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DRM 'Too Complicated' Says Gates

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the comments-good-for-three-days-or-three-plays dept.

Music 196

arbirk writes "BBC News is reporting on comments made by Bill Gates concerning DRM.. It seems he has got the point (DRM is bad for consumers), but that opinion differs widely from the approach taken by Microsoft on Zune and their other music related products. The comments were originally posted on Micro Persuasion. The article also has a take on Apple's DRM." From the BBC article: "Microsoft is one of the biggest exponents of DRM, which is used to protect music and video files on lots of different online services, including Napster and the Zune store. Blogger Michael Arrington, of Techcrunch.com, said Bill Gates' short-term advice for people wanting to transfer songs from one system to another was to 'buy a CD and rip it'. Most CDs do not have any copy protection and can be copied to a PC and to an MP3 player easily and, in the United States at least, legally."

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No Wonder (1, Funny)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17253848)

From BBC headine: "Gates: Digital locks too complex"

I can see how it must seem that way to him.

From Micro Persuasion:
Q) What did you want to be when you grew up?
A) A lawyer.


That explains a lot. A hell of a lot.

Re:No Wonder (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254106)

Q) What did you want to be when you grew up?
A) A lawyer.

That explains a lot. A hell of a lot.


Aaaahhhh, lawyer-hating on slashdot. How... predictable.

Re:No Wonder (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254428)

Well don't keep me in suspense, what does it explain? Does he love watching reruns of Matlock or something?

Unfrozen Caveman (5, Funny)

The Monster (227884) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254968)

Q) What did you want to be when you grew up? A) A lawyer.
That's interesting. When I saw what Gates said, I immediately thought of the old SNL Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer sketches

Chairman: Go ahead, Mr. G-rock.

G-rock: It's just 'G-rock', Mr. Chairman... Ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, I'm just a caveman. I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes when I'm playing a song on my Zune, I wonder "Are little demons inside playing the music? " I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. But there's one thing I do know - when someone builds a computer without paying for a Windows license, that's piracy, and my company is entitled to no less than two hundred dollars in compensatory damages, and eight hundred in punitive damages. Thank you.

Windows too? (3, Interesting)

fishpick (874965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17253926)

Ya think Bill might extend his logic to the WGA tool, the activation process and the Vista license?

"You should buy the media [Windows] and rip it to BitTorrent for others..."

Re:Windows too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254384)

His "rip it" comment was obviously for own use, so that comparison is all messed up. :-p

Interesting stance (5, Insightful)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17253938)

I think it's an interesting realization for Gates, doubly so as the article points out because of the Draconian measures in place for Vista. I also wonder how long it will be until the RIAA comes out with some sort of press release countering the argument. Full-page WSJ ad, maybe? But the end result is, will MS make any changes to their official policies/practices, and does Bill's opinion really matter when he's stepping out of his policy-setting positions at MS in a few years ...

Re:Interesting stance (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254224)

There is no contradiction between Gates saying DRM is bad for consumers and Microsoft espousing DRM - since when did Gates do anything that benefited consumers without first being dragged through a courtroom?

Re:Interesting stance (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17256656)

Right on target. At least he is forthcoming in that way. And its not that MS is the only corporation doing it. I wonder why the Apple Fanbois are conveniently ignoreing iPod/iTunes DRM. Well, even if its not by Apple's choice, its there. And thats exactly what this interview says about Gates and MS - they may not like it, but they don't have a choice.

Re:Interesting stance (5, Insightful)

uohcicds (472888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254452)

I would say it's a realisation at all. I suspect he has, like many of us, known this to be the case pretty much from the outset. Whatever many may say about Bill, dumb he most certainly is not, so you can bet that most of the arguments swarming around about DRM will be ones he not only aware of, but has mentally rehearsed many times in his own head before talking about it to meetings.

However, he is at the head of an enormous corporation, with assets to protect and the need to maintain revenues. The decisions are clear: with the MS market model and lock-ins to their software and systems, DRM is a desirable (and possibly even necessary) by-product. It may not be ultimately best for consumers (at least in our eyes), but it is useful for his company. That's his business, you can't blame him for that. His reponsibility is to his shareholders (that's a whole other issue).

That we have a mass marketplace that accepts all of this is more of a worry, but that is the thing that is in our hands. A single dominant vendor or platform is bad for innovation and growth, whether that would be Microsoft, Apple or any other (like a dominant Linux distro). The modern computing world is necessarily heterogeneous and those who accept and evolve in that way will find themselves equipped to deal with the future. And I think Bill Gates is keenly aware of that fact, whatever we may think and however we think Micsrosoft are behaving.

I rather suspect DRM is struggling, but that people like Gates have a great deal invested in preserving at least some of that structure. He may be sitting on the fence just a little to see how things shake out. Not a stupid move in his position, it has to be said.

Re:Interesting stance (5, Insightful)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254822)

Excellent points. One part really stands out:

he is at the head of an enormous corporation, with assets to protect and the need to maintain revenues

Those assests obviously include the partnerships with the media that provides the content MS so obviously needs (as does, of course Apple and, growingly, cellphone provides.) So short of MS, Apple and all the others collectively saying, "You know what RIAA, MPAA, etc. Bite me. Our consumers drive our success, and the artists successes drive your warchests and we're not going to play anymore," I just don't see there being an end to increasingly complex, PITA DRM."

Re:Interesting stance (2, Interesting)

Gonarat (177568) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255046)

I wonder if Bill even considers WGA to be DRM in his mind. After all, you can copy a Windows XP install disk (I imagine it is the same for Vista) all you want, so the Windows disk is not, in his mind, copy protected. WGA and activation are required to use Windows, but it is not required to install it. In most people's minds, this is DRM, but I could see where Bill Gates might really believe that this is not the case when it comes to Microsoft products since there is no "copy protection" on the actual media.

