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Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Monday, May 03 2004 @ 04:40 PM EDT

Here's a hopeless scheme. Microsoft has revealed its DRM Janus software to the world, named after the Roman god of gates and doors. An inside joke, a little double entendre, I gather. It's designed to make your music go poof after a time, no matter where you put it. That's appropriate. Whenever I've bought Gates' software, my money went poof.

That way you can rent music instead of owning it, and they can make sure you don't get to keep it past a few days. I'm not making this up:

"The company's latest 'digital rights management' software, code-named Janus, was released Monday. It will give songs and videos purchased through subscription services a sort of digital expiration date that works even when the data is transferred from a computer. The technology also protects the content against piracy.

"The goal is to make it easier for companies who want customers to rent songs or videos, rather than own them, to also let those users play back the content on portable players.

"For example, with the new technology a user could rent several movies for a long trip, download them onto a portable player and then watch the movies until the rental expires a month later. A user also could rent songs for a set period and play them back on a portable player.

"'At the moment the current subscription models that are out there are so hobbled by the fact that they cannot be taken away from the computer,' Microsoft spokesman Jason Reindorp said."

They pretend the problem is that people aren't flocking to subscription models because they couldn't temporarily take their music on a trip. So they solved that consumer "problem". However, the article tells the truth. They invented this two-faced, appropriately named DRM product to make it easier for companies. They solved Disney's problem, or imagine they have. The problem they are trying to solve is: how can you force the world to stick to the old business model of entertainment companies after disruptive technology has been invented?

Nobody wants to rent disappearing music. Period.

Can you be more hostile to consumers than this? You could make an argument about movies, I suppose, and heaven knows, as a paralegal, I believe in law. But renting music? Not to mention this stuff only works if you buy a newly developed portable player, which you can buy, in order to hobble yourself, in about two or three months. I'm sure you are salivating.

What's next? Laws that forbid any other type of portable player? That is surely the only way anyone will ever use such a system. That's not even talking about that 12-year-old somewhere who will figure out a workaround using magic markers, a paper clip and chewing gum or something in about five minutes from now. (Cf. a funny and revealing interview with the very old Jack Valenti, with a warning that he uses some bad language. He didn't know that you can't play his DVDs on Linux. Well, he learns there is one way, and when you get there, that's when the language gets bad. I'm letting you know so that if you, like me, prefer not to read such things, you won't be ambushed.) These schemes can't solve this problem. When the only way you can stay in business is to jail your customers or compel them in the name of the law to use products they hate and would never freely choose, there may be something wrong with your business model, not to mention the world.

There is a Janus software project for Linux, as you may have noticed in the above link about the Roman god. The page says it's "a security tool for sandboxing untrusted applications within a restricted execution environment. This can be used to limit the harm that can be caused by any successful compromise of the application." Now that sounds actually useful. I think Windows could use some of that, instead spending R & D money to come up with ways to sell customers products they don't want and won't use even if you gave them to them for free.

If you think that story is absurd, how about this one? Some politician in Germany thinks Microsoft can solve some of its security problems and has signed an agreement with the company:

"The agreement, signed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Interior Minister Otto Schily, commits Microsoft to working with several security-related bodies and supporting a German standard for secure legal transactions.

"As part of the deal, Germany will license extensible markup language (XML) dialects used by Office 2003, the latest version of Microsoft's market-leading productivity package.

"Microsoft agreed late last year to provide royalty-free licenses for the XML schemas used by the main applications in Office, following an experiment with the Danish government.

"Office uses XML to ensure that data in documents can be read by other computing systems. While XML itself is an open standard, Office builds on the standard with proprietary schemas some feared could be used to lock out competing applications."

So. Laugh? Cry? Microsoft has a plan, all right. And Sun says open standards are better than open source. Duh. Standards bodies are top-down. You can control them or trick them to do a large corporation's bidding. Open source keeps you honest, as Linus pointed out. For one thing, there is nobody to bribe. Here is a snip from a Canadian study of Open Source, that Groklaw reader Peter Zoeller sent me. On page 50, it discusses that very subject:

"Open Standards and Open Source – Déjà vu

"The principle of open standards has been broadly accepted as key to effective development and use of ICT solutions. The concept of open standards is increasingly mentioned in the context of open source. What is not clear is how the 'top down' development and governance processes of the 'traditional' standards bodies will interact with the “bottom up” standards evolution model of the open source community.

