Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DRM Media Music Piracy Your Rights Online

A Brief History of Failed Digital Rights Management Schemes 149

Posted by timothy
from the file-formats-rule-the-world dept.
antdude points out this article at opensource.com on the "graveyard" of digital rights management schemes — the death of each of which has left customers out in the cold. An excerpt: "There are more than a few reasons digital rights management (DRM) has been largely unsuccessful. But the easiest way to explain to a consumer why DRM doesn't work is to put it in terms he understands: 'What happens to the music you paid for if that company changes its mind?' It was one thing when it was a theoretical question. Now it's a historical one ..."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A Brief History of Failed Digital Rights Management Schemes

Comments Filter:
  • by wsxyz (543068) * on Saturday November 05, 2011 @02:40PM (#37959678)

    'What happens to the music you paid for if that company changes its mind?

    Answer: It PlaysForSure (TM).

    • Re:What happens? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DurendalMac (736637) on Saturday November 05, 2011 @02:52PM (#37959784)
      It's one thing to stop selling music with a certain DRM scheme. It's quite another to tell customers that they won't be able to play it again. How this is even fucking legal is beyond me. Either keep your damned DRM server up or give users alternatives, ie, a legit way to strip the DRM or the exact same music in a different format.
      • by Arlet (29997)

        Of course there's an alternative. You can always buy the music again in a different format.

        • You can always download the music in a different format.

          FTFY

        • Re:What happens? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05, 2011 @03:29PM (#37960020)

          Exactly like I did with Star Wars.

          I bought it on VHS.
          Bought it on LaserDisc too.
          Bought the special edition on LD.
          Then came the DVDs, bought them too.
          Now BluRay... guess what... Fuck You George Lucas and Fuck You media industry.

          I now downloaded all my media and buy it when it hits a price I agree with.
          Movies.. less than $5 in HD or $3 in SD.
          Music.. no more than 10cents per track.
          TV shows & anime.. under $1 per episode.
          If the price never gets that low I dont buy but either way I'm happy.
          That is my EULA and if you dont like it you know where you can shove your opinions media industry.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            Up until relatively recently you had to buy a new copy for technological reasons. At least when they went from DVD to BluRay they tended to give something extra. The ones that don't get extras end up not being purchased by me.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Extra? Whats extra? The story is unchanged.
              All they've done is add irrelevant data. Its still the same movie.

              Paying more for HD makes as much sense as paying more for a 320kbps MP3 instead of a 160kbps.
              Or paying more for for a car because the speedometer shows your speed in hundredths of a mph.

              • by hedwards (940851)

                The story is unchanged, but the quality discs have all sorts of features, like they did with DVDs, but more extensive. The Princess Bride, for instance, had not just a remastered film, but a game and several rather long featurettes about how the film came to be.

                Unlike in your example, you can definitely tell that it's higher def, assuming that it was done by technicians. With the MP3s, you'd never notice the difference regardless of how well the technicians did their job.

                • by syousef (465911)

                  The story is unchanged, but the quality discs have all sorts of features, like they did with DVDs, but more extensive. The Princess Bride, for instance, had not just a remastered film, but a game and several rather long featurettes about how the film came to be.

                  Dude I barely have time to watch the show. I don't need 60 bullshit interviews with actors, the director, the director's ex-girlfriend, the director's ex-roommate, the grip, the music director, dolly, and one of the actor's pet dogs. It's not value added. It's shit. Out-takes can be funny but they're worthless.Trailers, don't make me fucking laugh - that's the marketing bullshit. Occassionally extended editions are relevant, but more often than not revisionist crap. Keep the fucking extras you dim-witted sl

          • Thank you, thank you, thank you for using 'price' instead of 'price point'.

            By the way, try "Harmy's Star Wars Despecialized Edition". It's an HD (720p) version with all the scenes restored to the original (Han Solo shoots first!).

            • by Teancum (67324)

              That goes to the argument that copyright terms are simply too long. If copyright was allowed to expire, you would now be seeing scenes where Han Solo shoots Captain Kirk inside of Stargate Command when the Cylons have taken over, but the Browncoats are organizing a resistance movment to take it back.

              While I might see something like that on YouTube, such "mashups" are generally illegal. It would make for some fun story telling, however.

          • I now downloaded all my media and buy it when it hits a price I agree with.

            I was going to accuse you of just being a cheap bastard, but I thought about it, and I'm just as bad in a slightly different way.

            If I can't download/stream a thing legally, I'll usually get the torrent. I really don't care what it costs (within reason).

            It's annoying when I want to give a company money for their content, and they don't let me do it.

