Demonitization and its likely impact on the Tamil film Industry 

On November 8th, Prime minister Narendra Modi made a surprise announcement that rupee notes of 500 and 1000 would cease to be legal tender. The announcement has blown the whole country into a state of chaos and it is only now, about 15 days later, that the country is slowly limping back. Liquidity is still tight especially in rural areas and it may take some time before the Indian economy as a whole attains some sort of stability, forget ‘growth’ even.

At times when people are sticking on to their valuable 100 Rupees notes and holding on to dear change, for emergency needs, it is obvious that the sales of Pirated DVDs of new films (the few ones that released). This is obvious. I don’t have any statistics to corroborate this comment, though.

I don’t think that this must have made any impact on Internet piracy however, since consuming digital content does not hurt people economically.

Having said that, a coin has two sides. If Disc Piracy in rural areas would have been reduced, then logically, legal viewership in theatres too must have. This is logical, unless off course, few people would have been hell bent on watching the film, or if the theatre had accepted the now defunct 500 or 1000 notes.

In this scenario, there have also been a few movies whose release had been stopped for almost obviously the same reasons.

Another recent event occurred in the industry which is related to the context of this post. Actor Rajinikanth appears to have made a tweet wishing the prime minister for such a bold move.

In response to the tweet, Director Ameer has pointed fingers at Rajinikanth reminding him about the alleged collection prices for his recent success film ‘Kabali’.

The question now arises : Can the movies being publicised as 100 and 200 crore films, continue to have the same collection as claimed in the past?

Rajinikanth’s Enthiran 2.0 is claimed to made at a budget of Rs. 300 – 350 crore. Piracy will definitely happen either by hook or crook, given the obvious demand and expected additional publicity which will be made by its film makers. This is a given loss, and nothing can really be done about it.

So, the obvious question is that, will legitimate collections (Partnership fund infusions, Satellite rights, Internet rights, and other promotional rights) and most importantly, the gate collection ceiling (Rs. 120) be enough to generate this huge sum of investment? Time will give us the answer..

Advertisements

​Absurdity of contemporary Video Distribution models..

A few years ago, there was a grey area in video consumption, via YouTube. The question was ‘Was it legal and ethical to download content on YouTube for offline consumption?’ 

The question was particularly important back then considering that, mobile devices and content consumption was on the rise for content access on the go, but data charges were not affordable specifically for video, considering that video is a huge bandwidth hog. 

The situation hasn’t changed much since then, but we’ll come back to it, in a bit. 

To solve this problem, many third party applications that would enable the user to cache video content from YouTube offline when WiFi was available, so that users could later view the content at their convenience within the confines of their devices, without being bothered about the mobile data charges or availability of the Internet. 

Two things facilitated this arrangement. YouTube’s API support for authenticating third party clients helped this immensely and the codec standards used by YouTube would be open standards and non proprietary. Since open Codec standards were used, This largely meant that caching of content and therefore taking content offline through technological means would not be much of a hassle for normal streams although YouTube continued to apply encryption (DRM) for specific video files on request by the rights holder. 

As the mobile market continued to evolve with better mobiles becoming cheaper and faster connection standards like 3g replacing edge and 2g, mass switchover to mobile consumption took place. Many nascent subscribers experienced the power the Internet for the first time. 

This facilitated immense growth of non video services like email, social media, productivity applications etc, but video by its nature of being bandwidth intensive, people could not have the freedom of choice to consume content due to economic reasons. 

Possibly Sensing stagnant growth, YouTube bit the bullet itself, allowing users to cache content within the application a couple of years ago, taking upon itself, the solution of solving the ethical question raised in the beginning of this post. 

Since then Google has realised the maturity and inconveniences of the Indian mobile Internet market and therefore made not just YouTube but also it’s other services like Google Docs, Email and also even it’s Google maps for offline downloading. 

YouTube continues to remain the dominant near defecto ‘video consumption’ website globally. In this background, one needs to analyse the recent emergence of other global alternate video streaming services like Netflix and HotStar and the much anticipated Amazon Prime service in India. 

As a rule of thumb, there are 3 A’s (Availability, Affordability and Accessibility) that are mandatory for the meaningful penetration of video in any market. The value of these attributes could not be better highlighted than today, when the shelf life of ‘Top-down’ generated media content continues to fall and so does its exclusivity as a public engagement tool. 

