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DRM From the Viewpoint of the Electronic Industry 374

mike449 writes "The cover story of the Oct.16 issue of EDN magazine is about the recent trends in DRM. It is not just a technical article. The author tries to convey what people who are supposed to design and implement access restriction measures think about their feasibility and associated economic, legal and moral issues. 'Of course, you can always try charging a reasonable price and trusting people to be honest. Just think of all the money you'll save not having to implement DRM'."
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DRM From the Viewpoint of the Electronic Industry

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  • Just say no! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seanadams.com ( 463190 ) * on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:39PM (#7561718) Homepage
    D [apple.com] R [napster.com] M [musicmatch.com] only inconveniences those of us who pay for our music. The pirates will go on using uncrippled formats. DRM is precisely as effective for anti-piracy as the Evil Bit [slashdot.org] is for security.

    It's not even about copy protection. It's about keeping us on the "new format treadmill", and locking us in to specific playback hardware/software.

    Don't be fooled. [riaa.org] Take a stand! [eff.org]
    • Re:Just say no! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by m_dob ( 639585 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:46PM (#7561791) Homepage
      I disagree. Services like itunes offer wonderful quality and the ability to listen to previews. Yes, at the moment most of the money goes straight to the record companies. This is the thing that needs to be challenged... but honestly, the availibility of legally downloadable music can only be a good thing - it has the potential to celebrate good music, so we don't keep buying the manufactured trash that dominate the charts nowadays.
      • Re:Just say no! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GrouchoMarx ( 153170 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:04PM (#7561981) Homepage
        You're missing the point. Yes, Apple iTunes is a wonderful service... except for the DRM. Yes, it is easily the loosest and least intrusive DRM system in the world right now, but it's still unduely restricting my usage of the content I have legally aquired.

        Yes downloadable music is good. Yes it can celebrate good rather than manufactured music. Yes, it levels the playing field. Yes, yes, yes, that's all true, we agree, great, fine, lovely. That's NOT THE POINT.

        It's very simple. Digital Rights Mangling systems are bad. They are wrong. Any system that employs them is flawed and intrusive. Any system that employs it does not get my business or my money. End of story.
        • DRM is neither good or bad. There are plenty of "good" uses of DRM technology.
      • Or don't pay for any music and support the freedom of music. Bands that don't care about the money and seem to care about the music are the bands you should be for. If they are distributing their music for free and allowing you the freedom to make copies and distribute that for free, that who you should support!

        sharingthegroove.com [sharingthegroove.com] and FurthurNET [furthurnet.com]
      • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:45PM (#7562422) Homepage Journal
        Services like itunes offer wonderful quality ...

        OK, let's say Itunes is the best DRM crippled format there is. Can it do what normal recorded music can? The objections raised in the article strike at real problems facing any DRM that make the whole concept look like a looser. The inability of more than one person to share music collections in more than one place at a time blows it for most people. Answer these questions about Apple's nice DRM that are typical family issues:

        • Can I have my music collection on more than one computer at a time?
        • Can I have my music collection on more than one ipod at a time?

        What good is any music that I can't share with other members of my own family? If my wife can't listen to my music in her car, while I listen to our music at home or on my bike, the DRM sytem simply sucks. Sure, I can work around it with tapes and other stuff that will rocket me back to the 1980s. What good is that? I'm happier with my simple oggfiles that I can serve out as I please and put on as many computers as I want. When I bought the music, I had every intention of everyone in my house being able to enjoy it. Anything more complicated than that is simply not going to catch on.

    • So don't used protected media.

      Whoops. Looks like we're all stuck in 2003 content-wise.

      The alternative? Let the market force long and hard considerations on behalf of producers. Let Sony explain to my mom why her home movies don't play on her new VCR. Balance will be found, but it might be bloody for companies that make bad decisions.
    • Re:Just say no! (Score:2, Informative)

      by Seehund ( 86897 )
      Digital Restrictions Management has recently found new amazing uses.

      It can be a means to prevent sales of the software product that's allegedly supposed to be protected, in favour of protecting an artificially created monopoly market for hardware which the software producer has nothing to do with. Get on the "overpriced hardware treadmill" instead.

      Witness what's being done to AmigaOS [8bit.co.uk].

      If only Microsoft and the [RI|MP]AA could try to be that kind of mah-brain-huuuurts stupid! ;)
    • DRM is precisely as effective for anti-piracy as the Evil Bit is for security.

      Wow, you're giving DRM a lot of credit here. It's too bad nobody implemented the Evil Bit so we could do real comparisons.

  • Interesting line ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:41PM (#7561731) Journal
    "Just think of all the money you'll save not having to implement DRM"

    I wonder just how many people actually *do* a cost-benefit analysis these days, or is it just a 'tick-box' item ?

    The world might be a better place, if people would actually *think* more, it's not hard... "Actions" => "consequences". "Actions" => "Consequences". Repeat as necessary...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      ""Actions" => "consequences""

      Yes. Action: Millions of people rip songs from cds with no copy protection and share them on Napster.
      Consequence:Recording industry decides DRM is necessary.
      • by IWorkForMorons ( 679120 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:55PM (#7561892) Journal
        This works both ways.

        Action: RIAA overcharges for their product.
        Consequence: Millions of people download songs shared on Napster for free.

        Two wrongs don't make a right. Someone is going to have to make the compremises. The question now is: Will it be the RIAA? Or the millions of people who buy their products but are getting ticked off about getting gouged?
      • Action: Recording Industry over-reacts, suing 12-year olds and producing CDs that are unplayable on some CD players. While doing so, they also raise the price of the average music CD.