      • Its probably legal because like steam they would have stated in their ToC that they are just giving you a licence to play the music, which can be revoked at any time
        • I meant ToS/TnC reddit can manage edits, so can yahoo answers and the stackexchange network: when will /. manage to provide that feature
          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            /. intentionally disallows edits so people can't trick others into strawman attacks.
          • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

            by gman003 (1693318)

            It's deliberate - /. tries to force you to spell-check and proofread your posts before posting them. To quote the FAQ:

            No. We believe that discussions in Slashdot are like discussions in real life- you can't change what you say, you only can attempt to clarify by saying more. In other words, you can't delete a comment that you've posted, you only can post a reply to yourself and attempt to clarify what you've said.

            In short, you should think twice before you click that 'Submit' button because once you click it, we aren't going to let you Undo it.

            It's still rather common to see someone make a foolish mistake, like using BBCode instead of HTML, or using the wrong SI prefix on something.

            • Unfortunetely, a real life system kind of allows you to append to your original speech. posting a reply to yourself has the potential to start 2 different threads, IRL you would have the same thread
            • by cfalcon (779563)

              It is poor. What SHOULD happen, if this was truly their goal, is for there to be an "edit line" beneath your post. Here's an example of what it could look like, but you'd want the edit line to be part of the formatting, and not have the possibility of it being simulated or expunged via text:

              -A- -A- -B- -B- -C- -C- -- ---POSTPENDLINE-- -C- -C- -B- -B- -A- -A-

              Then your existing stuff would be added to your post here.

        • What? Are we supposed to both read and understand those legal documents?
          • by hedwards (940851)

            I take it you're being sarcastic, but I for one don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on attorneys fees each time somebody wants me to agree to their ToS. That would literally require me to have an attorney on retainer for each end every single site I do business with.

            At some point, we need to just admit that the whole thing has gone ridiculously far out of control and needs to be fixed.

            • Re:What happens? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday November 05, 2011 @06:57PM (#37961624) Homepage

              The fix is to have strong consumer protection, like plenty of EU directives provide. Any EULA terms that violate them are invalid, so you as the user don't need to worry about them.

              • by spyowl (838397)

                This type of thinking is akin to straightening the ship that's sinking on one side by drilling a whole and sinking its other side too. How about enforce laws equally for everyone to start with? Would Sony be contractually liable if you sent them your own version of EULA in the [e]mail? Would you be able to take that piece of [e]mail to the court and argue against Sony? How about your bank? Facebook? Amazon?

                • Only if they were the end-user of some software or service I was providing. Do you even know what EULA means?

                  • by spyowl (838397)

                    The point is not who is the end user. The point is what constitutes a contract in general.

              • The choice is to REVOKE Copyright by Constitutional Amendment. That's right, we THE PEOPLE have given them the ability to copyright works, and as such, we have the right to revoke it any time we want.

                There are other alternatives as well. Conditional Copyright, which if you stick additional terms and conditions on a copyrightable work, you CANNOT Copyright it, and all Copyright laws do not, nor cannot apply to that work.

                We don't need "consumer" laws, because this is a CONSTITUTIONAL question. But then again,

        • IANAL but a legal contract involves an exchange between to parties. Thus if the company were to revoke what they gave in the exchange, they could be required to surrender what they received.

          The industry lawyers would argue that the limited time that you could use the music is what they gave, thus they are within their rights to keep the consumer's money.

          The consumer's lawyer would argue that the consumer was lead to believe that the music was time-unlimited.
          But, lawyers are expensive, so the indus
      • by sjames (1099)

        It's funny how an individual whose child downloads a few tracks without paying becomes public enemy number one but when a company gets paid but stops providing the tracks, it's just business as usual.

        And they wonder why more and more people are coming to see law and the courts as morally bankrupt.

      • by quetwo (1203948)

        Why is it legal? Because you didn't buy the music, you licensed it. This is closer to a "rent" model... You rent the music for as long as the licensor decides to allow you to rent it. When they turn off the DRM servers, the rental period is over. Your done!

    • It sounds like you're screwed and your music collection is no longer accessible. MSN Music Store, Yahoo! Music Unlimited, Wal-Mart... FTFA it sounds like when each one of these services was discontinued, the customers were warned that all the music they purchased would no longer be accessible. This is why I crack the DRM off every ebook I buy from Amazon (I know I should go to the B&N Nook) and why I won't "buy" streaming movies from them that get stored in their cloud.

