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DRM Microsoft Piracy Your Rights Online

4 Microsoft Engineers Predicted DRM Would Fail 10 Years Ago 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-that-companies-have-listened-yet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars is running an article about a paper written just over a decade ago by four engineers at Microsoft. In it, they talk about the darknet, and how it applies to distributing content online. They correctly predicted the uselessness of DRM: 'In the presence of an infinitely efficient darknet — which allows instantaneous transmission of objects to all interested users — even sophisticated DRM systems are inherently ineffective.' The paper's lead author, Peter Biddle, said he almost got fired over the paper at the time. 'Biddle tried to get buy-in from senior Microsoft executives prior to releasing the paper. But he says they didn't really understand the paper's implications — and particularly how it could strain relationships with content companies — until after it was released. Once the paper was released, Microsoft's got stuck in bureaucratic paralysis. Redmond neither repudiated Biddle's paper nor allowed him to publicly defend it.' The paper itself is available in .DOC format."
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4 Microsoft Engineers Predicted DRM Would Fail 10 Years Ago

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  • DRM is not useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:11PM (#42148389)

    DRM hasn't failed and isn't useless. It's quite successful at pissing off honest customers and turning them towards piracy and circumvention.

    • by chad.koehler (859648) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:46PM (#42149067)

      That point is made in the conclusion of the actual paper. I know it's against the rules, but I read it.

      • Indeed. I wonder how much more wealthy MS might have been if they had continued working on their previous promises, instead of pursuing the DRM pipedream.

        I mean, they have spent a hideous amount of company resources to implement DRM in their main product, the Windows operating system; those resources could have been spent elsewhere on any number of features that really needed the extra attention. Instead, they were spent creating an alien DRM system in Windows, a place where the user (or even the admin) was

        • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 30, 2012 @08:24PM (#42150287) Journal

          Uhhh...everybody forget Bill Gates famous "If they pirate, I want them to pirate from us" line? Ballmer apparently has, as which two bombs in recent years had the nastiest DRM? why Vista and 8 of course. Win 7 was totally broken almost from RTM, look up "Win 7 all versions" on TPB and you'll see there is two DVDs, one for 32bit and one for 64bit, that covered every release from basic to ultimate, it even gives you a nice wallpaper based on who made the board!

          But one thing they got wrong i believe is that DRM is doomed, i point to netflix and Steam as examples of DRM done right. If you make the customer feel they are getting more value in their purchase and the DRM is unobtrusive and just rides along? Most won't care. look at how many had a fight over the Humble bundle and I was surprised to see how many agreed with me that it didn't matter because Steam gives value like chat, updates, matchmaking, etc and I know many pirates that once they got netflix haven't bothered, they have so many shows to watch now that frankly they could live in front of the set and never see it all, so why bother pirating more?

          The reason DRM has gotten a bad rap is because like many ideas handed to PHBs with little foresight naturally it can be misused, look at Starfuck breaking DVD burners, or SecuROM slowing down systems, or how most of those won't play nice with each other or even newer versions of itself so you end up with a dozen of the damned things running in the background. Compare this to steam, when its off? its off. No kernel level crap sucking resources and getting buggier by the day, no hassles, its all just "click to buy game" and even gifting something like the humble bundle takes just a couple of clicks. its cheap, easy, and hassle free and most people will NOT care as long as you meet those requirements.

          Hell even with MSFT they used to have common sense, like Windows activation...do i care? No. Why? because after changing every. single. part. on this desktop i had to re-activate exactly ONCE, and that was when I swapped boards. it took less than 10 seconds online, and that was it, done. Compare this to Vista and its black screen of death or even worse WMV/WMA DRM as examples of DRM done poorly. It was glitchy, often screwed up, and ALWAYS defaulted to "Ur a pirate!" so you ended up just wanting the shit far away from you.

          So just like VB or Java or Flash or any other thing out there DRM can be done right, or it can be done poorly. Personally I'd rather have a couple of services like Steam and netflix as "one stop shops" where I can buy anything I want cheaply an easily than see our rights stripped away with ever more draconian laws and customer screwing policies like 6 strikes, wouldn't you?

          • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:04PM (#42150731)

            i point to netflix and Steam as examples of DRM done right. If you make the customer feel they are getting more value in their purchase and the DRM is unobtrusive and just rides along? Most won't care. look at how many had a fight over the Humble bundle and I was surprised to see how many agreed with me that it didn't matter because Steam gives value like chat, updates, matchmaking, etc and I know many pirates that once they got netflix haven't bothered, they have so many shows to watch now that frankly they could live in front of the set and never see it all, so why bother pirating more?