        Consequence ===> Users buy less content. RIAA whines that it's those darn pirates to blame, and not that they themselves are acting like spoiled 4-year-olds.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Sharing files is absolutely illegal already.

        Why doesn't the recoding industry protect their interests the same way as the rest of us? Sue a few of the SOBs and the rest will get the message soon enough.

        Oh, that would be "bad" marketing! Tough sh*&, that's the way a free and civilized world works. You have a right to redress in a court of law, not the formation of a police state.

        Then the rest humans don't have to live in a world were "automated book burning" is the name of the game.

        Recently there
      • You do not have the right Action/Consequence premises.

        The right one would be:
        Action: The RIAA members produce 20% less new releases than before
        Consequence: The RIAA members sales figures are 20% less than before, but they blame pirate for less sales.

        Not to mention that MPAA member DVD sales are up, gaming consoles and games sales are up. But consumer have roughly the same (or less because of the economic downturn) amount of money in their pocket so they spend less on music.
    • Of course, you can always try charging a reasonable price and trusting people to be honest. Just think of all the money you'll save not having to implement DRM.

      The first sentence is quite telling as well. There will always be a small minority that refuse to pay for things, though most people are more than happy to shell out a few bucks for something useful.

      I picked up Knights of the Old Republic the other day. It's a great game, but I found that the copy protection wouldn't let me play at first. It
    • From the developer's perspective, ideal DRM (if I can use that expression around here without getting stoned to death) would be provided by a third party. You'd just have to budget enough RAM and CPU to run it on top of your other planned features.
    • > I wonder just how many people actually *do* a cost-benefit analysis these days, or is it just a 'tick-box' item ?

      They did:

      Benefit(to music industry)/Cost(to music industry) = 'x'/0 = infinity.

      Fortunately, the device industry's analysis looks like:

      Benefit(to device industry)/Cost(to device industry) = 0/'y' = zero,

      so there is a chance sanity may prevail.

  • by BadCable ( 721457 ) <kumareshb@yahoo.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:41PM (#7561732) Journal
    It is interesting, because when it all comes down to it, the "good guys" are hurt due to restrictions, and the "bad guys" always end up pirating, etc. I am not sure there really is an answer as to how to protect information 100% without it both hurting the consumer and being crackable by a cracker. Of course, the governments can keep passing laws that make reverse engineering illegal, etc, but again, that's just going to scare the average Joe much more than it would scare someone who really wants to crack a DRM transmission. Only time will tell where the DRM issue ends up.
    • by Quasar1999 ( 520073 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:48PM (#7561819) Journal
      The lure of getting something for free is just too good. Think about how many people pay hundreds of dollars to get 'free' satellite TV... Sometimes it actually ends up costing them more than if they actually subscribed to the service, but they keep doing it.

      DRM is going to create the exact same market. Right now, anyone can pirate music/software pretty cheap (bandwidth being the big cost), if DRM continues to be pushed on everything, fewer and fewer average Joe's can circumvent it by themselves, and will start buying equipment and software to do it ([sarcasm] which will no doubt be provided at a reasonable charge from the black market [/sarcasm]). End result will be people paying an arm and a leg to get at DRM circumvention technology, in order to think they've made a deal by getting 'free' stuff (ala pirated software/music/movies...)

      Now if I could somehow just wedge myself into that nice lucrative DRM circumvention technology provider/distributor position, I'd be rich! :)
    • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:53PM (#7561865)
      This is exactly what happens with copy protection on games - there are reports EVERYWHERE of safedisc and other kinds of protection screwing things up for legitimate gamers, but the people who warez the game only have to download a 500k crack or enable safedisc emulation in daemon tools.

      I'm sure it does stop some very casual copiers (two people who don't really know what they're doing copying a game for each other), but is it worth inconveniencing all the legitimate customers to do so?
    • by fishbonez ( 177041 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:14PM (#7562086)
      I am not sure there really is an answer as to how to protect information 100% without it both hurting the consumer and being crackable by a cracker.

      The problem is that those who are promoting DRM see the issue in black and white. They want the absolute strongest protection technology and the absolute harshest punishment for violators. There is no way to achieve absolute protection with current technology and continuing to push for it only makes consumers less like to adopt DRM products because of the significant hassle.

      A more reasonable approach to DRM would be to aim for relatively strong protection but one that does not create a hassle for the consumer. It should also be bundle with a service that actually creates a benefit for using the DRM product. If the consumer gains by using the DRM product, they'll be inclined to use it. Admittedly there will still be those that will crack the DRM technology but that cannot be eliminated anyway. So why aim for 100% when 80% will lead to wider and faster adoption of the DRM technology?

    • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@mon k e l e c t r i c . com> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:16PM (#7562104)
      You're on the money. I'd like to repeat my Steinberg LM4 Story :) I bought a legit copy of Steinberg LM4 but it wouldn't install on Win2k even though Win2k is a SUPPORTED PLATFORM for Cubase (the host application for LM4). The copy protection on LM4 wouldn't allow installation on Win2k for some reason, and Steinbergs answer to this was "go fuck yourself." So I ended up downloading a warezed version of LM4. I'll never buy another Steinberg product :)
  • The only "content" that is worth anything is the content that hasn't been developed yet. If it's already been made, it's valueless.

    Which leaves lots of room for money making endeavors, as lots remains to be made. Of course, if you can't make, but only wish to "own", DRM is not going to change the fact that you are, ahem, fucked.

    • The only "content" that is worth anything is the content that hasn't been developed yet. If it's already been made, it's valueless.

      Somebody better tell that to all those stores selling DVD's and CD's full of pre-existing content!
    • If it's already been made, it's valueless.

