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DRM Critique Airs On National Public Radio 353

Posted by kdawson
from the getting-the-word-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes to point out that a critique of Digital Rights Management made it onto the mainstream media this morning. NPR's Marketplace Morning Report ran a piece noting that with the demise of the VHS format we risk losing fair-use rights since we now have only digital media. From the article: "As our country moves forward to regulate digital copying, I urge us all to bear in mind T. S. Eliot's famous saying. 'Good poets borrow; great poets steal.'"
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DRM Critique Airs On National Public Radio

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  • Missed it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sporkme (983186) * on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:23PM (#17308066) Homepage
    RealMedia, barf. How appropriate that a commentary on the restrictive nature of digital media should be distributed in that format.

    I think they are looking at the past through rose-colored glasses a bit here. The owners of copyright material have always made efforts to restrict duplication, even in the not-so-good-ol-days of analog tape. Drop a quick "VHS copy protection" into Google and you will see countless references of the restrictive nature of that media, both on the audio and video tracks. Analog audio tapes included a pleasnt high-pitched screeching boobytrap (spoiler signal) for would-be copiers.

    It is not the death of the analog media that represents the end of part of our culture--and the risk of lost rights--as the commentary claims. It is the lack of spine in our leaders to stand up for what is right. It is the lack of foresight and hindsight on the part of the copyright owners and the consumers that patronize them. Make some noise about that, NPR.

    I would also like to point out the self-destructive nature of the analog media they are pining over. About one third of the VHS tapes that remain in my collection are playable. The first DVD I ever bought does not skip once.
    • Re:Missed it. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:50PM (#17308244)
      They have a podcast [publicradio.org], so you can download the segment as MP3 (for now):

      12/19/06 Marketplace Morning Report 2 [publicradio.org]

      The segment is at 5:40 if you want to skip directly to it.

      After all, it's produced using taxpayer money, it better be publicly accessible.
      • Re:Missed it. (Score:5, Informative)

        by MysticOne (142751) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:30PM (#17308480) Homepage
        Well, for one, this isn't NPR content. It's American Public Media, which is part of Minnesota Public Radio. While their public radio stations usually play NPR content, and these shows are usually syndicated, they aren't NPR programs. On top of that, public radio only gets a small portion of its funding from tax payer money. The majority of funding comes through donations during the pledge drives.
    • Re:Missed it. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ingolfke (515826) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:39PM (#17308532) Journal
      It is not the death of the analog media that represents the end of part of our culture--and the risk of lost rights--as the commentary claims. It is the lack...

      Everything after that was wrong...

      The threat to your "rights" and the rights of copyright holders is low cost digital duplication and distribution. Guess what, 100 years ago copying a book required that you buy the physical materials to print the book on and an expensive printer to print the book. It wasn't cheap. Enter VHS and VCRs... all of sudden where copyright holders had been protected by the high cost of copying their products they're now exposed to easy ultra-low cost duplication means. Enter p2p and you're totally fucked if you create ideas and content and hope to sell it.

      The model has been that you create content that people are willing to pay for, and you limit the distribution of that content, and people buy it. If you kill off the ability to limit the distribution of that content then you've killed off the incentive to invest resources into commercial media.

      Sure, you'll have all types of mix-ins and exciting mashups and derivative works for the first few years, but who is going to invest in the next Star Wars? The only people with money to invest in expensive media projects that will not return direct profits will be corporations and the rich. Star Wars... in a Ford Focus far far away...

      Copyright is good. Protecting it is good. DRM is not inherently evil. Yeah, the media giants are a pain in the ass and generally despicable, but that doesn't make copyright bad and it doesn't mean that they aren't going to be forced to change over time.

      • Re:Missed it. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by russotto (537200) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:03PM (#17308664) Journal
        The threat to your "rights" and the rights of copyright holders is low cost digital duplication and distribution. Guess what, 100 years ago copying a book required that you buy the physical materials to print the book on and an expensive printer to print the book.
        So our rights were safe as long as we didn't have the means to effectively exercise them. As soon as we could exercise them, they were taken away. Thank you, Joseph Heller. Of course the fact that you put our rights in scare quotes and left their rights unadorned pretty much gave away what you think is important.
        Copyright is good. Protecting it is good. DRM is not inherently evil.
        The DMCA is inherently evil. The DMCA (or something like it) is the only way to protect the integrity of DRM, so DRM must also be evil. If DRM is the only way to protect copyright, then copyright must be evil.
        • Re:Missed it. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Ingolfke (515826) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:35PM (#17308850) Journal
          So our rights were safe as long as we didn't have the means to effectively exercise them.

          What are you talking about? Since the inception of copyright you did not have the right to copy a copyrighted work and distribute it without permission. But, the costs made doing this in any large scale impractical and therefore made copyright infringement more uncommon and easier to identify and prosecute... and thereby protect the copyright holder. Low cost and readily available means of duplication and distribution completely blew that inherent protection out of the water. So now copyright is being infringed upon left-and-right.

          The DMCA is inherently evil. The DMCA (or something like it) is the only way to protect the integrity of DRM, so DRM must also be evil. If DRM is the only way to protect copyright, then copyright must be evil.

          Why is the DMCA inherently evil? The DMCA is NOT the only way to protect the integrity of DRM... and what kind of logical transference principles did you just manufacture here. DRM is not the only way to protect copyright (they've been doing that for years without it). Your logic is laughable and indicative of a anti-DRM fanboi.

