for the CD as they had paid for the vinyl LP 'album', most customers saw no reason to pay yet again for a Sony mini-disc / Super-Audio CD / 'portable device' atrac / iPod m4p (or whatever) 'version'...
 
... and since Audio CD's could be 'played' on their personal computer, customers were soon converting 'their' music CDs to play on their other devices, such as the new solid-state portable MP3 players, in much the same way as they used to copy their records to cassette.

Then the cost of blank recordable CD's started to drop, whilst the cost of the music CD's remained high.

The 'problem' is that a Music CD contains digital data (1's and 0's).
 
This means that a 'copy' is bit for bit identical to the 'original' - in other words, there is no loss of quality (as there is when copying to cassette) and literally no way to distinguish between the 'original' and the 'copy'
 
Worse, CD's don't 'wear out' (unlike cassettes and vinyl records, which deteriorate slightly every time they are played ). The digital music on a CD played (or copied) a billion times is still identical to that on the 'original' (except when mechanical damage to the surface (scratches etc) prevent reading of the data).

How did the industry respond ?

Whilst the Industry had some success in 'targeting' solid state players and recordable CD's with the same 'blank media copy levy' approach, the charge 'per media device / disc' could only ever be low (compared to the number of tracks that could be stored on that media) if it was to be successfully enforced.

At the same time, more and more computer equipment was being manufactured in countries outside the 'reach' of the music industry anyway. Whilst they could influence US and even European law, they were largely ignored by the Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and (especially later) the Chinese governments (and thus by manufacturers in these countries)

In any event, any acceptable 'copying levy' charge on a blank CD capable of storing up to 10 albums in mp3 format would have resulted in negligible 'per track' revenue .. so the music industry decided that copying had to be stopped.

However the Industry was still focused on charging customers multiple times for the same music in different formats - so instead of distinguishing between customers who copied 'their' (i.e. paid for) music CD and non-customers (who had never paid for any version), they simply decided to label everyone who made a copy as a 'criminal pirate' ... and even started an 'anti-piracy' campaign with an 'enforcement' arm (FAST).

How did this effect customers ?

Whilst most customers simply ignored them, a significant minority reacted very badly to these accusations of criminal** activity. Having paid good money to buy CDs, it seemed that 'the Industry' was trying to dictate to them how they could listen to 'their' music. Whilst most only ever played 'their' CD in a CD player they did not like being told that they had 'no right' to listen to the music on their PC (or in their car or mp3 player or other device), even if the Law was usually*** 'on the side' of the Industry.

**Unfortunately (for the Industry), Copyright Violation is not a 'criminal' (arrestable) offence at all.

***In some countries, Copyright material can be used without permission in some (restricted) circumstances - see, for example, in USA, 'Fair Use'.

Originally, Copyright protection expired after 50 years, although the Industry has had some success in getting this extended (up to 90 years I believe), as recordings of 'Golden Oldies' produced in the 1960's started to 'run out' of Copyright protection. Note that the Copyright applies to both the date of the 'composition' as well as the date of the recording - so new recordings of the same material are protected for at least 50 years from the date of the recording (which is perhaps one reason why so many 'golden oldies' are being re-recorded :-) )

How did the industry react to continued computer (and other device) playback ?

This annoyed the music companies no end. Determined to put a stop to it, they instituted various schemes designed to prevent music CD's being 'played' on computers - even going to the extent of convincing Microsoft to build 'copy prevention' (or DRM = Digital Rights Management) into the Windows Operating System (DRM is still found in WMA tracks today) and pulling 'tricks' on their music CD's (such as creating deliberately 'corrupted' directory and 'fake' file location data - and even deliberately corrupting the data or adding incorrect CRC codes) all designed to make music CDs 'unreadable' on a PC.

Even today some studios (Sony) still try to sell music "CD's" that have been designed to be "unplayable" on a computer.

Of course this can never work since a truly 'unplayable' disc couldn't be played in a CD player (and the knowledgeable customer will soon find a utility that overcomes the restrictions = whilst the less knowledgeable simply turn to the 'torrent' download).

What effect did this have on fake CD manufacturer ?

