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DRM: How To Boil A Frog 484

symbolic writes "This article on the Register explains their experience with Creative's first attempt at supporting DRM, and also reviews a sneaky little technique for 'easing' DRM into peoples' lives via a free Costello preview CD. Two of the tracks are free from any DRM, but for the two that are DRM-enabled, you have to activate the right to listen to them (up to four times), by accessing a central server via the net. For those in the know, the doublespeak used to inform users of any actions they need to take to enable their DRM rights might be quite amusing. To wit: 'The content you are accessing requires an additional level of security. In order to play it, you will need to update your Digital Rights Management Installation.' Others, however, will think they're getting something, when they're actually having something taken away from them. It's a matter of time to see if consumers will flat-out reject this new 'enabling' technology, or let it seep into and infect their lives like the disease that it is."
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DRM: How To Boil A Frog

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  • Why Elvis? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CresentCityRon ( 2570 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:02PM (#4315918)
    Elvis Costello in his prime was ANTI-establishment, ANTI-big biz and PRO-individual. You can see a lot of that from his interviews and comments.

    Now he's just a tool. And it is funny as well since his music isn't as important as it once was. He could USE some of the exposure P2P offered. Now he'll be known by the masses as the first person who's CD stopped playing after four times. (At least in the UK.)

    "You better do what you've been told. You better listen to your Radio" - EC.
  • Re:hmmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zrodney ( 253699 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:03PM (#4315931)
    check out the article at

    it actually shows the opposite of the frog boiling
    myth. makes sense, really. if you put a frog
    in boiling water, it will be severely injured
    right away and probably won't be able to jump out.
    Whereas a frog in cold water will get bored and
    jump out before long. :)

    from the article...

    How did our expert interpret this triumph of science? "There are certain cases where gradual change is almost preferred," Hofman commented. "The change myth assumes a very narrow view of people. If frogs can do it, people definitely can."

    I wonder if the same applies to people and DRM
  • Buy-Bitch-Return (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peterdaly ( 123554 ) <petedaly&ix,netcom,com> on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:12PM (#4315976)
    For the ones with more initiative than myself, it may be time once again for the good 'ol buy...bitch...return, sequence of events. Be interesting to know if they honor returns. Too bad the CD is free.

    Also, go to the review sites on the net and let this info be know about the Soundblaster Live. Amazon's a good place to start, I'm not up to date with all the current popular ones.

  • by bogie ( 31020 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:19PM (#4316030) Journal
    It's funny because as much as everyone complains, its pretty apparent that DRM and Palladium are coming to a computer near you.

    Instead of reading how fucked were going to be, it would be nice if we concentrated on what current efforts are being made to fight for our rights. If Slashdot is going to be posting Y.A.S.O.D.R.M.(yet another story on drm). Maybe they could actually do something positive and once a week post about the ongoing efforts to combat it. You know like "this week X happened", and have it be a ongoing thing.

    I'm not really sure what page to link to, but someone out there must be organized. It would be great if every Friday their was some sort of update we could all follow along with.

    Now I know some of you are saying Slashdot is a "news service" and shouldn't get involved. But gimma a break Slashdot is hardly unbiased and there is obviously no "journalism code" being followed. Amost every submission is heavily biased.

    I dunno /. do you want to be remembered for posting the news, or would you like to be remembered as something that actually made a difference?

    Its just a suggestion, but if I had a website read by billions a visitors a day, I'd try to do some good. Are there other more worthy causes? Sure by far(AIDS,war,education etc), but this IS a tech news site and if there is even going to be opensource news to print about, things like DRM and Palladium need to be stopped now.
  • Re:Or, in this case (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CresentCityRon ( 2570 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:20PM (#4316041)
    "They say you better listen to the voice of reason
    But they don't give you any choice
    'cause they think that it's treason." - EC from "Radio Radio"
  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:28PM (#4316082) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone know of a tool that can reliably test a CD to see if it meets any of the various *book standards published for CDs.