          Look... I understand that DRM can be used by copyright holders to limit the use of a piece of media and create all types of other fees and crap. I understand that and it's an issue that needs to be considered and looked into. That said... they still have a right to protect the content they've created or invested in. The law says they do... tossing out DRM and copyright all together isn't realistic.
          • Re:Missed it. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:35AM (#17309938) Journal

            So our rights were safe as long as we didn't have the means to effectively exercise them.

            What are you talking about? Since the inception of copyright you did not have the right to copy a copyrighted work and distribute it without permission.

            He said "book", not "copyrighted book". Further, his main point was that "fair use" becoming a widely available option to people, with the availability of digital content, was counteracted by the DMCA and DRM blocking the ability to legally (at least, questionably legally) exercise such "fair use".

            But, the costs made doing this in any large scale impractical and therefore made copyright infringement more uncommon and easier to identify and prosecute... and thereby protect the copyright holder.

            Not exactly. Copyright came about precisely because it was so easy for publishers to print up "pirated" copies of works. In the American colonies, there were enough printing presses that a large share of the populace read daily newspapers. The fact that computers are now their own printing press certainly has greatly magnified that initial problem, but even today it's possible to track down the source of copyright infringement in many cases. The real problem is that there are so many infringers and that they don't have any direct commercial gain (even if it were merely the cost of the supplies to make the copies), that there's very little motivation to go after every last outfit that's mass copying works.

            The DMCA is inherently evil. The DMCA (or something like it) is the only way to protect the integrity of DRM, so DRM must also be evil. If DRM is the only way to protect copyright, then copyright must be evil.

            Why is the DMCA inherently evil?

            The DMCA is inherently evil because its vague wording could be taken to make computers illegal. More generally, it makes it illegal to use the key included with content or the hardware to use said content, except in a narrow scope of exceptions. Further, it is illegal to provide information to others the information to find or use said key, even if they use it only under the narrow scope of legal exceptions. Together, this greatly hinders the ability to speak and effectively cuts off the ability of a vast majority of people to fair use, as they are too computer illiterate to discover on their own the techniques necessary to exercise their rights, and it's not possible to directly teach them the information to take advantage of their rights.

            The DMCA is NOT the only way to protect the integrity of DRM....

            From a practical standpoint, the DMCA isn't an effective way to protect the integrity of DRM as the same means that allows copyright infringement which DRM is meant to stop can be used to either (a) disseminate the cracked DRM-protected content or (b) disseminate the information to crack the DRM-protected content. From a legal standpoint, it provides further basis to punish copyright infringers as well as a stronger legal basis to shut down organizations that collaborate to break DRM schemes. From a technical standpoint, DRM is technologically flawed because it includes the key with the lock.

            DRM is not the only way to protect copyright (they've been doing that for years without it).

            As stated, DRM is not an effective way to protect copyright. In reality, there's no means of protecting copyrighted works. From a legal perspective, DRM is superfluous, as copyright infringement is already illegal. However, also from a legal perspective, the DMCA provides a means of effectively banning all varieties of DRM-cracking technology so long as there exists as least one copyrighted work protected by said DRM scheme. As such, the DMCA provides a very effective legal blockade to greatly hinder the open operation of technology that would allow people to perform le

            • by Ingolfke (515826)
              Well reasoned and complete response. thanks.
            • Re:Missed it. (Score:4, Informative)

              by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @10:52AM (#17312366)
              Good points all.

              I would only add two mildly tangental comments.

              1) They keep extending the length of copyright and somehow treat creative works as different than other inventions (patents have a much shorter period and may be much more valuable than a book).

              2) The idea of copyright is changing. Up until 30 years ago it was very common for songs to "steal" melodies from each other (hell most of blues is based on a small number of stolen phrases and would not exist if the first song that invented them locked them down). Then suddenly they started suing over small sequences of notes. The net result is that an interesting set of (7? 11?) musical notes is basically locked down for over a hundred years now. It may be legal but I don't think it is moral.
          • Re:Missed it. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Pofy (471469) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @03:56AM (#17310024)
            >Why is the DMCA inherently evil?

            One new thing the DMCA and many similar laws introduced was a new "right" for the copyright holder, that of access. It is not really given as a new right, instead they are given the right to control the access but that is for the most part quite similar since it dissallows others the right to access. The right to access a work has not existed in most copyright laws before.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:13PM (#17308724)
        "Sure, you'll have all types of mix-ins and exciting mashups and derivative works for the first few years, but who is going to invest in the next Star Wars?"

        If the death of copyright means that the like of Episodes 1 & 2 will never occur again, I'm probably okay with that.
      • Re:Missed it. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Danse (1026) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @01:16AM (#17309392)
        Copyright is good. Protecting it is good. DRM is not inherently evil. Yeah, the media giants are a pain in the ass and generally despicable, but that doesn't make copyright bad and it doesn't mean that they aren't going to be forced to change over time.

        Wrong. Copyright refers to copyright law. Copyright law WAS good at one point. It doesn't even remotely resemble what it used to be. So no, copyright is not good. Protecting it is not good. DRM may not be inherently evil, but that doesn't matter a bit since it has only been used to enforce the perversion of copyright law that exists now. Furthermore, the evil media giants will only be forced to change if we stop supporting this crap they're calling copyright law, and stop pretending that it's a good thing and that it deserves to be respected. They got greedy and deserve to be punished for it. Retroactive copyright extensions? Terms longer than a human lifespan? Where the hell did the bargain between artists and the public go? They were supposed to get protection for a limited time, and then the work was supposed to become part of the public domain, and free for all to do whatever they want with. Nothing that was copyrighted has passed into the public domain for decades. We're supposed to be OK with that? I'm certainly not. It's not going to get any better if everyone keeps accepting the status quo either.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mgiuca (1040724)
          Exactly. I think copyright is OK when you have one man creating his work, he deserves to be able to profit from it - maybe for the rest of his life time, maybe for a limited time. I don't know.

