MLB changes DRM system for video downloads and screws fans in the process.

Ah, the joys of playing by the rules and getting screwed for being honest! That’s what Red Sox fan Allan Wood must be feeling these days. He’s been purchasing and downloading videos of his favorite team’s games since 2003 through the official Major League Baseball Digital Download Service, files that are of course protected by DRM, at a price of $3.95 each. He was a happy camper (or baseball fan actually) up until April of this year when he tried to watch some of the videos he purchased and found that they’d no longer play.

Yep, you guessed it. The MLB folks decided to change which DRM system they were using for their video files and as soon as they did all the videos purchased by fans using the old system could no longer retrieve the needed license file for playback. It’s taken Allan some seven months of phone calls and emails to finally be told that, yes, this is indeed the problem and, no, he shouldn’t expect any refunds:

Just got off the phone with a MLB customer service supervisor.

“MLB no longer supports the DDS system” that it once used and so any CDs with downloaded games on them “are no good. They will not work with the current system.”

Great. Just effing great. … As I told the supervisor, this is right in line with how wrong-headed and stupid and ass backwards MLB does everything.

I was told there is absolutely nothing MLB can do about these lost games. Plus, they said my purchases were all “one-time sales” and thus “there are no refunds”.

Now consider that Allan has, since the service started, bought and downloaded 71 games at $3.95 a pop totaling around $280.45. Ouch. That’s a good chunk of change to have pissed away because the MLB folks decided they’d like to use a different DRM system. Under the new DRM system they’re only charging $1.99 per game, but there’s nothing that says they won’t drop the new DRM for some other DRM in a couple of years and screw baseball fans all over again.

Of course all of those video files are easily available over BitTorrent and other P2P file sharing networks and the pirates never even noticed that the price changed nor the DRM. Once again it’s the honest consumer who’s trying to play by the rules that gets fucked over by DRM and then told “Sorry, no refunds.” And then the Powers That Be wonder why people continue to download pirated media files even though the price on the legit copies is so reasonable.

7 thoughts on “MLB changes DRM system for video downloads and screws fans in the process.

  1. I bet there’s a case for change in the law, in favour of refund, because they’re selling something that doesn’t do the advertised function, and without warning or consultation

  2. Bahamat: USA might not have such laws, but even if they did, it wouldn’t matter much, since suing over $280 is rather unadvised. Of course, if there are others who’ve been screwed, they might go for a class action suit.

    Maybe somebody should start offering insurances for P2P ‘pirates’ for covering legal expenses and damages, if they ever get sued. (I wonder if that’d be legal). Since MPAA and RIAA can’t sue everyone, that might actually be economically sound. And it would prove that it’d be better for the industry to just aim for a blanket fee and other sources of revenue.

  3. If I were the guy I would start a class action suit. I find it hard to believe there aren’t a whole slew of people pissed off about this.

  4. Its the doomsayer’s argument about DRM, that what happens once the seller no longer cares about the drm and it breaks…

    And surprisingly its been proved right again…

  5. I bet there’s a case for change in the law, in favour of refund, because they’re selling something that doesn’t do the advertised function, and without warning or consultation

    Bahamat: USA might not have such laws, but even if they did, it wouldn’t matter much, since suing over $280 is rather unadvised. Of course, if there are others who’ve been screwed, they might go for a class action suit.

    In Britain you might not have to sue, as such, just make a complaint to the relevant authority under the ‘sale of goods act’.  Probably wouldn’t get anywhere on the old stuff, but the ones purchase just before the change pver he may be able to win.

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