Thursday, June 12, 2008

DRM rant

One of the things that Linux doesn't do too well at is dealing with the bizarre obfuscations that many media companies use to protect their content. For example, I just came across an interesting-sounding movie called "The Fall". Now, you'd have thought that a trailer, at least, would be easy to find and view. Sadly not.

Step 1: Attempt to view a Flash trailer. Fail. It appears that something in the Flash code is sufficiently weird that Gnash (the open-source Flash viewer) can't handle it.
Blame: partly on open source, partly on whoever wrote the code.

Step 2: Look up the trailer on Apple's trailer site. Find that the page requires some kind of Quicktime plugin, which isn't available for Linux. Blame: mostly on Apple.

Step 3: Download the trailer directly. Discover that the URL actually leads to some kind of 138-byte redirector file. There is no apparent reason for this - I can only assume that it's intended to stop people downloading the trailer rather than streaming (why???). Blame: Apple.

Step 4: Look at the redirector's bytecode, and find the trailer address embedded in it. Guess the URL, download the trailer and watch it as nature intended. For Pete's sake, people, if you're going to obfuscate then a useful tactic would be to NOT PUT THE FILENAME AS PLAINTEXT IN THE OBFUSCATOR!!! What the hell are these people smoking?

Verdict: Apart from the Flash thing, non-Microsoft users like myself would be fine if it wasn't for the IDIOT COMPANIES who apply COMPLETELY POINTLESS "PROTECTION" to their oh-so-valuable film trailers. Gah.

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