A Silly Claim
In a post on DVD ripping, James quotes the senior market director for Macrovisions Entertainment Technologies Group as follows,
“We’ve done a lot of research on the market share of rippers,” he continued. “We think we’ve got more data than anyone else in the world on this. And we know that RipGuard DVD is effective today against 97 percent of the rippers in use in the market.” “Since studios are losing over a billion dollars a year as a result of these rippers, we believe that we can prevent 97 percent of that revenue loss through RipGuard DVD,” he added.
One might think this, but here is what will happen. Many people who are ripping DVDs will trying ripping one of the protected DVDs. It won’t work. These people will go online and talk about it. Then some people will point out they can still rip these protected DVDs. Those who can’t will ask the obvious question, “What are you using to rip your DVDs?” Once they get the answer in hand they will switch, if possible, to this software and ripping will resume.
Granted some people might not want to make the change. Perhaps it will entail a new operating system or some other extraneous cost. However, the idea that they will stop 97% of the ripping because RipGuard protects against 97% of the rippers is just silly. People respond to changes in their environment. Prices go up, people buy less. Something hurts, they remove the source of the pain. Put RipGuard on a DVD and some people will switch to a ripping technology that RipGuard does not stop. What will happen eventually is that a game will evolve. As new protections come available, there will be rippers who will adapt to the new technology leading to new ripping protections.
On top of all of this is that much of this activity is wasteful from a social standpoint. It amounts to rent protection (in protecting the profits from rent seeking) and results in little or no socially beneficial production. Moreover, the idea behind current intellectual property protections are outdated, and quite possibly counterproductive (i.e., lead to less intellectual property). For more on this see the work by David Levine.