      Perhaps this is true in some strange theoretical sense (I doubt that), but it's certainly not true in reality. Virtually all content that is sold is that which has already been made. Your argument makes very little sense.
    • This is somewhat addressed in the article, when the author talks about the importance of the release window. Since the value of content goes down as it ages (seeing a new movie at the theater is $9, renting a newly released DVD is $4 for two nights, renting that same DVD two months later is $3 for five nights), the only thing(s) of real value is that which is new. So, yes, the only content worth anything is stuff that hasn't been developed yet.
  • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:45PM (#7561777)
    Just think of all the money you'll save not having to implement DRM

    It's too bad the corportations don't think that way. "Just think of all the money you'll save by not having to design crippled CDs" or "Just think of all the money you'll save by not hiring people to go after music sharers" or "Just think of how many more people will buy your product instead of downloading it if you lower the price a little".

    I think logic is a foreign concept to them.
  • by JZ_Tonka ( 570336 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:45PM (#7561780)
    "Of course, you can always try charging a reasonable price and trusting people to be honest"

    Take a look at the network traffic of any university. Can you really blame electronics companies for not being trusting of their target market?

    • Just because we?re all lying unscrupulous weasels doesn?t mean you shouldn?t trust us.
    • So that narrow "target market" is the reason why everyone else must be penalized?
    • When gas prices go up, there are a lot more "drive-offs" or thefts of gasoline. Why? Most people have the money to afford gas (or shouldn't be driving if they can't). I believe that people don't trust gasoline companies (and, by analogy, the selling agents, gas stations) - they believe that the gasoline companies will take advantage of them to their detriment without corresponding benefits to them. The users (gasoline purchasers) aren't trusted and have no say. They steal in part as a misguided response t
    • I thought the onus was on the content providers to earn OUR money instead of on the public to earn the right to be trusted with it. After all, we only let people earn money from our valuable public domain at our discretion anyways. How about the content industries give a little back and prove that the dollar we give them won't be used to fuck us in the legislature with it first.
    • by image ( 13487 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:14PM (#7562089) Homepage
      Take a look at the network traffic of any university. Can you really blame electronics companies for not being trusting of their target market?

      Um, maybe college students with almost no disposable income shouldn't be a target market for $20 CDs, either.

      Historically those markets listened to college radio and swapped vinyl. They certainly weren't spending $20 a pop on a CD from an international megastar with one good song on it.

      Here's a concept -- charge different amounts for different product. I.e., Mogwai and Ted Leo CDs should be offered for $5 each. Let the teen masses and the adult contemporary listeners (with their disposable dollars) pay $20 for an album.

      Variable pricing is slowly coming of age via direct downloads through non-traditional channels such as indie-label sites and the iTunes store. Fortunately this will ultimately kill off the RIAA's price-fixing tactics. But goddamn it's an ugly death.
    • by jbs0902 ( 566885 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:15PM (#7562090)
      University students are not stealing products sold by the electronics industry (hardware).
      They are infringing on the copyrights of the content industry.

      So, I see no reason why the hardware manufactures will think that their bottom lines will be affected. Quite the contrary, many hardware companies have profited from the widespread availability of content. Hence, Sony's schizophrenic reaction to all this. Their hardware unit profits and their content unit losses from piracy.

      One thing the article points out is that the hardware manufactures are rushing to provide a technology that does not benefit them (i.e. profit). It only benefits the content industry. Users and hardware manufactures pay the cost of DRM. Government and users pay the cost of Draconian copyright laws.

      So, even if you disregard the idea that people are basically honest, it does not make economic sense for the electronics industry (i.e. hardware manufactures) to essentially make a charitable contribution to the content industry.

      Mixed companies like Sony have a rational for doing it, but they are still just shifting profit from one business unit to another.

    • Not that any DRM scheme has earned much trust :) (or there would be any real, hard fact supporting the theory of copy protection bringing increased sales)
      And it's not about trusting ALL of the people buying the stuff, there will always be some piracy - it's just about the piracy/buying ratio getting better - so that the increased sales offset the lowered prices.

  • no locks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wuss912 ( 464329 ) * <wuss912&cox,net> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:46PM (#7561782)
    Locks only stop honest people....
    thats what it all comes down to
    • Not true. Locks cause criminals to look elsewhere for easier targets. Any lock can be picked, given sufficient time and resources.

      For example, look at The Club which is used to protect parked cars. Anyone can take a hacksaw and cut through the thing, but it's simply easier and less risky to look for a car that doesn't have it.

      Sure there are always the experts that like the challenge of doing the impossible. Those are not the people DRM is designed for.
      • While what you say is true for protection against physical theft, I don't think it's all that applicable here.

        1: Hey, I like Kraftwerk. I think I'll share this latest Kraftwerk CD on P2P.
        2: Awww, shucks, it's copy protected. Oh well, I think I'll start liking Britney Spears instead, because those CDs aren't protected.

        3: ???
        4: Yeah, right.

        Meanwhile, songs from both artists (well OK, the artists, and Britney Spears) end up on P2P because someone with a better-than-the-average-consumer clue WILL spend 2 min
      • Re:no locks (Score:3, Funny)

        by Carnildo ( 712617 )
        Sure there are always the experts that like the challenge of doing the impossible. Those are not the people DRM is designed for.

        On the contrary, these are exactly the people DRM is designed for. DRM protection of content gives them the challenge of breaking the DRM. Who else benefits? Not the average consumer -- if the DRM is properly implemented, they won't notice a difference, and if it isn't, they will be inconvenienced. Pirates won't benefit -- there's always the analog hole. The companies won't
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:46PM (#7561784)
    How do small content creators cope with DRM? I mean, someone's got to certify that newly created content is original and not a copy of something else, otherwise what's the point of DRM? If there's a fee involved, how steep will it be?

