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What's The Future of DRM? 374

Posted by Cliff
from the copy-protection-and-loss-of-fair-use dept.
Cdgod asks: "I am working on a thesis regarding DRM (Digital Rights Management). I would like to get it published and instead of having the regular recycled net material, I would like to hear opinions and thoughts on how it should and could work. Think 20 years in the future, how can you see your world with DRM in place? Will it cost you a few pennies every time you look for the time on your watch? Are you limited to only coping that CD 3 times before it is locked forever? Can you think of uses where DRM will actually give the user more rights? Try to think outside the current models in place, such as video on demand, purchasing music online, and DRM e-books. And yes, I will be arguing that the current laws are not taking the user's point of view, but of the large media companies." My personal thoughts on Digital Rights Management (copy protection, for laymen) is that as long as it interferes with the user's use of the material, it's not worthwhile. Most of the current solutions which have been proposed seem more like draconian measures that will be forced down our throats...whether we like it or not.
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What's The Future of DRM?

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  • by ethereal (13958) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:03PM (#2416355) Journal

    How about if DRM in the future prevents the use of ideas from my /. comments becoming part of someone's thesis? See if you can spot the watermark in here somewhere :)

  • A letter from 2020 (Score:5, Informative)

    by DickBreath (207180) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:05PM (#2416362) Homepage
    Slashdot previously [slashdot.org] covered this. The Letter from 2020 [osopinion.com] is here.

    To me, this seemed like a pretty plausible outcome of DRM.
  • Also (Score:5, Funny)

    by sulli (195030) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:05PM (#2416366) Journal
    Can you think of uses where DRM will actually give the user more rights?

    Yes, once it's deleted, it will allow the user to recover valuable hard drive space.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      with a very simple question: "Does this particular law increase the freedoms or quality of life for the majority of individuals it will apply to?" Traffic laws are a good example. The law that says you must drive on the right (in the U.S.) increases your freedom to move about by reducing the chance that some other fool will be driving on the left. Laws that are passed to increase someone's profits do not pass this test. Laws that increase someone's profits are the direct result of political bribery, and political bribery is a fact of life in the U.S. of A.
    • Re:Also (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wolfier (94144)
      You comment touches a nerve.

      What is "Digital Rights"?

      Is it my right that I need to know, and get to choose what is installed on my hard drives?

      I'd love to see laws that protect our hard drives from being installed spywares, marketing softwares, junks that is vastly inferior to the competition and I don't want to use (e.g. MSN Messanger) and propaganda materials (Software channels, AOL portal links, etc.)

      I think I have the "Digital Right" to manage my hard disk space, every byte of which I bought with my own money. Same goes for RAM. I DO hope laws will be passed soon that respect my rights.
  • Homework Help (Score:2, Interesting)

    So, you want the Slashdot community to do your homework for you [flyingmoose.org]?

    :)
  • by Tom7 (102298) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:07PM (#2416370) Homepage Journal

    One thing DRM might do is enable me to share my personal information privately with one entity, without fear that the entity could share it with others. (That is, if DRM could work.)

    That might be good, but I'm much happier with the world we live in now!
    • That's impossible, the other person will just write it down on a piece of paper and give it to someone else, or let someone else read over their shoulder.

      That's what "information wants to be free" means..you can't prevent that sort of thing by doing something to the information itself.

      You have to trust the person you give it to.

      Of course, if what you're trying to keep private is being sold on CDs down at the record store, there's no way to control every single person who gets it. That's why DRM for that purpose is and always will be a laughable failure.
  • DRM - no avoiding it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jackson Five (470862) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:08PM (#2416377)
    I work in tech M&A...and can tell you that DRM iniatives will manifest themselves whether you like it or not. I can also tell you that the market for video content though is viewed as pretty distant still. ie, commerce in viedo content over broadband - excepting porn of course which is and will remain ubiquitous.

    As far as DRM goes - I do view it a little like software proection. There's always someone on the outside who is a better coder than the group on the inside and can break it.
    • by Computer! (412422) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:32PM (#2416526) Homepage Journal
      The only DRM initiative which has any chance of sustainablility is value-add. That is, the original has more real value than the copy. That's why people go to concerts instead of just watching a bootleg tape. The mainstream record industry has to stop ripping off consumers long enough to figure out how to add value to their product in its original form. Packaging, special features, merchandise discounts, fan club membership, and freely downloadable copies for anyone that has the serial number of a record is a good start. Vinyl-only collectables, free concert tickets, etc, etc could make actual ownership of a music product worthwhile again. Maybe a reduction in the actual price of the art would help too. Many agree that Napster, et al. just showed up when the time was right- overpriced crap on the market encouraged no one to actually buy any of the one-hit-wonder bullshit the Industry has been feeding us.

      As for other types of content, the original is almost always better and more economical than the copy, i.e.: the latest paperback instead of a giant text file, or a signed/numbered print instead of a JPEG.

      The point is, the ability to steal content will always be there. Wether or not it gets stolen depends on several factors: is it worth stealing? Is it worth the price if purchased? Does it "feel" like stealing at all? Notice DRM wasn't mentioned. That was on purpose.

  • The future? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ryanwright (450832) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:08PM (#2416378)
    Here's your future: Millions of people will refuse to adopt these bullshit standards. They'll figure out a way to write a college thesis in Word without paying Microsoft by the character. They'll listen to their rightfully purchased CDs without paying the RIAA by the hour. And the US Government will throw huge numbers of these non-violent "terrorists" (read: you & me) in jail at huge expense.

    You can use our current drug policies as a guide to the future of DRM...
    • Re:The future? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bteeter (25807)

      I don't think so. Lawmakers who support the draconian DRM measures will be voted out of office, and they will be replaced with more citizen friendly policies.

      Laws that are passed which overstep the rights of citizens will be repealed by courts.

      Users will choose not to purchase and use DRM protected media. (Remember DIVX?)

      Savvy users will break the DRM Schemes and post the cracks to the net effectively destroying the technology.

      DRM won't work. It has no benefits to end users, no one wants it and everyone will resist it. Its a bad idea, plain and simple.

      Take care,

      Brian
      --
      100% Linux Based Web Hosting: http://www.assortedinternet.com/hosting/ [assortedinternet.com]

      • Re:The future? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jiheison (468171)
        I don't think so. Lawmakers who support the draconian DRM measures will be voted out of office, and they will be replaced with more citizen friendly policies.

        Either you don't live in the US, or this is your fist foray into public in several years.

        No lawmaker has suffered because of the DMCA.

        More DMCA-like laws are on the way.

        DIVX failed because there were alternatives still on the market. The industry has learned from this, and future initiatives will include the exclusion of non DRM protects alternatives from the market place.

        Future cracking schemes will be relegated to obscurity by laws such as the DMCA (ses DeCSS).

        Have a nice day.

        • Re:The future? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jason Earl (1894)

          I share at least some of your skepticism about U.S. law makers. The mere fact that there are even a few law makers that think that the SSSCA is a good idea, should make all of us pause and think about the safety of our society.

          However, I don't personally think that laws like the SSSCA will shield the entertainment industry from a serious turn of affairs. Laws like the SSSCA make it harder and harder to copy copyrighted works, but that is a small part of the battle. A much larger concern, especially for the music industry, is how easy it is to create and distribute the material. Right now, to get your music, movie, book, or whatever into the hands of the American consumer you have to sell your soul to the devil, but that is changing.

          Slashdot is an excellent example of how the Internet is leveling the playing field. A couple of punk kids from Michigan have created a site that is more widely read than many very expensive publishing industry ventures. Journalists have been the first to switch over to the web, but it won't be too long before novelists, musicians, and even movie producers also start to take a look at the powerful distribution method that is the Internet.

          Heck, I have already read two novels that were released on the Internet because the writers couldn't find a publisher. One of them was even pretty good :). And there is literally an entire world of music written by artists that want you to download their music. Even movies aren't really that safe. In ten years every teenage kid is going to have enough computer power to create and render realistic digital movies, and he or she will probably have enough bandwidth to consider sharing their work as well.

          The high costs of distribution (and in the case of movies the high cost of creation) is what has created the necessity for the big production houses with their massive investments, and disgustingly large margins. But it is getting easier and easier to distribute and promote your art over the Internet.

          How much longer are we really going to need the entertainment companies? Your guess is as good as mine, but I can guarantee that the harder they squeeze the faster we will find a way to reward the artists, novelists, musicians, and actors directly, without their help.

      • Re:The future? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by debest (471937)
        In a utopian world, your take is correct. But I'm afraid that we are moving to a more Orwellian future than you think.

        Citizen-friendly lawmakers? How far did Nader get in the last election? The "mainstream" parties will continue into the forseeable future, with no real differences between them. Corporate interest will be bought and paid for regardless of the party in power.

        Laws repealed by courts? Maybe, but don't count on it given how the DeCSS case went. Even if the Supreme Court does strike them down, I wouldn't put it past the conglomerates and Congress to amend the Constitution, if that's what's required to control "free" speech.

        Users choose not to purchase? You're assuming there will be an alternative (DIVX vs DVD). It will soon be the only choice.

        Of course users will break the technology. And they'll keep it to themselves because they'll go to JAIL if they don't!

        But you are partially right: DRM has no benefits to end users, and no one wants it. But resist it? Not likely. The quiet 99% will swallow what the industry & government tell them, and the other 1% will either keep their mouths shut or be prosecuted.

        Lovely.

        Darren Best
    • Good point. Just like copy protection, drug laws are not consumer-friendly, and cost more money than anyone thinks they are worth (minus Nancy Reagan, maybe). Just because something is a stupid idea doesn't mean it won't become law. With fewer and fewer Americans voting, and more and more money spent on lobbyists, consumers don't stand a chance against copy protection laws. Of course, the copy protection itself doesn't stand a chance against the 2600 community.

      • Re:The future? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mpe (36238)
        With fewer and fewer Americans voting, and more and more money spent on lobbyists,

        Note that there may well be positive feedback going on here.
        • The only solution? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Wolfier (94144)
          To ban "political contributions / donations" (aka BRIBERY) altogether.

          Why can't politicians run for elections without donations? If all politicians are stripped off their election donations, we still have a level playing field. They should be paid with TAXDOLLARS, not bribe money.