    That way it'd be real easy to prove that it wasn't a CD-Audio disc and return it.
  • by brain159 ( 113897 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:30PM (#4316087) Journal
    We get the relevant newspaper (the Sunday Times) in my household so out of boredom yesterday I grabbed said CD, and found the following:

    The article is over-hyped (more than is usual for The Register) - it's not necessary to download WMP9beta to play the "limited" media files, it just offers you that as the default download if you're lacking WMP or are too far out-of-date.

    On WinXP with the default version of WMP (8.1 or something like that), I had to go online and pick up a license file for each track (and fill in a form on a pop-up window for the first one, giving them a BS name and address). There was no super-clever Secure Audio Path stuff when playing back the files on WMP8 and it didn't seem to notice I was ripping the stream to disk with TotalRecorder [] for later mp3-encoding!

    (to their credit, the audio files on the CD are 192kbit WMA which does sound pretty damn good, even after MP3ing)

  • Re:Rights? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <> on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:38PM (#4316146) Homepage
    Fact: you have a right to make backup copies for archival purposes (for yourself only, obviously)

    Fact: nothing requires that it be POSSIBLE for you to do so

    Executive Summary is that if you can break the DRM, you can make a backup copy.

    Of course, there's conflicting laws (copyright doctrine for years has permitted backups, but breaking the DRM probably counts as a DMCA violation). Which one will take precedence in court, should someone try to beat you up for breaking their DRM to make a backup copy, is left as an exercise for the reader.

  • by S5o ( 102998 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:47PM (#4316191) Homepage
    A few weeks ago, my dad, not a techie by any means, casually brought up the issue of Palladium. "Have you heard about Palladium?" he asked.
    I was ready to go into "Yes, I agree, it's dumb-shit" mode, but the next thing he said shocked me:

    "I read that it lets you send emails to people that they can't forward or copy. It's called Digital Rights Management."

    I've since heard this exact same statement twice more from other, random people, among which, tech-oriented guys that should know better. Somehow, Microsoft marketing has somehow pushed DRM and Palladium as something that /gives/ you rights, and ironically, additional privacy.

    Of course, I told him that how DRM really works, but on a larger scale, the huge "consumer backlash" I've been counting on to end all of these anti-consumer technologies just may be further off than anyone expected. It very well could end up as the next Macrovision: people will think "it's there because copying stuff is illegal, and only bad men want to copy stuff", even after they've bought their 2nd or 3rd copy of the same scratched CD.

    The misinformation campaign is obviously deliberate, and real. And the worse part is, mindshare typically goes with the media, which just happens to be the rights-slayer this time.
  • Nah, do SOMETHING (Score:1, Interesting)

    by plierhead ( 570797 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:53PM (#4316225) Journal
    You have to go further than just not paying for them.

    You have to make sure it costs them.

    Go in and buy the DRM media. Then take it back and say that it doesn't work on your player. Make sure you get the store manager. Ream his ass out good. Give him techno-babble when he asks what your player is.

    Get your friends to do the same at other stores.

  • by blank_coil ( 543644 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:25PM (#4316399)

    Isn't the point of DRM that you won't be able to play it 40 years from and will, therefore, have to purchase another copy?

  • by proj_2501 ( 78149 ) <> on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:29PM (#4316419) Journal
    Actually, the new Sasha CD does not play on my radio station's CD players because of the copy protection.

    Most commercial radio stations nowadays keep all their music stored in digital format on a gigantic hard drive somewhere. Now, I'm sure most radio conglomerates will receive non-DRM versions of this stuff, since they're getting paid to play it in the first place. A radio network could probably refuse to play a single if only a DRM version is available and the record label didn't want to shell out for DRM players for every Clear Channel radio station.
  • by xenoweeno ( 246136 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:48PM (#4316526)

    So what's to prevent me from having Sound Recorder open while I listen to the song?

    What's stopping you is the fact that Sound Recorder is limited to thirty seconds of recording. Total Recorder [], however, will fit the bill nicely. :-)

  • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anto ( 41846 ) <ajw@pob o x .com> on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:29PM (#4316780) Homepage Journal
    The studios will tell you you can backup your media. However if you gave your backup to someone else then its not going to work without your license (your not going to give them that to - that would be naughty or something) Of course if you loose your licence the studios will be more than happy to give you another one - just after you re-purchase all your media again. Remember this stuff is about terrorism, the american way of life and racking up huge profits for the handfull of multinationals who currently control distribution.