Re:Interesting stance (1)

Arwing (951573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256780)

I think Bill is taking an interesting attacking vector on iPod and by extension, ITMS. One of the biggest advantage of iPod is the easy to use/buy functionalities built into ITMS, and if people get away from ITMS and start using un-DRMed/self-ripped format such as mp3 (or God awful WMA), it's actually going to take a major advantage away from iPod therefore giving Zune a fighting chance (slim, but better than none).

DRM is good fror Microsoft (4, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17253942)

A friend recently had to sit through a sales presentation of Microsoft Corporate DRM (the kind that keeps your documents and other corporate files secure based on a rule set like the music DRM). And came out of it realizing that for the Corporate DRM to work they would have to replace ALL their software with Microsoft software. Lucikly they told MS to get lost with their solutions, but the point is MS sees DRM as a way of locking customers in perpetually to them. If you create a MS DRM document you will never, outside of hacking it, be able to transfer your files away from Microsoft.

Re:DRM is good fror Microsoft (1)

madcow_bg (969477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254044)

>If you create a MS DRM document you will never, outside of hacking it, be able to transfer your files away from Microsoft.

I don't believe that! Can't you send them with e-mail or decrypt it with some MS-provided tool?
Links, anyone?

Re:DRM is good fror Microsoft (3, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254108)

It depends upon the rule set. If your rules say. "This MUST stay inside the cooperation and can't be emailed or turned into a regular document." Then thats exactly what it will do. But if you allow that, then you aren't really "protecting" your cooperation. The thing is that there are some industry standard DRM schemes that allow you to keep the files locked but work with several vendors. The MS scheme is not compatible with any of these.

Re:DRM is good fror Microsoft (2, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254424)

we use authentica and love it. excellent security for PDF's
-nb

Re:DRM is good fror Microsoft (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255512)

excellent security for PDF's

How do you know? I haven't looked specifically at Authentica's products, but I have had the opportunity to attempt to analyze the security of a couple of similar products, with very disappointing results.

The bottom line with these sorts of products is that they cannot be truly secure. All they can do is add layers of obfuscation that make it difficult for non-technical people to bypass their restrictions (well other than by, say, taking digital photos of the screen). Done right, they can make it obscure enough to deter most people. The problem is that there is almost no way to know how good a job they have done without either (a) getting technical details from the vendor which they almost certainly won't provide or (b) actually trying to hack it, which usually means violating an EULA.

The two products I analyzed (neither of which exist any more, this was years ago, before there was a large market for this stuff) both turned out to be rather weak. I couldn't really publish my results, though, because I had to break the EULAs in order to evaluate the security. So although my clients knew to avoid the products, I'm sure plenty of other people didn't.

Re:DRM is good fror Microsoft (1)

weave (48069) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254098)

There is one nice feature of RMS (if I understand it correctly, have never used it before)...

The idea of being able to time-bomb documents appeals to me! :)

However, I'm betting there is probably a domain-admin key of some sort that can override that, otherwise employees would be time-bombing loads of docs they do.

btw, I wonder what Stallman thinks of Microsoft co-opting his initials for their "rights management server" :)

Exponents? (0, Redundant)

Chazmyrr (145612) | more than 7 years ago | (#17253946)

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Re:Exponents? (0, Offtopic)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17253964)

That was my first thought... methinks the word desired was "proponents". :-)

Re:Exponents? (1, Offtopic)

zolaris (963926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254170)

Actually I think it does mean what he thinks it means. I didn't know this, I'll admit I had to look it up but:

exponent (k-sp'nnt, k'sp'nnt)
n.
1. One that expounds or interprets.
2. One that speaks for, represents, or advocates: Our senator is an exponent of free trade.
3. Abbr. exp Mathematics A number or symbol, as 3 in (x + y)3, placed to the right of and above another number, symbol, or expression, denoting the power to which that number, symbol, or expression is to be raised. Also called power.
--The American Heritage Dictionary [reference.com]

So Microsoft advocates DRM.

Re:Exponents? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254184)

exponent is used as a synonym of proponent in the context. it is appropriate.

"Exponent" in the sense of "advocate." (0, Offtopic)

leahzero (717416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254208)

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=exponent [reference.com]

2. a person or thing that is a representative, advocate, type, or symbol of something

Re:Exponents? (1, Offtopic)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254142)

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

exponent (k-sp'nnt, k'sp'nnt) Pronunciation Key
n. 1. One that expounds or interprets.
      2. One that speaks for, represents, or advocates: Our senator is an exponent of free trade.
      3. Abbr. exp Mathematics A number or symbol, as 3 in (x + y)3, placed to the right of and above another number, symbol, or expression, denoting the power to which that number, symbol, or expression is to be raised. Also called power.

      Your new word for the day. It is used correctly.

Re:Exponents? (0, Offtopic)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254512)

>Your new word for the day. It is used correctly.

Maybe it's more common on that side of the pond? The OP's thought was my first thought too. In speech or writing in the U.S. I always see "proponent".

Now somebody's going to post a bunch of statistics on how it's used all the time here ...

Re:Exponents? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17255090)

Maybe you are just not that literate.

Re:Exponents? (0, Offtopic)

John Nowak (872479) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255472)

I live in the US and it made sense to me. :-)

erm to be fair (4, Insightful)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17253954)

DRM is Microsoft's problem - not their fault. The fault rests solely with the music industry and their failure to recognize this media-less thing might catch one and their failure to create their own unified DRM standard from the start.