Let us now analyse the case of Netflix and HotStar. These models do not intend to compete with YouTube as a mass, two way video ‘user engagement’ medium, but follow the classic ‘Top-down’ model of providing one way content to its consumers. It’s definitely much more ‘niche’ than YouTube. 

These models are betting on ‘exclusivity’. Unlike the doomed ‘C2H network of director Cheran’ who did not have the native bandwidth to constantly generate new and updated content and had to rely on external variables, HotStar probably realised that it was generating sufficient material via its TV network to start its own distribution medium and bring other people on board as the story went along. Netflix although new in India has been around long enough in the content distribution business even from DVD days (like the failed Seventymm.com business model) and has started investing on its niche ‘Netflix Exclusive Digital content’ apart from distributing content of other creators. This exclusive content creates the possibility for users to break away from YouTube and come towards them. 

Although these models charge a recurring monthly fee allowing unlimited access to their catalogues, they do not directly compete with piracy. HotStar has a Freemium model which provides users to sample some of its content for free, while pushing a large quantum of its catalogue to the ‘Premium Tier’ for Rs.199 a month. 

Netflix offers a free one month trial before its monthly plans start at Rs. 500 for SD. It’s HD tier stats from Rs. 650. These are clear cut paid services. Although they allow unlimited access to content, they should be seen as a ‘Revenue Enhancer’ rather than a ‘Piracy Beater’ because they work on ‘exclusivity’. 

In the recent past, there has been immense pressure on large scale piracy sites like ‘K.a.t’, ‘The Pirate Bay’ etc making pirated content harder to come by ( A user hell bent on pirating content will find it anyway). 

Some of these regularly filtered content prone to piracy distribution like English movies and TV shows are regularly filtered out from pirate networks and are also available on these services and this creates an opportunity for a user in India to see this content legally at an affordable price point. This is a move that definitely needs to be appreciated. 
Do we classify these services as a ‘Piracy Beater’ or a ‘Revenue Enhancer’? More important than its classification is the need to highlight what is a stupid business move by these services. 

Unlike YouTube, these services do not allow caching of content on mobile devices. There are stories speculating that they may come soon, but they aren’t there yet. But shouldn’t thisnhave happened long ago? 

people are paying for content , yet cannot access them according to their convenience. What good is content in India if it has to be accessed only via WiFi and cannot be cached to be seen later? 

This makes no point to a potential customer on the ledge and will drive him back towards piracy. So from this argument, they need to be probably classified more as a ‘Revenue Enhancer’ since it doesn’t seem to be focusses on the user who may want to view pirated content. 

While it’s easy to point fingers at legitimate distribution services, there are more finer points that may be needed to be looked at. Probably it isn’t entirely the fault of these services themselves, but it high time, copyright holders see the ground realities and the practical problems faced by customers of these so called legitimate distribution models. 

In this case, the availability of content is limited ( due to licensing issues – The irony is. That copyright continues to work on a global geographical scale when piracy has long transcended these barriers) – even if is ‘affordable’ – stupid restrictions like these,  make content practically ‘inaccessible’. 

Mind you, the content offered for offline access is DRM encrypted and users cannot download them, so what really is the problem for these rights holders and distribution companies to provide offline access to paying customers, i don’t understand. 

Piracy continues to live on, not only due to economic reasons. It also happens largely due to the ‘convenience’ it offers, a simple mantra which the legitimate world of media distribution keeps failing to understand. 

Doopaadoo.com – BUYING YOUR TIME

EXAMPLE OF A BOTTOM UP APPROACH :
Over the past few years, the Tamil Audio Industry has faced several challenges in Monetization. While it is all but easy to put the blame squarely on Piracy, we must also acknowledge a fact that strong life style changes amongst the users has caused a decline in audio music consumption, forget even paid consumption.

While Spotify has been reasonably successful in foreign countries, their Indian counterparts like Gaana.com, Saavn, and Wynk don’t seem to have made that great an impact. Wynk which purchased Dhingana.com, another Music Streaming provider has shut down. Barring a few promotional advertisements by Gaana, and some of these Music Apps being pre-installed as bloatware in some smartphones, i don’t think these services made any major promotions, and I don’t see any major traction or conversations surrounding these names.

Clearly, I think the Piracy Beater model in Music, atleast from an Indian perspective is hitting rock bottom. The issue is not whether these models themselves will be sustainable or not, but rather, if the industry can make meaningful monies to recover the huge investments made in making these songs.

madhan-karky-doopaadoo-was-launched-among-the-music-legends-1
We may now be reaching one of the lowest ebbs of the Indian Music Industry, from which, the revenue possibilities are going down, and possibly not going to see any major growth upwards anymore.
Doopaadoo.com, an initiative co-founded by Lyricist Madhan Karky, is attempting to bring a platform for Non Film Music and a possibility for better monetization. While Platforms like YouTube and FaceBook already drive User Engagement, it is very difficult to bring Visibility considering the huge amount of free content available. It needs more personalised engagement by individual users, and by bringing a share of the revenue pie to the listeners, it is hoping to bring more direct user Engagement. A share of the revenue pie is being hoped to be an incentive for users to spend more time in Doopaadoo.com, rather than say YouTube or elsewhere, where they do not receive any direct remuneration.
This cannot work for main stream Film Songs at the moment, considering the huge investments in artists salaries and the need to recover this money. This model might work for Indie music, as the Huge salary paid to Artists and the Huge Labels involved is taken off, and one of the important needs here from the artists’s perspective is to drive User Visibility and Engagement in a chaotic digital world. This is a classic example of A ‘Bottom Up’ approach, and in theory sounds good.
In its current form, Doopaadoo.com has several shortcomings. It is still Beta, so we need to give it some time. First, the catalogue currently available is very limited. What is likely to make it even more difficult is that, Doopaadoo claims that the content available is exclusively available on Doopaadoo.com, thereby stifling the possiblity of the creator to monetize it on other platforms. So, how many people would be ready to provide content exclusively for Doopaadoo.com is questionable?
Secondly, it is extremely unlikely that people would sit there all day listening to DoopaaDoo songs, just to make some money. I don’t think it is going to work that way, since DooPaaDoo does not have something like Facebook, an engine that keeps on generating new information to keep users engaged. So, possibly at some point, an API integration may be built by Doopaadoo, to help users listen to DooPaaDoo content either via a FaceBook integration or a webbrowser integration, where they can keep listening to a preset PlayList or something like that, while they continue their work.
Given the wafer thin revenue streams expected, it is quite unlikely that DooPaadoo.com may tie up with larger players of this segment like Saavn, Wynk or Gaana ( They offer all kinds of content including main stream Music and Offbeat Music and Audio Files as well).
But it remains to be seen, if in practice, if all these things will work out. Time will give us the answer.

PLAIGIARISM OR PIRACY – THE GREATER SIN?

Piracy – The act of plagiarizing; taking someone’s words or ideas as if they were your own ; WordWeb Dictionary.


Which is worse? The act of stealing someone’s product without legitimately paying for it and consuming it (or) The act of stealing someone’s product and claiming it as your own?

Most people, I would say, is the latter. Every year, the Tamil film Industry suffers losses to the tunes of crores of Rupees. This is an indisputable fact. Whether there is a solution to this or not is questionable, but how many people in the Industry have a right to stake that claim on ethical grounds?

It is one thing to take inspirations and make films, especially those that are mythological and derived from our culture. Most of the original works and their copyrights have expired long time ago. Works of Epics like Mahabharatha and Ramayana have been adapted by ManiRathnam. The legendary story of Friendship between Krishna and Kuchela has been retold several times, most recently being adapted by Director Vasu for the Film ‘Kuselan’, but what about adaptations from contemporary works, which technically are copyrighted to someone else?

When a Director who has used short ‘Stories’ from Tinkle Digest from the 90s, for atleast two scenes in two different films ( Yes, Tinkle Digest) in a humourous capacity, and then cries ‘Piracy!!!’, most certainly, my sympathies will not go with him. [ I clearly remember reading the stories, but I am looking to trace them. The database of Tinkle Digest is obviously quite huge.]

Some songs have literally been ‘Xerox’ed. Even as early as 2006-07, websites like itwofs.com have been documenting instances of Music Plagiarism in Indian music. Inspirt of this, this trend continues. Off late, a Viral message ripped a recent movie to the Bone, and compared it with the Film ‘MidNight Express’ ( A film which I have not seen. But anyone who saw the video would get an inkling of what has ‘allegedly’ happened.) News Reports online show that the Producer of the Film has issued a show cause notice to the Director of their film.

