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back to article EA in Spore DRM climbdown

Electronic Arts has taken its lumps over the past few weeks for its digital rights management (DRM) restrictions on Spore. Critics claim DRM limiting those who bought the hotly anticipated sim to only three installs amounts to no more than renting the software out, rather than selling it. DRM also prevented players from …

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Oh EA...

Oh EA you make me laugh.

"EA tells the Los Angeles Times the customer fallout took the company by surprise."

The world + dog saw it coming a mile off.

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Die DRM, Die

It's not the fact that you can't install DRM software, music or video on more than x number of computers, but when the inevitable happens and your computer dies and needs replacing or if you need to re-install Windows the DRM software treats it as an additional machine. So after either a very unlucky year or certainly 3+ years you will hit the maximum installation limit.

DRM will die out eventually as soon as every company has tried it and make enemies of its customers. If people want to download cracked software they'll do just that because DRM is a challenge that hackers can't refuse to ignore. Anyone who would genuinely buy the software *will*.

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Linux

FAIL!

EA is about to F*ck there whole franchise up with Sh*t like "saying in some cases users would need to purchase a fresh copy to play Spore. Classy!" Why the hell are these twats even worried about piracy they own the largest portion of the gaming market overall. I mean come on WTF seriously is money that tight now you need DRM I would expect that from Micro$oft or RIAA and MPAA but seriously im about to just give up on all of it. Looks like we might be starting the very painful death of the gaming industry as we know it!!

CAN WE GET A FAIL ICON ADDED PLEASE??

>/ tux cause he knows all about open source and freeware

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Pirate

That's not the point!

EA still hasn't got it, haven't they? People don't want SecuROM because it kills hardware and corrupts hard disks. Unless this is a ploy to get people to buy more replacement hardware.

Skull and swords, because forcing people to buy replacement hardware should be a crime.

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Pirate

The restrictions are only half the problem

OK, so they cut the restrictions back to a semi-reasonable level. But the SecuROM malware is still there, isn't it? I will not install hostile software designed to interfere with the operation of my computer. In my view putting that in a product without informing the user is criminal.

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And the score is ....

EA = 0 , Angry Internet Men = 1

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Tom
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If they say...

"We have found that 75% of our customers install and play any particular game on only one machine, and less than 1% ever try to play on more than three different machines."

Why do they even need DRM? For less then 1% they are going to make 99% install crap software? And pay the licence fee for the securom junk?

I was going to pick it up on release day, now that I've read real user reviews I've kind of lost interest so they missed their chance. Maybe if I see it cheap in the discount bin some day.

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Unhappy

Any yet they do it again ?

So they say sorry about the DRM but then bung it on Crysis Warhead and are still planning on putting it on Command and Conquer Red Alert 3.

if it is trying to learn from its mistakes and make ammends why make exactly the same mistake again and again ?

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Gameplay boring

With or without DRM, game was kinda crap anyway, so I don't see what the fuss is about. At least once the patch is out, I can finally get rid off it.

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Why bother with DRM in the first place?

If the statistics are right why the need for DRM in the first place? They very clearly say that the majority of the EA customer base obides by the EULA. The pirate minority will get around it anyway. So why bother? What was the actual return on investment here? I bet negative...

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Flame

EA just don't get it...

EA can scale down the DRM all they want, but people's objection isn't entirely about how restrictive the DRM is, it's just the fact that it's there in the first place. It's the same reason some people don't buy from iTunes, it's just the fact that there is a DRM system in place and they don't want to be locked into a proprietary DRM system where the provider is in a position to tell you what you can and cannot do with your property. So until EA removes the DRM system entirely (unlikely), I will be staying well away

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Anonymous Coward

Securom,

Had problems with San Andreas' securom, after a few weeks of back and forth with stupid questions then asking me to remove nero then removing my dvd burner and finally asking to remove office (i refused all three). They sent me a new exe which apparently had securom removed, it worked fine from then (although they were a bit cagey about saying it)

once again a paying customer has hassles that a non customer doesn't

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Suprise ?

"EA tells the Los Angeles Times the customer fallout took the company by surprise."

and yet they took a hit about using the same DRM in mass effect, and they didn't see the back lash coming?

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Black Helicopters

Deactivating user accounts if you post about DRM?