Copyright holder's blame (5, Insightful)

Henriok (6762) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254096)

Exactly! It's not Gates or Steve Jobs's fault that we are stuck with DRAm, it's the content owners fault. Apple and Microsoft are doing business largely on the terms stated by the content owners. If it were up to MS or Apple.. there would probably not be any DRM protection in their products. It just complicates matters, stifles innovation and adaptation.. very much an image that Apple and Microsoft strive to get away from, but if they want to commercialize an idea they have to obey the demands of the suppliers.. at least to some extent.

Re:Copyright holder's blame (3, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254754)

If it were up to MS or Apple.. there would probably not be any DRM protection in their products.

Really? You mean like how I can install OS X on any hardware I choose, or how I can easily install and uninstall Windows from PC to PC? Don't kid yourself -- Apple and Microsoft own billions in IP and already control how and where you can use their products. If that's not Digital Rights Management, I don't know what is.

Re:Copyright holder's blame (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256582)

You're able to run OSX on a generic PC, the only reason you can't (easily) is because apple hasn't made generic drivers for them..

You can say that's DRM, but it's more their lack of wanting you to use their products on other machines, they don't go out of their way by having special DRM chips in their hardware that ensure their OS can only be run on a mac..

The real DRM is WGA and windows serial numbers, something OSX doesn't have.

Re:Copyright holder's blame (1)

punkr0x (945364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255794)

Don't kid yourself. Steve Jobs may say, "I didn't want to put DRM into the iTunes store, it's the music industry that forced me to do it." But look at what DRM has done for iTunes and the iPod. The iPod can only play purchased music from iTunes or a independent music source. Noone who own an iPod is ever going to buy (DRM protected) music from Yahoo or Microsoft or other competitors using their own DRM. And only an iPod can play songs from iTunes (unless you burn + rerip it). So people who have bought a bunch of songs from iTunes are going to be reluctant to purchase a player from a different manufacturer. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs both see how this works, and that's why the Zune is not compatible with 'playsforsure.' Microsoft wants their own lock-in. But with companies like emusic and to a certain extent Yahoo moving away from DRM to an open format, as well as consumer unhappiness with DRM, the two CEOs are keeping their options open for the future, as well as keeping up appearances, by saying, "Well we never wanted DRM, it's the record labels." They are betting that the record labels are unwilling to give up DRM, which is true for the moment.

Re:Copyright holder's blame (1)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256160)

You're kidding right ? Or being sarcastic ? DRM, a.k.a "Trusted Computing [wikipedia.org] ", is Microsoft's master plan to kill off the competition.

When Bill says "DRM is too complicated", he doesn't mean he wants to get rid of it. He means he wants Microsoft to make it "simpler for you".

DRM is a wet dream for Microsoft and Apple. It lets them lock up your data in perpetuity, while making it illegal and/or technically impossible for the competition to access that data at all.

Re:erm to be fair (2, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254238)

With regard to media I agree the *AAs are the ones putting on the pressure.

However I think MS is also pushing DRM as a method for businesses to control the distribution and usage of their internal documents which would have happened regardless of the media corporations simply because it helps lock people in to the MS product line so for Bill to say he is against DRM is somewhat disingenous to say the least.

I think there's a difference there though. (2, Interesting)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254556)

If you as a company want to introduce DRM to control distribution of your documents, then you are free to choose the system you want. You'll probably go with MS as you've already got Office installed on every desktop. You might regret your decision later on and wish to change, but it's not too hard - you have admin rights, you remove the protection and add protection from your new vendor.
Music DRM is different. You want to listen to a track from one of the big labels, you have to buy the music with DRM installed. If you later wish to swap to another vendor, then.... well you can buy all your music all over again - and kick yourself for not buying CDs.
DRM does benefit hardware makers - the one who got in there early and has most of the market. If you've bought an ipod over the last 5ish years and bought music, if you want to carry on listening to it, you're going to be be buying Apple iPods until the day you die.
So you've bought an ipod, so you had to buy m4p files, so you have to keep on buying ipods, so you keep on buying m4p files....
Only options you have to escape this cycle are to stop buying music, just buy CDs, Pirate your music or wait for the next DRM-removing util to come along and go cold turkey from DRM before it's patched.

Putting together podcasts, I cant use M4Ps. (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255270)

So the iTunes store was certainly effective in making sure I stayed with podsafe tunes.

There are times when I'm glad I RIPed my entire collection of MP3s (over 1,200 CDs and disks) but when I'm putting together a show, I'm glad that my iTunes music library's on a different drive. :-)

The RIAA can't claim anything regarding copyright infringement.

Re:erm to be fair (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254394)

True. The problem is not as much they want to spend their time programming stuff that their customers hate. But Companies want to expand into digital over the internet media, and the only way they can play is to add DRM to their product. Because the content providers are afraid if there is no DRM Piracy will go out of control.

Re:erm to be fair (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254432)

Microsoft is powerful enough that they might be able to get away with refusing to implement DRM. What could the music and film industry do? Not release on PC-compatible media at all??

I think Microsoft might be able to win that one if they tried. Instead, they went the path of least resistance (or so they believe).

That's exacly what they 'd do. (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255452)

When you're stuck making all your money from other people's creativity, because you're so devoid of any yourself, you will fight tooth and nail to protect your smaller pile, because you know there is no way you can survive when everything's open.

Without DRM, the RIAA would sue your computer manufacturer for putting in any audio component, apart from a radio.

They don't care how much the world saves in the efficiencies of integration, it threatens their business models, damn it, and they are lawyers (not musicians!)