The Word ‘Plaigiarism’ is an extremely subjective word. It falls on the grey line with words like ‘Inspiration’, ‘Co-incidence’ or even ‘Tribute’. This was also the case for one of the trends that happened a few years ago, when a few music Directors, in the names of re-mixes tore and destroyed the natural soul of a few Original songs, much to the chagrin of the music composers, who had neither been consulted nor had been credited.

And then K.Bhagyaraj alleged that one of his movies ‘Indru Poi Naalai Vaa’ had been ripped off by a comedian. Anyone who has seen both these movies, will know the truth, that its not a word for word translation. The contexts are very different, but what about the soul of the film? The depth of the characters, the relationships between them in moving the screenplay and the story forward. How do they match? I think in my view, that is what differentiates Plagiarism from the other words.

I want to take Aranmanai and ‘Aayiram Jenmangal’ as an example. Off late, I had met Director.Pasi Durai, and I had discussed this issue with him. I had no knowledge then that the producers had apparently filed a case. It is irrelevant to discuss here, what the final outcome of the case is. But, when I look at the comparison, I inevitably get the same feel here.

Aayiram Jenmangal is a more serious film, while Aranmanai is a typical, laugh riot, by Director Sundar C. The settings of the films are different. There are more side characters in Aranmanai, that add to its humour, which are not there in Aranmanai. But, what is the soul of the Film – Aayiram Jenmangal?

A man and a lady are in love. The lady dies under tragic circumstances, and the man has no idea what happens to his lady love. Over a period of time, he meets a new woman, falls in love with her, and gets married to her. The Brother of the Wife comes to meet his sister and brother in law, and they travel to some place, where some strange things happen. The soul of the original lover, enters the body of the Wife. They must conjugally mate for a night and live as Husband and Wife. If this happened, the Ghost ( Spirit of the Dead Girl) would permanently remain inside the body of the wife. The Brother comes to know about this. It is his duty now to ensure that his brother-in-law does not spend a night and do not conjugally meet for a certain number of days, in order to save his sister.

This is the story of Aayiram Jenmangal. I do not wish to make a comment about ‘Aranmanai’, but my view on one thing is clear.

Film Makers who consciously indulge in Plagiarism, off any sort, should simply better stop adding #KillPiracy to their Twitter Tweets.

Understanding ‘Internet Piracy’ concepts via Our Own Tamil Cinema..

One of the feedbacks that I had recently got from a respected individual is that , he had given me was that the blog was too technical and difficult to grasp from a common man’s view point. I agree. I had planned that the English version be a little more technical, but the Tamil translation to be a diluted version and talking in even more layman terms. So, keeping this in mind, i have decided to do a simple illustration to explain a concept, which i have spoken in another Video. I am trying to explain, How Decentralisation of the Internet largely benefits Piracy. I have also added the ‘Ramana’ Footage for Reference.

 

Ramana_Centralised

 

So, as the Yugi Character mentions, you can see in the Image that probably Kumaresan and Zakir Hussain probably don’t know each other, yet there is a centralized node that connects both of them, without themselves knowing each other. The centralized Node ( Professor Ramana) instructs them and is clearly hierrarchially much higher than the others. So, a collapse of the Central Node, will destroy the system, so, by tracking the smaller nodes and mapping them together, eventually, Professor Ramana comes out and reveals himself and with that the ACF network collapses, which is what the conclusion of the movie, also is.

Unfortunately, the Movie industry may have wished that Piracy and Internet Piracy in particular worked in this fashion. Sadly, it is not. It works in an entirely de-centralized fashion, something like this.

Ramana_Decentralised

 

You can see in this kind of network architecture, again Possibly, Kumaresan and Zakir Hussain do not know each other. They may not even know Professor Ramana, because, each node can independently operate on its own, yet seek support from its nearest node. Typically beyond one or two levels, communication is not accessible for a single node.  The advantage of this system in the context of Piracy, is that there is no single Professor Ramana here. Even Zakir Hussain and Kumaresan themselves have the power of Professor Ramana. Zakir Hussain, Kumaresan, Ramana and everyone in the network may be doing more or less the same kind of work. So, at some level, they act as competitors, yet they also share knowledge and common resources, which are distributed, so that, there is no single point of failure.

