DRM vs. Free Software.
Posted Oct 21, 2010 11:13 UTC (Thu) by dwmw2
Parent article: How not to recognize free hardware
"Interestingly, the device is allowed to implement DRM mechanisms - but only in free software, so the DRM can be removed by a suitably skilled and motivated user."
I don't like the way that's stated and I like the version from the FSF even less: " The device may support formats that are hampered by Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), but it can only use free software to do so. This means that users will be able to change that software and thus eliminate the restrictions."
We should not be reinforcing the idea that the use of Free Software enables DRM (and regulatory requirements, qv.) to be bypassed. Enough people have that idea already, and it's wrong.
It isn't actually that hard to reverse-engineer closed source software and remove restrictions and this is actually how it's been done in the majority of cases. Most DRM schemes are cracked because someone has worked it out from a closed software implementation.
DRM is fundamentally impossible to implement in software. You have to give the decoder to every bored teenager and criminal and interested technical genius who wants to make fair use of whatever they've bought. And one of them is going to work out how it works. Every time.
So we shouldn't be saying that people should be doing their DRM in open source "even though doing so will allow the DRM to be bypassed". We should be saying that people should be doing their DRM in open source because it makes no difference; it'll get bypassed anyway.
to post comments)