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Digital Rights Management

"We're gonna sell you this DVD, but you're only allowed to play it between the hours of 7pm and 9pm, and only a total of three times. The DRM software on it and inside the DVD player will enforce that."

"..oh, and by the way, monitoring software will be installed silently onto your PC, where it will then [hide] itself in a particularly poorly-thought-out way. It [interacts poorly] with antivirus software, but you don't need to know about that. We do not provide a means of removing this software."
(actually, they do - see [here] - but they don't tell anyone! --CH)
Do they? All I see there is a way of killing the module that hides the DRM software. We are not even told whether this effect is permanent or has to be redone whenever the machine is rebooted. The only way of removing the payload I have seen described is the manual deletion followed by registry hacking that Mark describes [here]. Note the bit where his CD drive is rendered inaccessible. - MoonShadow
Worse - that removal doesn't work fully, apparently.  It just forcibly terminates the component, which is just as likely to kill your box as shutting it down manually.  --Vitenka
Removal can [introduce security holes]. - MoonShadow

Sony? [is being sued]. Twice or more times. --CH




As far as Admiral can see, the best strategy for dealing with all the problems involved in DRM-protected data is to not buy DRM-protected data.
Which is fine, as long as people are willing to sell you the data you want in an unprotected way.  NewsFlash? - they aren't, and the cartels are beginning to mandate its inclusion.  --Vitenka

PeteClay would like to point people at http://www.ukcdr.org/ , which is an organisation I'm involved with that is pushing against DRM.

PeteClay is now very amused that this page has turned into a huge pro-/anti-copyright argument. This usually happens in discussions of DRM. I'd prefer to think of it as a discussion of means, not of ends; the piracy problem doesn't mean we need to lock down every viewing of every copy of everything forever, any more than the terrorism problem means we need to invade Iraq and kill everyone.

I should probably improve the FAQ.

Couple of comments on the FAQ page of that site:
1.
File sharing will become easier, as technology improves. But so will copyright holders' ability to give their customers cheap easy access to their wares, e.g. downloading an album by pressing a single button, which initiates the download and automatically charges the customer a modest amount, say 1.

Note that is considerably less than what people pay now for music. The reduction in price is due to a reduction in production cost - there are no lorries moving pieces of plastic around, no bricks-and-mortar shops to sell the pieces of plastic in (to say nothing of the benefit to the environment). And the lower price will encourage more sales, since people will be happier to pay 1 to try some music they've not heard before, than 15.

Don't they realise that per-unit production and distribution costs -- the only costs reduced by this new technology -- are the smallest part of the cost of lots of works? The new technology does not reduce at all the fixed costs of production, meaning that for a price drop from 15 to 15 (Um... TYPO?), and allowing even that a whopping 50% of the price is per-unit costs, seven times as many copies have to be sold to cover the cost of production. Does that sound plausible? Especially given that people like getting things for free if they can?  --PlasmonPerson
Watch what happenned to dialup adoption once unit costs dropped to zero - practically infinite demand.  The maths may not always work out - but given that there are plenty of people willing to make [crap -- PlasmonPerson] things for free, and the costs of the tools are dropping too...  --Vitenka

You're on a wiki full of freely contributed Stuff.  Which is dedicated to a free WebComic.  Running, I should add, on a computer running on a free OperatingSystem? and WebServer.  Plenty of people make things just for the joy of making them.  --Vitenka
Ah, I misinterpreted.  You are asserting that everything which people make for free is crap.  I treat your assertion with all the justice you claim it deserves.  --Vitenka
Anyone who thinks free stuff is going to, in general, be of the same quality to stuff you pay for is delusional. Some things, such as action movies, would not be possible to make on a 'free' basis. I know you spent a lot of time looking for good free music a few years ago - I listened to most of that stuff and trust me - you didn't find any. --Gwyntar

One comment on reality of distribution costs.  Last I heard, average markup in a retail store was 50%.  This covered rent, lighting, employees and so forth.  Looking at it from the point of electronic distribution though, it's pure wastage.  (Mind you, this starts up a whole new conversation about how anyone is going to BUY things if no one has jobs any more...)  --Vitenka  And don't get me started on advertising costs...



2.
The US's 'Fair Use' and 'fair dealing' are not quite the same thing. The US has a blanket right to 'fair use', with a few examples given, and then individual cases are assessed by courts on whether they are 'fair' or not.
The UK, on the other hand, has a set of specific rights, and the fair dealing bit is meant to stop, eg, a teacher photocopying music for a fundraising concert and then claiming that he was actually doing it for educational purposes: he would not be dealing fairly. Similarly it disallows someone from recording things from the TV with the intention of keeping them permanently from claiming he was time-shifting.
To reiterate: in the US, the question is, 'is this a fair use?'; in the UK, it is 'was this one of the permitted uses, and, if so, was it done fairly, ie, in good faith?'.
The page does differentiate but to say that '"Fair use" rights in the UK are addressed by the doctrine of "fair dealing".' is misleading and inaccurate.  --PlasmonPerson
It's confusing, definitely.  Stupid terminology.  I think the point is that copies are allowed in the UK, depending upon the intention of the copier.  Which is much harder to encode into technology than into law.  Also note that the public expectations of what a 'fair use' is, have expanded quite a lot beyond those strictly coded into law, due to the impossibility of enforcing those laws.  For example, most people think nothing of never wiping a video recording of a TV show.  --Vitenka

