Sunday, October 12, 2008

Comic 488: The joke has apparently been stolen

instead of reading this comic about DRM, just read and you'll get the same point
OF COURSE xkcd would follow up a pretty good comic with a piece of shit one.

OK - so apparently Randall Munroe has become outraged over copyright law. This is ok. Nothing wrong with that. But if you are going to make it into a comic, at least try to make it....comical. Basically we have a mini lecture about copyright law, an unneeded flow chart that may as well be labelled "Hey guys, if you don't want to read this waaaay long comic just check out the summary over here", and...that's basically it. Oh, and you have Mr. Hat, just kind of sitting there not being funny, as though his mere presence is enough to instill greatness upon the comic. Amazingly, this does not work!

How is this for a way to try to make this comic something more than just a lame piece of anti-DRM propaganda (not that I'm opposed to anti-DRM activism, I just don't like it right here): Some kind of comic with a guy at a computer, and a police officer warning him not to download music illegally. So he buys music, and then later he's at a new computer, and tries to copy his music, and the officer warns him that that's illegal, so he figures he'll download music illegally because he already bought it once legally, and the police officer warns him against that, too. So he goes over to his old computer and just starts playing the music there and listening to it while he's at his new computer, and the police officer tells him that's illegal too, and then warns him against humming the music, or thinking about music, or breathing, and then arrests him just to be sure. And then there's a tagline like "Pirated Music: Because DRM Is An Annoying Little Bitch"

Update: I forgot to mention last night, but commenters reminded me: iTunes does offer DRM-free music, it's just a little bit more expensive. So this comic is like saying "Boooo, Pop Cap Games suck because it's impossible to access the full version of games." Because you can, you just have to pay for it. So it's even more whiny than I realized. Commenters also point out that burning a CD removed the DRM. So....comic is like two to three times lamer than I first realized. See comments for more details.


  1. Hahah, this is totally unrelated, but I enjoy your usage of exclamation points. I don't know if you will understand what that means, but I hope you do. Yes, it's a compliment.

    I do not have much to say about this comic.

    I wish Mr. Hat would be awesomely evil again.

  2. Wow, I read this comic, came to this blog, read it, and then realised "shit, I forgot to read the flowchart!".

    I agree with the overall point that the comic is making, but I prefer Carl's way of going about it. It just seems to better echo the frustration that the more honest citizens would have with DRM security.

    Also, I enjoy parodies such as the IT Crowd's spoof of the anti-piracy ads at the beginning of DVDs. "You wouldn't shoot a policeman, and then steal his helmet, You wouldn't go to the toilet in his helmet! and then send it to the policeman's grieving widow! And then steal it again!!" ( )

  3. At first, it seems like Randall's not part of the "I want it for free and right now" Internet kindergarten, as he names specific DRM users Audible and iTunes. My opinion on DRM is that it's designed to thwart people who are known for subverting copyright, so it's a futile enterprise.

    But then! He concludes that pirating is pretty much the ONLY way to build a digital collection, since you'll break the law eventually. This is bullshit. His own forum users bring up CDs and Amazon, both legitimate sources of music. If Randall can't find non-DRM book downloads, then he should either pick a provider and keep it or just buy/check out books.

    If his conclusion was just "screw you iTunes," I'd nod in agreement. But even then, programs exist to remove Apple's DRM from songs, so if he wanted to pay artists/labels something for their trouble and still have his collection "always work," then he could buy and strip the DRM out.

    Sorry if this is too ranty, but the privileged, "all of it now and free" attitude of the Internet gets me riled up sometimes.

  4. Fun fact: Steve Jobs hates DRM. The iTunes DRM is pretty much the easiest thing to get rid of ever conceived, and I believe it was designed to do so. One does not need a program. One only needs the ability to burn and rip CDs.

    Is it illegal? Possibly, but I have my doubts. But it is easy, and far less traceable than using torrents. Your ISP is watching you.

    I just can't get pissed off about iTunes. Sure, they have DRM. They are also offering a neat service. If I want to buy an album that is hard to find locally, or late at night when all the stores are closed, etc., I can do that. And if I switch operating systems, it will cost me at most a dollar to burn a copy--and then I have it on CD, too!

    Creative Commons and anti-DRM ranting annoy me. A lot. (Most activists do, actually. I don't even necessarily disagree with their premise, though in the case of CC/DRM I do--I just think they go about it like complete idiots.)

    I'm going to say it: as a writer I wish my stuff was better protected by copyright.

  5. It sounds like Randall makes some good points, but I don't know enough about DRM to really comment.

    However, in the previous post Rob says "as a writer I wish my stuff was better protected by copyright". This got me thinking: if Randall himself was selling Xkcd CDs or DVDs, would he be so quick to say "it's ok to pirate things because DRM is bad"?

  6. Why, it's just like the time Buckley went into Ctrl+Alt+Del to bash on the legal antics of Jack Thompson!

    Way to pick the low hanging fruit, webcomic blowhards.

  7. Hat guy is the one speaking, therefore he is included in the comic. But it's not a funny comic, I agree. Does it have to?

  8. Randall's work may not be comical, but so what? He doesn't HAVE to be comical. And I think he has a good point. If you ever want anything, you should away try to pirate it first, and whatever you do DON'T FUCKING PAY FOR IT. I can go along with that rule...

  9. oh I agree with Randy's point, but this "comic" has no place in xkcd. It's what should be on Randall Munroe's Not Regularly Updated Picto-Blog.

  10. Ubuntu Edgy EftMay 1, 2009 at 9:47 PM

    I have learn that to truly appreciate Randall's work, you must stop thinking of it as a "comic", and start thinking about it as "a collection of Randall's funny stuff, interesting concepts, sketches, and sound advice all presented in cartoon form".

  11. While I've got no rights to speak on ground of moral authority, being a dirty, dirty music pirate myself... but this one just bugs me.

    The argument that stealing is the right thing to do, and his "DRMs are evil, therefore piracy is good" logic is just... boggling. Just admit you simply don't want to pay for it.

    He also neglects the other legal purchasing option: Physical media. Last time I checked, there were still CDs in stores, and many of them are at relatively-fair prices. You can even rip them to drm-free digital files on your computer!

    But that wouldn't be 'open-source' enough, wouldn't it?

  12. YES these are both excellent points.

  13. puppetchaos is incorrect: those shiny disks in stores stopped being CDs about 10 years ago.

    If it does not have the "Compact Disc; Digital Audio" logo, it probably violates the Red Book (IEC 60908) standard, and is thus not a CD.

  14. whining about something being whinny, that's hilarious!! and its apparent that 'carl' doesn't know how to remove drm and thus probably doesn't even know what drm is, but states that he is "not opposed to anti-DRM activism." And I have heard rumors that xkcdsucks has an IRC chan? That is on uhm an xkcd server....priceless!! This just keeps getting better!!!