            I think you are missing the point of DRM. The point of DRM is to stop unauthorized people from using or copying or distributing your software. That is its purpose. It was never intended as some kind of additional feature to get more people to buy your software as people like you claim Steam has done.

            In terms of stopping pirates from using software DRM has been an almost complete failure. There is the rare exception where the developers themselves devoted a large percentage of their development time to weaving DRM into thousands of different places to intentionally make things difficult/tedious for crackers, but those are rare exceptions. For the most part DRM has been an utter failure.

            When I want to buy a game that is only available on Steam I download it from TPB or KAT instead. The torrent version has an additional feature other than its lower cost: it allows me to install it without an internet connection. That's the kind of feature that I don't need all that often, but when I need it I really need it. So I rationally choose the version which offers me the most value: the DRM free version.

            There will always be a significant percentage of sheeple who don't care about DRM, no matter how draconian it is. Even the must-always-be-connected-to-server DRM sells many copies. Obviously less intrusive forms of DRM like steam will have fewer people objecting to it, but that doesn't mean the publisher isn't losing a significant number of sales from people who refuse to pay for DRM or who don't have reliable (or any) internet connections. Obviously such publishers just don't care about those people. They are willing to lose some number of customers in order to have that warm fuzzy feeling that delaying the release of their software on TPB for an extra 12 hours seems to give them. If I were a stockholder I would not be happy with that decision.

            • by Jiro (131519) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:50PM (#42151527)

              The point of DRM is to stop unauthorized people from using or copying or distributing your software.

              The *stated* point of DRM is to keep people from pirating your software. The actual purpose of DRM is to maintain control over the user, thus using it to prevent used games sales, format shifting, playing on unauthorized devices, etc.

              • It's about the 'rights' as they say down in LA

                You all have it...no dispute...DRM is anchored in the concept of holding a 'copyright' to written music

                The concept has been so abused that it gets confusing, and it's definitely about money at the core...money...power...control...whathaveyou...we all know their fsking game now, to me that's the important thing

              • by hairyfeet (841228)

                Riiiight, it has been shown repeatedly that if you can stop the pirates for only FOUR DAYS your sales go up by something like 20%, because many if they can't get it on release will say fuck it and go buy the movie or game rather than have to wait.

                And why in the fuck should I care about resale on games that cost me less than a rental? I'm up to 46 games in Steam right now and I paid a grand total of MAYBE $150 for the whole shebang...why would I care about resale? So Gamestop could give me $20 and resell it

              • by brit74 (831798)

                The *stated* point of DRM is to keep people from pirating your software. The actual purpose of DRM is to maintain control over the user, thus using it to prevent used games sales, format shifting, playing on unauthorized devices, etc.

                What a delightful little conspiracy theory, designed to give pirates a feeling of superiority because they've busted out of the evil intentions of evil corporations. You know what the most effective DRM on the market is? The PS3 DRM. It was broken once (four years after th

            • by pepty (1976012)

              When I want to buy a game that is only available on Steam I download it from TPB or KAT instead. The torrent version has an additional feature other than its lower cost: it allows me to install it without an internet connection. That's the kind of feature that I don't need all that often, but when I need it I really need it.

              You do realize that you're talking about really needing to play a game, right? What exactly would the consequence be of your having to wait until you have an internet connection to install a game?

              • by hairyfeet (841228)
                None, but some need an excuse to feel better about their piracy, so there ya go. Considering how many game companies have closed their doors in the past few years they are just cutting off their noses to spite their faces, because it will be quickly made clear to game devs to make consoles first, maybe bother with PC later if at all.
              • by Mark Hood (1630)

                You need an internet connection to download it anyhow, why not just install it right then?

                At least Steam doesn't make you be online whenever you boot the game up.... like some DRM.

                Or - and here's a radical thought - buy the game (so as to show support for the game you 'really need' to play) and then pirate it to get the 'critical feature' of being able to install it from your EM-shielded bunker? The makers get to eat, you get to add your perceived value, the pirate 'community' gets to show that actually the

                • by hairyfeet (841228)

                  I have actually done that, i bought Bioshock II and kept it in the sealed plastic as i played the pirated version because I fricking HATE GFWL, but damned if a nephew didn't get me a game for Xmas and didn't know it was GFWL, so damned if I didn't end up with GFWL anyway.