      Too bad the article only covers mu

    • I buy only mp3 for this very reason. Once I have it, it's MINE. Just like the CD, cassette, or record I used to buy. I can play it on whatever player I want: car stereo, computer, whatever. That's the way music purchasing has always been... until DRM came on the scene.

      I personally thank Amazon for their mp3 music store. They made it worthwhile for the artists to make tracks available in mp3 so Amazon gets all my music $.

      • by donaldm (919619)

        I buy only mp3 for this very reason. Once I have it, it's MINE. Just like the CD, cassette, or record I used to buy. I can play it on whatever player I want: car stereo, computer, whatever.

        While I don't buy music my wife and sons do. To make sure we keep that music we have paid for I rip it to flac. Once I have music files in that format as far as I am concerned they are mine and will last forever as long as I make sure to do backups and have a player that will play them. The problem with DVD and CD media is they are easily scratched so you need to be careful hence my reason for ripping to a good quality format such as flac but you do need more space to do this, however from flac it is easy t

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We should stop thinking of DRM as controlling music/video. DRM is actually about controlling the software you can run.

      Software plays the music and the video. DRM is all about ensuring that only authorised software is allowed to access certain data. Once you have that level of control in the hands of IT companies (see also Trusted Computing, Trusted Platform Module/TPM, UEFI), it's game over for privacy and consumer rights.

    • No, Answer: not a damed thing.

      Music isn't sold with DRM anymore. The whole argument is moot, you're fighting a past battle. You are trying to convince non-nerds to rally against DRM, and the best example you can come up with is one that isn't even relevant?

      The problem is you are trying to convince people to hold an opinion that they simply have no reason to hold. You're grasping at straws. Sure, they are plenty of reasons for a subset of computer geeks to be strongly opposed to DRM, but there are very few r

      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        Yeah, because I have to jump through hoops to make a copy of a DVD or BR that I've bought, since it's not like I'm getting a replacement if it gets scratched. Or the inability to digitally record cable TV without fiddling around with it. I call that "working so awesome, I always notice it." Other stuff I don't know about since I don't use them.

      • by syousef (465911)

        DVDs, Blu-ray, cable tv, Xbox, PS3, Wii, iOS, Android... These all contain and extensively use DRM, and most people don't even know it's there, because it works so well.

        What IN THE FUCK are you smoking? Most people don't know it's there because it's ineffective and there is a workaround. People who care have ways of copying DVD, stealing cable, pirating console games, and rooting their iPhones and Androids. People who don't care don't bother. Plenty notice who don't care enough to work around it. I can't count the number of colleagues who bitch about scratched disks or iTunes downloads they have lost.

    • The company that sold you the DRM music get tired of paying for developers to maintain and optimize the DRM, pay for the DRM IP royalties, and tire of supporting disgruntled users with DRM issues... while the competition is "giving it away" and making pure profit without the DRM hassles. So they cut their losses and shut their DRM servers - with a consolation coupon toward 30% off the next Usher download.

      Read that its not about you, or the artists, its about maximizing price/profit with their product.

      That

  • There's one highly successful "DRM" that can't be circumcised and what game companies have been started doing lately. It originates from Asia, where piracy has always been a problem, but only recently has been started gaining support in western markets. Many people hate it, many love it, but it's a direct result of piracy, and also what more and more companies will start using. It's free2play games, and other multiplayer games, and means dark times for single player gamers.

    I think Valve succeeded with f2p
  • by Yvan256 (722131)

    What happens to the music you paid for if that company changes its mind?

    No music for you!

    NEXT!

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday November 05, 2011 @02:52PM (#37959776)

    What happens to the music you paid for if that company changes its mind?

    Well in the Apple iTunes case the audio quality was improved and the DRM was also removed.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday November 05, 2011 @03:00PM (#37959848)

      What happens to the music you paid for if that company changes its mind?

      Well in the Apple iTunes case the audio quality was improved and the DRM was also removed.

      You left out the part where we had to pay 30 cents a song for the privilege.

      On the other hand - even now, Apple still supports the original DRMed files if you choose not to upgrade - so this case isn't really a good example of a company "changing its mind" a la PlaysForSure.

      • You left out the part where Apple used it's market dominance to essentially force the record companies to offer the music at minimal prices compared to what would have been charged otherwise. And then forced them further to permit free-and-clear downloads which they had vowed to never allow.

              Brett

        • by Kalriath (849904)

          Incorrect. Since Apple entered our local market with iTunes, individual music track prices have literally doubled. If it wasn't for Apple sure we'd only have DRMed WMA music with pathetically easily removed DRM, but we'd be paying a hell of a lot less for it.

          Don't know where you got "minimal prices".