3.
'Films make money from cinema audiences, merchandise and TV showing' -- and quite a lot from video and DVD sales, especially small cult films which don't have the option of merchandising and might not get a particularly wide cinema release. Star Wars and Spider-Man will survive, of course, though with budgets cut by a substantial amount.
'book authors mostly don't earn a living wage for it now' -- this is a bad thing, not a desirable state of affairs. What's more a lot of book authors have their day jobs in other areas that would be hit: TV writing, freelance editorial positions, and so on. What are they supposed to do: a day's plumbing, then settle down to write in the evenings?  --PlasmonPerson
Um, I fear you missed a bit of paragraph that you are referencing.  The fact is that a lot of people write [crap -- PlasmonPerson] in their CopiousFreeTime, after their DayJob?.  Some of them hit it big.  The desirability of this situation may indeed leave something lacking.  I think the point was that publishing cartels and current pricing sturctures work particularly well, so defending them may not be the right way to go about things.  Not that this suggests an obvious 'better' method.  --Vitenka




What about DVDs that can only be played for 24 hours, sold for rental prices? Where do they fall?  --PlasmonPerson
On the side of 'unworkably stupid', I would say.  --Vitenka (pending the development of MindWipe? tech, anyway)




I think the key point for me is, if there was no way to charge for any of this "stuff", far less stuff of high quality (what we call at the moment 'professional' quality) would be produced. --Gwyntar
I think it's important to differentiate the technology to the uses to which it will be put in the transitional period. --Gwyntar
I thoroughly agree. - MoonShadow




Ok - given the presumed end-point of DRM, which is a system where the producer of a piece of content can sell it under any restrictions at all:
What should the 'normal' restrictions be?  What kind of variance are we likely to see?  --Vitenka

I do not think DRM can ultimately do much to affect matters. In the long term, it cannot work: if a device can present data to you, you can grab a copy of that data as it is being presented. In the short term, people will not buy it: it fails to work in too many ways that people expect things they buy to work. Putting the discussion of free stuff aside for a moment, many viable business models that manage to succeed in the very climate that is argued to require DRM without use of DRM are emerging, and a number have been well-established for some time. I therefore view money spent on DRM as money ultimately wasted, and I object to indirectly paying for it; though I accept that it is ultimately not my choice whether to spend money on it, I will endeavor to put my money into projects that manage without.  --MoonShadow




Incidentally, here is a quickie bit of info about the NextGeneration? DRM systems.  Either Gigys (now VCPS, virtual content protection system) or CPRM (copy protection rights management)

As well as having keys excrypted on the disk, and unlockable only through licensed hardware (which as noted, is a bit pointless, because at some point the stream has to be decrypted so that the viewer can watch it) they also include support for blacklist tables - which are automatically updated from other disks.  Drives are supposed to obey rules like "Make only one copy of this disk".  If they start not doing, then disks that are produced by that manufacturers drive will mysteriously stop working after you play the latest SpiderMan? HD-DVD.  As will, presumably, leaked keys.

For further fun and profit, there exists the strong temptation to flip the drive into 'deny by default' mode, and only accept disks that that single physical unit has written (and any others on the white list)

Wonderfully amusingly, the only way we are able to implement this scheme is to break the CSS? scheme by (internally) exposing the bus key.  --Vitenka

In this scheme, presumably there will be something preventing Universal Pictures from telling your DVD player not to play DVDs made by Paramount? --Admiral
Hm. If the signatures for the blacklist order (they are signed, right? Right?) were to only be generatable by an entity whose interests lie in generating as few of them as possible (eg. any of a group of drive and media manufacturers), that would keep the spurious ones down. Is that something like what happens? - MoonShadow
Well, basically, Universal promises not to, and so do paramount.  We don't know how it'll work in practice, few if any drives have been shipped to these specs yet.  Drive and media manufacturers tacitly (and sometimes openly) encourage piracy.  Heck knows it was the prime driver for recordable dual layer DVDs.  The licenses for the 'who can revoke what' are the studios, but it's up to the OEM? to actually act on it.  Which provides a gaping LoopHole?, it would seem - all a rogue drive has to do is report back fake id's until it gets one that isn't banned.  --Vitenka
Oh, as for signing - practically everything is RSA encrypted.  --Vitenka



CategoryAbbreviation; see also CopyrightMatters, Evil

MaintainMe - this has (somewhat predictably) branched out into several areas of contention, which could do with separate discussion once it settles down a bit.
Has it calmed down enough?  Dare I risk stirring it up by splitting it out?  --Vitenka

CanFreeStuffBeGood is getting one thread of this.  --Vitenka

See also: [Cory Doctorow on DRM]

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