Security

Shouldn't Linux embrace DRM?

Digital Rights Management is a hotbed of anger, misunderstanding, and debate in the open source community. Having a vested interest in DRM, Jack Wallen asks the question, "Shouldn't Linux embrace DRM?"

I want to preface this entry by stating something very important to me and my world. I am a writer. Not just a writer of technical documentation, how-tos, and other sundry articles, but a writer of fiction. I currently have three published books (you can find them in both paperback and ebook format on Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and, I get the argument on both sides of the DRM fence.

What's DRM? Simple. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a term for access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders to limit the use of digital content and devices. In other words, I have created a piece of digital content and I want to ensure it is clear who the holder of the copyright is, but also that I get paid for the content I have created.

As you might well know, this is in direct conflict with the open source ideology that declares information was meant to be free. This ideology, of course, is counterproductive to those who need to make a living from their content. I, being one of those who need to make a living from my digital content, want to take advantage of technologies that will ensure I am paid for my work. And why not? I have put in thousands of hours, even paid for professional editors, in order to complete the work I have published.

But, being an advocate of Linux and open source, there is a conflict of interest. Actually, there is a bit of a disconnect between those that want to take advantage of DRM and those that want to abolish DRM. Many within the Linux community (even developers) refuse to include DRM software on the Linux platform. This, unfortunately, causes problems. One of the biggest, current, issues is the inability to play Netflix streaming content on Linux. This is directly caused by the lack of DRM on the platform. Should Linux adopt DRM, Netflix would probably come shortly after.

What strikes me as strange is that (1) Linus Torvalds himself has come out to say Linux should adopt DRM and (2) DRM is not trying to make proprietary any software or keep anyone from having the software they know and love. The only thing DRM wants to do is protect the digital content created by writers, musicians, artists, and the like. There is no evil empire at work, there is no desire to cripple an open source system. There is only a desire to protect the rights and income of the creators of the work.

I, for one, would gladly accept DRM on my Linux system, because I fully understand why it exists and why it is needed. As an artist, I wholeheartedly am against piracy. Personally, I only download content I have paid for -- I want the artist to make their buck! And you should as well. Of course, this brings about an issue that is also at the heart of this matter. There are certain industries, such as the music industry, that is less than, shall we say, above board.

The music industry people are the slave laborers of artistry. Musicians get such a small portion of the sales of a CD it's almost tragic -- no, it is tragic. I was listening to an interview with David Lee Roth, a few years ago, when he mentioned that of the sales from a single Van Halen CD, the band splits about a dollar. We're talking about a band that, at one time, was the greatest selling stadium band of all time. We're not talking Hootie and the Blowfish -- this is Van, freakin' Halen. $1.00. One hundred pennies. Who got the bulk of that sale? The music industry. That's infuriating...so I get why the revolt against DRM began. And, to be honest, the business end of the music industry hasn't changed one iota. Fortunately, there are smaller labels out there producing good artists. But those artists still need to protect their work. They still need to make a buck or those artists won't be producing any product. I, for one, would not like a world without music, and books, and movies.

As I mentioned earlier, I get how this is in direct opposition to open source. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for both. Let me ask you this: How many out there will download and install the latest, greatest Ubuntu distribution and then, promptly download and install the proprietary video and/or wireless drives to make your system work as well as it should? You do that because you don't want to have to settle for a desktop that is inferior to what it should be. But those drivers being downloaded are proprietary and that too goes against the very heart and soul of open source.

Everyone that reads my column knows I am not only very pro Linux and open source, but I am also for everyone getting their fair shake. I want the little guys to win. I want the mom and pop shops to flourish and grow. I want Linux to be the most popular operating system on the market. But I also want those that depend upon their creations for survival to be able to do so.

I ask those of you who think DRM to be evil this question: How could something created to protect the income and intellectual property of the creative artists be bad? And I am not asking that question as a statement. If I am one thing it is open minded. I want to hear everyone's opinions on why they think DRM is a bad or good thing. Personally, as someone with a vested interest, I think DRM should be made available to the Linux platform (not forced...available) so that the open source desktop can enjoy DRM-enabled products like books, music, and streaming Netflix.

Share your opinion on this topic.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

131 comments
jbisgrove
jbisgrove

i hope the linux community can find a position where we can help artists protect themselves from piracy and the leaches that affix themselves to artists in the name of distribution . DRP can be good for everybody who should be involved .

tsuujin
tsuujin

My big problem with DRM doesn't come from what it's intended to do. If a person creates something and wishes to ensure that they are able to make money off of it they're in the right. Because of the ease of piracy online, something certainly has to be done to ensure that people are actually buying what they are using. I have no problem with that. The issue is that DRM is being abused and over-used. Apple is a prime example. Their DRM is insanely prohibitive, and they go so far as to use technologies to probe your computer for other software that may or may not be DRM protected. This kind of abuse undermines the legitimate arguments for DRM protection, and both edges of this sword are deadly sharp. If a balance could be struck, and industries be forced to comply with that balance, DRM would be a much easier sell.

