Netflix, nVidia, DRM, and 'Ron White - They Call me Tater Salad'

I always knew the opposition to DRM, and knew why people thought it was bad, but it never affected me, so I didn't care.

Last night, DRM totally kicked my ass. Today I wrote an email to a bunch of people involved, to explain my extreme displeasure. I'll just post the email, and let it explain everything.

Subject: Netflix, nVidia, DRM, and 'Ron White - They Call me Tater Salad'


This email is to document and describe an extremely unpleasant experience I had last evening with Netflix and the movie 'Ron White - They Call me Tater Salad'.

I used to be a TiVo user, until I found the freedom, fun, and expandability of creating my own PVR with a spare PC. I currently run a Core 2 Duo PC with an nVidia 7200 series graphics card as my PVR.

I have been a NetFlix member for some time and have been enjoying the 17 hours of online viewing I get each month with my subscription. Yesterday I received an email from Netflix explaining that I now receive UNLIMITED online viewing time. So my wife and I settled into our sofa and clicked PLAY on Ron White's 'Tater Salad' movie.

A message popped up and told me I would need to upgrade Windows Media Player in order to watch movies on Netflix. I had been watching movies through their website for some time, so this seemed a little odd to me, but I did as it said and upgraded. After the upgrade, I was then told I needed to install this special package in order to view Netflix content. Again, I did as instructed and installed the package.

I was then greeted with the familiar Netflix loading screen. To my dismay, once it reached 100%, I was given a DRM error. I had received this error in the past, and generally a format of the PC and a re-installation of Windows resolved it. However, I have just recently performed a complete re-install of this PC and did not have the time to do it again. So I picked up the phone and called Netflix support.

After a 40 minute wait, Lou finally answered the phone. I gave him the error code and immediately he told me I was unable to watch Netflix streaming movies because I had a TV hooked up to my PC and not a monitor. I thought for sure there was no way this could be true, as I have been enjoying Netflix streaming movies for some time. I asked to speak to a supervisor. After a few minutes, Lou connected me to Tamar. She was very pleasant, polite and professional as I explained her my problem.

She too explained to me that because I only have a TV hooked up to my computer via the S-Video cable, and no monitor plugged into the DVI port, that DRM thinks I am trying to copy the movie, and therefore will not let me play it. I could not believe what I was hearing. Her solution was to connect a monitor to the DVI port on the PC, run it in dual mode, and put the movie window onto the TV after it loads up - quite a burden, and another unacceptable answer.

I assured her I had been viewing Netflix streaming movies without (much) trouble for some time, and that I did not believe DRM was the problem, as it never had been before. She then informed me that Microsoft had released a new DRM package over the weekend, and that is why I am now having the problem. She explained that the nVidia driver in conjunction with Microsoft's new DRM were to blame. When asked if purchasing an ATI card would solve the issue, she suggested that it may - again, this is quite an unacceptable solution.

I was a Netflix subscriber for quite some time, then switched to Blockbuster for the in-store returns. When Blockbuster limited that to 5 movies per month, and Netflix was offering 17 hours of online viewing, I switched back to Netflix, and have been happy with service until now. Now, while Netflix tells me I have UNLIMITED online viewing, I actual have ZERO online viewing. This is making Blockbuster's 5 in-store exchanges look pretty inviting.

Tamar did upgrade my account to '4-at-a-time' for 3 months. While this is a welcome addition, it hardly makes up for the total lack of ability I have to watch streaming movies, which as I stated previously, is the reason I switched to Netflix from Blockbuster.

I have heard all of the fuss about DRM, but until now, I paid it no mind as it has never affected me, or my ability to used digital media which I HAVE PAID FOR. Now, however, I do realize that DRM is a horrible thing, and does nothing but keep the honest people from accessing that which they have rightfully paid for, and have the right to access.

A quick Google search for Ron White's 'Tater Salad' DVD provides you with a plethora of links to places where you can illegally download the DVD for free, sans DRM. ( This to me proves the old adage that "locks only keep honest people out." DRM is a horrible idea, and has now prevented me from using that which I have paid for.

I will give this problem until the end of the month, at which time if it is still unresolved, I will be canceling my Netflix account, and renewing my Blockbuster Online subscription.

You can be sure that Ron White's movie will be the first one in my queue.


Charles Teets

Netflix Customer Service
Reed Hastings - Netflix CEO
Blockbuster Online Customer Service
nVidia - Chipset Manufacturer
AMD - Maker of ATI Video Cards
Microsoft - DRM Developer
Ron White - 'Tater Salad'
Michael Drumm - Producer of 'Tater Salad'
Image Entertainment - 'Tater Salad' distributor
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Free Software Foundation

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