"Steinreich in his review of legislation aimed at anti-trust protection (Steinreich, 2001) exposes how open-standards processes can be manipulated . These cautions underscore the tendency for proprietary interests to subvert public interest, and reinforce conclusions of Wichmann et al (2002) in their specific review of open standards."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why open standards are *not* better than open source. Patents, they say, are another nasty weapon proprietary companies use against standards:

"Legal Minefields and Confusion

"Software was protected primarily by copyright until 1979, when the US Patent and Trademarks started using the more liberal interpretation that it applies to any invention that 'uses' software. Software patents represent 15% of all 20,000 patents granted each year; they account for 25% of the annual growth. Nefarious use of software patents by dominant IT players, such as their hoarding and the use of 'continuation tactics' for submarine attacks on open standards, is detrimental for software innovation in general, and OSS developments. The SCO lawsuit against IBM for $3 billion is but the latest incident in a long saga of intellectual property lawsuits."

The Canadian study is interesting, if only because it actually is an independent study, with no Microsoft hovering behind the curtain. And they surveyed people already using GNU/Linux in business, not Windows users contemplating such a move. First, they note that FOSS is growing by leaps and bounds in business. Second, the GPL is the most widely chosen license. Third, here are the top two reasons people choose GNU/Linux systems: cost reduction and vendor independence. Ah, vendor independence. I wonder why they feel they'd like to have that? Independence from whom?

What else? "[T]he majority of respondents were of the opinion that open source applications were sufficiently mature for business use. Very few (1%) felt that open source applications were immature and not suitable for business." "Business drivers not listed on the questionnaire which were frequently identified in the written comments included innovation, reliability, determined interactions, code independence, response time to bug-fixes, and compliance with open standards. These were accompanied by comments such as '... for a government agency, reducing licensing costs makes long term sense, considering limited budgets and the source of revenue'. There were a few comments expressing an anti-proprietary software sentiment, in reaction to what is perceived [as] abusive marketing tactic[s]..."

Like music that goes poof? No. The study was done in September of 2003, prior to Janus' unveiling, and anyway, the study was about business use. Actually, here is what they mean:

"Overall, public sector interest in OSS is intensifying for a number of reasons, which include:
  • Significantly increased costs imposed by new licensing schemes
  • The need to mitigate the risk of domination by a single software platform
  • The realization that technology expenditures have not benefited domestic ICT industries
  • Lowering the cost of e-government
  • Choosing open source products is increasingly 'good enough' to address requirements"

They actually studied the total cost of ownership issue, and here is what they found:

"Empirical data on the cost benefit impact experienced by organizations implementing open source ICT strategy is beginning to surface. In Canada, School Board in Kamloops BC was able to reduce its IT budget by 66% and reduce the number of staff required to manage servers from six to two. In addition, this staff is also actively engaged in developing new applications. By using a software-based thin client strategy they were also able to greatly expand the number of computers in the classroom by recycling older computers donated by local government and industry. It should be noted that recruitment of more technically competent staff was crucial in achieving these savings and the positive outcomes.

"Fitzgerald and Kenny (2003) described a particularly illuminating case study of the Beaumont Hospital in Ireland. In the Beaumont study, OSS is extensively deployed vertically, onto the desktop, as well as horizontally on servers. Although the cost of implementing specific OSS applications was typically € 10,000, the 5-year total cost of ownership (TCO) was estimated to be 20 times less with OSS than closed source."

Security was mentioned as another plus. I guess the guy in Germany didn't get the memo:

"The reported benefits emphasized quality and customizability. '[We] can create well-fitting solutions quickly and then are able to support them after-the-fact', and, '[OSS provides] access to high quality developers, and [the] ability to share development strategies, insights, and best practices'. The importance of vendor independence was stressed, with comments such as, 'Only with Open Source can organizations build on mutual success and cooperation. Everyone wins; nobody is held hostage.' Costs were also mentioned, 'OSS can reduce costs, improve security and provide a more stable environment than proprietary solutions'. Security, too: 'Security problems are rare and are fixed quickly'."