mtonks
mtonks

I am opposed to Linux embracing DRM technology that is brought to you by the RIAA and MPAA and is now part of Windows and Apple. I am for protecting copyrights but the RIAA and MPAA are trying to redefine what restrictions a copyright allows. For example, the RIAA and MPAA don't want you to make a copy of a movie or CD that you legally purchased as a backup. I'd rather not have some spywhere on my computer snooping around and checking to see if I have legal copies of all my content. What happens if content I legally purchased is flagged as an illegal copy? It was a royal pain when I had a greeting from my Windows XP box several years ago indicating I didn't have a legal copy of Windows and needed to activate it. I had used my copy for 2 years and out of the blue I get this message and had to call Microsoft for a new key code and listen to the operator tell me that I should only buy from a Microsoft authorized retailer when I did buy my copy from an authorized Microsoft retailer. It is turning more into a world where you really don't own the Software, CD, book, or movie, you just own the right to use them and this right can be taken away from you violate the EULA or make a backup copy. DRM is plain wrong and I applaud Linux for not embracing this technology to restrict what you can do with digital content. Why should people who respect copyright law have to be punished because some people don't respect copyrights. Why not punish the ones who do disrespect copyright law and leave the honest people who respect copyrights alone!

Orodreth
Orodreth

DRM is a violation of the US Constitution and an invasion of privacy. DRM is just the latest attempt at blackmailing users - period. Years ago I had a choice to buy either a $400 framed oil, the $300 unframed oil tinted or the $200 unframed lithograph of a painting. Hoping to save I bought the lithograph, which by the time I got it mated and framed added another $299. AFAIK the original artist didn't get a royalty and I own that framed lithograph. RIAA and MPAA want to claim royalties for use of their material for the starving artists but the artists should have been paid up front for their work, if they're lucky they'll get a share (royalty) from rentals or sales of the movie or CD. Somebody is being paid when productions cost a few billion and actors, gaffers, makeup artists, etc. move on to other projects. I expect on multi-million dollar movies the producers bet profits exceed production costs. Not so much for straight to DVD that are more tax breaks. When someone buys a CD, magazine, book, newspaper or DVD it's the same as purchasing a painting. Except there's no painter artist association suing people for selling or downloading copies of "4 dogs playing poker" or Picasso paintings. Except for stolen artwork, no one sues for royalty when a Rembrandt or a tuna are sold at auctions.

b_schelberg
b_schelberg

As you've already stated, music artists signed with big labels make very little money from CD or record sales. I'm ok with that. Music artists can be reimbursed directly for the work that they do through performing at concerts and such. Recording music could just be a marketing cost for them - record the music, make it freely available for everyone to copy, use and share. The easier it is for people to do that, the more people would know about the artist and their music, so potentially there's an even bigger market of people who would want to support them at a live event. I admit that the music industry is a little different to the movie, game and book industry, and the concept doesn't translate easily. However, I don't think it's impossible, it just needs some thought and creativity from those industries. These days, given the value of an email address for instance, I'm sure you could figure out some kind of business model that would work. The issue that I see with all the focus on "protecting the artists' income" is that many so-called artists are doing what they do just for the money. This results in the plethora of content that is of little worth, but for which people are required to pay money. It's kind of like the junk food industry - it has a sweet taste, and gives momentary pleasure to the consumer, but has little or no real nutritional value. What would our world be like if people didn't spend so much time watching worthless TV shows, reading trashy novels, or playing mindless games? Now, don't get me wrong - there are some TV shows that I believe are worth watching, books that are worth reading, and games that are worth playing, but in my mind it's a small percentage of what's available. The rest of it is just shovelware produced for the financial benefit of the producer. "They still need to make a buck or those artists won???t be producing any product." This is not true - a true artist would perform his or her art even if he or she wasn't paid for it. The true artist performs for their audience, not for the coin. Besides, copyright and DRM isn't the answer here. Take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL2FOrx41N0 In the fashion industry there are no copyrights or patents, yet the artists continue to produce new content year after year.

joshuagay
joshuagay

Depicting DRM-technology as a way of "protecting" an artist or creator from uncertain harm or suffering is duplicitous -- the focus should _not_ be on the owners and publishers who benefit from copyright laws and technological restrictions, but on the users who are restricted by law and technology. Owners and publishers already benefit from Federal copyright laws, which impose restrictions on the users of their works. Digital Restrictions Management technology goes beyond simply restricting how a user can make use of some work; it demands that a user relinquish control of his or her computer. In many cases, not only must they give up control of their computer to the developer of the proprietary software program, but, it is most often the case that such technology is designed to pass control of ones machine over to some third party's remote server. I believe that if a person cares about computer-user freedom and control, and they envision a world in which people are able to run all free software, that it is important we do not encourage or promote the use of DRM technology or any other nonfree software. A good article on not making such "ruinous compromises" can be found at www.gnu.org/philosophy/compromise.html

