Ruth Suehle constructed a fantastic DRM graveyard: A brief history of digital rights management in music.
Digital rights management or DRM is a method for controlling access to various digital media including music, movies, and software. The “rights” being managed are those of content creators to a lesser extent and of content distributors to a greater extent. As Suehle’s timeline demonstrates, DRM systems often bite the dust, because users overwhelmingly demand their own rights to purchased media. One of the most important rights is transferability, or using media on a digital device or computer of one’s choosing. The trouble with many DRM systems is that transferability is difficult or impossible, because content controllers and distributors begin with the tacit assumption that all content consumers are not to be trusted. The assumption that most DRM systems are based on is that users will “steal” content or use purchased content in was unintended by the creators or distributors. This lack of respect and too much trouble imposed by most DRM systems lead consumers to find new channels for content distribution that are less restricting and more respectful.
According to Ty Burr of the Boston Globe (and commented here and here), the big movie theater chains are sticking it to consumers by not enforcing the removal of a polarizing lens from digital projectors made by Sony. These lenses are what enable 3D projection technology–two lens, each projecting one polarized image in quick succession combined with the polarized lenses worn during 3D movies gives viewers the 3D effect. When 2D films are shown on the same 3D projectors and the polarizing lenses are not removed, you see a significantly dimmed image on the screen, because you are seeing only one polarity of light escaping the filter. This effectively dims the image so that even bright scenes appear dark. This problem is due to two factors: 1) Sony DRM will shut down a movie projector if certain passwords are not entered correctly when the polarizing lens is removed, and 2) no theater chain has an official policy to remove the lens when switching between showing a 3D film and a 2D film. Apparently, the fear of offending the Sony DRM-gods, time to remove the lens, and lost sales has prompted this customer-be-damned attitude by the theater chain executives. DRM sucks, but it is the job of the movie theater chain management to give customers the movie going experience that they are paying for. Last I checked, we shouldn’t pay full price for only half an image. Check for the tell-tale sign of two projectors during 2D films and the “D” for digital indicator next to 2D movie listings. If you go into a film that suffers excessive dimness, demand a refund. Read the full report here: Misuse of 3-D digital lens leaves 2-D movies in the dark – The Boston Globe.