back to article If you've bought DRM'd film files from Acetrax, here's the bad news

Sky will next month shut down Acetrax, a website that streams movies and offers downloads of DRM-encrypted films to paying punters. The closure has highlighted yet again one of the many flaws inherent in Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. In this case, users must go through the hassle of downloading all of their …


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  1. darklordsid

    DRM: what content do you want to lose rights to use today?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't buy an Xbox One

      As that is precisely how that's going.

      You buy the disk, you put it in the console, it copies the content to the HDD and then connects to the internet to obtain a license (using the unique serial number of the disk).

      Give the disk to someone else, or trade it in, and that person has to go through the same route. However as the unique disk serial number has been used, they have to pay full price for the disk...

      What's unclear is:

      How often it connects to check the game you have on the HDD is still licensed to your Xbox Live Account.

      If you remove the game does it free up the license for resale. (knowing Microsoft, unlikely). However even if it does, there is no way for a potential future buyer to know if the previous owner removed the content or not and if they have to pay or not.

      Microsoft are being cagy about all of this, giving mixed messages and intetionally clouding the issues. But the above is what they HAVE said...

      1. Rikkeh

        Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

        Sounds like there's no real difference between the control you have over the library sitting on your hard drive and the control you have over the cache you built up while using a streaming service.

        What we thought was a download and buy service actually turned out just to be a really inefficient streaming service.

      2. Irongut Silver badge

        Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

        Lies. MS have said that an internet connection is not required so all you are is a fud spreading FUD.

        1. Sixtysix

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          Irongut said: "Lies. MS have said that an internet connection is not required so all you are is a fud spreading FUD."

          Please, check your facts - MS have clarified that "always on internet connection wil not be essential" , but they have implied in many many places that regular internet access is essential, and always-on internet is assumed to be the normal operating mode.

          Quite how the DRM will work has been argued by many, and not confirmed by MS... yet. I doubt it ever will be, except by third parties.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          Microsoft have only said a PERMANENT internet connection isn't required....

          You go off and see what they have actually said (once you take away the smoke and mirrors), and the you will see what the plan is. There is no way they will ever release a DRM system that forced you to load the game onto the HDD, not require the game disk to play, as this would quite clearly allow you to lend the disk to someone else..

          Microsoft are telling half truths, half denials and smoke screens. They aren't answering clear questions with clear answers, and fanbois like yourself are trusting them.... All I can say, is await to be disappointed...

        3. John Sanders
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          """Lies. MS have said that an internet connection is not required so all you are is a fud spreading FUD."""

          I do remember a certain Japanese company that once began removing features from its console, after saying they will not do it, also I do remember the same vendor blocking unlicensed peripherals.

          Games which are licensed and tied to a specific hardware/console present the perfect opportunity to stop second hand copies of games.

          And considering that this is something that benefits everybody in the game creation industry (both the console manufacturers and game studios) it will happen.

          Or why do you think they did put the functionality there in the first place?

          Also grow up! a government or corporation saying one thing doesn't mean they will not do the contrary tomorrow, it is almost a guarantee that they will do it sooner or later.

          1. Ian 55

            Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

            "something that benefits everybody in the game creation industry"

            Not if it results in reduced sales.

        4. Test Man

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          WRONG. Microsoft have already said you'll need to connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours. Irongut - you haven't a clue.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          > Lies...

          Nope, MS have said a permanent connection isn't required.

          RTFM before accusing people of lying :-/

          1. Pookietoo

            Re: MS have said a permanent connection isn't required

            Which is of course not the same as saying that a connection isn't required for DRM management.

      3. Skoorb

        Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

        Unfortunately, yes. This has been happening for a few years now; even the major players who don't go bankrupt are not immune.

        For example, Microsoft used to run a service called MSN Music that let you stream and download songs, but when they launched the ill fated Zune, they killed off the old MSN Music, including the DRM servers. You could only listen to anything you had bought on "authorised" devices that you had already played them on. There was no way to move them to another system.

        Even better is, as some people discovered, Windows Media DRM is sensitive to the hardware configuration of the system - if you add, change or disable a new piece of hardware (which can sometimes include changing BIOS settings) the DRM system kills itself and requires re-authorisation, which you now cannot get.

        All in all a bit of a failure all round.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          Ill fated zune? It seems to work fine on my Windows 8 box, Windows 7 box and my WP8. I believe I can also install it on my Mac.

        2. Furbian

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          There's a worse one than that, Spiralfrog anyone? Yes it was US only, and I only ended up signing up as I was having to use a US based web proxy when in the UAE where I wanted to make Skype to 'phone' calls and these were blocked (and banned).

          As the music was free (well ad supported), once they killed their servers, all I had downloaded suddenly died, apart from some of the stuff I broke the DRM on (yes very illegal, and no doubt sponsoring terrorism and just like stealing a CD from a shop etc.), so that I could put it on my iPhone .

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

        Games are not films. Typically you're unlikely to go back to a game after you've upgraded your console a few times.

        Are you moaning about Jet Set Willy not loading on your XBox and that you've lost the colour code sheet?

        Films and music have a life that can be as long as you live. That's not to say games aren't the same, but as soon as games started to push the concept of "realism" you can see that people are less likely to go back to a less realistic driving game.

        1. John Sanders
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          The difference is that I can play Jet Set Willy if I want, the original platform where Jet Set Willy ran did not stop you from playing the game anywhere else.

          When it comes to internet based DRM once the server where the keys are stored is shut down, good luck.

        2. JEDIDIAH

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          > Games are not films. Typically you're unlikely to go back to a game after you've upgraded your console a few times.

          You mean there is no such thing as a classic game?

          There's a whole world of classic game fans to contradict you. This includes things like MAME and Good Old Games. I play a Loki game every so often. Some attempts to remake games just fail horribly (like Sim City). You are quite often better off with the original even if you have to emulate the original hardware.

          People play games again for the same reasons they watch a movie again.