    I mean, a small time music producer or a small time comic book creator will have trouble in this environment, especially if they're just doing it because they love the art.
    • oh yes, but isnt that half the idea?

      weaken the individual and strengthen the big corperations further. its gradually happening, and will continue to. sure there'll always be some resistence, but the world has taught people to listen, to any old crap and its taught them not to think at all, and not to question.

      This will lead somewhere nasty one day.

      maybe im going too far, but ever played the game Deus Ex? quite a scary game if you ask me.
    • Fee? Oh, I'm sure it will be small, only a couple of thousand dollars per track. Of course you'll have to be a member of a supported artists association for any of the DRM certification authorities to do any work for you.
  • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wfrp01 ( 82831 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:48PM (#7561817) Journal
    I'm not a big fan of DRM. I will probably attempt to avoid DRM enabled products. That said, I think it's a perfectly valid technology. Perfectly valid in the sense that the market can decide whether or not it wants DRM, without banning it outright, etc. As long as people can un-DRM things that they own (their own word docs, etc.) and export/import them into a competing product, I don't see how DRM by itself can give anyone such undue influence that there's no turning back. What's the lock? Big media cartels and software monopolies are the problem, not DRM. I think the foolishness of many copyright/licensing schemes will become readily apparent when they can be rigorously enforced.
  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:49PM (#7561820)

    The problem isn't DRM, it's copyrights. DRM is just one of many tools to enforce it, where when used in a way to controll people it would, in a normal world, fall by the wayside like all those other "key" schemes that never worked out.

    But when you assert that you have a right to restrict what other people copy, even when the cat's out of the bag, then it takes on a whole new meaning. Like the right to regulate hardware companies who don't participate. The right to monitor other peoples computers for the sake of "enforcement". And the right to pry into peoples private content.

    • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:06PM (#7561999)
      Bzzt, wrong. Copyrights do eventually expire, and DRM has no time based self deactivation method. 300 years from now if you want to watch an old copy of a DVD, which by then even Mickey Mouse will no longer be copyrighted, you will still have to deal with the DRM. DRM manufactures don't even consider the idea of a time limitation because they think the idea that something would ever fall out of copyright.

      Today we use careful forensic techniques to examine content of centuries past. Centuries down the road, is the skill of cracking going to required in university to become an arheologist? Enormous amounts of content of modern culture could become completely lost. Films decay, even the BBC's big knowledge archive turned out to be almost unsalvagable only a couple decades after it was made, and they didn't even have to fight DRM.

      DRM is fundamentally flawed, and serves only to interfere with the rights of those it is inflicted upon. It serves no purpose to anyone but a self serving company that may not even be around a few years from now. How many old games or software titles do you own in which the company is even still in existance. Guess what, once they go tit's up there is no incentive for them to help salvage DRM'd products.
      • Copyrights do eventually expire, and DRM has no time based self deactivation method. 300 years from now if you want to watch an old copy of a DVD, which by then even Mickey Mouse will no longer be copyrighted, you will still have to deal with the DRM

        Actually, I see no evidence that copyrights will expire in the future.

        Sure, they were supposed to, but the powers-that-be are so far into the big copyright holder's pockets that copyrights get extended any time the copyright holder needs them to be extended.

        • While today's supreme court has proven lackluster on the expiring copyright issue and the corporate personage issues, these are rulings that cannot stand the test of time. They merely reflect a current political climate. Conisider if you will the right of a jury to nullify a law has been to the Supreme Court 3 times, and upheld each time in the last 200 some years.

          Some issues have flip flopped multiple times over the years, I see no reason why todays climate of corporate interests trumping citizen interest
    • I think the content producers are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They are asking for legal protection of their product without giving any good back to society for that honor. I think they should have a choice, either impliment DRM, which deprives us of our fair use rights, in exchange for giving up their copyright, or keep their copyright but don't use DRM. Either use the law or use DRM but not both. Since their main objective should be to prevent true infringment by other media companies I thin
  • DRM Engineers... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quandrum ( 652868 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:50PM (#7561829)
    Ahhh, what's not to love about engineers...

    I mean, if their opinions are heard and understood, their job at designing and implementing DRM is gone. How many people would stand up for a cause that would put them out of work?
    • Well, I - as an engineer that takes pride in his work - would (and in fact, did) stand up against any copy protection scheme because it is my firm belief that it only hurts those who pay for the software (and of course, the engineers doing the developing/testing).

  • by dukeluke ( 712001 ) * <dukeluke16@noSpaM.hotmail.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:50PM (#7561838) Journal
    "Of course, you can always try charging a reasonable price and trusting people to be honest. Just think of all the money you'll save not having to implement DRM."

    DRM should be thrown out - pirates will still find ways to crack/hack the system. It's just a vicious cycle - one that ultimately hurts the consumer.

    Producers should instead look towards more effective means of an honest and easy system of distribution. This would generate much more revenue - and shut down the napster-like systems of today.

    I know many people who are now avidly seeking the honest route through the $0.99 title online stores.
  • Yeah, sure (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ActionPlant ( 721843 )
    And what exactly will stop people from holding shift as they copy stuff? Heh heh.

    Yeah. This will be about as effective as standing my grandmother in front of the breaking dam.

    I like the concept that they trust the consumer to be honest. How about instead we trust SOCIETY to evolve and simply let bygones be bygones? Sure, some industries don't want to die...why would they? But they're hindering our forward progress in their rediculous attempts to merely survive (read: senseless litigation) rather
  • If something has DRM that you find to be unacceptable just do not buy it. Of course the problem you will have with this is that others who do not care will continue to buy it, and losing you as a customer will probably not be the companies biggest concern.