btreid
btreid

Should Linux embrace DRM? Well, first, a couple of clarifications. 'Linux' is a piece of code that, in conjunction with other pieces of code, provides a nominally free way to operate a computer. 'Embrace', in my experience, means include or adopt fully, take to heart, consider as one's own. I'm going to assume that the author, when he says 'Linux' really means that community of people who prefer to use software that they have more control over (by means, typically, of the availability of source code) and haven't been required to pay a lot of money to use. So, the question is, why would this community of people whole-heartedly decide to use or make available software that enables and supports the use of DRM techniques on machines that otherwise are in the full control (to the extent of their technical abilities) of their owners? Unfortunately, that question has as broad a spectrum of answers as there is an assortment of members of the community concerned. Yes, there are 'extremists' who advocate 'all information should be free'. These folks will either never allow anything on their systems for which they don't have the source code, or they will 'crack' anything they want that is controlled in some way objectional to them. (Which, over time, I think we can all agree, is inevitable.) Let's not include that view in our discussion. The majority of people, even those who appreciate the notion of FOSS, also understand that, in an imperfect world, that's not going to be a universally acheivable state. They may want to use a particular graphics card, or a printer, or some other peripheral for which there is no open source driver available. So they install the driver and continue on, satisfied that they've met their goal. That same majority of people will probably also agree, at least in principle, in the notion of the creator of some work being reasonably recompensed for their efforts. However, much of that same group of principled people will not be impressed at being told that their opinions are being extrnally enforced and imposed upon them in a form decided by some external entity over which they have no choice, no opportunity to negotiate, and often no alternative (except, perhaps, to abstain from any involvement in the situation). The problem, of course, arises when you discuss the pros and cons of DRM. The cons are clear. DRM is used to restrict a user's ability to enjoy something he considers himself to have purchased. (We will side-step the notions of "license", etc. Whether the user owns something outright, or has merely paid a fee for the use and enjoyment of a copy of something, the average person doesn't distinguish between the two.) For as long as mankind has been able to make a copy of something, by hand, printing press, or more technilogical means, making money by distributing copies in exchange for payment has also been around. Going into the twenty-first century, when we have a relatively small number of very large corporations controlling the vast majority of distribution of artistic works, those corporations are trying to make that use as restrictive as possible. This appears to be strictly to increase their own profits and much less out of any noble intent to protect the rights of the artist. A movie studio or recording company (or large software company) typically sees no problem with expecting someone to pay repeatedly for multiple copies of a work, just for the convenience of a user being able to access it in more than one mode or location. Additionally, they see no problem in having control over the redistribution, lending, or shared use of that resource. This is clearly using DRM in current technologies to expand the control of distributers over creative works entirely for the purpose of increasing their profits. Current DRM (especially as supported in the USA by the DMCA) is a regression backwards to undo decades of legal decisions, fair-use conventions, and commonly accepted practices for anyone who is rightly, legally, in possession of a copy of a work for which they have paid. That, alone, would be enough for many people to decide against the use or support of the presence of DRM in any form. This is setting aside all the real, technical, short-comings of pretty much all of the currently implemented DRM techniques available today. (I won't retrace the comments about DRM software impairing a computer's performance, or leaving materials useless when the supporting infrastructure disappears, or whatever. I don't think any rational person would say they were OK with the potiential for that kind of problem. And, if they do, they will probably change their minds the first time it happens to them.) So, the cons are significant: imperfect implementation puts the use of the works they are supposedly trying to protect at risk, limits that use in ways typically considered unreasonable and unethical, and potentially allows or can damage a users other possessions needed to access the material proctected with a DRM scheme. Note that I have not really touched on the philosphical objections to DRM software. Heaven only knows what else could be going on in that closed system. Are the creators using spyware to gather data they feel entitled to? Is the DRM system intentionally limiting or degrading some other functionality of the host device because the creators thought it seemed reasonable to them? (Let's not discuss shades of 'reasonable' -- to someone who doesn't see the presence of DRM as particularly reasonable, their view of the imposer's idea of reasonable is going to be admittedly biased. But will that bias be unjustified? Perhaps. Perhaps not.) Or is it just 'buggy' and having unintended side-effects to the detriment of the user of the system the DRM is installed on? Now, how about the pros? The point of a DRM scheme is to protect the intellectual property of the creator of a work so that they may be appropriately recompensed for their efforts. Excellent. As I said, I don't think many people would claim that goal was unacceptable. However, that is the *only* acceptable goal for DRM. To consider the validity of the pro side, let's first consider how successful it is. Well, oops, now we have a problem. Because it's not successful. Anybody and everybody, in and out of the media industries, will admit that DRM is only barely a help in preventing anyone with any determination from realizing a DRM-free copy of the work in question. That means that anybody who was intent on using that work without having acquired it legally will be able to do so. So that's probably not going to hold up as a valid reason to use DRM techniques. Is this unfortunate situation costing someone a lot of money? Maybe. You can find a wide variety of views on the 'cost' of piracy. They range from corporations claiming that piracy is costing them anywhere from 50% to 95% of potential revenues in certain markets. Leaving aside the obvious bias and preference in those figures, let's agree that those numbers are specious. They are all, at some level, derived by assuming that every pirated copy of a work that is out there would be paid for if the corporations could just elminate piracy. Nonsense. I think a large number of those copies would just never have existed. Many (most) people with a pirated copy would not bother to pay for a legitimate copy. They may not be able to afford it, or they may not want it enough to pay the asked-for price. Additionally, you can also find reports stating that piracy is not really costing the industries victimized anything. Certainly, you can now find industry spokespersons who will state that second-hand resale is 'costing' the industry more than piracy these days. On the other hand, you hear lots of people suggesting that the opportunity to sample or try out a work before buying it is actually an encouragement. I know I, personally, have bought CDs (some at great effort, over the internet) based on hearing one or two songs for free (whether 'legally' or not) and deciding I wanted more of that artist's work. I typically won't buy a copy of a movie on DVD unless I've seen it -- if I like it enough to own a copy, fine, I'll consider it. But I've been burned too often buying an apparently good movie that, on viewing, turns out to be sub-par. I don't think those arguments can be ignored out-of-hand. I hear them too often and know of too many people who actually will go out and buy a legitimate copy of something if they enjoyed it. I don't think the pros have any compelling case that overcomes the cons for DRM. Not even on the surface, in direct terms. Let's, for a moment, consider an indirect issue and see how that might affect the situation. I previously mentioned that some industry people consider second-hand sales to be a serious detriment to sales. I'm sure this must include software, CDs, DVDs, etc. if the stores I've seen in my own neighbourhood are any indication. I have to admit to a great concern that companies in favour of DRM would dearly love, at the first opportunity, to expand the functionality of DRM systems to prevent resale of a copy of a work. It shouldn't be too hard, and it would be an obvious next step for the companies trying to maximize their sales and profits. Perhaps the initial hue-and-cry would be large, but the canny corporation could counter most of that by lowering their prices for new copies. And, of course, once it's established, what they do to the price later on isn't something consumers would be able to do anything about. You pay what they demand and, if you don't like the product, you can't recoup any part of the cost by reselling, trading, sharing, or whatever -- the DRM will prevent any of that. I can't predict whether such a scenario will play out -- but I'm constantly surprised by how many dark, onerous, stupid things are foisted on the consumer and made acceptable in what I consider to be gullible ways. In conclusion, I think DRM is basically a bad idea. The cons affect the majority of legitimate purchasers in negative and, in my opinion, unfair ways. The pros are of questionable value. DRM schemes don't prevent piracy; they only make it necessary to exert greater effort to succeed. Use of DRM is expensive -- I came across an article online that claimed a recording industry executive was using the excuse of the cost of ongoing anti-piracy work as a reason why they couldn't increase royalties to artists. In most circumstances, something that produced such little effect for so much cost and grief would be discarded almost immediately. And, indeed, this is starting to become the case. There are publishing houses that offer significant portions of their catalogue online, for free, with no DRM. They only advocate that, if you like what you've read, go buy other books by those authors. As everyone likes to point out, iTunes and other sites have dropped DRM. I've seen nothing to make me think that in any of these cases, DRM-free materials has made their business model collapse. Those who support DRM use do so out of fear, ignorance, or stubborness. The only other logical reason would be to see DRM as the foot in the door for other, more intrusive controls such as I've suggested above. For all these reasons, I think that, as a community, a group of people who appreciate having control of their computers, are philosophically opposed to such repressive notions, and are rightly suspicious of their imposition, are essentially on the right track to refuse or decline the establshment of DRM enabling technologies on their machines running Linux.