          1. Jordan Davenport

            Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

            To be entirely honest, I'm more likely to play an old game again than watch an old movie again. I'm just not much a movie-goer.

          2. Goat Jam

            Classic Games

            I've been playing Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 (circa 2003) for the last couple of months. If that was using Internet activation then I doubt I'd be able to do that now.

        3. BongoJoe

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          Games are not films. Typically you're unlikely to go back to a game after you've upgraded your console a few times.

          There are always exceptions to the rules. I would love to revisit <bold>Myst</bold> for example.

        4. RAMChYLD

          Re: Don't buy an Xbox One

          To be as polite as possible, nope. I still revisit the old Final Fantasy (V-VIII) titles every now and then. And many others join me.

          People like you are the types wooed by flashy graphics and surround sound. Not everyone is like you.

          Heck, I enjoy me some Lunar: Silver Star Story complete every now and then.

          Hint: It's not about the realism. It's about the quality of the story/dialogue writing.

    2. The BigYin

      DRM: Digital Repression Mechanism.

  2. Steve I

    A pain, but just go and DL the film from somewhere. You've already paid to see it so where you get it from is irrelevant.

    1. auburnman

      Exactly. It is astonishing that 'the man' has still not twigged that DRM hobbling on paid-for media is the gateway to Bittorrent, not a preventer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "hobbling on paid-for media is the gateway to Bittorrent, not a preventer"

        Certainly worked that way for me with Civ IV which I bought, couldn't use due to DRM then downloaded in a much more convenient cracked version.

    2. Amorous Cowherder

      Some things just don't make sense in this world!

      Far quicker and easier to simply download a rip off a torrent proxy than wait the 30 odd minutes it takes to rip a DVD movie from a disc you bought! I think the last one I did was "Titans" just after it was released on DVD, took just over 3 minutes to download ( that's at 720x576 ) and would have taken 35 mins to rip the movie into basic 640x480. I got a better rip in a tried and tested media format without only a couple of clicks.

    3. Pet Peeve

      You know what I would LOVE to see? the movie industry suing someone for downloading a film, and that someone comes to court with receipts for purchased copies of everything they downloaded. To blow the whole DMCA to smithereens, we have to rub the court's faces in it by having somone charged with pirating something they legally own already.

      1. JetSetJim

        Downloading vs uploading

        Perhaps this is why they've only been going after folks based on them uploading content - i.e. distributing it, which they don't have a license for.

      2. david wilson

        >>"You know what I would LOVE to see? the movie industry suing someone for downloading a film, and that someone comes to court with receipts for purchased copies of everything they downloaded."

        Assuming that people actually were sued for downloading content rather than for sharing/uploading it, I take it that you realise that, given how few downloaders *will* have previously paid for everything they download, for your unlikely scenario to happen, a lot of other people would have been likely to have previously ended up in court without that defence, making the odd person who did have such a defence rather less dazzling as an example.

        If someone did have a suitable defence which they chose to keep quiet until the last minute and which the other party couldn't reasonably have been expected to have known about, I can't quite see how the defence finally being disclosed rubs anyone else's nose in anything.

        The civil courts are there, at the expense of the public, to settle disputes which couldn't be settled in any simpler way.

        For someone to have chosen not to take a simpler path doesn't make the *court* look stupid.

      3. The Indomitable Gall

        @Pet Peeve

        "You know what I would LOVE to see? the movie industry suing someone for downloading a film, and that someone comes to court with receipts for purchased copies of everything they downloaded."

        Retaining the receipts for all those DVDs...? That would have to be someone with extreme OCD... possibly to the point of not being considered legally competent.

        1. RAMChYLD

          Re: @Pet Peeve

          Wont work. They're greedy bastards.

          Remember the case of that Finnish girl who tried to download a song and failed, and then ended up buying the CD, and ended up losing her (Winnie the Pooh, no doubt a pricey Disney licensed machine) laptop anyway because they accused her of even "trying"?

          If you ask me, those RIAA/MPAA needs to be put down. With a shotgun.

          Mushroom cloud. Because screw the shotgun, a mini nuke would do a better job.

    4. Dr.S

      Not from a copyright perspective though. The fact that you bought a copy of it from somewhere gives you zero rights to download it from another source. At least as far as EU and US copyright legislation is concerned.

      Personally I don't think it is particularly fair, but that's the way the law currently works.

  3. bonkers

    we told you so...

    how about, expiring DRM formats give you a voucher to redeem against a good old DVD? - you still have to cover the mechanical and distribution cost of the DVD, but then you get a hard copy.

    Alternatively, a token that allows you to download an "illegal" DRM-free copy of the film without risk of prosecution, since you've paid the royalty?

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: we told you so...

      I think you'll find that the people who owned this service don't actually own the rights to anything, except the ability to download it in some form at the convenience of the rights holder in whatever way and form the rights holder decrees,

      Welcome to the new world, where you don't own anything, and you have to pay for it whenever someone feels like milking you.

      Don't think they can't do this with physical media either. With players that are connected to the WEB, it won't be long before you'll need an on-line validation before you can play that disc....

      Of course I could be unduly cynical but lets face it, they've got form.

      1. Pet Peeve

        Re: we told you so...

        Exactly - they own extremely limited distribution rights - they couldn't unlock the content if they wanted to (which they probably don't).

        This whole situation is an eloquent example of why anti-contravention measures in the DMCA are bad and wrong. In a just world, someone could replace their legally-purchased media with an unlocked copy, so long as they don't then go into the business of making lots of copies to hand out.

  4. Dave 15 Silver badge

    illegal download sites

    Who can wonder at the continued interest in downloading 'illegal' copies when the 'legal' copies are basically such a disaster?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: illegal download sites

      Not to mention that services like LoveFilm don't have many of the films on streaming anyway. I cancelled the streaming service and went back to DVD. I barely even use it as it is much more convenient to just grab some download from somewhere.

