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December 13, 2005


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» http://blog.novusdiem.org/posts/95/ from Novus Diem
Doug Lichtman talks about Fred von Lohmanns (EFF) post about DRM in the wake of the Sony debacle. Lichtman comes across pretty strongly for responsible but effective DRM. He challenges Von Lohmanns assertion that DRM is inherently a ba... [Read More]


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Doug Lay

> 2. What responses might we see? Ed Felten predicts that this might be the end of one type of DRM: namely, programs that install themselves on your computer, hide from you, and try to stop you from doing things you want to do.

...and modify the interface to a major piece of system hardware used by the OS and multiple applications, and (last but not least) install themselves even after the user declines the EULA.

> That is, one response to a world without DRM is to stop selling CDs entirely and instead stream encrypted music to a compliant player that in turn protects the music.

I'd love to see the major labels try this approach. It would go over great with retailers, not to mention the CD purchasers who still account for ~90% of recorded music revenues.

> Applied here, DRM of the sort adopted by SonyBMG might similarly be so bad as to be impermissible.

Ya think? Or does the fact that Sony is exposing all consumers, not just infringers, to vulnerabilities make it more acceptable?

> But then we need to say more about what forms of DRM would be permissible..

Why? If Sony broke the law, then lets focus on what they did that was wrong, and what sanction hey should receive.


Professor Lichtman, you're operating on the assumption that DRM is, or will be in the future, an effective piracy deterrent. I think there's ample evidence that it hasn't been effective so far, and I think there are strong theoretical reasons why it will continue to be true in the future. In the abstract, you're right: a theoretical DRM scheme that effectively prevents piracy could be pro-consumer if it thereby increased the incentive for the creation of new content.

However, in practice, DRM only slows down honest customers. Pirates download illicit cracking tools off the Internet, strip out the DRM, and upload the unprotected files to a peer-to-peer network. You'll never stop that, and it only takes one person to do so for the files to be distributed freely to everyone on the Internet.

So in practice, the question is not whether self-help measures are desirable in the abstract, but whether self-help measures are effective in practice. If they aren't, then they're obviously not good for consumers or anyone else.

Anarchy 99

[This comment was written with some inflammatory language, and so we have edited it on that ground. The substance of the comment was to say that DRM is hopelessly problematic and the music industry should give up on this method of protection. The original post said these things in a more, uhm, colorful fashion.]


The big lie here is that DRM can solve piracy.

As long is we listen to music with our ears, there will be microphones and bootlegs.

Short of aural implants or chiping every audio recording device, DRM cannot solve the problem of piracy.

Doug Lay

Careful, anon, there are plenty of people in the entertainment industry who believe mandatory chipping of every audio recording device is a feasible and worthwhile goal. There are probably even a few dreamers who are looking forward to audio implants with micropayment meters attached.

However, I don't think reduction of piracy is the real goal of the more intelligent DRM advocates in the content industries. DRM is really about exerting control over technology producers, and restraining competition.

Eric Garner

"However, I don't think reduction of piracy is the real goal of the more intelligent DRM advocates in the content industries. DRM is really about exerting control over technology producers, and restraining competition."

~Bingo! And I, as an independent hobbyist/music-producer, take special interest in THAT reality! A good article from none other than Popular Mechanics points out how people like me are *exactly* what that "competition" might be! Here's the link: http://www.popularmechanics.com/specials/features/1712111.html?page=1&c=y Ironically, Sony was a sponsor of this story, which only validates a popular criticism of that company; that they happily create many of the tools needed to commit the "crimes" they so hope to stop! (Of course, this article was printed before the whole rootkit mess was made public. In any case...)

The genie's out of the bottle now, because people no longer need the old-school distribution system to get their productions aired worldwide. One doesn't have to search too hard within the EFF to see how far "they're" willing to go to rebottle that genie!

I don't foresee success for them with any sort of chip/watermark, automated-Soviet-style censorship scheme they might create. It's bad enough to alienate your customers, but you've got a major cultural shift on your hands when you start angering artists. And DRM (and Sony-BMG) are at the heart of it now! It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out...


Good post.However, I don't think reduction of piracy is the real goal of the more intelligent DRM advocates in the content industries. DRM is really about exerting control over technology producers, and restraining competition.

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