Why DRM is stupid for companies.

Then explain the existence of CSS, which prevents me from legally playing DVDs I own but doesn’t do a damned thing to prevent me from copying them.

I don’t feel obliged to explain the existence of anything. The ‘rights management’ in the term DRM refers to the rights of the author, regardless of whether any particular implementation of it happens to interfere with your use of the product.

It refers to the rights of the entity that applied it, which is essentially never the author. CSS is the most obvious proof of this: Authors don’t benefit from it one whit. It was done to protect cozy monopolies in the industry relative to what software and hardware is capable of playing the disks, something authors have no control over and no financial interest in. In fact, by restricting the markets the author’s financial interests are harmed.

Here’s another, even more egregious example: Apple’s FairPlay DRM locks down content that was placed under liberal licenses by the authors of said content. The authors explicitly allow uses the DRM prohibits, in other words, and Apple’s DRM is subverting their clearly-stated wishes. This is theft, but Apple gets away with it because they have the ear of lobbyists. Apple may be dancing closer to ending this piracy, but I’m not holding my breath.

So, no. I don’t really expect you to explain it. I expect you to not defend it.

This is why the term “digital restriction management” is more correct – DRM places restrictions on content whether or not the publisher actually has any right to place such restriction (e.g. more restrictive than the wishes of the actual copyright holder, infringing upon the fair-use prerogatives of the end user, etc).

One good thing about DRM is that it encourages a market in software and hardware to crack the protection.

It also encourages people to find ways of getting round the extremely expensive middlemen.

The point is that the (presumed)‘rights’ that are being managed are not those of the consumer; they’re the rights of the author and, as you say, the producers, distributors, etc.

I am not here to defend any particular scheme or implementation of digital rights management, however, I will insist that there should be such things as recognised rights of content producers and there should in principle be ways in which they might protect them.

And DRM isn’t that way. Baen has a workable solution for books (that would likely port to music just as well) and Red Hat has a workable solution for software. The notion of publisher’s rights trumping author’s rights is a cancer on our society (one of many) and is perverting copyright law by giving the people with the most money the largest say in what’s legal. Copyright law without the recent perversions (the DMCA among them) provides everything content producers need, and if it doesn’t provide everything parasitic content distributors need then so much the better.

My bottom line is that DRM isn’t for content producers. It’s for parasitic distributors who refuse to adapt their business model to the times. Any mention of content producers by those parasites when they try to justify DRM is a red herring, a strawman, and an outright lie.

I missed this.

This is a bad thing, because it makes more people guilty of a crime. That’s bad because it means more people can be legally hassled and even ruined if they ever become annoying to the people in charge. The case of Edward Felten is instructive, as is the case of Dmitry Sklyarov. Plus, the laws passed to enforce DRM encourage the parasitic distributors to hassle people who are innocent and make it too easy for the distributors to win. This is a prime example. So is this. Note the RIAA is a cartel of distributors, not artists.

On a more philosophical note, bad laws in one sector of society encourage disrespect for laws in general, especially if the laws state you face expensive prosecution even if you are obviously not guilty. If you can’t keep yourself out of trouble anyway, why even try to obey those laws?

Effort that could have been better spent elsewhere.

Based on my experience, just about every person I know is a pirate. Meaning, just about every person I know has copied music from another person, web site, library, etc. and used it personally. These are average, every day people, like you and me, well at least like me, and I assume you, but I could be wrong. To say that most of the activity I have seen copying albums/tapes/cd/etc. would not have resulted in a sale is making a pretty big assumption.

I think you need to do better than saying “a little common sense” to prove the point because my common sense says that copying satisfied a need by the consumer that is substantial. This doesn’t mean all of it translates into a lost sale, but to say it’s a very small minority I think ignores the fact that the person went out of their way to expend energy in the pursuit of that entertainment.

Aren’t there contracts between authors and publishers? Are authors being coerced against their wills to surrender their rights to publishers? Don’t authors have the ability to choose from among different, competing publishers?

Can’t bad-ass, hip, edgy, new-media, right-on, with-it authors bypass the greedy, evil, baby-eating monsters-of-capitalism and choose to self-publish and distribute their wares on** itsallfree.com** or stealmyhardworkplease.com ?

I Love Me, Vol. I: How does any of that even pretend to justify the existence of bad laws?

I’m not sure I understand which laws you are referring to. Do you mean the laws that establish intellectual property as actual property? Do you mean the laws about stealing other people’s property?

I don’t know a lot about this DRM thing. It sounds like kind of a lame, temporary attempt to make people pay for things that they are buying.