          There is NO valid reason why corporations should contribute. How they're going to survive should be totally dependant on economics, not laws. Governments should not interfere how business is done, well, maybe except anticompetition laws. That's why we should let DRM have its own life, and do nothing with it legally.

          How, then, can companies protect their works? Good question. More protections. But they shouldn't depend on laws. There had always been a competition between protectors and crackers. They were doing it purely technically. Which was all good - if you cracked my protection, I'll strengthen it. Only the sucker would want the laws to stand by them, to "outlaw" the crackers - even if they don't steal.

          I mean, if you leave your door wide-open, how can you accuse somebody of entering your house to take some notes and then tell his friend what he saw in your house? It should be all legal.

          And with corporate (minority) interest out of the question, majority interests will be served better.
    • Word? RIAA CDs? You have already adopted the bullshit standards of the present. Why bother when free alternatives are available? Only the most draconian of laws can keep people from writing and distributing free software, their own music, or singing. People will never tollerate that. The future is always free.

      The drug analogy is false. Intoxicated and adicted people obnox their neighbors. Obnoxious people get put in jail. People who create software and music are productive and useful. No society that quashed productive activities has lasted very long. All societies have had laws and mores regarding intoxication. Even the most primative societies have strict rules on time and place.

      Freedom of speech and publication are better analogies. After all, free software will continue to flourish given the right to publish code. It is impossible to keep people from saying and writting what they believe, as they can conceal themselves and publish anonymously. Drug useres can not conceal themsleves forever and the substances they depend on for their recreation have no legitimate uses besides medical perscription. There is no substitute for free speech in a viable society. There are many better ways to entertain yourself than intoxication.

      Drug use is a thing to put into the past.

      • Obnoxious people get put in jail.

        Quite a chilling statement. This clearly isn't true, otherwise you, twit, wouldn't be posting to /.

        If someone is smoking dope and harassing people, there are already laws against harassment. People shouldn't be penalised for using something if there are uses for it which do not infringe on the rights of others.

  • Fundamental issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by pointym5 (128908) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:11PM (#2416391)
    Really effective DRM (that is, DRM that's based on something other than the DMCA to make it "effective") would require some fundamental changes in the world of computing devices (of all sizes). Regardless of the strength and cleverness of cryptographic packaging technologies, if there is a pathway through the computer for digital plaintext then the DRM scheme is ipso facto defective.

    On the other hand, the introduction of pure hardware schemes that retain the cyphertext of the protected material until it is transformed (within a tamper-proof sanctioned device) into perceivable media (image on screen, sound from speakers) would have a chance of real effectiveness. Now this would represent a profound change to the way we normally think about computing devices and about the freedom we have to put together systems of any type using whatever basic parts can be found. Such work would still be possible of course, but DRM-protected media would be unusable without the presence of secure tamper-proof decoding hardware.

    The need for such hardware (which, by the way, is not sci-fi: check Intel's work on secure digital interfaces for digital flat-screen displays) implies a controllable market, since some organization would have the power to issue or not issue licenses and keys to manufacturers.
    • That's why the SSSCA [cryptome.org] will make non-DRM controlled hardware illegal.

      Eventually, after enough hacking of the systems, PCs will be required to be tamper-proof, DRM enabled, no end-user access to raw bit streams, etc. The SSSCA could pass, and the certified systems required by the act could include such requirements.

      And the DRM system will likely prevent playing of unauthenticated content. Ostensibly to stop people from making analog recordings of music with a microphone, but it would also make independant music production impossible. The legally mandated system could require that in order for a piece of music to play, it would need to be signed with a valid key - and only the RIAA could license such keys. Onle would then need an RIAA license to make music.

  • Division by zero (Score:2, Interesting)

    by trilucid (515316)

    , so to speak. IMO, most of what we're currently seeing in the realm of DRM won't stand the test of time.

    Why? Okay, let's start with the idea that in order to have a truly "strong" DRM system, you have to tack on strong encryption. Thus far, most systems proposed have failed this critical test. Please, no flames about the DMCA, because let's be realistic: the vast majority of people (meaning aside from a few "example cases") will never be "found out" for copying songs over networks, etc.

    Second, all it takes is a little oppression for a lot of people (mainstream folks, not just geeks) to get really angry. We're already used to voting with our dollars anyhow; this will probably severely curtail heinous attempts at nasty DRM in the future. As long as a freer, easier (or just as easy) solution exists, the company or group providing it will win out.

    I'm a little groggy at the moment (sorry, coding too long), so this may not be my most intelligent and coherent post ever. But I'm sure you get the idea. Thanks.

    • in order to have a truly "strong" DRM system, you have to tack on strong encryption

      This is the most fundamental failing of DRM, and why (in it's current form,) it will never work.

      At it's most basic level, encryption (weak or strong) is designed to allow person A to send something to person B without anyone else (person C) being able to view it.

      It is not designed to allow person A to decide when and how person B can view it, or whether person B can send it to someone else.

      These are two VERY different goals. In the first example, once person B has the data, s/he can view it any time they want, rewrite or mangle, or even send it to someone else (with or without encryption.)

      If the goal of DRM is to prevent person B copying the content, then there is no technical way of doing it.

      To quote Bruce Schneier, trying to make bits not copyable is like trying to make water not wet. Encrypting the data will not alter this fact.

      The problem is, nobody has come up with a way to make bits uncopyable - and the people who believe that encryption will do this simply don't understand encryption.
  • by dave-fu (86011) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:11PM (#2416395) Homepage Journal
    Think that, except for firemen coming in to regularly set fire to all your media. No matter if you're grandfathered or not: there exists the picture of impropriety, so better to err on the side of safety.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:11PM (#2416396) Homepage
    and instead of having the regular recycled net material

    You came to slashdot to avoid recycled net material?

    That's courage.
  • by sterno (16320) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:12PM (#2416398) Homepage
    Have you ever used Emusic? You pay like $10/month and you get access to everything in their catalog. It's all MP3 so I could certainly distribute it all over creation, but why would I? If somebody else wants to hear the music they can get their own subscription. It's very easy for me to share a few songs with friends which gets them interested in the bands and gets them signing up for the service.

    A thing I've noticed in my personal use of Emusic is that I've discovered music by a lot of obscure bands I never heard of that I like. I mean since I'm paying for it anyhow it's worth it to me to download a whole album by some band I've never heard of. I can just delete it when I don't want it. Why go buy the new album from some big name band for $15+ when I can download music for free?

    Trying to impose pay-per-use technology on music is just going to turn people off to it. If you want proof of people's reaction to this, just look at DivX. People like to own things, and they hate having to deal with complex rights mangement architectures. The only way you could find a DRM that would be really appealing to people would be one that's transparent, but by it's nature it can't be transparent because it has to stop me from doing something forbidden by the publisher.

    If The big RIAA labels opened up their collections to me and charged me like $15-20/month to download all I want, I'd be all over that. But if they had some goofy DRM technology on the music, I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole.
    • The big filesharing networks proved that generosity and the 7 degrees of separation rule are enough to really shave the margin on what your talking about.


      The big audio conglomerates would want to charge huge per song fees like $12 per file, or some obnoxiously high rate such as $250+/month for a limited number of downloads.


      In reality though- with functioning peer sharing networks as an alternative, no one would subscribe to such a system unless it were really cheap, such as $5/month for unlimited downloads with high quality files, fast transfers, and a comprehensive selection.


      Do you see why they havent gone that route? You cannot be a useless fat layer if noone will feed you.

  • Ok. Ok.. I got one: The right to prevent people from running my programs. The right to prevent people from listening to my music. The right to prevent people from reading my comments.

    Hey! are you reading my comments?? Stop it! They are mine!

    And don't you dare using my idea's in your own comments!
  • by Bonker (243350) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:12PM (#2416402)
    If I were to look 20-30 years down the road at a U.S. ruled by DRM via laws like the SSSCA, I would have to say it would be a pretty sad place. First of all, you have a generation of people who will have grown up beleiving that its normal to have to pay for *any* kind of information, and then think its taboo to share that information.

    People will collaborate less and will have learned that it's 'wrong' to pass along data or information of any kind. This kind of mentality will manifest itself in an atmosphere where it's considered morally and ethically wrong to try to do things without doing them in the approved (legal or corporate) manner. I don't see a lot of technical or scientific innovation coming from people who have this mindset.

    The Dark Ages was a fairly direct result of the Catholic Church's desire to control information, in their case, religious doctrine. The crusades brutally crushed scientific, philosophical, and mathmatic progress in the middle east. Human progress came to a virtual halt for several centuries.

    This is the same thing. Instead of a rich, powerful church, we have a oligarchy of rich, powerful corporations who beleive it is in their best interest to control information of any kind, be it entertainment, scientific data, math, or any kind of production algorithm. The future is grim indeed if these companies get their way.

    The renaissance, the richest period of exploration and innovation in human history happened when the controls imposed by the Catholic church started to break down and both religous and scientific information began to flow freely.

    Freedom of Information == Human Progress and Advancement

    Proprietary Information == Fear, Paranoia, Superstition, and Human Misery
    • I agree completely, and here is the letter that I sent today to several of my congresscritters. I encourage others to do so as well.

      http://www.freesql.org/sssca.htm

    • by BranMan (29917) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:38PM (#2416560)

      I think the real outcome would be that the US gets marginalized. If we stifle the very openness and sharing that now occurs, and that keeps the US at the head of the pack in science, industry, military technologies, etc., other nations (europe perhaps, or Japan) will pass us by.

      The Dark Ages only occurred because the Church was a universal influence, and so retarded every nation. If the US imposes such restrictions on ourselves alone, we'll be passed by - Americans will go abroad to do research, start companies, etc.

      Hopefully saner heads will prevail in the end. I sure hope so.
      • The Dark Ages only occurred because the Church was a universal influence, and so retarded every nation.

        Sigh. Well, at least you capitalized "Church". What people don't seem to understand is that the Church was the keeper of written language for the West throughout the Dark Ages. Not only was the Church single-handedly responsible for Western literacy, it created most of the knowlege supposedly kept secret. What do you think the first book ever printed was? An issue of Scientific American? Ever hear of Descartes? The Church as an institution paid room and board to people that did nothing but sit around and think, and then published their findings. The pioneers of DRM aren't even content providers, just weasles looking to score off the providers' agents' paranoid ideas that everyone who enjoys their art must pay.