    This is the wrong way to think. You shouldn't have any say in what people buy besides what you vote with your wallet. It is very democratic, you see?

    If people generally don't care about DRM the sales of the crippled product will not be affected. If they do

    • If something has DRM that you find to be unacceptable just do not buy it. Of course the problem you will have with this is that others who do not care will continue to buy it, and losing you as a customer will probably not be the companies biggest concern.

      This is the wrong way to think. You shouldn't have any say in what people buy besides what you vote with your wallet. It is very democratic, you see?

      If people generally don't care about DRM the sales of the crippled product will not be affected. If the

    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:33PM (#7562304) Journal
      The only possible problem anyone could have with this is that they want a greater say in the matter than "Joe and Jane Six-Pack" as the typical consumer is usually referred to here.

      Except that the Six-Pack family doesn't even notice the war going on (for now), so can't take sides. And by the time they notice, the "wrong" side will have won.

      How many people, if they understood the idea that their new media purchase could simply vanish at the whim of companies with less interest in them than Enron had in its employees' retirement funds, would still plop down the same (or more) money as for an unencumbered and semi-permanent product?

      Not a whole lot, I'd wager. In my experience, people have NO clue about the implications (or even the presence) of DRM. Just last week, for example, I had to explain to a friend (and not even a tech-illiterate one at that) that all the music on his computer, ripped by him from his own CDs, would no longer work simply because he had used WMP to rip and encode them, and had never turned off WMP's "rights management". Granted, WMP lets you back up your keys for a planned migration, but major crashes rarely bother popping up a dialog warning "This installation of Windows has died, and five minutes from now, will never boot again. Please back up your music library at this time".

      So yes, I believe "Joe Sixpack" should have less say in matters such as this, and should listen more to those of us who do understand that "enhanced" and "restricted" do not mean the same thing. But calling that a power-grab strikes me as a rather egregious twisting of the facts. For an analogy, do you believe that fire codes should result from the whims of the market, or from those who've spent thousands of hours studying how fire propagates through your house? Or do you just consider your greatly increased likelyhood of living through each night a power-grab by those in the know on that particular topic?
  • From the article: However, Microsoft has made public that it intends to introduce changes that will make the operating system incompatible with chips that follow the current version of the TCP spec.

    I guess Microsoft just can't resist embracing and extending things. I mean.. here, they're not even waiting for the spec to mature before they ruin it with their own implementation. Maybe Microsoft will be our greatest ally in the war on DRM... or not.

  • >'Of course, you can always try charging a reasonable price and trusting people to be honest.
    >Just think of all the money you'll save not having to have a lock, a money changer,etc .

    Just leave a bucket I am sure everyone would be honest.'

  • Quis custodiet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:56PM (#7561903)
    DRM itself isn't really the concern. It's just a tool: a lock can be used to keep out burglars, or contain the freedoms of people.

    What matters is who is holding the keys at the end of the day.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ziviyr ( 95582 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:58PM (#7561918) Homepage
    All that talk on making unbreakable DRM, and not one nod towards the fact that its a free-for-all at the headphone jack. :-)

    • > All that talk on making unbreakable DRM, and not one nod towards the fact that its a free-for-all at the headphone jack. :-)

      Are you implying some sort of patriarchal gang bang thing going on with this "analog hole" stuff? Sexist pig. I'll bet you use ATA hard drives, too.

    • RTFA: "In most cases, a perfect digital copy is unnecessary; many DVD-copying applications make good-enough copies--copies that users can't tell from the originals--from analog outputs. "
  • Complete Article (Score:2, Redundant)

    by MisterMook ( 634297 )
    Not /.'ed yet, but this should forestall any complaints

    The War On Copying

    The communications industry is ready for an infusion of data, such as digital video, to drive it to recovery, but music, video, and other digital-content owners continue to keep a tight rein on their growing mass of IP (intellectual property) while waiting for a secure DRM (digital-rights-management) scheme to materialize. The complexity of DRM, however, makes it a nontrivial addition to a system, especially a consumer device with

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:58PM (#7561922) Homepage
    ...it's replete with observations that don't just cover the usual ground (those stale old extremes: "copying is theft" versus "information wants to be free").

    Your mileage may vary, but I, for one, had never seen the observation that the chief function of DRM is to "protect the release window" (the short time when content is new and makes most of its money).

  • by bigjnsa500 ( 575392 ) <bigjnsa500@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:01PM (#7561946) Homepage Journal
    What I still don't get is if companies are hurriedly developing DRM and DRM is being pushed down our throats, then WHY are they still manufacturing digital media players (DVD, CD, etc..) with analog outputs?

    Analog totally defeats the purpose/use of DRM.

  • Hardware DRM (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pyro226 ( 715818 )
    I'm just waiting for the day when I'll have to modchip my motherboard [slashdot.org] to run an un-approved (by the government) Operating System.

    Call me paranoid - I enjoy it.

  • DVD recorders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:07PM (#7562003)
    How badly crippled by DRM will the new DVD recorders be? Why would anyone buy one if they can't record anything? DRM is not in the interest of the device makers.
  • In an ideal world... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macshune ( 628296 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:08PM (#7562017) Journal
    Situations that involve software and major battles of the epic struggle between rights owners/makers (**AA, incumbent politicians, et al) and the rest of us consumers should have open-source (or at least auditable) systems.

    yeah, there are some situations where this need not apply, but things like electronic voting and how i get to use my stuff under legal fair use doctrines should have auditable code.