The typical pattern that we see is by the time, Law and Enforcement catches up with one or two nodes, hundreds of new nodes are created else where. More over, a single node may himself not know beyond one or two nodes himself, so, this complicates the situation, even more.

 

 

Digital Rights Management and its impact in the Current ‘CopyRight-Piracy’ Conflict..

The first half of the decade, the years 2000-2006 were the years where the legitimate industry bore the brunt of the Piracy onslaught. The legitimate industry simply was too confused as changes were happening at such a rapid level and ordinary users were getting sucked into Piracy, at a growth rate, possibly never seen much, before by mankind.

At that point in time, The industry itself was internally faced by several dilemmas, themselves. It could never bring itself to the fact that things (or media) could be sold entirely in a digital format and believed that users must and should consume legitimate physical products and it was much more legal and ethical. But it failed to realize that content entirely digital had a certain convenience that physical did not provide.

Another possible reason was that physical sales, in the short term were still not being impacted, and switching entirely to digital could hurt physical sales. This dilemma continues even today, and exists in various forms, when one sees the over all ‘Copyright-Piracy’ conflict. This particular issue, i like to refer to as a ‘Seesaw Conundrum’ ( when you try to raise one end for a benefit, you end up losing something on another side). The ‘SeeSaw conundrum‘ in itself, i see as part of a larger ‘External Variable conundrum‘, a phenomenon that is beyond control of an individual or an organization and happens due to the totally diverse and potentially overlapping regions of the Internet.

Another problem faced by the Industry was that if it even decided to move towards a ‘Digital’ only model, as most of them have today, there were no proper digital payment infrastructure in the banking and Economic transaction system, as stable and relatively secure as we see today. Following 2006, Piracy continued to grow even faster, especially when Internet Piracy began to outclass traditional Disc based piracy, but by then the Industry had overcome the early shock and had produced several limited counter attacks and potential ‘Revenue generative’ attempts to fight Piracy on price. While most of them may have produced ‘short term results’, several of them have sunk and are slowly being lost to obscurity.

But amidst all this, one move seems to be clearly one of the tools that the ‘Copyright Industry’ will use as a weapon which is already in contemporary use and which is out to stay in the long term. Although DRM can be used for multiple applications including Audio* and Video**, it is primarily associated with Books.

So, this blog post will focus primarily on how DRM is applied to Books, and try to dissect its role in the phenomenon. Back then, even in the Analog world, Books were duplicated, some through Xerox and some through cheap copies. But the economics of that time meant that only ‘Best sellers’ were likely sold through such counterfeit books. This phenomenon even continues to this day, and one can find cheap copies of such books in M.G.Road or majestic circle. They cost typically around Rs.50-100 and are quite cheap when compared to an original book. The quality of print and paper is typically very poor, and is virtually uncomparable to an original.

But the rate and scale of copying offered by Digital Technology and the sharing infrastructure that the Internet enabled made this a much more serious issue. In all fairness, Book Piracy was relatively low in the ‘2000-06′ era and the brunt was borne by the Movie and the Music Industry. This could be explained by a simple logic that the hardware form factors – be it a Desktop or a Laptop were not suited to reading Books, unlike today’s Ereaders or Tablets.

If one looks at most of the research done over the Internet after spending possibly millions of dollars – inevitably, most of them draw one of these two conclusions – “Piracy boosts Legal sales’, or ‘Piracy destroys Legal sales and costs millions of jobs and millions of dollars in taxes to the Government”. This loop goes on with each new research trying to outprove, its counterpart’s conclusions.

But in an era of 2000-06, it may have made some sense, for the ‘Pro Piracy’ advocates, who said that Pirating book users go on and buy legitimate physical books, because the Pirated copy allowed them to read a sample. The logic may have held water back then. There were also links that this famous author advocated Piracy and said that it boosted his sales. ( I believe it is his official blog).

But today, in a world of EReaders, Tablets and Kindles, it is that much more likely that a pirating Ebook user would pay to buy physical content, because in many ways, the digital experience is much more convenient than the physical one, and how many would want to buy a physical one, which is less convenient, when they get the more convenient digital version for free?

So, this is where DRM comes in. It relies on a logic that a pirated copy will originate from a unencrypted legal Ebook copy, and that is why it needs to have some measures to avoid copy. The logic is good at one level, but fails, because unlike its other cousins, which have almost long since and almost are on the fringe of abandoning physical products, physical books still hold ground. Maybe, there is really is something about Paper.