Maybe the people who own the rights to intellectual properties–whether it’s the actual authors or the agents that the authors have entered into a legal agreement with–will figure out a better way to protect their property.

I don’t believe the ultimate solution is to just leave all of one’s property out in the open and say, “Well… here it all is. Take anything you like and if you want to pay me some money for my hard work that’s cool… but if you just wanna, you know, like, take it and give it to all your buds down at the dorm, that’s cool too. It’s all good, dude!”

Me too. I got a CD with a bunch titles together with one of the Honor Harrington series. I read a few of Flint’s book from that CD and since then I’ve bought 6-7 books by him, including buying the 2 that I read for free.

His argument sounds sound to me when it comes to books. I am not sure if music or movies are the same.

I Love Me, Vol. I: I’m talking about the DMCA for one. Since I have no intention of spoonfeeding you, I expect you and I won’t have much to talk about in this thread.

In the 1970s my brother, who is a talented musician, was offered a recording contract. My father and I read it through, we could not stop laughing. Admittedly since then there have been precedents for overturning unfair contracts (Elton John comes to mind) but a talented musician or author does not necessarily make the best negotiator, and agents are only really interested in established money makers.

As far as the ‘bad law’ stuff goes, I fully agree that ‘bad laws’ are a bad idea, but that does not stop them turning up.

As a programmer, I am not keen on software piracy, and believe it or not a major bank and a major National airline both ‘pirated’ my software, but I also see DRM as something of a lost cause as intarwab has opened up alternative forms of distribution.

I think the whole issue will become obselete in the not-too-distant future using technologies like Rhapsody (Wikipedia entry) , where you never buy anything, you just pay to access the library at will. There are lots of logistical issues that need to be worked out for it to become universal and applied to all media, the most important of which is having access to the internet anywhere at any time. But it seems to me such a superior solution to buying media that I can’t see how it will fail to prevail. The compensation model is so straightforward – users pay a subscription feel, and the distribution company keeps track of how often each media product is accessed and distributes funds accordingly. Aside from hackers (which will always be a problem), the question of illegal use just doesn’t come up.

I’ve bought things because of piracy and I’ve avoided buying things that have restrictive DRM protections. So, in my case at least, DRM has cost media companies my money while piracy has induced me to spend money that I otherwise would have spent on books or some other kind of entertainment.

I live overseas (my stated location is real) and I wouldn’t even have access to some things if it weren’t for downloadable files. I bought Firefly and Battle Star Galactica DVD sets based on some episodes I saw. I wouldn’t have bought them sight-unseen, but because I was able to view some content, I bought them and had them shipped here. (That’s ignoring the whole region encoding headache that’s more of a pain in the ass for bilingual or multinational people, or those simply living overseas temporarily than it is for any pirate). I’ve also bought several CDs because I heard some songs that I downloaded on a P2P network. I don’t keep any downloaded files permanently. If I like it, I eventually buy it and get rid of the downloads (I rip at a higher bitrate and quality than pretty much any downloads anyway) and if I don’t like it, I delete the files to free up disk space.

Now, the files I got were high enough quality that I probably didn’t need to buy the original. I prefer higher quality than most downloads, but a lot of it is acceptable. I wouldn’t be okay with that morally or ethically, but from a practical point of view, I didn’t really need to buy the media. Morals aside, I bought the real thing because: 1) I want to support the sales of the people who made it. If it’s not making money for the producers, it’ll be discontinued and the creators will lose their jobs, or just won’t get money from the producers in the future. 2) Even worse, if I don’t do my small part to boost sales, more stuff like it will not be likely to be made in the future. From their point of view, why put money into something else that won’t sell? 3) I want the real thing. I like having the original CD, box set, picture, whatever. I get less enjoyment from an intangible. 4) I want the higher quality of the media vs. a ripped file. I may not use the full resolution all the time (like when I have it on my iPod) but I want the option to use it in the future.

I will avoid buying any Sony CDs due to the rootkit fiasco (even though it won’t affect me, since I primarily use OS X). I haven’t bought any iTunes songs because they’re relatively low bitrate and they have DRM, though it’s not that onerous compared to some other schemes. Without the DRM restrictions, I might have bought some iTunes songs already, despite the lower quality. There’s plenty of novelty stuff that I’d be willing to pay a buck per track. That’s at least two areas where DRM has cost companies my business. I would love to purchase music and movies through downloads, but with the way things are, I’m holding on to my money, and if there are more people like me that will stunt the market for download services.