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DRM Media Your Rights Online

The Real Purpose of DRM 213

Jeremy Allison - Sam writes "Ian Hickson, author and maintainer of the HTML5 specification, comments about the real reasons for DRM. They're not what you might think. Ian nails it in my opinion. He wrote, 'The purpose of DRM is not to prevent copyright violations. The purpose of DRM is to give content providers leverage against creators of playback devices. Content providers have leverage against content distributors, because distributors can't legally distribute copyrighted content without the permission of the content's creators. But if that was the only leverage content producers had, what would happen is that users would obtain their content from those content distributors, and then use third-party content playback systems to read it, letting them do so in whatever manner they wanted. ... Arguing that DRM doesn't work is, it turns out, missing the point. DRM is working really well in the video and book space. Sure, the DRM systems have all been broken, but that doesn't matter to the DRM proponents. Licensed DVD players still enforce the restrictions. Mass market providers can't create unlicensed DVD players, so they remain a black or gray market curiosity."
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The Real Purpose of DRM

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @08:28PM (#43219409)

    People who make IP are pissed when other people can easily copy and distribute their work for free. It is a VERY common Human emotion from creators.

    DRM is nothing but a modern version of 'copy protection'. Or perhaps the idiot Hickson wants to argue that copy-protection sought by people like the Beatles, or used on VHS tapes, happened because the 'content providers' wanted 'leverage' over the people making the playback hardware.

    DRM is a super-set of basic copy-protection ideas, that has vastly enhanced functionality ONLY because modern levels of tech make such functionality possible. Everything that DRM causes is a 'down-stream' consequence of tech possibilities, NOT the reason DRM exists in the first place.

    All current legislative pressure (the actions of your government) insists that DRM must NOT relate to issues of hardware monopolies- the exact opposite of what idiot Hickson is saying. Hickson is like the idiots who try to argue that EULAs over-rule your 'first sale doctrine' rights.

    Governments will only allow DRM to ultimately serve two purposes. 1) to stop illegal copying and distribution. 2) to allow media to be provided as a 'service' (where the data is no longer accessible when the service conditions end). Companies that use DRM do NOT get to trump the law of the land.

    An idiot might ask "why then are so many DRM schemes associated with particular hardware". The answer is, of course, down to the emerging state of the technology. Universal DRM systems require technology to reach a level (cost and capability) where they become commercially feasible. In the interim (as with all new technologies) a lot of proprietary intermediate solutions get implemented.

    The example of 'licensed' DVD players is laughable and humiliating. There is no such thing as an 'unlicensed' DVD player in the sense the idiot Hickson means. Unlicensed in this case means companies that illegally refuse to pay to use the patents of Sony and Phillips- patents that have nothing to do with DRM, but patents that describe the fundamental workings of DVD players. Refuse to pay for the patents, and you can make a cheaper DVD player. None of these so-called unlicensed players (stand-alones) allow for illegal copying of protected Disks. Idiot Hickson is obviously confusing the idea of 'region free' players- a feature found in the majority of LICENSED players via a service menu function.

    Of course, in the short term, many companies will attempt to illegally exploit their DRM system in order to restrict the rights of their customers. But let me ask you a question. Did Apple do this? Cheap crooked behaviour is for small fry criminal companies. You want to be the biggest player? You are going to have to respect consumer rights.

    A neat example of this is with Sky TV in the UK, the world's most advanced broadcast service. Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Sky (and Fox in the USA) may be rotten to the core, but he is no fool. He has hardware built to spec for home reception, but has embraced the Internet and all mobile devices. He intends that all of his televisual content can be received on ANY mobile device owned by his customers, including offline storage of shows with DRM. Hardware issues play a part here, but not in any way Hickson describes. Media companies require 'protected video playback paths' in the video hardware subsystems so that the decoded video stream may not be intercepted and copied. You may imagine this as the concept of 'write-only' memory for the video-buffers.

    DRM has NOTHING to do with seeking control of those that build the playback hardware. PS now I know why HTML 5 is proving to be such a bad joke. Isn't it time open-source grew up, and started to worry about the intellectual abilities of those that control key projects.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @08:32PM (#43219455) Journal

    As copying has gotten easier and easier, the mere social contract between publisher and community, which essentially says that the latter will not copy it without permission, effectively granting the publisher a form of distributive control, has started to break down.

    Nice try. But the DMCA came before Napster, and DVD DRM (and Macrovision before it) came before general-purpose computers could play back video well. This isn't a chicken and egg problem, we know which came first. It seems likely that the main original purpose of DVD DRM was to enforce region coding, not to prevent copying.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @09:53PM (#43219965) Homepage Journal

    I think you slipped up there. RIAA is NOT a content producer. RIAA is a parasitic organization that has never produced anything other than a sense of satisfaction for it's members, and grief for consumers. Some of RIAA's members produce content, but RIAA produces nothing.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982