Punished for being a good boy

My son is 2.5 years old. Two of his favourite TV programmes are Timmy Time and Octonauts . There are 78 episodes of Timmy Time and 52 episodes of Octonauts.

There is one DVD of Octonauts, which contains eight episodes. Another DVD is due next month containing another eight episodes. This will mean that 31% of this programme is available to buy.

There are eight Timmy Time DVDs totalling around 65 episodes. This means that around 83% of this programme is available to buy.

To my knowledge, the BBC have aired 100% of both these series.

A very quick look on popular, er, file distribution sites reveals about 50 episodes of Octonauts (96%), and I think every episode of Timmy Time (100%).

I want to buy stuff, and it isn’t even possible; yet it is available for free if I download it illegally. It’s been, what, five years now? Have we really not moved on?

Buying music is fun and exciting

LastGraph '05
LastGraph ’05 © pip / CC

I’ve just bought my first ever digital-only album. It was “We are the Pipettes” by, erm, The Pipettes.

I actually bought it via last.fm, after listening to their tracks through the embedded last.fm player, who redirect through to 7digital, who, once I’d registered and paid my £7.99, offered to let me download each track in either WMA, AAC or mp3 (Amazon are charging either £4.47 or £11.99 for the physical disk, depending on who you believe).

In order to download the entire album in one go I had to install some software on my local PC (currently Windows-only), but it was a breeze to install and let me download my mp3s in a matter of mere moments. There doesn’t even appear to be any DRM in the files and I’ve been playing them happily on my Ubuntu machine. This is how things are supposed to be.

The album’s great by the way.

Breaking copy protection for entertainment

I was saving this for Friday, because I thought it might be fun to post to my blog on a Friday, but Mark has just posted, essentially, my content x 10.

So, in summary, much like the other Mark‘s comment on Dave Shea’s related thread I bought my wife Peep Show series 3 on DVD for Christmas (for the non-Brits, this is not what you think). It doesn’t play in our desktop computer or her laptop, and most certainly doesn’t play in our DVD player (which is a first-gen PlayStation 2).

In fact, I initially took it back to the shop and got a replacement, simply assuming the disc had been poorly authored only to find our replacement disc was faulty in exactly the same way.

The back of the box does actually indicate that, amongst other forms of protection, it’s protected by Macrovision’s RipGuard and this is what stops it from playing. To put this in context, we own well over 250 DVDs, and have never had any problems playing any of them in any of our devices. Now, our legally-bought DVD doesn’t play in our legally-bought DVD players. Let’s just check Macrovision’s website:

Only Macrovision can guarantee RipGuard DVD playability on all PC and consumer electronic DVD players. Our DVD certification process for Macrovision ACP includes testing and certifying every DVD device, before and after market release.

Hm, you’d have thought that a six-year old DVD playback device which has sold over 110 million units might be included in that.

We decided to give Macrovision and Channel 4 a chance and sent them both an email asking how we were supposed to watch our new DVD. It’s been over 10 working days now, and we’ve not had any response, so I’ve used a “modern DVD ripping program [to] easily auto-detect and auto-bypass all of these protection schemes, and then re-author the disc onto ultra-cheap recordable media with no protection whatsoever” and we can now watch our DVD.

Dear Channel4 and Macrovision, you’ve just forced me to rip my own DVD in order to watch it. What’s wrong with this picture?