They cite on page 40 numerous other recent government studies similar to theirs and here is the overview of what the studies concluded:

"Common recommendations in government studies include:

  • Legitimizing existing internal use of OSS
  • Establishing infrastructure to facilitate OSS industry development
  • Ensuring that OSS is given fair treatment in government procurement

"The benefits attributed to OSS in these reports include:

  • Cost savings
  • User responsive application development and customization
  • Maximization of return on taxpayer dollars
  • Open systems, interoperability and vendor independence

"The Mitre study conducted for the US Department of Defense (Bollinger, 2003) suggests three additional aspects of OSS in large public sector institutions that need to be considered when assessing the value of OSS projects:

  • OSS adds diversity and therefore robustness in response to threat
  • Unfounded fears of security issues prevent optimum use of existing OSS resources
  • Cost savings are substantial and often unrecognized, particularly in research facilities"

There is this warning not to mess with the open source methodology:

"There are cautionary notes however. According to Maher (2000), complexity as a characteristic of complex adaptive systems, has been a major factor in OSS success. 'The only way to ensure that this highly technical achievement continues is to ensure the continued complexity of the open source model ... while this may provide a general guideline for others to attempt to replicate this incentive structure in similar contexts, it also highlights the fact that specific activities can pose a threat to the beneficial complexity'. Maher warns that natural attempts to control process and remove uncertainty might result in a significant reduction of product quality and adaptability."
In short, it's vital that Linux *not* "grow up", as SCO put it, and that the apparent chaos of the process not be tampered with -- it's the secret sauce that makes it better than proprietary software.

And what does the study conclude? -- "All in all, governments are being advised take action to exploit the potential of OSS." Some old-fashioned businesses might start thinking along the same lines, or they might end up going the way of the do-do bird. You know, that really heavy bird that couldn't fly that is now extinct?


Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study | 552 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here please
Authored by: PJ on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 06:58 PM EDT
Please collect all my mistakes here. Thanks.

[ Reply to This | # ]

New Links and OT Discussions Here Please
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:01 PM EDT
Please reply to this message with new links of interest to Groklaw readers. This makes it easy to find them. Please try to use the HTML Formatted mode to make it easy to click on a link and follow it directly to the article of interest.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: FrankH on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:09 PM EDT
Janus - what a great name. I bet it will be huge.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Time-bombed movies failed too
Authored by: Boundless on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:12 PM EDT
> You could make an argument about movies, I suppose ...

The industry has been there, and failed at that.

Circuit City is likely still wincing from the
DIVX disaster (phone-home DVD player).

There are several less intrusive time-bombed DVD
schemes (discs that self-destruct N days after
exposure to air or laser light), and I hear they
are going nowhere. They sound reasonable -
one-way "rentals", but they apparently offend
consumer attitudes.

In the present case, it sounds like Mr. Bill is
helping the Hollywood lawyers craft technologies
and content that I don't ever want to buy, and
all concerned are ignoring the expensive lessons
already learned.

I don't pirate content, and I won't buy content
that treats me like a pirate.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why the closed model is doomed
Authored by: rjamestaylor on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:18 PM EDT
The Closed Source, proprietary software model is doomed. At least, the MicroSoft
version is. The reason is simple: the brightest minds at Microsoft are inventing
ways of preventing its software from running. Since Windows 2000 and Office 2000
Microsoft's technical innovation has been Product Activation with WindowsXP
and OfficeXP. A generation of product releases dedicated to preventing the
software from working. The application breaking logic must be tied in to the
core of the application and must be checked with, what, every core operation?
Anyway, I'm sure it is complex and well thought out. Like I said, the brightest
minds at Microsoft are devising strategies right now to stop their software from