      Cancelling LoveFilm requires phoning them up, which is another annoyance. Amazing how you can sign up so easily, but cancelling requires sitting through a hard sell as they try to keep your business.

      1. I think so I am?
        Thumb Up

        Re: illegal download sites

        It a lot easier than that.

        ring Bank

        me: "Please cancel all payments to Love Film"

        bank "Why do you need to cancel payments"

        me: "I have cancelled my subscription with them"

        bank: "No problem, I have done that for you"

        me :"Thanks very much"


        That's a less than 5 min phone call

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: illegal download sites

          Termination of payment does not equal termination of contract.

          You have to let Love Film or whoever know that you are doing this, and you have to abide by the termination clauses of the contract that you entered into (for example, Sky want a month's notice).

          If you do not do this, expect threatening letters from a debt collection agency for the notice period that you did not give them, or, in extreme circumstances, ever increasing amounts of debt if they attempt to continue to charge you because you've not gone through the correct process. It all depends on what you agreed to (or not) by 'signing' the contract (clauses like "...using this service implies acceptance of these terms and conditions..." come to mind).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: illegal download sites

          I've had banks in three countries process stopped payments even after I phoned them in advance.

          Sorry, but you're advice doesn't wash for me...

          1. JetSetJim

            Re: illegal download sites

            As I was told, if you sign a DD mandate and give it back to the supplier to present to the bank, you have effectively lost all your ability to cancel it as they can merely re-supply it to the bank to get your money. Seems weird as you'd've though that there'd be an expiry mechanism there (isn't there one for cheques?).

            1. DaLo

              Re: illegal download sites

              "you have effectively lost all your ability to cancel it"

              Not really, with Direct Debit you have quite goods rights as a consumer. You can ask for a refund on any payment, cancel it at any time and bring your bank in as a party to a dispute.

              Theoretically a company could re-present a DD but if it was one that had previously been presented and cancelled your bank would not be impressed and the company could lose their right to issue direct debits.

              The big issue is continuous authority (or even non continuous authority) credit and debit cards. If a company takes money from your card it can keep doing so and you can't cancel the authority via the bank at all. You have only two choices - chargeback every payment they take ad infinitum (they should give up after a while due to the fees they incur) or cancel your card (although a company can still take payments on an old cardf number for some time afterwards.

              You can also approach the payment provider (visa, mastercard etc) and make a complaint and try to get their card facilities withdrawn, but you'll need good evidence and they're unlikely to immediately lose their facilities unless a number of people complain.

              1. Ed_UK

                Re: illegal download sites

                @ DaLo

                "The big issue is continuous authority (or even non continuous authority) credit and debit cards. If a company takes money from your card it can keep doing so and you can't cancel the authority via the bank at all."

                Yup - that's the problem with doing business with dishonest weasels like Budget Insurance. They'll swear blind that they wouldn't automatically renew a policy, but then go ahead and do it anyway. I even got them to send me a second renewal reminder, with the "Just do nothing and we'll help ourselves to your money" removed, and they STILL tried to take it. Fortunately, my card had just been re-issued with a new number, so their attempt failed. Then, they had the gall to request an "admin fee" for the failed payment.

                As mentioned, the credit card companies seem amazingly disinterested in preventing these unauthorised and specifically-forbidden transactions. "Just claim it back" was the helpful advice.

                1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                  Re: illegal download sites @Ed_UK

                  This happens with a lot of car insurance policies. I paid for my daughters car insurance one year because her money was in hard cash, and she needed to renew over the phone. She asked for them to not auto-renew the next year, but they did, from my card again. This is despite the insurance being in my daughters name, and the card being in mine.

                  This was despite my daughter previously phoning them and saying that she didn't want to renew with them. They would not cancel the policy nor refund the money until she could prove that there was another policy that covered the car (presumably because of insurance fraud).

      2. jjk

        Re: illegal download sites

        Never, *ever*, try to cancel contracts by phone or online. Registered letter, "Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby cancel my subscription to [product], effective on [date], and retract the permission given to you to debit my [card or account] number [whatever]. Respectfully yours, [signature]."

        (IANAL, despite the icon.)

        1. Bod

          Re: illegal download sites

          I've had companies refuse registered letters when trying to cancel or complain about something, or at least they "lose" them and RM has no evidence they were ever signed for. Company denies all knowledge and continues to bill or provide crappy service.

          1. JimmyPage

            Re: illegal download sites

            Aha, but because the government needs the post to deliver their shit, the legal situation is proof of posting is proof of receipt. Otherwise you'd have to sign for your tax demand, or NIP for speeding ...

        2. I think so I am?
          Thumb Up

          Re: illegal download sites

          From the Love Film terms and conditions

          We are unable to accept or guarantee cancellation requests via email or by letter (either posted, or included with returns).

  5. Vladimir Plouzhnikov



    Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! ROTFLLMAO!!!

  6. M Gale




    Well maybe now they'll learn, which will be better for all of us.

    Now we just need Steam and WGA to fuck up royally for everyone. Well, everyone stupid enough to think having to plead with DRM servers to be allowed to use your own damned software is ever a good idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      @M Gale:

      I have a few steam games and it made me very unhappy to have to suffer the pain to play a few good games (L4D is awesome). However I have started to gain a little more respect for steam as they are porting the games to linux as well as windows. It doesnt make me happy to have my games locked down so I cant sell a bad one, but thats why I dont buy a new one unless I have seen it in person and tried it out.

      As a result I buy fewer games on steam than DRM free. I do have battlefield but after playing it a few times (and the price came down) I picked it up because it is a lot of fun. However the poor user experience especially when they were DDOS'ed means I wont buy any more origin controlled games.

      1. fung0


        Regarding Steam - it's all about trust. Unlike other vendors, Valve has actually given people a fair deal, and slowly built up their trust that the system will not be abused. That's not a defense... just an observation.

