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Join the fight against DRM:

BE INTEGRATED: The video

Probably the best song on Utopia, "Be Integrated" is a perfect track to be linked to this cause with its theme about integration and living in a protected bubble while trying to block out the evil lurking outside. The concept of the clip revolves around a big red DRM sign constantly trying to shut down the video in different ways to illustrate just how insidious, malevolent and restrictive it can be. We used 2 performances I did live at Releves En Folies with clothes by fashion designers Erzuly and Station 8.

The DEVIL has a name...

D.R.M.: "Digital","Rights", "Management"... Rings a bell? If not, sooner or later you'll have to suffer through a rude awakening. DRM is a general term used to describe a large ensemble of programs specifically engineered to "protect" (and I use the term loosely) songs, movies and other files distributed either through the net or on a physical support such as DVDs and CDs. In essence, DRM programs were fabricated and incorporated directly into a file to restrict those who purchase it from either making copies or using it in a manner the corporation distributing it might find unacceptable.

So far so good. Nothing wrong with that you might say right? After all, those distribution companies are losing billions of dollars in revenues, or so they claim, to the enormous number of people who copy DVDs and CDs and share them either with their friends or through sharing networks such as Kaaza for example. By implementing those new products with a feature that would restrict their usage to paying customers, they figure that they are simply protecting their interests and are desperatly clinging to the hope that by doing so they might counteract the effect piracy might have on their profits.

Well, I've got news for them. What they proclaim to be lost profits are only wishful extrapolations of revenues which are not based on reality. They assume that every copy made is a lost sale. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most people don't pirate movies or songs. They don't even know how and most of them don't have the time or wouldn't bother even if they did. They're respectful customers who are happy to pay for a legitimate copy of a good product in support of the artist who created it.

And let's face it, people with little money to spare are the majority in this world. Those rich companies are so out of touch with reality because most people are like me, struggling with money every day of their lives. Let's not forget that about 80% of all the money in the world is actually controlled by a minuscule 5% of the total population, an insane paradox if I ever heard one. So excuse me if I have a hard time being sympathetic to a company like Microsoft who makes billions of dollars every year and that now is launching this new and very expensive operating system, the horrible Vista only to extract more money out of their already saturated market.

There are some people who might copy a few movies and songs here and there that is true. But most of them would never dream of making a business out of it like true hardcore pirates. They simply wish to sample an artist's work to find out if they like it and then buy a legitimate copy to support that artist which they are happy to do. And this is priceless marketing that those companies should actually encourage. It's been proven by history time and time again that in a way, piracy encourages sales more than anything. How? By letting consumers sample something for free, most of them will only be too happy to pay a decent amount of money to actually enjoy that art in a legal manner.


You also have people who buy a DVD and wish to do a copy for safe-keeping, like people with kids for example. The right to make a copy of any DVD or CD we buy for personal use is still a hot issue but we all have to realize what's at stake: our freedom. We all know that kids are rambunctious by nature and also tend to watch the same things repeatedly so there's a good chance the original packaging won't last very long. Parents might want to simply make a back-up copy of a particular film their kids like in case they get scratched or say, smeared with peanut butter... They shouldn't have to buy a second copy if the first one gets broken. They shelled out good money to buy a copy and they deserve to enjoy the movie they purchased for as long as they want. Some might argue that the person buying a DVD doesn't own the movie but rather, only the copy present on the physical CD or DVD disc. But if you buy something, shouldn't you be allowed to be able to use it no matter what without having someone telling you what you can and cant not do with it?

Let's face it, the percentage of people who actually are hardcore pirates is extremely small. By pirates I mean the people who rip off a movie and make copies to be sold illegally on the black market. Those people are so well organized that they usually offer a movie rip off on the streets the day it is released in theaters. That's how fast it can be. They are not going to be affected by any measure those companies might take. And DRM schemes are rendered obsolete very quickly since it usually takes weeks or even days for some technical geeks and hackers to crack any DRM technologies that companies spent billions of dollars and years to develop.

We're talking about computer geniuses here who can crack anything and they would never even bother to buy a legitimate copy. For them, paying a huge company who already earns billions of dollars makes no sense but supporting a struggling artist might ironically enough. And you know what? I love those people. A digital pirate is often someone very intelligent who is cracking software mostly to help others because he believes an injustice has been done to the people. You might say many of them found their inner Robin Hood and I applaud that cause without them, we all would be at the mercy of giant corporations trying to control our lives more and more.

And DRM is an injustice to everyone. They are nothing but abusive tools used by companies like Microsoft with Vista and Sony with Blu-Ray to create a way to control what every customer does with the products they purchase. Several huge corporations earned enormous amounts of money selling DVDs and CDs. But at some point, they saw an inevitable decline in their profits over the years and decided to put the blame on piracy, becoming insanely paranoid about people "stealing" their products. Therefore they spent years investing huge budgets to develop technologies that would restrict the way people use digital files like MP3s, DVDs and CDs, robbing them of their rights of fair use.

And ironically, the people who are negatively affected the most by DRMs are the average customer and the artist. That's right, the artist. I am an artist and a consumer so that gives me a perspective on both sides and let me tell you, what is coming in the future is a big bad mess. I create, write, compose, produce, arrange, sing and give everything I have to make the greatest songs I can possibly make in the hopes that some people might like what I do.

I am a struggling singer/songwriter who is desperately trying to get my music out there like so many starving artists. So I figured that by offering free songs from my album and by posting them all over the net, people who stumble upon them will give me a chance and listen to what I do. Hopefully a few of them will like what they hear and I consider it an honor that they would download my songs, copy them and share them with their friends.

I don't necessarily encourage piracy per say, I just want people to hear my music so that I can prove to them my worth as an artist. That's the thing that big corporations don't understand. Like every artist, I have my heart and soul invested into my art. For me those songs are not commodities built to maximize my profits, they're pieces of my inner being aimed at expressing things I couldn't emote otherwise.

Customers deserve to make their own choices. And that's what truly gets me about those big companies. They infect their products on purpose with DRM schemes while selling them to customers who pay through the nose for the privilege of getting restricted material. Because that's what DRM does, it makes a perfectly good product prone to numerous problems for the poor customer who simply wanted to buy and use it as he sees fit.

Say No to DRM technology!