I don't know about you, but to me this sounds strangely like censorship, doesn't it? Next we will be seeing the EA equivalent of the Cheka! They will come round your house and periodically demand you recite the registration code by heart. If you cannot, you will be taken away to one of EA's dungeons and your computer will be crushed. All for our protection of course. Electronic Arts - Tough on freedom, tough on the causes of freedom.

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Alert

Typical 'Industry' attitude.

And they (still!) wonder what prompts people to consider a pirate copy over the 'real thing'?

And as for the 'threat' to de-activate user accounts!

Don't they realise that if they DO that, the disenfranchised are almost certainly going to look elsewhere.

Wake up (and smell the coffee) EA!

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Black Helicopters

When will game companies learn?

No matter what DRM/Copy Protection you put into a game, someone will always find a way round it.

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Dan
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bah!

"To make amends, EA said on Friday it will roll out an update for Spore that eliminates several points of contention."

Oooh, now I'm thinking about getting a copy.

...

"site moderators seem to be threatening to deactivate user accounts that post complaints about the game's DRM – saying in some cases users would need to purchase a fresh copy to play Spore."

And now i'm not.

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Alert

Sorry Frank, waste of time mate!

EA Games President Frank Gibeau told the LA Times, "We assumed that consumers understand piracy is a huge problem."

Yes, but one trip around some of the more famous names in P2P networks would have yielded the fact that, no exaggeration, hundred of thousands of dodgy copies of "Sore" have been shifted, sans DRM. Downloaded by those who don't give a monkey's or simply want a backup for something they believe they have a right to use.

Frank, the P2P figures show your DRM thingy ultimately has made no real difference, other than as usual annoying those who are actually honest and buy it. I hardly ever buy PC games. Franky, I try the demo, if I like it I check if a crack is out, if so I buy the game and then download the crack to ensure I can keep the discs safe or ensure I can always play it as the developers intended me to. If no crack, then I simply keep playing the demo, I am not supporting your "rental" agreements.

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No title

I wish someone would have the balls to ask EA why they're bothering with DRM in Spore - it's _already_ been cracked, those who don't _want_ to pay for it know how to download it, the DRM is *not* stopping people pirating the game. If they removed the DRM entirely they would get more sales from those people who want to buy it but wont because of the DRM. But no-one would ever dare ask them that, no-one has the guts to stand up to the almighty EA.

Beside we all know that this is not about piracy, it's about second-hand sales. Selling on your copy of Spore would be a nightmare as the game is linked to your EA account, whoever you sell the game to would need to know your details to access the on-line content, which is a significant part of the game.

</FUD>

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Fools

They had exactly the same shitstorm over Mass Effect, and they're "surprised" by the backlash? They climbed down over ME, and they're climbing down over Spore.

They could save themselves so much time, effort and money if they just didn't screw around with their miserable DRM in the first place. EA just don't learn.

Let's hope that businesses like Stardock and GOG.com are successful enough to show these corporate idiots how wrong they are with their retrograde thinking.

Gah!

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Unhappy

Hidden agenda

EA know full well SecuROM DRM doesn't have any effect on piracy whatsoever. Their aim is to obliterate the second-hand market and I believe a spokesman even said as much at one point (can't find the quote at the minute... I'm sure somebody else will). Lifting the install limit ought to sort this out in theory, although I suspect future EA releases will default back to draconian mode in an effort to wear people into submission.

Threatening users with account suspension and invalidation of their game license for talking about the DRM is a classic. Although we don't have such rights here in the UK, I believe there's something about having the right to free speech in the US.

The whole situation stinks to high heaven and I hope the negative publicity hits EA where it hurts, i.e. the bottom line.

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Bronze badge

DRM has only ever affected paying users

I buy a DVD, I have to watch a "you are a thief" propoganda.

I copy it to HDD / DVD to keep the original safe and I can just plug the disk in and watch the film.

DRM will always be cracked, just make it sufficiently unattractive to crack and most people won't bother.

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Silver badge

Three steps to heaven.

1) Build a reputation for providing a finished, bug free, quality gaming experience.

2) Release the product with no DRM and unlimited installs on an unlimited number of machines owned by the purchaser.

3) Drop prices by 30% to 60%. depending on whether the game is an original title of a rehash of an existing title.