None what-so-ever, of course. 'Anti-copying' technology is aimed only at the purchaser of the 'genuine' disc (i.e. the customer) and has no effect at all on those who mass-manufacturer 'bit for bit' identical copies INCLUDING THE DRM

Yes, that's right ONLY PAYING CUSTOMERS are effected by DRM = is has NO EFFECT AT ALL on a 'bit for bit' copy !
 
Of course, the more sophisticated 'pirate' manufacturer will likely remove any 'DRM' in order to produce a 'fake' that is actually more functional and usable (and thus more desirable) than the 'original' (see later the 'enforced viewing' of 'warnings' (and advertisements) at the start of a Movie DVD) !

What about 'non-customers' ?

As before, school-kids continued to 'swap' copies of music they personally paid for with that paid for by their friends. However soon mass home access to the Internet meant that kids could 'swap' music with anyone in the world .. and whilst early Internet connections were limited to low speeds, the 'compression' format used (mp3) was a huge improvement over analogue tape quality. To kids without multi-thousand ££££ 'audiophile' systems, the mp3 sounded just as good as the original. Soon the web was full of students 'sharing' copies with anyone who wanted them.

Whilst the vast majority of customers did not support those people who had never paid for the CD downloading mp3 copies from the web, unfortunately for the Music Industry, the vast majority DID support the efforts of those who worked to bypass the restrictions they saw as only intended to prevent them listening to 'their' music on their own mp3 players etc.

Further, those who had paid for the CD and now being accused of 'criminal activity' held the Music Industry in total contempt, some even going to the extremes of refusing to pay for music CD's 'ever again' (and downloading copies from the web instead) just to 'make a point'.

The result, as they say, is history = if you treat your customers as criminals, sooner or later they become ex-customers ... and start buying 'fake' (but arguably 'better than the original') products from the real criminals (who welcome them with open arms and open (non-DRM'd) CDs)

What's your view ?

Having purchased a CD, I believe you are morally entitled to extract the music and listen to it on any device and in any format you see fit.

I would thus like to recommend Exact Audio Copy (EAC), which is about the best way to extract music tracks from the CD that YOU HAVE PAID FOR the right to listen to.


You should, of course, always extract as .wav (this is the 'original' high quality found on the CD). WAV is what you need for PhotoStory 3.

Do not, under any circumstances use Windows Media Player to 'extract' audio from your CD's. You will either get low quality .mp3 or DRM infected WMV.


What did the Film Industry learn from the Music Industry ?

Very little. The Film Industry, with the advent of DVD's, just like the Music Industry, wished to maximise their revenues (i.e. rip off the customer in as many new and innovative ways as possible).

Having seen the Music Industries 'problems', they decided that 'anti-copying encryption' had to be built in from 'day 1'. Further, just as Cinema ticket prices varied wildly between countries, they wanted to sell DVD's at different prices into different parts of the world.

Variable market pricing is a 'respectable' approach to profit maximisation, especially when your 'margin' (i.e. difference between the Manufacturing costs (less than 10c per disc) and 'typical' sale price ($10)) is astronomical. You can make higher profits selling at (for example) 'half price' in a market where the mass of consumers are resistant to paying the 'full price' if this will more than double your sales in that market. The 'problem', of course, is 'preventing' customers in a 'full price' market from buying the product in the cheaper market (and also preventing enterprising distributors sourcing product from the cheaper market and reselling in the expensive one)

So they invented a system known as 'Regional Coding', it's only function being to prevent DVD's purchased cheaply in one country (eg. USA) being played in another country (eg UK) where the industry wished to sell exactly the same movie at a significantly higher price.

This was achieved by insisting that the manufacturers of DVD players configure them for specific markets (so the player would not play DVDs from the 'wrong' market).

Needless to say, the manufacturers of DVD players were less than keen to waste money making multiple different versions on a 'per market' basis. So most manufactured players with a region that could be 'programmed' at shipment time. Further, whist some set the 'Region' by a 'hardware' mod (often something as simple as a 'wire link' inside the player) soon it was by a 'code' that could be sent from the remote control handset.

Of course it was only a matter of time before the 'setting codes' of most DVD players became known - and anyway, manufacturers outside the reach of the Movie Industry, were soon selling 'all region' players (see below) that could play DVD's intended for any region, which, of course, soon eliminated the market for the 'region restricted' players.

How does the customer view Regional Coding ?

