Dear Tech Support

Dear CBS/TVCity Entertainment Panel/Sony/Nielsen/ReelResearch/ReelSurvey tech support:

I am unable to get the promotional videos that are part of the latest entertainment survey to play.

I ran the survey using Internet Explorer, despite the fact that it is a far less secure browser. I’m running Internet Explorer 8.0.6001.18702 on Windows XP SP4. I have Windows Media Player 11.0.5721.5280 because I got tricked into upgrading to the crappy, locked-down version a couple years ago. I even happen to have Flash installed this week. (I often uninstall Flash because Adobe is so bad at security, Flash-based ads are abusive of my bandwidth, and Flash-based web sites may as well be content-free.)

When I clicked the link to play the video, I got the following message:


You do not have the rights to play this file. Go to the content provider[']s Web
site to find out how to obtain the necessary play rights.

Address:

http://drm1.reelsurvey.com/RR/Video/V7LicPage.asp

Web pages can contain elements that could be harmful to your computer. It is
important to be certain that the content is from a trustworthy source before
continuing.

So far, I’ve been called a cheater and told to be very suspicious of you.

Just who are you anyway? The survey invitations are sent to an email I gave only to CBS, the emails claim to be from TVCity Entertainment Panel, which appears to be affiliated with Sony—the criminals who got away with compromising the security of hundreds of thousands of PCs by distributing a rootkit on audio CDs. The page titles say Nielsen, and the survey URLs vary between reelresearch.com and reelsurvey.com. You could at least use https and give me a certificate to check out.

Against my better judgment, I clicked through. A poorly-drawn, non-resizeable window popped up, and an error popped up on top of that. The error dialog said:


An error has occurred in the script on this page.

Line: 8
Char: 2
Error: 'netobj' is undefined
Code: 0
URL: http://drm1.reelsurvey.com/RR/Video/V7LicPage.asp

Do you want to continue running scripts on this page?

Curious as to just how much farther this train wreck could go I clicked ‘Yes’. The error dialog vanished and returned me to the non-resizeable window which was mostly black, with the text: “A license for the media file has been downloaded to your system. Please click play.” Unfortunately, the Play button was disabled.

At the top of the window was an IE gold message bar. The message bar said: “This web site wants to run the following add-on: ‘DRM ActiveX Network Object’ from ‘Microsoft Corporation’. If you trust the web site and the add-on and want to allow it to run, …” [The ellipsis is the original text, not an edit on my part.]

Well, I was pretty sure I didn’t trust the web site, and even if I was morbidly curious about what kinds of atrocities would be waged against my computer, I couldn’t continue because the instruction was cut off because somebody thought it would be a good idea to keep the user from resizing the window.

Why—oh why!—do you put DRM on a frakkin’ promotional video? Don’t you want promotional videos to be seen?

When will the entertainment industry realize that Digital Restrictions Management makes their products less valuable by hindering only legitimate consumers? If you want to give your clients some valuable feedback, tell them to wise up about treating their customers like criminals.

P.S. Submitting this message through the web form resulted in a server error.