    • A hundred years ago, we didn't all listen to the same music from the same artists, watch the same plays with the same actors, all read only a handful of common books that were blessed by Barnes & Noble as "top 20", etc. There were orders of magnitude more people singing, playing instruments, writing, painting, etc. Today's "superstar" system, whether it's music or novels, is an artificial convention perpetuated by publishing companies. When everybody can be their own publisher, however, the publishing companies go away, and so does the "superstars" business model. Without publishing companies and the "superstar" business models, digital rights laws may transition to better support regional or topical arts, rather than Fortune 500 conglomerates.
    • The renaissance, the richest period of exploration and innovation in human history happened when the controls imposed by the Catholic church started to break down and both religous and scientific information began to flow freely.

      This is a common (and old-fashioned) view, but recent scholarship suggests that it isn't really true. The Renaissance was a period of increased exploration and scholarship, but it wasn't particularly exciting technologically. In a real sense, it was a response to the great technological strides that were made in the late Middle Ages- widespread use of water power, the introduction of gunpowder weapons, deep-water capable ships and navigating techniques, and printing using movable metal type.

      The changes in political, social, and economic situation that was characteristic of the Rennaisance depended heavily on those Medaeval technologies, but it didn't add to them very much. It was gunpowder weapons that allowed kings to consolidate centralized power, and to resist the church. It was printing that encouraged scholarship and free thought. It was water power that overturned the old fashioned industries and led to the great rise in cities. It was developments in navigation that led to over seas exploration. Those things were the cause of the Renaissance, not its effect.

      That's not to say that the Renaissance is necessarily a bad model. To a substantial extent, the Renaissance was a social and political response to technological developments that overturned the basis for existing society. There was a strong backlash from entrenched powers who wanted to fight against the new technological developments and keep the existing system that was opposed by others who tried to establish a new system. To a great extent technological progress was slowed simply because the existing technologies hadn't been fully assimilated yet; it took a while to integrate everything into society. I personally wonder if there isn't going to be a similar backlash and slowing of innovation sometime soon for similar reasons.

      [Note: I'm also ignoring the exceptionally Eurocentric tone of the above (a number of those technologies were actually imported from China rather than independently developed in Europe, so obviously somebody's innovation wasn't being choked off) because one can reasonably argue that treating Europe separately makes sense. After all, the DRM won't necessarily be world-wide, so looking at how moves to stifle innovation in one place affect that place can be accurate even if they are centered on one culture.]

  • Presently, I'm trying very hard to not download any music from Napsteresque programs because I want the artists to recieve some money for thier work. Fairtunes.com didnt seem to have a working list the last few times i went to it, so at the moment I dont have an option other than paying for CDs.

    When I listen to music, read a great essay, hit a good webpage or what have you. I want the artist/author/composer/creator to know that I liked thier work, and if it's a means for them to earn money I'd like to see that they get some, be it a tip jar, banner ad, or just paypaling them a few bucks.

    The system where an artist creates a work and then gets less than 5% of the final sale price back from the publisher is wrong. The publishers and promoters should work for the artists not the other way around.
  • by mike_the_kid (58164) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:14PM (#2416413) Journal
    Digital Rights Management is bad for users in the short term, will take some wrangling and creativity on the side of the license holders. They are trying to create technology and legislation that will allow them to know who and when someone uses a property that they license.
    Initially, it will be more expensive for people to listen to music or read books, because instead of buying cd's or books, you buy the right to hear the song or the right read the book.

    People will pay what they feel the material is worth. If I think that listening to a Wu Tang Clan is worth 3 cents, and they want 8, I won't pay. In terms of the market, this makes the market more efficient and provides some feedback to the artists. It also makes it possible to bundle in things like advertising to offset the cost (advertising is more valuable in this case because they know who they are marketing to.)

    In the future, people will be able to pay for whatever they want, and the number of choices available to them will reflect the value they percieve in the service.
  • Most digital "rights" management techniques preserve rights that the media corporations never had in the first place. An example is the right to prevent a DVD from being viewed on a player bought in another country. While many of the players can have this "feature" disabled, it is getting harder as the MPAA realises that people are circumventing it.

    Newer DVD Rom drives now have a region lock. This can be disabled of course. Newer discs can check your player for the initial region it was set to, and disable it, forcing a full reset. The next generation of players will require that the player will disallow all playback of protected discs until the player is returned to the manufacturer to be reset. Naturally the manufacturers are against this, but the MPAA has a monopoly . How can they refuse.

    DVD phase 3 goes even further. It is a requirement that all DVD compatible equipment have a GPS receiver built in, and a mobile telephone connection. This will call the local anti-piracy organisation if it detects a non-permitted disc. By eliminating codes for older players, the industry hopes to slowly migrate people to more restrictive products.

    Leaked documents suggest that they will soon be incorporating technology to allow a limit to the number of viewers. This will mean that when you buy a DVD, it will lock itself to the first player it is used on, and will only permit a maximum number of people to watch it at any time. Do you have a larhge family? You'll need to buy a licence for more people. Eventually the entire world will be controlled by corporations. We are working to prevent this, but the power of the media giants is too great.

    • DVD phase 3 will never happen; that's not realistic. Sure they want it.. but nobody will buy a box that knowingly rats on them ;)

      As for region locking... that's still a software issue. Many DVD ROM drives already lock after a certain number of region changes.. and have to be returned to manufacturer. Of course, you just get new firmware, and a flash utility, and voila.. no more problem.
      As for discs that check.. this is easily circumvented; you simply have a DVD player mod that, rather than make it automatically switch regions, lets you choose the region you want on powerup. Many already do this.
      Do you have links to this DVD phase 3 stuff? Becuase all the stuff about locking to a certian player.. you are describing DivX...
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sllort (442574) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:15PM (#2416419) Homepage Journal
    Can you think of uses where DRM will actually give the user more rights?

    No.
  • Have a look at this stance on DRM, yes I'm an employee, but I wish we could make the big five see the logic.

    Our position on the DRM. [musicrebellion.com]
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:16PM (#2416426)
    Bend Over
  • Most of the current solutions which have been proposed seem more like draconian measures that will be forced down our throats...whether we like it or not.

    is it possible to have something you feels is a 'draconian measure' shoved down your throat, and like it?
  • by mvw (2916) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:17PM (#2416433) Journal
    I bought the videos..

    I bought the wide screen version..

    I bought the THX videos

    I bought the Laser discs

    I bought the DVDs

    I bought the Super DVDs

    I bought the holo cube

    I bought the ...
  • by ttyRazor (20815) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:18PM (#2416438)
    The only scheme I have ever seen that actually works is the use of CD keys in online games to make sure that there are only unique (and in theory paid for) clients connected at any one time. Of course this scheme is useless for anything that doesn't require a net connection. So long as the online game servers are where the fun's at, the user is out in the cold without a legit copy. The key part of this scheme is the dependency on a resource that is outside the user's control and can't be modified. Without the actual use of a remote resource for a major part of he product's functionality, though, such a scheme would be intolerable (why would you want to log into the internet to listen to a cd?). This also does not prevent the thing from moving around, only the simultaneous use of a single copy.

    Microsoft's WPA scheme is similar to this, but since it's only a one time verification and gives the user time before he has to set it up, it is vurnerable to tampering.
  • Portable Devices (Score:4, Informative)

    by wembley (81899) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:18PM (#2416440) Homepage
    The really interesting problem in DRM is not what happens on the desktop, because on-line/live-time subscriptions aren't too hard to do by issuing new licenses repeatedly.

    It's in the portable market where DRM will sink or swim. Right now, very few portables fully implement SDMI or anything else. All but a few lack the secure clock required to prevent people from beating dates by rollback.

    The ones that do implement clocks or real security are proprietary and have low market share, like Sony's WMA-wrapped ATRAC3 devices.
  • A reasonable, fair DRM system is not possible, AFAIC.

    At some point the bits that build the information are decrypted and pristine, and therefore can be trapped and copied at will. Without infringing on users rights - or introducing a system that is far too open to abuse [microsoft.com] - there is no real way of ensuring that digital data is not captured/copied or otherwise used in a way that doesn't violate current copyright unless you're willing to infringe on the fair use rights of paying customers. Unfortuneately, this is a case where there is no middle ground to speak of nor does there seem to be a high ground. The position of power is and will stay with the public, not the content producers. Therefore - unless we become a corporate police state - the media creators will have to bend to the will of the public. (Did I just say that? Ech. I have to put the Katz filter on again ;-])

    That said, we're left with 3 choices to compensate content producers:

    1) Have content producers sponsored by other entities (which opens a whole new can of worms)
    2) Grants to users - and therefore more taxes to pay for it.
    3) Direct payment to the content producers - maybe a link prceeding or embeded in the content.

    Guess which one I'm leaning towards...

    Soko
  • Perhaps more features. I can see some uses for a robust watermark that identifies artist, song, and album.

    Of course, most of the uses center around improving my cataloging of songs that I didn't rip from CD myself, so maybe the DRM people wouldn't be so excited about that...
  • If and only if... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beowulf_26 (512332) <beowulf_26&hotmail,com> on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:24PM (#2416477) Homepage
    DRM can help consumers by lowering the cost of a products due to the fact publishers won't feel the need to overcome losses from piracy.

    However, DRM in my opinion, is only useful if it meets the following conditions:

    Is transparent to the user.

    Requires no processor overhead.

    Is secure. (increasingly difficult, arguably impossible) If the DRM is circumventable it's pointless.

    It's cheap, and doesn't raise the cost of the medium. If it's costing more to protect it than it's saving, it doesn't belong there.

    It must allow at least one copy to be made.
    All in all, that's a very tall order. So I doubt any time within the next ten years these things will be realized. Until then, consumers will continue to scream bloody murder.

  • by DocJTM (452653)
    What if any new DRM laws also had to apply to every individual's personal info as well as whatever corporations want to protect (like music)? The corporations might think twice about whether they want DRM. If they had to license your personal info FROM you in order to market TO you, I'll bet it would seriously impact their marketing. "Oh you marketed to me without licensing my info? That'll be $10K please".
  • The problem with DRM is the same as with computer security. It's very easy to secure a computer so that no one can use it. It's very difficult to secure a computer that a great many people need to use in a great many ways, while at the same time restricting any unauthorized users whatsoever.