      • by perpenso (1613749)

        What happens to the music you paid for if that company changes its mind?

        Well in the Apple iTunes case the audio quality was improved and the DRM was also removed.

        You left out the part where we had to pay 30 cents a song for the privilege.

        On the other hand - even now, Apple still supports the original DRMed files if you choose not to upgrade - so this case isn't really a good example of a company "changing its mind" a la PlaysForSure.

        If you are a user of iCloud there is no charge for the upgrade.

  • The list shows gravestone icons both for those cases where companies stopped using DRM and left their users out in the cold, and for those cases where they stopped using DRM and let users get DRM-free tracks instead.

    One is loss for the users, one is a win. Why are both presented as the same thing?

    • Because the article is about DRM schemes that failed, not about DRM schemes that screwed people over.

      • by Goaway (82658)

        Which is about as useful as a list of airplanes that have failed, which includes airplane crashes and airplanes that have been taken out of use due to old age. What are we supposed to actually do with this information?

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Saturday November 05, 2011 @03:01PM (#37959852)
    What do you mean it didn't work? DRM schemes such as Microsoft's "Play Anywhere" are abandoned and then the customer who paid good money for the music has to buy it again if they still want it,. DRM works exactly as planned and intended/
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is because you didn't buy it in the first place! It's information! In can not be owned bought or stolen, just as you can't go north of north pole, as the terms make no sense in this context. That's why it says "license".

      Why don't people get this shit? (I blame the propaganda of the organized crime.)

      You paid for a set of rights, with rules attached that you are in practice not physically able to comply to: Not passing it on to third parties.
      Something that already happened when it passed through every ro

  • I am surprised that SDMI is not listed. It was a complete failure and is utterly pointless now, yet many CDs still have SDMI watermarks and CD players still check.
  • TFA only goes back to 1998. The history of DRM goes back much, much further than that, the only difference being that it was called "copy protection" rather than DRM. In the early 1980's, there was the first wave of mass-marketed personal computers: Apple II, TRS-80, etc. Software houses often sold games, for example, on 5" floppies in a format designed to make it possible to play the game, but to make it hard to copy the disk using the OS's standard tools. Computer users voted against copy protection with

    • TFA only goes back to 1998. The history of DRM goes back much, much further than that, the only difference being that it was called "copy protection" rather than DRM

      The author of the article knew the difference between DRM and Copy Protection. Given the context of the article being about content no longer playing, wanting a history of copy protection in this article is like asking for an article about unpopular cars to include a history of the horse-drawn carriage.

      • by bcrowell (177657)

        The author of the article knew the difference between DRM and Copy Protection. Given the context of the article being about content no longer playing, wanting a history of copy protection in this article is like asking for an article about unpopular cars to include a history of the horse-drawn carriage.

        I'd claim that the only significant difference is the name. In 1983, I could buy "content" (software), it would stop working when the floppy died, and I'd be out of luck, because I'd have no way to back it up. In 2011, I can buy "content" (which could be software, music, or a book), it will stop working, and I'll be out of luck, because I have no way to back it up. Your point would be more persuasive if all copy protection used to work a certain way, and if all DRM currently worked a certain way, which was

        • Not working due to media failure != not working due to lack of permission. Note the use of the term 'rights' and not 'copies'.

          Quite percussive.

  • DRM actually stands for "Digital Retard Monetization", because let's face it, you'd have to be daft to buy something with restrictions when the free and unlocked versions are even easier to obtain.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Saturday November 05, 2011 @03:44PM (#37960106)

    Several years ago when I first learned of HDLC, I posted here into a thread about the "new" high-definition technology warning that there was a new connector coming (it became HDMI) and a new nasty form of DRM going along with it (HDLC) and that people should hold off because the early adopters were going to get screwed. The response was a lot of angry posts telling me that I didn't know what I was talking about, early adopters told me that their expensive TV sets could play HD just fine, and I was modded down, apparently so people considering buying an early set without HDMI and HDLC would not see my warning.

    Now people who bought those amazingly expensive early "monitors" can't watch HD content from a Blu-Ray player or on-line streaming service on them (although they can enjoy grainy 480 line service). Why? Apparently we can get angry enough when a bank tries to charge $60 a year to spend our own money via a debit card, but we are not able to get angry enough with the content providers when they screw us and make it clear their intent is to buy congressmen to subvert the intention of Copyright as stated in the U.S. Constitution. So the content providers are going to keep screwing their customers. I'm sure that they would like to screw more people, but so far they have only figured ut how to screw the artists and the customers, aside for some random lawsuits that assume if you are not signing up for the screwing then you mist be a criminal.