As before, initially few even noticed that they were being ripped off for their 'Region coded' DVD. However once the retail market started moving 'on-line' it became possible to compare prices at Amazon.com with those at Amazon.co.uk etc. - and consumers in the higher priced countries soon started realise that they were being 'squeezed' for the highest possible price. As a result, a 'war' between the Movie Industry and it's paying customers soon started in earnest as people tried to overcome the Regional Encoding restrictions.

Whilst I concede that there is a reasonable justification for charging higher prices in markets where films have to be 'dubbed' into the local language, plainly this does not apply to US films being sold in UK (with the original American English dialogue).
 
Further, the 'reasonable' approach would be to manufacturer DVDs that are (single) language 'specific', allowing an appropriate price to be set for that language version, rather than try to prevent the purchaser of an English language version playing it in a non-English country.
 
Along with most other consumers, I am convinced that the industry uses accusations of 'piracy' as a 'distraction' to support their attempts to extract more money from some customers than others - and like many others, I have no inclination to let them 'get away with it.

As with most other customers, I also resent being forced to view the industries anti-piracy exhortations at the start of a movie DVD that I have paid for, suggesting that I might be 'stealing' their movie. Indeed, I often feel tempted to make a copy (and throw away the original) just so I can bypass their accusations.

Nothing illustrates the crass stupidity and incompetence of the industry than the enforced "WARNING" message at the start of a DVD. Only actual customers who have paid for legitimate DVDs are forced to view this garbage, since the 'warning' (and enforced viewing of their advertising crap) is almost always removed by anyone making a 'pirate' copy.

I also get annoyed at the Industries current (2017) advertising campaign and their 'assumption of ignorance' in it's 'suggestion' that a 'copy' will, in some magical way, result in inferior playback quality.

Most consumers viewing these 'anti-copying' exhortations are fully aware that there is no possible way to distinguish between one digital copy and any another, so the Industry can only be 'aiming' such adverts at the generation who used Video Tape to record from their TVs.

It's hard to believe that the 'average' OAP goes out of their way to purchase 'pirate' DVD's 'in a street market', especially as most I know are perfectly able to download the 'pirate' from an on-line Torrent (using TOR or some other proxy 'just in case').
 
Of course these days most OAP's have TV's with the Amazon Fire Stick and access to the full range of films that one of their kids or grand-kids have 'signed up' for

How did the industry respond to 'all region' players ?

They tried to stop 'cheap' (i.e. Region 1 = USA) DVDs being played in 'all region' players by using something called "Regional Coding Enhancement" (RCE** = also known as REA).

This seems to have been completely ineffective, in so far as it was introduced in 2000 but hardly anyone seems to have heard of it at the time (including me). However ten years later (2010) it seems to have made a bit of a comeback (although most multi-region players sold since 2007 are 'immune' to it's effects)

** RCE 'works' because, in addition to the Region 1 'main movie' it has a 'locked loop' pre-amble mini-movie set to Regions 2,3,4, & 5 (showing a map of the world and some text informing the paying customer that they aren't 'allowed' to play the DVD on a 'modified' player). The older 'all region' player would start by looking for a movie of the same Region it 'saw before'. So a non-US customer (who likely played their 'own' Region 2,3,4 or 5 DVD 'last') would become 'trapped' in the never-ending 'locked loop' (i.e. controls disabled) pre-amble when inserting a RCE Region 1 disc.

To 'escape' the 'lock' on the legitimate DVD you paid for, you would have to insert a non-RCE Region 1 DVD (so the player switches to R1) and re-insert the RCE R1 DVD (so the player picks up the R1 main movie instead of the R2,3,4,5 'loop').

Of course none of this will stop the DVD being 'read' on a PC (using DVD43), so the only real effect it has is to further encourage the paying customer to make an 'illegal' copy and 'strip off' the 'locked loop' header (along with all the other advertising garbage the studio likes to pad out the DVD with).

Of course the non-customer (who purchases 'pirate' DVDs) will never encounter RCE (it is always removed from the "Chinese copy" sellers who they would never risk their 'reputation' by selling you a unplayable disc (unlike the morons of the movie industry who seem quite happy to p*ss off their paying customers in as many ways as possible) :-) )

How did DVD's effect the Music industry ?