        No, you don't (quite) own your Steam games. But you do often get a better price, if you wait for the frequent and very dramatic sales. Games are NOT locked to a particular piece of hardware. On the contrary, you get the ability to install the game as often as you like, wherever you like, on PC, Mac or Linux. You do get the ability to play the game (almost?) indefinitely offline, once you've initially validated it onilne. Horrible corrupting malware is NOT installed on your computer. In fact, game installation is easier, more reliable and less intrusive than with a disc-based copy. (DRM is not even mandatory... Steam simply makes it available to each publisher.)

        This is all on the plus side. The potential downside is not completely erased. We can't know what might happen if Valve were to go bust. But I think you'll find that some 50 million users are fairly convinced that if Valve ever does go out of business, it will unlock all the games before it 'turns out the lights.'

        This highlights a key fact about DRM. It is not only wrong in principle... it's typically ALSO executed unbelievably badly. 'DRM done right' would have been accepted by the public without a murmur. Steam is one of the few examples. Ironically, we won't be able to make a final judgment on Steam until it does someday disappear.

      2. The Indomitable Gall


        " It doesnt make me happy to have my games locked down so I cant sell a bad one, but thats why I dont buy a new one unless I have seen it in person and tried it out. "

        ...and this is my one and only complaint about Steam. With solid DRM in place, why the hell can't I try everything before I buy it? It's not even just a matter of "do I like this game?" -- it's also the eternal question of "will it run on my machine???"....

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: why the hell can't I try everything before I buy it?

          Steam games often have a demo version.

          Not always, I agree, but often.

          Personally, I use and abuse of their Wishlist functionality. Games are often sold at lower prices a few months after the initial launch. I can wait a bit, helps me find out from first-day buyers if the game is interesting before I put my money on it.

          Then there are the titles I don't feel like waiting for and just buy & try as soon as the download is finished. No need to go to a store, where PC games aisles have all but disappeared.

          I think Steam is doing a damned good job of keeping the games industry alive, what with their indie section, multi-platform coding and their "comprehensive" approach to DRM.

          I've come to the point where, if a game is not on Steam, I practically don't buy it. There are a few exceptions, but they are exceptions.

          1. M Gale

            Re: why the hell can't I try everything before I buy it?

            "I've come to the point where, if a game is not on Steam, I practically don't buy it. There are a few exceptions, but they are exceptions."

            And like I said, all we need now is for Steam and WGA to royally fuck up, and maybe you'll learn why Steam is a Bad Thing.

            For me, if it's on Steam, or requires any other kind of bullshit online we-think-you're -a-criminal check, it gets immediately refused and the money spent on something else. Maybe something I can sell or give away once I've done with it.

        2. Rufusstan


          No one offers things like demos these days, but it isn't unknown for Steam to run things like free weekends. Obviously it is not necessarily the game you might be interested in, but the mechanism is there to download a game and try it for a couple of days.

          Personally, the 'aah sod it' factor during sales when stuff is going for a couple of quid tends to mean that I'm rarely looking for something to play

          1. Justicesays

            Re: No one offers things like demos these days


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Ah, laughing at the misfortune of others. You parents must be very proud.

      1. M Gale


        Same people who were laughing at me and throwing all kinds of asinine insults when this bullshit first hit the mainstream? The people who were telling me that I'm just a pirate who wants everything for free? The same ones with this insane level of trust in an organisation expressely designed to milk them for as much as they are worth?

        Damned right I am. At you, too.

        Suck it up, bitches.

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge


    If the vendor goes tits up, the DRM for a film should be validated by the studio that published by the film.

    If the studio goes tits up, the DRM for a film should be validated by the MPAA or similar organisation that the studio belonged to.

    If they're not willing to take on this task, they're not really willing to stop illegal downloads (well, they can stop this kind of DRM altogether but at this point it's probably too much of a leap).

    1. An0n C0w4rd

      Re: Inheritance

      Why would they? The accounting types will be rubbing their hands in glee because they think people will go out and buy/"license" another copy from somewhere.

      Which is where this entire scheme they've cooked up fails - why should I have to buy different copies of the same product from different places if I want to play them on multiple devices? UltraViolet is a step in the right direction, but it is still too restrictive.

      1. Darryl

        Re: Inheritance

        Actually, the scheme is a raging success, for exactly the reason you mentioned in your first paragraph. These companies aren't in business to make your life better, they're in business to squeeze every penny possible out of you for their shareholders.

        A good way to do that is to sell you something multiple times because OMG Pirates!

      2. J 3

        Re: Inheritance

        Why would they? Well, obviously they wouldn't do it out of the goodness of their little black hearts. But that's what laws are for. If there was one that said that DRM that can't be validated (due to the provider disappearing, for example) becomes null and void, immediately freeing the file in question, you can be sure they would be implementing the "inheritance scheme" very quickly indeed.

        The tech aspects of this (namely, how to determine if the DRM is now dead) are of course open for debate. A non-profit or gov server to check whether the DRM in question is dead (as a fall back when the provider's server disappears) would be a possibility, I think.

        Real solution would be the end of this silliness called DRM, but I guess it is a tough one to get.

  8. Roger Greenwood

    "DRM systems don't work"

    For those new here, 9 years ago:- (Cory Doctorow)

  9. Anonymous Coward 101

    DRM is Shite

    Imagine if you could buy counterfeit clothing at the local dodgy market that was not only far cheaper than the real thing, but also better quality. What you have imagined is similar to the current market for streamable films - except the pirate version isn't just cheaper, but free.

    I learnt this the hard way, when I naively bought music on the internet in about 2004 or so. The DRM servers were shut down a few years later; I did have the chance to enter my password to the service to gain access to the music, but I could not remember the password. So the music was binned, and I learnt a harsh lesson.

    I do buy DRM encrusted books for my Kindle, but only because I can strip the DRM from the books so I will always have access to them. Should I lose this ability, I will stop buying the books.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The PirateBay

    is thataway ------------------------------------->

    1. b166er

      Re: The PirateBay

      Unless you're using $ky as your broadband provider as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward 15

        Re: The PirateBay

        Yeah, then you can use Tor, a proxy or a VPN.