    Media companies really want to stop unauthorized use of their copyrighted material. Copying a CD and giving it to someone else is illegal. Copying a CD or creating a compilation for your own personal use is legitimate. The problem is allowing the legal copies while preventing the illegal ones. And it's a very difficult one to solve. It's much easier to simply prevent all copies whatsoever.

    Anyone who thinks that "fair use" means giving away copies of music or books is a thief and an idiot. Remember this: if you stop paying for your media, they will stop selling it to you.
  • by Col. Klink (retired) (11632) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:29PM (#2416507)
    There's a story of a king who passed an edict forbidding the tide from rising. He sent his soldiers to the beach with orders to beat the ocean back if it didn't obey the edict. The King was trying to make a point that even he, the almighty King, could not alter the forces of nature by a simple decree.

    Imagining a world where successful DRM laws exist is no different than imagining the world if the ocean had been held to the King's edict.

    I could be wrong. I suppose if all hardware manufacturing was nationalized, borders were sealed, and prisons were cleared of drug users (to make room for copyright offenders), it may be possible to put digital media genie back in the bottle.

    If it is possible to have successful DRM, I guess imagining the future would be like imagining the present if the printing press had been outlawed by the Monks who were put out of business by it.
    • There's a story of a king who passed an edict forbidding the tide from rising. He sent his soldiers to the beach with orders to beat the ocean back if it didn't obey the edict. The King was trying to make a point that even he, the almighty King, could not alter the forces of nature by a simple decree.
      Imagining a world where successful DRM laws exist is no different than imagining the world if the ocean had been held to the King's edict.


      Maybe a closer analogy would be Japan's outlawing of firearms which actually worked. Until the US navy turned up with guns accurate at a range far longer than any Japanese weapons.
  • ...lies with hardware manufacturers, in my opinion. The only reason macrovision works for VHS is because hardware manufacturers support it, and I think the same will ultimately be true of all forms of DRM. It will be a sad day when I have to pay extra for a hard drive that will allow me to access my data however and whenever I want to, and I think the chances of that day coming are about 50-50. That balance will be upset by judicial decisions made in the DeCSS and Skylarov cases (the Napster case recently threw an interesting curve-ball [slashdot.org], we'll have to see how that plays out), and given the apparent pro-Corporate slant of the current judiciary I don't have high hopes.

  • by Xthlc (20317) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:34PM (#2416531)
    . . . when distributing IP for the personal use of the consumer. I'm thinking specifically of cable TV and video rentals.

    The advantage of cable TV is the subscription model. It's better for the consumer, because their cost-per-use tends to be lower. And it's better for the content producer, because their revenue is steady, reasonably predictable, and not subject to spikes and canyons in usage. Lesson learned: consumers vastly prefer to pay a subscription fee for a huge library of content from which they can pick and choose. Compare this to pay TV or video-on-demand, the revenues for which lag pathetically behind a the regular cable TV subscription base.

    The advantage of video rental is, well, obvious. People who are not willing to pay $20 to own a copy of a movie may be perfectly willing to pay $3 to rent it for a few days. Lesson learned: cost-per-unit for "ownership" of content is too high for most people, if they're unfamiliar with the content in question.

    Both modes of commerce are subject to piracy. However, the effect of piracy is mitigated by the fact that the copies which are made tend to be of lower quality compared to the original. Case in point: I'll tape every single episode of the Sopranos, but I'm still willing to shell out cash to own the Special Edition DVDs so that I can watch them in widescreen. Lesson learned: people like the freedom of making copies, but they're still willing to pay for a higher fidelity / more contentful version.

    I think the real solution to DRM can be found in a subscription-based broadcast-on-demand model, which allows people to easily create (analog quality) copies to store locally on their machine or carry with them in their personal music player. People who want digital quality simply need to either a) buy the CD, or b) be connected to the network.

    Now, this might not be very satisfactory in the short term -- your Rio-like device would be restricted to tape-quality music. But there's a great deal of push already to expand the country's broadband and wireless infrastructure -- in another 20 years it would probably be perfectly feasible for your personal digital music player to store nothing more than a playlist, wirelessly streaming the music as you go.

    I think everyone wins under this model -- what little revenue companies lose from file trading would be more than compensated for by the subscription base, and consumers would have the choice and flexibility that they crave.

  • Unified royalty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skapare (16644) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:34PM (#2416534) Homepage

    In the end, DRM management will hinder, not help, even those who seek to profit from their creative works. The petty steps needed to make use of copyrighted material under DRM will ultimately have to give way to yet another system I see as the ultimate answer. Such a system will have to be a broad subscription based scheme, where instead of paying specifically for each creative work, you end up paying a general rate, and then have access to all those works. The authors and publishers then earn from that based on the proportion of how much their works are used. Even a random sampling of 5% of usage would give a fairly accurate measure of proportion for the various works to determine how much each author and publisher is paid.

    Take a look at some of the big MP3 collectors. There are some people with over 100 gigabytes of downloaded music. At the statutory wholesale publisher rates paid through HFA, this comes to over US$100,000. The retail value of such collections could be US$1,000,000. And it would take months just to listen to everything once. But these are people who would not go buy all that at $12/CD. They aren't downloading it to be able to listen to it all, but for the stud factor of having an awesome jukebox. Eventually we will reach a point where we can have any creative work delivered in real time whenever we want, and even mobile at some point. We'll be paying for delivery of content, not the scale of the choices. Many of the downloads now are to achieve scale of choices, and that will be greater as bandwidths and storage leaps allow, but eventually it might not be needed (except for those unwilling to pay a dime).

    Imagine paying a rate about the same as cable TV or internet access that lets you listen to any music you want, any time you want, anywhere you want. Whether you listen to the same 5 tunes over and over, or jump around among 100 genres, your rate would be about the same since it would be based on what is delivered, and at most you could listen to about 43,200 minutes a month (there might be a lower price for listening to less). Once this kind of service is available, there won't be much value in actually storing the music. As long as the pricing structure is based on fixed time, rather than how many different tunes you have access to but rarely listen to, it will beat not only most piracy, but also recorded media sales (why buy 1000 CDs if you typically listen to about 20 of them?).

    It might still take another decade for the music industry to get a clue and try to build it this way. Last mile bandwidth is not there yet, especially mobile, for everyone. And then it might take a few more years for the motion picture industry to "get it", too. But eventually it will have to happen. DRM will then simply be a yes or no question.

    The system won't be totally perfect. There will be those unwilling to subscribe at all, and will still steal music. There may be privacy issues regarding what we listen to. Some of this can be addressed by legislation (whether we agree that it should or not). Some of this can be addressed by the open market. And some of this can be addressed by technology. The delivery is certain to be encrypted. The ability to decrypt it is certain to be isolated to hardware like portable players and sound cards in your computer (the software would just be shuttling an encrypted data stream through, and hence open source operating systems won't be a risk). Time window based encryption would prevent storing the data for later playback (and this defeat delayed leakage to non-payers). Interim technology could allow doing a combination of storing encrypted streams with live delivery of a time window based key (and the hardware still does the work).

    Given this, storage of music by consumers won't be needed, and thus DRM will be moot. This is still a few years off, but mark my word, it is coming as soon as entertainment executives figure it out for themselves.

  • Idealy... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by powerlinekid (442532)
    I would think that the best solution for the users would be if DRM was done away with all together and we lived in a society (world) of free information and media. However these are just dreams and the fact is that the dmca is going to be tough to get rid of. With that in mind here might be some changes that would make things more "friendly" for the user.

    1) I have a real problem with the current protection scheme on cds and dvds (computer or audio/video, games it doesn't matter). The problem is that current laws seem to say that when you purchase this media that you are entitled to the actual physical disk and whatever media is included on it. So if you buy a game and it becomes damaged then you're out the money you paid for that game. I believe that this hurts the user and saves the company, as in these licenses suck. I personally feel that the physical disk should not have anything to do with this when you purchase something and that you are entitled to the media. Hence you should be allowed to make backups of everything you own that is software related. Currently somethings work under this (you can make copies of cds on tape as long as you don't sell them, and roms are legal as long as you own the game although I believe emulators are not *shrugs shoulders*), however dvds don't and in the future more stuff should be going to dvd. Of course if I want to illegally make copies I can (theres all kinds of stuff out there to do this) but you should see my point that I should not have to illegally do anything to something I own.

    2) Streaming media will probably end up a rental or subscription fee which I'm not sure if I have a good argument against at this moment. I mean its hard to argue with video stores and thats how I see most of that going.

    3) E-books have proven to be just a bad idea anyway. Nobody (apologies to those who are e-book fans) seems to care all that much when titles are still printed paper. Eventally I'd imagine that the publishers in time will start to only release large amounts (not just some Steven King book) of books to e-book, forcing people to switch. However, if I have a friend and I recommend and own a book, I'll let them borrow it. Will e-books work the same? Can you trade materials as long as you don't sell them. I have a feeling this is going to be an ugly fight.

    4)Software subscription (ala Microsoft) is not going to work even if forced. Look I love linux but I know its currently not ready for the masses. However Microsoft's idea of a Microsoft Bill (like a cable or telephone bill) is just alittle to ambitious and I'd imagine that this is going to hurt them. On a side note, if Microsoft benefits from its monopoly then how can they justifiably argue that distributing copies of pirated windows hurts them?

    Media protection is definitly going to become an interesting topic of discussion over the next 20 years or so. I wonder if we'll start to see different licenses as we do in the computer world (digital media is nowhere near as old as computer software... with the first cases being cds about 10-15 years ago). Will some publishers allow a GPL type license, who knows... all I know is that these laws have to stop because ultimately the user gets hurt.

    ps - I think its funny if a company gains enough market share to be called a monopoly then the govt claim them to be detrimental to competetion. But if a bunch of companies (collusion) gain up to start a board (hmm... sony, sharp, etc and dvd technology) that regulates what you can and can not do with something and what companies can and cannot do with something (why don't we see any legal open source dvd plays? because the damn license fees cost a fortune for css) then thats legal. Well... maybe us users should start the coalition for user rights (sort of like a union) to keep a say in what rights the company and the users have.

    ok, i'm done... oh my bad about posting this twice, I screwed up the first time.
  • Where will DRM go? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by way0utwest (451944)
    Of the top of my head...