    The best way to beat all of this is to buy *everything* proteted by DRM - and then return it when it dosn't work for you. That way the RIAA dosn't get to claim that theft is causing drops in sales - and the record companies get the message through thousands of expensive returns (and lost income) that the public just wont stand for people messing with their entertainment.
  • by geekee ( 591277 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:35PM (#4316805)
    It's bad enough when the person posting a story puts a biased spin on it in his commentary, but when slashdot allows biased stoires like this to qualify as "news", they need to start examining what they really want this site to be. Apparently, they don't want to present unbiased information, and let the slashdot community decide for themselves what it means through opinions and discussion, but instead prefer to push their agenda on slashdot community.
  • by blank_coil ( 543644 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:49PM (#4316871)

    But as new customers they will simply accept this as the-way-things-are, because they will never anything different.

    I'm not so sure about that. CD's, or rather music, is just like any other product on the shelf. If its value does not seem reasonable, people won't buy it. That is, if people pay $20 for a CD, and they can't play it in their car, or their CD player, or if they're made to pay for again and again, they'll just not buy it. Supply and demand. There is no demand for DRM. People will buy CDs without DRM. And if there are none, then people will stop buying CDs and find some other avenue through which to acquire music.

    And remember, people don't need music. If it's too much of a hassle, they'll do without.

  • uhh, slightly OT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pneuma_66 ( 1830 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:00PM (#4316920)
    The same happened to me with the latest de/vision cd. It wouldn't play in my radio station's cd players, nor my pioneer pro-dj player which i use to dj at clubs in the like. So, i decided to post a rant on [] , in case anyone wants to read it.
  • Elvis Quote (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Simulant ( 528590 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:01PM (#4316924) Journal
    "Well, that there is no such thing as free music. If a carpenter made a chair and then someone went into his workshop and took it without his permission, that's not free, that's stealing. I think that the Napsters of this world only encourage that."
    -Elvis Costello, 2002

    The man plainly does not get it.

    ( te rviews24611.asp)

  • by sacolcor ( 471889 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:54AM (#4317326)
    It seems to me that the best way to combat DRM is to politely but firmly let the companies that include it know that we will not purchase their products. Those of us here have (comparitively) a lot of influence on purchasing decisions for hardware and software, both through friends that come to us for advice, and because many of us hold IT positions in our companies. In this case, we need to identity which sound cards have DRM, publicize that fact in any reviews/recommendations we do, and encourage people to buy hardware without such restrictions. So, to get the ball rolling, would anyone like to reply to this post with a recommendation for a good sound card that does not have DRM, and preferably has open source drivers?

    To make my position clear, I just sent the following letter to Creative Labs:

    I am currently the owner of a SoundBlaster AWE64 Gold, and have been very happy with its performance. I am in the process of purchasing a new computer, and am trying to decide what sound card to get. I just read the story at, which states that the SoundBlaster Live and Audigy series have built in Digital Rights Management (DRM), which will disable the digital output of the sound card if the card believes that the audio signal is copy-protected. Can you confirm or deny the presence of such restrictions in your cards?

    If your cards do contain DRM, I would like to express my distaste that you have included such restrictions without clearly notifying the consumer of their presence, and state that I will no longer purchase your products as a result, and will recommend that my friends do the same.

    Why not take a few minutes to send a similar letter? I sent mine to, but I have no idea whether its valid or not - they don't list many email addresses on their website. Perhaps a followup poster can find a more appropriate address?
  • by _Knots ( 165356 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:55AM (#4317337)
    Aaactually, the actual decryption / authorization occurs on your local machine. What doesn't is the generation of the decryption token. That bit is hard-coded on DVDs and in the players and thus is very easy to get.

    Here you have to be really sneaky and be able to be able to forge talking with the servers.

    Wouldn't be a bad idea to ask everybody who got the CD to run a tcpdump capture of all trafic to/from the authentication server, their UID, and other such information. That way we could start reverse-engineering immediately without having to actually prod at the server.