Points 2 and 3 would be very easy for EA to implement, overnight even. Achieving point 1 is another matter, that may take several years.

They could also release demo versions of every game they publish but 4 steps to heaven isn't quite so poetic/cliched as 3.

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Anonymous Coward

Online vs offline

The only restriction that makes sense is to limit the number of machines online to 1 by valid CD key. Since that connection is to EA's servers, it's easy for them to control and doesn't restrict paying customers at all while taking a big chunk out of the playing experience for those people who pirate the game. All these other restrictions don't really make much sense. It's not like 10 years ago when grandma and grandpa still didn't know that games could be pirated. Nowadays they do and EA won't stop them with that kind of DRM.

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Stop

consumer protection

This is another demonstrate of why we need better consumer protection laws, that would dictate what fair usage of a game or application is. That way completely over the top DRM such as this would simply be against the law to implement, and to threaten users with revoking their accounts for simply discussing DRM would also be against the law.

All DRM like this does it to harm the customer experience and drive people away from the PC market, as games no longer have any resale value, unlike console games.

This seems to almost encourage piracy, as at least those versions don't have any of the DRM restrictions!

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lol ea

EA truly are turning into some evil dictatorship of a producer, remember the good old days of desert strike?

sigh

/goes back to playing bad company

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Better than nothing

They really should have seen this coming, but fair play to EA for addressing the problems. That's a much better deal than before.

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Unfair

Either such banning would be a breach of contract or the contract is unfair.

EA suck, but that's not news.

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RE: so long and thanks for all the fun

was my post and should have included I've also installed MoHAA, Spearhead, Breakthrough and playing them too. ;)

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Flame

Not good enough.

Doesn't change the fact that you're still being treated like a criminal. Doesn't change the fact you're still at the Mercey of EA if things go wrong. Doesn't change the fact that EA still think this crap works.

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Reg review

Have any El Reg readers played the game? How about an adult review - i.e. is this game worth all the press coverage it's getting ? OK, we care about the principle, but EA will never back down completely, so is this game worth fretting about ?

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Anonymous Coward

not

not that EA make games that are of much interest - but DRM has always ment I'd rather get a working cracked version then a broken legal version.

One thing that universally f--ks me off is the requirment to have the god damn cd/dvd in the drive when I play it. Why the hell should I have to root around to find a disk, then trundle over to my machine and put it in, then sit the hell down. No - fuck you. I'll just pirate the shitting thing and not need to move. I should explain my PC is plugged into my TV via hdmi, I have nice long mice and keyboard cables ( wireless has a habit of running out of batteries - something a usb extension cable doesn't do.) This means I tend to use the computer from the other side of the room.

Now what games I do have are in "the cupboard" a disorganised hell of computer left overs from the past 16 years. It is infact quicker for me to download a nocd patch then look in the cupboard.

Ever since the games industry started making enjoying a luxury so damn inconvenient my interest in games has gone down. Whether that's becouse most games now days are dull rehashes of old shit I do not know.

O well.

EA can shuve it.

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the customer fallout took the company by surprise

Really, what planet are they living on?

The DRM issue was not that much of an issue for me, the gameplay was more of a problem. no matter what you do there is no point adding extra items to your creature as only one part is taken as contributing to the stats. 2 mouths - only counts as one, 6 spikes - only counts as one even if they are different, only the best one counts. Not that it matters as from the tribal stage onwards what the crature looks like is not important. The space stage... I though Wooooo Elite II look alike, trading and such with empires - great. nope. my first and only extra planet got attacked and burned, spaceship combat is a joke so I left it there. not impressed. did not like the sims either, might have been a clue there. its like Black and White, there seems to be a point but nothing you do really affects the goal except some how its a game.

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Issues.

Of course, there are other problems EA have with their flagship launch bodge creaturefest now. One of which is (potential) customers like me; I would have bought the game but the DRM issues made me hold off long enough to the point at which reports started to filter in that the game was... well, not the revolution those early gameplay videos promised. So even if they rip off all the protection and throw it away for good, it's already been relegated to my, "if I see it lying in a bargain bin" list of purchases, 'cause it just doesn't look like it's worth full price to me.