Re:erm to be fair (2, Interesting)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254574)

DRM is Microsoft's problem - not their fault.The fault rests solely with the music industry and their failure to recognize this media-less thing might catch one and their failure to create their own unified DRM standard from the start.
You might be right with respect to movies & music - leading to the Windows Media Player DRM. However, I dont think the **AA had any influence for Windows Genuine (dis)Advantge, or Windows Activation schemes, only Microsoft themselves could have had any input into those schemes.

Re:erm to be fair (2, Informative)

man_ls (248470) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255468)

As a technical service provider, I have to say I rather like WGA -- I work for a large corporation providing end-user support, and when anyone comes in saying "I did the updates on this machine I bought from the shop down the road..." and they have a WGA prompt, it means an easy sale of several hundred dollars to sell them a legit license, with a CoA and that will actually pass validation.

I also like it because it keeps people honest. Nobody has the right to pirate anything -- be it 14 year old kid who wipes XP Home off his computer to put XP Pro on there for no good reason except to say he did, or some real estate broker who did it basically for the same reason. Seeing how all off-the-shelf PCs from major dealers are licensed anyway, and OEM copies are a fraction of that of a retail one if you're a system builder, there is no excuse for people to be pirating Windows at all.

Windows Genuine Advantage and Windows Activation are an attempt to stop enterprise piracy and corrupt dealers from making a profit at Microsoft's expense, with neither remitting anything back to the source. They aren't perfect -- but then again, there isn't really any objective way to say "you got a new computer" versus "you had your motherboard replaced" and things like that are what causes the screwups.

Re:erm to be fair (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254792)

So DRM on Word documents is something to do with the music industry?

Explain that one to me...

Maybe to some extent (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254904)

True, the brunt of the blame for DRM rests on the shoulders of the copyright holders. However, the technology companies aren't blameless here. In some ways, the myriad of DRM schemes out there today hurt consumers just as much as simply having the DRM there in the first place. DRM would cause a lot less headaches if companies like Microsoft and Apple would settle on some standards.

In a perfect world, DRM wouldn't exist at all. But now that it's here, it's probably not going to go away for a long time. The onus is on the technology companies to make it a workable solution with as few headaches as possible for the consumer.

Re:erm to be fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17256186)

DRM is Microsoft's problem - not their fault.

Fuck you. Microsoft and Intel are the two biggest exponents of DRM. Intel has spent the last ten years designing hardware that works against its owner. About 1998 or so, I remember hearing a talk by an Intel engineer saying that the next big thing in security will be making a computer secure against its owner. Microsoft, Intel and Compaq set out to design PC hardware (the TPMs that are appearing in most PCs today) to do just this... with DRM in mind. Intel also went to work on stuff like HDCP (which will be in all HDTV televisions) and other lock down encryption schemes.

Why did they do this? It sure as hell wasn't just for the movie and TV industries. It was because these technologies allow THEM to control PCs, not the owners. Control over movies and music is just a happy by-product of this for the technology companies. In case anyone hasn't realised it yet... DRM is not about music and video piracy particularly. DRM is about controlling the code that can run and accesses certain data. You provide a means, hardware in the case of TPMs, that allows you to encrypt data (say, music) and only unencrypt it for access by specific pieces of code (say, particular codecs, device drivers and media players)... and then you vet the code of anyone who wants to access that data to ensure that it obeys Rights Management rules.

This, of course, isn't limit to music. It works for pictures, web pages, other software (apps are just data to an operating system)... emails, documents (your computer's hardware works to ensure that ONLY Microsoft approved code can open your .doc files etc)... anything at all. It's also anti-piracy hardware. It also allows code to be executed in secret... meaning you can't put a debugger on a piece of code and find out what it's doing. It's a Microsoft trade secret after all.

This is the reality of DRM... and whatever Gates, Ballmer, Jobs, Intel, IBM and Sun etc say publicly... they all want it very badly.

Another proponent of DRM is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17253968)

...the BBC!

Great guns for public service broadcasting and extra special thanks to John Birt. Birt got Armarni suits and the public got shafted.

Wow! (1)

OurNewOverloard (984041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17253990)

He's going to be shocked to find out that Vista is a DRM hell hole. Maybe Steve never told him.

Re:Wow! (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254272)

He's going to be shocked to find out that Vista is a DRM hell hole. Maybe Steve never told him.

Vista's "DRM" isn't any different to XP's (or even 2000's) "DRM". It won't magically DRM-encumber to your currently unencumbered media (unless you tell it to of course).

If you don't want to be restricted by DRM, don't buy DRMed content. Follow that rule, and Vista is no more "DRMed" than any other platform.

Re:Wow! (3, Funny)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254364)

Maybe Steve never told him.

Maybe they just don't sit down together and talk the way they used to...

Re:Wow! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17255580)

Maybe they just don't sit down together and talk the way they used to...

Could that be due to a lack of chairs?

Not legal in the UK (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254028)

"Most CDs do not have any copy protection and can be copied to a PC and to an MP3 player easily and, in the United States at least, legally."

So if he's in favour of fair use, isn't installing software also fair use (and not copying) and so trying to force people to accept an EULA when installing software (by claiming it's necessary to obtain a copyright license for the copying made during installation) is baseless.

They're exercising their fair use by installing software they bought, hence they don't need a license to do that, hence you can't force an EULA on them under guise of copyright license, because they don't need one.