In the mean time, Open Source software companies are moving on, sometimes
stumbling, but reacting to changing, improving and developing better and better
solutions that people are actually begining to prefer (I'm thinking specifically
about FireFox right now). While its true that the Mozilla Project has been at
it a long time and Microsoft pushed a superior-to-Netscape 4 IE 6 out the door
relatively quickly, the browser has languished and laid fallow as attention has
been placed elsewhere (DRM?) and all kinds of weeds and other nastiness have
Popped-Up all over IE and users are sick of it. Grandmothers are telling their
grandmother friends to get FireFox and get rid of the mess. How long before
people start calling it "FireFIX"? Anyway...Microsoft's model,
dependent on secrecy and draconian tactics, is leading them into stagnation
giving Open Source the chance to not only catch up but, oh let's dream, bypass
it altogether.

What are the brightest people in YOUR company working on? Hmm?

SCO delenda est! Salt their fields!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Antitrust Movie
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:23 PM EDT
Synops is from the movie antitrust movie. It seems Janus is following that same
path. In order for synops to work they had to have control of all the operating
systems. The same will go for Janus in order for the DRM to work across palm
pilots laptops, and servers M$ will have to have control of all those devices.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linux - Anyone...
Authored by: star-dot-h on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:24 PM EDT
Here's a thing, I buy a PC with a DVD player and nice little LCD screen. I also
purchase and rent DVDs. I try to play these on my (Sony) DVD drive. No dice.
These movies are copy protected. Hang on, I'm not copying them, I'm playing

What do I do, install libdecss on my Linux based desktop. Now I can play what I
want, no matter what the "zone" or restriction. Wow, thanks for that,

Another thing, notice how music CDs come with a warning they might not play on
some devices. I have four CD playing devices scattered round my home and car.
That's a big investment. I'm not going to buy a CD that may not play on one of
those. Also, more importantly for the local bands in this neck of the woods, I'm
not going to buy there CDs and send them to friends and relatives overseas.
Sorry, it just won't happen.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What about an OS that goes poof?
Authored by: Walter Dnes on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:29 PM EDT
The public reason/excuse is movie and music copyrights. But MS is always
whining about how their biggest competition comes from their installed based of
older versions. Now they have DRM that can make music go poof after a set

They must be salivating at the thought of putting out a Windows that can be
made to expire after a certain time. No more of this garbage of customers
continuing to use 9-year-old software (Windows95 in 2004).

Microsoft's biggest fear is that once an OS or application becomes "good
enough" people and companies will continue using it without upgrading,
unless they absolutely have to. Remember the Y2K panic? There was 25-year-old
software running on mainframes and minis. Companies live and die by the bottom
line. Spending for totally new OS and apps every couple of years is unnatural.
MS wants companies to do so to improve MS' bottom line. OS and apps that are
rented or leased is their ultimate goal.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:34 PM EDT
Who cares? If it works for Microsoft and a few people, let it be so. You
make the mistake of engaging them, rather than ignoring them. Engage
them and they'll defeat you. Ignore them and you won't be sucked into
their vortex.

DRM is ultimately important. While I don't like their model (Janus et al), I
also don't have to buy it-- or anything built with it. Others will. It's a
disposable world these days.

OSS doesn't cure everything. It certainly helps many ideals, but it also
makes a lot of self-congratulatory whiz-kids think that their feces have
no scent.....or that they're on a mission from God. They're just really
good coders with a sense of verve. Nothing else.

Linus is just a guy-- a very good engineer, but a normal guy who's
trying to live like a normal guy in California. He does killer C code. And
he's disrupting business models across the planet. Cool. But Microsoft
will pass, and so will Linux. There is no immortality in operating

[ Reply to This | # ]

Janus-Two Faced God and Gatekeeper
Authored by: martimus on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:36 PM EDT

M$ knows these things, and are haughty in their belief in their superiority and knowledge. They knew this naming choice was a double entendre, and they used it anyway, because they thought no one else was smart enough to pierce their veil. Once again it has been pierced, but will being forewarned and forearmed allow us to blunt their control offensive. It works for me, but there seem to be a whole lot of lemmings out there who will willingly plunge over the cliff.