    Example: microsoft comes out with longhorn sometime around when i build my first Megaman unit in 200X. it has code that checks for unauthorized movies, in the form of digital signatures it downloaded as part of Windows DateRape (the new, forced windows update). some day you decide to watch episode 3 for the second time to laugh at how terrible it is.

    the movie, since it was a divx rip of a dvd you own, has the same signature as a pirated copy floating around the internet. so of course, people still use kazaa in the future or something like it, and the people with movies on their disks that match the signatures have their dossiers sent in MS Word format (twice...maybe three times) to local law enforcement.

    After local law enforcement is done scanning the files for macro viruses, they send out a squad, bust down your door and throw you in jail. Even though it was just a divx rip of a DVD you already own.

    bad, bad, bad! people need to know if things like this exist, but can't because only Russia, Micronesia and Paraguay can see the code. don't get me started about republican-controlled buddy-buddy electronic voting.


    another topic for another thread, i suppose...

    p.s. the signatures wouldn't be something complicated like MD5Sums (however easy that would make evasion), but filesize and a soundex title match. or something like that.
  • Finally... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:13PM (#7562075)
    The truth is that DRM is not for the benefit or protection of users, no matter what content owners or standards groups say.


    Now all you have to do is let the rest of the non "techy" consumers know that and DRM will most likely fail.

    Although a difficult task to successfully complete, just remember to remind them that DRM will make their life more complicated and computers will become even more confusing to the average person... but then again, the RIAA, MS, etc etc will gain an extra buck at a large cost to the consumers, so that's an upside... right?
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:14PM (#7562085)
    I wonder if DRM and trusted computing technologies can be used to prevent virus, worm, and ddos attacks. If only "trusted" executables would run on a computer, then malware would be much harder to perpetrate. DRM for your harddisk could prevent unauthorized executables from reading your e-mail address book, corrupting crucial system files, copyng your files, or logging the keyboard. DRM for personal and system files would prevent them from being copied or modified except by a trusted executable.

    I would invision a scheme in which executables must be registered by the creator with a trustworthy third party in a non-anonymous fashion. Code that has not been registered in a publically traceable way would be denied access to system resources or run only within a tightly controlled sandbox. Once a piece of code has been validated, it would be locked in an execute-only state.

    Given that most users are too willing to run any old app that comes over the internet, stronger controls on what can and cannot run may be warranted.
    • This is actually a falacy. What treacherous computing will do in this respect is prevent other third party applications from reading/writing/accessing your address book or accessing system files, requiring one to use only the trusted and specific applications of the original vendor. However, even today, many viruses and worms are propegated not through rogue executables but rather through flaws and exploits in existing applications (such as Microsoft outlook) and services (such as iis), and these exploita
      • I agree with you that Treacherous Computing is not about any benefit to end users whatsoever. However, a generalized form of DRM would have non-evil uses. I not thinking of the content industry's idea of a "trusted platform". I'm thinking of a built in crypto accellerator that the hardware owner possesses every key to.

        Gentoo users would love it. The machine could sign every binary generated by the build processes with the owner's private machine key. No binary without that signature would run. It d
  • by BanjoBob ( 686644 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:20PM (#7562153) Homepage Journal
    The problem with DRM is that it is largely a ruse. Those that want it are those that make money from it. The problem is that the creative talent behind the content will probably never see much benefit from it. The RIAA/MPAA/SWG/BMI/ASCAP/etc folks will all reap huge rewards from it but the actual artists/songwriters/authors/etc. will probably not see very much.

    As a music publisher and promoter, I paid thousands of dollars in royalties to the licensing agencies however, not one artist or songwriter in 7+ years has ever received a solitary zinc penney. Never and none. All the money the RIAA is taking in with their extortion tactics stays within the RIAA and the corporations. Not one cent is being paid out to the artists. Never and none.

    So DRM isn't about paying royalties to artists and it isn't about protecting them since they will receive very little, if any benefit from DRM.

    Those selling the locks and the keys and those selling the media and the players are the only ones who will receive any financial benefit. So, why even have DRM?

  • From the article:

    "Recently, the US Supreme Court ruled on DVD protection, stating that publishing trade secrets circumvents protection schemes as covered under the DMCA. "

    I don't remember any such ruling. I remember a DMCA ruling from the 2nd Circuit, and a trade secret ruling from the California Supreme Court, but no US Supreme Court ruling at all. Anyone know if this is confusion on the part of the author, or if there really was such a ruling?
  • scary.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by snellgrove2 ( 724957 )
    some may disagree, but i think its scary.

    firstly tonight i read about Trusted Computing, and that Phoenix plan to put all sorts of weird and wonderful things into the BIOS (supposedly for our convienience and privacy, etc) Phoenix's BIOS Roadmap [deviceforge.com]

    and then i read about this DRM crap. It all seems to be tied together quite nicely, and results in a general lack of rights, ease of use, and privacy for the end user.

    they are literally stripping away our choice, with this stuff. subtly making it more convi
  • this only applys if you live in the US or in a country willing to go along with the US.

    Anyone for moving to Nicuragua?
  • by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:32PM (#7562283)
    Support for TCP should appear in Microsoft's next version of Windows (formerly known by the code name "Palladium").

    Microsoft is moving even more slowly than I thought. Only a monopolist could sell an operating system in today's market without support for tcp.

    (shakes head in disbelief)

  • by orangepeel ( 114557 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:33PM (#7562295)
    (You heard it here first ... and yes, I do have too much free time. And no, I'm not making a statement pro or con about this area ... this is just a little food for thought. Hah. I made a funny. :-) )

    Officials at one of America's largest "all you can eat" restaurants announced today a new method of cost-cutting.

