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« Commons, Anyone? | Main | Are Bloggers Journalists? »

February 4, 2005

The DMCA wants to be violated

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Turns out that DVDs aren't the only things that are region-coded. Games, such as those for Sony's PS2 console, are also often region coded. And, no surprise, there's a whole industry out there in getting around them.

As an aside, I can't figure out for the life of me why a game should be region-coded. Movies can fall back on the argument of theatrical releases and non-US theatrical release timing versus DVD sales timing yadda yadda. Dumb, but it's an argument to be made. I'm baffled what the comparable reasoning is for console games. In particular I don't see why region coding is not an a priori argument that the industry is practicing discriminatory pricing and similar practices that the WTO frowns upon.

In poking around, this page on how to circumvent region coding for PlayStation 2 caught my eye. It's neat in that it describes a purely external mechanical process, rather than the resistor cutting or soldering approaches that are more commonly seen.

The prevalence of these kinds of pages attests to two things - one is the ingenuity of the consumers. Sony's customers are clearly smarter than Sony gives them credit for. Also, although these procedures may seem onerous they're clearly perceived by the end user (a.k.a. paying customer) as less onerous than living with the Cartel-imposed restrictions. Thus we see how mindless DRM promotes policy. User experience trumps everything.

(Those playing along at home may have noticed that this blog entry may itself be a violation of the DMCA; it would certainly be a violation of the proposed Induce legislation. That's because I linked to the Web page. This fact is direct evidence of what's wrong with copyright law and thiking in America, in case anyone was still wondering.)

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


1. Aine on February 4, 2005 6:31 PM writes...


If I link to your post linking to, will I break the law too? And if someone links to my post linking to your post linking to, will they be breaking the law as well?

We could get a whole chain of lawbreaking going on... this could be fun. *grins*

Permalink to Comment

2. Brad Hutchings on February 5, 2005 2:36 PM writes...

Alan, there are two problems with your argument. One is that you're too clever by half in trying to figure out the corporate reasoning for DRM. They make more money with it than without it. It's near axiomatic in the consumer software business. Add DRM and watch the sales increase. When DRM is done right, many if not most individuals will find it more costly, less convenient, or less morally troubling to "borrow" than to buy. It's just like cooking spaghetti. Add salt to the water to raise the temperature and make your spaghetti better. Add DRM and watch the sales increase.

The other problem with your argument is encompassed in the sentence "Sony's customers are clearly smarter than Sony gives them credit for.". No, some of them are smarter than "Sony gives them credit for", but most, for various reasons, aren't going to fiddle with something they paid $200 to cheat the system. If most did, and the DRM scheme turned out to be ineffective on the whole and unprofitable, Sony would come up with another system in a future product. Your argument here is like saying that if you use open source software, you can always fix any problem because you have the source code. So how long were comments down on Corante? I'm sure the software doesn't suck so bad that it takes two or three days to fix!

Until you guys recognize why publishers use DRM, you'll just be talking past them.

Permalink to Comment

3. Dr. wex on February 14, 2005 2:48 PM writes...

Aine: Yes, I think if one posting is determined to be a violation then the entire chain of links is illegal. Which puts search engines like Google in an interesting position. Can they index pages with illegal links? The Scientologists have made hay on this point in the past.

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4. Dr. wex on February 14, 2005 3:24 PM writes...

Brad: Yes, I do agree with most of your points. I haven't seen any good data correlating sales with DRM. Those I have seen point to a reduction in non-sales copies, not an increase in sales. For example, Intuit's experience with DRM on their tax-prep software. Note also the corresponding PR debacle. My personal opinion is that corporations use DRM for much the same reasons they use MS products - good marketing, FUD, and a lack of realistic alternatives.

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