[ Reply to This | # ]

just refuse to use drm
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:36 PM EDT
Some politician in Germany thinks (...)Microsoft can solve some of its security problems and has signed an agreement with the company:(...)

hmmm im sure there must be a mistake here, but im certainly not able to find it ;)

regarding drm, my only fear is that one day i wont be able to do anything usefull without it ( or that i will be forced to use it,speak software-w/o-drm==terrorism-laws), but until that day i can and will just continue to use my current pc and i WILL refuse to by any hardware that tries to tell me what software i should use (and i will just copy music with line in/out O_o *g)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Jack Valenti roasted
Authored by: RedBarchetta on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:37 PM EDT
Pardon if some have seen this already, but here is an article from MIT about an interview with Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America. In a nutshell, he get's broadsided by a reporter from a student newspaper. Enjoy!

"Copyrights on software are very similar to brands on cattle" - Darl McBride interview, SkyRadio.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: inode_buddha on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:40 PM EDT
Here is show I've reacted to all this: I've never had to buy any CD's because I already had all the music I could ever want on LP's and Cassette. If I want a CD for the car, I'll burn it from those. My brother took a different approach and taught himself how to play guitar. Me, I became a benefactor of the local Philharmonic. I also go to jazz clubs, etc. and meet the musicians face-to-face. So, all this disappearing music and DRM crap is not only crap, it's moot crap.
Well, that's how I think, anyway.

"When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price." -- Richard M. Stallman

[ Reply to This | # ]

RMS, DRM, and the "right to read"
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:54 PM EDT
It's an old article of his, but so very relevant in the
context of janus, "the right to
read" (

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sun and MS
Authored by: whoever57 on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:54 PM EDT
Am I the only one that thinks it is suspicious that, days after a $2B agreement,
MS and Sun are trumpeting the exact same message ("open standards, not open

Of course, I don't know how MS can talk about open standards one minute, then
talk about licensing their file formats the next. Doublethink anyone?

For a few laughs, see "Simon's Comic Online Source" at

[ Reply to This | # ]

Note re History of copyright protection over software
Authored by: Brendan Scott on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:56 PM EDT
> "Software was protected primarily by copyright until 1979,
> when the US Patent and Trademarks started using the more
> liberal interpretation that it applies to any invention
> that 'uses' software...

I'm not a US copyright lawyer, but my understanding is that copyright did *not*
prevent electronic reproduction of software until 1976, when Congress passed
legislation to extend the reach of USC 17 (NB this is slightly different from
saying copyright did not protect software). Prior to this time the
administration permitted registration of copyrights in computer software, but at
law copyrights probably didn't extend to cover electronic reproductions of them.

see eg:

This is certainly the case in Australia, where electronic reproductions have
been prohibited for less than 20 years (the 20 year anniversary is this June).
The Australian High Court (equivalent to US Supreme Court) has held that, as at
1984, making an electronic copy of the programs in an ROM chip was not an
infringement of copyright.
See: Computer Edge v Apple Computers


[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Jude on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 07:57 PM EDT
Whenever I've bought Gates' software, my money went poof.

The software goes poof, too. I've yet to see a version of Windows that didn't
develop "bit rot" after a while, requiring a reinstall to stop the endless sucession
of annoying malfunctions (well, stop some of them, anyway).

[ Reply to This | # ]

The effect on the economy
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 08:08 PM EDT
It is recognized that intellectual 'property' is a very important part of the
American economy. It is also recognized that new ideas build on old ideas.
This is very good for the economy. Things that keep people from developing new
ideas are therefore bad for the economy. My gut feeling tells me that DRM is
very bad for the economy.

Here are some of Alan Greenspan's thoughts on IP protection.

I think that Microsoft's business model is doomed; likewise for the RIAA. My
only question is how long it will take.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Question about Janus
Authored by: Jude on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 08:08 PM EDT
Does Microsoft guarantee that the content purchaser can examine the restrictions
on purchased content?

If not, what's to prevent a some shyster from cheating the customer by
overstating the lifetime of the content they are selling?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Apt name.
Authored by: tintak on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 08:15 PM EDT
Janus the Roman god of gates and doors was always depicted as being two

Nice one Bill.