The saddest thing about this, is that it's not legal in the UK to rip CDs to MP3.
It was in the past, when it was a civil offense and since it had no damages (no lost sales), there were no damages to sue for. Hence they had fair use in the UK, well sort of anyway. That was lost when copyright infringement was moved to criminal law. That was done due to a treaty in the EU lobbied by the BSA, in which they decided it didn't need a fair use clause.

Who's BSA's main client? Begins with M? ends in $?

Re:Not legal in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254472)

Actually, they have copyright on the software. Any country that's a member of the WTO (most nations) had to agree to the TRIPs treaty, a provision of which is that Computer Programs must be treated as literary works under the Berne Convention. What the EULA does is add an additional set of restrictions under _contract law_ (a license), which is entirely distinct. And, as I and many other people feel, an abuse that perverts the purpose of the copyright system.

Yet TRIPS compatible with US fair use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17255660)

I don't think TRIPS can be used as the excuse here, since its compatible with US 'fair use'.

It was BSA lobbying and EU Commission that criminalized copyright infringement without adding a fair use clause. That in turn allowed Microsoft to claim that the only way the files could be copied from CD to computer is a copyright license, which in turn permitted their EULAs.

"which is entirely distinct"

Yes their pseudo contracts, but the basis is 'you need to accept this contract because you need a copyright license to install this software','no accept, no right to copy, no right to install'.
So it's not entirely distinct, since it would be fair use for me to install the software and use it, not the EULA license crap it comes with.

Re:Not legal in the UK (3, Informative)

RDW (41497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255106)

'The saddest thing about this, is that it's not legal in the UK to rip CDs to MP3.'

This at least may well change quite soon, if the government acts on the Gowers Review:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/ gowers_review_intellectual_property/gowersreview_i ndex.cfm [hm-treasury.gov.uk]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6214108.s tm [bbc.co.uk]

Pot meet the kettle (3, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254036)

Apple's fairplay DRM is consistent. What you can do with one song you can do with all the songs.

Windows Media DRM can vary based on any number of factors but is what the RIAA wants. They want to limit how some songs are played. Some songs can be burned to cd 5 times others never at all. MSFT bowed to the pressure of the RIAA to try and undercut Apple and instead got bitten by consumers who only got confused.

While I don't care for DRM I do see the point. Of course the rights granted by the DRM must follow fair use guidelines. So far no one has done that.

Re:Pot meet the kettle (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255390)

Of course the rights granted by the DRM must follow fair use guidelines. So far no one has done that.

What part of Apple's system doesn't? It allows five computers and an unlimited number of iPods. It's easy to write to an audio CD, up to seven CDs of a particular playlist. If you change the playlist by a minute (add a one minute track at the end), or make a new playlist with same tracks, you can get seven more burns. You can even use their program to rip that CD to get an unencrypted (albiet slightly lower quality) file, they've never tried to stop that.

It's not that I like DRM, but I would consider Apple's system to be more lenient than what fair use case law might allow.

Re:Pot meet the kettle (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256570)

I agree Apple's unified system is a lot better. but what happens when I want to take a song or video to my sister's house for christmas but I already have my home computers authorised?

You can take a cd or dvd with you, drop it into any player and it will work.

That doesn't hold true for digital media. Apple shouldn't be specifying file formats, neither should MSFT. Fairplay at least uses AAC. So with better than WMA in that regard.

It should matter what company I choose to play the media on. That's the limit. Apple should license Fairplay at least to other music companies(real, napster, etc) if not hardware companies as well.

Re:Pot meet the kettle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17255418)

Seriously, this fucker is only complaining 'cause for once he doesn't control the standard.

"But we don't have the right thing here in terms of simplicity or interoperability," he added.


Yeah, like PlaysForSure?

Re:Pot meet the kettle (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255514)

While I don't care for DRM I do see the point. Of course the rights granted by the DRM must follow fair use guidelines. So far no one has done that.
Fair use simply gives a set of uses for which a content provider cannot sue you. They are not required to provide you with a method to exercise fair use.

Imagine the content holder as a huge orange grove owner. The local government sees it as 'fair use' if you pick an orange or two per day to eat (you can't resell them though). You bring in a bucket to fill up and they can sue. That doesn't mean however, that they're not free to put a big electric fence with barbed wire at the top around their grove. You still could take your orange per day if you could get to them . . . . but you can't do so without damaging their fence and getting sued for it.

Of course this analogy only works becuase the law sees IP as the same as physical property. Not something that I agree with, but for the time being it's the law of the land :(.

Miss formulated question (-1, Flamebait)

zeropaper (959464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254068)

The good question should be...
"Who the hell on slashdot likes Microsoft?" (and -god- why?)

Re:Miss formulated question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254330)

Because they make superior software?

Re:Miss formulated question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17255372)

we all like them... they are the prime reason for the money we earn.
Imagine a world where MS never happened and you will imagine a world with just 50% of the IT workforce there is today... UNIX do not need permanent survillance, neither do Netware or OS/400 or VMS or MVS... if MS never happened 50% of us would sit and play with our C64 (or something like that) after a hard day's work at the car factory.
We hate them because of the way they kill everything on their way... and because they are "above the law" due to their size... and because we don't have the time to play with our xBox360 after a hard day's work in the IT-dept...

Gates is right, but has an ulterior motive (4, Insightful)

Theovon (109752) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254070)

If everyone were to switch to buying CDs and ripping them, then people would stop buying from iTunes, and that would be good for Microsoft.

"DRM is not where it should be" (2, Insightful)

Quevar (882612) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255036)

I agree. From the article: '"DRM is not where it should be," said Mr Gates.' He said that because Bill wants DRM to be in Microsoft's control - he is frustrated because he wants control of it, but can't get it.