          What I hate is when you see the grandson's family complaining that "oh, those nasty pirates are stealing our deserved income." What the hell? Since when do you deserve to get rich off something your grandfather created decades (centuries?) ago?

          Copyright aside, DRM is inherently evil because it quite obviously has "sid
        • Re:Missed it. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Java Ape (528857) <mike.briggsNO@SPAM360.net> on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @12:22PM (#17313622) Homepage
          Excellent comment Danse,

          My wife is a best-selling author, and depends on copyright for her living, so believe me when I say that we understand the importance of protecting her work. However, the point of copyright is to encourage new creation, which was intended to become part of the public domain. The public basically grants a short-term monopoloy on duplication in exchange for the eventual use of the product. This deal was fair and mutually beneficial.

          Big business has bought the government, and the deal is altered past all bounds of recognition or sanity. DRM is the icing on the cake, insuring that even when our current insane copyright terms finally allow ancient works to fall into the public domain, they'll be 'protected' by additional restrictions, assuming terms aren't extended indefinitely.

          Even people who need copyright to make a living are shaking their heads and wondering what flavor of Kool-Aid is being passed around the government. Artists don't need 200-year monopolies and draconion punishment of their audience to make a living. I'm not sure who these provisions are supposed to benefit. . . the great-great-great grandchildren of famous movie-makers maybe? Why should the public commons be eliminated for their sakes? Something's not right.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TFloore (27278)
          Copyright law WAS good at one point.

          I'll accept that without specifically endorsing the viewpoint. There were a lot of people even at the beginning of our country's history that didn't like copyright at all. It took... a few decades (someone may correct me if this thread isn't too old) before the United States even recognized foreign copyrights registered in the US. Americans made lots of money printing European books in the US, in violation of copyright. This is fairly normal practice for developing nation
      • Re:Missed it. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sydney Weidman (187981) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @01:39AM (#17309464) Homepage
        The model has been that you create content that people are willing to pay for, and you limit the distribution of that content, and people buy it. If you kill off the ability to limit the distribution of that content then you've killed off the incentive to invest resources into commercial media.

        Hooray. Commercial, one-way media of all kinds deserve to die, or at the very least stop multiplying like virii.

        Some random thoughts on this topic:

        Money encourages production, not creativity.

        What is owned cannot be culture. For me that's an axiom.

        Own it if you want, but don't pretend that its got anything to do with culture. If I have to ask someone's permission to use it, it isn't culture. Culture *is* that which can be freely shared.

        If you pay me to say it, I'll eventually end up lying.

        Money encourages production, but it often encourages the production of crap. The "market" doesn't impose any standard of quality on what gets produced.

        The reason we give people a monopoly on copying is so that eventually we have lots of free stuff. Unless you can show that the benefit of increased production outweighs the harm of restricting freedom, don't dare talk about extending copyright in time or space. In fact, we should reduce the term and reach of copyright to the minimum level required to encourage production. *That* makes sense to me. The idea that all this shrink-wrapped blather is someone or other's private property seems to me to be a parlour game gone bad.

        Creativity can be encouraged in many ways. In Canada, parents are paid to spend time (a year or something) with their newly born child. Why couldn't individuals be given sabbatical to produce something of cultural importance? If you don't produce, your time off is repaid from source deductions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fyngyrz (762201) *

          The reason we give people a monopoly on copying is so that eventually we have lots of free stuff.

          Well, just don't forget that the reason a lot of people create things is to make money. Not to share culture, not to enter into some agreement, long ago cobbled together by people they didn't know and had no input to or representation with. DRM is bad - even evil - when it makes stuff you buy not work on equipment you own, or makes you unable to archive it; but optimism aside, if creating something doesn't

      • Re:Missed it. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Petrushka (815171) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @01:44AM (#17309488)

        Copyright is good. Protecting it is good. DRM is not inherently evil.

        You need to start realising that the third sentence here has nothing whatsoever to do with the first two sentences.

        DRM, inherently evil? You bet it is. DRM is an imposition on the rights of the public way beyond the restrictions imposed by copyright. It's double-dipping.

        Copyright is saying, "I own this, so you're not allowed to make money out of it"; DRM is saying, "It doesn't matter whether I own this or not, but if you do anything with it that I choose to prevent you from doing, you're a criminal."

        Copyright is a compromise that in a reasonable world should promote creativity. DRM is designed precisely to impose obligations and restrictions on the public that have nothing whatsoever to do with copyright, but everything to do with greed and taking away legitimate rights.

      • Re:Missed it. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:37AM (#17309676)
        Guess what, 100 years ago copying a book required that you buy the physical materials to print the book on and an expensive printer to print the book. It wasn't cheap. Enter VHS and VCRs... all of sudden where copyright holders had been protected by the high cost of copying their products they're now exposed to easy ultra-low cost duplication means. Enter p2p and you're totally fucked if you create ideas and content and hope to sell it.

        So, what you are saying is that when the copyright social contract was made a few hundred years ago, the average Joe really didn't give up much because it was next to impossible for him to make a copy anyway. Joe gave away something of no value (the right to make copies that he couldn't possibly make in the first place) in exchange for encouraging creators to create.