    Tuesday, November 25th
    For immediate release

    Raleigh, NC: Silver Bucket, a nation-wide franchise restaurant chain with over 200 all-you-can-eat restaurants, has just introduced a new technology called Digital Plate Management, or DPM for short. Company executives are said to be excited about this new technology as they expect it will end the ability for unscrupulous customers to share food with non-paying companions.

    "We've always faced a certain 'undesirable' component to our clientele," says Bryan Dawkins, CEO of Silver Bucket. He adds, "You can tell who they are as soon as they arrive. They'll arrive in twos or threes ... sometimes more. Only one or two will buy the buffet though. The others just matter-of-factly state they only want a soft drink."

    Dawkins adds, "They're lying, of course. We seldom see it happen as they've become such experts at this kind of blatant theft, but come on ... there's no way someone comes into our restaurant as part of group and only wants a soft drink. You immediately know they're up to no good."

    The Digital Plate Management technology that is now being deployed at Silver Bucket restaurants will bring an end to all that. The system relies on a high-tech buffet plate that is designed to work only with the person who purchases the buffet menu option. "These plates are going to save our bacon," says Dawkins. "They are just the most fantastic devices we've ever seen." The plates, which cost the company a little over $1300 a piece, are encoded at the time the customer makes their purchase upon entry into the restaurant. From that point on, the plate is designed to maintain its rigidity only when held by the authorized patron. "If someone else picks them up, they go completely flaccid. The plates, that is," adds Dawkins. In other words, the plates will only be useful for the authorized customer.

    Digital Plate Management is the results of years of research, combining stunning effort in both materials engineering and biometrics. The plates include integrated sensors that allow them to be encoded with biometric data when the customer is first handed the plate. The plate stores information about the registered user such as fingerprints, skin elasticity, and body temperature. If these values change beyond a certain range of acceptable values, the plate goes limp. That might seem like a problem for restaurant staff, but the plates have been designed to handle encoding for more than one person. "One of the incredible features of these plates is that they can be encoded to allow any of our restaurant employees to handle the plate without having the plate become flaccid," adds Dawkins. This means that, while customers cannot share their plates amongst themselves, restaurant staff will be free to handle the plates when clearing tables and during dish washing. "Oh certainly, in the restaurant business, you never want to annoy your staff with potential hurdles like that," states Dawkins. He continues, "Multiple user encoding was one of the first things they had to solve in the design of these plates."

    "Silver Bucket is committed to providing a first class customer experience," explains Dawkins. "Digital Plate Management is an absolutely revolutionary method for maintaining the level of quality our customers expect. These plates will allow us to make sure that only those honest, paying customer will have access to our all-you-can-eat buffet. We will thus be able to ensure a high-quality menu for our guests, and improve the bottom line for our shareholders."

    Customer reaction has been mixed. David
  • True, US is about the world's biggest consumer (and nearly as big producer) of digital media and electronics. But how are they going to force other countries to adopt DRM? Won't this be just that China, Taiwan, or Japan will continue to produce two versions of all their hardware - one with DRM for US market and one with some DRM-Dummy - a chip that acts like DRM circumvention device - for the rest of the world? Are you going to nuke them or sue them? Will you make import of foreign electronics illegal?

    I ca
  • FTA

    [Copy protection] is not about preventing copying ... [it], rather, is about making distribution of pirated material difficult enough that you can turn most nonpaying pirates into paying users.

    While the author of this article has hit the nail right on the head here, somebody needs to hit these content produces up*SIDE* the head for thinking it will work.

    It doesn't matter if it's illegal, pirates will still do it.

    It doesn't matter how complicated it is, pirates will find a way.

    It doesn't matte

  • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @05:39PM (#7562355)


    This article probably uses every single one of GNU's "Confusing or loaded words and phrases" [gnu.org]. Congratulations to the author for showing his utter lack of bias...
  • Very good points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nucleon500 ( 628631 ) <tcfelker@example.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @06:00PM (#7562600) Homepage
    This is one of the most insightful articles about DRM I've read in a long time, because it doesn't listen to the RIAA/MPAA's cover stories about DRM. The weaknesses of DRM schemes are obvious - any DRM will be eventually cracked. Even if Palladium is implemented flawlessly, there will still be the analog hole - something that can't be fixed without an encrypted digital channel to a cochlear implant. Finally, people are being told that DRM isn't about piracy. Although the article doesn't explicitly state it, the real target of DRM is fair use - a sense of "owning" the content you buy, an ability to use it how you see fit, so long as you don't run afoul of copyright laws.

    In the 80s with VCRs and tape recorders, people showed that they wanted time- and space-shifting fair use rights, and the law followed. Now the law is swinging back, as the DMCA can make those things technically illegal - consider that if the DMCA and the broadcast bit existed then, VCRs would be illegal now. But the content owners were unable to stop Xerox machines, VCRs, tape dubbers, digital audio extraction, CD-RWs, and portable MP3 players, because people really do want to "own" content.

    When you make a sale, both sides get something they want. The RIAA wants money, theoretically so they can pay artists to make music. People want music. Specifically, they want to "own" music, as in, "to have the ability to play it, whenever, wherever." This is where the balance lies - if people could redistribute, artists wouldn't get paid, but if people couldn't "own" (in the sense of sovereignty, not copyright), they wouldn't buy it, and again, the artist starves. DRM tries to do just that - take away "ownership," in return for, nothing but inconvenience. I don't think this would happen in a competitive market. I can only hope it won't happen in the present market.