    One DRM will continue to advance. Artists and others who wish to produce media/works deserve to be compensated if they wish. The question becomes how we handle this. In my ideal world...

    -- Non-encrypted formats will continue to exist for those who choose to distribute this way.
    -- EncrypteOf the top of my head...

    One DRM will continue to advance. Artists and others who wish to produce media/works deserve to be compensated if they wish. The question becomes how we handle this. In my ideal world...

    -- Non-encrypted formats will continue to exist for those who choose to distribute this way.
    -- Encrypted formats will be built for new media (video/audio/stills) that is difficult to crack (nothing is impossible). These formats will require the use of an authentication for an individual using their hardware of choice along with some type of smart card along with a password/pin. The item will be usable for some number of times/length of time. This will be some small payment amount, similar to micro payments.
    -- We will get some type of "key" downloaded onto the hardware. This key can be transferred to someone else WITHOUT cost. If I purchase an old Beatles song and decide a month later that I don't want it, I should be able to "give" this to my co-worker. We easily connect our hardware devices together and I "give" him my key. No longer can I play the work. Perhaps he even "buys" the song for half price and I can then repurchase if I wish.
    -- Patents/copyrights will have their length shortened. Perhaps we need to develop different lengths for different media. Movies are copyrighted for 5 yrs. Music, 3 yrs. These are just ideas, personally I am not sure what lengths I'd like.
    -- Items that lose their copyright/patent will be released into the public deomain. Once in the public domain, anyone can distribute/reformat/alter the works, though they cannot be resold commercially without some compensation to the author. Perhaps the reuse should be 10% of the cost of current media?
    -- What if I could "rent" a song, say the new CD from Brittany Spears for my son for 3 months. Suppose if cost $2. I could drop this onto an MP3 player for him, or perhaps it would be automatically burned on my Sony DRM machine (that cost $200) onto a CD that would work for 3 months. I'd do it. He'd be tired of it after that. What if I could "reactivate" that CD next year for $1 for another 3 or 6 months. It's still be worth it.
    -- Relatively few of us actually copy CDs for others. Once (if in the real world) media companies recognize this, they will start to actually develop programs that people will use (and want to use). My time is more valuable and I'd tell a friend to buy his own copy.

    Don't forget the following when exmaining DRM

    -- It must be convenient to be successful. If it is difficult for me to use, I will not use it and commerically it will not succeed. If my mom can purchase a music CD (online, download, etc) easily and it costs $1 to listen to 10 times, or for a week, and it is a simple button push, she'll do it. If it requires efforts to use or circumvent, she won't use it.
    -- The economy of defeating the encryption must be below that of using it. I've downloaded movies (that are in theaters) from the Internet and viewed them. They suck. The quality is so far below that of renting from Blockbuster or going to see the movie, it's not worth the cost. Audio is different, but there will be some economy of scale that works.
    -- No encrpytion is foolproof
    -- 90% (or so) of people will be defeated by minimal encrpytion
    -- 1% (or so) of people will never be defeated by ANY encrpytion
    -- 9% (or so) of people will take advantage of the work of the 1% to defeat encryption.

    These are some quick thoughts, and I really welcome feedback. If DRM is really to move forward (not just get implemented), everyone has to have realistic discussion of the rights of everyone, artists, consumers, and companies.
  • Back to basics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tmoertel (38456) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:37PM (#2416550) Homepage Journal
    I don't know what the future of DRM will be, but I know what it should be. It should be something that primarily promotes the public good. As such, it ought to reflect an exhaustive re-examination of the concept of a "copyright".

    Originally intended to provide a public benefit -- to encourage and promote the widespread availability of information -- copyright law has been distorted to the point where it allows a powerful few organizations to control vast seas information, allowing access only those who can pay fees that are often unreasonable. Gone, too, are the days when we could realistically expect copyrighted material to be contributed to the public domain after a reasonable period of time. Our national concept of "copyright" is a perversion.

    Before we legislate "rights management" into hardware, we ought to ask why we have these "rights" anyway. And if the answer isn't solely to promote the public good, we should do away with them.

  • by SilentChris (452960) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:37PM (#2416554) Homepage
    "Most of the current solutions which have been proposed seem more like draconian measures that will be forced down our throats...whether we like it or not."

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's not draconian if you have a choice, and you do have a choice in the matter based on your wallet.

    Don't like the DRM measures coming forth on CDs? Don't buy the CDs. Don't even listen to the music. While some pop bands are obviously a profit-centered venture, most artists actually *do* want you to listen to their music; measures taken to stop this listening will not only hurt the labels in the pocketbooks, but also get the artists themselves to argue against whatever measures are being taken to reduce public listening.

    Also, let me just say that paying "a few pennies every time you look for the time on your watch" is X-Fileish and activistic to the extreme. Obviously this is not going to happen. Do you think high-level executives in the government and military personnel (to cite recent events) would ever warrant this?

    For that matter, I'm a firm believer that the subscription plans in place now (like cell phone bills) will eventually be dwindled to nothing based on current competition. There are only so many minutes a cell phone company can provide in a month. After a while you hit limits, and gradually the costs erode to practically nothing (similar to water and electricity, communication will eventually become publically-owned).

    • The forcing point is not about entertainment products themselves - whether they are songs, movies, e-books or whatever. Those things people can take or leave as they choose. The forcing point is about the computing and consumer electronics devices people use to view these entertainment products. If the SSSCA becomes law, it will illegal to manufacture, import, sell, etc. computing and consumer electronics devices that do not implement DRM measures. So, in the post-SSSCA world, if you want to...

      listen to music,

      watch movies,

      access the Internet,

      program a computer,

      or do any of the other things you do with computing and consumer electronics devices you will only be able to do so with a device that implements DRM. That is the sense in which DRM will be "forced down our throats ... whether we like it or not" - and that, to me, qualifies as draconian.
  • Intellectual Property laws cannot be enforced in a digital world without a strong police state. So we will end up with either the abolition of IP laws and the entire concept of IP or we will end up with a strong police state that essentially polices peoples thoughts and ideas. I think that in the long run, there will be no middle ground.

    The JungleBoy
  • I think everyone wants freedom over their computer hardware & software. My computer is my domain, my email, my data. This is my castle, and nobody should have control over it. I put up firewalls to keep hackers out, I'm not letting lawyers in.

    People need to realize, that their computer is the same as their checkbook, credit cards, journal, diary, love letters, children's pictures, private thoughts. The data is ours, and mine ours alone...

    DRM gives companies control over you and your hardware. They must have control not for the loss of revenue but for the increase in revenue for the future. The future is a data oriented future, you will have smart hardware in every appliance in your life. This data be it multimedia or logging is worth money.

    If all these draconian laws are passed, I can see a day where your shopping trip to the grocery store is logged, and when your home control computer sees you have the making for a bomb (Kitty litter, plant supplies, etc) the Police are notified.

    Remember the old saying, "Don't copy that floppy?" They didn't have control over your hardware. In the future, You Can't copy that floppy, You cant even view it. (That will be 19.99 thank you)
  • An essay (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ryants (310088) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:42PM (#2416579)
    You may or may not care about a very short essay I wrote on this subject that was published at here [linuxtoday.com], entitled "The Alexandria Effect", in which DRM leads to a new sort of Dark Ages, similar to what happened after the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.
    • I can picture a culture of outcasts diligently working on cracking the encryption schemes used, in hidden monasteries and old warehouses, living off of pirated satellite connections and covert tunneling in other's data.

      Neato. One might be able to write a "Canticle for Leibowitz" style book with this as the main idea...
  • Impacts of DRM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Some of the impacts of DRM:

    1. it presumes guilt - "we know you're going to steal this, so we need to impenetrably lock it down." I, for one, don't appreciate their assumption that I am a thief.

    2. it ignores the Constitutional limits on copyright - the Constitution grants copyright for a "limited time"; without key escrow, so that the content can be opened to the public domain after the "limited time" expires, the copyright holder effectively has permanent copyright.

    3. it leads to the "death of information" - information (art, music, literature, etc.) that is strongly protected by technical means with non-escrowed keys will disappear from the world much more quickly than otherwise, which steals from us all.

  • Distraction by Bruce Sterling gets is close to what I suspect is the near future..

    Any DRM system is only as strong as the authority behind it, I'd argue that in the modern world no authority can be strong enough to maintain a global DRM, so any authority that tries will be underminded. Try to enforce a DRM, your whole system will fail.

    So we're left with the alternative, various DRMs enforced by various people in various places, but ultiamtly people just do whatever they can get away with. And its orbiting data vaults, strong crypto, spread spectrum, sterographied hell for anyone who tries to stop them.

    The question I want to know is, what would happen if we threw the whole idea of 'copyright' out the window? You can copy anything you want, and sell it.

    Existing publishing industries would definitly be screwed by lean mean bootleggers in 10 seconds, but after that, what would really change? People would still enjoy music, perhaps they'd simply try and really connect with preformers rather then forming a fake relationship with them though their publishers.. Live music might return to emmance as the primary way people get their rythm fix. Donno..

    One way or another, ultimatly no copyrights is the future.. What else is possible? A transgalactic mind reading RIAA? Space is big, we'll be living there, how are you going to deal with that?

    Maybe this time will be looked back on as the 'age of intellectual property'.. It's only been an issue since sheet music, handy digital technology may make it a non-issue soon.. It'd form a nice little era..

  • Benefits (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Eimi Metamorphoumai (18738) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @02:57PM (#2416663) Homepage
    Well, almost everything is anti-DRM, and for good reason. I really don't think it will turn out well, but to play Devil's advocate:

    The real thing I see coming out of a DRM future is foo-on-demand. Think of a song? Type in the name and get an instant download, at high quality, high bandwidth, with the lyrics and all supplimental info, with all the ID3 tags intact and correct (a few cents for a single play, maybe a dollar for unlimited plays). Missed Enterprise? Download any episode of any tv show, again, fast, painless, legal. Maybe even free for the version with commercials embedded in it, a buck or so for a commericial-free version. Ditto for movies, books, games, software, or really just about anything that can be digitally transmitted. Pay a few dollars to watch some movie, widescreen, in DVD quality, and then if you want a few more to download the entire Collector's Edition DVD, so you can burn it yourself. Of course, all of this assumes that the FLAs are will ing to allow all this, but...

