frustrations with netflix and DRM

Today I signed up for that 30 day free trial period that netflix have going on. I was quite excited about it, and it was really one of those moments where I thought ‘I hope this works well, if so, then I’d be happy to pay after the free trial!’ – this isn’t a mindset I’m often in, admittedly.

The signup process was going swimmingly, until it asked for the payment details. I was presented with 2 choices: Credit card or paypal. I chose paypal, since I my credit card will expire soon, and I won’t be renewing it, since the account is in Ireland, and I currently live in Canada. Unfortunately, clicking on the paypal option wasn’t very helpful, since netflix turns out to be one of those silly companies that requires all paypal accounts to be set up with credit cards. This is something that really annoys me, let’s rewind a little to see why more clearly. So, remember I was provided with 2 payment options, credit card or paypal? That seemed reasonable at first glance: not everyone is eligible for a credit card, but you can have a paypal account with just a bank account, eliminating the need for a credit card for online payments (this is the most advantageous reason for providing paypal as a payment option, in my opinion). Requiring paypal accounts to be linked to a credit card, isn’t providing any option at all really, since now you must have a credit card to use netflix.

After a slight hesitation, I caved. I entered the details for the paypal account which is linked to my irish credit card (as opposed to the other one which is linked to my canadian bank account). I figured that even though my canadian bank won’t issue me a credit card, I might be able to find something that will work, if I end up liking the service provided by netflix.

After signing up, I was asked some questions and I ticked some boxes. I assume this was to provide me with more personalised recommendations. After that, I was brought to (what I assume was) the main netflix interface. I spent about a minute or two rating stuff I had already seen, and clicking ‘not interested’ in other stuff that I hope never to subject my senses to.
Eventually I saw something that I wanted to watch, a movie that I hadn’t seen in years, but which recently came up in conversation, and I had planned on watching in the near future. Clicking ‘play’ brought me to a nightmarish screen, one that I had hoped I wouldn’t be seeing. It was a message informing me that netflix requires either Microsoft Windows or Mac OS to play. This was the end of the road for me, so I quickly cancelled my account and moved on in frustration.

A little digging afterwards, told me that the reason netflix doesn’t have a GNU/Linux compatible client, is because of DRM. Of course, if I had known this in advance, I would have steered well clear. Most importantly because I think DRM is just wrong and unnecessary, but also because, as everyone knows, DRM doesn’t work.

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