The Music Industry immediately saw the encrypted DVD as a 'cure' to their 'copying problems'. So they added an 'Audio' folder to the Video DVD specification (= 'DVDA')

Of course this immediately presented them with a 'problem'. IF an Audio DVD held tracks in surround sound (5.1) AC-3 format (i.e. same as the movie audio), a Music DVD would be capable of holding 10 times the number of music 'tracks' than a CD does !

AC-3 may be 6 channel V's stereo 2 channel, and 48kHz V's 44.1kHz, however AC-3 is very efficient compaction format. The result is that a 6 channel surround sound track occupies less than half the space of the CD 'raw' 2 channel stereo PCM version !

This, of course, would have allowed anyone who wanted (including the 'Chinese copy' manufacturers) to create DVDs containing the equivalent of 10 albums - plainly something that had to be prevented at all costs by an industry that needed to 'drip feed' their customers (who would pay up to £15 for each of 10 albums 'one at a time' but would likely refuse to part with £150 for 10 albums on 1 DVD).

As a result, the Industry decided to 'stick to PCM' for DVD Audio - with the result that a DVD with 5 times the capacity of a CD will only hold the same Album in surround sound format !

Especially if you 'pack it out' with a few demo or 'bonus' tracks that have 'never been heard before', perhaps taken from tapes found on the mixing studio floor or from the trash bin out back ..

Further, in an effort to 'make money' out of their own 'format restrictions', the industry tried to charge manufacturers of DVD players a 'licence fee' to play back the surround sound Audio PCM.

Needless to say, few DVD player manufacturers took up this ever-so-generous 'offer'. So whilst every commercial DVD disc has an 'AUDIO_TS' folder (where the pure PCM music would be held), whist a movie DVD (consisting of the video plus all the AC-3 format embedded sound tracks), resides in the VIDEO_TS folder, almost no players exist that can playback the AUDIO_TS

With very few 'DVD Audio' players and even fewer Audio DVDs available, consumers almost totally ignored this attempt to sell them the same music a 3rd time.

Whilst the quality of a 5.1 'surround sound' version is significantly better (when played back via a surround sound system), most music had only ever been recorded in Stereo (although there have been a number of 're-mixes' and even some 're-recordings' by some of the more popular groups into 5.1).

However I would contend that what mainly killed DVD Audio 'at birth' was the restrictions imposed by the DVD encryption system, which (at least initially) prevented customers extracting the music using their computers and converting it to AC-3 so it could be 'piped' it to their existing Home Cinema systems (preventing your PC sending surround sound to your Home Cinema system is yet another story of how the industries attempts at DRM restrictions alienated their legitimate customers)

However the consumer did purchase DVD players (with surround sound 'built in') and took to movie DVDs 'en-mass', so the 'Music Industry' was soon selling 'music videos' instead

Of course a movie with AC-3 surround sound still occupies less space than the 6 channel PCM would. However the industry still sticks to the 'one disc = 1 album' approach, which is why the DVD is always 'padded out' with adverts, 'making of' and band member interviews and even multiple 'pop video' versions all of the same music. All this 'add on' garbage is then used as additional justification for charging you more for the DVD than the CD version

Where are the Music DVD's (DVDA) today ?


Whilst commercial 'pure audio' DVD's may not exist, there is a very active audio enthusiasts group building Audio DVD tools. There is even a GUI harness that incorporates the tool set

By the time DVD encryption was broken (it is, of course, impossible to prevent the decryption method becoming 'known' when every DVD player in the world has to incorporate such decryption in order to play the movie :-) ) the pure music DVD had been quietly forgotten by an Industry that discovered few customers interested in paying through the nose for 'just the same old music' yet again (especially as surround sound couldn't be easily 'converted' to listen to 'on the move').

So whilst some 'niche' or specialist markets do exist, it is doubtful if 'pure' music DVD's exist at all - almost all 'music' DVD's actually contain movies - i.e. "pop video's" or movie recordings of the concert etc.

So extracting music from a DVD essentially consists of bypassing the 'region coding' restrictions (and defeating any tricks designed to make the DVD unreadable in a PC), decrypting the movie and separating out the audio track. There are quite a number of DVD decrypting utilities that allow you to extract sound-tracks from movies. If you have already purchased the Movie DVD (and see no reason why you should pay again for the 'sound track' on CD), I suggest you use Google etc. to locate such utilities (try searching for 'Open Source DVD ripper')

What about Blu-ray (BD) discs ?