realvarezm
realvarezm

We are heading to a conundrum, all information is free? The open source states that, as the principal base of its soul. And where we are heading as civilization is all about a penny for a thought. I think eventually donation and contribution are the kind of payment this works will receive, let me put an example: ???The tunnel??? is a movie produced in Australia this year with a low budget but good enough to keep my attention for the whole thing, they ask me for a contribution, if I gave 2 dollar or 15 is my way of saying it was good or bad. Now multiply any amount by 200,000, you do the math; so instead of fighting against the desire of people to just download the movie. They use the wise concept above explained. The software is easier with demos and everything. Like I wrote, there???s a new age where the people will decide if something it???s worth their money or is just a reap off.

markmak
markmak

Whilst I agree 100 percent with AlphaDog and many other articulate responders, that in practice DRM is poor answer to a good question, I must focus my attention on Jack Wallen's orginal question however, which poses whether DRM should be "supported" on linux. Note the difference between "supported" versus "mandated", means in this context that additional content would subsequently be made available to linux users, and in that I must respond to Jacks question with a Yes. I must also look forward to the utopia where a similar technology is implemented in a way that achieves that balance between the rights of the creators, publishers and users. Until then we can only hope to educate users not to illegally download (substitute "steal") intellectual property, before we create a world devoid of the culture provided by the content creators.

Jaqui
Jaqui

sorry, but requiring a license to view content online [ video clip, text or graphics ] is not something I can support. and that is by far the most common drm implementation. controlling acceees via registration / subscription etc, fine. but a special bit of software to require a license just to view the content? nope. any site that requires drm capabilities for me to view the content, just gets left behind. and that company WILL NEVER GET MY BUSINESS.

gharlow
gharlow

I take it adding DRM would imply NO source code could be made available for this part of Linux. The same protections apply to movies and music as books and CD's bought from the store. If you want DRM free music you have to go no further than BestBuy etc and buy a physical CD. Even BlueRay disks are cracked.

loidab
loidab

"I ask those of you who think DRM to be evil this question: How could something created to protect the income and intellectual property of the creative artists be bad?" Duh! It PRESUMES me at least potentially guilty and uses my resources (CPU cycles, RAM bytes and watts) to prevent me from doing something I was never going to do in the first place. I'm still waiting for my check from Microsoft and the RIAA to get reimbursed for bearing part of the cost of their war on pirates. Another way to look at the same issue is to observe that Microsoft makes a product to sell to people. Any effort made to serve the interests of ANYONE but their customers makes them a bad vendor.