        So, now that any Joe can make as many copies as he wants for almost zero cost, don't you think it is time for the contract to be renegotiated? After all, what was a good deal for Joe 100 years is no longer a good deal anymore. Isn't that what a smart businessman would do in the same situation?

        After all, copyright only exists at Joe's discretion anyway. If the public collectively decides that copyright is no longer a worthwhile bargain, well, that would be the end of copyright now wouldn't it?
    • I would also like to point out the self-destructive nature of the analog media they are pining over. About one third of the VHS tapes that remain in my collection are playable. The first DVD I ever bought does not skip once.

      Unlike you I've had a number of dvds go bad on me whereas none of my tapes aren't playable. Currently my oldest tape is more than 15 years old and it still plays however I've bought brand new dvds I had to return because they wouldn't play. Now I'll admit my first dvd plays fine but

  • by MinutiaeMan (681498) * on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:24PM (#17308070) Homepage
    Most people don't realize that even certain VHS tapes had DRM -- or at least a basic form thereof. Many years ago, for a high school video project, I wanted to splice a little scene from "Return of the Jedi" into our project. (The scene with the Ewoks bowing and scraping to Threepio, as a metaphor for the Aztecs greeting Cortez.) But when I tried to record it onto the family VHS video camera for splicing and transfer (we were using our VCR and the camera to create a very basic editing system; this was 1996!), the camera would quit recording after a few seconds, saying something about a "protected" video or something.

    I forget how I got around it, but it was a pain in the ass. All for less than thirty seconds of fair-use footage for a damn high school project!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ConceptJunkie (24823) *
      Google "Macrovision", before creating various forms of digital rights management, as well as acquiring InstallShield for some strange reason, they were the leading name in "analog rights management", i.e., screwing up VHS tapes to prevent dubbing.

    • by StinkiePhish (891084) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:36PM (#17308164)
      Yep. It started in 1983 with the establishment of Macrovision Corporation.

      From Wikipedia...
      "The 1984 film "The Cotton Club" was the first videocassette to be encoded with the Macrovision technology when it was released in 1985"

      "A VHS videotape or DVD (no laserdisc or video CD players implement it) or digital cable/satellite boxes receiving a data stream encoded with Macrovision will cause a VCR set to record it to fail (excluding very old models, modified VCRs, or those approved for "professional usage"). This is usually visible as a scrambled picture as if the tracking were incorrect, or the picture will fade between overly light and dark. A 6-head or 8-head VCR (most are 4-head) can minimize this fluctuation, so it is not as noticeable. A DVD recorder will simply display a message saying the source is copy-protected, and will pause the recording."

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrovision [wikipedia.org]
    • Analog, especially VHS, is the ultimate form of DRM. With normal DRM, there is a possibility that you will be able to crack the product due to the power of DVD Jon et al. With VHS, it will always look like grainy shit with horrible sound. (Vinyl is a bit better in this respect but playing it on any but the most expensive laser record players will decrease the amount of useful information and make it that more likely to skip. (CDs skip too, but something that you scratch to play by definition will lose mor
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by omeomi (675045)
        Vinyl is a bit better in this respect but playing it on any but the most expensive laser record players will decrease the amount of useful information and make it that more likely to skip.

        The irony here is that the people buying these laser record players [laser-vinyl.com] are the same ones complaining about how CD's sound "digital", and how vinyl is just so "warm"...while going out and buying a record player that basically turns their records into giant CD's.
    • Incorrect (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)
      We did not loose fair rights.
      Companies have been preventing us from exercising them.
      I know the difference is very subtle.

      You must know this and get used to saying it bacause from a legal, and political view point, you still ahve those rights. SO when you say we 'lost our rights' it makes you look ignorant, and can be rubutted with "No we didn't you still ahve the right to do that."

      Also, you can make the corporations l;ook bad and not the politicians, which is a better way of communicating with your elected
      • Re:Incorrect (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:59PM (#17308320)
        You must know this and get used to saying it bacause from a legal, and political view point, you still ahve those rights.

        No, we lost them -- go read the DMCA. All the copyright holder has to do is say "this was ROT13 encrypted twice" and you have no Fair Use rights anymore.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mr2001 (90979)
          Not really. First off, double-ROT13 doesn't "effectively control access to a work", and it'd be trivial to prove that in court - but you were joking about that, right?

          Seriously, though, you still have fair use rights. The DMCA blocks one possible avenue of exercising those rights, but there are others. You can't crack the encryption on a DVD to extract a clip for your review, but you can still connect the DVD player's analog output to a capture card, or point a camcorder at the screen.
        • And then you take them to court for improper use of security measures. If you can find a lawyer to sue you for breaking copyright, you can find a lawyer who will sue on your behalf for improper and illegal use of legal protections for the express purpose of restricting your legal rights. The media doesn't cover these kinds of suits, because they're boring non-stories, but I assure you they happen.
      • Re:Incorrect (Score:5, Insightful)

        by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:09PM (#17308372)
        You must know this and get used to saying it bacause from a legal, and political view point, you still ahve those rights. SO when you say we 'lost our rights' it makes you look ignorant, and can be rubutted with "No we didn't you still ahve the right to do that."
        I agree, in general, with the rest of your post, but disagree with this point.

        If you have a right, but are prevented from using it, you really *don't* have that right anymore. Just being written down somewhere doesn't make a right a right. The written form is just the description of the right. A right is only a right when it can actually be exercised. Regarding the topic at hand, the corporations have actually taken away (violated) our right to fair use.

