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Linux and DRM?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the stuff-to-think-about dept.

The Courts 88

xgyro asks: "In light of the recent agreement between MS and Disney, and many calling for 2004 to be the 'Year of the Linux Desktop' does Linux have comparable DRM system to allow for distribution of protected content? Linus Torvalds has already endorsed DRM on the Linux platform. Possibly by coincidence, this company has announced a product that seems to provide for some possibilities. Will other companies follow suite? As a employee of a large content provider, what current options are out there for groups that want to deploy protected content on Linux?"

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well, (4, Informative)

pb (1020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8250929)

Linus didn't exactly endorse it, you know. And I think you'll find that DRM systems, by and large, are unwanted and insecure. If you can access the content, then you can strip it of its protections.

Re:well, (2, Insightful)

EhhJames (751475) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251167)

Linus only mentioned it has a "place" in Linux, and NOT AGAINST IT. Linux makes an extemely poor choice as a desktop platform right now, for anyone wanting to deliver any type of protected content. Linux has ZERO capabilies to deliver any media that is not OPEN. How can the open community expect to even get a "look" from from contenet providers. DO NOT confuse OPEN software with FREE.

Re:well, (3, Insightful)

Phillup (317168) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251412)

While it may not have a place on the desktop (which I don't agree with...) it does just fine in the living room.

Like my TIVO.

And that, IMHO, is much more relevant to the subject of DRM.

And, I predict that the most effective DRM system will be an "Open" one. Only intense scrutiny will be able to create a system strong enough to work. (For various definitions of "work";-))

Re:well, (2, Informative)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253203)

Linux has ZERO capabilies to deliver any media that is not OPEN.

So in that respect it's really not that different from all the other operating systems on the market, now is it?

Protecting content is a waste of time because humans can only experience the content via analog methods. Meaning: there is always going to be a weak spot. Not only that, every single attempt at a DRM system to date has been cracked-- unless you consider the various encryption tools out there, like PGP/GnuPG... and even those suffer the same problem as every other protection scheme. The data has to be decrypted at some point in order for it to be useful.

Re:well, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8253990)

Would someone mind awfully modding this informative?

Re:well, (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 10 years ago | (#8255743)

Linux has ZERO capabilies to deliver any media that is not OPEN.

Seems like it's been doing fine with real's closed format and codecs for quite a while. Even aside from their closed source player for linux, real's helix player is a nice compramise. It keeps real's codecs closed, but allows for development or modification of things like the gui or which sound api to use.

Linus does not endorse DRM (5, Informative)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8250968)

...Linus Torvalds has already endorsed DRM on the Linux platform...

Quoth Linus:

"I also don't necessarily like DRM myself...I think you can use Linux for whatever you want to--which very much includes things I don't necessarily personally approve of."

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement. If it is, then Linux could be construed to have endorsed browsing Slashdot, child porn, and writing viruses.

Re:Linus does not endorse DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8252108)

Porn & viruses are one thing, but that other......

DRM is not kernel related (-1, Insightful)

Tirel (692085) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251002)

if DRM will ever live, it'll be on application level. Can you imagine running a server with DRM enabled? I sure can't and that's why it'll never get into the mainstream kernel. Sure, there might be patches, but what's the point of having DRM on a few machines if the others can just access the data without restrictions?

Re:DRM is not kernel related (1)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251152)


Microsoft is building it into Windows as we speak.

Re:DRM is not kernel related (2, Informative)

Looks_Like_A_Penguin (413550) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253248)

Actually, MSFT has already built it into Media Player 9 in the form of "License Management".
It is sure to spread to the OS level in the Longhorn release.

Re:DRM is not kernel related (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 10 years ago | (#8254029)

XP kind of has it already. I downloaded some .wav files off a usenet mp3 group (this is not the place to ask who's stupidest - me for not seeing what they were, or the 'tard who posted 'em). Anyway, wanky media player threw a total eppie and threatedned to sent the boys in blue round.

Linus did not "endorse" DRM on Linux (2, Informative)

npsimons (32752) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251016)


Linus Torvalds has already endorsed DRM on the Linux platform.

Linus did NOT "endorse" DRM on Linux; he merely said he wouldn't disallow it.


Geez, talk about RTFA. Now the posters don't even bother to do it.

Keep Linux DRM free (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8251059)

It is the idea of having full control over your own content on your own machine that is one of the things that makes Linux so attractive compared to the "Cyber-Singapore's" of MS Windows and Mac-OSX.

Re:Keep Linux DRM free (3, Insightful)

Weird O'Puns (749505) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251865)

If DRM does gets into linux kernel it will be optional and nobody will be forced to use it. Due to the fact that all of kernel source is open you can't really force anybody to use some functionality they don't like. And as many people have already pointed out Linus didn't actually endorse it. Hell, he doesn't even like it.

Re:Keep Linux DRM free (2, Interesting)

SirTalon42 (751509) | more than 10 years ago | (#8252343)

Though if the TCG gains control then you will be forced to use what ever OS they approve you to use (and it will have DRM built in to every level, hardware and software)

Re:Keep Linux DRM free (1)

alannon (54117) | more than 10 years ago | (#8256349)

The kernel to MacOSX is completely open-source, actually.
I know, I've compiled it myself.

http://www.opensource.apple.com/darwinsource/10. 3. 2/

It's called 'xnu'

No need for DRM (4, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251081)

There is no legitimate need for Digital Restrictions Management.

Your content is already protected. By copyright law.

There is no legitimate need to introduce additional restrictions that prevent me from doing what I want with materials that I have legitimately purchased.

Re:No need for DRM (4, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251292)

That's incorrect. There are plenty of legitimate needs for Digital Restrictions Management. Not to protect anyone's "content" but your own. That is, you might want DRM hardware that can prove to you that all the trusted code you're running has been signed by Linus Torvalds. That's the "endorsement" Linus made: Some day, it's imaginable, that there could be valid uses for DRM. Valid restrictions that you might choose to place upon yourself.

You are correct, however, in that there is no legitimate need to introduce additional restrictions that prevent you from doing what you want with materials that you have legitimately purchased. Howard Berman can fuck himself. But DRM isn't inherently evil; It's DRM + fucked up laws.

Re:No need for DRM (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253955)

Absolutely.

I know that Hollywood is going to have a major use for DRM: proving who did and did not have access to submitted materials when.

You would not believe how much work and money it takes to prove that you didn't steal your idea from someone's spec script / treatment / whatever. DRM gives studios a way to manage information in a way that can be demonstrated to a court, and which has much better defined security characteristics (note: not perfect, just better defined which matters a lot).

DRM is a good tool, it's just the early adopters that are giving it a bad name.

Re:No need for DRM (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 10 years ago | (#8256139)

Why does one needs DRM (rather than a trusted copy of Linus Torvalds' public key) to make sure you've got a copy of the code signed by Linus Torvalds?

The way I figure it, cryptographic signatures don't inherently restrict me from doing things with the code (technologically speaking) but DRM is designed to make sure I can't do what I want with the code unless I'm granted permission to do so by the copyright holder.

I can see that someday someone might come up with a desirable application of DRM, but I don't see how signed code archives are that application. Therefore I'm not willing to support DRM in general just because someday there may be a good application for it. So far as I'm aware, it seems like we are trading away far too much benefit in exchange for something has yet to pan out well.

Re:No need for DRM (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#8256295)

cc hack [wbglinks.net] is why one needs DRM in order to make sure you're running a copy of the code signed by Linus Torvalds. There are a number of ways DRM could be useful to computer users. Especially inside companies, where it's important that each person have carefully limited capabilities so that they do not accidentally do harm to their own data. Look at Windows Rights Management Server. It's no where near perfect, but provides interesting features that are impossible without DRM.

But that's not what you misunderstood about my post. I'm not trying to convince you to support DRM. I'm not trying to convince you that it's OK to support Disney & MS's new file format, encrypted music downloads, or any other bullshit.

The dude said "there is no legitimate need for Digital Restrictions Management," and that is overstating the case. I felt that I did point out that he was, in current practice, totally correct about DRM.

I'm still not seeing the point. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 10 years ago | (#8272256)

I still don't see how a compiler that can compile a backdoor into a program and propagate its backdoor compilation code to compilers it compiles would be stopped if I had a DRM system in place--that seems to me to be passing the buck. Who's to say I can trust the DRM program? Why not distribute signed binaries of a compiler I can trust? Why would I want my entire free software operating system to contain a proprietary DRM program (it seems to me if the big media corporations are going to trust DRM, the DRM program would have to be proprietary)?

As for Microsoft Windows Rights Management Server, it seems useless to me without supporting programs--if I type something into a DRM-enabled Microsoft Word and tag my document so that the data within it can never be copied outside the application, I'm led to believe that it's okay to distribute copies of that file to my coworkers because the tagging will prevent the data from being copied outside the document (or perhaps prevent the data from being copied onto the clipboard at all). But what's to stop a coworker who has a copy of that file from using a different program to read the file, then copying the data as normal?

Re:I'm still not seeing the point. (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#8272443)

Who's to say I can trust the DRM program?

That's up to you and your DRM hardware. You can be guaranteed that only your chipset manufacturer could have built in backdoors. No, DRM doesn't have to be proprietary. It has to have open standards, at least, since Intel is going to want you to be able to run Lunix on it.

But what's to stop a coworker who has a copy of that file from using a different program to read the file, then copying the data as normal?

Strong encryption is what's to stop them. But that's the wrong question. They can still take a photograph of their monitor, or retype the data. All Windows RMS gets you is reduction of accidental data leaks. You can forward something to your coworkers, and even if they neglect to notice that you've marked something confidential, they will have to go out of their way to forward it. It's just about making the secure way also the convenient way.

And it's not that special. But it's a morally acceptable use of DRM. Agreed?

All you need is Love, errr, Copyright Law (2, Interesting)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253236)

"Your content is already protected. By copyright law."

Oh yeah, THAT'S ironclad protection.

Ask the record companies how much protection that's given them. Better yet, ask Sharman Networks. You'll either get a hearty laugh, or a "No Comment".

Re:All you need is Love, errr, Copyright Law (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 10 years ago | (#8254049)

Ask the record companies how much protection that's given them. Better yet, ask Sharman Networks. You'll either get a hearty laugh, or a "No Comment".
I am currently undergoing a cardiac haemmorhage on their behalf.

Re:All you need is Love, errr, Copyright Law (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#8256264)

Yeah... why don't you ask the record companies how much protection that's given them. Over the past 100 years, I'd say it's worked out pretty fucking well for content distributors. Maybe it's beginning to turn around now, but that's a nice, big pile of cash they've extorted from the producers and the consumers. They might whine, but that's because they're still used to the government creating their business. If copyright law is so impossible to enforce, maybe that indicates that there's something wrong with the law.

Re:No need for DRM (2, Interesting)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253671)

There is no legitimate need for Digital Restrictions Management.

Quite. But that's not what the question was. Disney will be releasing films online with Microsoft DRM whether we like it or not, and the submitter wants to know if it will be possible to watch them on a linux box. Many other film companies may well follow suit.

If there is no DRM support on linux, then Microsoft will have extended it's monopoly to digital film distribution. Which is bad, even if you and me have no intention of ever buying DRMed content.

Of course slashdot is obviously the last place to ask such a question, because all you get is tons of people ranting about how evil DRM is. Well, so is war, famine, and pestilence.

So, rant aside, I believe the issue is that the DRM in question is proprietary, and won't be available on linux until someone cracks it, like CSS.

Re:No need for DRM (1)

be-fan (61476) | more than 10 years ago | (#8255848)

So, rant aside, I believe the issue is that the DRM in question is proprietary, and won't be available on linux until someone cracks it, like CSS.
--------
Which will take like what, twenty minutes? Maybe half-an-hour if the guy stops for a beer?

Re:No need for DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8255655)

There is no legitamate need for locks on houses. The content of your house is already protected. By property law.

Broken business model (4, Insightful)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251098)

DRM is a broken business model. Linux is never going to play these DRM'd Disney movies, because they'll require Microsoft's DRM and Microsoft will never allow that on anything but MS Windows. You'll see "Microsoft Office for Linux" before you see that.

If your Linux box will never play Microsoft DRM media, what will it play? You may offer a DRM scheme for Linux, but what content provider will adopt it, given Microsoft's monopoly on the desktop? Indeed, if DRM becomes widespread, I predict that TiVo is toast.

But I also predict that DRM will go the way of software copy protection and DIVX; Disney certainly won't sell me any DRM movies. Pay Eisner every time I view "Dumbo"? Sure -- I'll just never watch "Dumbo" again. One penny or one million dollars times zero viewings is the same royalty, Mikey. I lived without home video before (pre-1980s), and I can live without it again. Who's the dumbo in this scenario? Those who fail to learn from history (DIVX) are doomed to repeat it.

Re:Broken business model (4, Interesting)

Phillup (317168) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251520)

Linux is never going to play these DRM'd Disney movies

Oh... it'll play them. They just won't be DRM'd when it does.

Ever buy a Disney movie? I've got a two year old... and Disney wants to shove 13 previews down your throat before you can watch the main attraction.

So... the first thing I do with a Disney DVD is rip the movie and burn it to another DVD. Insert and play... without the previews.

If anything, they are contributing to the problem of privacy... because I now have a Disney DVD that is of no use to me (the original) and I'm tempted to sell the damn thing.

Believe me, MS DRM will be cracked... and you'll be able to watch it on your Linux box... and paying for it will be your choice.

All because of the bad choices they have made.

P.S. None of this is meant to condone illegal behavior. Nor is it meant to condone bad behavior on the Corp's part.

Re:Broken business model (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8252517)

As soon as you sell your full copy then you are bound by law to destroy your "back-up" copy with the ad's stripped out.

If you strip out the ads does that make the resulting re-burn a "derived work"? I guess it depends on if the DVD as a whole is under CR, or if it contains multiple parts each under CR?

Re:Broken business model (1)

Phillup (317168) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253026)

Yes, I know.

My point was that Disney created a situation where I have two copies... one of which I don't want.

They have created a product where the desired version is not the legitimate version. The desired version is "fixed" of the "flaws" they intentionally put in the product. (Excessive advertisement and/or ads that can't be skipped.)

The same thing will happen with DRM. It will get "fixed" and people will prefer the "fixed" version over the legitimate version.

Re:Broken business model (1)

Yub (21503) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253018)

According to Robert Scoble [weblogs.com], Microsoft has no problem with Windows Media DRM support on Linux devices.

Re:Broken business model (1)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253599)

I believe he's talking about stand-alone devices like iPods, not general purpose PCs, which -- if true -- would contradict my TiVo prediction. But I'll believe it's true when I see it, and I don't believe we'll ever see it on a non-Windows desktop.

One option is treating your customer with respect (4, Insightful)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251170)

As a employee of a large content provider, what current options are out there for groups that want to deploy protected content on Linux?"

Sell your product at a fair price, one that's low enough that most users will find it more convenient to buy than to pirate (surely your servers can deliver bandwidth faster and more reliably than P2P, right?). Learn from Baen Books -- Baen actually gives away books hat are a few years old, and in a convenient variety of formats. Baen makes money off this when readers buy sequels in hard-copy.

Sell your product in a an open format so that your customers can read it or listen to it with the applications and on the OSes they've become comfortable with. Learn for the Real Player debacle, and note how many people have said that no video is compelling enough to get them to install RealPlayer. Don't get your ass caught in the same vise.

Recognize that DRM or nor, some piracy is inevitable. Don't let this fool you into alienating the vast majority of your honest customers in a vain attempt to prevent piracy by a tiny minority that probably would never but your product anyway. learn from the Intuit debacle; count the number of customers who will never return to Intuit.

Trust and respect your customers, and many will extend that same trust and respect to you: I've gotten nearly 8000 non-DRM'd mp3s from emusic.com, and I won't even share them with friends -- because emusic showed me it trusted me, and I don't want to abuse that trust.

copyright (c) 2004, not-the-Gartner-Group

Re:One option is treating your customer with respe (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8251458)

Trust and respect your customers, and many will extend that same trust and respect to you: I've gotten nearly 8000 non-DRM'd mp3s from emusic.com, and I won't even share them with friends -- because emusic showed me it trusted me, and I don't want to abuse that trust.

That, and I'm not sure they're not watermarked with a personal identifier :).

~~~

Re:One option is treating your customer with respe (4, Informative)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251596)

That, and I'm not sure they're not watermarked with a personal identifier :).

I realize that you're joking, but actually I did check, with the help of an IRC acquaintance.

He and I both downloaded the same track from emusic -- at different times, just in case you're wondering, as it was a track I'd had for a while --, and then each ran md5sum on our copies. The md5sums matched. and for the truly tin-foil hatted, I had him give me the start of his md5sum first. ;)

We weren't looking to pirate the tracks, we were just curious, given that emusic in its early incarnation as mp3.com had once boasted of its water-marking technology.

Re:One option is treating your customer with respe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8251856)

+1 informative if I had mod points!

~~~

Re:One option is treating your customer with respe (2, Informative)

sydb (176695) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251606)

Learn for the Real Player debacle, and note how many people have said that no video is compelling enough to get them to install RealPlayer.

Kind of off-topic, but the fact that, at least on the supported platforms, mplayer plays Real streams quite happily and allows nice things like output to a file, means even if Real was a great format, there is no compulsion to install the proprietary player.

Re:One option is treating your customer with respe (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 10 years ago | (#8254141)

the fact that, at least on the supported platforms, mplayer plays Real streams quite happily and allows nice things like output to a file, means even if Real was a great format, there is no compulsion to install the proprietary player.
If it knew that it was an application, rather than thinking it was an OS, you might be right. If.

Re:One option is treating your customer with respe (1)

sydb (176695) | more than 10 years ago | (#8254545)

Yes it has some bloat but seriously it's not as bad as you make out. Its small enough to run invisibly from crontab to record Interet radio broadcasts.

Encryption Framework for Enterprises (2, Interesting)

EhhJames (751475) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251240)

The company mentioned in the article really seems to have something. They are cross platform, working the same accros Linux and Windoz. Seems they provide many different options for protecting content. Any thoughts?

DRM and Free Speech (3, Insightful)

dismentor (592590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251281)

For a community that is based on the concept of 'free speech' and open systems, I doubt there will be much interest or support on a Digital Restriction Management system.
Due to the nature of any DRM system, it has to act as a black box which is contrary to the beliefs of the community. We will not want to support it, or, probably, even install it.
Due to the nature of free software, we rely on people to do the right thing just as much as other copyright holders; this will not change although some notable companies have abused this. If your company doesn't want to respect us, we are not interested.
Copyrighted works are protected by law and to the extent permitted by the law only, anything further, like stopping non-restricted copies, starts stepping on our rights and we will not be interested in letting that fly.

Re:DRM and Free Speech (1)

Phillup (317168) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253093)

Due to the nature of any DRM system, it has to act as a black box which is contrary to the beliefs of the community.

DRM does not have to be a black box any more than PGP needs to be a black box.

The reason it is being developed in "secret" is so that customers will not be aware that they are being screwed.

It isn't a technological issue, it is social.

DRM won't be effective until it is developed using open methodology, IMHO.

Cleartext interception is the difference (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8255792)

DRM does not have to be a black box any more than PGP needs to be a black box.

The difference between digital restrictions management for copyrighted works and GnuPG for secret communication is that use of GnuPG comes with the full cooperation of the machine's owner, who can if he wants intercept the cleartext by patching the source code. The stated goal of many DRM system includes preventing such interception.

Of course, you could provide the DRM system as source code and have it attest that it hasn't been trojaned, possibly by providing the copyright owner with a hash of the kernel and app binaries, as seen in TCG's platform. However, this would make DRM'd works incompatible with any modification of the app or of the kernel; is this compatible with OSI's Open Source Definition?

DRM (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8251282)

Not on my PC.

Not on my servers.

Not in my country.

Not an endorsement, an "I don't care if you do it" (3, Informative)

schmaltz (70977) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251373)

From the dictionary--

en*dorse - To give approval of or support to, especially by public statement; sanction: endorse a political candidate. See synonyms at approve.

This did not happen. The quote from the article which you've fictionalized into an "endorsement" goes something like this--

"I also don't necessarily like DRM myself," Torvalds wrote on the "Linux-kernel" mailing list. "But...I'm an 'Oppenheimer,' and I refuse to play politics with Linux, and I think you can use Linux for whatever you want to--which very much includes things I don't necessarily personally approve of."

Please, xgyro [mailto], tell us how you extrapolated "use Linux for whatever you want to...[including] things I don't necessarily personally approve of" into "endorsed"?

A Microsoft troll, no doubt, but necessary to refute. Fiction becomes myth becomes fact after time.

Re:Not an endorsement, an "I don't care if you do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8251422)

Well, did he say it had NO PLACE in Linux?... ahemm.. NO! It's a reality for to have some type of encryption that is not just PKI. and for the record.. not a MS fan....

Re:Not an endorsement, an "I don't care if you do (1)

schmaltz (70977) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251617)

xgyro: two negatives do not equal an endorsement.

It may makes sense to have an in-built encryption facility that makes life easier for users, but Linus specifically does not come out saying he's for DRM.

drm rant (3, Interesting)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251409)

drm is all about greed -- why let people pay for something once they may use often? why not essentially rent everything instead of selling it. the difference being that the consumer has fewer (any?) rights over the product, be it a piece of software or media, and the consumer pays more to whomever holds the rights. this is in direct conflict with the concept of Free Software.

<rant> microsoft has been trying to get customers to convert over to a subscription plan for their software and no one is doing it. why not? because no one wants to pay more, rely on a vendor more and give up ownership... and for what? there are no real benefits.

business people get a hard-on for subscription services that work because they make more money than other types... but the thing they don't realize is that subscription services that succeed do so because consumer want them and are willing to pay for the service. the current state is "let's make everything a service and try to convince consumers to pay for it".

no matter how powerful corporations become they are still at the mercy of consumers' money. assuming the majority of Joe Consumers aren't stupid enough to pay more money for less in exchange for some crap stamp of approval by the bastards who are charging you, DRM will never take off. of course, that won't keep business folks from trying, because all they have to do is wave (people with internet access * media per consumer * viewings per day) in front of a VC and say "if we could just capture 0.01% of that I can forecast 1000000% sustained growth". of course the problem is that the only way for DRM to succeed is for their to be no choice, because no one would choose to pay less for more. </rant>

Re:drm rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8251630)

Your rant was OK, but your perl ASCII art sig was fabulous! I enjoyed it. Thanks!

Re:drm rant (2, Interesting)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253979)

of course the problem is that the only way for DRM to succeed is for their to be no choice, because no one would choose to pay less for more.

And how long do you think it'll take the content distributors to figure this out and make it so?

Even if it was only 3 or 4 big media companies who got together on it, that would be a large majority of the content only available in DRM "enhanced" format.
The masses will grumble about having to upgrade their DVD/CD players, but the producers will subsidize that (" trade in your old machine and get a brand new one for only $20..") and it's a done deal.

The riteous indignation that we see here representsonly a small percentage of the population. There's lots of 'sheep' out there who will buy whatever they are told to buy, and won't question it.

The Right to Read (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8251418)

This article appeared in the February 1997 issue of Communications of the ACM (Volume 40, Number 2).

(from "The Road To Tycho", a collection of articles about the antecedents of the Lunarian Revolution, published in Luna City in 2096)
For Dan Halbert, the road to Tycho began in college--when Lissa Lenz asked to borrow his computer. Hers had broken down, and unless she could borrow another, she would fail her midterm project. There was no one she dared ask, except Dan.

This put Dan in a dilemma. He had to help her--but if he lent her his computer, she might read his books. Aside from the fact that you could go to prison for many years for letting someone else read your books, the very idea shocked him at first. Like everyone, he had been taught since elementary school that sharing books was nasty and wrong--something that only pirates would do.

And there wasn't much chance that the SPA--the Software Protection Authority--would fail to catch him. In his software class, Dan had learned that each book had a copyright monitor that reported when and where it was read, and by whom, to Central Licensing. (They used this information to catch reading pirates, but also to sell personal interest profiles to retailers.) The next time his computer was networked, Central Licensing would find out. He, as computer owner, would receive the harshest punishment--for not taking pains to prevent the crime.

Of course, Lissa did not necessarily intend to read his books. She might want the computer only to write her midterm. But Dan knew she came from a middle-class family and could hardly afford the tuition, let alone her reading fees. Reading his books might be the only way she could graduate. He understood this situation; he himself had had to borrow to pay for all the research papers he read. (10% of those fees went to the researchers who wrote the papers; since Dan aimed for an academic career, he could hope that his own research papers, if frequently referenced, would bring in enough to repay this loan.)

Later on, Dan would learn there was a time when anyone could go to the library and read journal articles, and even books, without having to pay. There were independent scholars who read thousands of pages without government library grants. But in the 1990s, both commercial and nonprofit journal publishers had begun charging fees for access. By 2047, libraries offering free public access to scholarly literature were a dim memory.

There were ways, of course, to get around the SPA and Central Licensing. They were themselves illegal. Dan had had a classmate in software, Frank Martucci, who had obtained an illicit debugging tool, and used it to skip over the copyright monitor code when reading books. But he had told too many friends about it, and one of them turned him in to the SPA for a reward (students deep in debt were easily tempted into betrayal). In 2047, Frank was in prison, not for pirate reading, but for possessing a debugger.

Dan would later learn that there was a time when anyone could have debugging tools. There were even free debugging tools available on CD or downloadable over the net. But ordinary users started using them to bypass copyright monitors, and eventually a judge ruled that this had become their principal use in actual practice. This meant they were illegal; the debuggers' developers were sent to prison.

Programmers still needed debugging tools, of course, but debugger vendors in 2047 distributed numbered copies only, and only to officially licensed and bonded programmers. The debugger Dan used in software class was kept behind a special firewall so that it could be used only for class exercises.

It was also possible to bypass the copyright monitors by installing a modified system kernel. Dan would eventually find out about the free kernels, even entire free operating systems, that had existed around the turn of the century. But not only were they illegal, like debuggers--you could not install one if you had one, without knowing your computer's root password. And neither the FBI nor Microsoft Support would tell you that.

Dan concluded that he couldn't simply lend Lissa his computer. But he couldn't refuse to help her, because he loved her. Every chance to speak with her filled him with delight. And that she chose him to ask for help, that could mean she loved him too.

Dan resolved the dilemma by doing something even more unthinkable--he lent her the computer, and told her his password. This way, if Lissa read his books, Central Licensing would think he was reading them. It was still a crime, but the SPA would not automatically find out about it. They would only find out if Lissa reported him.

Of course, if the school ever found out that he had given Lissa his own password, it would be curtains for both of them as students, regardless of what she had used it for. School policy was that any interference with their means of monitoring students' computer use was grounds for disciplinary action. It didn't matter whether you did anything harmful--the offense was making it hard for the administrators to check on you. They assumed this meant you were doing something else forbidden, and they did not need to know what it was.

Students were not usually expelled for this--not directly. Instead they were banned from the school computer systems, and would inevitably fail all their classes.

Later, Dan would learn that this kind of university policy started only in the 1980s, when university students in large numbers began using computers. Previously, universities maintained a different approach to student discipline; they punished activities that were harmful, not those that merely raised suspicion.

Lissa did not report Dan to the SPA. His decision to help her led to their marriage, and also led them to question what they had been taught about piracy as children. The couple began reading about the history of copyright, about the Soviet Union and its restrictions on copying, and even the original United States Constitution. They moved to Luna, where they found others who had likewise gravitated away from the long arm of the SPA. When the Tycho Uprising began in 2062, the universal right to read soon became one of its central aims.

Author's Note

This note was updated in 2002.

The right to read is a battle being fought today. Although it may take 50 years for our present way of life to fade into obscurity, most of the specific laws and practices described above have already been proposed; many have been enacted into law in the US and elsewhere. In the US, the 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act established the legal basis to restrict the reading and lending of computerized books (and other data too). The European Union imposed similar restrictions in a 2001 copyright directive.

Until recently, there was one exception: the idea that the FBI and Microsoft will keep the root passwords for personal computers, and not let you have them, was not proposed until 2002. It is called "trusted computing" or "palladium".

In 2001, Disney-funded Senator Hollings proposed a bill called the SSSCA that would require every new computer to have mandatory copy-restriction facilities that the user cannot bypass. Following the Clipper chip and similar US government key-escrow proposals, this shows a long-term trend: computer systems are increasingly set up to give absentees with clout control over the people actually using the computer system. The SSSCA has since been renamed to the CBDTPA (think of it as the "Consume But Don't Try Programming Act").

In 2001 the US began attempting to use the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas treaty to impose the same rules on all the countries in the Western Hemisphere. The FTAA is one of the so-called "free trade" treaties, actually designed to give business increased power over democratic governments; imposing laws like the DMCA is typical of this spirit. The Electronic Frontier Foundation [eff.org] asks people to explain to the other governments why they should oppose this plan.

The SPA, which actually stands for Software Publisher's Association, has been replaced in this police-like role by the BSA or Business Software Alliance. It is not, today, an official police force; unofficially, it acts like one. Using methods reminiscent of the erstwhile Soviet Union, it invites people to inform on their coworkers and friends. A BSA terror campaign in Argentina in 2001 made veiled threats that people sharing software would be raped in prison.

When this story was written, the SPA was threatening small Internet service providers, demanding they permit the SPA to monitor all users. Most ISPs surrender when threatened, because they cannot afford to fight back in court. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1 Oct 96, D3.) At least one ISP, Community ConneXion in Oakland CA, refused the demand and was actually sued. The SPA later dropped the suit, but obtained the DMCA which gave them the power they sought.

The university security policies described above are not imaginary. For example, a computer at one Chicago-area university prints this message when you log in (quotation marks are in the original):

"This system is for the use of authorized users only. Individuals using this computer system without authority or in the excess of their authority are subject to having all their activities on this system monitored and recorded by system personnel. In the course of monitoring individuals improperly using this system or in the course of system maintenance, the activities of authorized user may also be monitored. Anyone using this system expressly consents to such monitoring and is advised that if such monitoring reveals possible evidence of illegal activity or violation of University regulations system personnel may provide the evidence of such monitoring to University authorities and/or law enforcement officials."

This is an interesting approach to the Fourth Amendment: pressure most everyone to agree, in advance, to waive their rights under it.

References

  • The administration's "White Paper": Information Infrastructure Task Force, Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure: The Report of the Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights (1995).
  • An explanation of the White Paper: The Copyright Grab [wired.com], Pamela Samuelson, Wired, Jan. 1996
  • Sold Out [american.edu], James Boyle, New York Times, 31 March 1996
  • Public Data or Private Data, Washington Post, 4 Nov 1996. We used to have a link to this, but Washinton Post has decided to start charging users who wishes to read articles on the web site and therefore we have decided to remove the link.
  • Union for the Public Domain [public-domain.org]--an organization which aims to resist and reverse the overextension of copyright and patent powers.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

Just to clarify...... (3, Insightful)

xgyro (553902) | more than 10 years ago | (#8251696)

Ok, so maybe the word "endorse" was a little strong... however... I think what Linus is trying to say is there IS A PLACE for some type of encryption/DRM/content protection in the Linux world. In order to build out certain business models based on Linux platform, data/content protection is needed. Or MS will only increase their grasp on the world. Some business models require content protection; Adobe provides a (somewhat) protected document security, what about other files such as business docs/personal info/media documents? How can we protect our content across Linux platforms? I'm not speaking specifically to DRM in movies/music, rather from a broader perspective. Any products out there other than the one mentioned?

Re:Just to clarify...... (1)

Chix0r04 (751513) | more than 10 years ago | (#8252346)

product by ERUCES mentioned in article is not open source. enven though it looks good. who wants a propietary encryption application in Linux. i dont. why don't you help out the OGG-S project?

DVD? (1)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 10 years ago | (#8252068)

Linux support CSS on DVDs. CSS is an excellent example of why people might choose Linux DRM systems as these systems provide the consumer with their full rights.

We're there (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8252135)

"OGG-S [freshmeat.net] OGG-S is an open source development project that aims to create an open Digital Rights Management (DRM) interface for the creation, playback, and management of multimedia files."

Re:We're there (1)

BillyBlaze (746775) | more than 10 years ago | (#8254317)

You're probably expecting a lot of controversy, since the people who appreciate Ogg's openness are tend to dislike DRM. But I don't see a problem.

DRM and encryption, it seems, is most easily implemented at the file level. So you could DRM anything. Ogg is a stream format, and I assume OGG-S is trying to DRM there so it' still useful for streaming. But again, who cares?

Besides, even if the masses are resigned to DRM, I'd still rather the codec be Vorbis than WMA.

I'll ask Santa and the Easter Bunny ... (4, Interesting)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | more than 10 years ago | (#8252264)

does Linux have comparable DRM system to allow for distribution of protected content?

No, Virgina, there is no such thing as protected content. That was only a bedtime story told to CEO's and recording execs to help them sleep at night.

My take on DRM (0)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 10 years ago | (#8252589)

If music/software buisness wants their products to expire like milk. Let them get into the dairy buisness. I dont want my CD to expire. I dont want my computer to tell me, its master what I can or can't do. This is why I am a programmer, this is why I built my computer. If I wanted to be locked out and have no control, I would of bought a compaq and used aol. Some users need their computer to tell them what to do (or not to do) . For everyone else, there's Linux.

Well (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8252664)

As a employee of a large content provider, what current options are out there for groups that want to deploy protected content on Linux?

Um... convince your superiors that they shouldn't treat all of their customers like potential thieves.

In all honesty, it will probably be a waste of money rivalling Circuit City's DIVX. [wikipedia.org] Linux users are not likely to adopt a system that employs "DRM".

LK

Fuck DRM (1)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253506)

One of the reasons to use linux is its lack of DRM. I'm sure I'm not alone in this sentiment.

Re:Fuck DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8261408)

You're not. Product Activation is what pushed me most strongly in Linux's direction.

Fundamental flaw (5, Insightful)

Fubar420 (701126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8253610)

DRM exists, with one fundamental flaw. It is, at least in every form currently explored, fundamentally impossible.

It relies on encryption of data, and for arguments sake, it doesn't matter how. Now the player must be able to decrypt this media some how. The choices are:

1) Universal key (DeCSS anyone?) As soon as it's exposed somewhere it shouldn't be, its taken, and used on any media you'd like

2) Licensing server: Will issue a license for some period of time, during which you can view in a registered player, Perhaps you can renew, perhaps you cant. Regardless though, the key used to decrypt the media for playing, has to be transmitted somehow. Lets imagine it is encrypted and somehow sent to the playing device. Regardless, said device has to be able to read that key, and if it can do that, so can somebody else. Should the device have a general pub/priv combo for talking to the server, those keys could be comprimised, or again, the real decryption key can be compromised from one of a million already demonstrated means.

3) Hardware solution, locked up device, unaccessible from software. This could work, so long as the hardware is such that it cannot be accessed, but as we have seen time and time again, people are willing to take apart their boxes to see what makes them tick (XBox + Linux, or any modchip solution to any system).

Regardless of what you do, even barring that "somehow" [ ;-) ] you dont just capture the output (VGA capture works well here, since they all output to monitors at some point), you have to decrypt the data. The data exists SOMEHOW.

And as strong as encryption is, the will for people to piss off the media conglomerates is too strong. End of the day, if the data can be decrypted, then your key is whats in jeopardy. If the key is encrypted somewhere, than it's decrypting key is the target. So on, and so forth.

You can make it difficult, but without (literally) an armed guard sitting there w/ a bucket of popcorn to "help" you watch the movie, there is a weak point.

(and to add to that, humans become a factor, armed guards can be bribed, just like anybody else).

Just my 20 pesos.

Re:Fundamental flaw (1)

ncr53c8xx (262643) | more than 10 years ago | (#8268631)

Universal key (DeCSS anyone?) As soon as it's exposed somewhere it shouldn't be, its taken, and used on any media you'd like

It was the earliest of the DRM systems. No one is going to use something that naive today (except for the CD protection sharpie guys).

This could work, so long as the hardware is such that it cannot be accessed, but as we have seen time and time again, people are willing to take apart their boxes to see what makes them tick

Once XBOX moves to PS2 style single chip design, all this mod chip business will end. You don't even need encryption.

Re:Fundamental flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8269312)

palladium! the problem moves to breaking into the hardware to destroy the security. which is a lot harder than just reversing code... so... it'll be more impressive if and when a crack is released. and even then the impact can be localised. basically, if they do it right, there will be no more warez.

Content Protection in the hands of the user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8254055)

Does anyone think there will ever be a time when EVERY user could exchange encrypted content? Maintain their own trusted users? Why is there not more encryption built into file sharing services?

Want DRM? Try books! (2, Informative)

rocketfairy (16253) | more than 10 years ago | (#8254989)

As a employee of a large content provider, what current options are out there for groups that want to deploy protected content on Linux?

Well, you could start by reading a book. DRM is not viable on closed source systems; it won't be viable on open source systems. If you plug DRM software into the kernel, I can still run it inside a virtual machine and snatch out whatever content I want (and put it on a peer-to-peer system). Better yet, I can get content from someone who doesn't try to treat me like a two-year-old.

Want a real system for getting money for your content? Try micropayments, or subscription, but don't bother with DRM. Any engineer (who isn't trying to part a fool from his venture capital) will tell you that, in the long run, "trying to make bits uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet." (Thanks, Bruce [schneier.com])

Re:Want DRM? Try books! (1)

ncr53c8xx (262643) | more than 10 years ago | (#8268588)

Any engineer (who isn't trying to part a fool from his venture capital) will tell you that, in the long run, "trying to make bits uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet."

DRM can work in current systems if there is contact with upstream, i.e., it will easily work on an internet connected PC. Some of the DRM systems which weren't cracked include DivX (from Circuit City) and Liquid Audio.

Re:Want DRM? Try books! (1)

rocketfairy (16253) | more than 10 years ago | (#8269022)

DivX wasn't cracked because it was too unpopular to bother. If it had lasted longer in the market, it would've met the same fate as CSS.

Re:Want DRM? Try books! (1)

ncr53c8xx (262643) | more than 10 years ago | (#8269400)

DivX wasn't cracked because it was too unpopular to bother. If it had lasted longer in the market, it would've met the same fate as CSS.

I think that is highly unlikely. The machine running DivX had a phone line connection to CC. Why do you think no one has hacked ATMs? And AFAIK, there were no PC players, only hardware ones.

Re:Want DRM? Try books! (1)

xjimhb (234034) | more than 10 years ago | (#8269872)

The machine running DivX had a phone line connection to CC.
Tap your own phone line, record a few dozen sessions, and pretty soon you can have the player phoning YOUR DRM server instead of CC's. Probably not done because it didn't last long enough to piss someone off to this level of effort.

If you build it with DRM, they will come ... and CRACK IT!

Re:Want DRM? Try books! (1)

ncr53c8xx (262643) | more than 10 years ago | (#8269981)

Tap your own phone line, record a few dozen sessions, and pretty soon you can have the player phoning YOUR DRM server instead of CC's.

There are a lot of protocols that are not vulnerable to man in the middle attacks. SSH2 comes to mind. Believe it or not, as the DRM gets more sophisticated, it will be nearly impossible to break. Remember the earliest cable "encryption"? It was a trivial matter to twist some wires to clean that up. The next version required a dedicated set top box to decode. I don't think anyone succeeded in breaking the digital cable transmission.

Re:Want DRM? Try books! (1)

Paddyish (612430) | more than 10 years ago | (#8283978)

as the DRM gets more sophisticated, it will be nearly impossible to break

I'd be a little more careful when using the word 'impossible'. There will always exist people with the time and expertise to reverse engineer any copy protection worth breaking. Each form of 'protection' appears sophistocated when it is first used, but if the content proves popular, someone always finds a way to break it, fool it, or bypass it.

Re:Want DRM? Try books! (1)

ncr53c8xx (262643) | more than 10 years ago | (#8284854)

Each form of 'protection' appears sophistocated when it is first used, but if the content proves popular, someone always finds a way to break it, fool it, or bypass it.

When companies get serious about security and DRM, it will be non-trivial to break. Of the ones that were broken,

  1. Adobe engineers considered ROT13 to be a form of encryption.
  2. CSS used 40 bit encryption because of export restrictions.
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