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Something New: A DRM That Actually Punishes Pirates, Not Legitimate Buyers

Posted by: , 22:36 AEST, Thu April 14, 2011

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To prove a point, Garry's Mod creator Gary Newman experiments with a new type of DRM designed not to inconvenience legitimate buyers, but only to punish the pirates

Garry’s Mod is popular amongst Steam users to allow them to modify the appearance of games based on the Source engine. Despite only costing $9.99, this little app appears to have been pirated quite a few times, something the author of the app, Gary Newman, discovered when he turned on a built-in DRM.

Posting on Twitter, Gary first hinted at what was about to happen when he asked "Anyone unable to shade polygon normals?"

And anyone who took the bait and replied yes was immediately identified as a pirate, because the DRM that Newman had designed introduced this "bug" for anyone not using a fully paid up, legitimate, version.

It was only later, after many has admitted to having the "bug", that Newman tweeted "Just enabled this error in GMod today. It happens when you pirated it. Having fun watching people complain."

The link provided links to a Google search page that show thousands of results from people (aka the pirates) asking why this was happening to them. 

And even though the DRM can be easily bypassed, Newman says that this wasn't the point of it. Posting on his blog, he quipped, "It’s the simplest stupidest DRM possible, a phone home. It is not uncrackable. You could crack it with notepad. Or by disconnecting from the internet. It isn’t meant to be some super DRM. Any DRM you come up with is going to be cracked, so why bother trying to make it hard to crack? Plus making it uncrackable isn’t the motive here – laughing at them is."

And so a DRM that isn't designed to be uncrackable, but does the job of embarrassing the pirates while giving legitimate buyers "something to be smug about" (in Gary's own words), might just be the DRM that finally does "work" in reducing piracy.

Do you agree with Newman's actions, or do you think that DRM, no matter in what form, is a bad thing? Post your opinion in this news article's comments section, or in this forum thread:


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