        The flaw in your argument, as I see it, is the implicit assumption that only the government can take away or grant rights. In reality, it's those with power that grant or take away rights. It just so happens that usually it's the state that has ultimate power, but if the state leaves things to their own devices (ie: free market fundamentalism), all they have done is given the crown of ultimate power over to the next in line, which in the case of America, is the corporations (in other countries, the next in line might be corporations, organized crime organizations, warlords, etc).

        Your argument, while it does make the corporations look bad, also absolves them of any legal (which for some, equates to moral) wrong-doing, and undermines efforts to have the government step in to protect our rights.
        • You are under the mistaken assumption that the doctrine of Fair Use is a right. It is not, and never has been, a right. It is a defence to the charge of copyright infringement.

          This legal distinction appears to be lost on most who contribute to the neverending copyright debate on slashdot.

          • by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:41PM (#17308902)
            You are under the mistaken assumption that the doctrine of Fair Use is a right. It is not, and never has been, a right. It is a defence to the charge of copyright infringement.
            You are wrong on two counts.

            First, that I am unaware of the actual legal standing of fair use.

            Second, that it does not grant rights. It, in fact, does. I am allowed the *right* to copy copyrighted works, if my copying falls under fair use.

            This *right* has been repeatedly affirmed by the courts.

            This legal distinction appears to be lost on most who contribute to the neverending copyright debate on slashdot.
            Not in any generally meaningful way. While people do tend to misunderstand the details of fair use, the fact that it exists and allows for some rights for the consumer is both fact and law.
            • No, technically fair use isn't a right.

              Free speech is a right. Copyright is a restriction on that right. Fair use is a limitation to the scope of the restriction. It's not a right in itself, it's just that when fair use (or other limits to copyright, inclusive of even the furthest limits of its extent having to stop somewhere) applies, nothing restricts the underlying right of free speech anymore, and you can exercise your free speech by, say, copying works.
      • SO when you say we 'lost our rights' it makes you look ignorant,
        And when you say 'We did not loose fair rights' it just makes you look stupid.
  • by rucs_hack (784150) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:29PM (#17308104)
    I've still got a vhs recorder, tons of tapes, and a large library, recorded and bought. Plus I don't see any reduction in the places that I can buy tapes.

    VHS isn't dead, nor will it be for a very long time. There's a big difference between DRM supporting companies wishing it would die, and it actually dying.

    Incidentally, we have a record shop in town that does a brisk trade in the vinyl media that *ahem* 'died' a few years back....
    • The sale of VHS is down to nearly nothing now. It's a complete niche market. Analog is worse than DRM because DRM can be cracked but Analog always looks and sounds crappy.
    • by the_humeister (922869) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:39PM (#17308186)
      I still have an 8-track player and a whole collection of tunes on 8-track tape. And silly people kept saying 8-track was dying...
    • VHS is dead, as are cassettes, 8-track and records.

      The real DRM of VHS and the others, was the degrading quality.

      The quality degrades with watching it, degrades with copying it, degrades with time.

      DVD's now have effectively no DRM.

      CD's have no DRM.

      MP3's have no DRM.

      So the current effectively unencumbered base of digital media is DVD's ,CD's , and MP3's (and OGG ...).

      For HD-Blue-DVD to really replace DVD, it has to be effectively unencumbered as well. Until then people will buy DVD's because they are less li
  • by troll -1 (956834) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:31PM (#17308124)
    Thank you, Rip Van Winkle.
  • by ElBuf (887442) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:35PM (#17308162)
    Good poets borrow; great poets violate copyright, which is nothing like stealing!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Brandybuck (704397)
      People say "steal" because it is one syllable, as opposed to the six for "violate copyright". No, it's not synonymous with armed robbery, but it is stealing. Get a dictionary and look it up! If copyright is a property, then copyright violation can indeed be stealing. If copyright isn't a property, then stop according property rights to your creative works (such as using the GPL).

      Last week I went to a wedding. While there I stole a kiss from the bride. So why can I steal a kiss but I can't steal a poem?

      I for
  • Mainstream Media? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rossz (67331) <ogre AT geekbiker DOT net> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:36PM (#17308170) Homepage Journal
    When did NPR become part of the mainstream media?

  • by mr_matticus (928346) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:37PM (#17308174)
    The 'demise of VHS' is about as relevant to the erosion of "fair use" as the price of canvas was to the demise of sailing ships.

    People are willing to sell away anything to get a lower initial price--they're willing to accept more restrictive use if it means saving a buck. It's not just media entertainment, but food, furniture, and almost anything that involves the exchange of money. They'll reserve the right to complain later, but the remedy of that complaint can NEVER be raising the prices to fix what consumers voluntarily sold off.

    Yeah, we can sue McDonald's for making us fat, or we could stop thinking that paying $15 for a restaurant meal that won't kill you is some great injustice. We can complain all we want about outsourcing support jobs to wherever, but good god, don't charge us $20 more for our computers. We can balk at the several hundred dollar price of hardwood furniture and complain about deforestation, but IKEA still gets frowned upon for its "cheap" quality in comparison (when in fact, many of their products are surprisingly durable for being made of sawdust and paper).

    Price is all-important, and anything that gets us a lower price is a good idea...until we realize that what we threw out the window to get there might actually have been important. Then we want it back, but we want someone else to eat the costs involved with bringing it back.
    • Of course, the difference being, it really is more expensive to purchase better ingredients for better food, it really is more expensive to purchase hardwood than sawdust, and it really is more expensive to build a computer in the US than in China.