  • I see one(of probably many) problem with the state of affairs today in respect to music. All these new laws and proposed laws are not designed for the consumer, they are designed for the corporation to protect and increase their money supply. The bills are probabally even written by corporate lawyers and handed to a Senator inside a fat bag of cash(campaign contrubutions), for him to proclaim the virtues of most vehemently!

    Yes, I see the need for copyrights and the need for money to go to authors/performers, but with this thing we call the internet, WE the consumer can have a more drastic effect on music and music tastes. As an amature musician, is sickens me to see how little moeny in the sales of CD's/albums actually goes to the writer/performer. It is on the order of 2% post-cost, depending on fronted money and contract.

    What I think is happening is that the huge record corporations forsee a possible future, a future where THEY dont exist! These laws they are trying to force-feed down our throats, through careful manupulation of our govenment and senators and laws, ways to keep their corporations around and consuming our money.

    Here is what I'm talking about, a possible future: You, the listener, go to a music review/posting site, reviewed by 'critics' and rated by the fans, maybe even a comment-style feedback. Here bands/music/concerts/genres are reviewed. This is your first stop for music, hear about a band. Next you take the link to their website(paid for by the band). Here you get a 'taste' of their music in whatever form: mp3, realaudio, newmusicform_2.0, whatever. So you decide that these guys dont totally suck so you purchase their music and download it digitially. Say it costs $10, where does that money go? TO THE BAND, minus the upkeep for website and hosting.

    So, where is the big music corporation? NOWHERE! They arent needed to front the money for a 100k CD production run to reach every record store in the world, they arent needed to pay for play-time on radio or MTV, they dont take 90% of the money! Sure, radio and tv are the 2 largest ways to get music out and heard, but probably not for long.

    I only listen to the radio in the car on the way to work(and until I can afford a new cd-player for my own music). Radio is horrible, all that overplayed crap. Most people I know hate the 'traditional' popular music radio, MTV? there is no music there anymore and it only spouts what music the corporations want YOU to buy.

    What Im trying to say is that the possibility in the future(or now, we have the technology) is for the consumer to filter what gets pushed as 'good' and for the artist to get the money, not the corporation. This is what I see as the downfall of music in the late 20th century. Maybe a movement like this will spawn a new wave of music and genres like the early 20th century spawned.

    More random thoughts: Now, I HATE buying CD's they are expensive $10-20, and most of the procedes go to Sony or BMG, not the artist. With the system I proposed, there is no large upfront capitol need to reach 1million listeners, the internet is extremely cheap way to reach so many people, and here the huge amound of money people spend on music goes to the performers/writers, the ones that actually DO the work, and deserver the cash. This is my 2cents, not really related exactly, but I think it needed to be said. Please pick this apart I want some feedback.

    DOWN WITH CORPORATE CONTROL OF MUSIC!

  • The question is, can anyone put together a DRM system which will work, for all values of the word 'work'? In other words, a portable system for digital rights management which can be used for all [relevant] types of media, on all [relevant] types of device, which does not incur any [significant] additional cost to anyone.

    With all that said, I think that it is clear that DRM will always be defeatable. The issue is making it undefeatable *enough*. There is literally no way to prevent people from copying media unless you control all parts of the work stream. That means the content creation, signing, storage, and playback all have to be controlled by whoever ultimately owns the rights. But if you can make it so that, for example, the only place you can get the unencrypted digital information is at the speakers, and make it expensive enough to get the data out, it will discourage 99% of the people.

    This is why the RIAA is so concerned about mp3 music; It sounds fantastic (at high enough bitrates, or with VBRE), has no DRM, and is easy to get your hands on. A friend of mine (grin) has downloaded some 14 CDs worth of music which he likes in the last week and a half, from USENET's alt.binaries hierarchy alone. If he liked, he could also get similar quantities from FTP sites, lists of which are maintained by bots on various Irc channels. Oh, and that's mp3s, not CDDA, naturally, so figure about 9 or 10:1 since most of them are 160 or 192 Kbps.

    We're all familiar with the bad side of DRM, mainly that you can't copy your data, which prevents you from listening to it with any decent quality on a range of equipment, and that if you lose the key, you're in trouble. Certainly those two issues need to be addressed in any successful DRM scheme.

    But what we [geeks] at large tend to forget is that DRM could be a good thing. DRM is coming whether we like it or not, much like splitting the atom, or the use of fossil fuels, or even irrigation - All three of those things have caused harm to people and the environment that will take decades if not centuries to repair, if we begin now. But all of those things can be used for good, and so can DRM.

    For instance, a scheme like Circuit Sh!tty's Divx (Not DivX ;-)) could actually be good for customers, but it fell short of the mark in every way. First of all, they can keep records of what you watch, when you watch it. Second of all, the quality was poor. Third, it only worked on their players.

    I cannot personally envision a DRM scheme which will be successful which will not involve the first of those issues. You cannot come up with a serious DRM scheme which is not easy to break without central management. For portable devices with only analog output, you can check rights when music is transferred to the device. Everything else either is now connected to the 'net, or soon will be, so this is not a serious limitation.

    As for the privacy issues resulting from a central server, I don't see any true resolution to that one for the paranoid. If you were truly given to flights of fancy, you might project a future which had (among the other currently existing classes) two groups of people; Those whose lives are transparent, and those whose are opaque. The opaques will use only open source software, hardware, and so on, which doesn't do any reporting; They will have their privacy and thus their freedom, but will miss out on quite a bit of innovation. The transparent people will be tools of the media and government, much like they are now :) Their minds will be precisely targeted by advertisers and states which know exactly what they want, and when they want it, what they like, what they are doing... Terrifying, really.

    I do not, however, see that as a real possibilty. What I would like to see (In the US anyway; I hope the rest of you get something like this too) is federal law requiring that any records pertaining to you be opened to you at no charge so you can see just what they are collecting. In addition, you should be able to find out who else has access to this information, and who is looking at it. You can then choose who to do business with it based on their privacy policies. In other words, any file with your name on it should be provided to you at no cost. Restricting access to such records to internet or walk-in only is reasonable, as anyone can go into a library and use a computer.

    We, the people of the world tend to forget that collectively, we are the ones with the power. Any time you get enough people to group together, you can make things happen. I don't have advice on how to educate the "common man" on DRM issues, but I assure you that it will become an important part of how all of us live our lives, hopefully in a very transparent manner. Of course, in that transparency lies the inherent danger of DRM, so there needs to be some method of oversight.

  • Many people misunderstand the saying "information wants to be free" as "information has some kind of cognative ability that wishes itself to be provided at no cost". This is completely wrong. Information wants to be free (as in speech) in the same way that lightning wants to take the quickest path to the ground, or that water wants to run down-hill. It's not just a saying, but a scientifically provable fact. It's called the second law of themodynamics.

    Information, having no physical manifestation, follows essentally the same laws as entropy. It will continue to expand and find ways of copying itself until it is evenly distributed throught the world.

    DRM is essentially impossible for the same reason that entropy can not be stopped. Of course, there will be limited successes, but they will be short lived. Encryption will protect a CD at least *once*. But after the key has been used to open the CD, the music is free to be copied away to less restrictive mediums. The same is true for physical attempts at protecting the data. Perhaps a very special CD can be created with a very delicate film that only can withstand being pelted by laser light a few times before it degrades, but all one has to do is copy the data on that CD away during one of those first few times and, again, it can be copied to a less restrictive medium.

    There is really only one way of creating any sort of "real" DRM: legally. You would have to create laws that literally control each and every human being on the planet. You would have to create laws that ban and criminalize outright any legacy CD-burners, hard drives, floppy disks, MD's, zip disks, etc and present the market with your own special versions that fail *physically* after the third burn (And it must be a complete and total *physical* failure. The drive must be incapable of continuing. If you create drives that simply set a flag when it's time to stop buring it won't be long until someone creates a patch to unset said flag).

    Unfortunatly, even going the legal route will only lead to temporary DRM. Once information is freed from it's cage, ways will be found to copy it. It may not be easy to make ne copies at first, but ways will be found.

    The end result of all this, if you are trying to make good guesses about the future, is that one of these days, somone will begin to question what exactly "Digital Rights" really are. Can the "rights" to ideas really be bought and sold? Do people even *have* rights to thier own ideas? It may seem like a given, this day and age, to say that a particular artists song belongs to him (ok, technically, belongs to his master at the RIAA, but that is a whole different rant), but in the future we may not feel the same way, who knows.

    Someday, we will have to, as a nation, perhaps as a would, rethink a lot of our business models we use to create our economy. Right now we are dealing with the digital realm of this battle, but it won't be too much longer before the first rudamentary "molecular copiers" will start to emerge, capabel of making nearly perfect copies of anything from Nike shoes to dollar bills. If there isn' some serious thought put into what exactly we plan to do when the revolution comes, we will be in serious trouble.

  • User-Friendly DRM? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by travail_jgd (80602)
    The problem with DRM is that it's purpose is to profit the corporations at the consumer's expense. Since the question is how it _should_ work, here's my take:

    1. "First Sale" rules would apply. If I purchase (well, license) something, I should be able to sell it at any time.

    2. Multiple media and devices would be covered. I don't want to have to purchase the CD, then buy MP3's for each of my portable devices and my home MP3 server! Buying the item once would entitle me to use it on any of the devices that I own, *at any time*, without restriction (or further payment).

    3. Replacement data or media would be the producer's liability. If the item in question --either a physical product like a CD/DVD, or a set of MP3/MPEG files -- is lost or destroyed, the content producer would be obligated to provide replacements in a timely manner and at no charge.

    4. Handle "life-issues". People cohabitate or get married. Households can split up. Children may enter the situation, and then leave ~18 years later. Any consumer-friendly DRM would have to take all kinds of real-world situations into account.

    5. Right of return. Regardless of the reason for dissatisfaction, a consumer should be able to return a copy-protected item with no hassles. The rules would have to different for various kinds of media: spending four hours with a computer game is not the same as spending four hours watching a movie. But if it can't be pirated, then there's no reason to refuse returns!