'it is literally impossible' for SCO to itself provide
direct proof' Mark J. Heise 02/06/04

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Apt name. - Authored by: midav on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 08:04 PM EDT
Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: eamacnaghten on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 08:18 PM EDT
It is an interesting business model to sell you something that takes away
something you have already bought and paid for....

No doubt MS and Co are trying this, and are putting their marketing weight
behind it. It will be interesting to see if they succeed, or what exactly the
outcome will be....

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM & worms.... my take
Authored by: kberrien on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 08:47 PM EDT
Lets mix DRM and MS Security history.

Corporate america buys into DRM. DRM exploits are discovered. Future email
worms and viruses are programmed to tamper with DRM. Corporate data scrambled

In my experience, people in the real world have enough trouble opening, saving,
sharing office documents WITHOUT those documents being encrypted!

On Janus, though initially for the music/movie industry, its certainly heading
towards a lock in product near you.

One good consolation, most of MS's 'forward thinking, market changing product'
ideas tank big time.... I'm sorry, but the suits in Redmond just don't get it
most of the time.

[ Reply to This | # ]

But PJ -- Standards are Good!!!
Authored by: Ed L. on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 08:48 PM EDT
Everybody should have one! And therein lies the problem. Standards are not good unless they are widely accepted and shared. Open source does not work without open standards. Period. Closed source might sometimes work without standards, but not very well.

And effective standards require time and effort. A lot of time, and a lot of effort. The kind of time and effort that thusfar has only been provided by national and international standards bodies.

I don't pretend to be a standards expert. I know there are some Groklaw contributors who are, and I hope they will share their insights. But I did spend quite a bit of attention tracking the recent ANSI/ISO C++ standardization effort, and somewhat less on Fortran, HTML, and XML. These things actually work, but that working does not come free.

Yes, the ANSI/ISO compiler standards committees were/are dominated by the industry heavyweights. You know, the outfits with the werewithall to actually develop new languages and compilers, and know something about what they are trying to accomplish. This is a huge effort. But it is open to all who care to contribute.

My grief is with those (I won't name names) who are trying to hijack the term "Open Standard" to apparently mean a standard set, defined, licensed, and enforced by a single company. Then published "openly" for the benefit of any who can afford to license it, or (if there is no monetary license cost) can afford to use a standard dictated by a single private entity.

Take Java, dotNet, and PostScript/pdf. Each fill very important and unique needs, and at least one is probably irreplacable, but they all suffer in one way or another from being "open proprietary standards."

To my mind the standards set by the large ANSI/ISO and IEEE standards bodies are true "open standards", and have been extremely beneficial. They have also been extremely frustrating in the amount of time sometimes taken to arrive at a standard (particularly C++) but the end result is extemely useful and actually does work as an industry standard. So did the intermediate results.

And yes, critics might contend the C++ standardization effort was dominated by one company: AT&T. They might have a point. I recall one committee vote on a fairly advanced Standard Template Library (STL) proposal that would have required as part of the standard that the STL in its entirety be implemented as header files. The committee was vaguely unhappy with this (save for Stallman, who was very unhappy with this), but no one could think of any other way to implement it. The final vote was something like 17 ayes and 1 nay. The "nay" was Bjarne Stroustroup's, and it carried.

The result was that the HP and SGI engineers went back to the drawing board, and came back with a clever mechanism whereby the body of template code could be generated, compiled, and linked separately as God and Stallman intended. Stallman's crew went about implementing the STL as such in g++ (it took a while), whilst SGI and Plauger perfected the original everything-as-a-header mechanism, and everyone had a share.

The above anecdote was from one of P.J. Plauger's columns in C/C++ User's Journal. As I recall, Plauger was committee secretary, and represented his own small company, Dinkumware. My understanding was that Dinkumware employed fewer than six developers, and provided modest STL implementations to such lightweight vendors as Microsoft and IBM.