                  But in the end you and I both know what this is....excuses. They are coming up with excuses rather than admit they want the product without giving a cent for it. Hell don't think there are some games I'd like on release day that are too hig

                  • by Mark Hood (1630)

                    Yeah, I think you're right - we all want the newest games (music, video, movies, tv) the moment it comes out - but if you can discipline yourself to wait you can get it at a bargain price surprisingly soon.

                    • by hairyfeet (841228)

                      What gets me about that bullshit argument is this...even if you played 24/7/365 there are just sooooo many games released each quarter there is no way they could have played all the games in the under $10 bin on Steam, and that isn't even counting the daily deals or the big sales. heck during the summer sale I got the complete Deus Ex series WITH all the DLC for $15, Got Saints Row 3 with all the DLC I cared for for $12 (the boys got it with ALL the DLC for $20), 4 Crysis games for $15, seriously I'm ass de

              • by 0111 1110 (518466)

                You do realize that "having to wait" can be years? Or never. Waiting several years to play a game or use other DRMed software is not acceptable for software that I have paid for.

                I'm guessing you've never lived in a location where internet service is either unavailable or impractical. I have. I don't "need" to play any game, but I sure as hell am not going to pay even $1 for one that won't allow me to use it whenever I want.

                Basically the publishers want to fuck me in the ass and then get paid for it. I guess

                • by hairyfeet (841228)

                  Then how in the fuck are you typing this? Smoke Signals? If you don't even have net access and are typing this from a public library i think you have better fish to fry than being a pirate, and you missed one little flaw in your logic...YOU HAVE TO HAVE DECENT BANDWIDTH TO FUCKING USE BITTORRENT!!!

                  So if you have enough God damned bandwidth to download a 10Gb+ game from fricking BT I seriously doubt you letting it hook up for 2 MINUTES a damned month is gonna screw ya over pal. I have to say as far as pira

                  • by 0111 1110 (518466)

                    Has it not occured to you that:

                    1. A person can live in more than one place in a lifetime. Some of these places may not have internet connections easily available.
                    2. It is possible to download the game before you depart for the Never Never and yet still play the game after you arrive.
                    3. I never said I did not have an internet connection right now. The point is not about right now. It is that at some point in the future (in my case probably sometime in the next 2 years) I may wish to live in a location withou

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You are the reason why pages get slashdotted. I hope you are ashamed of yourself.

    • The money quote (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mystikkman (1487801) on Friday November 30, 2012 @07:03PM (#42149331)

      Te hoped that writing a paper saying so would reassure Microsoft's critics in the technical community that Redmond wasn't planning to lock down the PC in order to satisfy Hollywood. And by making it clear that the people behind Microsoft's "trusted computing" push were not fans of DRM, Biddle hoped he could persuade the technical community to consider other, more benign applications of the technology he was building.

      snip

      It didn't work out that way. "I almost got fired over the paper," Biddle told Ars. "It was extremely controversial." Biddle tried to get buy-in from senior Microsoft executives prior to releasing the paper. But he says they didn't really understand the paper's implications—and particularly how it could strain relationships with content companies—until after it was released. Once the paper was released, Microsoft's got stuck in bureaucratic paralysis. Redmond neither repudiated Biddle's paper nor allowed him to publicly defend it.

      At the same time, "the community we thought would draw a connection never drew the connection," Biddle said, referring to anti-DRM activists. "Microsoft was taking so much heat around security and trustworthy computing, that I was not allowed to go out and talk about any of this stuff publicly. I couldn't explain 'guys, we're totally on your side. What we want is a program that's open.'"

      The so called "community" is and was rabidly anti-Microsoft regardless of the actual merits of the case. There are umpteen journalists(eg. Farhad Manjoo of Slate), who railed endlessly against Palladium, but when Apple implemented the Palladium spec to the letter in the iPhone and iPad, locked out developers and users from their own machines, the exact same people went "OOH SHINY" were falling all over themselves singing its praises.