    As to what will _really_ happen in the future, I think that the media companies are going to screw consumers until legislation or legal action stops them. And then they'll choose another angle and start the consumer-rights erosion again.
  • Asking about "digital" rights management, is short-sighted as the rights management issue will extend beyond the digital realm with the introduction of nanotech. Consider:

    • Blood donations to save lives will become a thing of the past as blood will have nanotech machines in it and the corporation(s) creating those machines will not allow such violation of their copyright.
    • Imagine genetic manipulation of cells being used to prevent diseases and having the customer pay per cell so manipulated.
    • Simply shaking hands could become a copyright violation as cells with nanotech machines in them will be exchanged.
    • Developing new nanotech devices will become highly problematic due to the ubiquitousness of well-written, copyrighted software code underlying it.
    • Manufacturing will require more extensive special permits to ensure that the nanotech assemblers are not used in a way that violates copyright

    Given time, you could probably think of many more.

    • The entire point of economics is to manage the scarce resources of life. The entire point of technology is to beat that scarcity.

      What happens when that scarcity is made a relic of the past?

      Folks like R. Buckminster Fuller thought about that. As a matter of fact, he believed that we've already eliminated most of physical want through industry, and it's just a few folks who want to continue to reap the personal benefits of a hierarchical society that keep anyone poor. I don't entirely agree with him, but an alchemical nanotech future would certainly threaten the hierarchy of the simple protection of life.

      Would hierarchy nod its head and vacate its throne? Who knows.

      We don't know if this future is even possible- but past experience has shown that whatever we humans dream tends to happen. It just takes time.
      • Would hierarchy nod its head and vacate its throne? Who knows.
        Well, at least according to Daniel Quinn, it doesn't matter if heirarchy relinquishes its throne or not. Apparently, all one has to do to abolish heirarchy is to walk away [ishmael.com]. If everyone leaves the heirarchy, the heirarchy vanishes... Will that happen? Who knows...

        -- Shamus

        You there smoking mother nature, up against the wall!
  • A few ideas. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @03:29PM (#2416826)
    I don't believe that, in the future, DRM will be absolute. We will always have formats that do not enforce rights; you will always be able to 'pirate' information, regardless of the form.

    Now.. DRM will be an important part of media delivery in the future... but the thing that will make DRM work is not a better DRM solution... it's the content itself, and the price we pay for it.

    You see, as long as a CD costs me $20, I'm going to try for mp3 instead. It's not because I can't afford to spend any money.. but given that I can get it for free, the cost of the associated extra hard-drives to store my growing music collection on, plus the internet fees to get it, are still far cheaper than what it costs me to buy a CD.
    If, on the other hand, I could just pay Music Company X $20/month and be able to stream *any song* from their *entire library of recorded music* whenever I wanted.. I might just go for that. It needs to be cheap enough that it's not worth my time to pirate the music.
    The same goes for video. Well.. actually.. it's almost true of video now. DivX is great.. but DVD's are surprisingly cheap, and hence, DVD piracy is not really an issue. Oh sure, people rip DVD's and download divx (or whatever) over the net... but I doubt it's currently affecting DVD sales to any measurable degree. DVD is a large increase in quality over the online versions... and it's very convenient.

    Books as well. I won't pay for an E-book yet; because I can't lay in bed and read it comfortably. Real books still present some value that a digital copy just doesn't have yet. IN the future, however, if I could pick up my little book-like electronic reader, log-on to it with my finger, and pick which book I want to read, I would again be willing to happily pay a subscription fee to read books.

    Now some thoughs regarding online music delivery.
    I should be able to pay a monthly fee that entitles me to listen to X different tracks a month (spread out over different categories if they like.. this is just the basic idea). Now.. I should also be able to pay some small 'extra' fee and 'purchase' a title. This means I can listen to it anytime I want from anywhere I want, from now on, and it won't count towards my monthly subscription. Of course, it would be fair to have some hard limits relating to simple bandwidth use as well... as a separate issue from music titles.

    Basically, in a nutshell, media delivery companies have to make paying them for the media more convenient than pirating it. They can either do that by exerting legal pressure (going to jail for pirating one song is not convenient).. but more realistically, they'll have to simply make more available the way we want it.
  • by Dr. Awktagon (233360) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @03:48PM (#2416900) Homepage

    I used to worry about it more, but the more I think about it, the more I'm confident that every so-called "rights-management" scheme will be cracked or compromised. If not that, someone will reproduce the material in a non-protected form (imagine a group of 1000 people on the internet each re-typing pages out of e-books, for instance).

    I was just reading again about some of the cracked e-book readers, like the one that XOR'd each byte with each letter of the string "encrypted". In other words, XOR each letter with the same single byte. A 7-bit key. That literally made me laugh out loud. To think that shit like that is covered by the DMCA! Why did they even waste the money writing it?

    If it makes them feel good, fine, go ahead and put in the DRM stuff. I just won't buy it. If I really want it, I'll get a cracked copy of whatever it is, or hope that an un-crippled variation is sold from some other company. Though I MIGHT buy the occasional DRM stuff just to try and crack it (and then get rid of it on eBay if they'll still allow that).

    It'll be just like the copy interference they used to do on computer software. I remember when I was in lower school, trying to crack Apple II copy limitations on the games that I bought (didn't need to crack them on the games I copied from friends, somebody else already did it). I just tried programs that worked with one of the many techniques they used, throw in a little knowledge of ProDOS and DOS (remember those?) directory structure, plus a disk editor, and no problem. It never occured to me then that this was actually something that was supposed to keep me out! I thought it was just the way things were, like the insides of the toaster happen to be held in with screws and I had to use the right screwdriver to take them out.

    I can just imagine the young people of tomorrow playing with a copy-crippled CD, coming up with ways to get around it. Maybe it will even encourage more people to learn about hardware and software (Hey Mom! I made a couple LFSR's out of 74HC-series logic, connected it to the digital output and I decoded the CD! Listen! ... Oh that's nice dear. Have you finished your pre-algebra homework?)

    So, bring on the DRM!

  • by Spinality (214521) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @03:57PM (#2416937) Homepage
    Here is an observation that doesn't get stated very often. Look back 40-50 years and earlier: everybody played an instrument socially, and everybody either was in a band or knew somebody in a band. Making music was part of normal people's lives. High school dances always had live bands. Every hotel had a trio or quartet playing in the lobby bar. Most restaurants had live music. People collected and hoarded records and sheet music, but there was intense competition for record and sheet music sales. A record that sold a million copies was an incredible success. Radio stations played wildly diverse music programs.

    Fast forward to the 80's and 90's through today. Hardly anybody plays an instrument. It is virtually impossible to make a living as a working musician. DJ's and CD's are vastly preferred to live bands. A small pool of incredibly-successful performers -- performance corporations, really -- dominate the airwaves and the music stores. A mere million-seller is a disappointment. Great musicians can't find work, and play their music as part-time hobbies.

    What changed? A few things.

    1. Powerful music publishers and distributors now control the industry more tightly than did the old Hollywood studio system.

    2. Changes in IP laws have essentially eliminated the concept of 'public domain,' except for very old music, making some of the cornerstones of music illegal unless license fees are paid: theme-and-variations, quoting material from other songs (a fundamental jazz technique), quoting lyrics, and performing or adapting music written by others. It's hard and expensive to follow today's complex licensing and performance rules. Why bother? Buy Musak.

    3. The industry's stranglehold on performance and publication has generated enough profits to allow manipulation of public taste. At this point, a public has been molded that doesn't want to hear a local band playing at a bar, but instead demands concerts with superstars, light shows, pyrotechnics and other special effects, performing exactly what was heard on MTV, preferably using lipsynching to ensure that no differences exist. This is *not* intrinsically the way public taste would have developed without guidance by the industry.

    This is a complex issue, and obviously many other aspects of our lives and cultures have changed dramatically since WWII. However, the death of musicmaking as a core feature of USA life is a tragedy, and I'm convinced that neverending copyrights and powerful publishers take major responsibility. They claim to help performers, but instead they have contributed to the destruction of music as a profession and the elimination of all but mass-produced music in the lives of most of us.

  • 10 years down the road, think about the fact that all the new content in the world is locked up with some kind of DRM, and reverse engineering is illegal (thanks DMCA!).

    Now, jump forward another 10 years. Some of the businesses have died, or "shifted focus," etc. Since the content they produced could not be kept, duplicated, converted to the latest mpg9 format--because of DRM--it can't be found. If found, it can't be "played". It's lost.

    Think about the implications of this for historians 100 years down the road trying to play a DRM-controlled song from a company that has been out of business 90 years.

    Without the ability to personally archive songs/movies/etc and convert to new mediums/compression formats/etc, content will be lost. Especially on something that isn't "commercially valuable."

    A simple example: No video footage of one of the Super Bowls exist today. Even though 2 major networks filmed it, neither one kept the footage for whatever reason. The average person didn't have a VCR back then to make personal copies. Lost through negligence.

    The only reason we haven't seen so much of it in the past is because we used dead trees. Pick up a 200-year old book. Yep, you can still read it. Now, pick up an 8" floppy disk that is 20 years old that had an etext copy of that book on it. Can you read it? Nope, even though the text of the book is on the disk, it can't be read. That's a physical problem (since there aren't any more 8" drives around). Now, throw the complexity of DRM onto that 8" disk. If you found a drive that could read it, you still couldn't because of the DRM. With a software/firmware solution, it just magnifies the potential problems an hundredfold.

    Only so many "popular" movies will be converted to DVD. How many thousands will be left behind in VHS-land. Twenty years from now, will a VHS player be legal, and/or functional? Will the VHS tape itself have deteriorated? Will DVD even still be around?

    Do you want access to our society's music/books/movies/culture to depend on a specific business or technology? If so, the longevity of that content is cut down to years, rather than centuries.

    The destruction of the library and Alexandria was a major blow to the intellectual world for centuries to come. All it would take in the future is an economic downturn!
  • The whole problem with DRM, in my opinion, is the flawed mentality behind pay-per-use. Pay-per-use is complete BS. Movies with plot twists like The Crying Game or Being John Malkovich can really be only watched once before losing significant effect. On the other hand, some songs can be listened to over and over again without you getting sick of them.