And GNU/Linux. The interesting thing about the ANSI C++ standards committee was the heavy influence wielded not just by C++'s inventor (Stroustroup/AT&T) but also by academic/entrepreneur Plauger, and academic-gone-bad Richard Stallman. Stallman's contributions were interesting because, given his druthers there probably would be no C++, because if you can't code it adequately in C, you probably don't understand it well enough to code it at all.

Or something. But as by some measure the most successful and widely respected C compiler writer on the planet, Stallman was in a poor position to say no, so there he was, and throughout the standardization effort g++ was looked upon as the "working prototype" by which the progress and success of the entire standardization effort was judged.

This was because from the very outset the committee decided that there was not going to be a standard without a working prototype, and that at each step of the process there would be a working prototype. And that strengths and weakenesses of that prototype should be understood by all committee particpants, at each step of the process. Otherwise they should just call the whole thing "Ada", give up, and go home.

My point is that "open source" and "open standards" are not "either/or", or "one better than the other." Done right, the two are highly complementary, and the best of all possible worlds leverages both to their hilt.


"Proprietary software is harmful, not because it is a form of competition, but because it is a form of combat among the citizens of our society." (RMS)

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: SCO Shareholder meeting
Authored by: schmuck on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 08:53 PM EDT
Sorry for the off topic post,
but has anyone heard anything about
how the sco shareholder meeting went?

Almost wish I bought a share of sco
stock... where else could you get
that much entertainment for 8$ these days?
(stock price at the time)


[ Reply to This | # ]

Legitmate And Ilegitimate Uses Of DRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 09:09 PM EDT
> Nobody wants to rent disappearing music. Period.

I am not so sure about this. It depends on type of music and the price. Given
that a modern manufactured pop band can last as little as two months, why not
rent their music for the 15 minutes it is considered cool and allow it to
vapourise the moment their hair goes out of fashion? It could be a good way to
save money. Of course, for more serious music it is no good at all.

The thing I hate about the use of DRM and CD copy protection technology is the
attempt to "sell" people music, for pretty much the same price as it
has always been sold, but with many more restrictions than it has ever had
before. I hate this because it is greedy. It is a way to charge customers the
same (or more) money for a lesser product. I also hate this because it is
sneaky. It is a way to give customers a crippled product which they only
discover is crippled later. They think they are buying the product but they are
really only buying a very restricted right to use it.

However, I do not hate the short term rental model. Rental is simple and honest.
You know up front what you are renting, how long the rental lasts and how much
it costs. Instead of paying say £14 for the right to listen to the music
indefinately you pay, say £3, for the right to listen to it for, say, a month. I
have no objection to that and I don't mind if they use DRM to manage the rental
so that people don't need to collect and return CDs to Blockbuster, my local
Library or whoever. The important thing is that the rental and purchase models
coexist side by side. Any attempt to move all content onto a rental basis would
be utterly unacceptable.

My line on DRM is that the idea is not evil. Certain implementations can be evil
if they:

1. Are resticted in playback platform in an attempt to leverage monopoly
ownership of content into a monopoly on playback devices or operating systems.

2. Are subject to excessive licensing costs so that the company which owns the
DRM patents makes more money than the artist or content provider.

3. Are deceptive in their use of DRM so that the user only discovers the
restrictions once it is too late.

4. Are unreliable, difficult to use or have poor quality due to the copy
protection mechanism.

What is evil is the media industry's greed. They want to use DRM to gouge their
customers even more than they do at present. They want people to pay more money
for a lesser (i.e. more restricted product) and, if possible, force them to buy
it more then once over. Meanwhile they pass only a negligable amount on the the
artists in royalties. They probably also want to use DRM like DVD regioning in
an illegal attempt to protect national monopolies and restrict international
trade. It is this greed and stupidity, not the technology itself, which is

For the record, my personal line on DRM is that I will never:

1. "Buy" a DRM playback device (hardware or software). If it has DRM
in it then it does the content provider's bidding not mine, so why should I pay
for it? If I ever subscribe to a DRM protected service I will expect to be
rented the playback device/software as a part of the subscription, just like my
cable TV subscription includes rental of the cable box.