      See http://www.salon.com/2002/07/11/palladium/ [salon.com] and http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2012/03/new_ipad_how_apple_s_tablet_strategy_parallels_its_unbeatable_ipod_success_.html [slate.com]

      Now we have the slow decimation of user and developer freedom led over the past 5 years by the iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook,locked bootloaders on Android phones like the Droid, tablets etc., Windows Phone and now Windows RT. As they say, the first cut is the deepest, the war was lost when the public started buying iDevices in droves and they *still* can't keep them in stock. Now everyone can say if it's okay for the market leader Apple to do it, so can we. This is the harm with the "raise hell if it's MS, ignore and pump it if it's Apple etc." attitude of the community and Slashdot is no different for the most part. If, instead of playing fanboys and haters, if pundits and tech folks actually stood for openness like RMS did, we might have had a different future today.

      The cat is out of the bag though. Apple charging 30% of even the services offered through apps is just the tip of the iceberg.

      • Re:The money quote (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday November 30, 2012 @07:19PM (#42149545) Journal

        The fundamental misconception of the paper(which, as you note, Apple was first to demonstrate in a broad and serious way) is that DRM is about controlling exfiltration rather than controlling playback.

        Yeah, obviously, even the people who design PAL hardware for thermonuclear warheads are going to have a difficult time designing DRM systems that will resist prolonged physical access by a sophisticated attacker. If they have to build such systems on a consumer electronics budget, forget about it.

        However the 'break once, play everywhere' DRM defeat model implicitly assumes that computers will be 'default allow' devices. That, unless a given object is specifically encrypted/crippled/otherwise fucked with, they will happily do their best to work with what they are given.

        This simply isn't true. Market forces have prevented going 'default deny' in certain highly competitive sectors(eg. nobody selling cheap DVD players can get away with selling DVD players that play only CSS-encrypted disks) and for certain legacy formats(it isn't really an 'mp3 player' if it doesn't play mp3s...); but it is increasingly the case that more sophisticated devices are 'default deny'.

        None of today's consoles will boot an unsigned binary, even one otherwise compatible with their environment without modification to the system(sometimes a software crack, some are known only to possess hardware vulnerabilities requiring physical modification). The iDevices of the world will reject any .ipa executable package that isn't DRM-encumbered. You can strip off the "fairplay" all you like; but unless you have a jailbroken device or access to a trusted signing key, you aren't going to be running it... Microsoft's "Windows RT" will be the same thing for Windows style executables.

        If anything, what the MS guys demonstrated is that (because of the 'darknet' consideration) 'Trusted Computing' as DRM is doomed to failure and its only real function is trusted computing as control.

        • Re:The money quote (Score:4, Informative)

          by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruisin ... NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday November 30, 2012 @07:42PM (#42149799) Homepage Journal

          I agree in general. However, for what it's worth, Windows RT can both sideload apps (they have to be signed by *somebody*, but the certificate can and often will be from an "untrusted" source) and execute unsigned desktop apps if they run in the app sandbox. The first is an official feature, intended for use either by developers or for internal (company, etc.) apps. The second is completely unofficial, but it works; "Metro-style" apps (which run in a sandbox) aren't supposed to be able to invoke arbitrary .EXEs. Somebody has figured out how to do it though, and it turns out that so long as the target EXE is within the sandbox's accessible portion of the filesystem and doesn't need to access anything outside of the sandbox, it works fine even if completely unsigned. Of course, it still needs to be recompiled for ARM, so no running arbitrary legacy programs yet unless you have the source code and build tools, but it works.

          The question will be how MS responds to this. It's arguably completely safe to leave in place; even if somebody goes to the trouble to create malware that will run in this environment, the environment itself will keep it constrained. A sideloaded or store app could literally do just as much damage. If anything really malicious does pop up, they can add its definition to Defender. On the other hand... it's possible that they'll try and take a "you just *thought* it was your device" approach and block people from even doing that much. After all, given the need to recompile, you could argue that legacy malware wouldn't run anyhow, so there was no need to forbid third-party desktop apps in the first place. In any case, time will tell. Meanwhile, there's already work on other ways of unlocking Windows RT.

          Overall, a very insightful post, and I almost modded it as such (hopefully somebody else will) but wanted to respond.

        • yes it only loads signed executable until its jailbroken, as i recall their was a hacker a while back breaking each iOS update for each device, where to break it you just had to go to his page in the iphone browser. and apple in the end hired him to make him stop. drm don't work. just look at playstation they try to lock you out and a hacker just breaks it, Sony knows they cant stop him from doing it technological so they litigate him to death

        • Re:The money quote (Score:4, Informative)

          by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @04:20AM (#42153019)

          The iDevices of the world will reject any .ipa executable package that isn't DRM-encumbered. You can strip off the "fairplay" all you like; but unless you have a jailbroken device or access to a trusted signing key, you aren't going to be running it...

