Public Benefit is the Question
Posted Oct 10, 2006 3:44 UTC (Tue) by GreyWizard
In reply to: Liability & Reputation
Parent article: Similar in spirit?
I was talking about Trusted Computer, rather than DRM
Then you were off topic. You comment is a reply to mine which is about DRM. That comment is attached to an article about the GPLv3 drafts which would prohibit distribution of code licensed that way to implement DRM. Perhaps you are confused about what the relevant clauses of the GPLv3 drafts do and suppose that they restrict activities which are not DRM?
It makes the manufacturer safer by reducing potential liability.
This claim is fanciful in the case of DRM and questionable otherwise. I have some devices which are user servicable and others with comparable purposes which use sealed cases of one kind or another. Do you contend that the manufacturers of the former are more exposed to liability than the latter? I find that hard to believe. Once I take a screw driver to a thing the results are clearly my responsibility, which is why there are sometimes safety warnings on stickers covering the screws. On the other hand I have no trouble believing that liability and public relations are excuses to conceal motives such as market segmentation.
Making dangerous things easy might make a manufacturer liable. Failing to make them impossible will not. Generally speaking, making a laser scanner with a knob that allows the output to be set to unsafe levels is a recipe for trouble. Making a laser scanner for which the user can extract the source code, modify that using specialized programming skills, compile and install the result is not. Good luck convincing a court that you did all that accidentally.
You ask now if there is a public benefit to tolerating locked-down software [I assume that's what you meant by DRM in this context.]
Here is the text you responded to: "I am asking if there is a public benefit that might justify the costs of tolerating DRM [...]" I am pleased that when I write "DRM" you *presume* that I mean "DRM" but I cannot guess your motive for making a fuss about this.
For regulated devices, I think there is a clear public benefit; otherwise the devices wouldn't be regulated.
What you seem to be saying is that "compliance with appropriate regulations is good" implies "any measure which makes non-compliance more difficult is good." Nonsense. Every check on compliance has a corresponding cost. Requiring a police officer to monitor the use of all laser scanners would make it much harder to use an unsafe power level than merely deploying DRM, but obviously this is not a reasonable solution.
So far uses of DRM that don't involve managing digital rights seem like solutions in search of problems.
Note that here you asking for software to be treated more permissively than hardware, where you had previously asked why they should be treated differently - there are no legal restrictions on manufacturers' ability to make hardware unmodifiable.
You believe I am asking for this because it pleases you to do so, not because I have suggested legal restrictions on locking down software or otherwise proposed some policy. Perhaps you are confused by the phrase "tolerate DRM"? By this I did not mean "allow DRM to be a legal practice" (this community has no power to make that decision) but "permit software that we write to be used to implement DRM" -- in other words reject the relevant provisions of the GPLv3 draft. I have been asking for an explanation of how DRM might benefit the public as well as criticising some examples that seem poorly thought out (specifically voting machines, x-ray equipment, liability and reputation).
You posit commercial and nefarious reasons for manufacturers to deploy DRM.
A discussion would be easier if you bothered to read before responding. I noted that the reasons manufacturers like DRM include advanced market segmentation (of which your story about "slugging" is an example) as well as more nefarious reasons. I did not offer an opinion on whether advanced market segmentation is nefarious, except to say that more nefarious reasons exist. Anyway, the point of all that was to say that there is no question that some manufacturers like DRM. They do.
The issue worth discussing is whether DRM can provide a practical benefit to the public. That your attempts at an answer are muddled nonsense does not prove that a reasonable affirmative case can't be made, so I don't know the answer.
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