        1. batfastad

          Re: The PirateBay

          Please don't shove your BitTorrent downloads of Miss Congeniality 2 Cruise Control through Tor at the expense of people who really need the service.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The PirateBay

            Yeah! SR is slow enough as it is :P

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. MissingSecurity

            Re: The PirateBay

            Actually getting more people to use tor can increase the amount of Nodes available and by affect, make it better for the people "who really need the service."

          3. Anonymous Coward 15

            Re: The PirateBay

            I do know not to do the actual download through Tor. I have a foreign VPS anyway.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          TOR and torrents

          If you can't use a pirateproxy, please only use TOR to grab the magnet link, and run your torrent normally.

          1. M Gale

            Re: TOR and torrents

            By "normally" I presume you mean via a random open wifi hotspot on the far side of town?

      2. Amorous Cowherder

        Re: The PirateBay

        Blocked by a UK ISP?

        Plenty of proxies on offer if you bother to fire up Big G's website and look for them!

  11. ElectricFox
    Paris Hilton

    "Sky said at the time it was buying Acetrax for its experience and expertise in streaming."

    Oh the irony....

  12. Busby

    Good hope to see this happen with as many DRM encumbered services as possible. The more this happens the quicker people wake up and stop buying "licenses" instead of content.

    As things stand you have zero rights when buying digital content. But if this happens enough then hopefully someone will challenge it in court and we will find out how fair the licensing terms are and hopefully see the media companies slapped down by a judge. Alternatively once enough people lose access to library's they have paid for word of mouth will get round and people just wont bother buying digital files with DRM at all.

    You can stream using Netflix or similar or download illegally anything else is just throwing money away at the moment as you have no idea how long you will continue to have access.

    Ultraviolet does seem a step in the right direction suppose time will tell. But it's not appearing consistently enough on all releases, the codes can be picked up on ebay really cheap though at the moment.

    1. Lunatik

      I thought that Ultraviolet was going to be a step in the right direction too...until I tried to use it.

      Not only does it implement multiple layers of DRM and authorisation (distribution and some middleware/aggregated rights holder), but it is so fundamentally consumer-unfriendly that I swore I’d never use it again.

      For example, having to download and install Paramount’s “DRM tool” to play back a disc is one thing, but to be asked to install two pieces of software to do this seems to provide yet more potential failure points in future, as well as being a pain in the arse. The quality wasn’t much cop either, certainly less than DVD never mind the Blu-ray that I’d purchased.

      I’ve tried other streaming/download services with similar results.

      I bought one of Fox’s Triple Play discs with a reasonable expectation of a high quality downloaded version, right? Wrong. Apparently a crummy bitrate 360p copy is apparently sufficient!

      Then I upgraded the OS which invalidated the DRM and I had to phone California to request another validation code. This came with all sorts of draconian warnings that this was a one-time operation and if it failed I would lose the ability to playback.

      Deleted/uninstalled all the files and downloaded a BD rip of that one!

      The best I’ve tried is actually Tesco’s Blinkbox/Clubcard integration. Buy the disc in store or online and it’s available for streaming immediately on PC or my LG Blu-ray player. Great quality and hassle free.

      Still DRM though which means it may disappear at any point, but at least with this service I have a physical disc to rely on.

      1. Bod

        It's also a rip that Ultraviolet rights expire quickly. I don't usually use it but on the occasion I think it might be useful to take it on my latest portable gadget, the deal has long since expired.

        Or you buy a DVD/Blu Ray that's been in stock for a while and the date has expired.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Bought the last couple of Harry Potter films as triple plays and thought would install the digital copies onto family laptop when going on holiday rather than risk losing damaging discs.

        The Warner Bros player/licensing software is horrible bloatware and, having had to have had the mobo on the laptop replaced the films no longer play and I can't play them on anything else.

        So I've ripped the DVD copy which is still higher bit rate and resolution than the digital copy I had to download from WB.

  13. Richard 22

    I tried to use Acetrax once...

    I had a voucher for an Acetrax rental, so I tried to use it to rent a film and watch it on a Mac Mini connected to the TV. The DRM system was so good at protecting the content that we utterly failed to be able to watch anything. Gave up on the whole thing - showed me that buying films from them was going to be a bad idea. Their offering wasn't very compelling anyway - it was cheaper in most cases to buy a film on DVD or blu-ray and rip it to a file I could actually watch wherever and however I wanted.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I tried to use Acetrax once...

      Worked fine for me on the telly but I didn't sign up for more…

      Here in Germany, MaxDome is the platform of choice, sadly crippled by no intelligent way of checking for whether the films have an English soundtrack: my German is fine but I hate the way they dub films here. Oh, and they send newsletters without usable text/plain parts which mean I never find out what's new…

  14. Simon Harris
    Thumb Down

    Billy Bookshelf...

    "You may only retain a copy of the content on the personal computer on which you make the original download." - what a crazy use case...

    If my MFI bookshelf collapses under the strain of all my books and go to IKEA for a Billy bookshelf, can I still read my books when I take them from the new shelf? I think I can! Don't these DRM inventors ever think how things work in the real world?

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: Billy Bookshelf...

      Aye, but at least your bookcase is likely to last more than 4-5 years. Buy a new PC, replace a failed hard disk, reinstall Windows and you're stuffed.

      1. Cliff

        Re: Billy Bookshelf...

        >> at least your bookcase is likely to last more than 4-5 years.

        Ever been to Ikea?

        1. S4qFBxkFFg

          Re: Billy Bookshelf...

          To be fair, if you avoid anything with fibreboard, their products are quite good.

          That stuff should be taxed to oblivion.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Billy Bookshelf...

          "Ever been to Ikea?"

          MFI used to have cardboard boxes decorated to look like a row of books on their shelves. When you put real books on the shelves at home they bowed instantly.