          That's not strictly true. Apple allows one to load "entitlements" on a device which can pair the device with your own signing key, and away from the appstore review process and DRM.

          Sure, they have to generate the entitlement. But for $200 they'll generate you an entitlement that can be loaded on as many devices as you want (aimed at enterprise.)

      • You couldn't be more right. I remember how much fuss was made against the DRM in Vista, which was fairly benign and had to be implemented to playback BluRay discs. Remember that debunked hitpiece of a paper written by an Australian professor? Many on Slashdot *still* believe that FUD and will say Windows 7 has a lot of DRM.

        When Apple implemented lockdown DRM on *apps*, the Apple fans made sure to moderate and steer the discussion about the OH SHINY part and no one talks about it anymore.

      • Apple charging 30% of even the services offered through apps is just the tip of the iceberg.

        Okay you're correct in many ways except for this right here. Apple's 30% cut is an extremely great price point given the market share and central access it provides. You might not be aware that we've (developers) had to put up with much higher rates in the past from similar offerings that were only a fraction of the Apple ecosystem. While lockout may seem like "death", there are elements that I can't deny are far more beneficial and efficient than a pure open system.

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Friday November 30, 2012 @07:06PM (#42149371)

      I am going to be a devil's advocate again: It did work extremely well on the PS3, where a "complete" break wasn't achived until recently, and for a console that is almost five years old, that is a pretty good accomplishment.

      Satellite is well protected with no "master cards" available on any black market. So far, no cracks are out there in any form.

      The iPhone 5 has yet to have even a single usable JB. The 4S has had only limited windows of time where it was jailbreakable.

      Even with e-readers, I've yet to see a cracked AZW file in the past two years. Amazon must be doing something right with their Kindle DRM. (I hope to be proven wrong, but I was curious about this earlier, did some quick searching and found any supposed decoders just were links to malware/Trojans.)

      DRM is alive and well.

      • by bluemonq (812827) on Friday November 30, 2012 @07:17PM (#42149527)

        Actually AZW has long been cracked. It was initially done to create DRM-free copies that Amazon could not revoke (remember the incident with 1984?). Of course, there are those who use it to share ebooks without permission to do so. There is even a plugin that integrates into Calibre to strip DRM out of your books,

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You mean the plugin that requires a version of the E-reader that isn't up to date, or the plugin that is a Trojan dropper? I wish there were a Calibre plugin that worked, but so far, there are none.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            There is a python script that works (need your kindle serial number).

            Or you can use Kindle.DRM.Removal.v4.2.1.247-Lz0 (Basically a crappy gui to the same script).

      • Also Microsoft's PlayReady DRM hasn't been broken to date.

        Annoyed the crap out of me because I am forced to use windows media center with my crap cable provider who CCI flags every channel. I have instead resorted to usenet and now download my tv shows illegally, and plan to cancel cable soon. Sadly, my HDHomeRun is basically worthless.

        • by loufoque (1400831)

          I remember removing the DRM from a PlayReady file 5 years ago.

          • by Dahamma (304068)

            That's impressive considering PlayReady has only been out for 4 years.

          • I doubt you did it 5 years ago, but it is possible you did it with an early revision of playready. Not due to a weakness in the protocol, but due to a flaw in the implementation.

            If playready was still breakable, you'd be able to watch netflix in mono.

      • Just because companies still try to use DRM doesn't make it useful...

        It is currently in use in various forms, and as GP said...it's fsking good at one thing: PISSING OFF THE USER

      • by Dwonis (52652)

        You seem to misunderstand what DRM, a.k.a. "copy protection", is advertised to do. It's about preventing copies of the content that is "protected" by DRM from becoming widely available to non-paying users.

        The negative effects of implementing DRM systems, which is that users' devices remain out of their control (for most users), are alive and well. That doesn't mean that DRM is accomplishing its stated purpose.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday November 30, 2012 @08:43PM (#42150507) Homepage Journal

      DRM hasn't failed and isn't useless. It's quite successful at pissing off honest customers and turning them towards piracy and circumvention.

      Not just DRM, but all the preview sh*t when I put a DVD in the player. I don't give a damn about all these other things, why do I have to sit there hammering the skip forward button and/or menu button? It's a great motivator toward ripping the content off the DVD, burning it on a blank and then watching it whenever I want to see the movie.

      Disney one of the worst offenders.