But how about this idea.. (1)

fury88 (905473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256702)

If everyone were to switch to buying CDs and ripping them, then people would stop buying from iTunes, and that would be good for Microsoft.

If everyone just switched to the eMusic model then we wouldn't have to worry about this issue.

DRM solution (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254072)

Soudns liek Gaes has the best solution so far. PAY FOR THE FUCKIGN MUSIC YOU LISTEN TO.

Notice he said buy the CD, then rip it. notice that one little thing, the part where he said BUY!!!!

Boo! (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254130)

Most CDs do not have any copy protection and can be copied to a PC and to an MP3 player easily

AFAIK, to be called a "CD", the disk cannot have random protection schemes stuffed in it. Companies should be forbidden from selling such disks as CDs. and pay a fine of EUR0.3 per unit sold. to me.

Re:Boo! (1)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254530)

Actually, they can still call it a CD. They cannot, however, use the "Compact Disc Digital Audio" name and logo, as it does NOT comply with the Philips standard. As I recall, a few years back some media company was forced to stop using the Philips logo on their crippled discs.

Don't be fooled... (3, Informative)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254134)

Saying something is "too complicated" doesn't necessarily imply it'll go away. Knowing Microsoft and the **AA groups, DRM may eventually shift to a form where it seems transparent to the end user, but is actually acting against the user's wishes in the background whenever the user attempts to defy the DRM scheme's rule set.

For example, a DRM'ed file may appear to "copy" when the user issues the command to do so. But after the operation is completed, the user will simply get a rude awakening in the form of a message on whatever device or program their using saying that the original file was copy protected with a link to a webpage on Microsoft's website claiming that the copy didn't work because they were either trying to pirate the content or because they failed to use an approved piece of software to handle the copy operation for them.

In short, it will probably be some method that passively harrasses the user into relinquishing control of their computer to Microsoft or some other "approved" company.

Re:Don't be fooled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254490)

For example, a DRM'ed file may appear to "copy" when the user issues the command to do so. But after the operation is completed, the user will simply get a rude awakening in the form of a message on whatever device or program their using saying that the original file was copy protected

already happens, a client of mine (a knighted CEO for a UK FTSE10 company) ripped a CD into WMA to put on his MS Mobile2k5 based smartphone but when you tried to play the file in WMP mobile it simply said
"sorry you do not have a license to play this file"
hence he mentioned it to me when i was doing some consulting

so i explained what MS was doing and how the music DRM scam works, then downloaded CDEX , taught him how to use it to rip into mp3, and of course mp3's played perfectly
and so was a happy customer = happy consultant

needless to say MS isnt now on his toplist of chosen partners due to his experience

He's just saying that it is too complicated... (3, Insightful)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254164)

..now. He didn't say anything about DRM's inherent evil, which is that it makes your computer work AGAINST you.

I am sure Gates has a fabulous scheme to make DRM simpler in the long term. But he's not going to reveal to a bunch of bloggers in a room.

This is not a mea culpa or a reversal by Gates or Microsoft. He's merely acknowledging that it's a pain in the ass for consumers... in the short term.

Re:He's just saying that it is too complicated... (1)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254304)

Parent speaks the truth.

From Micro Persuasion:

Q) Is digital rights management (DRM) sustainable over the next 10 years?
A) DRM is not where it should be. In the end of the day incentive systems (for artists) make a difference. But we don't have the right thing here in terms of simplicity or interoperability.

I agree with the interpretation that Gates is saying that there's nothing wrong with DRM per se, but that it's just that it could be implemented better and made simpler for consumers.

Perfectly in character... (3, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254200)

Q) Is digital rights management (DRM) sustainable over the next 10 years?
A) DRM is not where it should be. In the end of the day incentive systems (for artists) make a difference. But we don't have the right thing here in terms of simplicity or interoperability.


Nothing else he said was against DRM in any way. All the anti-DRM talk was by other people. If you can't read "We're going to shove it down your throats eventually", then you're not paying attention.

DRM is not too complicated (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254206)

It's simple, if something is heavily DRM'd and is not copiable, I don't buy it.

It doesn't get much easier than that.

CD > rip yes

Itunes/online music services NO

DVD > rip yes

Online movie crippleware NO

HD/DVD Blueray NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

Vista for improved software and Dx10 gaming yes

Vista for DRM'ed media content delivery NO

Illegal downloading NO (I prefer mailing 500gb harddrives back and forth with friends)

Re:DRM is not too complicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254314)

Illegal downloading NO (I prefer mailing 500gb harddrives back and forth with friends)
Next, you'll be saying that you use stone tablets..

I do this often :o/

procure.

Re:DRM is not too complicated (5, Insightful)

bahface (979106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254500)

Since I've been a part of audio production in the past, I happen to know that the whole DRM thing, at least as far as music goes is kind of silly. I'm sure I'm not the first person to say that. But the thing is, all it does is theoretically keep people from making digital copies. But I can still play that audio through an analogue audio system. So, it is simple to make a digital copy of the analogue signal. If the source is anywhere near decent the digital copy of the analogue signal will be almost identical to the original. And for nearly everyone, that's close enough. Most people couldn't tell the difference between the original CD and an analogue to digital copy if its done on reasonably good equipment. Don't forget, people used to be ok with making casette tapes via an FM radio signal. That was pretty bad quality but people still did it. An analogue to digital copy is very close to the original. Once a DRM free digital copy is out there it is game over for the DRM stuff. Inevitably, copies can be made, that is, if DRM actually worked, which it doesn't. So, in the end, I don't think DRM can work, so for now it is making some people some money for these so called solutions, and harming consumers. Awesome.