          Last time I was in IKEA they always had lots of real Svenska books on their Billy shelves - and there was no problem with the weight. A Swedish friend exiled in London was disappointed when then wouldn't sell her a particular crime thriller off their display shelves.

          My lounge book shelves are the IKEA cheap "Sten" system - home sanded and clear lacquered. The only thing that has ever bowed them was the 21inch colour monitor which needed two people to lift it. IKEA advertised "Sten" as a garage shelf system - and showed them loaded with car batteries and winter wheels.

          Has their quality deteriorated in recent years?

          1. Red Bren

            IKEA Sten Shelves

            "My lounge book shelves are the IKEA cheap "Sten" system - home sanded and clear lacquered. The only thing that has ever bowed them was the 21inch colour monitor which needed two people to lift it."

            I did exactly the same. The shelves managed to support a 42" LCD TV and all my other AV equipment for years. I only stopped using it when I moved house and the wife insisted on something to match the cushions (or something)

            Sadly, IKEA have replaced the STEN system with the incompatible and much less sturdy GORM system, which is a real shame as I wanted to use and expand on my existing shelves for attic storage. FAIL!!!

      2. Number6

        Re: Billy Bookshelf...

        Not even the "reinstall Windows". If you've got XP or Vista, MS would really like you to move on to something newer, but they're probably not in a position to assist in dealing with all the DRM stuff tied to the older version of Windows. If they want to seriously consider tying long-lived DRMed stuff to a machine then there needs to be a clean upgrade API where it is possible to declare a machine to be the successor to the previous one that would correctly identify itself to DRM applications. If the old machine is still working at time of upgrade then this is feasible because the older machine could then clearly be de-authorised as part of the process. If it's a forced upgrade due to hardware failure, this avenue is not open because it may be impossible to extract credentials in a suitable manner.

    2. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: Billy Bookshelf...

      No :-)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Billy Bookshelf...

      If you could press two buttons and duplicate a physical book in seconds do you not think that publishers would try to stop this?

  15. Eponymous Cowherd

    The boot is on the other foot....

    There used to be an anti-piracy ad that Disney used to stick on its VHS releases. It showed a family sitting in front of a TV trying to watch 101 Dalmations through a storm of noise bars and snow with some brat whining about it. The voice-over went on about how you had to ensure you had a genuine Disney tape to avoid this sort of thing.

    Oh, how things have changed. Little Miss Cowherd got one of those Triple-Play Blue-Rays. Tried to use Ultraviolet to get a copy for her phone. Fail. Daaaad, it doesn't work.........

    Half an hour of farting about, no luck.

    The moral of this story? If you want a good quality, plays anywhere, copy of a movie then you are a mug to buy a "genuine" copy.

    1. Test Man

      Re: The boot is on the other foot....

      Friend got Transformers 3 on Blu-ray. with a Ultraviolet copy that you download through iTunes.

      After what seemed like an awful faff, we managed to get it to download to iTunes and then transferred onto his iPad.

      Disconnected then connected again and it synced, deleting the freshly-transferred film with it.

      Tried to download again - would not let us do it.

      Rubbish system.

      1. M Gale

        Re: The boot is on the other foot....

        Two rubbish systems, really.

        Maybe when iOS 7 or 8 or 10 or something comes out, Apple will allow people to finally just drag and drop shit to their iThings like the external drives that they basically are?

      2. Andy Moreton

        Re: The boot is on the other foot....

        If you downloaded it through iTunes then it was not Ultraviolet.

  16. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Lawsuit in the offing here.

    You've paid to view your content, you should be able to view your content. Period. If you can't because the vendor has fucked up/gone under, you are eligible for a refund. Period.

    Simplest way out of this mess for those affected (if I understand the article correctly) is for everybody to go to the website set up for Mac, iOS and SmartTV users and claim they're on one of these devices and they want a full refund. Then use the money to go buy the content from somewhere else.

    Redownloading the same content from the same vendor with a different (even more restrictive) DRM where you can only view it on 1 computer? Anybody that does that instead of demanding a full refund is fucking nuts.

    1. Shasta McNasty
      Thumb Up

      Re: Lawsuit in the offing here.

      Have an upvote from me.

    2. Cliff

      Re: Lawsuit in the offing here.

      Agreed - but who do you sue for a refund? The company you contracted with is gone, and they took your cash with them.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Lawsuit in the offing here.

        "The company you contracted with is gone, and they took your cash with them."

        Perhaps I mis-read the article, but it sounded to me like the company was bought by Sky. Presumably the law takes the view that Sky bought all the contractual obligations as well as the assets. Last I heard, Sky were still trading.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Doesn't Really Matter

    - TPB

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Paging Andrew

    A copyright/DRM related article on El Reg, and Mr Orlowski's nowhere to be seen batting for the "rights holders"? How unusual...

  19. NogginTheNog

    The rise of the much over-used and abused 're-"

    "re-downloading films"

    it's "downloading the films AGAIN"!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The rise of the much over-used and abused 're-"

      I was teaching my friends' daughter about prefixes. She experimented with "de-" and then "re-". Then she decided that as I work on my garden every week it must be "re-gardening". Hard to dispute her logic. Don't you just love the English language.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: ...-gardening

        I'll dispute it (though not your implication that English is an illogical pile of toss).

        Gardening is a on-going process (of taking care of something). The need is continual and the actions required on any different day are not the same. So you can stop gardening, have a sleep, and start again, but it is still gardening both because you are doing something different and because the objective never ceased.

        Downloading, on the other hand, is a completable action and when you do it again the next day it is exactly the same repeatable action.

        Also, from a stylistic viewpoint, the word "re-gardening" makes you want to sigh or weep with despair, rather like having to re-download something because of a broken business model.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One day

    Maybe one day there will be a way of actually paying for a DRM free download, a file that's transportable across devices and platforms. Most of the time I want to watch media it's when I'm not connected to the internet and the only way to do that is... well, ahem, not a streaming service that's for sure.