    • s/piracy and circumvention/better products/

      DRM is dumb. Charge a fair price and offer a better service, and people will buy it. If it's easier to get a better product through file sharing, then that is where people are going to go.

      Media companies:
      Just have certificate or password RSS feeds. Charge $5/month/feed. No DRM. You'll make money. I promise. Hell, even use torrent trackers for the feed links and you won't have to pay for the infrastructure yourself. Your own customers will actually offset th

    • Or the opposite. I used to pirate, but now I use steam.

  • Who didn't predict that?
    • Re:alright, (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:43PM (#42149021)

      The rest of their engineers.

      Basically they had 4 employees who realized what the rest of the free world already knew. This is why MS products are so lousy, only 4 people in the whole place figured this out!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by M0j0_j0j0 (1250800)

        The rest of the engineers didn't actually gave a crap about it as they were paid to implement those DRM. Ever had that feeling,"oh my this guys are paying me to do this, what a bunch of jacks, this will never work".

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Yes. And I've also worked at places where I implement meaningful code that works and does some good. So I speak from experience and mean it in the most sincere possible way that working on bullshit projects sucks out your soul. It's a horrible experience. You wake up each morning realizing there's no real reason to go to work. You come home and you want to wash your hands of the bullshit project least it infect your family. You sit through meetings in a daze because, ultimately, it doesn't matter. None of i
          • "working on bullshit projects sucks out your soul."

            Absolutly right. But still...

            Working on real bullshit projects pays your bills, great still-to-be-seen unreal ones, do not.

        • EVERY DAY

          Every day.

    • Senior management, apparently. ;)

    • I realize everyone here is going to say "The rest of MS", but let us not be that one sided; how about all of Apple didn't predict it?
      • by Mark Hood (1630)

        I'm not so sure they didn't.... there's no DRM on their OS (no activation, no keys, no problem re-installing it on more than one Mac). Compare that to MS who practically accuse you of piracy before you run your first update.

        The DRM they do have (in the Mac App store, iOS apps at least) is so low-key that most people don't even know it's there. I can buy an app once and install it on any and all iOS devices, again and again, with no concern at all. If it's a Mac app, I can install it on up to 5 Macs at once.

    • by jhol13 (1087781)

      I. I was extremely frightened that they could shut the internet music up, with so enthusiac audience (customers) for DRM.

      DRM really had a chance, it failed mostly not on "us" who were accustomed BSD/GPL etc, but on far too many competeting "standards". Then some DRM music stores shut down leaving customers with nothing (still someone bough zune after playsforsure ... go ahead, buy now the 8).

      But then, loosers learned nothing and are now "buying" ebooks.

      Just a couple of days ago there was a story in the news

  • 10 Years ago? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jabberwock (10206) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:16PM (#42148483) Homepage
    ... except for the few people I knew who worked for companies that stood to benefit from the wide acceptance of DRM, pretty much everyone was predicting it was a disaster starting in about 1996.
  • Dunno...DRM failure was predicted many years before that (remember back when the DMCA was just a proposed bill?).

    When it was predicted isn't the important part...it is WHO did the predicting; the Palladium team.

    • by Applekid (993327) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:18PM (#42148517)

      The DMCA has, in fact, prolonged the life of DRM by making it a literal crime to circumvent it. At least in the US.

      • by Microlith (54737) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:37PM (#42148921)

        Not from what I can see. AACS was cracked within a year or so of the arrival of Blu-ray and HD-DVD, with BD+ falling not long after. The DRM on most ebook formats was stripped within weeks or less.

        The DMCA just makes sure that the tools to strip DRM are hosted outside the US.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:23PM (#42148627) Journal

    I like the sound of that.

  • HDCP is still here. So is DRM on Blu-Ray.
    Some DRM never goes away...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Right, which is why you can't find HD films on The Pirate Bay and then stream the MKV to your television...

    • by Hatta (162192)

      They still put CSS on DVDs. That doesn't mean it does anything to protect anything.

      • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:52PM (#42149157)

        CSS isn't just about stopping piracy. It also requires a license to impliment legally (Being both patented, and covered under the DMCA or your national equivilent). The terms for this license include a number of other conditions, including mandating that players respect the region code byte and that they not provide the ability to skip videos in a certain navigational area usually used for anti-piracy warnings and studio logos. As an anti-piracy measure it is useless today, but it still serves to keep consumer electronics manufacturers (Who cannot afford to go underground to avoid lawsuits) more-or-less in compliance with the region system.

        • by Vanders (110092)
          Are you kidding? "Region free" hacks for DVD players were there from the very beginning. The very first player I bought (and it turns out the only one I ever bought, and which I still have!), back in something like 1997, was a Samsung DVD 709. I bought it specifically because it was trivial to put it into "regionless" mode and play Region 1 DVD's even though I'm in Region 2 (Bless you, Play247.com).

          These days it's even easier; you can walk into a supermarket and pick up a cheap Asian player that can be pu
          • by dbIII (701233)
            The region sillyness was only ever law in the USA and the players are made elsewhere. While the default used to be region locked with an option to unlock I think it's the opposite now since I haven't had to unlock anything for many years.
            I wouldn't be surprised if you guys are paying a bit more because somebody has to make sure the hardware is region locked before it goes to the USA.
            • by Anonymous Coward
              Like I said, I'm in Region 2 (Europe). I remember the lip service manufacturers paid (and in some cases till pay) to region locking, Phillips were particularly anal about it, for some odd reason.
      • by Mitreya (579078)

        They still put CSS on DVDs. That doesn't mean it does anything to protect anything.

        Sure it does. Or something does, anyway.
        Whatever they put on DVDs protects at least a third of them from properly playing in my (windows) laptop DVD drive.

        It may not deter copying, but it sure does something

    • by Anonymous Coward
      HDCP has been cracked and HDCP strippers were available from Asian manufacturers even before then.
      AACS was cracked within a couple of years of BluRay being released.
      BD+ was cracked not so very long after that.

      DRM might not go away any time soon but it has failed.
    • by russotto (537200)

      HDCP is still here.

      Search for "HDCP Master Key". Now HDCP is reduced to annoying honest people rather than copyright violators.

  • .doc file? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kergan (780543) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:37PM (#42148927)

    Couldn't they have torrented a pdf file to make their case?

  • by slew (2918) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:39PM (#42148967)

    Basically, for these folks, the darknet paper was just writing the obituary for the Palladium (trusted computing) project they were working on for Microsoft. They knew that it wouldn't stop piracy, so might as well explain why that is the case and move on...

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:55PM (#42149205)

      They failed to understand then the true purpose of Palladium. That one day, a distant descendent of the project would be used to make computers that are not capable of booting any untrusted operating system, and that Windows alone would be recognised as trusted by most motherboard manufacturers and OEMs. Palladium was always half about DRM and half about lock-in, over Intel's objection. It got so much bad press it was eventually renamed to NGSCB, and then quietly dropped, but some aspects do still remain.

  • Just need to get rid of that pesky "last mile" of secure content delivery and DRM is a success!
  • by gweihir (88907) on Friday November 30, 2012 @06:48PM (#42149091)

    The paper presentation at CCS 2002 was pretty good. I was one of the about 60 people in the room and 5 minutes in I had the feeling of witnessing history in the making. And yes, in the Q&A part, they did directly confirm that they thought DRM was completely doomed from the beginning.

    • by swillden (191260)

      The paper presentation at CCS 2002 was pretty good. I was one of the about 60 people in the room and 5 minutes in I had the feeling of witnessing history in the making.

      I suppose that feeling could have arisen from shock that people from a major corporation were being allowed to say it out loud. The basic point is fundamentally obvious to anyone who's taken an information theory course (or thought hard about it for a while). DRM, when implemented on a general-purpose computer wholly under the control of its owner, is an exercise in trying to give someone a piece of information and then take it back. It's impossible, period.

  • Mayans also predicted that. Well, actually Mayans predictions were little wilder.
  • by mbkennel (97636) on Friday November 30, 2012 @07:09PM (#42149421)

    If "success" means "no content copied", then of course nothing will work. That's an impossible goal.

    What success actually means *economically* is "increase revenues, or prevent revenue loss, more than the cost of implementation." If you make it difficult enough for somebody who has the potential means and motivation to buy to avoid buying then it could be deemed a success. A teenager with nothing to lose (and no money) might not care about being busted for torrenting copyrighted content---but a family man with a mortgage, job and credit rating might care.

    Electronic tags on handbags don't prevent 100% of shoplifting, and yet they're deployed fairly widely.

    • by fermion (181285)
      DRM has not done this. In terms of music, DRM created a situation in which hapless dominated the market and could kill the album. Now some may say it saved music from free, but in singles were free like music videos and radio once was, lwe mat still have album sales. No one knows because every freaked instead of looking for other market solutions, so music is worth nothing now.

      DRM for books is the reason Amazon know has control of the publishing and authors get paid what Amazon wants. Amazon put DRM on

      • by SeaFox (739806)

        Now some may say it saved music from free, but in singles were free like music videos and radio once was, lwe mat still have album sales. No one knows because every freaked instead of looking for other market solutions, so music is worth nothing now.

        No, that wouldn't have helped. The problem with album sales is what it has been for 30 years now -- poor quality of music. It's become a situation where most of the good tracks on an album are the singles. So releasing the singles for free isn't going to increase sales of the full album.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am reading a document,with libreoffice, written by Microsoft employees, published in doc format, ten years after the fact and actually agree. Great isn't it ?

  • by quax (19371) on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:11PM (#42150787)

    Another case in point, that speaking truth to power is usually costly for the Kassandras of the world.

    Encouraging though that they did speak up.

  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday November 30, 2012 @09:42PM (#42151031)

    99.99999999999% of the time DRM is an utter failure, but what about those oh so rare exceptions?

    I believe that many of those successes were 'protecting' software that just wasn't all that popular. Any sufficiently obscure software with DRM you pretty much have to crack yourself.

    There have been occassional locked down hardware systems that have gone uncracked for years. The PS3 for instance.

    I was dismayed to find that Audible.com's proprietary audio format: .aa/.aax, which supposedly is just a wrapper for mp3s, has gone uncracked for quite some time now. It remains 100% uncracked. However the quality of the 64 kbps .aax audio is high enough for its speech only content that the generation loss involved with burning to CD and re-encoding to mp3 is minimal. This workaround may be the reason no one has made any serious attempt to crack the .aax format.

    Nevertheless it is disappointing. From the POV of Amazon/Audible the .aax format DRM has been a complete success. Their files cannot be distributed without generation loss. Is it possible they didn't anticipate that most people wouldn't particularly care about the minor loss in voice quality? Admittedly the higher quality 64 kbps .aax file is a somewhat recent addition. Before that there were only 32 kbps versions. Perhaps in that case the generation loss would have been much more noticeable.

  • by speedlaw (878924) on Friday November 30, 2012 @10:02PM (#42151201) Homepage
    All of my consumer electronics has crappy DRM. I'm stuck with HDMI and HDCP. Occasionally box A does not want to talk to box B. Sometimes it does. I had to toss a perfectly good AVR because the HDMI/HDCP board went...something not really essential. DRM is a raging success for making my CE experience harder.
  • 4 Microsoft Engineers Predicted DRM Would Fail 10 Years Ago

    OK, and when did they predict that?

    Seriously, shouldn't the sentence have read something like "4 Microsoft Engineers Predicted 10 Years Ago that DRM Would Fail"?

  • I was there...and one of the Gnutella network founders from MIT testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee (after Lars and Shawn Fanning w/ 'M' hat)...he testified that the **infinitely copyable** nature of digital music files made DRM useless

    These Microsoft guys get respect...but they were being **kind**...no damn "darknet" is necessary...trading with friends IS NOT A DARKNET

    See, anyone is allowed to compile music on media and give to a friend...that's part of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act...and the Federal Government cannot define 'friend' just to control digital music...it is a non-starter

    So...the labels/studios had to either 1) adapt business model beyond holding copyright **OR** 2) use DRM

    We know the rest...

    FYI it was the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to propose adaptations to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in July (?) of 2000...Senators Leahy and Hatch presided...I used my 'intern' badge to sneak into the press box :P

  • The precioooous ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElRabbit (2624627) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @01:57AM (#42152515)
    I have been hanging around with TV executives for 10 years, always trying to make them understand that all the protection they were trying (lamely) to put in place will only block legitimate customers while increasing product cost. But those guys behave like Gollum in Lord of the Ring: their content is sooooo precioooousss. They are beyond any reasonable argument.
  • Dilbert: I'm inventing a new technology to prevent kids from seeing smut on the internet.
    Dogbert: So, you're pitting your intelligence against the collective sex drive of all the teenagers who own computers?
    Dilbert: What is your point?
    Dogbert: Did you know that if you put a little hat on a snowball it can last a long time in hell?

    Dilbert: Matt [a kid], your job is to text my new invention that blocks kids from seeing dirty pictures on the internet.
    Dilbert turns to Alice: His youthful curiosity is no match f

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