(Certainly a little noodling around in the free Creature Creator revealed that it didn't matter what size or shape you made your creature; if you put Speed 2 feet on it, it's going to travel at Speed 2 no matter what. Defeats the object of the much-vaunted procedural gait generation, really.)

Secondly, if they'd launched with 5 re-usable activations, they'd probably have gotten away with it. Problem is EA went just that little bit too far with their three-and-only-three activation rules - to the point where it wasn't just the usual tiny minority of grumbling throwbacks from the days of 'Elite' like me keeping wallets firmly trousered... and now the cat's out of the bag, customers want to see the DRM gone, or at least return to the innocent days when copy protection was nothing more than a user-space program checking if you'd got the game media in the drive.

I'd be interested to see the sales figures vs. expectations for it, though. Something suggests to me that if one of the most arrogant games-publishing heavyweights is backing away and apologising, there's a fairly hefty reflection of public opinion on the bottom line. I can't see them acting this way for the nebulous concept of goodwill alone.

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Pirate

Consoles

Everyone will just switch to consoles in the end to avoid the hassle of DRM. This kind of bad thinking will be the death of the PC gaming market.

I've had loads of problems with securom games in the past because my Philips drive meets the CD spec (cos Philips wrote it) and the secrurom games don't. Playing anything on PC usually involves a deterring amount of faffage.

They need to make games easier to install and play, that way people will pay money and buy them. Simple isn't it?

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Paris Hilton

Silly rabbit

So in hard times EA decide to screw over the gamers knowing full well what happened to other securom games such as Bioshock. Hmm. I wont touch an EA game after being shafted so many times. There are plenty of other games to play.

Paris, she loves a bit of rights management

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EA & DRM

EA has a long history of removing any rights from forum users to bring up topics such as DRM. EA just tells people to "shut it".

Current (or is it now closed?) BETA testers for RA3 have been at the swift hand of forum moderators in regards to DRM. So have BETA testers for other EA games.

"There is no DRM contained in RA3 that will have any impact on users what so ever". - EA DEV.

"Sony SecuROM is active in this product". - Myself.

"No it isn't". EA DEV.

"It is shown on the request allow/deny screen on launch". Myself.

"Oh that. That is only part of protecting sold copies and stop multi code usage". EA DEV.

"So it is active on this product?" Myself.

"Well if there is a popup request i guess so, but i am sure it will not be there in final release." EA DEV.

Hmmm. Go EA.... I think....

Have a look yourself...

redalert3.com/betafeedback

Or here...

http://forums.ea.com/mboards/thread.jspa?threadID=439203&tstart=0

The only bonus to this of course is cracked .exe's. Even though i own every-single-C&C produced (was at each launch night) i take part in the dark side of .exe's for EA products.

EA not only does not communicate well with it's users, alpha or beta testers but just kicks you in the head for attempting to help at all.

Please just release via STEAM and be done with it. EA makes baby jesus cry.

For all we are concerned...EA can take a running jump...

Into a bed of nails and broken glass.

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Alert

Im spore free...

Apart from a headache, am I missing anything?

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Go

the link to forums tells it all

"Never forget what's going on here today. You'll want to include that in your decision making should you chose to buy another product from EA and/or Maxis. "

Ah well. I hope in the future they do not release a game that I would really want.

BTW, because of similar attitude toward clients I turned away from Sony some time ago, and have not come to regret this decision yet.

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Pirate

EA comment

The spokesman must be being deliberatley obtuse, the issue isn't with playing the game on multiple seperate computers, it is with reinstalling it on a single computer multiple times such as after upgrading a component or reinstalling the OS.

The renting analogy carries over to reselling it, there is no way to prove there are activations remaining meaning no secondhand market for these titles such as eBay.

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Gates Horns

Now how about other titles???

Seeming there is no mention of the DRM nor its underhand installation onto your computer (that I could find in the ULA) AND that they have admitted that this isnt necessarily the best way to stop pirates but instead to really piss off legit customers are they going to release similar "patches" for other SECUROM/DRM titles. E.g. Crysis Warhead please?

I (and I am sure lots of other people) will be upgrading their machines, processors, GFX cards to play this new lump of eye candy and seeming there doesnt seem to be much info on what would trigger one of your 3 activations people could get caught out from just trying to play the game at its best... surely not fair and now they have climbed down with Spore lets put pressure on them to do the same for existing and future games.