Rambo Tribble
Rambo Tribble

DRM does not belong in the OS. If you don't want people to freely access your content, encrypt it and require a special player to decrypt it. OS stands for Operating System, not Selectively Operating System at Content Provider Discretion. Yes, that would be known as S.O.S., and for good reason.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Those distributions that focus on experience more than free and open, should consider DRM. The typical user doesn't know about DRM. They just know that netflix isn't working.

JoeThePimpernel
JoeThePimpernel

The purpose of "intellectual property rights" is for the government/corporate-complex to grant itself monopolies in-perpetuity. If you keep extending copyrights every time Mickey Mouse is about to enter the public domain, that's the same thing as in-perpetuity. Return it to 17 years and DRM is perfectly acceptable, but the government/corporate-complex will never accept that.

egeerardyn
egeerardyn

DRM and open source just don't mix. You can encrypt the content all you want, using any fancy scheme you can devise, however, at one point or another you will have to decrypt the content and in open source you can try to get the content from that point since you do have access to the source. For closed source software, you can try to reverse engineer your binaries. That's hard and that's where the security comes from; it's just security by obscurity. However, for open source, you cannot do the same thing: either you provide the compete source and therefore also the encryption keys (otherwise a custom build will always be nonfunctional and what's the point then in open-sourcing the program?) or you provide a binary to handle all the encryption, the keys and displaying. So then again: it boils down to using closed source. For DRM to be successful, you need to trust every part of the chain after the decryption, that comes down to keeping the source closed, otherwise you can always see what happens to the data (if we assume that the playback hardware does not support the encryption). All in all, DRM relies on components being closed, immutable and generated by a trusted source ; which they aren't when the source is open. You can of course shift the problem from the software side to the hardware side, as was done with HDCP in HDMI: you don't fully decrypt the content, only the display does that. And it's much harder to reverse engineer all that hardware than to disassemble some binaries. Fool-proof, no; but it's hard enough. The content industry has relied on wrong techniques and wrong business models, which try to maximize their profit (and who can blame them for trying to make money?). However, given all the the technological advances, these business models do not match. Instead of adapting their business model to the current environment, they try to change the environment and complain that their business is going down the drains; `all' that is needed is a change of their business model. Just do what the chip industry and cartographers have done for ages: apply a (digital) watermark to your work such that detection of infringement is easy. In this day and age, it's no problem to watermark every piece of content to invisibly link it to the buyer. You don't get to prevent piracy using this, but at least you can track down the source. If the buyer knows that tracking is possible, most people will refrain from sharing their content (or you can at least make sure that this buyer gets what he deserves). And if the price is just right, I believe people will actually buy more content again; just look at the success of iTunes or other content stores with or without DRM. The big problem is that currently, the price for content is much higher than what most people actually want to pay (or what most of the content out there is actually worth). You see the same in music (e.g. the Sony rootkit), movies (CSS, AACS, HDCP, ...), ebooks, ... : ways are tried to protect the content but eventually all these techniques were/are cracked, that already shows that the industry uses techniques that are not suited for the job.

rcasha_z
rcasha_z

When you publish a book on paper, you as an author no longer have any physical control over what I can do with it. I can lend it to my friends, I can exchange it with someone else for another book after I've read it, I can read it at the beach or in my car or on the bed. DRM places the author (or, more commonly, some business entity that claims to act on the author's behalf) in direct control of how, when and how often I can use the book I purchased. Let me give you an example. Barnes and Noble's Nook e-reader allows buyers to "lend" an e-book to a friend... BUT YOU CAN ONLY DO IT ONCE per book, and only for 14 days. With paper books you can exchange them, and there are many "book clubs" where people who enjoy reading take books to sell, buy or exchange. Of course this nibbles away at the profit margin, but these people are perfectly within their rights and the authors and publishers profit and grow despite the practice. There are book car-boot sales, book donations to libraries, students selling books to next year's students at the end of the year... all of these are things that people are within their rights to do and things they've been doing for ages. DRM gives the author or rights holder direct control over the customer, which allows them to restrict their rights to LESS than the law allows. All of this increases profits of course, but copyright law is there to protect BOTH SIDES. When a reader buys a book, you have some rights as copyright holder, while the reader has some rights as the customer. DRM strips away ALL the rights of the customer, leaving only whatever crumbs the copyright holder decides to permit. Most of us know what happened when "Yahoo! Music" closed down. Its DRM-locked music would contact their website in order to permit transfer to a portable device. Once their website went down, people who had bought and paid for the music found that, unilaterally, their music collection had lost its ability to play on their new portable player. If their computer crashed, they've lost their entire music collection. So why should I, a consumer, pay good money for a book which might suddenly refuse to let me read it, which doesn't allow me to lend it to friends or re-sell it when I'm through? No way.

alec.wood
alec.wood

What's in it for the open source crowd? I can see what's in it for rights holders obviously. Surely the key thing about Linux is that as the user base increases we'll see more stuff available for it. Netflix etc will come when there's a sufficiently sized customer base that they can't ignore it. That may mean they have to provide a closed source proprietary player app (which nobody would want probably) which adds some kind of encoding or other protection to the content, but that's a matter for them surely. Why should their advantage be coded in at an OS level for them? Also, since Linux is open source, embracing DRM in its current forms is a ridiculous proposition. Any open source DRM implementation would be followed within hours by an open source DRM bypass purely because it is open source.