Still focused on the sales success of audio CD's replacing vinyl (rather than DVDA not replacing CDs), the Movie Industry convinced themselves that they could sell 'BluRay' HD to those who already had the DVD 'version' (in the same way as DVDs replaced VHS Video Tape) but if only they could 'prevent copying'

So they invested heavily in coming up with "a better way" to prevent customer copying (i.e. a 'better DRM') - a futile self-defeating effort that just wasted money since it is, of course, physically impossible to stop people making copies of anything that can be 'played' on a computer - and, with massively complex DRM requirements, every stand-alone BD player could never be anything other than just a small computer !

Having invented a 'secure path' (including 'tap proof' HDMI cables) designed to prevent data being 'intercepted' and copied on it's way from DVD to a TV screen, the industry believed they had finally stopped all copying by their customers (which they were apparently convinced was a massive source of 'revenue loss')

Of course the inevitable soon happened - the DRM keys 'leaked' and the whole pointless system collapsed

Remember - DRM exists to prevent the customer purchasing the movie in the 'cheapest' market (and to enforce the viewing of adverts etc.) and nothing else. No DRM system in the universe is capable of stopping the real 'pirate' from manufacturing 'bit-for-bit' identical digital copies and 'passing them off' as the real thing ...... except, of course, that the manufacturers of fakes usually strip out the 'Regional coding', 'FBI piracy warnings' and all the other 'locked' content (i.e. the adverts that prevent you 'fast forwarding' straight to the actual movie), thus making the 'pirate' disc rather more attractive than the 'real thing' (especially to those who resent being forced to sit through suggestions that they are acting 'illegally')

Computers are now so powerful that software can just ignore all the (pointless) encryption and simply record whatever is being displayed on screen - so (hopefully) we have finally seen an end to all the pointless time wasting costly 'encryption' that, in the end, only disadvantaged us, the paying customer.

Indeed, many Graphics cards now come with a software driver that is capable of 'recording' whatever is being shown 'on screen' in h264 etc. (and with an application, to do just that, as part of the 'bundle kit'). Whilst this may be 'aimed' at the 'game player' wanting to record their prowess in some "shoot 'em up" challenge, plainly the technology exists to record (i.e. copy) movies being played via that card in full resolution

Where are we today ?

Audio CD's are limited to stereo. If you want 'surround sound', then you need to buy** a 'pop video' or 'concert' DVD/BD - as SACD and the pure music DVD (AUDIO_TS) have been quietly forgotten.

** Be aware that older concert recordings and most 60's-89's 'singles' were finished in 'stereo' only - so just because you have a DVD of your favourite group's 'Greatest Hits' don't assume it's going to be in glorious 'surround sound' !

The Movie industry is moving into 3D and '4k HD'.

So far there has been no new attempts to restrict the playback of DVD / BD discs to 'fixed' regions (and no new pointless 'encryption' systems), although some studios (eg Sony) continue to 'play around' with the DVD 'layout' (fake 'directories' and 'infinite loop' entries) in an attempt to prevent it being played back on a normal PC / Laptop.

The 'focus' has moved to Internet downloads hosted by 3rd parties (iTunes, Amazon etc) and Internet Radio, who pay pennies 'per track' in Royalties to a Music Industry that has worked long and hard to criminalise it's customer base.

There is perhaps, still some hope that 'the Music Industry' will stop wasting their time and resources attempting to restrict the choices of paying customers and develop a business model that delivers their products so cheaply that buying a copy to run on a new device is cheaper than spending the time making a copy - and at a price point where there will simply be no profit in manufacturing fakes - indeed, much like the iTunes, Spotify/Pandora approach.

The 'bargain' made by most Internet users is that, in exchange for 'free' services (Google) and material (Internet radio), they will accept 'advertising' in various forms (for which the provider gets paid). Indeed, in UK, the ITV companies operate on exactly the same business mode. So perhaps the Movie Industry might move in the same direction (of course they already foist 'un-skippable' adverts onto the unwilling viewer at the start of most DVD's, however there is a limit to what the average viewer will accept before going to the 'pirates' (who, of course, strip out such unwanted garbage).