    Streaming services have to be significantly cheaper and offer identical content to that available from your local mega corporation internet retailer to get my business.

    Most of the time I just buy 2nd hand and the media cartels don't see any of that money anyway. Though it's rare that I'm interested in any of the tat that they peddle these days.

  21. JaitcH

    Another reason to use PirateBay ...

    as I do for all my media these days, or simply buy copy DVDs on my trips to China.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another reason to use PirateBay ...

      >>"as I do for all my media these days, or simply buy copy DVDs on my trips to China."

      How is DRM on a download-based system you don't use relevant to whether you choose download stuff without paying anything for it?

      Are you seriously trying to pretend that if the paid-for service had been exactly the same but without DRM, you'd have been using it in preference to taking something for nothing?

      That seems rather hard to believe given that you're prepared to wait and go to the trouble of physically importing dubious DVDs from China rather than buying legitimate ones here, where the main upside seems to be getting away with paying as little as possible, rather than any kind of convenience or permanence of content.

  22. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    A reward for the Pirates then!

    You aren't buying the media if it has DRM.

  23. dkjd

    Thank god I bought VHS

    No drm on those suckers, can't watch them anyhow as the player is bust, but at least there is no DRM. (to be truthful most all of the tapes got f*cked when my basement flooded so it wouldn't matter at all). The books survived, kinda, but as they smelled of sh*t they got thrown out too. To be honest the tapes were more of a fire-hazard at the end than a useful library of data.

    So its swings and roundabouts, and to be honest most movies/books only get watched or read once by me so I don't really care about DRM, just about how convenient it is to get the content. What I would like would be if I could access books or movies for about £2 for a 6-months or so, then I would be happy to rent them, but that seems unlikely to happen.

    1. thesykes

      Re: Thank god I bought VHS

      No DRM?

      When my VCR was on it's last legs I tried to back up by collection onto DVD. Most would copy fine, but some refused, with the DVD recorder complaining that they were protected media.

      Tried sending the signal to the TV and recording the TV output, still triggered the message. Disney films IIRC.

    2. Bod

      Re: Thank god I bought VHS

      VHS had a few forms of copy protection over the years. Macrovision being the common one. Thankfully better quality VHS machines coped with it. It was really basic just relying on a fluctuating weak signal that was strong enough to watch but weak enough for a second machine to be affected when copying. A good quality machine, especially those with S-VHS and good connectors didn't have a problem.

      DVD rippers were even crippled by making them identify copy protection such as that and any hidden signal stuff. Redundant now no one has a real need to rip from VHS of course.

      At least however it's not DRM in the sense of restricting your ability to play the original where you wanted, unless you were a worshipper of Sony and bought Betamax and couldn't therefore play VHS tapes ;)

      1. mickey mouse the fith

        Re: Thank god I bought VHS

        I bought a little black box from one of those dodgy ads in a satellite magazine back in the day. It stripped the macrovision and restored the sync on any copy made betwix 2 connected vcr`s. Was great for pirating rental films, I built up an impressive collection over the years. Pity every single tape is unwatchable now, even the scotch `lifetime guarentee` ones, I wonder if they still honour that guarentee?

        Also used to take the rental tape apart (if you could, they got wise to this eventually and stopped using screws) and swap the spools, so I kept the original and the copy went back to the rental shop.

        Disclaimer: This was a long, long time ago....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thank god I bought VHS

        Actually I found copying VHS more difficult than copying DVD's - for my own personal use of course, converting to an iPod. (I'm not paying out again for a couple of a film I already have on tape/DVD. Some films I have on tape were never released on DVD.)

        Five mins on a popular search web found me some software to get round DVDs. Finding a gizmo that converts from VHS to DVD with out bitching about Macrovision was more difficult. Found one on Amazon, no brand name and "Made In China" and for £20, I ain't complaining!

      3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Thank god I bought VHS

        Was easily fixed by time-base correctors, either built-in into good players or stand-alone. Macrovision tried to ban them but failed because their "protection" was nothing more than corrupting the signal and making it off-spec.

      4. M Gale

        Pft, Betamax

        Think about those of us who are old enough to remember System 2000!

        Okay, I was only a wee nipper back then, but I still remember playing with double-sided tapes and record-protect tabs that were resettable instead of breakable, and wondering why no other video machines did that.

    3. cybersaur
      Thumb Down

      Re: Thank god I bought VHS

      Many VHS tapes had Macrovision copy protection.

    4. Caesarius
      Thumb Up

      @dkjd Re: Thank god I bought VHS: Single-Use Media, Anyone?

      I have many books, tapes and DVDs that I have used once and then kept for sentimental reasons: fine. On the other hand, seeing that I re-use these items so rarely, perhaps I would be better served by cheap single-use media. Make it easy to pay, easy to obtain, easy to use, plays on anything, no DRM, cheap enough to put TPB out of business. That would be a disruptive business model!

      And may I hope that the artists, publishers and suppliers would all get their cut?

      If storage becomes cheap enough and convenient enough that old formats can be amassed and traded by those not associated with the creators, rather than invoking copyright to limit pirating, let the newer formats, which inevitably use up the bandwidth available for high-res content, still be the most desirable media, not precluded by price or DRM.

      According to this model, we would want copyright limited to say 5 years or even less, so that, when the legitimate publishers etc. find that they cannot make money out of older works, we can still obtain anything from the amassed old formats.

      All we need now is for people to behave sensibly and fairly. Sounds like a promising Dickens novel. Sigh.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thank god I bought VHS

      @dkjd "if I could access books or movies for about £2 for a 6-months or so, then I would be happy to rent them, but that seems unlikely to happen."

      You can, it's called a Public Lending Library

  24. Barely registers

    DRM? Obligatory XKCD reference follows

    DRM lifecycle flowchart -

  25. William Boyle
    Thumb Down

    Caveat Emptor!

    This is why one should NEVER purchase any digital media that is DRM-encumbered. DO NOT give those jerks a penny! It just encourages them to screw you...