dfrederiksen
dfrederiksen

I own four computers, an e-reader, an Ipod and an Android phone. With DRM free files I can access the file on what ever computer or device I want, and I can make back-ups of my files. With DRM files I can access it on one device, make no backups, and possibly lose the ability to use something I have legitimately paid for. For get that. Only an idiot would buy something that is DRMed so I see no need for Linux developers to waste their time developing for something only a mentally retarded person would buy.

annbob0822
annbob0822

Firstly, I don't want DRM anywhere but it exists so I came to a solution that I can live with. If I want something, I will get it but whether cash flows is dependent. If DRM free, the cash comes out. If there is DRM, then I figure the value of my time invested to remove DRM for fair use is equal to the price tag on the product. And just for the record, I don't share the content no matter how obtained.

decryobliviots
decryobliviots

Mentioning NetFlix as a reason to pollute and ultimately corrupt the open source movement just shows the disconnect between those who are serious about open source and those who are doing their best to subvert the concept - not just for commercial gain - but for control of what we can or cannot use our hardware and software to do.

ctdahle
ctdahle

If DRM was designed to protect the rights of the artists, writers, performers who actually create works, I would be all for it. However, the current DRM scheme is designed to preserve the profitability of distributors and the salaries of their managers whose only real function is to filter content through the sieve of market research. While this assures returns to shareholders, it also limits creator's access to the market and rewards popularity over quality, guaranteeing that the majority of media products generally available meet a standard of inoffensive mediocrity rather than one of high quality. In short, DRM, and the state of intellectual property law in general inhibits discussion, free speech, education, innovation, and the income potential of most creators as well.

tomandbrenda2010
tomandbrenda2010

I wouldn't really care as I don't share music via the internet. What really gets my goat is the media companies don't want me to be able to rip the media to a larger hard drive and then use it on my home network and be able to watch either on my laptop, network attached television or other media equipment.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The person who actually makes his living from his content was the one on the panel speaking out against DRM. The big business representatives who make there money parasitically on the backs of content creators felt differently. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/05/barlow/ [q] When Barlow had a chance to speak, he expressed his own surprise at being on the panel, ???because I don???t think I???m from the same planet, actually.??? He then proceeded to trash the foundational assumptions of everyone who had just spoken. I may be one of very few people in this room who actually makes his living personally by creating what these gentlemen are pleased to call ???intellectual property.??? I don???t regard my expression as a form of property. Property is something that can be taken from me. If I don???t have it, somebody else does. Expression is not like that. The notion that expression is like that is entirely a consequence of taking a system of expression and transporting it around, which was necessary before there was the internet, which has the capacity to do this infinitely at almost no cost. In Barlow???s view, the e-G8 has been about ???imposing the standards of some business practices and institutional power centers that come from another era on the future, whether they are actually productive of new ideas or not.??? [/q] and [q] The head of Universal Music France talked about just how much money was necessary to nurture new talent. DIdn???t Barlow understand economics? ???If you???re spending $5 billion on new artists, we???re not getting our money???s worth,??? Barlow cracked, and he reframed his argument in economic terms of scarcity and abundance. ???Trying to optimize towards scarcity, as you are by all of your methods, is not going to be in the benefit of creation, I promise you,??? he said. ???It???s not IP enforcement that gets you guys properly paid.??? In his view, payment comes from building a product that people actually want to buy???and the movie industry???s repeated record box office takes in recent years show that people have no problem coughing up the cash for something of value. [/q]

jp-eng
jp-eng

...for me. Yes, I think they're silly -- they never lost any significant money from any of the copying facilities; it was just that more people got to use the matter than paid for it, although roughly the same number of people actually paid. Encoding holds off all but the most technically literate, which is as it should be; the few who are literate enough to beat the encoding can, and should be, sued -- _sued_ -- for it if it's truly worth the effort for the owner. Those who beat the encoding and resell should be prosecuted -- that's the real crime. My problem with the present DRM is that the lords of Sony and Time-Warner bought up enough Congressmen to make a civil matter a criminal matter, thus replacing their responsibility to take care of their own business with the force of the federal government to maximize their profits -- and deepen the corruption of our Congressional culture. And, as others have said, it protects only the corporate interest, since artists have been made into indentured servants of the corporations by poor copyright law.

Justin James
Justin James

From a bit more than a year ago, Jack Wallen having fits because Netflix uses DRM: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/opensource/the-netflix-linux-conjecture-how-netflix-snubs-the-linux-community/1745 My favorite quote? "I hope that some day you will drop the DRM constraints so everyone can enjoy your instant play feature." Jack, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Why is DRM good when it protects things that generate revenue for you, but not good when it keeps you from streaming Netflix? J.Ja

cjcoats
cjcoats

The Fundamental Law in the US says that protection has to be "for a limited time." Show me one form of DRM that satisfies that law. The whole DMCA matter is a conspiracy to break the US law, by the "content" industries, the Executive Branch, the Congress, and even the courts. We should call a spade a spade, and a lawbreaker a lawbreaker. Period.

micha
micha

Jack: In my view you're continuing to blur the difference between copying and plagiarism. This mish-mash has been so deftly and thoroughly pushed onto all of us by the entertainment industry that we tend to forget. Copying should *always* be allowed, plagiarism should never be allowed. Content creators deserve protection against thieves, but copying is an inherent part of cultural growth. DRM tries to prevent copying, but does nothing to stop plagerism, so it's totally unnecessary. -- Micha

