MLB Picks Off Game Download Buyers
There is no joy in Mudville, as mighty DRM has struck out fans who bought baseball videos from MLB.com.
Major League Baseball crushed the purchases of digital game videos like they were a hanging curveball looping over the plate. The League shut down the DRM server managing the licenses of old video purchases, and just like that, those purchases have been eliminated.
Author Allan Wood has posted his anger at The Joy of Sox. He bought 71 videos, which along with discs to burn the games to cost him $280.45. As he says, he now has about six dozen coasters thanks to MLB.
This is not a new problem. Wood has been battling with MLB since the League deleted a license page in 2006. Videos would connect to that page to unlock the game and allow it to be played back.
Baseball fans who purchased those videos are the ones who have been played instead. Wood’s recent exchange with a customer service supervisor for MLB illustrated the problem:
"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."
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".
Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing, a long-time DRM critic, commented on the situation:
MLB shut down the DRM server because they’ve changed suppliers, and now they expect suckers to buy downloads of games in the new DRM format. Anyone who does this needs their head examined — using DRM itself is contemptible enough, but using DRM this way is just plain criminal.
How does the song go? "And it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out in the old ball game." Yet fans will likely continue to reward the League by attending games in the millions, since game downloads probably don’t represent a huge part of the revenue stream. Enjoy your coasters, and don’t forget to renew those season tickets, fans.
UPDATE! MLB does the right thing, makes updated versions of games available for those who purchased ones under the old DRM scheme. Power of the Internet strikes again.