    I would love to see a future where DRM divides media into "pools" of content and creates connetions between pools.

    For example, Paying $X fee adds a movie to my pool. It doesn't matter if I go see it in a theater, or on video, or streaming from a website...i forever have the right to watch that movie whenever and whereever I choose. I see this adding value because it creates a huge market for alternate formats.

    Let's say I'm offended by foul language. The studio may not see the value in marketting a movie below an R rating. However, on the other side of things...if some small company wants to create a PG version of the movie, they can't because they don't own the rights. Under the pool system, I pay the fee to add the movie to my pool, and then I go get it from whoever I want. That may be the studio's distribution company releasing the R-rated version on DVD, or it may be that small company's PG version on VCD.

    Content pools also need to cover all media forms. If I pay into a pool for a song, that should give me the rights to the video, the lyrics, the songsheet, etc. Studio wants to release bonus footage for a movie already out? That's fine except everyone already in the content pool for that movie thanks to previous purchase automatically gets access.

    Pools also need to overlap based on real-world relationships. I should be allowed to cross into other pools. For example, it is logical that if my sister owns a CD, I could listen to it. I technically have access through her. So my content pool would also include the ability to access anything in the content pools of my friends and family. The only difference is that it would not extent to anyone who had me listed as friends or family. IE, I can "borrow" a song that my friend purchased, but a non-mutual friend could not then "borrow" that same song from me. Or perhaps they could, but they would have to have an additional "extra generation" fee to be paid.

    Content pools should also be linked topically to provide additional value. For example, purchasing the pool of an extire favorite series, like Simpsons or Star Trek. Or even larger, a Sci-Fi or Animation pool to inclusely give me access to everything at once. Considering how there are not addtional costs, it makes sense for companies to offer wholesale licensing to their entire collection. Media distribution and mass production are completely separate. Yes I'll have to pay for the CD, but if I can do it myself, I can save myself some money. If there's a market to release it in vinyl, someone can do that.

    The key to this whole paradigm is separating content from format. There needs to be companies that make money from producing content and other companies that make money from distributing content and NOT BOTH. If I found a better way to distribute things, I should be allowed to walk out tomorrow and make a company to do it. I don't have to worry about licensing, that burden is on the user. Someone comes across my media, they whip over to the DRM warehouse, at it to their pool, and then enjoy my version.

    - JoeShmoe
  • It's not "copy protection." It's "copy prevention." Yeah, it's a small point, but the first step in changing people's perceptions of an issue is to change the language they use to describe it.
  • ...of my being able to access something easily, I'll find a way to live without it.

    Just about everyone I know who was using the early generations of copy protected PC software stopped using it after a short time when it got too difficult to use. Soft bits, writing to special floppy tracks... all those schemes turned out to be a major pain in the butt. I had some software rendered unusable because I had a hardware failure that required replacing the floppy drive. Another time I found myself unable to move some software from one computer to another even though such an activity was allowed by going through a de-installation procedure which re-enabled the installation procedure on the distribution floppies. They never thought about the case where your hard disk crashes and you are unable to properly de-install the software.

    I predict that no ``content provider'' will be offering anything so compelling that users will bend-over backwards, turn around three times, and buy special hardware in order to use some software, music, etc., etc. that's protected using any of the DRM schemes that I've heard about.

    Going back to one example in the main post: If anyone attempts to charge us for looking at my watch, someone will invent the wrist sundial and people will buy it. Maybe the fact that no one's currently charging us for the time of day explains why we can't get it from vendors. :-)

  • by Ian Bicking (980) <ianb.colorstudy@com> on Thursday October 11, 2001 @05:18PM (#2417269) Homepage
    One positive nondirect effect I can imagine is an increase of public media. They are really the only good model I've seen of unencumbered media. Ads both suck, and are working less and less. Subscription models demand constant new material to be valid, otherwise DRM. I like the idea of a high standard for constant creation of content, but it's probably not reasonable.

    Right now, public radio is (IMHO) by far the best thing on the radio. At this point it's pretty much self-funding. Public TV is perhaps further behind, but there are some things it does really well. Expanding similar models to new media and new audiences does not seem impossible at all.

    It's hard -- an imagined Public Music wouldn't have Britney Spears no matter what. There's something monopolistic about celebrity. OTOH, in a more efficient production, the preferences of smaller number of people can still produce great stuff with the resources available.

    If you imagine that just 2-3% of the population subscribed to some sort of Public Music, and payed about as much as they otherwise would have on music, how many musicians could they support? Since the music produces was unencumbered, there would be better grassroots marketing than the RIAA could do, even if Public Music didn't have the money to give radio stations kick backs.

  • DRM Issues (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gleef (86) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @05:32PM (#2417308) Homepage
    There are two huge daunting problems with DRM, both technical and social in nature.

    Technical Issues:

    Most DRM suffer from a fatal flaw. They trust the client (hardware, software or individual) to manage rights properly. For example, CSS counts on the DVD player to keep both the CSS algorhithm and the encryption keys secret. Any such system will be cracked eventually. Once cracked, the only way to keep it from being worthless is to legally enforce totalitarian control over information distribution.

    For DRM to function as advertised, there needs to be a server in place to handle authentication and authorization of clients. Few DRM systems are set up this way (Two examples: Automated Cable TV Pay-Per-View systems and Circuit City's Divx system being one example).

    Social Issues:

    People don't like to have rights taken away. If they've been able to do something before, and they're told they aren't allowed to anymore, they get upset. DRM systems will not be accepted if they're being used to remove rights.

    Similarly, if there is are two competing systems, and one uses DRM to make things more restrictive than the other system, it will greatly hurt acceptance. For example, DVDs and Divx disks were in direct competition. Both use DRM, but DVD's DRM system is much less intrusive than Divx's was. The only advantage Divx offered was slightly better prices (at least when first introduced). Most people are willing to pay a little bit extra to not have to worry about making phone calls and expiration dates.

    Let's look at a successful DRM system. Most cable companies allow you to purchase pay-per-view events through the cable box, this is a DRM system. You hit a couple of buttons, your cable box contacts the server, the server verifies that you are allowed to view pay-per-view, charges your next bill, and sends your cable box the key to access the particular show you requested.

    While the system isn't perfect, it shows the halmarks of what I consider to be requirements for a successful DRM system:
    * It allows you to do something you otherwise couldn't do (watch almost new movies or events without leaving your sofa).
    * All critical security issues are handled on the server side (yes, except for channel lockout, I said it wasn't perfect)
    * It's easy to use (12:00 flashers can even order pay-per-view)
    * It makes use of an existing business arrangement, so there are not financial or contractual issues to iron out
    * It makes use of an existing data connection, so there are no privacy issues to iron out (they already know who you are and what you're watching)

    I think we are going to see more and more DRM systems in the near future. Assuming that most civil liberties stand in most countries (at least most of those with a consumer market), I think most DRM systems will fail, badly. The few that survive will have many of the same things going for it that pay-per-view has now.
  • I could see a scenario where pubilc libraries could be charged a small license fee for each patron that views an eBook (or other electronic recording, such as music or movie). being a public service, patrons wouldn't be responsible for the charges, the city would. This would put an economic strain on many already suffering library systems.

    Furthermore, libraries might then be forced into paying for a license for only popular works. For example, a mass distributor could license Steven King or an Encyclopedia for 10 cents per viewing, while the small-press distributor with a more obscure sci-fi book or specific non-fiction book would cost 20 cents. Libraries would be more likely to cary only what's popular. What's missing then?

    This is especially sad when it comes to the children's department. When I was a kid I learned what makes up the world from books in the library. The first book I can remember picking up was a computer book when I was 10. If that book hadn't been in the library, I probably wouldn't be a highly skilled software engineer right now. I feel bad for children that might face a library with a very limited book selection.

    The problem of course lies in the flawed Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which (thanks to millions of dollars worth of lobbyting power) confuses copyright with copyprotection.

  • I see no future for DRM beyond the next few years of froth as we come to grips with the implications of abundance and the importance of openness in the realm of ideas, information and algorithms. DRM is the death throws of an information scarcity based worldview. The existing players are doing their damest to insure a new information abundant open world does not replace their world. Ultimately, for the wellbeing of all of us, they must fail.

    Fundamentally I do not believe in "Digital Rights" in terms commonly used which is a supposed "right" to block the free flow of information and require others to do the same. I believe in freedom.
  • by GrouchoMarx (153170) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @08:08PM (#2417771) Homepage
    The real future is not in copy prevention mechanisms. Those will be broken. Those infringe upon fair use, and will eventually be killed by new innovations or else kill off new innovations, and either way a lot of people on both sides of the cash register are metaphorically sexually active.

    The real future is in authenticity. Just look at the satire mp3s on the net that get attributed to Weird Al Yankovic, that he never wrote. How do you know that this song you downloaded is really by him? How do you know it's not? How do you know that it wasn't modified to delete an explative, delete a line one person didn't like, add in a new stanza in order to defame the artist, etc? You don't. There is no way to prove that the movie you're watching really is an unedited copy of The Godfather. You can't be sure that your copy of Eminem's latest CD isn't the Lovey-Dovey-Censorship-Agency's "modified for familes" edition.

    What would you be willing to pay for a method to prove that yes, this song is the artist's original? Or that this movie has not been edited for television? $15 a CD, I doubt. But 50 cents a song? $1? I'll let the economists figure that one out.

    What we need is to expand watermarking and key-based signatures (NOT encryption, signatures) to make it easier to confirm that a given piece of work is authentic. Instead of CDDB being a clearing house for stealing people's information about their CDs, make it (or something like it) into a low-cost subscription service with public keys. When you play an mp3, the track info for is is confirmed against the key (which you can download permanently) to check that the file has not been modified. If it passes, you know that this is a "genuine, authentic *insert work here*". If it fails, you know that chances are it is not. If you care, you'll go and find a real one. If you don't care, that's your perogative.

    Notice that nowhere in there is there any copy-prevention mechanism. None. Copy prevention is alien to any digital system, and is inherently weak, defeatable, and in the end futile. Authentication, however, is a booming industry, and is of legitimate value to the society.

    Protecting against lies is in EVERYONE's interest. Preventing copying is in no one's interest, not even copyright holders.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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