On the other hand, Hell might freeze over (just look at how UK residents have been prevented from using Pandora, or non-UK receiving iPlayer - proxy servers excepted, of course). It seems there is still just too much money to be made, both by the 'studios' and the vendors of useless 'anti-copying' placebos. Of course every 'clever trick' (like the 'fake directories' and 'built in CRC errors' that were popular years ago) designed to stop customers playing back 'their' DVD on a computer never lasts long. Whatever 'tricks' are used, they can never 'work' whilst the disc is still playable in a domestic BD/DVD player - since, to successfully play back (and thus copy) the audio / video on a PC, all your 'ripper' software really has to do is access the disc in exactly the same way as a stand-alone player would. If the 'ripper' simply follows the parameters in the VIDEO_TS.IFO (or, if that's been deliberately 'corrupted', in the VIDEO_TS.BUP) it will always find the 'real' movie data streams no matter what fake 'directory' pointers or 'unreadable' file names have been added to 'fool' Microsoft Windows

The BBC

Of particular annoyance is how the BBC - who are 100% funded by UK viewers and Taxpayers (from whom they extort 'Licence Fees' and 'Government grants') - 'protect' their DVD's to such an extent that they are usually totally unplayable on a PC. Those who have already paid a 'Licence Fee' that was used to make the programs, and then paid again for the DVD of that program, might well feel entitled to use 'ripping' software to extract the material in a form that will play on their PC based Home Cinema / DLNA server systems

Of course it's now the turn of the 'rippers' to make money out of DRM ! Often the 'best' rippers (such as WinX DVD Ripper) are limited to 'trials' (WinX DVD, for example, will only rip the first 5 minutes of any video) unless you pay

BBC iPlayer is even more annoying. Since it is 'limited' to UK IP addresses, you might well ask why, having paid through the nose to finance the making of the programs, we are fed iPlayer files infected with Microsoft's "Play for Sure" DRM 'copy protection' set to 'expire' the download after 30 days. What's worse, once you start viewing them, the files will self-destruct after 7 days !

Of course there are many ways around any DRM system, however of particular interest to me is the advent of the 'smart' (Internet connected) DVR box that is able to 'save to hard disk' material from the Internet as it is being played. Such boxes will never have to worry about any form of DRM (or 'time expiry') again, since all they are doing is re-recording what the user is 'viewing' (assuming that the viewer has actually 'switched' their TV to the DVR as 'source').

Adverts and streaming Internet media

The 'war' between the consumer and the 'content provider' has now moved 'on-line'. Despite attempts by some (such as BBC) to 'prevent copying' the main focus is no longer on 'DRM' but on the (forced) inclusion of adverts in the Internet media stream.

More and more people are electing to 'block' adverts whilst 'browsing' the web, and the technology used to 'dump the crap' is working it's way into blocking the adverts included in commercial TV 'catch up' (4OD etc) and Internet radio 'services'. Needless to say, the content providers are less than happy about this, some even refusing to stream their content if they 'detect' an active ad-blocker.
 
Whilst some Internet radio services offer the consumer a 'ad free' data stream for a (relatively) small subscription, the 'catch-up TV' providers do not. No 'catch up' service actually 'asks' the consumer if they wish to be bombarded with adverts (even the BBC gets in on the act by advertising it's own programs) - since if they did, I would suggest, the vast majority would select 'no thank you'.

So there is an obvious consumer demand for 'ad-blockers' (even mobile smart-phone and tablet Browsers are now coming with ad-blocking options built-in)

Plainly the 'content providers' are worried that their massive advertising revenues are 'at risk' - so I expect the battle between 'ad-blockers' and 'ad-providers' will only 'hot up' in the future ...

Ultimately there is no way to prevent determined consumers from 'avoiding' the adverts (all you need to do is 'time shift' a recording, so you can automatically or manually 'skip-over' the ads, just like the TV viewer with a VHS video-recorder or a radio listener with a cassette tape recorder used to do with the 'fast forward' button)

I (and I'm sure many others) look forward to the day when 'ad blocker' technology finally puts paid to the content providers ability to foist adverts off onto us. When that day comes the power will finally be in the hands of the consumer - and any vendor who wants us to listen to their adverts will finally have to pay us, the 'end user', rather than pay the 'advertising industry' to force it onto us

Like many people I have become convinced that the 'most advertised' product is always by far the worst value. If I want something, I go look for it, whilst anything that has to be 'shoved into my face' must always be something I don't want

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