These new "rules" are better, but not perfect. They should be MUCH more open with the restrictions they put on and not try and hide them... come on, you know use "IT Professionals" better than that! We will find out. Present us with an obstacle and someone will find a way around it... usually within a day....

Devil Bill cos of the Vista license activation controversy that is/was similar.

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Boffin

They haven't got it, have they?

The problem here hasn't been addressed...

The fact is that legitimate users are still being punished with an inferior product. If the idea of their DRM was to stop 'casual' copying, ie lending it to a friend, then they could have achieved that by using a simple disc check. The fact is that any user familiar enough with particular sites to find a crack to remove that, will also be able to find the crack to make the existing 'security' completely redundant.

Their extra DRM acheives NOTHING...

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Paris Hilton

oh DRM...

DRM fails again, well there's a big surprise. Personally I'm waiting for the Wii release of Spore because then all this PC DRM shit won't be a problem for me anyway. EA, DRM loving idiots that they are, do release a lot of good games but being a linux user with a relatively low spec computer (Core Duo 1.6ghz, 1GB RAM, Intel integrated Graphics) I'm happy to get console versions.

Paris, cos I wouldn't mind restricting her rights for a night.

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Flame

PC Gaming, so long and thanks for all the fun

Starforce, securom, three installs, five installs and internet connections required for single player games.

I have over three hundred PC games on cdrom/dvd that I have bought over the years, more if I count the ones on floppies. Just last week I installed the original Half_Life and Opposing force and played them through yet again.

EA says five installs is enough for any "legitimate" user?

Well fuck you arseholes.

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Paris Hilton

EA = Noobs

When will they get a clue?

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Can I talk about Steam?

I bought the Orange Box 4 weeks ago.

I still haven't been able to play it offline.

Criminals don't have to put up with this shit.

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Silver badge

Switch to consoles ? Bollocks !

Switch to Steam.

Steam is Valve's version of online purchasing, and it works fine.

It works so well that if you have to reinstall your PC after changing mothrboards (wipe the OS and restart from scratch), as long as your Steam folder is intact all you need to do (once the OS is properly installed again) is launch Steam (hear that ? just launch it from the exe - no reinstall required) and input your personal access code and voilà ! All your games are once again available.

And you can play them as long as you like - no DRM hassle, no CD (he, he, they're download, remember ?) and no problems.

There's no need for consoles in such conditions. There is, however, need for Valve to become the default download platform of choice so that ALL new games become available via Steam.

And the crappy EA Downloader will become just a bad memory.

A very bad one.

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Anonymous Coward

@Consoles

and you think that the same problems wont soon come to console games?

I mean come on you already have the starts of patch hell on consoles, next step is drm and authentication hell.

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Black Helicopters

@consoles

"Everyone will just switch to consoles in the end to avoid the hassle of DRM. This kind of bad thinking will be the death of the PC gaming market."

Which is entirely the point! They are looking for any excuse to drop the pc as a gaming platform. PC gamers won't stand for paying £50 a game, and there are alternatives unlike consoles. Piracy has become a nice finger pointing excercise, to say it's killing the pc games industry when the companies would love nothing more as they can charge more.

The draconian DRM does exactly the opposite of it's stated intent. It pushes more people to pirate, and so bolsters the claims that piracy is killing the PC gaming industry, despite the fact that people* always have, and always will, pay for games worth paying for.

*people with the money, anyway!

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Linux

I'm not a gamer, but...

I used to buy movie DVD's and music CD's. I travel frequently and often would like to bring some DVD's with me to watch in the event the TV fare in the hotel/motel i was staying in didn't interest me. About a year ago, I bought a new laptop. I run Linux and there's no way my new laptop can be enticed to run DRM infested DVD's. But it plays downloaded ones perfectly.

I'll continue to pay for music CD's because they seem to work fine. I now save a lot of money on movies since I refuse to pay for crippled content.

I don't particularly believe in piracy and would pay for unrestricted content, in fact I have well over a hundred DVD's and VCR's that I did pay for in the past.

But no more. At least until things change and I can use the content I purchase on any platform I choose.

Posted anonymously because... well it should be evident...

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