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2012/04/23 Amazon Prime Videos Starting to be Crippled by Flash DRM
π 2012-04-23 00:00 in Public
I recently subscribed to Amazon Prime, and installed XBMC on my mythtv HTPC since it had an amazon prime plugin. Said plugin is nicely designed in a way that it doesn't use flash (which gives a pretty bad experience) and gets raw video streams directly from the amazon servers.

This works pretty well and gives a good experience, a much better one than all the flash solutions I've seen.

So life was good, right? Well, not really. Amazon just started slowly converting their video collection to add DRM, which in turn breaks the XBMC plugin and forces the use of flash and a pretty crappy experience (in comparison) through a browser.

I'm not expecting much out of it, but this is the Email I sent their customer service:

Dear Madam, Dear Sir,

I am writing you about the DRM you have been adding to your amazon prime library.
I know I am not using a supported way to play your videos and do not need you to tell me what the supported ways are since I am aware of them.

I am contacting you in the hope that you will forward this request to someone in charge of decisions for which formats you stream your videos in and whether or not DRM will get applied to cripple your entire collection, making it useless to me and others who do not use flash to play the videos.

I use XBMC on my HTPC since I like the freedom of controlling my own experience and the flexibility of programming it and having it do just what I need on the hardware that makes sense to me (which includes playback on devices that do not have flash capability).
I'm sure you are already aware of this project:
http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=108124&page=41

For comparison, all HTPC players I've seen that use flash offer a pretty bad experience. Since flash was never designed for proper integration on computers controlled by a simple remote.

You also know that flash is a soon to be dead technology, it's already abandoned by Appple, and even Adobe gave up on it, mostly killing its future.
By converting your content to DRM, you are putting your content out of reach for us, just to appease some of your content providers with their pretend world that somehow it is protecting their content.

Since you are big, and they should listen to you, not the other way around, please convey to them that:

  • forcing the use of flash DRM in no way prevents ripping the content with a screen grabber. It's not even hard.
  • someone motivated in stealing your content can just reverse engineer that DRM, and in the meantime it only penalizes your customers.
  • your streaming content is somewhat low quality, it's much easier to rip from a DVD or a blueray, both of them have been broken. Even HDCP has been broken so content can be ripped in highest quality from HDMI.
  • Therefore adding DRM to your flash streams just penalizes your legal paying customers, and accomplishes nothing. Please resist further converting your library to DRM, and if at all possible, please revert this useless conversion.

    Not doing so, will just force some of your customers to switch to other options, maybe youtube or other, where the content isn't protected from being seen by its paying customers.
    I'm not going to tell you that losing us as customers will impact your bottom line in a way that will be significant right now, but I am hoping that you'll consider doing the right thing, in a way that is indeed likely to impact your business longer term.
    You are way behind netflix, you need to differentiate yourself in any way possible, and providing easy to watch content for all your customers is definitely a way to do it.

    Thank you for reading.


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