So, DRM technically stops or makes it difficult for a legal Ebook to be duplicated and pirated, but there is no proven theory that it helps boosts book sales. It is just a ‘Piracy Stopper’, but in no way, unlike say ‘Saavn’ or ‘Moser Baer’ , a revenue generator, which by themselves, become ‘Piracy Stoppers’.

While DRM has to protect the rights of the Copyright Holder by preventing duplication of digital copies, it also has to protect the rights of the buyer, many of whom want the freedoms and flexibility that physical books offer them. So, DRM has to balance the needs of both users. So, let us see, how this works out in today’s Digital ECommerce, App Ecosystem and the Cloud.

 

#1

Depending on the case, a user may have permanent or temporary access to a Ebook. A user may choose to permanently purchase a copy of a book via Amazon Kindle or Google Play. This entitles them to access the book through their own various stock clients across multiple Operating Systems that ‘sync’ information about the book’s position and gives the user a seamless experience. Another alternative application that DRM offers is similar to renting a physical book from a library. While I am unaware if this feature is available through traditional Ebook stores, it is available if you are a member of the British Library.

Once you pay for an online membership( The Library has several schemes that allow users to rent Physical Books, Optical Media like DVDs, Magazines, Children’s comics etc), the British Library gives the user, the availability of Ebooks that can be rented. The user can choose the book, and click download and which leads to a temporary file that contain metadata like the Date Of Download. This Temporary file can be opened in an ‘Adobe Digital Editions’ Application ( the normal Adobe Reader won’t work), which reads the details in the file and starts the download process of the file. The user will also need to have a registered ‘Adobe Account’. The file is downloaded and can be seen and viewed in the Adobe Digital Editions Application like a normal PDF. The only difference is that after the period ( typically 14 days), the file will stop working, and the user will have to repeat the original process and get a new rental key from the British Library server.

#2

Once the book is purchased, the user can download the book offline on the client. In most cases, a copy of the most updated version of the book rests on the Service’s server. The user has the option to add Annotations, while some services offer a ‘One Touch’ integration to share select ‘quotes’ directly on Twitter and Facebook. The Kindle Edition also offers a direct integration with the Book Review and Dedicated Book Social Media website – Good Reads (?)

#3

once the book is downloaded and authenticated, users can add their notes, bookmarks and highlights. Although, the device gives the appearance of over the top, imprints, it is a digital mirage. The device handles both these info seperately, and only momentarily places the annotations at specific co-ordinates over the book. This is the reason, why an Annotation made in 1 client, when sync’d over the cloud, can be deleted over the other. Users who use the ‘Image Annotation’ Feature in Evernote/Skitch across multiple devices can also understand this concept better.

Citing from the book, Multimedia Systems Design by Prabhat.K.Andleigh & Kiran Thakrar  – “Image Annotation can be performed in one of the two ways ; as a text file stored along with the image or as a small image stored within the original image. The annotation is over layed over the original image for display purposes. While this may sound simple enough, it is not without complication. It requires tracking multiple image components associated with a single page, decompressing all of them, and ensuring correct spatial alignment as they are overlayed.” 

Once this process is done, the annotated book is sync’d across the cloud. The details of the book can be download on another client via the same process. So, now having described a simple technically on how DRM works, let us consider a Socio-Ethical Debate on where DRM lies today. As with almost every technical development over the Internet, there are Pros and Cons.

#4

 

As you can see from the graph, the first function that any paying user wishes to have is that all his rights of an Analog book should be translatable in a digital version. The advantages that Digital Technology provides over Analog should be fully available, without any hassles.

  1. For instance, Digital Technology easily allows the ‘Copying of Text’ for citation purposes much more easily rather than Physical Text.
  2. Digital Technology allows the possibility of ‘Text to Speech’ which can particularly be useful for people with special ‘Attention, Viewing and Reading Difficulties”.

On the other side, DRM’s main function is to Stop a legal copy being Pirated. Although, there are other ways how Pirated copies will come out, as explained below, and which is way beyond the scope for DRM to help.

So, in addressing both these world’s, where does DRM fail or where does it Win? Let us consider a small example, of a book that i purchased?