Zzyzyx
Zzyzyx

I admit I'm not well versed in all the ins and outs of Copyright law. My primary exception to DRM is the extent to which large corporations are manipulating copyright to prevent it from falling into the public domain. Artists should be paid for their work products, however, it would seem that large corporations are lobbying for longer and longer copyright periods even after the original creator is dead. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright), The first federal copyright act, the Copyright Act of 1790 granted copyright for a term of "fourteen years from the time of recording the title thereof", with a right of renewal for another fourteen years if the author survived to the end of the first term. And now, In the United States, the term for most existing works is for a term ending 70 years after the death of the author. If the work was a work for hire (e.g., those created by a corporation) then copyright persists for 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is shorter. If memory serves, Disney has strongly lobbied to extend the copyright periods for their "Snow White" and all the works that follow it. If every idea and invention were held in a perpetual Copyright, I wonder how new things would ever get invented? There are even disputes throughout time on who invented it first which puts down the idea that only one person thought of it, or created it. I submit that all works are a derivative of some other work in some way. Wikipedia states, "Copyrighted works may not be used for derivative works without permission from the copyright owner, while public domain works can be freely used for derivative works without permission." In attempting to map the public domain Pamela Samuelson has identified eight values that can arise from information and works in the public domain. Some are: -- Building blocks for the creation of new knowledge. -- Access to cultural heritage through information resources such as ancient Greek texts and Mozarts symphonies. -- Enabling follow-on innovation, through for example expired patents and copyright. -- Enabling competitive imitation. Again, artists should be paid for their work... but in my opinion... not forever. Perhaps every Disney film should be required to pay the inventor of the camera, the film, the motion picture concept, the tripod, and so on.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

In theory, DRM is a laudable goal - ensuring copyright holders receive payment for their work. In practice, DRM has been anything but laudable. Remember the Sony Rootkit debacle? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootkit_scandal Has Amazon's bravado with 1984 slipped your mind? http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/clay-dillow/culture-buffet/amazon-apologizes-destroying-1984-copies-new-1984-copies-or-30 DRM has brought the reputation on themselves. And that reputation is that DRM is bad news for legitimate purchasers of legal copies of licensed materials.

apotheon
apotheon

Richard Stallman and the FSF guide the definition of a term of propaganda, "Free Software". They have decided to lead the Linux community merrily down the garden path of "DRM is evil and should be disallowed by law". The definition of open source software, on the other hand, does not require any such legal battle against DRM per se. I had a lot more to say about how unnecessary strict copyright enforcement (and thus DRM) is for making a living as a creator -- in fact, how counterproductive it can be. After a while, though, I realized I was writing the basis of a new TechRepublic article, so I saved the half-finished thing in a text file. I'll write more of it this week and submit it to an editor rather than dump a couple thousand words here.

apotheon
apotheon

> DRM is a violation of the US Constitution Please cite some evidence to support this.

apotheon
apotheon

People keep referring to copyright infringement as "stealing", but it isn't; nothing is taken away from the original possessor. Rather than taking the original posessor's copy, one just magics up a new copy. DRM, on the other hand, offers a mechanism for theft. What you have paid to possess can be taken from you, arbitrarily. That's more like theft; you would no longer actually have it in your possession, and this would happen by way of the unilaterial action of the DRM controller, against your will and often without your immediately knowledge (let alone foreknowledge).

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I suspect that's exactly what would happen. GNUsense would continue to ignore all but open licensed software. Debian would add the DRM blobs into the non-free reposotory ("Metaverse" for the Canonical forks). Mandriva Powerpack would include the DRM as it already includes binary blobs and license fee based software. Mint would probably include it as they do now with the final polish that Ubuntu leaves out. That is the beauty of different distributions from different organizations with different goals. SuperMedia Distro A doesn't have to loose out before FreeOrDie Distro B won't include the component. (edit): left out the primary point of the post. The current issue with DRM tends to be a lack of availability too the distributions who would include it versus availability which those distributions choose to reject. If Microsoft allowed the Moonlight folks PlayReady; you'd see distributions including it along side the Moonlight packages.

Orodreth
Orodreth

Except very rare cases, "Mass Effect 2", when the game costs half it's original price, ie, $59.99 goes to $19.99. Even after that if necessary I look for NoCd crack versions. DVDs are rentals and streaming Netflix since physical DVDs take up space and I tend to just replay those I own for a few scenes or listen to the music score.

apotheon
apotheon

I am regularly dismayed by the all-too-common case of stumbling across someone on the Internet presenting some kind of obviously derivative modification of something someone else created, then throwing fits if someone else shares it or uses it on the Internet without direct permission. I'm not sure copyright can exist without encouraging hypocrisy.