      DRM actually would raise production costs-it would be more expensive to develop, program, test, and refine DRM systems, and then make deals to have them implemented in hardware, than to simply produce unencumbered media. The same would apply to leasing someone e

      • by mr_matticus (928346) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:10PM (#17308702)
        Not quite. The cost of DRM itself is minimal and a predictable consequence of digital media--not a necessary restriction on fair use rights. People are willing to do anything to drive down the cost of purchasing music, including accepting narrower usage.

        The fewer rights you transfer from the owner, the lower the sale price of the artwork. Media price isn't tied to production costs (if it were, small indie artists would be much more expensive, because their relative costs per unit would be way higher than the "big" pop artists). Instead, it's tied to the level of the licensing. Copies for renting out or public performance are substantially more expensive than the "home use" versions (even dating back to VHS and vinyl), even though they contain the exact same product. Likewise, digital files contain the same content (ignoring the low quality currently offered) for a lower price because they are transfers of fewer rights. This isn't to say that the labels' pricing for mp3s isn't greedy; that's a separate issue, but the point is that the price is lower, and by enough that it's starting to make a difference.

        It's not solely about materials cost, and it isn't in other markets, either. The ingredients McDonald's purchases aren't the big reason why the food's bad for you--it's the method. Same reason why good furniture is expensive: the wood is expensive, but so is the craftsmanship and the process.
    • by Rayonic (462789)
      Yeah, we can sue McDonald's for making us fat, or we could stop thinking that paying $15 for a restaurant meal that won't kill you is some great injustice.

      Most restaurant food out there is in the same range of unhealthiness as McDonalds food. And I'm not just talking about Denny's here. Practices such as glazing vegetables with fat are very common.
      • Well, that's a bit of an overstatement. Granted, if you go to Applebee's and order a burger and fries, you aren't making tremendous improvements...but what I meant (but left out for concision) was that much of the public balks at paying $15 for salads or healthy portions of sensibly prepared chicken and meat when they go out to eat. That in itself would be fine many years ago when people ate at home most of the time, but now that eating out is habitual in many families, it's become a value-per-dollar-per-
        • The point I was making there is that the "liberal" use we on Slashdot expect as standard fare in software/music/video purchases has fallen into that same "too expensive and irrelevant for the mass market" niche as the cheapest restaurants I eat at.

          We have been supplanted by the "fast food" and "Denny's/Applebee's/Friday's" consumers, who prefer the more convenient, cheaper alternatives even if it's actually worse in the long run. We stare in amazement at the mass market, but we're now the odd ones out,
  • A small nitpick... (Score:5, Informative)

    by alerante (781942) <alerante&bellsouth,net> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:50PM (#17308246) Homepage

    Marketplace isn't an NPR program; the show is produced and distributed by American Public Media [publicradio.org]. Though many public radio stations air programs from both NPR and APM (as well as other orgnizations like Public Radio International), the two are distinct entities.

  • by The Master Control P (655590) <`ejkeever' `at' `nerdshack.com'> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @09:56PM (#17308300)
    Yet another thing that Congress made illegal and which law enforcement makes no meaningful attempt to enforce. Which means it will go the same way as most of the rest of the US legal code: Never actually enforced until the cops (or the ones holding their leash) really, REALLY want to get someone (for reasons good or for bad); Then a careful search of the legal code is all but gauranteed to reveal something that makes you a criminal.

    After all, it's impossible to control people who aren't criminals. You see it on Law & Order all the time: If someone isn't cooperating, they threaten to enforce some other law unless the guy does cooperate. As shit laws like these pile up, the state becomes fascist through no particular malice or evil intent. You being a thorn in their side? Well, I'd sure hate to take your entire DVD collection to make sure they weren't pirated. And you better have receipts, too.

    Dead serious: Before any new law may be passed, the legal code shall be reviewed in it's entirety and thoroughly checked for existing laws serving the same purpose. If any such law shall exist, the proposed law may not be passed. If multiple laws serving the same purpose are found, they shall be reconciled into one non-self-contradictory law with the eldest law taking precedence. Not only will Congress be too preoccupied by this to do any more damage, but eventually the legal code will become understandable again. Imagine... justice returns as rich/well-funded criminals can no longer appeal their sentences for 25 years before they go to jail. To help initial implementation, I suggest forming a "council" of 1000 lawyers covering every legal field, and directing them to find contradictory and/or redundant laws.

    The problem is that as the legal code grows, the most general search becomes O(N^2) because you need to compare every law with every other law. This needs to happen before N becomes so large that the only way to finish before the End of Time is to completely reboot. Queue arguments that we're already there...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bhmit1 (2270)
      I'll second that. My philosophy was similar:

      Before any additional law (or tax, regulation, etc) two other laws must be canceled, until such a time as the general public has a firm understanding of all of the laws they are required to obey. At that point, every new law must cancel a previous law in order to be entered into the books. The end result should be a 200 page paper back book that is required reading for a high school student. Enforcement of the law should be done by the letter of the law and
      • by Ingolfke (515826)
        Wow... the concept of having a 200 page manual on the law... even if that was just the primary law and duty for each citizen, and there were seperate manuals for more complex issues (business for example). That would be outstanding!
      • Although your meaning in mentioning a congressional pay cut is clear, haven't the Democrats planned to tie Congress's pay raises to the minimum wage? I'm not entirely certain about the whole thing, but figured it's worth mentioning.
      • How about this: Every time Congress wants to pass a new law, they should extract 1 pound of flesh from Ted Kennedy, that way by 2011, we'll have a lot fewer laws being passed and America's Favorite Swimming Coach won't have to buy his pants at that special store that also sells muu-muus.

        Seriously, though, the law we need is that all members of Congress must do their own taxes, handle their own insurance claims and every other piece of bureaucratic hoop-jumping they thoughtlessly pile on us at a whim.

        Oh, an
      • Unfortunately, this is impractical and impossible. You cannot govern a country in 200 pages, period. The constitutions alone of most countries approach 100 pages. A five page tax code sounds like a good idea, but the fact of the matter is that our current legal system, Byzantine though it may be, is inadequate to account for all the infinite permutations of events in our country.

        The law can't ever be made black and white, and even if there were just 200 pages of statutory law, case law would remain th
      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @12:12AM (#17309084) Homepage
        Well that's just idiotic. The right amount of laws to have is what works best to establish and maintain a desirable society and polity, not some arbitrary number you've clearly pulled out of your ass.

        Besides, your idea is unworkable on its face: laws are lengthy and complex when there is a desire for certainty. When laws are short and simple, there is less certainty as to what they mean (which, incidentally, means that you want to use caselaw, since then the courts will be able to all agree and take a largely uniform approach, rather than varying wildly as they all take their best guess, which will differ).

        Saying that the law should be as you describe is as stupid as if I said that the source code for an entire, fast, efficient, feature-packed OS, windowing UI, and apps (office suite, web browser, media player, etc.) should all fit, uncompressed, on a single floppy, and be human-readable, and easily understood by any average high school graduate. It would be nice, but it's a foolish demand to make, and probably can't even be done because some things are simply complicated, and that's how life is.

        A legal system can be simple, consistant, just, and efficient, but not all at the same time. In our society, and pretty much every other civilized society, we've chosen to go for just and consistant and where possible, efficient. Most simple and efficient legal systems tend to be of the 'might makes right' or 'eye for an eye' variety, and usually are not very consistant or just.
    • I'll gladly vote for you if that's your platform, but good luck getting any professional politicians to allow us to make that into law.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slamb (119285) *

      Dead serious: Before any new law may be passed, the legal code shall be reviewed in it's entirety and thoroughly checked for existing laws serving the same purpose. If any such law shall exist, the proposed law may not be passed. If multiple laws serving the same purpose are found, they shall be reconciled into one non-self-contradictory law with the eldest law taking precedence. Not only will Congress be too preoccupied by this to do any more damage, but eventually the legal code will become understandable

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slughead (592713)
      Yet another thing that Congress made illegal and which law enforcement makes no meaningful attempt to enforce. Which means it will go the same way as most of the rest of the US legal code: Never actually enforced until the cops (or the ones holding their leash) really, REALLY want to get someone (for reasons good or for bad); Then a careful search of the legal code is all but gauranteed to reveal something that makes you a criminal.

      For more information on this, there is a fantastic Cato Book Forum [cato.org] on this s
  • by creimer (824291) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:01PM (#17308334) Homepage
    Good poets borrow; great poets steal.

    Maybe that's why the underground economy in China is so great.
  • by Chuqmystr (126045) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:09PM (#17308374) Homepage
    Call me wrong if I am but it seems to me that most folks who listen to NPR are at least somewhat familiar with what DRM is and all that accompanies it. At least for myself and the other NPR listeners I talk to that's he way it is. Still, good to see the word is getting out beyond just the Internet. Forgive me for stating the obious but what really should be done concerning rights management as far as media is concerned would be campaigns on the order of the bullshit the which the RIAA and MPAA have been spewing, sans the bullshit of course. Perhaps this is a step in that direction. Keep it up NPR.

    As for the Real Media encoding from what I remember it was the only useable and widely accepted option around when NPR first started offing audio content online. Still, much better options abound these days. They should at least transition to them over a few weeks or months time if they're woried about pissing off listeners who are unaware and set in their ways. -C

    • by amper (33785)

      As for the Real Media encoding from what I remember it was the only useable and widely accepted option around when NPR first started offing audio content online.

      Bullshit.

      QuickTime has *always* been better than anything Real has come up with, not to mention the fact that it's vastly cheaper, even if you use the Apple-branded version. To top it off, you can even use the open source Darwin Streaming Server if you are so inclined.

      NPR used to offer all their content in QuickTime format, up until a couple of/fe

  • by Lodragandraoidh (639696) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:18PM (#17308416) Journal
    The choice is simple - either continue to accept the old business model, or don't. It is up to all of us to make that choice for ourselves.
    • You know what else? They need to take commericals out of the previews for movies. I don't go to a movie theater to watch commericals. Three billion previews is bad enough. Now I have to watch ads for pepsi and apple? BHAUIBGHZZARGH!!L!AH!!!

      If we all just stop going to movie theaters until they get rid of the commericals before the movie maybe we can get them gone for good.

      Personally, I find it's much easier to get movies from... ahem... well anyway, to watch them in the comfort of my home on my 60" HDT
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:25PM (#17308446) Homepage
    Now do you see? Now do you understand why we have to get rid of this particular evil? This simply cannot be allowed to survive, because it is standing in the way of progress.

    As long as we continue to have media outlets that are not owned by corporations, we will continue to have reports like this that fail to toe the corporatist line. Were it not for NPR, reports like this, critical of DRM, would be relegated to the backwater of Internet blogs and college-town weeklies. We have failed to completely destroy NPRs credibility as a media outlet despite our constant efforts. We must stamp it out altogether, or face continued non-corporate-approved reporting.
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:38PM (#17308530)
    With all the talk about 'theft' and 'piracy' it's easy to lose track of who the real thieves are here. It's the global media corporations who stole the public domain by bribing the politicians to implement a permanent extension of copyright.