Re:DRM is not too complicated (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254894)

DVD > rip yes
HD/DVD Blueray NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!


Wasn't DVD unrippable (hey, I might just have made up a word!) at first until an encryption key leaked? Just give hackers some time! ;-)

bandwidth of stationwagon (1)

cadience (770683) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255714)

Just goes to show you that my networking professor's t-shirt is still valid.

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon driving down the freeway".

Ship a bunch of drives physically, and you will get faster (and more reliable and secure) data transfer.

Of course if you lose this packet^wpackage your retransmit latency is....

testing the market (4, Interesting)

hjf (703092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254254)

I think all the DRM stuff was about testing the market. See how much they could push it without users complaining. And they tried to make it draconian. Didn't work. They found that people don't really like to be told what to do. Or better, what they can and cannot do.

There's only one thing about DRM that I actually liked. You were, finally, buying RIGHTS for something. That means, if you ever lose your files, you could download the songs again at no charge (that was possible on some systems, IIRC). That's not the case with vinyls, tapes and CDs. You lost the vinyl, tape or CD, and you must buy a new one, and pay for the songs again. So there was no clear line of what you were buying: either the physical media, or the songs contained in it. Apparently, it was a Christian approach, kind of "body+soul", there were indivisible. You couldn't even take your scratched CD to the store and pay the price of the CD (the media alone) to get a new one. Also, this meant that you couldn't "upgrade" formats for a small sum (take your tape and pay a few bucks, and go home with a CD).

Re:testing the market (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254996)

There's only one thing about DRM that I actually liked. You were, finally, buying RIGHTS for something. That means, if you ever lose your files, you could download the songs again at no charge

In a non-DRM world with appropriate fair use rights protected by law, it wouldn't be a crime just to re-download the data that you lost. DRM is just an over-complexification of the problem at hand.

-b.

what he is saying... (4, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254338)

What Gates is saying is not that "DRM is too complex [and therefore we should abolish it]", what he is saying is that "DRM is too complex [but Microsoft will fix that]".

He is being characteristically vague, but you can bet that he is either implying that Microsoft's DRM is already better than everybody else, or he is laying the groundwork for announcing some new Microsoft DRM scheme somewhere down the road.

Re:what he is saying... (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254720)

Since the Zune can't play MS "Play For Sure" DRMed music, I don't think this new likely scheme will be something we really want.
So maybe what he wanted us to understant is "you bought DRMed music, be prepared to buy it again and again".

Re:what he is saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17256654)

Since the Zune can't play MS "Play For Sure" DRMed music, I don't think this new likely scheme will be something we really want.


Since when did "what we want" have anything to do with what Microsoft is selling us?

That's rich (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254416)

The internet has made it difficult to run a regime that runs on secrecy. Government is already benefiting.

Coming from BG, that's a good one...

Not complicated at all (4, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254496)

DRM is simple, there is nothing complicated at all. DRM is simply the proverbial pain in the ass because, instead of one standard, there are several. Microsoft and Apple each have a format that marries you to their specific platform. This isn't complicated, it is anti-competitive and the consumer actually feels anger and frustration.

Re:Not complicated at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254766)

> and the consumer actually feels anger and frustration.

The DRM "solution" solves nothing for the consumer. Music and movies are social things, they are about shared experience. We want to lend media out and transfer it to other formats/devices for convienience.

Finally He Got IT!!! (1)

sam0vi (985269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254564)

Now we'll all be free! Forever! Or until he comes up with three new letters ...like SYO /*Screw Yourself Over*/ KEEP THE HOPE!

...and when Steve Ballmer heard... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17254666)

...Bill Gates words, he yelled: "I'll fucking kill him, I'll fucking kill Bill Gates" and a chair was thrown i Bill Gates general direction.
...and when Bill Gates heard of Steve's reaction he whispered: "You too, Steve...?"

Microsoft DirectPlay is a misnomer (5, Interesting)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254702)

The game Guild Wars comes with an offer to download extra music from a DirectPlay-enabled (crippled) host. The music is supposed to be listenable in-game and at the desktop. After downloading some kind of license I can play the songs with Windows Media Player, but they won't play in-game. I go to the Guild Wars audio properties and it informs me of some kind of DirectPlay problem with a clickable error code. I click the code and a web page opens up saying generically "This DirectPlay music cannot be played," and that I should install the latest version of WMP. I do so and I get the same error message, plus I have to re-download licenses for the local files.

As for DRM in general, I've had my share of nightmares. I put a newish CD into my computer the other day and it tried to install a proprietary music player. My girlfriend put a DVD movie (Warner Brothers) into her computer and a similar player began installing without even a prompt. I played Trackmania Nations [trackmanianations.com] a while back and, even though it is a completely free game, it installed the infamous and dangerous StarForce copy protection software without prompting me.

I can't trust anyone but pirates anymore, so that's who I'll patronize (for content post-2004). Sorry, big media, you've failed me too many times. Companies are too greedy and DRM is too iffy to chance putting on my computer. My PC is heftier than my television or stereo will ever be and I'm not risking infection so that the MAFIAA can snoop on my private information.

Historically, no one has better understood the needs and frustrations of digital media consumers than pirates. They provide easy-to-install cracks with detailed documentation. Pirate organizations like Razor 1911 and Reloaded provide a free "service" to the public and their only competition is other similar release groups. Why do non-profit organizations provide vastly better service than legitimate for-profit companies?

Look inward, Billy Gates. Your company is guilty of all the things you point your finger at in TFA. It's cute that you urge us to rip CDs instead of buying songs online, but it's patently obvious that you're just taking a pot shot at iTunes. Put up or shut up.