Orodreth
Orodreth

Great reply. Copyright laws should be rolled back to the original 14 +14 years and granted only to the original copyrighter. I'm preaching to the choir I know but DRM and copyright laws wouldn't exist without the programming most use freely now. Someone wrote the code for DRM, someone invented digitized recording. Corporations are trying to copyright and patent plant and human DNA, Agricultural corporations are patenting GM seeds and suing farmers who's crops might have become cross pollinated with the GM seeds. I guess there's a huge difference for RIAA and U.S. Copyright Group artists than painters. I'm waiting for the DRM lawsuits on a Picasso and 4 dogs gambling!

apotheon
apotheon

Well . . . it's turning into two or three articles. The first of them is in the IT Security column: DRM Is Counterproductive I think the title pretty well sums up the subject matter. There's a video of Neil Gaiman commenting on copyright enforcement and the effect it can have on business model success. The other couple of articles I have in the works that bear on the same subject (another for IT Security and one for Open Source, I think) will touch on other specific related subject matter. For instance, the one I'm working on for the Open Source column aims squarely at the question of whether open source OSes should "embrace" DRM, and why or why not.

Orodreth
Orodreth

Inhibits free speech, seizure of property without warrant and in practice illegal searches?

apotheon
apotheon

Someone would offer PlayReady in a package repository.

Justin James
Justin James

That sounds all too much like many songs on the radio now... insanely derivative, some of them even copy entire melodies (without sampling, merely copying the tune willy nilly), but those same artists and record labels are quick with the DCMA hammer... But yeah, I know what you mean. I see it in the GPL camp from time to time too... someone basically wholesale replicates something else that was covered under a different license, but then GPLs their version and enforces it to the hilt. Give me a break... J.Ja

Orodreth
Orodreth

Almost everything published is copyrighted, including the articles, snippets of articles, books, paper newspapers come with a copyright along the lines of requesting permission before you can copy it. So, photocopies of comic strips, clippings from newspapers, fall into that sort of copyright. As you said, it's a vacuum explanation but it's the Federal DRM Act (Millenium Act) that I'm addressing not DRM software. The DRM Act is an extension of the copyright act, seeking to punish digital media users for sharing when it use to be ok to resell, lend, mix a CD for friends, leave a morning paper on the commuter train, xerox a photo from a magazine or DJ yours and friends music for your parties. If the RIAA really wanted to cut down digital piracy they'd go back to all vinyl recordings.

apotheon
apotheon

I could see the "inhibits free speech" angle if you regard sharing information you possess as "free speech", even if that information was created by someone else -- as long as there was no contractual obligation to avoid sharing it. This means you must also not regard any part of the process of gaining access to the information as subject to a contractual obligation. So far, I'm on the same page as you, but (unfortunately) I do not think this is a very convincing argument for people who believe in the Rightness of copyright, who consider ideas "property" rather than "speech". The "seizure of property without warrant" doesn't always apply to DRM. It only applies to DRM like Amazon's, which allows Amazon to delete ebooks off your Kindle. In fact, realistically speaking, that's more like vandalism than seizure of property -- and, because it's not being performed by law enforcement, it would actually be theft rather than unreasonable search and seizure. The "in practice illegal searches" pretty well falls under the same category as the "seizure of property without warrant", in that both seem to be references to the Fourth Amendment. The difference is that by referring to "illegal searches" you seem to be bringing up the spyware functionality of some DRM (though not all DRM comes with such functionality), and instead of being akin to vandalism, this act is actually more like trespassing. The main problem with arguments like these is that they must be tailored to the arguments of the opposition, which means they are not very well suited to presenting them in a vacuum, as in an article. Instead, they are best suited to use as counterarguments when some pro-DRM person makes arguments that are particularly vulnerable to these ideas as rejoinders. I don't mean to sound like I'm disputing you. I think I understand your meaning and intentions, and basically agree with them.

apotheon
apotheon

I don't think she looks so hot after the makeup and hairstyling and airbrushing, either. The stupid shows through pretty clearly.

Justin James
Justin James

... "fresh" out of bed, before the stylist and artists go to work on her, and before the Photoshop could be applied... let's just say that she was "plain" to put it nicely. Not that I look so hot in the morning (actually, I don't look any worse than I normally do, that's the beauty of short hair), but my fame and fortune isn't significantly tied to my appearance either... J.Ja

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Some people only like white bread. And ketchup... maybe. There's no arguing tastes. Especially there's no argument about the poorness of certain preferences :D

apotheon
apotheon

I don't get it. The moment she opens her mouth, I tune her out. People act like she's the best thing since sliced bread, though, and frankly she's not really all that attractive even when she keeps her mouth shut. I think it might have something to do with some features she has in common with Zoe Deschanel, followed by momentum, but I'm not sure. I guess I just don't get it.

Justin James
Justin James

... it was well timed, because a few weeks ago I was thinking of that show and I couldn't remember the name of it. :D And yes, Katy Perry (and the whole crew of pop singers, for that matter) is a moron. They are basically blank canvasses waiting for the production teams to paint upon. J.Ja

apotheon
apotheon

> You've been listening to Katy Perry? Have you heard her unmediated voice in commercials or interviews? I don't think she has more than two brain cells to rub together. She's an obvious idiot -- or pretending to be one. Either way, I'm not interested. I was actually referring to Internet "artists" who are not famous, and have no hope of ever becoming famous, because they can't even summon the talent to make someone else's work look good -- let alone their own. Now that you mention it, though, the mainstream record industry certainly does contain a lot of plagiarism of varying levels of obviousness. . . . and don't get me started on the GPL right now. Please. If you really want to see something new from me about related matters, check out my latest blogstrapping entry, No GNUs Is Good Gnews.

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