Posted Oct 17, 2006 19:20 UTC (Tue) by GreyWizard
In reply to: DRM is the topic
Parent article: Similar in spirit?
The base LWN article, however,
is about TC (anti-Tivoization) as much as it is about DRM.
I'm not sure what you mean by this. The LWN article is about the
GPLv3 drafts, which would prohibit the use of covered software in
systems that implement DRM. By DRM I mean a system which enforces
some software behavior regardless of what the owner might want. This
seems to be the conventional definition of the term, so
"Tivoization" is DRM. Trusted Computing is a technology with
which DRM and possibly other things can be implemented. Since the
GPLv3 drafts would affect Trusted Computing only when it is used for
DRM I still don't see how it can be relevant.
However, the liability w/r/t DRM would be based on contract
conditions with whatever service the DRM was protecting.
DRM clearly has advantages for the businesses who control the keys
in the same way censorship is an advantage for those implement it.
The question is whether a free software license should attack DRM. I
don't propose to answer that question but clearly contracts between
vendors are not relevant.
The fact that there are other means of jamming cellular networks
is completely irrlevant to the question of whether it's a public
benefit to avoid malicious modification of cell phones.
On the contrary, the availability of jamming devices demonstrates
that cell phone network disruption is not a serious problem in
Consider an analogy. Some programmers create malicious software
that attacks exposed internet services. Wouldn't there be a public
benefit to regulating compilers and using DRM to embed identifying
information in all source code? This way people who do harm could be
discovered and punished. Isn't the availability of unauthorized
compilers completely irrelevant to the question of whether this would
I'm sure there is an opportunity cost in reduced innovation,
though I don't think you can quantify it any better than I.
I'm not asking you to quantify it exactly but to think through the
consequences. DRM doesn't seem to accomplish anything for cell phone
network robustness that couldn't be done more effectively with proven
technology, but it clearly creates problems. Gloves can be used to
avoid leaving fingerprints at the scene of a crime, but we don't
insist they be registered. Cryptography can be used by criminals
for conspiracy, but this is not a strong enough reason to keep it
out of the hands of legitimate users. For the same reason, we should
not insist on preventing people from changing a cell phone operating
system merely because we can imagine disruptive uses.
There clearly is public demand for content that the content
owners will make available only under DRM.
There is no shortage of educational and cultural material on the
market and the notion that content owners are sitting on an enormous
pile of it that they will only release when the playing field is
tipped still further in their favor is often presented by certain
trade associations but is always unescorted by evidence. We've
reached the point of diminishing returns on that strategy.
Distributing material under copyright without the consent of the owner
is already illegal and successful enforcement happens all the time,
often without the need to go to court. Indeed, enforcement is so easy
that legitimate uses are often suppressed. Denying people control of
their own computers is not going to improve this situation.
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