Re:Microsoft DirectPlay is a misnomer (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255022)

As for DRM in general, I've had my share of nightmares. I put a newish CD into my computer the other day and it tried to install a proprietary music player. My girlfriend put a DVD movie (Warner Brothers) into her computer and a similar player began installing without even a prompt.

Hold down the Shift key while inserting the CD. Better yet, permanently turn off Autoplay (I think it's under Folder Options in Windows Exploder).

-b.

Re:Microsoft DirectPlay is a misnomer (1)

punkr0x (945364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17256078)

Historically, no one has better understood the needs and frustrations of digital media consumers than pirates. They provide easy-to-install cracks with detailed documentation. Pirate organizations like Razor 1911 and Reloaded provide a free "service" to the public and their only competition is other similar release groups. Why do non-profit organizations provide vastly better service than legitimate for-profit companies?

There are lots of people out there willing to provide you with free access to protected content, but are they good people? They require anonymity and they have zero accountability. Sure, most of them won't burn you, but some of them do, and unlike when Sony does it, you have no recourse if pirated materials expose you to security risks.

So.... (1)

styryx (952942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254738)

FTFA:
Bill Gates' short-term advice...
I really dread your long term advice, Bill.

Anger Management (-1, Troll)

wolff000 (447340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17254974)

Ther is only one thing I really really want to ask Bill Gates. Do Microsoft execs have to go through anger management classes? I would really like his honest opinion on that one.

Too complicated? No, too useless! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255214)

DRM offers no value whatsoever for the customer. Worse yet, it reduces the value of the immaterial good because it limits its use. In other words, the customer will, facing the choice between DRMed and non-DRMed good, always choose the DRM free good, provided that the price difference does not outweigh the reduced value.

What the industry fails to see is that DRM does indeed reduce the value of the good. They still try to sell DRMed content at the same price as DRM free content.

Timely article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17255228)

I've been a happy customer of a subscription service for almost a year. The last two days, everything I've downloaded cannot be played back because of licensing issues. The whole russian-roulette game of "will it play or won't it" is ridiculous. I shouldn't have to jump through a million hoops just to listen to a song.

Slavery 'Too Complicated' (2, Informative)

Freed (2178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255616)

One of the biggest lies is that DRM is somehow neutral, say the way that knives are neutral. It's a lie because it ignores the overwhelming pressure upon groups that naturally have an interest in controlling others others such as corporations and governments, the kind of pressure that creates laws eroding civil liberties such as DMCA, etc. Control by DRM is in principle much more efficient than control by other means and thus all the more appealing to control freaks such as Gates.

I've seen projections for virtually all PCs to have TC/DRM within five years; of course, given the current overall apathy about it, any widely used OS will support it, and embedded devices will be first. The "economic argument" in which we assume we can always buy the nonstandard system free of control does not wash: nonstandard will be more expensive, and once again only the wealthy few will be able to preserve their freedom. As an alternative to cynicism, check out DefectiveByDesign.org [defectivebydesign.org] for recent updates on the efforts against DRM.

what a (-1, Redundant)

cyberworm (710231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255712)

Dickhead.

Complication is not the issue. (1)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255724)

If it was complicated but in the consumers' favor, I'd support it all day long. As Goldwater said "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no sin." But since they put us through all those hoops just so THEY can make a few more dollars, I say fuck 'em. Fuck 'em again. And keep on fucking 'em until they get tired. And when that happens, fuck 'em AGAIN.

That's What I've Been Saying (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17255890)

I haven't really "bought in" to iTunes mainly because of the goofy jig I have to go through to get around the DRM. (Burn it to CD, then rip it to MP3) I'd rather order a used CD from Amazon which can be cheaper, plus I get the benefit of actually having the real album art in physical form, such as it is with CDs (I still miss the feel of a vinyl album sleeve). Ideally there SHOULD be a free/open album art format that the music industry appends to the music files. That way you have access to the album art, liner notes, etc... but NOT in a DRMed format and usable by ANY media player. The only downloadable music service I have used so far is emusic.com. The selection is mediocre at best, but I'm surprised by what they do have occasionally (I like obscure but world class artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto for instance). But the real key is that they are just unDRMed MP3 files. So I don't have to worry about not being able to use the files on Linux for example or having to go through some ridiculous conversion roller coaster. It looks like the only way I'll be able to use iTunes is either to install a legitimate licensed copy of Windows in a virtual machine, buy a Mac Mini, or bang my head against the wall working on getting Wine to run iTunes 7. And even then, the selection on iTunes, while different from emusic, is still not as big as the CD catalog on Amazon. So, for choice and non-DRM formats, CDs still rule the day. Not to mention, when I rip CDs, I have the option of ripping them to Ogg Vorbis which I prefer immensely to MP3 and which works quite well on my Rio Karma. ;)

Profit Motive? (2, Interesting)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17257012)

What is Microsoft's profit motive for promoting DRM? Sure, Microsoft has been pushing DRM, mostly from extreme pressure from the music and movie industry... but clearly, it would be in Microsoft's interests to see DRM fail. Music downloading has sold millions of Windows equipped PCs. People on Slashdot are geeks, so they might not realize that a lot of people purchased computers in the last few years primarily to download music.

Tech companies have everything to gain from free downloadable music on the internet. The people who make the music players, the people who make the PCs, the service providers and the people who provide bandwidth. DRM is only desirable to the people who sell music.

Microsoft has to make an effort with DRM, because the RIAA and media companies are standing by ready to sue. But that is a far cry from imagining that Microsoft is on the forefront of promoting DRM.
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