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 Moreover, the idea behind current intellectual property protections are outdated, and quite possibly counterproductive (i.e., lead to less intellectual property).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.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Entertainment, Environment, Science & Technology, ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Eric says:

    “This anti-biotic will kill %97 of the bacteria causing your infection…”

  2. Steve says:

    Nice one Eric.

  3. Drew says:

    And let’s not forget the ever-popular CD protection scheme that could be defeated by drawing around the edge of the CD with a highlighter.

    This kind of thing is never productive. Games that are not copy-protected sell just as many copys as games that are. The ones that are just take a little longer for the hackers to get into.

  4. niucons says:

    All it takes is 1% to make it totally worthless. One guy rips it, puts it on a p2p network, and boom, anyone who wants it can have it. That’s why the anti-ripping software is useless, and will always be, you’ll never be able to stay ahead of the hackers, so it’s worthless to try.

  5. John Anderson says:

    I don’t “rip” (as in “rip-off”), I copy. And will continue to do so when I upgrade from a one-layer DVD to multi-layer, or even newer technology.

    And yes, I download some things. Not Britney or other current stuff (under 15 years old), but things like an MP3 someone made of a player-piano roll cut by Scott [not Janis] Joplin, and of 19th-century music boxes. Oh yes, and 30’s-50’s radio shows. And yesterday, an experimental 1912 film by Edison while boating past a US battleship. And a copy of a 1944 German instructional film for (prospective) Wehrmacht sharpshooters, because I know a man who was a sniper in the Army and think it might interest him.

    Copying for backup and/or technology upgrade and/or making your own mix for the car stereo is not a crime, and I resent RIAA, MPAA, Macrovision, and all their ilk calling me a “pirate” when it is they who wield swords and cannon to force compliance with their financial schema.