  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @01:43AM (#4317497) Homepage Journal
    Um.. isn't there already a law against "surreptitiously placing anything on a PC that impairs its function" ?? It was aimed at virus authors, but ISTM that sneakware-DRM is just begging to get prosectuted under this same law.

    If you read thru some of The Register's links from the parent article, you'll come to one that speaks of how M$ is positioning itself as the sole purveyor of digital content. I think they're right. The fallout from this is also why barring some radical departure from M$'s current course, XP (and NO service packs) is the LAST Windows version I'll ever use.

  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @02:16AM (#4317572) Homepage Journal
    Your comment brought to mind a disturbing vision involving DRM-protected content that can't be *deleted*, because you don't have rights to do so.

    What an opportunity for entrapment -- just email the victim some kiddie porn (or whatever) that's rigged so DRM won't let him delete it, then call the cops.

    I know this sounds farfetched, but what if DRM eventually incorportates a no-delete/no-format feature (which would probably require hardware involvement) that could be used to *prevent* people [think corporations and mobsters] from deleting "evidence"?? A handy tool for catching Bad Guys, but how far would YOU trust it in the hands of certain law enforcement agencies??

    Yeah, the cops could just as well have used a data recovery agency, but this is SO much easier, can be inspected on the spot, and besides, the perp *might* be a terrorist!

    I think you can see where my train of paranoid extrapolation is headed. I hope I'm suffering from an overactive imagination.

  • Re:Rights? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @10:14AM (#4318964)

    if you wan't rights

    This abuse of the apostrophe has to stop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @06:42PM (#4323202)
    An artist offering a finished work for purchase is no different than any other business transaction.

    Yes, it is. sigh Let me try to put this in terms you can understand, since you seem very determined to view everything as through a window of pure captitalism.

    Music (or any other form of "intellectual property") is an act of discovery founded upon previous discoveries, the most important of which are owned called the "public domain", and are owned by a big corporation called the "government". As a shareholder in the "government" (they call it being a "voter"), I have the right to contact the executive officers of the "government", (often called "presidents", "Prime Ministers", "congressment", "members of parliment", "senators", or other such titles), and ensure that they are acting in the best interests of the corporation (called a "country").

    Giving away assets of the government (discoveries made based upon government owned intellectual property in the public domain), by granting full ownership of a derived work to a so called "artist" is bad business, and an abuse of government resources.

    You either accept the terms under which the artist's product is being offered, or you look for something more agreeable.

    Or you make a counter-offer. It's called "bargaining", and it's a cornerstone of modern business. Now, try to do anything without referencing anything derived from the public domain, and tell me which party has better bargaining power in intellecutal property negotiations.

    After all, remember that the "consumers" you're talking about own the "corporation" that own the public domain.


    Whew! I wonder if CEOs see the world that way? Now I need a shower. :-(


  • by blank_coil ( 543644 ) on Wednesday September 25, 2002 @05:30PM (#4331136)

    In other words, explain why you should be provided with something of obvious value, for FREE.

    How do you measure the value of a song? My point is simple: you can't sell music. In a pure capitalist economy (with NO government intervention), your music would be worthless because it could easily be copied, at NO cost to you. Copyright law creates an artificial scarcity, that is, an ARTIFICIAL environment, because selling music wouldn't work any other way. Instead of saying, "Lets come up with a business model for making music that WORKS" we just perpetuate this fake reality so that some very powerful people can make lots of money.

    I suggested musical artists make their money by performing because it works as a business model. I pay for their TIME, not their music. Isn't that what bards did in the past, travel from town to town performing? And didn't they make money? Did they collect royalties on their songs?

    I believe you should give me your music for free because you're fooling yourself if you think I'm going to pay for it. But by letting me listen to your songs on my CD player at home, I just might find you enough to my liking to go see you perform live. That equates to $$$ for you.

    If you insist on turning music into a consumable medium...

    I'm not. Groups like the RIAA want it to be a consumable medium. They want it only to be enjoyed by one person, for a limited amount of time. Think DRM. Think permits to perform. Think royalties.

    Don't get me wrong, I still think you should make money from your artistic skills. I just think that there's a better model for doing it than the current one.

    This is a very enjoyable debate.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev