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February 08, 2008

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geoff

I think if you're going to press the point about Congressional boundaries on the rights and responsibilities under copyright (as you do, not in this post, but earlier in this series), you must admit of TPMs as a part of maintaining the balance. Of course, we think of copyright holders employing contract and TPMs to expand rights, but the baseline is not static. As technology develops and distributes easier and cheaper and more effective means of copying, self help becomes a crucial piece of maintaining even minimum protections--of ensuring the Congressionally-granted rights. If one is going to insist on respecting the upper bound, one must be sure the lower bound is maintained, as well.

Ed Felten

Real TPMs are far from transparent -- to the point that figuring out the full behavior of a given TPM is often a publishable research result.

Consider the famous rootkit that was shipped on Sony copy-protected CDs. Millions of the CDs were shipped, for more than six months, before anybody figured out that listening to one of these CDs on a Windows computer caused major security problems.

TPMs are by their very nature non-transparent. Users get the big picture (this technology tries to stop you from using content in certain ways) but they don't get to see the fine print.

Bruce Boyden

Ed, the mechanism by which a TPM operates might not be transparent, but its overall effect is. That's no different than a legal contractual restriction. A user might not know a thing about contract law, but that by itself does not prevent understanding the basics of written use restrictions. It's the time and skill involved in reading the agreement that typically gets in the way, and TPMs lack both of those problems.

Chris Johnston

I once worked for a company that sold market price data. There are two kinds of TPM failure. Inadvertently allowing access by non-subscribers and accidentally denying access to paid subscribers. Dealing with the latter could get extremely unpleasant. Folks -rightly- seem to think that if they pay for something it belongs to them. Also, ticked off customers wield powerful weapons (not paying, switching to competitors, phoning the CEO, etcetera)... -chris

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