  26. alain williams Silver badge

    Defective by design

    Do something about it, support the Defective by Design campaign that is doing something about DRM

    You have just missed International Day Against DRM - which was 2 days ago.

    1. david wilson

      Re: Defective by design

      >>"You have just missed International Day Against DRM - which was 2 days ago."

      Me, and about 6 billion other people, I guess.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Misdirected hostility

    If not for pirates, DRM would not be needed. If you're gonna hate, direct your hate at the appropriate entitiy - pirates, not copyright holders or legal distributors of copyright protected works.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Misdirected hostility

      You are naive in thinking DRM has anything to do with protection from pirates.

      Rights holders do not and never did consider piracy a threat. DRMs are meant to prevent legitimate users from using the content they have paid for in a way not explicitly allowed and mandated by the rights holders.

      Therefore, the purpose of DRMs is to prevent development of new technologies outside of control of the rights holders, prevent competition in distribution of content and to ensure that the legitimate users may be charged multiple times for the same product.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Misdirected hostility

      My reading of the article is that pirates are unaffected and it is only those who paid good money for the content who are now screwed.

      What the "content" industry needs is unbreakable DRM. Unfortunately, their business model is based on delivering a signal to the display that a human being can watch. The signal must be unprotected at that point for a human being to be able to watch it. It follows that all the tools needed to crack your DRM have to be contained in the box that you mass produce and sell to any anonymous punter who has the cash.

      So, in the absence of unbreakable DRM, what the industry needs is to rely on the general honesty of the majority, charge a reasonable price for the product, and stop penalising those who choose to pay.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Misdirected hostility

      BUT: if not for oppressive governments, who censor anything on the whim, then there won't be any needs for piracy.

      (Usually the censorship is just a filmsy front for corruption anyway- heard from a friend that some TV shows were banned over here because the company that produced the show refused to pay the "entertainment import duties" that the film office demanded).

      Anon, because I could get into trouble for revealing this.

  28. mark l 2 Silver badge

    No one seems to be pointing out that now Sky owns this service yet seems to be not interested in the customers, they could have offered them subscriptions to NowTV where they could watch the movies again but are just washing their hands of them making them go through tedious steps to get the movies back that they rented.

  29. Mr_Pitiful

    I kind off disagree

    I pretty much purchase every DVD I've every downloaded or streamed

    But I do so at a local car boot sale for £1.00 each and they are not copies (I check)

    There is much to be gained from a wonder round at 7am on a Sunday morning!

  30. sisk

    So let me get this straight. People have bought the movies - not rented, but bought - with the understanding that they would be able to watch it as often as they wanted for ever. Now the company's saying no only is that no longer the case unless you run Windows and will settle for SD (and really not even then because eventually that machine will need replaced), so these poor sods are out that money.

    First, this is why I refuse to buy anything with a DRM scheme that continually checks into a server that might be gone in a few years.

    Second, will someone please explain to me why this type if DRM isn't illegal? People sure as hell don't get what they think they're buying with it.

  31. Tim Almond

    DRM=Not property

    You think you bought that movie, but actually, you just rented it for as long as the owners wanted. Another company can buy them out, shut them down and fail to honour the contract that customers made with that business.

    That's why I buy my media on discs. I don't mind renting with DRM, but all my movies are mine.

  32. Christian Berger

    Again let's compare the user experience

    Pirate: Got DRM-free file immediately without paying. It plays on any device without any problems. And it will play essentially till infinity.

    Customer: Had to install special software which may or may have malevolent components, and may or may not work on some devices. Lost all his content now.

    Again, DRM only affects the paying customer. And it always affects them negatively.

  33. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Time to torrent...

    Sound to me like you (various people who bought DRM-infested stuff) already have a license to these movies, so feel free to pull them down from usenet or torrent them since Acetrax will no longer be fullfilling the terms of the license.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again -- DRM is rights restriction, don't buy anything tied to a rights restriction system, it WILL screw you over sooner or later.

    To expand on that, there's Acetrax now, Microsoft has actually done this twice (they had the old music store, *and* a Zune one which they also yanked.) There've been several music stores that closed, taking all the music the customer had "bought" with them. Major League Baseball sold videos of old games, then pulled the rights restriciton servers making those unplayable.

    Not quite the same, but there's also big ten network (sports...), HBO, and a few others here in the US that will let you enter your cable or dish account number, and if you've subscribed to that channel on your cable or dish you get a stream. The problem? Apparently the stream works GREAT for the very few who can get to it. But, the verification page is absolutely broken, my parents tried to get Big Ten Network up like a dozen times and it wouldn't say they *weren't* subscribed (they are), it'd just hang and then after a big pause reload the same verification page again, no stream. Apparently it's been like that for a year. RIghts restrictions getting in the way of basic product functionality.

  34. Andrew Jones 2

    ...and this..... is why I'm not terribly keen on buying any Kindle title from Amazon....

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      So was I until I found out how to (easily) strip DRMs from them...

  35. Andrew Jones 2

    PS - before mp3's finally became DRM FREE - I found a wonderful bit of software called "Tunebite" which technically is not breaking the law because the original DRM'd file is still in tact with DRM and all - Tunebite just created a digital copy in the same way that one might copy a cassette tape or VCR - except Tunebite was able to do it at up to 6x the speed of the original song and with 6-8 song at once..... I miss Napster.... (illegal and legal versions)

  36. Andrew Jones 2

    and by VCR I obviously meant Video Tape not Video Recorder :/

  37. David Goadby

    Another XP conundrum

    So, you download your films again and then watch them for a minimum of five minutes and your ok to go yes? Wrong if you are using XP on an ageing PC. It seems like a Microsoft/Sky head lock to me.

    Microsoft should have a t least thought of enabling some form of transfer mechanism into their Media player.

    And they wonder why we don't like DRM, eBooks, cloud storage or anything that puts our stuff at risk?

    We need some digital rights for the users as well as the suppliers here. It's all too one sided.

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