    • by fnj (64210)

      HDLC? What are you going on about? I rather presume you mean HDMI, but there's no way to be sure.

      • There's no way to be sure? Maybe you could actually READ the post you replied to: ...there was a new connector coming (it became HDMI) and a new nasty form of DRM going along with it (HDLC) .. The poster was pretty clear that he was "going on about" a technology that became known as HDMI. Congratulations on failing 6th grade reading comprehension.
        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by fnj (64210)

          You're an idiot. HDLC is High Level Data Link Control, a serial data protocol. There was never a DRM by that name, except in poster's mind. Maybe you mean HDMI. Here's an idea. Before you make an ass out of yourself, make sure you know something about the subject.

    • by DeadboltX (751907)
      Many people seem confused by your use of HDLC to decribe a form of DRM over HDMI.

      I think you meant HDCP [wikipedia.org]
    • HDCP (not HDLC) was on the 22" LCD monitor I bought in 2006, I have bought two new displays since then, but that monitor is still very capable of playing encrypted Blueray content, although I would rather use my 52" TV for that. I think early adopter types who had bought a monitor before that, would have upgraded more times than me.

      You appear to be really indignant about this, but in practical terms, early adopters buy because it is fun to play with new stuff. Same reason women often buy too many shoes. It'

  • Anyone notice the games with content availability that go on with streaming Netflix? It's far worse than the few losses on content that have occurred with DRM.

    As a result I only buy physical media (CDs, DVD, BD) or unencumbered digital files like MP3 or FLAC, or rent physical disks.

    The idea of paying for a streaming service that you hardly know day to day what is going to be available is for the birds.

    • Out of interest, what FLACs can you buy commercially and where? If I buy music it's always on CD except in the rare cases where it's a digital-only release in which case I get the highest bitrate DRM-free AAC I can get and if that doesn't exist, the highest bitrate MP3. I'd probably buy more digitally if someone was actually selling lossless copies of something I wanted to buy.

      • by Briareos (21163) *

        Out of interest, what FLACs can you buy commercially and where?

        Off the top of my head:

        Boomkat [boomkat.com]
        Bleep [bleep.com]
        Bandcamp [bandcamp.com]

        They don't have everything as FLACs, but there's loads and loads of stuff (minus the Big 4 mainstream pap) for sale in FLAC (or WAV or ALAC) format.

        np: Soap & Skin - Spiracle (Lovetune For Vacuum)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Because of copyright, stupid crap like this exists. It's time to get rid of copyright.

  • by DavidinAla (639952) on Saturday November 05, 2011 @04:14PM (#37960322)
    It's insane to call Apple's FairPlay DRM a failed system, as the item for this says. The system did exactly what it was supposed to do. It allowed Apple to start legally selling something that the record labels wouldn't allow without it and then it was taken away when the labels agreed to go without it. The system worked as advertised. It achieved the goals of building a market for legal music. And then it went away. It was very successful and then it was retired when it was no longer needed.
    • by mveloso (325617)

      FairPlay still exists for video, if I remember right. FairPlay was never cracked.

      Audible's drm scheme also is still going strong.

      • FairPlay was never cracked.

        Hmm... [slashdot.org]

        • by mveloso (325617)

          It's amazing what people don't read.

          That wasn't a FairPlay crack - what happened was that FairPlay was being applied on the user's computer instead of on the server; if you downloaded the file directly off Apple's server there was no FairPlay wrapper yet.

      • by Sir Homer (549339)

        Per TFA:
        "FairPlay is cracked by Jon Lech Johansen ("DVD Jon"), previously known for his part in the DeCSS software, which was released four years earlier for decrypting DVDs."

      • by makomk (752139)

        FairPlay has been cracked several times, most recently by a project called Requiem. Previous cracks include PlayFair, Hymn, and QTFairUse6. Some of them involved copying the decrypted audio data out of RAM, others decrypted it themselves.

  • Without lube.

    Further analysis would simply be tautological.

  • From 2001: http://groups.google.com/group/gnu.misc.discuss/browse_thread/thread/df4b4363d544f766/ [google.com]
    "My question is: should software tools, protocols, and standards play a role in easing this required "due diligence" license management work (at least as far as copyright alone is
    concerned)?"

    Still not really answered...

  • DIVX [wikipedia.org] - the reason I stopped shopping at Circuit City.
  • Since the article is creativecommonsed I took the freedom to post a German translation of it [linulo.de] on my blog. Take a look if you like. Danke.

Byte your tongue.

Working...