        Suppose that you buy a car on 'time' and agree to make five years worth of monthly payments. After five years (if you don't miss payments) then the car is yours. Suppose that after four years and six months, the finance company bribes the local legislature to extend the amount of time that you have to make payments for another five years. Emmimently fair for them; a rip-off for you. If you refuse to make another payment after the initial five years of payments have come to completion, they call you a thief and get the local law to take your car at gunpoint and put you in jail.

        Copyright works the same way. Agreement is made to make payments for an agreed time period for the use of the films, books, or recordings. After that period is up, the films, books, and recordings are paid for and can be used by the public freely. The material enters the public domain.

      Paying off politicians to extend this period is theft: it is theft of the public domain. The global media companies have relentlessly and successfully lobbied and bribed for 'extensions' of the copyright period in individual countries throughout the world. They keep extending the time period that the public must pay them in total violation of the spirit of the balance between copyright and public domain. They are the real thieves here, not someone burning a CD or downloading a movie. Never forget this.

        Criminals don't get to chose which laws are enforced for all the rest of us. Nor do we have to pay serious attention to the justifications that they use to legitimize their criminal behavior.
    • by Ingolfke (515826)
      So your point is good, that copyright holders have used the political process to extend their benefits to what seems to be the deterement of everyone else.

      That doesn't mean that you have a legal right to copy copyrighted material. So you can feel free to ignore the law of "criminals" but the reality is that you could still be held accountable, regardless of your own justification.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)
        That doesn't mean that you have a legal right to copy copyrighted material.

        But it does make a pretty good argument for a moral right to copy copyrighted material.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by russotto (537200)

        So your point is good, that copyright holders have used the political process to extend their benefits to what seems to be the deterement of everyone else.

        That doesn't mean that you have a legal right to copy copyrighted material. So you can feel free to ignore the law of "criminals" but the reality is that you could still be held accountable, regardless of your own justification.

        Ahh, the "they bought the law fair and square" argument. The point isn't that people violating the (bought and paid-for) la

        • by Ingolfke (515826)
          I made no moral statements. I simply said if you voilate the law, whether your agree with it or not, you still could suffer the consequences. If I don't think it's morally wrong to burn down churches that doesn't mean that I will not be put into prison for my actions.

          I support strong DRM and short copyrights, and a requirement to clearly and accurately communicate what rights are transferred to the purchaser at the point of purchase. In the short term, the big media morons will do all sorts of idiotic th
          • If it's property... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Belial6 (794905) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @12:16AM (#17309112)
            I always say that if it is property, then there should be a property tax on it. Let the copyright holder declare the value of their "intellectual property". If they set the value at $100, then they can only sue for $100. If the set the value at $100,000,000 then they can sue for $100,000,000, but they also have to pay property taxes on $100,000,000 worth of property. Of course they should be able to abdicate their ownership at any time both relieving them of copyright and tax liability.

            This would limit copyright holders from hording just for the sake of hording, as they would have to pay for it. We would see large numbers of works currently under copyright, pushed out to the public domain as a tax savings. It would not prevent anyone that is currently making a profit from their works from continuing to do so as they would be encourage to declare a fair market value for their works to properly balance protection and tax liability. It would limit the outrageous lawsuits as the value of the work would be pre-determined.
  • by dpilot (134227) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:45PM (#17308568) Homepage Journal
    The Constitution says "for limited time." That means that some sort of copyright expiration means is necessary in DRM, so that after the copyright expiration the medium becomes free and unencumbered - public domain. AFAIK there is NO expiration mechanism whatsoever in current DRM, therefore it violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

    This is most likely moot, because in order to properly test this in court, we'd need DRM-protected media of material with an expired copyright. That hasn't happened, and probably never will happen. Congress has asserted their right to extend copyright as much as they wish, and the Supreme Court has agreed - 1 day less than eternity is "limited."

    As long as the ??AA funnels money to Congress, and as long as Congress accepts it, copyrights will never expire, and the Public Domain is effectively DEAD.
    • "This is most likely moot, because in order to properly test this in court, we'd need DRM-protected media of material with an expired copyright."

      Any Mozart CD's with DRM?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by man_ls (248470)
        That doesn't count. The representation of Mozart contained on that CD has a unique, modern copyright.
  • by ItMustBeEsoteric (732632) <ryangilbertNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @10:46PM (#17308574)
    Being that Eliot *actually* said, "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different."
  • DRM will kill itself (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bensafrickingenius (828123) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @12:41AM (#17309242)
    I bought Neil Stephenson's Baroque Cycle trilogy in Adobe ebook format from Amazon a couple of years ago (I bought each book as it came available, actually). Well, that all started 3 laptops and 2 Palm PDAs ago. I got the urge to read the trilogy again last month, and found that I could no longer activate my Adobe ebooks. Seems that I'd accessed them on too many devices. Adobe tech support basically told me to go fuck myself. So I bought the dead tree versions of the books. I then emailed Adobe copies of the Amazon invoices for the ebooks and the subsequent hardcover purchases, along with a note explaining that I'd bought my last ebook. No surprise that I haven't heard back, but I'm sure they'll get the point when more and more of their paying customers have a problem with their legally purchased books being stolen from them by Adobe. Anyway, I'm praying that things change, and the sooner the better.

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