  • by Ryu2 ( 89645 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @06:09PM (#7562709) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure if anyone has actually tried to quantify this, but I think it's a pretty safe bet to say that unfettered DRM-free copying of music and other media indirectly helped the growth of many sectors of hi-tech. Of course, probably no exec will admit to it in fear of invoking the wrath of the RIAA/MPAA, etc. but it's still probably true.

    Think about broadband, CD/DVD-R/RW, large hard drives, solid-state digital music players, etc -- all cheap and ubitquitously avaiable today, due in large part to the demand caused by music swapping, and all having beneficial applications beyond copyright violations.

    I think that had Napster, KaZaA, etc not been possible due to DRM, you would not have had this growth, and the state of the tech industry would have been not as well off because of it.
  • 2035: a reflection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @06:19PM (#7562830) Homepage Journal

    I spent the last day trying to get my doctoral thesis back. So far, I think it's lost for good. I wrote it back in 2017, and the University copyrighted it. Last week, a fire at the University destroyed the key server; about 20,000 volumes were lost.

    At first, it was thought that we could restore from tape, but the problem was that the law mandated encrypting all copyrighted works to prevent illegal distribution. Yes, we still have the backups, but they're encrypted; without the key server, useless. Some of my colleagues have wondered aloud about building a decryption utility, until the legal department reminded them that this would be illegal. Since all software is registered with a central repository by the compiler, it would be impossible to keep it a secret. And given that most decryption algorithms are patented, it would surely get tagged by the patent-crawlers.

    Yeah, I remember a time before compulsory registration and mandatory networking. You could actually compile your own source code without having it registered with the copyright office. And even 20 years ago, there was no such thing as a patent-crawler; if you infringed on copyright or someone else's patent, they had to take you to court. With automatic enforcement now, it's impossible to copy someone else's bitstream. Even if you want to give it away, you still have to pay for a distribution license.

    And the compulsory registration system has had its problems. The computer science department now has a waiver allowing them to run non-networked computers. With automatic copyright registration and enforcement, infringement alerts became increasingly frequent; it seems as if there's only so many correct ways to write "Hello World", or solve the fibonacci sequence. After a few years, the FBI simply ignored infringement alerts from the University, and soon after, we got the waiver.

    But some of us are still writing code with a pen. I've seen illegal copies of D'Christy's prime-factoring algorithm passed around on notebook paper. You would never get away with computer file of it, though, because someone would eventually slip and use the disk on a publicly connected workstation.

    Well, I think my thesis is lost. Even though I've got a key, I can't risk bringing it forward (last year, private ownership of encryption keys was made illegal). I didn't know I had it - I found it as I was rumaging through some disks, hoping for a legacy copy of my thesis.

    A colleague of mine managed to get a copy of the backup on disk. While rumaging through my things, I found an old pre-registration laptop without a network interface. Tonight, we'll see if we can get our words back.

    And some poor kid got busted yesterday. He bought some cheap flea-market hardware that had an old unlicensed compiler on it. He would have never gotten caught, either, had he the insight not to connect it to a network.

  • by ciphertext ( 633581 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @08:07PM (#7563888)

    The average consumer who purchases a DVD, CD, multimedia device, television, or computer system really has no "upfront" knowledge of why DRM is bad. Nor, do they particularly care. There will always be exceptions to the rule, however, the majority of consumers will not be able to tell (unless the package is marked) whether the brand new Sony DVD player they bought contains DRM capabilities. The criteria that the average consumer uses when making their product selection is not as "robust" as the tech savy or politically aware consumer would use. DRM acceptance by the general public really boils down to satisfying a few key requirements.

    One, the hardware device which utilizes DRM should not cost anymore than the device which does not utilize DRM. Certainly, the addition of the DRM components will raise the price of the product. Therefore, it is necessary for the consumer to perceive a benefit which justifies the additional cost. This will require slick new features that are available only on the DRM enabled model and suitable advertising of the device. Thus neutralizing the issue of product price increase then becomes a marketing exercise.

    DRM enabled equipment should be able to conduct the authentication/verification of the user and their content with NO user involvement. If the new DVD player becomes more difficult to use, people will not purchase the new DVD player. DRM hardware must become innocuous to the user and must be backward compatible with previous releases of content.

    DRM enabled hardware will need to have a single industry standard that is used to encode and decode the content. There can be no competing standards such as DVD-R and DVD-RAM. The price of content that supports decryption on all DRM standards would be quite a bit higher than a non-DRM enabled content. There would also be considerable difficulty in creating content to meet all standards. There is also no guarantee that competing standards would work interchangeably.

    DRM enabled hardware must be presented as a positive component by such consumer product publications as popular as Consumer Reports. If DRM is rated as being considerably more costly and painful to operate, the hardware will not be bought.

    Finally, the "cut-over" for releasing only DRM enabled content, must be worked out. A large enough majority of the consumer population must posess a DRM enabled hardware device so that the DRM enabled content can be consumed. It wouldn't do for all of the LOTR III DVDs, to use as an example, be released as DRM enabled. There wouldn't be enough people with the correct hardware who would purchase the new LOTR III DVD. The content providers must work with the harware vendors and create a plan to "roll-out" content that by design will only be consumable on DRM enabled hardware.

    In conclusion the DRM enabled hardware/media must be competetive in price with the non-DRM enabled hardware/media. The DRM enabled hardware must be as easy-to-use, if not easier, than current hardware. There must be a single industry standard on DRM implementation that allows for backward compatibility. The popular media outlets that consumers consult to build their "criteria of product selection" must present DRM in a "positive" light in order to build public support and neutralize any "negative press" in regards to the DRM product. Finally, the content providers will need to work closely with the hardware vendors to determine how best to implement DRM "roll-out" to the consumers.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire