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Cory Doctorow on Digital Rights Management

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the playing-all-the-records dept.

Communications 415

VerdeRana writes "I just heard the EFF's Cory Doctorow give this fantastic argument critiquing DRM. He makes a great case for why DRM is bad for society, business, and artists, why it simply don't work, and why Microsoft (the audience for this talk) should not invest in it. Broadcast this far and wide, and maybe someone will listen."

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415 comments

DRM (5, Insightful)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461665)

The problem with DRM is that it's got a name that people might consider making it the only right-management-related concept, now, DRM is not alone in its category and there'll be other to take care about, like DVD region locking, etc...

Re:DRM (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461706)

DRM is not a catchall.

DRM is specifically related to the locking and unlocking of media files dependent upon the licensing of that media.

DVD region locking is about blocking the usage of media outside of an "acceptable" zone.

DRM is completely moral, within the bounds of appropriate DRM. In fact, with DRM-enabled devices, you are able to back up your media to your heart's content, providing that you actually paid for the media in the first place. Region locking is not moral, as it prohibits you from using media that you may have paid for in a system that only refuses to play the media because of the location of the player.

Re:DRM (3, Interesting)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461746)

Exactly, DRM is not a catchall, this was my point...
People think that DRM is catchall, they do not realise that there are many smilar schemes going on.

DVD Region locking is stupid, this is just making international trade laws redundant as if you didn't want a DVD to be sold in a country, you could just have its import banned. I cannot believe I had to buy Ed Wood's movie box in the USA because these are NOT available in Switzerland at all despite the movie's been around for.... decades. So, DVD Region Locking is supposed to prevent movie sales to occur while these are stilly played in movie theaters.
Now, if this were true, then most "old" movies would have been released as Region-0.

And no, DRM is not moral.
Short example :
I am remixer.
I want to rip an Audio CD in order to practise my skills.
I can't.
I want to make record to submit to my producer.
I can't.
Even though I'd have negociated the rights before entering commercialisation...

So, even if it is moral (for a Klingon's point of view) it is totally stupid because you cannot build equity if you base it upon suspicion.

Re:DRM (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461775)

1) You bought Ed Wood's DVD set? Those restrictions exist for a reason, you know.

2) If you have negotiated the rights before entering commercialization, then surely you have negotiated the rights to a DAT of the stuff you want to remix.

It is not built upon suspicion. It is built on the reality that there are people out there who would rather pay for their own CD than deal with spending half a day running around trying to find the tools to work around the DRM.

DRM is moral because it does not restrict the licensee from any usage to which he has not already agreed through the implicit acceptance of federal copyright law.

Re:DRM (3, Interesting)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461802)

  1. Yes, does this make me a terrorist, then ?
  2. Your point would be valid if we discussed something practical. Here we discuss something artistical and people really want to explore before beginning the eventual commercial agreement. This is also a reason I created GNUArt [gnuart.net] , to help people gather creations that otherwise would never have emerged and would have shamelessly been lost.
  3. You're a Klingon :)

Re:DRM (5, Insightful)

makomk (752139) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461848)

DRM is moral because it does not restrict the licensee from any usage to which he has not already agreed through the implicit acceptance of federal copyright law.

Not neccesarily true. DRM scemes often add extra restrictions beyond those of federal copyright law. For example, they block one or more of the types of copying allowed by fair use [wikipedia.org] , many tie protected files to one computer, etc, etc...

Besides, If I've legally bought a CD, I don't see any moral reson that I shouldn't copy it to a computer/MP3 player/other more convenient form, for my own use, no matter what the law says or the DRM restrictions are.

Re:DRM (2, Informative)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461790)

If you are a remixer, you can either get permission (as there is no use in commercially non-viable material) or use a non-DRM artist. You can make all the records you want, just don't use other people's hard work in your own without permission. If you remixed my work and got a record deal without my consent, I'd sure as hell be pissed about it.

Re:DRM (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461813)

Should I get a record deal with a remix base on your work, you'd be first informed and retributed.
This'd also be good for your promotion, wouldn't it ?

Re:DRM (1)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461827)

I may not want my work to be remixed by anyone, and if I decline permission, your whole effort will be wasted. Thus, with DRM or without, it will make sense to get consent before moving forward. If you are so sure I will approve for promotion of my own name or otherwise, then get permission.

Re:DRM (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461871)

I may not want my work to be remixed by anyone
Why ?
If the remix is bad, it won't be heard and nobody will associate you with it becaus ethey nkow what a remix is, if it's good, it'll be spread along with your name.
In both case, you'll be paid.

If you are so sure I will approve for promotion of my own name or otherwise, then get permission.
Yep, but if I want to get YOUR permission, I might have to send you a remix in order to give you an idea, if you don't consider being remixed without hearing anything, then you should work as a lawyer or as an accountant because you just lost track of the interest of artistical interactions.

Re:DRM (4, Insightful)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462013)

I can do whatever the hell I want with your CD I bought. REdistributing the mix requires your permission though. DRM changes none of this.

Re:DRM (5, Insightful)

pnuema (523776) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461968)

If you had read the article, you would realize that though you might be pissed, he doesn't need your permission. This portion of copyright law dates back to the player piano days, where it was ruled that a flat fee is paid to the artist being "covered". You don't need permission to sample music, you just need to pay the fee.

Re:DRM: Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9462008)

You don't need permission to record a compositition, you most certainly need permission to sample a recording. At least if you are going to release it commercially. There are two sets of rights to consider: The rights of the publisher (who may or may not be the writer or the recording artist) and the rights of the owner of the recording (which may be the artist, a record label, or some combination of the two).

Re:DRM (1)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462014)

He's talking about remixing by using a large portion of someone else's creation. This is not the same as sampling.

Re:DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461966)

DVD Region locking is stupid, this is just making international trade laws redundant as if you didn't want a DVD to be sold in a country, you could just have its import banned.

So because it is illegal to enter my house and steal my stuff, I shouldn't have locks on my doors? No, redundancy is good.

And why does being a remixer give you full rights to other's material? If they want you to have full rights, they will give it to you, if they don't, they can use DRM to prevent you from using it. It's THEIR decision because it's THEIR property.

Re:DRM (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461800)

"In fact, with DRM-enabled devices, you are able to back up your media to your heart's content, "

Wishful thinking. What makes you think Riaa and the like will allow this to happen. they won't.

Re:DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461807)

That's how it works, fucko.

Just because your parents won't give you enough money to buy your own stereo system, don't show off your ignorance in public forums.

Thanks.

Re:DRM (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461902)

Learn how to read dickwad .

Bad for artists? Not so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461780)

DRM may be bad for those artists who recycle bits of others' works, but it's not bad for the creators of those original works.

Believe it or not, most serious artists actually want to retain the hope of selling their work and making a living, and believe it or not, but Kazaaification is at odds with that reasonable gold.

Re:DRM (4, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461998)

DRM is an industry attempt to enforce a monopoly, just like region locking.
The fiasco of DVD restrictions runs counter to every single principle of the free-market which these companies supposedly hold dear.
The reality is that free-market is only supported when it benifits the big guys, and in the case of digital media, it dosen't.

It's time for people to realise, music and movies are only big business because the few have a monopoly on their, inexpensive, reproduction. Now that Joe Sixpack has the ability to reproduce, they want to take it away from him. It's shameful. The way to deal with piracy is to reduce the cost of your products. That way they'll be so cheap people won't bother pirating. It's only the monopoly that makes them so expensive.

fasa pasa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461667)

If anyone will listen I think Microsoft will be the last to actually do anything about it. they have too much at stake to not go with DRM, sadly.

Or maybe happily? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461710)

Think about it

Why do women always fail it? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461672)

Why are there no women FP?

Why is this so?

Do they lack the necessary skills?

Do they lack the intelligence?

Or more importantly, why are they not cleaning the house and cooking a man his dinner?

Re:Why do women always fail it? (1)

SMOC (703423) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461708)

Only people that can make a decent FP should be allowed to vote.

Troll Suffragettes unite!

Re:Why do women always fail it? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461720)

Only people that write a decent troll should be allowed to reproduce

The problem with digital right is (1)

mrak018 (736017) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461673)

that nobody has right to decide have I right to read something or not!

Re:The problem with digital right is (0)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461726)

that nobody has right to decide have I right to read something or not!

The copyright owner does.

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG (4, Insightful)

wurp (51446) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461831)

The government states that it is illegal to copy copyrighted materials for other than some particular purposes. The copyright owner has absolutely no right to stop you from doing anything at all other than the rights anyone has.

Re:WRONG, WRONG, WRONG (1)

Lord Prox (521892) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461990)

Well we could tell the govt about. Mabey they are not bought and sold, mabey they are just ignorant.

Slashdot congress. I'm going to send the EFF text [craphound.com] to congress. [congress.org]

Re:The problem with digital right is (2, Insightful)

MathFox (686808) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461860)

that nobody has right to decide have I right to read something or not!

The copyright owner does.

The copyright owner has only limited rights on his creation. The moment he publishes the work he can not control further trade in the copies that he made. (And who gets to read/see/enjoy the work.)

Re:The problem with digital right is (2, Interesting)

dorward (129628) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461865)

that nobody has right to decide have I right to read something or not!

The copyright owner does.

That depends on what grounds the decision is made on. If a copyright holder were to say "You don't have the right to read this becuase your skin colour is black" then that would be racial discrimination and illegal in many parts of the world. It seems to me that discrimination based on geographical location (nationality?) is somewhat dodgy too.

Re:The problem with digital right is (2, Interesting)

makomk (752139) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461891)

Here's a scenario for you. The government of a democratic country tells some sort of lie to the general public (not at all common, that!). There is an internal government document exposing their lie, but it is protected by a DRM system (such as the latest version of Microsoft Office), and also copyrighted. A worker with access to this document feels the public should know about it. Would it be morally right to bypass the DRM system in order to send a copy to the newspapers? And would it be right for the newspapers to print the document, or parts of it, as evidence?

Re:The problem with digital right is (1)

benstrange (749333) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462018)

Interesting scenario, but I'm not sure internal government memos are generally copyrighted. Official secrets, maybe.
Either way, the morality argument is a tricky one and relies on a sort of Robin Hood mentality - "It's OK to steal it, the victims are wealthy."

But what if they do have the right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461730)

Think about it!

Re:The problem with digital right is (2, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461731)

You have obviously never heard of the concept of democracy where a handful of people, supposedly representing the interests of the majority can decide whether you have the right to read, or view or listen to something. Its called censorship.

Re:The problem with digital right is (1)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461750)

There is no such thing as true democracy and there never will be, so live with. Human nature dictates that cliques will form, the power-hungry will essentialy enslave the power-less, and a sort of dictatorship will take place and the interests of the rich will be protected. DRM IS NOT the same as censorship: it is the control of intellectual property.

I say let MS invest heavily with DRM... (2, Interesting)

Dagny Taggert (785517) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461677)

...then we'll see, in the long term, exactly how good an investment that was. My guess is lousy.

Why DRM will work (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461679)

DRM will stop enough 14 year old girls from sharing their CD collections with their friends, forcing all of them to buy personal copies of the latest boy band CD.

What you think about DRM doesn't matter a whit.

Re:Why DRM will work (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461797)

No, DRM will stop 14 year old girls from sharing CD collections with their friends so they will all get copies from Kazaa, instead of one person in the group buying each one and then sharing with their friends. I've had problems in the past where copy protection has prevented me from exercising my rights to a product (even installing a piece of software I've bought, because I took the disk with me when I and my laptop left the house, but didn't pick up the manual which had the CD key on the back). My response? To bypass the copy protection. This often wastes a lot of my time, and in the future I avoid products from manufacturers who have wasted my time in the past.

Re:Why DRM will work (3, Funny)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461821)

I'm a 14-year-old nerd who can burn cds for 14-year-old chicks. How does DRM help then? The worst it can do is wreck my life by letting people find out that I have their cds on me, and they'd think that I like that band. But how does that stop the copying?

In order stop copying of cds, we must lower the nerd to cd and the nerd to non-nerd ratio to 1/10000 and 1/500. Any more nerds, and DRM will be useless.

Re:Why DRM will work (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461834)

Please read my post again. I said "14 year old girls." Since you have no hope of ever touching a girl, much less talk to one, I have no doubt that record companies are not worried about you "sharing the wealth".

Re:Why DRM will work (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9462041)

IF you really are a 14 year old I congradulate you for making an intelligent post. Most 14 year olds on /. make posts that are something like "FIRST PSOT!!11!" and "YOU FAILIT !!!"

[Typos intentional]

So really you're saying it won't change anything?! (2, Funny)

hajihill (755023) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461824)

So what you're really saying is that DRM will destroy the music industry, not directly, but due to an inevitable breakdown in the quality of music... As these steps won't prevent any but the least educated, lowest common denominator listeners from actually purchasing the music more than a few times...

Thereby pushing indie furtherer in the direction of indie and pop more in the direction of pop...

Or, wait.... So really you're saying it won't change anything?!?

I just typed furtherer... doh! (1)

hajihill (755023) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461850)

Sorry about that...

I really should use the 'preview' button more often... I'd probably catch mistakes like that....

Re:Why DRM will work (1)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461984)

DRM will stop enough 14 year old girls from sharing their CD collections with their friends, forcing all of them to buy personal copies of the latest boy band CD.

Unless they ask their 8-year old brothers, who spend so much time behind the computer screen, to rip it for them.

Re:Why DRM will work (1)

shione (666388) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462009)

Or maybe they'll get pissed off enough not to buy the cds. I can't see how they're going to successfully stop people from sharing the cds.. not cds in their current format anyway.

Brad Pitt ??? (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461682)

Let's say we're in the days of the Caesar, the Gallic War. You need to send messages back and forth to your generals, and you'd prefer that the enemy doesn't get hold of them. You can
rely on the idea that anyone who intercepts your message is probably illiterate, but that's a tough bet to stake your empire on. You can put your messages into the hands of reliable messengers who'll chew them up and swallow them if captured -- but that doesn't help you if Brad Pitt and his men in skirts skewer him with an arrow before he knows what's hit him.


Erm... Brad Pitt was supposed to be a Greek, not a Geek nor a Roman. :)
Well written pamphlet, otherwise.

Re:Brad Pitt ??? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461702)

Erm... Brad Pitt was supposed to be a Greek, not a Geek nor a Roman.

Not Brad Pitt the actor, you goofball. Brad Pitt the famous Gaul tribal leader of 96-50 BC.

You can't blame them for trying (5, Insightful)

Kombat (93720) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461683)

Companies dealing in intellectual property have never before faced this level of onslaught of piracy and infringement. This isn't something that happened overnight - it's been building up for years (although in recent years, it has accelerated greatly). While a lot of people criticise the methods they're employing to try and protect their assets, few can offer insightful solutions that have solid financial reasoning behind them. We all just seem to assume that if you offered your property for $1/track, that piracy would vanish. Well, they took us up on that challenge, and piracy hasn't vanished.

These people/companies are getting desperate. Sure, I don't think DRM is a silver bullet either, but it is at least slowing the problem until they can figure out a better, long-term solution.

The real thing we should be worrying about in all this is the laws they're passing in the meantime, like the DMCA. While the companies themselves will evolve through this, the rights-stripping provisions enshrined in legislation will be much, much harder to phase out. Laws are rarely repealed, and THAT is what should concern us.

Re:You can't blame them for trying (5, Insightful)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461762)

We all just seem to assume that if you offered your property for $1/track, that piracy would vanish. Well, they took us up on that challenge, and piracy hasn't vanished. Actually, if I could find the bands I enjoy for $1/track as an mp3, then sure, I'd pay it, even if there was an inaudible watermark in the file. But $1/track for some DRM'd file that I can't play on any device I own isn't going to change anything.

Re:You can't blame them for trying (4, Insightful)

Gigs (127327) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461889)

"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years , the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped ,or turned back, for their private benefit."
- Heinlein's Lifeline

Your argument is flawed! They have continually faced these types of onslaughts. From monks handwriting manuscripts to the printing press, to the copy machine. Live performance to wax phonographs to LP's to tapes and now digital. With each change in technology the cost of production changed just as dramatically then as it has now. Since the cost of production has fallen to the level that is very near free you can not justify a cost to the consumer that is way way above free. And the fact that you business will go under doesn't matter one little bit. If the RIAA and all of its studios went out of business today there would still be lots of music to listen to tomorrow.

Re:You can't blame them for trying (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461894)

We all just seem to assume that if you offered your property for $1/track, that piracy would vanish. Well, they took us up on that challenge, and piracy hasn't vanished.

They didn't take us up on that challenge. Yes, they've made it $1/track, but they also put DRM on it, which decreases its value. The challenge was that a song, as had been sold previously, was worth $1/track. What they're doing is selling a different type of song which has DRM and lossy compression. Those decrease the value, so they still haven't met the challenge of $1/track at the same value of the track it would have on a CD.

Plus, the experiment still isn't complete. The DRM has the side effect of limiting the size of your customer base. Online music stores are also not well advertised. Sure, "everybody" knows about iTunes, but not everybody knows about iTunes. Competing services are even less well known. The market is still significantly smaller than the CD market. Once the sizes are close, then you can start to make conclusions.

Here's solid financial reasoning for you. When piracy is easy, goods carry an extra "ethical" cost to them. Every person has their own price for their ethics. If the price of your good exceeds that price, they're going to pirate it. Now if your good was reasonably priced, you've got a problem. If it's not, as CDs and software are not, then you should take it as a sign you need to lower your prices. Once you do that, and come back with proof you're losing to piracy -- meaning don't give us numbers of expected sales minus actual sales and do distinguish between people who would otherwise pay and those who wouldn't use your product otherwise -- then we'll talk.

Until then, DRM is nothing but a substantial detriment to the value of the protected product. I, for one, find it makes music worth less than $1/track, and thus I do not buy it.

Re:You can't blame them for trying (2, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461904)

You can't blame Cory Doctorow for trying, either. "Larry Lessig hanger-on" probably isn't a niche that can profitably support a lot of careers, but he's demonstrated that the number is at least one more than I had thought.

We all just seem to assume that if you offered your property for $1/track, that piracy would vanish. Well, they took us up on that challenge, and piracy hasn't vanished.

Really, I don't think most of "we" have ever been honest about it. When companies tried to crack down on Napster and similar services, the complaint was that they should go after the file sharers. Going after the file sharers then wasn't acceptable; DRM isn't acceptable either. The reality is that the techie community has never offered anything beyond "You're rich and I hate you and computers should be outside the law and anyway I'm helping the artists by not paying them."

Re:You can't blame them for trying (4, Insightful)

psychofox (92356) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461983)

> Companies dealing in intellectual property have never before faced this level of onslaught of piracy and infringement.

You obviously haven't read the article. It is littered with examples of how companies have in fact dealt with "piracy" and "infringement" many times before in the past. Going back over a hundred years in fact.

Re:You can't blame them for trying (5, Insightful)

wkitchen (581276) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462007)

We all just seem to assume that if you offered your property for $1/track, that piracy would vanish. Well, they took us up on that challenge, and piracy hasn't vanished.
No, they didn't. What they're offering for $1/track is a product grossly inferior to what we were getting for a similar price on old-fashioned CD's (before they started screwing those up with copy protection). How can there be any hope of a new product catching on when it's significantly worse than what people are already accustomed to?

There are lots of songs I'd happily pay a buck for if it had the same quality and versatility as what I'm used to from CD's. And that means lossless compression and no DRM. And I'd happily buy songs with a lossy compression but at a good bitrate and with no DRM for .50/track. But the DRM infested garbage they're selling now? That's worth exactly 0$ to me.

Re:You can't blame them for trying (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462016)

"I don't think DRM is a silver bullet either, but it is at least slowing the problem until they can figure out a better, long-term solution."

It's not 'slowing the problem', and quite possibly it's making the problem _worse_. Today, if I want some music I can buy a DRM-crapped CD and have to fight to play it on my PC, or I can just download the songs for free from the web. If I want to play a game, I can buy it with some braindead 'copy protection' that will probably screw up my system by installing stupid fake drivers, or I can download a cracked copy from the web.

If free distribution of your products is a problem, you don't solve it by making your products more of a hassle for your paying customers to use, and treating those customers like criminals.

DRM has a bad name... (2, Interesting)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461689)

So don't be surprised if some companies take htr same concept, put a less 1984-esque label on it, and market it successfully to people. DRM is here to stay, in one form or another, and for better or worse.

Re:DRM has a bad name... (1)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461748)

So don't be surprised if some companies take htr same concept, put a less 1984-esque label on it, and market it successfully to people. DRM is here to stay, in one form or another, and for better or worse.

How about Liberty Management Technology, or LMT? Nobody would be stupid enough to argue against Liberty!!

Re:DRM has a bad name... (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461763)

I agree. The article makes some interesting points but a fact remains. There is a problem will illegal copying and it must be addressed in some way, shape or form and the obvious solution is DRM. /. may hate the big studios, the record companies and big software houses but at the end of they day they invest large amounts of money in producing content for which they are entitled to expect at least some level of protection especially given how ridiculously easy it is to copy and redistribute digital material these days.

Re:DRM has a bad name... (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462031)

at the end of they day they invest large amounts of money in producing^D^D^D^D advertising and promoting content for which they are entitled to expect at least some level of protection

Unless, of course, you're talking about the small independant labels, though I doubt it. Actually, even they don't spend that much money producing content, though they dont get much income either, so...

Anyway, remember, it's less risky to make identikit bands which you know will sell than to take a risk with new bands. And if one of the independants takes a risk on an artist and they succeed, well, just buy them up. You can afford it, and mant independants are too cash-strapped to refuse.

Oops, cynicism overflow...

Nothing new here... (4, Insightful)

skyryder12 (677216) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461713)

Actually, it seems to be a re-hash of eveything we have known that is evil about DRM for the last few years, just all prettied up and in the same place. I despair that these arguments have much worth, particularly when you are talking to a corporate entity that has twice been convicted of monopolistic practices. It seems naive to me to even expect to be able to make such a difference. Since I live in the U$A, I know, no matter what the rhetoric, that it all comes down to money in the end. They will take a buck from anyone and anywhere that they can, and of course genetically they subliminally support the monopolistic practices of others. Computing literacy will be the next dividing line between rich and poor......

that didn't take long (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461714)

slashdotted with only nine posts in this article... did anyone get it mirrored???

Not a mirror, just a summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461721)

DRM sucks. Companies are evil. Microsoft is evil.

Information wants to be free.

DRM really sucks.

Re:that didn't take long (1)

aixou (756713) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461733)

Hopefully all the insightful and interesting posts will come soon.. from those that are actually Reading TFA now. :)

Re:that didn't take long (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461736)

Seems to be loading fine for me. It's a large text file, but I could try to post it if others are having trouble too...

Full Article Text (2, Interesting)

ravydavygravy (230429) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461747)

Microsoft Research DRM talk

Cory Doctorow

cory@eff.org

June 17, 2004

--

This text is dedicated to the public domain, using a Creative Commons public domain dedication:

> Copyright-Only Dedication (based on United States law)
>
> The person or persons who have associated their work with this
> document (the "Dedicator") hereby dedicate the entire copyright
> in the work of authorship identified below (the "Work") to the
> public domain.
>
> Dedicator makes this dedication for the benefit of the public at
> large and to the detriment of Dedicator's heirs and successors.
> Dedicator intends this dedication to be an overt act of
> relinquishment in perpetuity of all present and future rights
> under copyright law, whether vested or contingent, in the Work.
> Dedicator understands that such relinquishment of all rights
> includes the relinquishment of all rights to enforce (by lawsuit
> or otherwise) those copyrights in the Work.
>
> Dedicator recognizes that, once placed in the public domain, the
> Work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used,
> modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited by anyone for any
> purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and in any way, including
> by methods that have not yet been invented or conceived.

--

Greetings fellow pirates! Arrrrr!

I'm here today to talk to you about copyright, technology and DRM, I work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation on copyright stuff (mostly), and I live in London. I'm not a lawyer -- I'm a kind of mouthpiece/activist type, though occasionally they shave me and stuff me into my Bar Mitzvah suit and send me to a standards body or the UN to stir up trouble. I spend about three
weeks a month on the road doing completely weird stuff like going to Microsoft to talk about DRM.

I lead a double life: I'm also a science fiction writer. That means I've got a dog in this fight, because I've been dreaming of making my living from writing since I was 12 years old. Admittedly, my IP-based biz isn't as big as yours, but I guarantee you that it's every bit as important to me as yours is to you.

Here's what I'm here to convince you of:

1. That DRM systems don't work

2. That DRM systems are bad for society

3. That DRM systems are bad for business

4. That DRM systems are bad for artists

5. That DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT

It's a big brief, this talk. Microsoft has sunk a lot of capital into DRM systems, and spent a lot of time sending folks like Martha and Brian and Peter around to various smoke-filled rooms to make sure that Microsoft DRM finds a hospitable home in the future world. Companies like Microsoft steer like old Buicks, and this issue has a lot of forward momentum that will be hard to soak up without driving the engine block back into the driver's compartment. At best I think that Microsoft might convert some of that momentum on DRM into angular momentum, and in so doing, save
all our asses.

Let's dive into it.

--

1. DRM systems don't work

This bit breaks down into two parts:

1. A quick refresher course in crypto theory

2. Applying that to DRM

Cryptography -- secret writing -- is the practice of keeping secrets. It involves three parties: a sender, a receiver and an attacker (actually, there can be more attackers, senders and recipients, but let's keep this simple). We usually call these people Alice, Bob and Carol.

Let's say we're in the days of the Caesar, the Gallic War. You need to send messages back and forth to your generals, and you'd prefer that the enemy doesn't get hold of them. You can rely on the idea that anyone who intercepts your message is probably illiterate, but that's a tough bet to stake your empire on. You can put your messages into the hands of reliable messengers who'll chew them up and swallow them if captured -- but that doesn't help you if Brad Pitt and his men in skirts skewer him with an arrow before he knows what's hit him.

So you encipher your message with something like ROT-13, where
every character is rotated halfway through the alphabet. They
used to do this with non-worksafe material on Usenet, back when
anyone on Usenet cared about work-safe-ness -- A would become N,
B is O, C is P, and so forth. To decipher, you just add 13 more,
so N goes to A, O to B yadda yadda.

Well, this is pretty lame: as soon as anyone figures out your
algorithm, your secret is g0nez0red.

So if you're Caesar, you spend a lot of time worrying about
keeping the existence of your messengers and their payloads
secret. Get that? You're Augustus and you need to send a message
to Brad without Caceous (a word I'm reliably informed means
"cheese-like, or pertaining to cheese") getting his hands on it.
You give the message to Diatomaceous, the fleetest runner in the
empire, and you encipher it with ROT-13 and send him out of the
garrison in the pitchest hour of the night, making sure no one
knows that you've sent it out. Caceous has spies everywhere, in
the garrison and staked out on the road, and if one of them puts
an arrow through Diatomaceous, they'll have their hands on the
message, and then if they figure out the cipher, you're b0rked.
So the existence of the message is a secret. The cipher is a
secret. The ciphertext is a secret. That's a lot of secrets, and
the more secrets you've got, the less secure you are, especially
if any of those secrets are shared. Shared secrets aren't really
all that secret any longer.

Time passes, stuff happens, and then Tesla invents the radio and
Marconi takes credit for it. This is both good news and bad news
for crypto: on the one hand, your messages can get to anywhere
with a receiver and an antenna, which is great for the brave
fifth columnists working behind the enemy lines. On the other
hand, anyone with an antenna can listen in on the message, which
means that it's no longer practical to keep the existence of the
message a secret. Any time Adolf sends a message to Berlin, he
can assume Churchill overhears it.

Which is OK, because now we have computers -- big, bulky
primitive mechanical computers, but computers still. Computers
are machines for rearranging numbers, and so scientists on both
sides engage in a fiendish competition to invent the most
cleverest method they can for rearranging numerically represented
text so that the other side can't unscramble it. The existence of
the message isn't a secret anymore, but the cipher is.

But this is still too many secrets. If Bobby intercepts one of
Adolf's Enigma machines, he can give Churchill all kinds of
intelligence. I mean, this was good news for Churchill and us,
but bad news for Adolf. And at the end of the day, it's bad news
for anyone who wants to keep a secret.

Enter keys: a cipher that uses a key is still more secure. Even
if the cipher is disclosed, even if the ciphertext is
intercepted, without the key (or a break), the message is secret.
Post-war, this is doubly important as we begin to realize what I
think of as Schneier's Law: "any person can invent a security
system so clever that she or he can't think of how to break it."
This means that the only experimental methodology for discovering
if you've made mistakes in your cipher is to tell all the smart
people you can about it and ask them to think of ways to break
it. Without this critical step, you'll eventually end up living
in a fool's paradise, where your attacker has broken your cipher
ages ago and is quietly decrypting all her intercepts of your
messages, snickering at you.

Best of all, there's only one secret: the key. And with dual-key
crypto it becomes a lot easier for Alice and Bob to keep their
keys secret from Carol, even if they've never met. So long as
Alice and Bob can keep their keys secret, they can assume that
Carol won't gain access to their cleartext messages, even though
she has access to the cipher and the ciphertext. Conveniently
enough, the keys are the shortest and simplest of the secrets,
too: hence even easier to keep away from Carol. Hooray for Bob
and Alice.

Now, let's apply this to DRM.

In DRM, the attacker is *also the recipient*. It's not Alice and
Bob and Carol, it's just Alice and Bob. Alice sells Bob a DVD.
She sells Bob a DVD player. The DVD has a movie on it -- say,
Pirates of the Caribbean -- and it's enciphered with an algorithm
called CSS -- Content Scrambling System. The DVD player has a CSS
un-scrambler.

Now, let's take stock of what's a secret here: the cipher is
well-known. The ciphertext is most assuredly in enemy hands, arrr.
So what? As long as the key is secret from the attacker, we're
golden.

But there's the rub. Alice wants Bob to buy Pirates of the
Caribbean from her. Bob will only buy Pirates of the Caribbean if
he can descramble the CSS-encrypted VOB -- video object -- on his
DVD player. Otherwise, the disc is only useful to Bob as a
drinks-coaster. So Alice has to provide Bob -- the attacker --
with the key, the cipher and the ciphertext.

Hilarity ensues.

DRM systems are broken in minutes, sometimes days. Rarely,
months. It's not because the people who think them up are stupid.
It's not because the people who break them are smart. It's not
because there's a flaw in the algorithms. At the end of the day,
all DRM systems share a common vulnerability: they provide their
attackers with ciphertext, the cipher and the key. At this point,
the secret isn't a secret anymore.

--

2. DRM systems are bad for society

Raise your hand if you're thinking something like, "But DRM
doesn't have to be proof against smart attackers, only average
individuals! It's like a speedbump!"

Put your hand down.

This is a fallacy for two reasons: one technical, and one social.
They're both bad for society, though.

Here's the technical reason: I don't need to be a cracker to
break your DRM. I only need to know how to search Google, or
Kazaa, or any of the other general-purpose search tools for the
cleartext that someone smarter than me has extracted.

Raise your hand if you're thinking something like, "But NGSCB can
solve this problem: we'll lock the secrets up on the logic board
and goop it all up with epoxy."

Put your hand down.

Raise your hand if you're a co-author of the Darknet paper.

Everyone in the first group, meet the co-authors of the Darknet
paper. This is a paper that says, among other things, that DRM
will fail for this very reason. Put your hands down, guys.

Here's the social reason that DRM fails: keeping an honest user
honest is like keeping a tall user tall. DRM vendors tell us that
their technology is meant to be proof against average users, not
organized criminal gangs like the Ukranian pirates who stamp out
millions of high-quality counterfeits. It's not meant to be proof
against sophisticated college kids. It's not meant to be proof
against anyone who knows how to edit her registry, or hold down
the shift key at the right moment, or use a search engine. At the
end of the day, the user DRM is meant to defend against is the
most unsophisticated and least capable among us.

Here's a true story about a user I know who was stopped by DRM.
She's smart, college educated, and knows nothing about
electronics. She has three kids. She has a DVD in the living room
and an old VHS deck in the kids' playroom. One day, she brought
home the Toy Story DVD for the kids. That's a substantial
investment, and given the generally jam-smeared character of
everything the kids get their paws on, she decided to tape the
DVD off to VHS and give that to the kids -- that way she could
make a fresh VHS copy when the first one went south. She cabled
her DVD into her VHS and pressed play on the DVD and record on
the VCR and waited.

Before I go farther, I want us all to stop a moment and marvel at
this. Here is someone who is practically technophobic, but who
was able to construct a mental model of sufficient accuracy that
she figured out that she could connect her cables in the right
order and dub her digital disc off to analog tape. I imagine that
everyone in this room is the front-line tech support for someone
in her or his family: would it be great if all our non-geek
friends and relatives were this clever and imaginative?

I also want to point out that this is the proverbial honest user.
She's not making a copy for the next door neighbors. She's not
making a copy and selling it on a blanket on Canal Street. She's
not ripping it to her hard-drive, DivX encoding it and putting it
in her Kazaa sharepoint. She's doing something *honest* -- moving
it from one format to another. She's home taping.

Except she fails. There's a DRM system called Macrovision
embedded -- by law -- in every DVD player and VHS that messes
with the vertical blanking interval in the signal and causes any
tape made in this fashion to fail. Macrovision can be defeated
for about $10 with a gadget readily available on eBay. But our
infringer doesn't know that. She's "honest." Technically
unsophisticated. Not stupid, mind you -- just naive.

The Darknet paper addresses this possibility: it even predicts
what this person will do in the long run: she'll find out about
Kazaa and the next time she wants to get a movie for the kids,
she'll download it from the net and burn it for them.

In order to delay that day for as long as possible, our lawmakers
and big rightsholder interests have come up with a disastrous
policy called anticircumvention.

Here's how anticircumvention works: if you put a lock -- an
access control -- around a copyrighted work, it is illegal to
break that lock. It's illegal to make a tool that breaks that
lock. It's illegal to tell someone how to make that tool. It's
illegal to tell someone where she can find out how to make that
tool.

Remember Schneier's Law? Anyone can come up with a security
system so clever that he can't see its flaws. The only way to
find the flaws in security is to disclose the system's workings
and invite public feedback. But now we live in a world where any
cipher used to fence off a copyrighted work is off-limits to that
kind of feedback. That's something that a Princeton engineering
prof named Ed Felten discovered when he submitted a paper to an
academic conference on the failings in the Secure Digital Music
Initiative, a watermarking scheme proposed by the recording
industry. The RIAA responded by threatening to sue his ass if he
tried it. We fought them because Ed is the kind of client that
impact litigators love: unimpeachable and clean-cut and the RIAA
folded. Lucky Ed. Maybe the next guy isn't so lucky.

Matter of fact, the next guy wasn't. Dmitry Skylarov is a Russian
programmer who gave a talk at a hacker con in Vegas on the
failings in Adobe's e-book locks. The FBI threw him in the slam
for 30 days. He copped a plea, went home to Russia, and the
Russian equivalent of the State Department issued a blanket
warning to its researchers to stay away from American
conferences, since we'd apparently turned into the kind of
country where certain equations are illegal.

Anticircumvention is a powerful tool for people who want to
exclude competitors. If you claim that your car engine firmware
is a "copyrighted work," you can sue anyone who makes a tool for
interfacing with it. That's not just bad news for mechanics --
think of the hotrodders who want to chip their cars to tweak the
performance settings. We have companies like Lexmark claiming
that their printer cartridges contain copyrighted works --
software that trips an "I am empty" flag when the toner runs out,
and have sued a competitor who made a remanufactured cartridge
that reset the flag. Even garage-door opener companies have
gotten in on the act, claiming that their receivers' firmware are
copyrighted works. Copyrighted cars, print carts and garage-door
openers: what's next, copyrighted light-fixtures?

Even in the context of legitimate -- excuse me, "traditional" --
copyrighted works like movies on DVDs, anticircumvention is bad
news. Copyright is a delicate balance. It gives creators and
their assignees some rights, but it also reserves some rights to
the public. For example, an author has no right to prohibit
anyone from transcoding his books into assistive formats for the
blind. More importantly, though, a creator has a very limited say
over what you can do once you lawfully acquire her works. If I
buy your book, your painting, or your DVD, it belongs to me. It's
my property. Not my "intellectual property" -- a whacky kind of
pseudo-property that's swiss-cheesed with exceptions, easements
and limitations -- but real, no-fooling, actual tangible
*property* -- the kind of thing that courts have been managing
through tort law for centuries.

But anticirumvention lets rightsholders invent new and exciting
copyrights for themselves -- to write private laws without
accountability or deliberation -- that expropriate your interest
in your physical property to their favor. Region-coded DVDs are
an example of this: there's no copyright here or in anywhere I
know of that says that an author should be able to control where
you enjoy her creative works, once you've paid for them. I can
buy a book and throw it in my bag and take it anywhere from
Toronto to Timbuktu, and read it wherever I am: I can even buy
books in America and bring them to the UK, where the author may
have an exclusive distribution deal with a local publisher who
sells them for double the US shelf-price. When I'm done with it,
I can sell it on or give it away in the UK. Copyright lawyers
call this "First Sale," but it may be simpler to think of it as
"Capitalism."

The keys to decrypt a DVD are controlled by an org called
DVD-CCA, and they have a bunch of licensing requirements for
anyone who gets a key from them. Among these is something called
region-coding: if you buy a DVD in France, it'll have a flag set
that says, "I am a French DVD." Bring that DVD to America and
your DVD player will compare the flag to its list of permitted
regions, and if they don't match, it will tell you that it's not
allowed to play your disc.

Remember: there is no copyright that says that an author gets to
do this. When we wrote the copyright statutes and granted authors
the right to control display, performance, duplication,
derivative works, and so forth, we didn't leave out "geography"
by accident. That was on-purpose.

So when your French DVD won't play in America, that's not because
it'd be illegal to do so: it's because the studios have invented
a business-model and then invented a copyright law to prop it up.
The DVD is your property and so is the DVD player, but if you
break the region-coding on your disc, you're going to run afoul
of anticircumvention.

That's what happened to Jon Johansen, a Norweigan teenager who
wanted to watch French DVDs on his Norweigan DVD player. He and
some pals wrote some code to break the CSS so that he could do
so. He's a wanted man here in America; in Norway the studios put
the local fuzz up to bringing him up on charges of *unlawfully
trespassing upon a computer system.* When his defense asked,
"Which computer has Jon trespassed upon?" the answer was: "His
own."

His no-fooling, real and physical property has been expropriated
by the weird, notional, metaphorical intellectual property on his
DVD: DRM only works if your record player becomes the property of
whomever's records you're playing.

--

3. DRM systems are bad for biz

This is the worst of all the ideas embodied by DRM: that people
who make record-players should be able to spec whose records you
can listen to, and that people who make records should have a
veto over the design of record-players.

We've never had this principle: in fact, we've always had just
the reverse. Think about all the things that can be plugged into
a parallel or serial interface, which were never envisioned by
their inventors. Our strong economy and rapid innovation are
byproducts of the ability of anyone to make anything that plugs
into anything else: from the Flo-bee electric razor that snaps
onto the end of your vacuum-hose to the octopus spilling out of
your car's dashboard lighter socket, standard interfaces that
anyone can build for are what makes billionaires out of nerds.

The courts affirm this again and again. It used to be illegal to
plug anything that didn't come from AT&T into your phone-jack.
They claimed that this was for the safety of the network, but
really it was about propping up this little penny-ante racket
that AT&T had in charging you a rental fee for your phone until
you'd paid for it a thousand times over.

When that ban was struck down, it created the market for
third-party phone equipment, from talking novelty phones to
answering machines to cordless handsets to headsets -- billions
of dollars of economic activity that had been supressed by the
closed interface. Note that AT&T was one of the big beneficiaries
of this: they *also* got into the business of making phone-kit.

DRM is the software equivalent of these closed hardware
interfaces. Robert Scoble is a Softie who has an excellent blog,
where he wrote an essay about the best way to protect your
investment in the digital music you buy. Should you buy Apple
iTunes music, or Microsoft DRM music? Scoble argued that
Microsoft's music was a sounder investment, because Microsoft
would have more downstream licensees for its proprietary format
and therefore you'd have a richer ecosystem of devices to choose
from when you were shopping for gizmos to play your virtual
records on.

What a weird idea: that we should evaluate our record-purchases
on the basis of which recording company will allow the greatest
diversity of record-players to play its discs! That's like
telling someone to buy the Betamax instead of the Edison
Kinetoscope because Thomas Edison is a crank about licensing his
patents; all the while ignoring the world's relentless march to
the more open VHS format.

It's a bad business. DVD is a format where the guy who makes the
records gets to design the record players. Ask yourself: how much
innovation has there been over the past decade of DVD players?
They've gotten cheaper and smaller, but where are the weird and
amazing new markets for DVD that were opened up by the VCR?
There's a company that's manufacturing the world's first
HDD-based DVD jukebox, a thing that holds 30 movies, and they're
charging *$30,000* for this thing. We're talking about a $300
hard drive and a $300 PC -- all that other cost is the cost of
anticompetition.

--

4. DRM systems are bad for artists

But what of the artist? The hardworking filmmaker, the
ink-stained scribbler, the heroin-cured leathery rock-star? We
poor slobs of the creative class are everyone's favorite
poster-children here: the RIAA and MPAA hold us up and say,
"Won't someone please think of the children?" File-sharers say,
"Yeah, we're thinking about the artists, but the labels are The
Man, who cares what happens to you?"

To understand what DRM does to artists, you need to understand
how copyright and technology interact. Copyright is inherently
technological, since the things it addresses -- copying,
transmitting, and so on -- are inherently technological.

The piano roll was the first system for cheaply copying music. It
was invented at a time when the dominant form of entertainment in
America was getting a talented pianist to come into your living
room and pound out some tunes while you sang along. The music
industry consisted mostly of sheet-music publishers.

The player piano was a digital recording and playback system.
Piano-roll companies bought sheet music and ripped the notes
printed on it into 0s and 1s on a long roll of computer tape,
which they sold by the thousands -- the hundreds of thousands --
the millions. They did this without a penny's compensation to the
publishers. They were digital music pirates. Arrrr!

Predictably, the composers and music publishers went nutso. Sousa
showed up in Congress to say that:

These talking machines are going to ruin the
artistic development of music in this
country. When I was a boy...in front of every
house in the summer evenings, you would find
young people together singing the songs of
the day or old songs. Today you hear these
infernal machines going night and day. We
will not have a vocal chord left. The vocal
chord will be eliminated by a process of
evolution, as was the tail of man when he
came from the ape.

The publishers asked Congress to ban the piano roll and to create
a law that said that any new system for reproducing music should
be subject to a veto from their industry association. Lucky for
us, Congress realized what side of their bread had butter on it
and decided not to criminalize the dominant form of entertainment
in America.

But there was the problem of paying artists. The Constitution
sets out the purpose of American copyright: to promote the useful
arts and sciences. The composers had a credible story that they'd
do less composing if they weren't paid for it, so Congress needed
a fix. Here's what they came up with: anyone who paid a music
publisher two cents would have the right to make one piano roll
of any song that publisher published. The publisher couldn't say
no, and no one had to hire a lawyer at $200 an hour to argue
about whether the payment should be two cents or a nickel.

This compulsory license is still in place today: when Joe Cocker
sings "With a Little Help from My Friends," he pays a fixed fee
to the Beatles' publisher and away he goes -- even if Ringo hates
the idea. If you ever wondered how Sid Vicious talked Anka into
letting him get a crack at "My Way," well, now you know.

That compulsory license created a world where a thousand times
more money was made by a thousand times more creators who made a
thousand times more music that reached a thousand times more
people.

This story repeats itself throughout the technological century,
every ten or fifteen years. Radio was enabled by a voluntary
blanket license -- the music companies got together and asked for
an antitrust exemption so that they could offer all their music
for a flat fee. Cable TV took a compulsory: the only way cable
operators could get their hands on broadcasts was to pirate them
and shove them down the wire, and Congress saw fit to legalize
this practice rather than screw around with their constituents'
TVs.

Sometimes, the courts and Congress decided to simply take away a
copyright -- that's what happened with the VCR. When Sony brought
out the VCR in 1976, the studios had already decided what the
experience of watching a movie in your living room would look
like: they'd licensed out their programming for use on a machine
called a Discovision, which played big LP-sized discs that
disintegrated after a few plays. Proto-DRM.

The copyright scholars of the day didn't give the VCR very good
odds. Sony argued that their box allowed for a fair use, which is
defined as a use that a court rules is a defense against
infringement based on four factors: whether the use transforms
the work into something new, like a collage; whether it uses all
or some of the work; whether the work is artistic or mainly
factual; and whether the use undercuts the creator's
business-model.

The Betamax failed on all four fronts: when you time-shifted or
duplicated a Hollywood movie off the air, you made a
non-transformative use of 100 percent of a creative work in a way
that directly undercut the Discovision licensing stream.

Jack Valenti, the mouthpiece for the motion-picture industry,
told Congress in 1982 that the VCR was to the American film
industry "as the Boston Strangler is to a woman home alone."

But the Supreme Court ruled against Hollywood in 1984, when it
determined that any device capable of a substantial
non-infringing use was legal. In other words, "We don't buy this
Boston Strangler business: if your business model can't survive
the emergence of this general-purpose tool, it's time to get
another business-model or go broke."

Hollywood found another business model, as the broadcasters had,
as the Vaudeville artists had, as the music publishers had, and
they made more art that paid more artists and reached a wider
audience.

There's one thing that every new art business-model had in
common: it embraced the medium it lived in.

This is the overweening characteristic of every single successful
new medium: it is true to itself. The Luther Bible didn't
succeed on the axes that made a hand-copied monk Bible valuable:
they were ugly, they weren't in Church Latin, they weren't read
aloud by someone who could interpret it for his lay audience,
they didn't represent years of devoted-with-a-capital-D labor by
someone who had given his life over to God. The thing that made
the Luther Bible a success was its scalability: it was more
popular because it was more proliferate: all success factors for
a new medium pale beside its profligacy. The most successful
organisms on earth are those that reproduce the most: bugs and
bacteria, nematodes and virii. Reproduction is the best of all
survival strategies.

Piano rolls didn't sound as good as the music of a skilled
pianist: but they *scaled better*. Radio lacked the social
elements of live performance, but more people could build a
crystal set and get it aimed correctly than could pack into even
the largest Vaudeville house. MP3s don't come with liner notes,
they aren't sold to you by a hipper-than-thou record store clerk
who can help you make your choice, bad rips and truncated files
abound: I once downloaded a twelve-second copy of "Hey Jude" from
the original Napster. Yet MP3 is outcompeting the CD. I don't
know what to do with CDs anymore: I get them, and they're like
the especially garment bag they give you at the fancy suit shop:
it's nice and you feel like a goof for throwing it out, but
Christ, how many of these things can you usefully own? I can put
ten thousand songs on my laptop, but a comparable pile of discs,
with liner notes and so forth -- that's a liability: it's a piece
of my monthly storage-locker costs.

Here are the two most important things to know about computers
and the Internet:

1. A computer is a machine for rearranging bits

2. The Internet is a machine for moving bits from one place to
another very cheaply and quickly

Any new medium that takes hold on the Internet and with computers
will embrace these two facts, not regret them. A newspaper press
is a machine for spitting out cheap and smeary newsprint at
speed: if you try to make it output fine art lithos, you'll get
junk. If you try to make it output newspapers, you'll get the
basis for a free society.

And so it is with the Internet. At the heyday of Napster, record
execs used to show up at conferences and tell everyone that
Napster was doomed because no one wanted lossily compressed MP3s
with no liner notes and truncated files and misspelled metadata.

Today we hear ebook publishers tell each other and anyone who'll
listen that the barrier to ebooks is screen resolution. It's
bollocks, and so is the whole sermonette about how nice a book
looks on your bookcase and how nice it smells and how easy it is
to slip into the tub. These are obvious and untrue things, like
the idea that radio will catch on once they figure out how to
sell you hotdogs during the intermission, or that movies will
really hit their stride when we can figure out how to bring the
actors out for an encore when the film's run out. Or that what
the Protestant Reformation really needs is Luther Bibles with
facsimile illumination in the margin and a rent-a-priest to read
aloud from your personal Word of God.

New media don't succeed because they're like the only media, only
better: they succeed because they're worse than the old media at
the stuff the old media is good at, and better at the stuff the
old media are bad at. Books are good at being paperwhite,
high-resolution, low-infrastructure, cheap and disposable. Ebooks
are good at being everywhere in the world at the same time for
free in a form that is so malleable that you can just pastebomb
it into your IM session or turn it into a page-a-day mailing
list.

The only really successful epublishing -- I mean, hundreds of
thousands, millions of copies distributed and read -- is the
bookwarez scene, where scanned-and-OCR'd books are distributed on
the darknet. The only legit publishers with any success at
epublishing are the ones whose books cross the Internet without
technological fetter: publishers like Baen Books and my own, Tor,
who are making some or all of their catalogs available in ASCII
and HTML and PDF.

The hardware-dependent ebooks, the DRM use-and-copy-restricted
ebooks, they're cratering. Sales measured in the tens, sometimes
the hundreds. Science fiction is a niche business, but when
you're selling copies by the ten, that's not even a business,
it's a hobby.

Every one of you has been riding a curve where you read more and
more words off of more and more screens every day through most of
your professional careers. It's zero-sum: you've also been
reading fewer words off of fewer pages as time went by: the
dinosauric executive who prints his email and dictates a reply to
his secretary is info-roadkill.

Today, at this very second, people read words off of screens for
every hour that they can find. Your kids stare at their Game Boys
until their eyes fall out. Euroteens ring doorbells with their
hypertrophied, SMS-twitching thumbs instead of their index
fingers.

Paper books are the packaging that books come in. Cheap
printer-binderies like the Internet Bookmobile that can produce a
full bleed, four color, glossy cover, printed spine,
perfect-bound book in ten minutes for a dollar are the future of
paper books: when you need an instance of a paper book, you
generate one, or part of one, and pitch it out when you're done.
I landed at SEA-TAC on Monday and burned a couple CDs from my
music collection to listen to in the rental car. When I drop the
car off, I'll leave them behind. Who needs 'em?

Whenever a new technology has disrupted copyright, we've changed
copyright. Copyright isn't an ethical proposition, it's a
utlititarian one. There's nothing *moral* about paying a composer
tuppence for the piano-roll rights, there's nothing *immoral*
about not paying Hollywood for the right to videotape a movie off
your TV. They're just the best way of balancing out so that
people's physical property rights in their VCRs and phonographs
are respected and so that creators get enough of a dangling
carrot to go on making shows and music and books and paintings.

Technology that disrupts copyright does so because it simplifies
and cheapens creation, reproduction and distribution. The
existing copyright businesses exploit inefficiencies in the old
production, reproduction and distribution system, and they'll be
weakened by the new technology. But new technology always gives
us more art with a wider reach: that's what tech is *for*.

Tech gives us bigger pies that more artists can get a bite out
of. That's been tacitly acknowledged at every stage of the
copyfight since the piano roll. When copyright and technology
collide, it's copyright that changes.

Which means that today's copyright -- the thing that DRM
nominally props up -- didn't come down off the mountain on two
stone tablets. It was created in living memory to accommodate the
technical reality created by the inventors of the previous
generation. To abandon invention now robs tomorrow's artists of
the new businesses and new reach and new audiences that the
Internet and the PC can give them.

--

5. DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT

When Sony brought out the VCR, it made a record player that could
play Hollywood's records, even if Hollywood didn't like the idea.
The industries that grew up on the back of the VCR -- movie
rentals, home taping, camcorders, even Bar Mitzvah videographers
-- made billions for Sony and its cohort.

That was good business -- even if Sony lost the Betamax-VHS
format wars, the money on the world-with-VCRs table was enough to
make up for it.

But then Sony acquired a relatively tiny entertainment company
and it started to massively screw up. When MP3 rolled around and
Sony's walkman customers were clamoring for a solid-state MP3
player, Sony let its music business-unit run its show: instead of
making a high-capacity MP3 walkman, Sony shipped its Music Clips,
low-capacity devices that played brain-damaged DRM formats like
Real and OpenAG. They spent good money engineering "features"
into these devices that kept their customers from freely moving
their music back and forth between their devices. Customers
stayed away in droves.

Today, Sony is dead in the water when it comes to walkmen. The
market leaders are poky Singaporean outfits like Creative Labs --
the kind of company that Sony used to crush like a bug, back
before it got borged by its entertainment unit -- and PC
companies like Apple.

That's because Sony shipped a product that there was no market
demand for. No Sony customer woke up one morning and said, "Damn,
I wish Sony would devote some expensive engineering effort in
order that I may do less with my music." Presented with an
alternative, Sony's customers enthusiastically jumped ship.

The same thing happened to a lot of people I know who used to rip
their CDs to WMA. You guys sold them software that produced
smaller, better-sounding rips that the MP3 rippers, but you also
fixed it so that the songs you ripped were device-locked to their
PCs. What that meant is that when they backed up their music to
another hard-drive and reinstalled their OS (something that the
spyware and malware wars has made more common than ever), they
discovered that after they restored their music that they could
no longer play it. The player saw the new OS as a different
machine, and locked them out of their own music.

There is no market demand for this "feature." None of your
customers want you to make expensive modifications to your
products that make backing up and restoring even harder. And
there is no moment when your customers will be less forgiving
than the moment that they are recovering from catastrophic
technology failures.

I speak from experience. Because I buy a new Powerbook every ten
months, and because I always order the new models the day they're
announced, I get a lot of lemons from Apple. That means that I
hit Apple's three-iTunes-authorized-computers limit pretty early
on and found myself unable to play the hundreds of dollars' worth
of iTunes songs I'd bought because one of my authorized machines
was a lemon that Apple had broken up for parts, one was in the
shop getting fixed by Apple, and one was my mom's computer, 3,000
miles away in Toronto.

If I had been a less good customer for Apple's hardware, I would
have been fine. If I had been a less enthusiastic evangelist for
Apple's products -- if I hadn't shown my mom how iTunes Music
Store worked -- I would have been fine. If I hadn't bought so
much iTunes music that burning it to CD and re-ripping it and
re-keying all my metadata was too daunting a task to consider, I
would have been fine.

As it was Apple rewarded my trust, evangelism and out-of-control
spending by treating me like a crook and locking me out of my own
music, at a time when my Powerbook was in the shop -- i.e., at a
time when I was hardly disposed to feel charitable to Apple.

I'm an edge case here, but I'm a *leading edge* case. If Apple
succeeds in its business plans, it will only be a matter of time
until even average customers have upgraded enough hardware and
bought enough music to end up where I am.

You know what I would totally buy? A record player that let me
play everybody's records. Right now, the closest I can come to
that is an open source app called VLC, but it's clunky and buggy
and it didn't come pre-installed on my computer.

Sony didn't make a Betamax that only played the movies that
Hollywood was willing to permit -- Hollywood asked them to do it,
they proposed an early, analog broadcast flag that VCRs could
hunt for and respond to by disabling recording. Sony ignored them
and made the product they thought their customers wanted.

I'm a Microsoft customer. Like millions of other Microsoft
customers, I want a player that plays anything I throw at it, and
I think that you are just the company to give it to me.

Yes, this would violate copyright law as it stands, but Microsoft
has been making tools of piracy that change copyright law for
decades now. Outlook, Exchange and MSN are tools that abet
widescale digital infringement.

More significantly, IIS and your caching proxies all make and
serve copies of documents without their authors' consent,
something that, if it is legal today, is only legal because
companies like Microsoft went ahead and did it and dared
lawmakers to prosecute.

Microsoft stood up for its customers and for progress, and won so
decisively that most people never even realized that there was a
fight.

Do it again! This is a company that looks the world's roughest,
toughest anti-trust regulators in the eye and laughs. Compared to
anti-trust people, copyright lawmakers are pantywaists. You can
take them with your arm behind your back.

In Siva Vaidhyanathan's book The Anarchist in the Library, he
talks about why the studios are so blind to their customers'
desires. It's because people like you and me spent the 80s and
the 90s telling them bad science fiction stories about impossible
DRM technology that would let them charge a small sum of money
every time someone looked at a movie -- want to fast-forward?
That feature costs another penny. Pausing is two cents an hour.
The mute button will cost you a quarter.

When Mako Analysis issued their report last month advising phone
companies to stop supporting Symbian phones, they were just
writing the latest installment in this story. Mako says that
phones like my P900, which can play MP3s as ringtones, are bad
for the cellphone economy, because it'll put the extortionate
ringtone sellers out of business. What Mako is saying is that
just because you bought the CD doesn't mean that you should
expect to have the ability to listen to it on your MP3 player,
and just because it plays on your MP3 player is no reason to
expect it to run as a ringtone. I wonder how they feel about
alarm clocks that will play a CD to wake you up in the morning?
Is that strangling the nascent "alarm tone" market?

The phone companies' customers want Symbian phones and for now,
at least, the phone companies understand that if they don't sell
them, someone else will.

The market opportunity for a truly capable devices is enormous.
There's a company out there charging *$30,000* for a $600 DVD
jukebox -- go and eat their lunch! Steve Jobs isn't going to do
it: he's off at the D conference telling studio execs not to
release hi-def movies until they're sure no one will make a
hi-def DVD burner that works with a PC.

Maybe they won't buy into his BS, but they're also not much
interested in what you have to sell. At the Broadcast Protection
Discussion Group meetings where the Broadcast Flag was hammered
out, the studios' position was, "We'll take anyone's DRM except
Microsoft's and Philips'." When I met with UK broadcast wonks
about the European version of the Broadcast Flag underway at the
Digital Video Broadcasters' forum, they told me, "Well, it's
different in Europe: mostly they're worried that some American
company like Microsoft will get their claws into European
television."

American film studios didn't want the Japanese electronics
companies to get a piece of the movie pie, so they fought the
VCR. Today, everyone who makes movies agrees that they don't want
to let you guys get between them and their customers.

Sony didn't get permission. Neither should you. Go build the
record player that can play everyone's records.

Because if you don't do it, someone else will.

eof

My favorite quote: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461732)

"DRM turns computers against their owners. I don't want a Disney security guard sitting in my living room watching my every move." -- Ian Clarke

Doctorow (3, Informative)

arvindn (542080) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461734)

In case you don't know, Doctorow is the author of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom [craphound.com] (available for free), a great book which explores a sort of utopian future where the economy is no longer scarcity based and reputation is everything. Interestingly, if there's anything that's sure to kill any chance of our transitioning to an abundance-based society, it's DRM.

Strange.. (1)

chewy_2000 (618148) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461751)

I have to say the article is written in a fairly strange style - I can't say something like

Companies like Microsoft steer like old Buicks, and this issue has a lot of forward momentum that will be hard to soak up without driving the engine block back into the driver's compartment.

really ads much to his argument or is likely to MS to dump DRM or anything. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for papers written in a readable manner, but this guy just seems a bit off the mark.

Re:Strange.. (1)

chewy_2000 (618148) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461812)

Sorry to reply to my own post, but just thought I'd clarify-

I'm not trying to troll or anything, and I'm all for the message, but it seems to me his prose could be a bit better if he wants people to notice the message. Just a bit of constructive criticism.

Re:Strange.. (1)

jm1973 (789334) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461872)

The transcript is not of an article, it's of a talk. It was not meant to be "readable", although it is, it was meant to be "listenable", not dry and paper-like.

Re:Strange.. (1, Funny)

Secrity (742221) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461897)

If you have ever driven an old Buick and observed the momentum of MS you would know that his anology is reasonably accurate. One possible nit is that technically you would not be driving the engine block back into the driver's compartment, you would be wrapping the driver's compartment around the engine.

Persuit of DRM policy (2, Interesting)

fatgeekuk (730791) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461753)

DRM is not something that Microsoft is trying to promote because it wants to safeguard hollywood content.

It is a technology they are trying to force on everyone because it allows them a greater level of control over their market, and they are using the Hollywood lobby to push their own agenda.

As such, Corys talk can be used to unmask their real plans by debunking the "spin"

In the end it does not matter, turing will out!

what happens when Moores Law cranks a couple of more notches and we can use MS Excel as a media player by scripting it with VBA?

Where is your DRM then...

Do people really want to copy DVDs? (1, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461755)

How many people want to make a copy of anything?

To protect your Toy Story Disc from damage by children, you put it in a a safe place, and make them ask you for it before they watch it.

If the blind wanbt to read a book, then, yes there may be a problem with anticircumvention technology. I agree this is somethign that should be addressed, but how many of you would be happy if there was an exception in the DMCA solley for circumventing copy protection to allow the disabled to access a work? Would this make it a good law?

People keep bringing up the case of Jon Johansen, and Dmitri Skryalov. They neglect to mention that both of them were found totally innocent, and in the makers of the garage door openers lost their case. Okay, so the law is badly worded to allow these actions in the first place, but we now have soem case law that explicitely spells out the exceptions.

Then there are the limits on audio copying. Well, yes, there are limits, but you are able to copy a CD to a cassette for the car, copy iTunes onto a CD, and on a number of other machines, and that is more than adequate for most people.

And just about nobody wants to build their own TV or DVD player!

The fact is, DRM and the DMCA rarely prevent people from doing anything they actually want to do. If you tyhink they're bad, then you need to come up with some reasons that are more convincing than these.

Re:not copying yet, but they will. (2, Insightful)

bludstone (103539) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461862)

No. But you could of made the same argument for CDs just a few years back.

Eventually, people are going to want video at their fingertips not unlike music/mp3s is now. People want to make copies, not for the sake of having copies, but for ease of use.

See, its easier to have a remote-device that selects "spiderman," "cowboy bebop," "return of the king," or "big breasted asian honeys 4" then it is to get up off your chair, walk to the dvd shelf, find the disk, and swap out the dvd currently in your drive.

Before you call me lasy, remind yourself again of what is happening to CDs.

I think DRM is stupid, as it simply has never worked. Why bother wasting the money on something that has been demonstrated time and time again as a faulty non-working system that _always_ has workarounds. They should spend their money on something profitable.

Yeesh.

Re:not copying yet, but they will. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461994)

Actually, I think the argument that it's restricting innovation is one of the better ones. I'd like a device that could cache all my DVDs (Come to think of it, I'd like a device that could fast forward through the norwegian language copyright notice on a DVD), but the motion picture organisation wouldn't like me to have such a device.

There are all sorts of ideas I've thought of that will not be possible because of anti-piracy hysteria. A DVD download service could net billions, but if you can burn it onto a DVD, it can't be copy protected, so they're not going to do this. They're not going to do it though because of piracy fears.

But arguments that "Oh no! the blind can't watch it" or "I want to make a copy for my 5 year olds" isn't going to convince anyone excpet the blind, and those with 5 year old children that excessive copyright controls are a bad idea.

"mouthpiece/activist" = wannabe be lawyers who... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9461757)

couldn't pass the logic section in LSAT or wannabe scientist who isn't good with numbers. (try to) Enjoy it...
Microsoft Research DRM talk Cory Doctorow cory@eff.org June 17, 2004 -- This text is dedicated to the public domain, using a Creative Commons public domain dedication: > Copyright-Only Dedication (based on United States law) > > The person or persons who have associated their work with this > document (the "Dedicator") hereby dedicate the entire copyright > in the work of authorship identified below (the "Work") to the > public domain. > > Dedicator makes this dedication for the benefit of the public at > large and to the detriment of Dedicator's heirs and successors. > Dedicator intends this dedication to be an overt act of > relinquishment in perpetuity of all present and future rights > under copyright law, whether vested or contingent, in the Work. > Dedicator understands that such relinquishment of all rights > includes the relinquishment of all rights to enforce (by lawsuit > or otherwise) those copyrights in the Work. > > Dedicator recognizes that, once placed in the public domain, the > Work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, > modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited by anyone for any > purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and in any way, including > by methods that have not yet been invented or conceived. -- Greetings fellow pirates! Arrrrr! I'm here today to talk to you about copyright, technology and DRM, I work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation on copyright stuff (mostly), and I live in London. I'm not a lawyer -- I'm a kind of mouthpiece/activist type, though occasionally they shave me and stuff me into my Bar Mitzvah suit and send me to a standards body or the UN to stir up trouble. I spend about three weeks a month on the road doing completely weird stuff like going to Microsoft to talk about DRM. I lead a double life: I'm also a science fiction writer. That means I've got a dog in this fight, because I've been dreaming of making my living from writing since I was 12 years old. Admittedly, my IP-based biz isn't as big as yours, but I guarantee you that it's every bit as important to me as yours is to you. Here's what I'm here to convince you of: 1. That DRM systems don't work 2. That DRM systems are bad for society 3. That DRM systems are bad for business 4. That DRM systems are bad for artists 5. That DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT It's a big brief, this talk. Microsoft has sunk a lot of capital into DRM systems, and spent a lot of time sending folks like Martha and Brian and Peter around to various smoke-filled rooms to make sure that Microsoft DRM finds a hospitable home in the future world. Companies like Microsoft steer like old Buicks, and this issue has a lot of forward momentum that will be hard to soak up without driving the engine block back into the driver's compartment. At best I think that Microsoft might convert some of that momentum on DRM into angular momentum, and in so doing, save all our asses. Let's dive into it. -- 1. DRM systems don't work This bit breaks down into two parts: 1. A quick refresher course in crypto theory 2. Applying that to DRM Cryptography -- secret writing -- is the practice of keeping secrets. It involves three parties: a sender, a receiver and an attacker (actually, there can be more attackers, senders and recipients, but let's keep this simple). We usually call these people Alice, Bob and Carol. Let's say we're in the days of the Caesar, the Gallic War. You need to send messages back and forth to your generals, and you'd prefer that the enemy doesn't get hold of them. You can rely on the idea that anyone who intercepts your message is probably illiterate, but that's a tough bet to stake your empire on. You can put your messages into the hands of reliable messengers who'll chew them up and swallow them if captured -- but that doesn't help you if Brad Pitt and his men in skirts skewer him with an arrow before he knows what's hit him. So you encipher your message with something like ROT-13, where every character is rotated halfway through the alphabet. They used to do this with non-worksafe material on Usenet, back when anyone on Usenet cared about work-safe-ness -- A would become N, B is O, C is P, and so forth. To decipher, you just add 13 more, so N goes to A, O to B yadda yadda. Well, this is pretty lame: as soon as anyone figures out your algorithm, your secret is g0nez0red. So if you're Caesar, you spend a lot of time worrying about keeping the existence of your messengers and their payloads secret. Get that? You're Augustus and you need to send a message to Brad without Caceous (a word I'm reliably informed means "cheese-like, or pertaining to cheese") getting his hands on it. You give the message to Diatomaceous, the fleetest runner in the empire, and you encipher it with ROT-13 and send him out of the garrison in the pitchest hour of the night, making sure no one knows that you've sent it out. Caceous has spies everywhere, in the garrison and staked out on the road, and if one of them puts an arrow through Diatomaceous, they'll have their hands on the message, and then if they figure out the cipher, you're b0rked. So the existence of the message is a secret. The cipher is a secret. The ciphertext is a secret. That's a lot of secrets, and the more secrets you've got, the less secure you are, especially if any of those secrets are shared. Shared secrets aren't really all that secret any longer. Time passes, stuff happens, and then Tesla invents the radio and Marconi takes credit for it. This is both good news and bad news for crypto: on the one hand, your messages can get to anywhere with a receiver and an antenna, which is great for the brave fifth columnists working behind the enemy lines. On the other hand, anyone with an antenna can listen in on the message, which means that it's no longer practical to keep the existence of the message a secret. Any time Adolf sends a message to Berlin, he can assume Churchill overhears it. Which is OK, because now we have computers -- big, bulky primitive mechanical computers, but computers still. Computers are machines for rearranging numbers, and so scientists on both sides engage in a fiendish competition to invent the most cleverest method they can for rearranging numerically represented text so that the other side can't unscramble it. The existence of the message isn't a secret anymore, but the cipher is. But this is still too many secrets. If Bobby intercepts one of Adolf's Enigma machines, he can give Churchill all kinds of intelligence. I mean, this was good news for Churchill and us, but bad news for Adolf. And at the end of the day, it's bad news for anyone who wants to keep a secret. Enter keys: a cipher that uses a key is still more secure. Even if the cipher is disclosed, even if the ciphertext is intercepted, without the key (or a break), the message is secret. Post-war, this is doubly important as we begin to realize what I think of as Schneier's Law: "any person can invent a security system so clever that she or he can't think of how to break it." This means that the only experimental methodology for discovering if you've made mistakes in your cipher is to tell all the smart people you can about it and ask them to think of ways to break it. Without this critical step, you'll eventually end up living in a fool's paradise, where your attacker has broken your cipher ages ago and is quietly decrypting all her intercepts of your messages, snickering at you. Best of all, there's only one secret: the key. And with dual-key crypto it becomes a lot easier for Alice and Bob to keep their keys secret from Carol, even if they've never met. So long as Alice and Bob can keep their keys secret, they can assume that Carol won't gain access to their cleartext messages, even though she has access to the cipher and the ciphertext. Conveniently enough, the keys are the shortest and simplest of the secrets, too: hence even easier to keep away from Carol. Hooray for Bob and Alice. Now, let's apply this to DRM. In DRM, the attacker is *also the recipient*. It's not Alice and Bob and Carol, it's just Alice and Bob. Alice sells Bob a DVD. She sells Bob a DVD player. The DVD has a movie on it -- say, Pirates of the Caribbean -- and it's enciphered with an algorithm called CSS -- Content Scrambling System. The DVD player has a CSS un-scrambler. Now, let's take stock of what's a secret here: the cipher is well-known. The ciphertext is most assuredly in enemy hands, arrr. So what? As long as the key is secret from the attacker, we're golden. But there's the rub. Alice wants Bob to buy Pirates of the Caribbean from her. Bob will only buy Pirates of the Caribbean if he can descramble the CSS-encrypted VOB -- video object -- on his DVD player. Otherwise, the disc is only useful to Bob as a drinks-coaster. So Alice has to provide Bob -- the attacker -- with the key, the cipher and the ciphertext. Hilarity ensues. DRM systems are broken in minutes, sometimes days. Rarely, months. It's not because the people who think them up are stupid. It's not because the people who break them are smart. It's not because there's a flaw in the algorithms. At the end of the day, all DRM systems share a common vulnerability: they provide their attackers with ciphertext, the cipher and the key. At this point, the secret isn't a secret anymore. -- 2. DRM systems are bad for society Raise your hand if you're thinking something like, "But DRM doesn't have to be proof against smart attackers, only average individuals! It's like a speedbump!" Put your hand down. This is a fallacy for two reasons: one technical, and one social. They're both bad for society, though. Here's the technical reason: I don't need to be a cracker to break your DRM. I only need to know how to search Google, or Kazaa, or any of the other general-purpose search tools for the cleartext that someone smarter than me has extracted. Raise your hand if you're thinking something like, "But NGSCB can solve this problem: we'll lock the secrets up on the logic board and goop it all up with epoxy." Put your hand down. Raise your hand if you're a co-author of the Darknet paper. Everyone in the first group, meet the co-authors of the Darknet paper. This is a paper that says, among other things, that DRM will fail for this very reason. Put your hands down, guys. Here's the social reason that DRM fails: keeping an honest user honest is like keeping a tall user tall. DRM vendors tell us that their technology is meant to be proof against average users, not organized criminal gangs like the Ukranian pirates who stamp out millions of high-quality counterfeits. It's not meant to be proof against sophisticated college kids. It's not meant to be proof against anyone who knows how to edit her registry, or hold down the shift key at the right moment, or use a search engine. At the end of the day, the user DRM is meant to defend against is the most unsophisticated and least capable among us. Here's a true story about a user I know who was stopped by DRM. She's smart, college educated, and knows nothing about electronics. She has three kids. She has a DVD in the living room and an old VHS deck in the kids' playroom. One day, she brought home the Toy Story DVD for the kids. That's a substantial investment, and given the generally jam-smeared character of everything the kids get their paws on, she decided to tape the DVD off to VHS and give that to the kids -- that way she could make a fresh VHS copy when the first one went south. She cabled her DVD into her VHS and pressed play on the DVD and record on the VCR and waited. Before I go farther, I want us all to stop a moment and marvel at this. Here is someone who is practically technophobic, but who was able to construct a mental model of sufficient accuracy that she figured out that she could connect her cables in the right order and dub her digital disc off to analog tape. I imagine that everyone in this room is the front-line tech support for someone in her or his family: would it be great if all our non-geek friends and relatives were this clever and imaginative? I also want to point out that this is the proverbial honest user. She's not making a copy for the next door neighbors. She's not making a copy and selling it on a blanket on Canal Street. She's not ripping it to her hard-drive, DivX encoding it and putting it in her Kazaa sharepoint. She's doing something *honest* -- moving it from one format to another. She's home taping. Except she fails. There's a DRM system called Macrovision embedded -- by law -- in every DVD player and VHS that messes with the vertical blanking interval in the signal and causes any tape made in this fashion to fail. Macrovision can be defeated for about $10 with a gadget readily available on eBay. But our infringer doesn't know that. She's "honest." Technically unsophisticated. Not stupid, mind you -- just naive. The Darknet paper addresses this possibility: it even predicts what this person will do in the long run: she'll find out about Kazaa and the next time she wants to get a movie for the kids, she'll download it from the net and burn it for them. In order to delay that day for as long as possible, our lawmakers and big rightsholder interests have come up with a disastrous policy called anticircumvention. Here's how anticircumvention works: if you put a lock -- an access control -- around a copyrighted work, it is illegal to break that lock. It's illegal to make a tool that breaks that lock. It's illegal to tell someone how to make that tool. It's illegal to tell someone where she can find out how to make that tool. Remember Schneier's Law? Anyone can come up with a security system so clever that he can't see its flaws. The only way to find the flaws in security is to disclose the system's workings and invite public feedback. But now we live in a world where any cipher used to fence off a copyrighted work is off-limits to that kind of feedback. That's something that a Princeton engineering prof named Ed Felten discovered when he submitted a paper to an academic conference on the failings in the Secure Digital Music Initiative, a watermarking scheme proposed by the recording industry. The RIAA responded by threatening to sue his ass if he tried it. We fought them because Ed is the kind of client that impact litigators love: unimpeachable and clean-cut and the RIAA folded. Lucky Ed. Maybe the next guy isn't so lucky. Matter of fact, the next guy wasn't. Dmitry Skylarov is a Russian programmer who gave a talk at a hacker con in Vegas on the failings in Adobe's e-book locks. The FBI threw him in the slam for 30 days. He copped a plea, went home to Russia, and the Russian equivalent of the State Department issued a blanket warning to its researchers to stay away from American conferences, since we'd apparently turned into the kind of country where certain equations are illegal. Anticircumvention is a powerful tool for people who want to exclude competitors. If you claim that your car engine firmware is a "copyrighted work," you can sue anyone who makes a tool for interfacing with it. That's not just bad news for mechanics -- think of the hotrodders who want to chip their cars to tweak the performance settings. We have companies like Lexmark claiming that their printer cartridges contain copyrighted works -- software that trips an "I am empty" flag when the toner runs out, and have sued a competitor who made a remanufactured cartridge that reset the flag. Even garage-door opener companies have gotten in on the act, claiming that their receivers' firmware are copyrighted works. Copyrighted cars, print carts and garage-door openers: what's next, copyrighted light-fixtures? Even in the context of legitimate -- excuse me, "traditional" -- copyrighted works like movies on DVDs, anticircumvention is bad news. Copyright is a delicate balance. It gives creators and their assignees some rights, but it also reserves some rights to the public. For example, an author has no right to prohibit anyone from transcoding his books into assistive formats for the blind. More importantly, though, a creator has a very limited say over what you can do once you lawfully acquire her works. If I buy your book, your painting, or your DVD, it belongs to me. It's my property. Not my "intellectual property" -- a whacky kind of pseudo-property that's swiss-cheesed with exceptions, easements and limitations -- but real, no-fooling, actual tangible *property* -- the kind of thing that courts have been managing through tort law for centuries. But anticirumvention lets rightsholders invent new and exciting copyrights for themselves -- to write private laws without accountability or deliberation -- that expropriate your interest in your physical property to their favor. Region-coded DVDs are an example of this: there's no copyright here or in anywhere I know of that says that an author should be able to control where you enjoy her creative works, once you've paid for them. I can buy a book and throw it in my bag and take it anywhere from Toronto to Timbuktu, and read it wherever I am: I can even buy books in America and bring them to the UK, where the author may have an exclusive distribution deal with a local publisher who sells them for double the US shelf-price. When I'm done with it, I can sell it on or give it away in the UK. Copyright lawyers call this "First Sale," but it may be simpler to think of it as "Capitalism." The keys to decrypt a DVD are controlled by an org called DVD-CCA, and they have a bunch of licensing requirements for anyone who gets a key from them. Among these is something called region-coding: if you buy a DVD in France, it'll have a flag set that says, "I am a French DVD." Bring that DVD to America and your DVD player will compare the flag to its list of permitted regions, and if they don't match, it will tell you that it's not allowed to play your disc. Remember: there is no copyright that says that an author gets to do this. When we wrote the copyright statutes and granted authors the right to control display, performance, duplication, derivative works, and so forth, we didn't leave out "geography" by accident. That was on-purpose. So when your French DVD won't play in America, that's not because it'd be illegal to do so: it's because the studios have invented a business-model and then invented a copyright law to prop it up. The DVD is your property and so is the DVD player, but if you break the region-coding on your disc, you're going to run afoul of anticircumvention. That's what happened to Jon Johansen, a Norweigan teenager who wanted to watch French DVDs on his Norweigan DVD player. He and some pals wrote some code to break the CSS so that he could do so. He's a wanted man here in America; in Norway the studios put the local fuzz up to bringing him up on charges of *unlawfully trespassing upon a computer system.* When his defense asked, "Which computer has Jon trespassed upon?" the answer was: "His own." His no-fooling, real and physical property has been expropriated by the weird, notional, metaphorical intellectual property on his DVD: DRM only works if your record player becomes the property of whomever's records you're playing. -- 3. DRM systems are bad for biz This is the worst of all the ideas embodied by DRM: that people who make record-players should be able to spec whose records you can listen to, and that people who make records should have a veto over the design of record-players. We've never had this principle: in fact, we've always had just the reverse. Think about all the things that can be plugged into a parallel or serial interface, which were never envisioned by their inventors. Our strong economy and rapid innovation are byproducts of the ability of anyone to make anything that plugs into anything else: from the Flo-bee electric razor that snaps onto the end of your vacuum-hose to the octopus spilling out of your car's dashboard lighter socket, standard interfaces that anyone can build for are what makes billionaires out of nerds. The courts affirm this again and again. It used to be illegal to plug anything that didn't come from AT&T into your phone-jack. They claimed that this was for the safety of the network, but really it was about propping up this little penny-ante racket that AT&T had in charging you a rental fee for your phone until you'd paid for it a thousand times over. When that ban was struck down, it created the market for third-party phone equipment, from talking novelty phones to answering machines to cordless handsets to headsets -- billions of dollars of economic activity that had been supressed by the closed interface. Note that AT&T was one of the big beneficiaries of this: they *also* got into the business of making phone-kit. DRM is the software equivalent of these closed hardware interfaces. Robert Scoble is a Softie who has an excellent blog, where he wrote an essay about the best way to protect your investment in the digital music you buy. Should you buy Apple iTunes music, or Microsoft DRM music? Scoble argued that Microsoft's music was a sounder investment, because Microsoft would have more downstream licensees for its proprietary format and therefore you'd have a richer ecosystem of devices to choose from when you were shopping for gizmos to play your virtual records on. What a weird idea: that we should evaluate our record-purchases on the basis of which recording company will allow the greatest diversity of record-players to play its discs! That's like telling someone to buy the Betamax instead of the Edison Kinetoscope because Thomas Edison is a crank about licensing his patents; all the while ignoring the world's relentless march to the more open VHS format. It's a bad business. DVD is a format where the guy who makes the records gets to design the record players. Ask yourself: how much innovation has there been over the past decade of DVD players? They've gotten cheaper and smaller, but where are the weird and amazing new markets for DVD that were opened up by the VCR? There's a company that's manufacturing the world's first HDD-based DVD jukebox, a thing that holds 30 movies, and they're charging *$30,000* for this thing. We're talking about a $300 hard drive and a $300 PC -- all that other cost is the cost of anticompetition. -- 4. DRM systems are bad for artists But what of the artist? The hardworking filmmaker, the ink-stained scribbler, the heroin-cured leathery rock-star? We poor slobs of the creative class are everyone's favorite poster-children here: the RIAA and MPAA hold us up and say, "Won't someone please think of the children?" File-sharers say, "Yeah, we're thinking about the artists, but the labels are The Man, who cares what happens to you?" To understand what DRM does to artists, you need to understand how copyright and technology interact. Copyright is inherently technological, since the things it addresses -- copying, transmitting, and so on -- are inherently technological. The piano roll was the first system for cheaply copying music. It was invented at a time when the dominant form of entertainment in America was getting a talented pianist to come into your living room and pound out some tunes while you sang along. The music industry consisted mostly of sheet-music publishers. The player piano was a digital recording and playback system. Piano-roll companies bought sheet music and ripped the notes printed on it into 0s and 1s on a long roll of computer tape, which they sold by the thousands -- the hundreds of thousands -- the millions. They did this without a penny's compensation to the publishers. They were digital music pirates. Arrrr! Predictably, the composers and music publishers went nutso. Sousa showed up in Congress to say that: These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy...in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal chord left. The vocal chord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape. The publishers asked Congress to ban the piano roll and to create a law that said that any new system for reproducing music should be subject to a veto from their industry association. Lucky for us, Congress realized what side of their bread had butter on it and decided not to criminalize the dominant form of entertainment in America. But there was the problem of paying artists. The Constitution sets out the purpose of American copyright: to promote the useful arts and sciences. The composers had a credible story that they'd do less composing if they weren't paid for it, so Congress needed a fix. Here's what they came up with: anyone who paid a music publisher two cents would have the right to make one piano roll of any song that publisher published. The publisher couldn't say no, and no one had to hire a lawyer at $200 an hour to argue about whether the payment should be two cents or a nickel. This compulsory license is still in place today: when Joe Cocker sings "With a Little Help from My Friends," he pays a fixed fee to the Beatles' publisher and away he goes -- even if Ringo hates the idea. If you ever wondered how Sid Vicious talked Anka into letting him get a crack at "My Way," well, now you know. That compulsory license created a world where a thousand times more money was made by a thousand times more creators who made a thousand times more music that reached a thousand times more people. This story repeats itself throughout the technological century, every ten or fifteen years. Radio was enabled by a voluntary blanket license -- the music companies got together and asked for an antitrust exemption so that they could offer all their music for a flat fee. Cable TV took a compulsory: the only way cable operators could get their hands on broadcasts was to pirate them and shove them down the wire, and Congress saw fit to legalize this practice rather than screw around with their constituents' TVs. Sometimes, the courts and Congress decided to simply take away a copyright -- that's what happened with the VCR. When Sony brought out the VCR in 1976, the studios had already decided what the experience of watching a movie in your living room would look like: they'd licensed out their programming for use on a machine called a Discovision, which played big LP-sized discs that disintegrated after a few plays. Proto-DRM. The copyright scholars of the day didn't give the VCR very good odds. Sony argued that their box allowed for a fair use, which is defined as a use that a court rules is a defense against infringement based on four factors: whether the use transforms the work into something new, like a collage; whether it uses all or some of the work; whether the work is artistic or mainly factual; and whether the use undercuts the creator's business-model. The Betamax failed on all four fronts: when you time-shifted or duplicated a Hollywood movie off the air, you made a non-transformative use of 100 percent of a creative work in a way that directly undercut the Discovision licensing stream. Jack Valenti, the mouthpiece for the motion-picture industry, told Congress in 1982 that the VCR was to the American film industry "as the Boston Strangler is to a woman home alone." But the Supreme Court ruled against Hollywood in 1984, when it determined that any device capable of a substantial non-infringing use was legal. In other words, "We don't buy this Boston Strangler business: if your business model can't survive the emergence of this general-purpose tool, it's time to get another business-model or go broke." Hollywood found another business model, as the broadcasters had, as the Vaudeville artists had, as the music publishers had, and they made more art that paid more artists and reached a wider audience. There's one thing that every new art business-model had in common: it embraced the medium it lived in. This is the overweening characteristic of every single successful new medium: it is true to itself. The Luther Bible didn't succeed on the axes that made a hand-copied monk Bible valuable: they were ugly, they weren't in Church Latin, they weren't read aloud by someone who could interpret it for his lay audience, they didn't represent years of devoted-with-a-capital-D labor by someone who had given his life over to God. The thing that made the Luther Bible a success was its scalability: it was more popular because it was more proliferate: all success factors for a new medium pale beside its profligacy. The most successful organisms on earth are those that reproduce the most: bugs and bacteria, nematodes and virii. Reproduction is the best of all survival strategies. Piano rolls didn't sound as good as the music of a skilled pianist: but they *scaled better*. Radio lacked the social elements of live performance, but more people could build a crystal set and get it aimed correctly than could pack into even the largest Vaudeville house. MP3s don't come with liner notes, they aren't sold to you by a hipper-than-thou record store clerk who can help you make your choice, bad rips and truncated files abound: I once downloaded a twelve-second copy of "Hey Jude" from the original Napster. Yet MP3 is outcompeting the CD. I don't know what to do with CDs anymore: I get them, and they're like the especially garment bag they give you at the fancy suit shop: it's nice and you feel like a goof for throwing it out, but Christ, how many of these things can you usefully own? I can put ten thousand songs on my laptop, but a comparable pile of discs, with liner notes and so forth -- that's a liability: it's a piece of my monthly storage-locker costs. Here are the two most important things to know about computers and the Internet: 1. A computer is a machine for rearranging bits 2. The Internet is a machine for moving bits from one place to another very cheaply and quickly Any new medium that takes hold on the Internet and with computers will embrace these two facts, not regret them. A newspaper press is a machine for spitting out cheap and smeary newsprint at speed: if you try to make it output fine art lithos, you'll get junk. If you try to make it output newspapers, you'll get the basis for a free society. And so it is with the Internet. At the heyday of Napster, record execs used to show up at conferences and tell everyone that Napster was doomed because no one wanted lossily compressed MP3s with no liner notes and truncated files and misspelled metadata. Today we hear ebook publishers tell each other and anyone who'll listen that the barrier to ebooks is screen resolution. It's bollocks, and so is the whole sermonette about how nice a book looks on your bookcase and how nice it smells and how easy it is to slip into the tub. These are obvious and untrue things, like the idea that radio will catch on once they figure out how to sell you hotdogs during the intermission, or that movies will really hit their stride when we can figure out how to bring the actors out for an encore when the film's run out. Or that what the Protestant Reformation really needs is Luther Bibles with facsimile illumination in the margin and a rent-a-priest to read aloud from your personal Word of God. New media don't succeed because they're like the only media, only better: they succeed because they're worse than the old media at the stuff the old media is good at, and better at the stuff the old media are bad at. Books are good at being paperwhite, high-resolution, low-infrastructure, cheap and disposable. Ebooks are good at being everywhere in the world at the same time for free in a form that is so malleable that you can just pastebomb it into your IM session or turn it into a page-a-day mailing list. The only really successful epublishing -- I mean, hundreds of thousands, millions of copies distributed and read -- is the bookwarez scene, where scanned-and-OCR'd books are distributed on the darknet. The only legit publishers with any success at epublishing are the ones whose books cross the Internet without technological fetter: publishers like Baen Books and my own, Tor, who are making some or all of their catalogs available in ASCII and HTML and PDF. The hardware-dependent ebooks, the DRM use-and-copy-restricted ebooks, they're cratering. Sales measured in the tens, sometimes the hundreds. Science fiction is a niche business, but when you're selling copies by the ten, that's not even a business, it's a hobby. Every one of you has been riding a curve where you read more and more words off of more and more screens every day through most of your professional careers. It's zero-sum: you've also been reading fewer words off of fewer pages as time went by: the dinosauric executive who prints his email and dictates a reply to his secretary is info-roadkill. Today, at this very second, people read words off of screens for every hour that they can find. Your kids stare at their Game Boys until their eyes fall out. Euroteens ring doorbells with their hypertrophied, SMS-twitching thumbs instead of their index fingers. Paper books are the packaging that books come in. Cheap printer-binderies like the Internet Bookmobile that can produce a full bleed, four color, glossy cover, printed spine, perfect-bound book in ten minutes for a dollar are the future of paper books: when you need an instance of a paper book, you generate one, or part of one, and pitch it out when you're done. I landed at SEA-TAC on Monday and burned a couple CDs from my music collection to listen to in the rental car. When I drop the car off, I'll leave them behind. Who needs 'em? Whenever a new technology has disrupted copyright, we've changed copyright. Copyright isn't an ethical proposition, it's a utlititarian one. There's nothing *moral* about paying a composer tuppence for the piano-roll rights, there's nothing *immoral* about not paying Hollywood for the right to videotape a movie off your TV. They're just the best way of balancing out so that people's physical property rights in their VCRs and phonographs are respected and so that creators get enough of a dangling carrot to go on making shows and music and books and paintings. Technology that disrupts copyright does so because it simplifies and cheapens creation, reproduction and distribution. The existing copyright businesses exploit inefficiencies in the old production, reproduction and distribution system, and they'll be weakened by the new technology. But new technology always gives us more art with a wider reach: that's what tech is *for*. Tech gives us bigger pies that more artists can get a bite out of. That's been tacitly acknowledged at every stage of the copyfight since the piano roll. When copyright and technology collide, it's copyright that changes. Which means that today's copyright -- the thing that DRM nominally props up -- didn't come down off the mountain on two stone tablets. It was created in living memory to accommodate the technical reality created by the inventors of the previous generation. To abandon invention now robs tomorrow's artists of the new businesses and new reach and new audiences that the Internet and the PC can give them. -- 5. DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT When Sony brought out the VCR, it made a record player that could play Hollywood's records, even if Hollywood didn't like the idea. The industries that grew up on the back of the VCR -- movie rentals, home taping, camcorders, even Bar Mitzvah videographers -- made billions for Sony and its cohort. That was good business -- even if Sony lost the Betamax-VHS format wars, the money on the world-with-VCRs table was enough to make up for it. But then Sony acquired a relatively tiny entertainment company and it started to massively screw up. When MP3 rolled around and Sony's walkman customers were clamoring for a solid-state MP3 player, Sony let its music business-unit run its show: instead of making a high-capacity MP3 walkman, Sony shipped its Music Clips, low-capacity devices that played brain-damaged DRM formats like Real and OpenAG. They spent good money engineering "features" into these devices that kept their customers from freely moving their music back and forth between their devices. Customers stayed away in droves. Today, Sony is dead in the water when it comes to walkmen. The market leaders are poky Singaporean outfits like Creative Labs -- the kind of company that Sony used to crush like a bug, back before it got borged by its entertainment unit -- and PC companies like Apple. That's because Sony shipped a product that there was no market demand for. No Sony customer woke up one morning and said, "Damn, I wish Sony would devote some expensive engineering effort in order that I may do less with my music." Presented with an alternative, Sony's customers enthusiastically jumped ship. The same thing happened to a lot of people I know who used to rip their CDs to WMA. You guys sold them software that produced smaller, better-sounding rips that the MP3 rippers, but you also fixed it so that the songs you ripped were device-locked to their PCs. What that meant is that when they backed up their music to another hard-drive and reinstalled their OS (something that the spyware and malware wars has made more common than ever), they discovered that after they restored their music that they could no longer play it. The player saw the new OS as a different machine, and locked them out of their own music. There is no market demand for this "feature." None of your customers want you to make expensive modifications to your products that make backing up and restoring even harder. And there is no moment when your customers will be less forgiving than the moment that they are recovering from catastrophic technology failures. I speak from experience. Because I buy a new Powerbook every ten months, and because I always order the new models the day they're announced, I get a lot of lemons from Apple. That means that I hit Apple's three-iTunes-authorized-computers limit pretty early on and found myself unable to play the hundreds of dollars' worth of iTunes songs I'd bought because one of my authorized machines was a lemon that Apple had broken up for parts, one was in the shop getting fixed by Apple, and one was my mom's computer, 3,000 miles away in Toronto. If I had been a less good customer for Apple's hardware, I would have been fine. If I had been a less enthusiastic evangelist for Apple's products -- if I hadn't shown my mom how iTunes Music Store worked -- I would have been fine. If I hadn't bought so much iTunes music that burning it to CD and re-ripping it and re-keying all my metadata was too daunting a task to consider, I would have been fine. As it was Apple rewarded my trust, evangelism and out-of-control spending by treating me like a crook and locking me out of my own music, at a time when my Powerbook was in the shop -- i.e., at a time when I was hardly disposed to feel charitable to Apple. I'm an edge case here, but I'm a *leading edge* case. If Apple succeeds in its business plans, it will only be a matter of time until even average customers have upgraded enough hardware and bought enough music to end up where I am. You know what I would totally buy? A record player that let me play everybody's records. Right now, the closest I can come to that is an open source app called VLC, but it's clunky and buggy and it didn't come pre-installed on my computer. Sony didn't make a Betamax that only played the movies that Hollywood was willing to permit -- Hollywood asked them to do it, they proposed an early, analog broadcast flag that VCRs could hunt for and respond to by disabling recording. Sony ignored them and made the product they thought their customers wanted. I'm a Microsoft customer. Like millions of other Microsoft customers, I want a player that plays anything I throw at it, and I think that you are just the company to give it to me. Yes, this would violate copyright law as it stands, but Microsoft has been making tools of piracy that change copyright law for decades now. Outlook, Exchange and MSN are tools that abet widescale digital infringement. More significantly, IIS and your caching proxies all make and serve copies of documents without their authors' consent, something that, if it is legal today, is only legal because companies like Microsoft went ahead and did it and dared lawmakers to prosecute. Microsoft stood up for its customers and for progress, and won so decisively that most people never even realized that there was a fight. Do it again! This is a company that looks the world's roughest, toughest anti-trust regulators in the eye and laughs. Compared to anti-trust people, copyright lawmakers are pantywaists. You can take them with your arm behind your back. In Siva Vaidhyanathan's book The Anarchist in the Library, he talks about why the studios are so blind to their customers' desires. It's because people like you and me spent the 80s and the 90s telling them bad science fiction stories about impossible DRM technology that would let them charge a small sum of money every time someone looked at a movie -- want to fast-forward? That feature costs another penny. Pausing is two cents an hour. The mute button will cost you a quarter. When Mako Analysis issued their report last month advising phone companies to stop supporting Symbian phones, they were just writing the latest installment in this story. Mako says that phones like my P900, which can play MP3s as ringtones, are bad for the cellphone economy, because it'll put the extortionate ringtone sellers out of business. What Mako is saying is that just because you bought the CD doesn't mean that you should expect to have the ability to listen to it on your MP3 player, and just because it plays on your MP3 player is no reason to expect it to run as a ringtone. I wonder how they feel about alarm clocks that will play a CD to wake you up in the morning? Is that strangling the nascent "alarm tone" market? The phone companies' customers want Symbian phones and for now, at least, the phone companies understand that if they don't sell them, someone else will. The market opportunity for a truly capable devices is enormous. There's a company out there charging *$30,000* for a $600 DVD jukebox -- go and eat their lunch! Steve Jobs isn't going to do it: he's off at the D conference telling studio execs not to release hi-def movies until they're sure no one will make a hi-def DVD burner that works with a PC. Maybe they won't buy into his BS, but they're also not much interested in what you have to sell. At the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group meetings where the Broadcast Flag was hammered out, the studios' position was, "We'll take anyone's DRM except Microsoft's and Philips'." When I met with UK broadcast wonks about the European version of the Broadcast Flag underway at the Digital Video Broadcasters' forum, they told me, "Well, it's different in Europe: mostly they're worried that some American company like Microsoft will get their claws into European television." American film studios didn't want the Japanese electronics companies to get a piece of the movie pie, so they fought the VCR. Today, everyone who makes movies agrees that they don't want to let you guys get between them and their customers. Sony didn't get permission. Neither should you. Go build the record player that can play everyone's records. Because if you don't do it, someone else will. eof

We need a "truth-in-DRM law" (5, Informative)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461814)

Consumers are not being told which devices do and which don't contain DRM and therefore there is no opportunity for marketplace discipline to occur. By the time consumers understand what is happening, every new device will have DRM and it will be too late to "vote with your dollars."

I recently saw a full-page ad in the Boston Globe for a Gateway (remember? the company that ran TV ads a year ago saying they support my fair-use rights to music) for something called a Media Center PC. My wife was interested and asked me to look into it. Go here [gateway.com] and click on "What can I do with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004" and it says:

"Watch your favorite shows, whenever you want. Record a single episode or capture an entire series. You can also watch a previously recorded show while recording a live TV program. With the new Media Center 2004, you're able to record a TV show directly to a DVD so you can start your own DVD collection or take it on the road and watch it late."

Only if you go here [gateway.com] , click on ">FAQ" and scroll way down do you learn some relevant details:

"Media Center uses a new file format called DVR-MS... Q. Can the file format used by Media Center be changed? A. No... Q. Can [they] be converted to another video format? A. At this time, [no]. Q. Can I edit Recorded TV files? A. Currently, [no].
Q. Does Windows® Movie Maker support the Media Center file format? A. [Not at this time]."

"Q. What is content protection and how is it used by Media Center? A. Content owners and/or broadcasters can set copy protection flags to indicate that a program is subject to content protection. When Media Center detects that this flag is set, it will protect the content by limiting the ability to copy and distribute the program. Q. Can protected Recorded TV files be watched on another PC? A. No... Q. Can protected Recorded TV files be played back on the same Media Center PC using Media Player 9 or other DirectShow-enabled applications? A. No... Q.
Can I record a TV show to my hard drive and then to a DVD using my DVD-R and play it on my home DVD player? A. No..."

Since few programs are currently using the broadcast flag, few consumers will discover these limitations either before they buy it or during the period when they could conceivably return it. DRM is currently in stealth mode. Like a virus that doesn't release its payload until it has infected many PCs, over the next five years millions of consumers will buy devices with DRM and not even know it. Then, suddenly, media companies will start turning on their protection flags and it will be too late to do anything about it.

When I asked direct questions to Gateway representatives about whether I could "use it like a VCR or DVD recorder to record my favorite shows on DVDs" they assured me that I could. Essentially the reps seemed to know about the "what you can do" paragraph I quoted above, but not about the "funny file format" and "content protection" issues I summarized below.

Re:We need a "truth-in-DRM law" (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461887)

Then, suddenly, media companies will start turning on their protection flags and it will be too late to do anything about it.

Is there truly anything on television worth watching, much less watching again? I think by the time the media companies start turning on these protection flags nobody will be watching any more.

Flo-Bee as a technological breakthrough (2, Funny)

zymurgy_cat (627260) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461820)

I do believe that's the first argument I've ever heard that uses the Flo-Bee as an analogy for high tech.

Counterpoint to "1. That DRM systems don't work" (3, Insightful)

mukund (163654) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461839)

DRM systems are broken in minutes, sometimes days. Rarely, months. It's not because the people who think them up are stupid. It's not because the people who break them are smart. It's not because there's a flaw in the algorithms. At the end of the day, all DRM systems share a common vulnerability: they provide their attackers with ciphertext, the cipher and the key. At this point, the secret isn't a secret anymore.

I am going to state a counterpoint purely from a technical stance (my stance on DRM is not pro- or anti- as I still have a lot to learn). It is possible for the key to remain a secret, even if it is in the hands of the consumer. Right now apps such as iTunes have it in software. You can generate keypairs and store keys in a medium analogous to that used in smart-cards, in the player hardware such that if it is ever tampered with to get the key, the key itself is destroyed. The hardware would probably be the sound-card or the speaker system if it is digital where the decoding of the compressed audio would take place. Yes this is not available now, but there's a good chance of such systems coming into operation.

Also like somebody in the MPEG committee recently said, the job of such DRM systems is not to put off the super clever guy who can break the system anyway... most systems are breakable. The plan is to put off the average consumer who may drag himself/herself into investigating the use of copyrighted content illegally if software and tools are available to *easily* circumvent such content-distrbution-restriction systems.

Right now, to crack iTunes songs using a software program is super-easy because of easy availability of easily-usable software. Hardware systems will likely be much harder to crack if implemented properly (every tried cracking an iButton?). The key-pair can be generated by the hardware in question and can be used only by that hardware and the user will have no access to the private key. Tampering with the hardware will destroy the key.

Unlike cracking the firmware (example: DVD firmware is 'patched' before update to play multi-region DVDs) the device may require the firmeware to be cryptographically signed by the vendor before it accepts it, hence voiding the ability to tamper with it.

Of course, we have a long way to go before such hardware is designed and adopted.

Re:Counterpoint to "1. That DRM systems don't work (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462001)

DRM systems are broken in minutes, sometimes days. Rarely, months

And from a Windows Media developer point of view (as opposed to purely technical), v2.2 of the MS Windows Media DRM has been around for at least 2 years, with no cracks.

unfuck, the way around MS DRM v1 didn't break the drm system, it bypassed it (sure you can argue it means the same, I'm using break in the context of the original speak, as in "yank the keys out, bypass the cipher").

Screamer [com.com] didn't bypass the DRM either, it relied on you already having a license and it was then able to strip the DRM header away. Again it didn't attack the encryption or the ciphers. This was patched in about 2 weeks if my memory serves me right (ah the joy of repacking all that content) and has lasted since then without any exploits.

(note: I spent 2.5 years working with drm stuff, I am somewhat biased)

Same (3, Insightful)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461845)

Articles like this one follow a familiar pattern:

1) The history of copyright, complete with exhaustive descriptions of the piano roll and the Monarchy.

2) A sob story about some poor honest member of the global audience who can't watch the latest Hollywood crap-fest because they don't have eight copies of it arranged so they are never more than 10 yards from at least two of them.

3) Ringing, strident statements about how Anything can be copied(tm) do you hear me??!?! WELL, DO YOU??!?!?!?!?!!?!

4) The argument then swerves into the ever-popular "in the future, the Internet will make copyright obsolete and artists will all live in a Utopian paradise where everything is free, free, free like the book they spent 4,000 hours writing which is at this very minute available on 4,000 warezzzzzzz sites for your convenience"

5) This is usually followed by the standard "books are worthless, music is pointless, art is disposable, inspiration is a commodity" argument which offers the idea that because something can be cheaply copied, it has somehow become worthless.

Throughout each of these discussions, there is always support for "well, we'll just copy it anyway" which is why this argument has long since lost even the remotest shred of credibility.

There is only one question that needs to be answered. Is there any set of conditions under which the "copy every last fucking bit on Earth" people will just pay for the fucking movie/book/CD/whatever?

***ARTICLE TEXT*** (1, Redundant)

ArbiterOne (715233) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461876)

Microsoft Research DRM talk
Cory Doctorow
cory@eff.org
June 17, 2004
This text is dedicated to the public domain, using a Creative Commons public domain dedication:
> Copyright-Only Dedication (based on United States law) The person or persons who have associated their work with this
> document (the "Dedicator") hereby dedicate the entire copyright
> in the work of authorship identified below (the "Work") to the
> public domain.
> Dedicator makes this dedication for the benefit of the public at
> large and to the detriment of Dedicator's heirs and successors.
> Dedicator intends this dedication to be an overt act of relinquishment in perpetuity of all present and future rights
> under copyright law, whether vested or contingent, in the Work.
> Dedicator understands that such relinquishment of all rights
> includes the relinquishment of all rights to enforce (by lawsuit
> or otherwise) those copyrights in the Work.
> Dedicator recognizes that, once placed in the public domain, the
> Work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used,
> modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited by anyone for any
> purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and in any way, including
> by methods that have not yet been invented or conceived.
-----------
Greetings fellow pirates! Arrrrr!
I'm here today to talk to you about copyright, technology and
DRM, I work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation on copyright
stuff (mostly), and I live in London. I'm not a lawyer -- I'm a
kind of mouthpiece/activist type, though occasionally they shave
me and stuff me into my Bar Mitzvah suit and send me to a
standards body or the UN to stir up trouble. I spend about three
weeks a month on the road doing completely weird stuff like going
to Microsoft to talk about DRM.
--
I lead a double life: I'm also a science fiction writer. That
means I've got a dog in this fight, because I've been dreaming of making my living from writing since I was 12 years old. Admittedly, my IP-based biz isn't as big as yours, but I guarantee you that it's every bit as important to me as yours is
to you.

Here's what I'm here to convince you of:

1. That DRM systems don't work
2. That DRM systems are bad for society
3. That DRM systems are bad for business
4. That DRM systems are bad for artists
5. That DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT

It's a big brief, this talk. Microsoft has sunk a lot of capital into DRM systems, and spent a lot of time sending folks like Martha and Brian and Peter around to various smoke-filled rooms
to make sure that Microsoft DRM finds a hospitable home in the future world. Companies like Microsoft steer like old Buicks, and
this issue has a lot of forward momentum that will be hard to soak up without driving the engine block back into the driver's
compartment. At best I think that Microsoft might convert some of that momentum on DRM into angular momentum, and in so doing, save
all our asses.
Let's dive into it.
--
1. DRM systems don't work

This bit breaks down into two parts:

1. A quick refresher course in crypto theory
2. Applying that to DRM

Cryptography -- secret writing -- is the practice of keeping
secrets. It involves three parties: a sender, a receiver and an
attacker (actually, there can be more attackers, senders and
recipients, but let's keep this simple). We usually call these
people Alice, Bob and Carol.

Let's say we're in the days of the Caesar, the Gallic
War. You need to send messages back and forth to your generals,
and you'd prefer that the enemy doesn't get hold of them. You can
rely on the idea that anyone who intercepts your message is
probably illiterate, but that's a tough bet to stake your empire
on. You can put your messages into the hands of reliable
messengers who'll chew them up and swallow them if captured --
but that doesn't help you if Brad Pitt and his men in skirts
skewer him with an arrow before he knows what's hit him.

So you encipher your message with something like ROT-13, where
every character is rotated halfway through the alphabet. They
used to do this with non-worksafe material on Usenet, back when
anyone on Usenet cared about work-safe-ness -- A would become N,
B is O, C is P, and so forth. To decipher, you just add 13 more,
so N goes to A, O to B yadda yadda.

Well, this is pretty lame: as soon as anyone figures out your
algorithm, your secret is g0nez0red.

So if you're Caesar, you spend a lot of time worrying about
keeping the existence of your messengers and their payloads
secret. Get that? You're Augustus and you need to send a message
to Brad without Caceous (a word I'm reliably informed means
"cheese-like, or pertaining to cheese") getting his hands on it.
You give the message to Diatomaceous, the fleetest runner in the
empire, and you encipher it with ROT-13 and send him out of the
garrison in the pitchest hour of the night, making sure no one
knows that you've sent it out. Caceous has spies everywhere, in
the garrison and staked out on the road, and if one of them puts
an arrow through Diatomaceous, they'll have their hands on the
message, and then if they figure out the cipher, you're b0rked.
So the existence of the message is a secret. The cipher is a
secret. The ciphertext is a secret. That's a lot of secrets, and
the more secrets you've got, the less secure you are, especially
if any of those secrets are shared. Shared secrets aren't really
all that secret any longer.

Time passes, stuff happens, and then Tesla invents the radio and
Marconi takes credit for it. This is both good news and bad news
for crypto: on the one hand, your messages can get to anywhere
with a receiver and an antenna, which is great for the brave
fifth columnists working behind the enemy lines. On the other
hand, anyone with an antenna can listen in on the message, which
means that it's no longer practical to keep the existence of the
message a secret. Any time Adolf sends a message to Berlin, he
can assume Churchill overhears it.

Which is OK, because now we have computers -- big, bulky
primitive mechanical computers, but computers still. Computers
are machines for rearranging numbers, and so scientists on both
sides engage in a fiendish competition to invent the most
cleverest method they can for rearranging numerically represented
text so that the other side can't unscramble it. The existence of
the message isn't a secret anymore, but the cipher is.

But this is still too many secrets. If Bobby intercepts one of
Adolf's Enigma machines, he can give Churchill all kinds of
intelligence. I mean, this was good news for Churchill and us,
but bad news for Adolf. And at the end of the day, it's bad news
for anyone who wants to keep a secret.

Enter keys: a cipher that uses a key is still more secure. Even
if the cipher is disclosed, even if the ciphertext is
intercepted, without the key (or a break), the message is secret.
Post-war, this is doubly important as we begin to realize what I
think of as Schneier's Law: "any person can invent a security
system so clever that she or he can't think of how to break it."
This means that the only experimental methodology for discovering
if you've made mistakes in your cipher is to tell all the smart
people you can about it and ask them to think of ways to break
it. Without this critical step, you'll eventually end up living
in a fool's paradise, where your attacker has broken your cipher
ages ago and is quietly decrypting all her intercepts of your
messages, snickering at you.

Best of all, there's only one secret: the key. And with dual-key
crypto it becomes a lot easier for Alice and Bob to keep their
keys secret from Carol, even if they've never met. So long as
Alice and Bob can keep their keys secret, they can assume that
Carol won't gain access to their cleartext messages, even though
she has access to the cipher and the ciphertext. Conveniently
enough, the keys are the shortest and simplest of the secrets,
too: hence even easier to keep away from Carol. Hooray for Bob
and Alice.

Now, let's apply this to DRM.

In DRM, the attacker is *also the recipient*. It's not Alice and
Bob and Carol, it's just Alice and Bob. Alice sells Bob a DVD.
She sells Bob a DVD player. The DVD has a movie on it -- say,
Pirates of the Caribbean -- and it's enciphered with an algorithm
called CSS -- Content Scrambling System. The DVD player has a CSS
un-scrambler.

Now, let's take stock of what's a secret here: the cipher is
well-known. The ciphertext is most assuredly in enemy hands, arrr.
So what? As long as the key is secret from the attacker, we're
golden.

But there's the rub. Alice wants Bob to buy Pirates of the
Caribbean from her. Bob will only buy Pirates of the Caribbean if
he can descramble the CSS-encrypted VOB -- video object -- on his
DVD player. Otherwise, the disc is only useful to Bob as a
drinks-coaster. So Alice has to provide Bob -- the attacker --
with the key, the cipher and the ciphertext.

Hilarity ensues.

DRM systems are broken in minutes, sometimes days. Rarely,
months. It's not because the people who think them up are stupid.
It's not because the people who break them are smart. It's not
because there's a flaw in the algorithms. At the end of the day,
all DRM systems share a common vulnerability: they provide their
attackers with ciphertext, the cipher and the key. At this point,
the secret isn't a secret anymore.

--

2. DRM systems are bad for society

Raise your hand if you're thinking something like, "But DRM
doesn't have to be proof against smart attackers, only average
individuals! It's like a speedbump!"

Put your hand down.

This is a fallacy for two reasons: one technical, and one social.
They're both bad for society, though.

Here's the technical reason: I don't need to be a cracker to
break your DRM. I only need to know how to search Google, or
Kazaa, or any of the other general-purpose search tools for the
cleartext that someone smarter than me has extracted.

Raise your hand if you're thinking something like, "But NGSCB can
solve this problem: we'll lock the secrets up on the logic board
and goop it all up with epoxy."

Put your hand down.

Raise your hand if you're a co-author of the Darknet paper.

Everyone in the first group, meet the co-authors of the Darknet
paper. This is a paper that says, among other things, that DRM
will fail for this very reason. Put your hands down, guys.

Here's the social reason that DRM fails: keeping an honest user
honest is like keeping a tall user tall. DRM vendors tell us that
their technology is meant to be proof against average users, not
organized criminal gangs like the Ukranian pirates who stamp out
millions of high-quality counterfeits. It's not meant to be proof
against sophisticated college kids. It's not meant to be proof
against anyone who knows how to edit her registry, or hold down
the shift key at the right moment, or use a search engine. At the
end of the day, the user DRM is meant to defend against is the
most unsophisticated and least capable among us.

Here's a true story about a user I know who was stopped by DRM.
She's smart, college educated, and knows nothing about
electronics. She has three kids. She has a DVD in the living room
and an old VHS deck in the kids' playroom. One day, she brought
home the Toy Story DVD for the kids. That's a substantial
investment, and given the generally jam-smeared character of
everything the kids get their paws on, she decided to tape the
DVD off to VHS and give that to the kids -- that way she could
make a fresh VHS copy when the first one went south. She cabled
her DVD into her VHS and pressed play on the DVD and record on
the VCR and waited.

Before I go farther, I want us all to stop a moment and marvel at
this. Here is someone who is practically technophobic, but who
was able to construct a mental model of sufficient accuracy that
she figured out that she could connect her cables in the right
order and dub her digital disc off to analog tape. I imagine that
everyone in this room is the front-line tech support for someone
in her or his family: would it be great if all our non-geek
friends and relatives were this clever and imaginative?

I also want to point out that this is the proverbial honest user.
She's not making a copy for the next door neighbors. She's not
making a copy and selling it on a blanket on Canal Street. She's
not ripping it to her hard-drive, DivX encoding it and putting it
in her Kazaa sharepoint. She's doing something *honest* -- moving
it from one format to another. She's home taping.

Except she fails. There's a DRM system called Macrovision
embedded -- by law -- in every DVD player and VHS that messes
with the vertical blanking interval in the signal and causes any
tape made in this fashion to fail. Macrovision can be defeated
for about $10 with a gadget readily available on eBay. But our
infringer doesn't know that. She's "honest." Technically
unsophisticated. Not stupid, mind you -- just naive.

The Darknet paper addresses this possibility: it even predicts
what this person will do in the long run: she'll find out about
Kazaa and the next time she wants to get a movie for the kids,
she'll download it from the net and burn it for them.

In order to delay that day for as long as possible, our lawmakers
and big rightsholder interests have come up with a disastrous
policy called anticircumvention.

Here's how anticircumvention works: if you put a lock -- an
access control -- around a copyrighted work, it is illegal to
break that lock. It's illegal to make a tool that breaks that
lock. It's illegal to tell someone how to make that tool. It's
illegal to tell someone where she can find out how to make that
tool.

Remember Schneier's Law? Anyone can come up with a security
system so clever that he can't see its flaws. The only way to
find the flaws in security is to disclose the system's workings
and invite public feedback. But now we live in a world where any
cipher used to fence off a copyrighted work is off-limits to that
kind of feedback. That's something that a Princeton engineering
prof named Ed Felten discovered when he submitted a paper to an
academic conference on the failings in the Secure Digital Music
Initiative, a watermarking scheme proposed by the recording
industry. The RIAA responded by threatening to sue his ass if he
tried it. We fought them because Ed is the kind of client that
impact litigators love: unimpeachable and clean-cut and the RIAA
folded. Lucky Ed. Maybe the next guy isn't so lucky.

Matter of fact, the next guy wasn't. Dmitry Skylarov is a Russian
programmer who gave a talk at a hacker con in Vegas on the
failings in Adobe's e-book locks. The FBI threw him in the slam
for 30 days. He copped a plea, went home to Russia, and the
Russian equivalent of the State Department issued a blanket
warning to its researchers to stay away from American
conferences, since we'd apparently turned into the kind of
country where certain equations are illegal.

Anticircumvention is a powerful tool for people who want to
exclude competitors. If you claim that your car engine firmware
is a "copyrighted work," you can sue anyone who makes a tool for
interfacing with it. That's not just bad news for mechanics --
think of the hotrodders who want to chip their cars to tweak the
performance settings. We have companies like Lexmark claiming
that their printer cartridges contain copyrighted works --
software that trips an "I am empty" flag when the toner runs out,
and have sued a competitor who made a remanufactured cartridge
that reset the flag. Even garage-door opener companies have
gotten in on the act, claiming that their receivers' firmware are
copyrighted works. Copyrighted cars, print carts and garage-door
openers: what's next, copyrighted light-fixtures?

Even in the context of legitimate -- excuse me, "traditional" --
copyrighted works like movies on DVDs, anticircumvention is bad
news. Copyright is a delicate balance. It gives creators and
their assignees some rights, but it also reserves some rights to
the public. For example, an author has no right to prohibit
anyone from transcoding his books into assistive formats for the
blind. More importantly, though, a creator has a very limited say
over what you can do once you lawfully acquire her works. If I
buy your book, your painting, or your DVD, it belongs to me. It's
my property. Not my "intellectual property" -- a whacky kind of
pseudo-property that's swiss-cheesed with exceptions, easements
and limitations -- but real, no-fooling, actual tangible
*property* -- the kind of thing that courts have been managing
through tort law for centuries.

But anticirumvention lets rightsholders invent new and exciting
copyrights for themselves -- to write private laws without
accountability or deliberation -- that expropriate your interest
in your physical property to their favor. Region-coded DVDs are
an example of this: there's no copyright here or in anywhere I
know of that says that an author should be able to control where
you enjoy her creative works, once you've paid for them. I can
buy a book and throw it in my bag and take it anywhere from
Toronto to Timbuktu, and read it wherever I am: I can even buy
books in America and bring them to the UK, where the author may
have an exclusive distribution deal with a local publisher who
sells them for double the US shelf-price. When I'm done with it,
I can sell it on or give it away in the UK. Copyright lawyers
call this "First Sale," but it may be simpler to think of it as
"Capitalism."

The keys to decrypt a DVD are controlled by an org called
DVD-CCA, and they have a bunch of licensing requirements for
anyone who gets a key from them. Among these is something called
region-coding: if you buy a DVD in France, it'll have a flag set
that says, "I am a French DVD." Bring that DVD to America and
your DVD player will compare the flag to its list of permitted
regions, and if they don't match, it will tell you that it's not
allowed to play your disc.

Remember: there is no copyright that says that an author gets to
do this. When we wrote the copyright statutes and granted authors
the right to control display, performance, duplication,
derivative works, and so forth, we didn't leave out "geography"
by accident. That was on-purpose.

So when your French DVD won't play in America, that's not because
it'd be illegal to do so: it's because the studios have invented
a business-model and then invented a copyright law to prop it up.
The DVD is your property and so is the DVD player, but if you
break the region-coding on your disc, you're going to run afoul
of anticircumvention.

That's what happened to Jon Johansen, a Norweigan teenager who
wanted to watch French DVDs on his Norweigan DVD player. He and
some pals wrote some code to break the CSS so that he could do
so. He's a wanted man here in America; in Norway the studios put
the local fuzz up to bringing him up on charges of *unlawfully
trespassing upon a computer system.* When his defense asked,
"Which computer has Jon trespassed upon?" the answer was: "His
own."

His no-fooling, real and physical property has been expropriated
by the weird, notional, metaphorical intellectual property on his
DVD: DRM only works if your record player becomes the property of
whomever's records you're playing.

--

3. DRM systems are bad for biz

This is the worst of all the ideas embodied by DRM: that people
who make record-players should be able to spec whose records you
can listen to, and that people who make records should have a
veto over the design of record-players.

We've never had this principle: in fact, we've always had just
the reverse. Think about all the things that can be plugged into
a parallel or serial interface, which were never envisioned by
their inventors. Our strong economy and rapid innovation are
byproducts of the ability of anyone to make anything that plugs
into anything else: from the Flo-bee electric razor that snaps
onto the end of your vacuum-hose to the octopus spilling out of
your car's dashboard lighter socket, standard interfaces that
anyone can build for are what makes billionaires out of nerds.

The courts affirm this again and again. It used to be illegal to
plug anything that didn't come from AT&T into your phone-jack.
They claimed that this was for the safety of the network, but
really it was about propping up this little penny-ante racket
that AT&T had in charging you a rental fee for your phone until
you'd paid for it a thousand times over.

When that ban was struck down, it created the market for
third-party phone equipment, from talking novelty phones to
answering machines to cordless handsets to headsets -- billions
of dollars of economic activity that had been supressed by the
closed interface. Note that AT&T was one of the big beneficiaries
of this: they *also* got into the business of making phone-kit.

DRM is the software equivalent of these closed hardware
interfaces. Robert Scoble is a Softie who has an excellent blog,
where he wrote an essay about the best way to protect your
investment in the digital music you buy. Should you buy Apple
iTunes music, or Microsoft DRM music? Scoble argued that
Microsoft's music was a sounder investment, because Microsoft
would have more downstream licensees for its proprietary format
and therefore you'd have a richer ecosystem of devices to choose
from when you were shopping for gizmos to play your virtual
records on.

What a weird idea: that we should evaluate our record-purchases
on the basis of which recording company will allow the greatest
diversity of record-players to play its discs! That's like
telling someone to buy the Betamax instead of the Edison
Kinetoscope because Thomas Edison is a crank about licensing his
patents; all the while ignoring the world's relentless march to
the more open VHS format.

It's a bad business. DVD is a format where the guy who makes the
records gets to design the record players. Ask yourself: how much
innovation has there been over the past decade of DVD players?
They've gotten cheaper and smaller, but where are the weird and
amazing new markets for DVD that were opened up by the VCR?
There's a company that's manufacturing the world's first
HDD-based DVD jukebox, a thing that holds 30 movies, and they're
charging *$30,000* for this thing. We're talking about a $300
hard drive and a $300 PC -- all that other cost is the cost of
anticompetition.

--

4. DRM systems are bad for artists

But what of the artist? The hardworking filmmaker, the
ink-stained scribbler, the heroin-cured leathery rock-star? We
poor slobs of the creative class are everyone's favorite
poster-children here: the RIAA and MPAA hold us up and say,
"Won't someone please think of the children?" File-sharers say,
"Yeah, we're thinking about the artists, but the labels are The
Man, who cares what happens to you?"

To understand what DRM does to artists, you need to understand
how copyright and technology interact. Copyright is inherently
technological, since the things it addresses -- copying,
transmitting, and so on -- are inherently technological.

The piano roll was the first system for cheaply copying music. It
was invented at a time when the dominant form of entertainment in
America was getting a talented pianist to come into your living
room and pound out some tunes while you sang along. The music
industry consisted mostly of sheet-music publishers.

The player piano was a digital recording and playback system.
Piano-roll companies bought sheet music and ripped the notes
printed on it into 0s and 1s on a long roll of computer tape,
which they sold by the thousands -- the hundreds of thousands --
the millions. They did this without a penny's compensation to the
publishers. They were digital music pirates. Arrrr!

Predictably, the composers and music publishers went nutso. Sousa
showed up in Congress to say that:

These talking machines are going to ruin the
artistic development of music in this
country. When I was a boy...in front of every
house in the summer evenings, you would find
young people together singing the songs of
the day or old songs. Today you hear these
infernal machines going night and day. We
will not have a vocal chord left. The vocal
chord will be eliminated by a process of
evolution, as was the tail of man when he
came from the ape.

The publishers asked Congress to ban the piano roll and to create
a law that said that any new system for reproducing music should
be subject to a veto from their industry association. Lucky for
us, Congress realized what side of their bread had butter on it
and decided not to criminalize the dominant form of entertainment
in America.

But there was the problem of paying artists. The Constitution
sets out the purpose of American copyright: to promote the useful
arts and sciences. The composers had a credible story that they'd
do less composing if they weren't paid for it, so Congress needed
a fix. Here's what they came up with: anyone who paid a music
publisher two cents would have the right to make one piano roll
of any song that publisher published. The publisher couldn't say
no, and no one had to hire a lawyer at $200 an hour to argue
about whether the payment should be two cents or a nickel.

This compulsory license is still in place today: when Joe Cocker
sings "With a Little Help from My Friends," he pays a fixed fee
to the Beatles' publisher and away he goes -- even if Ringo hates
the idea. If you ever wondered how Sid Vicious talked Anka into
letting him get a crack at "My Way," well, now you know.

That compulsory license created a world where a thousand times
more money was made by a thousand times more creators who made a
thousand times more music that reached a thousand times more
people.

This story repeats itself throughout the technological century,
every ten or fifteen years. Radio was enabled by a voluntary
blanket license -- the music companies got together and asked for
an antitrust exemption so that they could offer all their music
for a flat fee. Cable TV took a compulsory: the only way cable
operators could get their hands on broadcasts was to pirate them
and shove them down the wire, and Congress saw fit to legalize
this practice rather than screw around with their constituents'
TVs.

Sometimes, the courts and Congress decided to simply take away a
copyright -- that's what happened with the VCR. When Sony brought
out the VCR in 1976, the studios had already decided what the
experience of watching a movie in your living room would look
like: they'd licensed out their programming for use on a machine
called a Discovision, which played big LP-sized discs that
disintegrated after a few plays. Proto-DRM.

The copyright scholars of the day didn't give the VCR very good
odds. Sony argued that their box allowed for a fair use, which is
defined as a use that a court rules is a defense against
infringement based on four factors: whether the use transforms
the work into something new, like a collage; whether it uses all
or some of the work; whether the work is artistic or mainly
factual; and whether the use undercuts the creator's
business-model.

The Betamax failed on all four fronts: when you time-shifted or
duplicated a Hollywood movie off the air, you made a
non-transformative use of 100 percent of a creative work in a way
that directly undercut the Discovision licensing stream.

Jack Valenti, the mouthpiece for the motion-picture industry,
told Congress in 1982 that the VCR was to the American film
industry "as the Boston Strangler is to a woman home alone."

But the Supreme Court ruled against Hollywood in 1984, when it
determined that any device capable of a substantial
non-infringing use was legal. In other words, "We don't buy this
Boston Strangler business: if your business model can't survive
the emergence of this general-purpose tool, it's time to get
another business-model or go broke."

Hollywood found another business model, as the broadcasters had,
as the Vaudeville artists had, as the music publishers had, and
they made more art that paid more artists and reached a wider
audience.

There's one thing that every new art business-model had in
common: it embraced the medium it lived in.

This is the overweening characteristic of every single successful
new medium: it is true to itself. The Luther Bible didn't
succeed on the axes that made a hand-copied monk Bible valuable:
they were ugly, they weren't in Church Latin, they weren't read
aloud by someone who could interpret it for his lay audience,
they didn't represent years of devoted-with-a-capital-D labor by
someone who had given his life over to God. The thing that made
the Luther Bible a success was its scalability: it was more
popular because it was more proliferate: all success factors for
a new medium pale beside its profligacy. The most successful
organisms on earth are those that reproduce the most: bugs and
bacteria, nematodes and virii. Reproduction is the best of all
survival strategies.

Piano rolls didn't sound as good as the music of a skilled
pianist: but they *scaled better*. Radio lacked the social
elements of live performance, but more people could build a
crystal set and get it aimed correctly than could pack into even
the largest Vaudeville house. MP3s don't come with liner notes,
they aren't sold to you by a hipper-than-thou record store clerk
who can help you make your choice, bad rips and truncated files
abound: I once downloaded a twelve-second copy of "Hey Jude" from
the original Napster. Yet MP3 is outcompeting the CD. I don't
know what to do with CDs anymore: I get them, and they're like
the especially garment bag they give you at the fancy suit shop:
it's nice and you feel like a goof for throwing it out, but
Christ, how many of these things can you usefully own? I can put
ten thousand songs on my laptop, but a comparable pile of discs,
with liner notes and so forth -- that's a liability: it's a piece
of my monthly storage-locker costs.

Here are the two most important things to know about computers
and the Internet:

1. A computer is a machine for rearranging bits

2. The Internet is a machine for moving bits from one place to
another very cheaply and quickly

Any new medium that takes hold on the Internet and with computers
will embrace these two facts, not regret them. A newspaper press
is a machine for spitting out cheap and smeary newsprint at
speed: if you try to make it output fine art lithos, you'll get
junk. If you try to make it output newspapers, you'll get the
basis for a free society.

And so it is with the Internet. At the heyday of Napster, record
execs used to show up at conferences and tell everyone that
Napster was doomed because no one wanted lossily compressed MP3s
with no liner notes and truncated files and misspelled metadata.

Today we hear ebook publishers tell each other and anyone who'll
listen that the barrier to ebooks is screen resolution. It's
bollocks, and so is the whole sermonette about how nice a book
looks on your bookcase and how nice it smells and how easy it is
to slip into the tub. These are obvious and untrue things, like
the idea that radio will catch on once they figure out how to
sell you hotdogs during the intermission, or that movies will
really hit their stride when we can figure out how to bring the
actors out for an encore when the film's run out. Or that what
the Protestant Reformation really needs is Luther Bibles with
facsimile illumination in the margin and a rent-a-priest to read
aloud from your personal Word of God.

New media don't succeed because they're like the only media, only
better: they succeed because they're worse than the old media at
the stuff the old media is good at, and better at the stuff the
old media are bad at. Books are good at being paperwhite,
high-resolution, low-infrastructure, cheap and disposable. Ebooks
are good at being everywhere in the world at the same time for
free in a form that is so malleable that you can just pastebomb
it into your IM session or turn it into a page-a-day mailing
list.

The only really successful epublishing -- I mean, hundreds of
thousands, millions of copies distributed and read -- is the
bookwarez scene, where scanned-and-OCR'd books are distributed on
the darknet. The only legit publishers with any success at
epublishing are the ones whose books cross the Internet without
technological fetter: publishers like Baen Books and my own, Tor,
who are making some or all of their catalogs available in ASCII
and HTML and PDF.

The hardware-dependent ebooks, the DRM use-and-copy-restricted
ebooks, they're cratering. Sales measured in the tens, sometimes
the hundreds. Science fiction is a niche business, but when
you're selling copies by the ten, that's not even a business,
it's a hobby.

Every one of you has been riding a curve where you read more and
more words off of more and more screens every day through most of
your professional careers. It's zero-sum: you've also been
reading fewer words off of fewer pages as time went by: the
dinosauric executive who prints his email and dictates a reply to
his secretary is info-roadkill.

Today, at this very second, people read words off of screens for
every hour that they can find. Your kids stare at their Game Boys
until their eyes fall out. Euroteens ring doorbells with their
hypertrophied, SMS-twitching thumbs instead of their index
fingers.

Paper books are the packaging that books come in. Cheap
printer-binderies like the Internet Bookmobile that can produce a
full bleed, four color, glossy cover, printed spine,
perfect-bound book in ten minutes for a dollar are the future of
paper books: when you need an instance of a paper book, you
generate one, or part of one, and pitch it out when you're done.
I landed at SEA-TAC on Monday and burned a couple CDs from my
music collection to listen to in the rental car. When I drop the
car off, I'll leave them behind. Who needs 'em?

Whenever a new technology has disrupted copyright, we've changed
copyright. Copyright isn't an ethical proposition, it's a
utlititarian one. There's nothing *moral* about paying a composer
tuppence for the piano-roll rights, there's nothing *immoral*
about not paying Hollywood for the right to videotape a movie off
your TV. They're just the best way of balancing out so that
people's physical property rights in their VCRs and phonographs
are respected and so that creators get enough of a dangling
carrot to go on making shows and music and books and paintings.

Technology that disrupts copyright does so because it simplifies
and cheapens creation, reproduction and distribution. The
existing copyright businesses exploit inefficiencies in the old
production, reproduction and distribution system, and they'll be
weakened by the new technology. But new technology always gives
us more art with a wider reach: that's what tech is *for*.

Tech gives us bigger pies that more artists can get a bite out
of. That's been tacitly acknowledged at every stage of the
copyfight since the piano roll. When copyright and technology
collide, it's copyright that changes.

Which means that today's copyright -- the thing that DRM
nominally props up -- didn't come down off the mountain on two
stone tablets. It was created in living memory to accommodate the
technical reality created by the inventors of the previous
generation. To abandon invention now robs tomorrow's artists of
the new businesses and new reach and new audiences that the
Internet and the PC can give them.

--

5. DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT

When Sony brought out the VCR, it made a record player that could
play Hollywood's records, even if Hollywood didn't like the idea.
The industries that grew up on the back of the VCR -- movie
rentals, home taping, camcorders, even Bar Mitzvah videographers
-- made billions for Sony and its cohort.

That was good business -- even if Sony lost the Betamax-VHS
format wars, the money on the world-with-VCRs table was enough to
make up for it.

But then Sony acquired a relatively tiny entertainment company
and it started to massively screw up. When MP3 rolled around and
Sony's walkman customers were clamoring for a solid-state MP3
player, Sony let its music business-unit run its show: instead of
making a high-capacity MP3 walkman, Sony shipped its Music Clips,
low-capacity devices that played brain-damaged DRM formats like
Real and OpenAG. They spent good money engineering "features"
into these devices that kept their customers from freely moving
their music back and forth between their devices. Customers
stayed away in droves.

Today, Sony is dead in the water when it comes to walkmen. The
market leaders are poky Singaporean outfits like Creative Labs --
the kind of company that Sony used to crush like a bug, back
before it got borged by its entertainment unit -- and PC
companies like Apple.

That's because Sony shipped a product that there was no market
demand for. No Sony customer woke up one morning and said, "Damn,
I wish Sony would devote some expensive engineering effort in
order that I may do less with my music." Presented with an
alternative, Sony's customers enthusiastically jumped ship.

The same thing happened to a lot of people I know who used to rip
their CDs to WMA. You guys sold them software that produced
smaller, better-sounding rips that the MP3 rippers, but you also
fixed it so that the songs you ripped were device-locked to their
PCs. What that meant is that when they backed up their music to
another hard-drive and reinstalled their OS (something that the
spyware and malware wars has made more common than ever), they
discovered that after they restored their music that they could
no longer play it. The player saw the new OS as a different
machine, and locked them out of their own music.

There is no market demand for this "feature." None of your
customers want you to make expensive modifications to your
products that make backing up and restoring even harder. And
there is no moment when your customers will be less forgiving
than the moment that they are recovering from catastrophic
technology failures.

I speak from experience. Because I buy a new Powerbook every ten
months, and because I always order the new models the day they're
announced, I get a lot of lemons from Apple. That means that I
hit Apple's three-iTunes-authorized-computers limit pretty early
on and found myself unable to play the hundreds of dollars' worth
of iTunes songs I'd bought because one of my authorized machines
was a lemon that Apple had broken up for parts, one was in the
shop getting fixed by Apple, and one was my mom's computer, 3,000
miles away in Toronto.

If I had been a less good customer for Apple's hardware, I would
have been fine. If I had been a less enthusiastic evangelist for
Apple's products -- if I hadn't shown my mom how iTunes Music
Store worked -- I would have been fine. If I hadn't bought so
much iTunes music that burning it to CD and re-ripping it and
re-keying all my metadata was too daunting a task to consider, I
would have been fine.

As it was Apple rewarded my trust, evangelism and out-of-control
spending by treating me like a crook and locking me out of my own
music, at a time when my Powerbook was in the shop -- i.e., at a
time when I was hardly disposed to feel charitable to Apple.

I'm an edge case here, but I'm a *leading edge* case. If Apple
succeeds in its business plans, it will only be a matter of time
until even average customers have upgraded enough hardware and
bought enough music to end up where I am.

You know what I would totally buy? A record player that let me
play everybody's records. Right now, the closest I can come to
that is an open source app called VLC, but it's clunky and buggy
and it didn't come pre-installed on my computer.

Sony didn't make a Betamax that only played the movies that
Hollywood was willing to permit -- Hollywood asked them to do it,
they proposed an early, analog broadcast flag that VCRs could
hunt for and respond to by disabling recording. Sony ignored them
and made the product they thought their customers wanted.

I'm a Microsoft customer. Like millions of other Microsoft
customers, I want a player that plays anything I throw at it, and
I think that you are just the company to give it to me.

Yes, this would violate copyright law as it stands, but Microsoft
has been making tools of piracy that change copyright law for
decades now. Outlook, Exchange and MSN are tools that abet
widescale digital infringement.

More significantly, IIS and your caching proxies all make and
serve copies of documents without their authors' consent,
something that, if it is legal today, is only legal because
companies like Microsoft went ahead and did it and dared
lawmakers to prosecute.

Microsoft stood up for its customers and for progress, and won so
decisively that most people never even realized that there was a
fight.

Do it again! This is a company that looks the world's roughest,
toughest anti-trust regulators in the eye and laughs. Compared to
anti-trust people, copyright lawmakers are pantywaists. You can
take them with your arm behind your back.

In Siva Vaidhyanathan's book The Anarchist in the Library, he
talks about why the studios are so blind to their customers'
desires. It's because people like you and me spent the 80s and
the 90s telling them bad science fiction stories about impossible
DRM technology that would let them charge a small sum of money
every time someone looked at a movie -- want to fast-forward?
That feature costs another penny. Pausing is two cents an hour.
The mute button will cost you a quarter.

When Mako Analysis issued their report last month advising phone
companies to stop supporting Symbian phones, they were just
writing the latest installment in this story. Mako says that
phones like my P900, which can play MP3s as ringtones, are bad
for the cellphone economy, because it'll put the extortionate
ringtone sellers out of business. What Mako is saying is that
just because you bought the CD doesn't mean that you should
expect to have the ability to listen to it on your MP3 player,
and just because it plays on your MP3 player is no reason to
expect it to run as a ringtone. I wonder how they feel about
alarm clocks that will play a CD to wake you up in the morning?
Is that strangling the nascent "alarm tone" market?

The phone companies' customers want Symbian phones and for now,
at least, the phone companies understand that if they don't sell
them, someone else will.

The market opportunity for a truly capable devices is enormous.
There's a company out there charging *$30,000* for a $600 DVD
jukebox -- go and eat their lunch! Steve Jobs isn't going to do
it: he's off at the D conference telling studio execs not to
release hi-def movies until they're sure no one will make a
hi-def DVD burner that works with a PC.

Maybe they won't buy into his BS, but they're also not much
interested in what you have to sell. At the Broadcast Protection
Discussion Group meetings where the Broadcast Flag was hammered
out, the studios' position was, "We'll take anyone's DRM except
Microsoft's and Philips'." When I met with UK broadcast wonks
about the European version of the Broadcast Flag underway at the
Digital Video Broadcasters' forum, they told me, "Well, it's
different in Europe: mostly they're worried that some American
company like Microsoft will get their claws into European
television."

American film studios didn't want the Japanese electronics
companies to get a piece of the movie pie, so they fought the
VCR. Today, everyone who makes movies agrees that they don't want
to let you guys get between them and their customers.

Sony didn't get permission. Neither should you. Go build the
record player that can play everyone's records.

Because if you don't do it, someone else will.

He missed the point (4, Insightful)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461892)

Microsoft wants a single encryption key as the secret.

It wants that key protected inside the CPU.

It wants OEM's to pre-register the computer with Microsoft and the key exchange will be done at that time to avoid man in the middle attacks.

Your PC will have an encrypted channel, done via private key encryption between your CPU and Microsoft.

So now all DRM keys for all encryption flow down this channel, direct into the CPU's store.

You DON'T give the attacker the key in this instance, you give the COMPUTER the key. The COMPUTER works against the customer to protect the copyright holders wishes.

It's still a breakable scheme , but the EFF guy didn't give them full credit for the scope of the scheme. Palladium & DRM are ONE AND THE SAME strategy.

Without MS you can't send your DRM key securely, so any DRM seller has to be pay MS even if it doesn't use MS's DRM.

I wonder though if governments will stand idly by and let Microsoft create a private encryption channel between everyone's computer and Microsoft.
I strongly doubt it.

Re:He missed the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9462024)

It wants OEM's to pre-register the computer with Microsoft and the key exchange will be done at that time to avoid man in the middle attacks.

Yeah, 'cos Dell et al have such a great record of protecting secret stuff that Microsoft gives them, which is why all the warez monkeys were running XP Professional six weeks before it went on sale ;-)

Poor logic (2, Interesting)

sakusha (441986) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461900)

Cory's points don't stand up to even the slightest scrutiny. I'm appalled that he would attempt to explain how cryptography works in front of an audience at Microsoft that actually CODES crypto, considering how many fundamental errors he makes. But the kicker is his anecdotal evidence that there's no market demand for DRM. He whines about how he hit the 3 CPU limit of iTunes DRM, because he forgot to decertify one of his Powerbooks before he sent it back to Apple for repair, and that he already used up his other two authorizations on his other machine, and his mom's machine. Skipping over the apparent violation of the terms of the DRM by using one auth for his mom in another household, he failed to mention several points, like how you can call Apple and they will remove the dead auth for the dead machine, and that Apple extended the limit to 5 CPUs. But that doesn't even account for the fact that Cory was just a damn idiot that didn't deauth his machine before sending it in for service. Still, Cory whined and ranted about this problem on BB, rather than placing the blame on himself for making a stupid error.
The ultimate point of his lecture is where he rants about how nobody's calling up manufacturers and begging them for features that restrict rights, therefore there is no market demand for DRM. But he overlooks the obvious fact there are whole markets that would not exist if not for DRM. Like iTunes and DVDs, for example. If the manufacturers won't release the products without DRM, and customers want the product, they'll buy it with DRM, therefore, there IS market demand for DRM.
Hey, I'm no fan of DRM, but this sort of sloppy thinking isn't going to help his case, even if he throws in 1337 5p33k and pirate voice "arrr.."s into his lame lecture.

Long (1)

Rutje (606635) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461910)

Quite a long story for simply saying:
If you can play it, you can record it. If it can, people will do it.

DRM CAN work (1)

Nexum (516661) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461925)

Apple has shown that DRM (like it or otherwise) CAN work.

85m DRM'd songs sold.

70% marketshare when (some) non-DRM alternatives are available.

DRM is not strictly necessarily bad, it's just at the current state of play almost every implementation of DRM out there involves inconveniencing the user.

When (if) this is fixed then DRM may shed slightly the synonymity with "evil".

Re:DRM CAN work (2, Insightful)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461974)

I don't know if you RTFA or not, but it's worth reading about Cory's PowerBook problem near the end. Get through three different machines and all your iTunes are locked out, gone, adieu.

iTunes is simply too new for the problem to have hit home to non-ubergeeks who don't buy a new laptop every 10 months. Yet.

Alice Bob, ..... and Eve (1)

headGasket (119022) | more than 9 years ago | (#9461934)

It's Eve not Carol, for Evesdropping. This guy must not of read a lot of crypto material, it would certainly be a plus for someone in his position.

Is this a fake? (1)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462019)

After reading the whole thing, as a minimum there is no way it was given as a speech. It has too many typeisms like enclosing words with '*' and un-pronounceable words like 'hack0rzed', and 'b0rked.'

It reads completely like an email or something typed. Perhaps this is an email he wrote before and spoke on the same topic? But it certainly can not be what was said at any conference to Microsoft.

Formats (3, Insightful)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9462030)

Remember this and remmeber it well:

CD's aren't going out of style anytime soon

Vinyl isn't going out of style any time soon.

Customers have choices. And that isn't going out of style anytime soon

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