1. Copying of Text – “The need to resort to a song in a given situation is perhaps a continuation of a literature-oriented aesthetic where versification or poetry…” This is a citation from one of the books that i am currently reading. ‘The Eye of the Serpent – An Introduction to Tamil Cinema by Theodore Baskaran”. While the app allows me, a paid user to copy a citation ( which is about 1-2 paragraphs into Evernote, which i index with other data), the app limits the copy to a mere 140 characters. The larger irony is that not even a complete sentence could be copied, and I am not using it for Twitter, for me to limit my text to 140 characters.

So, in the absurd logic that a pirating user may copy away reams of pages, using ‘Copy&Paste’ logic, DRM has put a fix of 140 characters, in the hope that it will be too big for a pirating user to copy a book. Since, it isn’t helping a legally purchased user anyway, i suggest making the copy limit to 14 characters, which will make it 10 times even more tougher for the pirate to copy. It isn’t helping a legal user much, anyways.

2. Intercompatibility of Playback Clients – The beauty of the PDF format was that one need not necessarily use the Adobe Reader to read it. The Foxit reader is faster, consumes less Resources, has more features and is also free like the Adobe. This gives the user the freedom of choice. A similar logic can be applied for movies. Play a movie in VLC, or any other player, which you like.

But DRM sadly is not. In most cases, the DRM implementation is proprietary and not compatible. For instance, if i Purchased a book via Amazon Kindle, and i like the IBooks reader better in the Ipad, i cannot play it. I have to only use the stock Kindle App. Big Nuisance, this is. It gets worse, in other conditions. I like to use the ‘Voice Dream App***’ which is a dedicated player, customized for individuals with ‘Attention and Reading difficulties like i do”. Its ‘TextToSpeech’ is seriously out of the world, and it plays non DRM documents really really well, as if a real Human was reading out to you. But sadly, these DRM books won’t allow you to open in such players.

3. The Monopoly – There have been allegations that when a famous Ebook services company purchased an ‘Audio Book’ company, it purposefully killed its automated ‘TextToSpeech’ app, since now users would be forced to pay for the much higher priced Audio Books, if they wanted to simultaneously access Reading the book, while parallely listening to a Voice reading the book in the background.

So, my conclusion is that while DRM has achieved some of the attributes of a physical book in the digital domain, it has failed strongly when it tries to balance the needs of legitimate Paying users and trying to stop Pirating users. This was an example of the ‘Seesaw Conundrum‘ that i was referring to earlier.

And the larger absurdity of the equation is that as long as Physical Books are in Sale, there are much easier ways to convert a pirated Ebook than to break a DRM code, or manually copy data from a licensed DRM encrypted Ebook. See below.

Potential_SourceFeeds_For_Pirated_Content

 

Audio* – You can locally download a song from a Saavn Server on an Ipad, if you are a Pro user, but cannot offload, like a non DRM’d music single .mp3 file.

Video** – Several YouTube and Google Play files can be cached locally on a device and played, but cannot be removed offline easily.

Voice Dream Reader*** – Under the ‘Book Share’ program, individuals like me are entitled to get limited access to Copyrighted books for a subsidized fee which can be read via the Voice Dream Reader app. I had sent them a link that i would prefer to register under my pseudonym and linked them to my Virtual world accounts, but i got no response. If i have to register my real name to get access, thank you very much. I get enough of Spam already and i have no frickin idea how my personal data will be used.

Tamil Cinema’s war of Survival – A single front war against Piracy (or) is it a multi front War?

  1. I am faced with an absurd problem. I am able to create content with the highest resolution, but do not have the required bandwidth to upload it. So, i have to resize ( reduce the quality of the high quality), to abysmally bad levels simply to match my upload bandwidth, so that, it is as poor as ‘church mice‘. At this point, i own my indebtedness to someone at TRAI who redefined Broadband as a minimum speed from the legendary 256kbps which was defined almost a decade ago to 512kbps. Thank you very much sir. So, much for someone envisioning 5 years ago, that the minimum Broadband speeds in the country would be 2 Mbps, and another person who is envisioning providing 100 Mbps speeds to ordinary households. 
  2. Sorry about the background colour, especially in the first few slides. The content is a little crammed for space. Initially, i had planned this as an animated GIF, but by the time i finished it, i realised that i could not set an automated Time between images, so, i made it as a PDF, which you can download here. I have added a really bad image file below. I am not even sure, if it will load. If you want a better quality of the content in higher resolution, Download it as PDF Here

hhhh