Solution to control piracy: Hurt genuine customers

To control piracy, punish the genuine customers
To control piracy, punish the genuine customers

The battle between those who have created the content and those who have appropriated it is nothing new. It’s not a phenomenon of the digital age, it’s been around for centuries. In it’s simplest form, it was plagiarism. In modern age, it’s free distribution on a massive scale. Somewhere in between, sit the Corporations who have have funded the ventures and now expect to collect revenue from 6.5 billion customers.

Chronicled here are a few follies that make their efforts seem laughable and their intentions questionable, since all they have done till now is to question the genuine customer.

  • Direct to Home (DTH)Video on Demand: This is a very popular concept where the broadcaster streams relatively new movies all day on specific channels. To tune in, you need to pay a subscription fee. Depending the ongoing scheme, you are given access to the channel and all movies airing on it for a period of 24+ hours. Tata Sky’s solution to deter people from pirating movies by recording them off their TVs was to periodically flash a code on the screen that presumably will help them to identify the exact set-top box(and hence the exact customer) from which the content was recorded. What they did not envisage was that people who are recording the content for distribution simply use a video editing software to mask the code. Where the code normally appears as white text on blue box (completely hiding the image underneath), now it simply appears as a blue block. These movies are available widely and known as DTHRip. Clearly, the hordes of educated staffers at Tata have not predicted something like this would happen and genuine customers are left to watch a movie on which banners and non-sense information keeps popping up with irritating frequency.
  • DVD Video: From hair-brained schemes such as Region Codes (which lock out the Indian child from watching movies that his cousin from USA gifted him) to CSS & Macrovision, by far the most irritating is the mandatory notice screens. If you play DVDs made in USA, before anything you are greeted with a message from FBI threatening legal action. This message cannot be skipped and must be endured for 10 – 30 seconds. As paying customers, this is a nuisance for you. As a pirate, you ensure that while ripping this video and making it available for mass distribution, you simply skip the FBI notice. So now the folks who did not pay for the movie end up with a better viewing experience . If you are an Indian who bought the DVD of an Indian movie from DVD marketing companies such as Shemaroo, you are the unintended victim of Indian ingenuity. The Indian DVD disc manufacturers have replaced the FBI warning screens with advertisements of their brands, upcoming releases and other products. Not only as a paying customer you cannot skip these and head to the main movie, but you also have to endure these from 1-3 minutes!

These are a few examples of punishing genuine customers. I will add to them as I discover more. Leave your feedback with more examples of such brain-dead schemes.

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