2. "Buy" DRM or copy protected material which is restricted such that
I am denied fair use of it, or might be denied fair use of it at some time in
the future. If I buy music, I reserve the right to listen to it where and how I
like, forever.

I am far less dogmatic when it comes to DRM on subsciption broadcasts or rental
terms. If the price is right, the content is good and the service is convienent
to use then I might go for it. If not then I won't.

In the end, I think we will move into a world where there is far more open
content (as well as closed content) and I don't think DRM can stop this. All DRM
can do is enable the media companies to set restrictions on the use of their
closed content as they see fit. If they choose to set those restrictions
foolishly tight then that will only drive people to investigate open content

[ Reply to This | # ]

is there ANYTHING good about DRM?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 09:14 PM EDT
please entertain a hypothetical:

let's say there were DRM that could not be circumvented. let's further suppose that this DRM had the magical quality that it would let you do anything you wanted with the content except pass it on to others who hadn't paid for it. actually, let's loosen it one step further and suppose that you *could* trade it with a small circle of friends, much as was done prior to digital and the Internet.


1) would this be acceptable to you, personally?
2) if not, are there *any* terms under which you would consider "anti-sharing" technology acceptable?

now, the reason i ask this: i've shut out a lot of media (TV eg) from my life for two reasons: 1) the content is mostly stunningly stupid, and 2) i'm unable to stomach the commercials. now, DRM can't help 1, but as for 2: i think i could be persuaded to accept DRM in some form, for some content, if it gave content producers enough confidence to make available versions of their content without advertising. IOW, i would simply pay directly to the content producer my share of what he would have received from the advertiser.

am i crazy?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Open Standards
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 09:27 PM EDT
I'd like to point out that Open Source entails Open Standards, but not vice
versa. This makes ridiculous the claim that Open Standards are better than Open
Source. It may be the case that Open Source is better than Open Standards.

Open Source entails Open Standards
A Standard is a specification of the format for data, whether it be data that
is* stored in a file or data that is communicated, perhaps over a network,
between separate applications.

*"Data" used to be the plural of "datum", but now the term
also seems to be used as a mass term (like "water" or
"software") to refer to a structured collection of information.

An Open Standard is one for which there is freely available complete information
about the structure of the data with which the Standard is concerned. An Open
Standard allows someone to write an application that can correctly parse some
data that is stored or transmitted according to that Standard. For example, if
PDF is an Open Standard, then anyone can get that standard and write an
application that can read PDF files and correctly represent the content and
structure described by the file.

A Closed Standard, in contrast, is one for which there is not freely available
information about the structure of the data with which the Standard is
concerned. If DOC is a Closed Standard, then the internal structure of a .doc
file is mysterious, and one cannot (at least not without difficulty and no
guarantee of correctness) write an application that can apprehend and correctly
represent the content and structure of such a file.

In a sense, the structure of some data is not instrinsic to that data. Rather,
the Standard by which some data is organized is described by the technical
specification which is the Standard, and is manifested in applications that read
and write that data. If the Standard specifies that the first 20 bytes of a file
encode a header, then the fact that the first 20 bytes of a compliant file
represent the header ultimately consists in the fact that an application that
reads files of that Standard type will actually use the first 20 bytes to
determine the header. Consequently, if you look at the source code to the
application, you can reconstruct the Standard that describes the data the
application reads and writes. Unless there is a bug or design flaw in the
program (an important issue when somebody tries to "embrace and
extend" a Standard), inspection of the source code to a program that reads
and writes some type of data guarantees that you can determine the Standard by
which that type of data is described.

Thus, if a program is Open Source, so that its source code is freely available
for inspection, then one can derive completely and correctly the Standard that
the program uses to store and transmit information, i.e., the program transmits
and stores data using an Open Standard. For example, if is an
Open Source application, then any file written by this application is stored in
an Open Standard, because there is freely available complete information about
the structure of documents (viz., the OO.o source code).

Open Standards is not better than Open Source
Since Open Source entails Open Standards, Open Source provides all the benefits
to interoperability that Open Standards provides. Therefore it is false that
Open Standards are better (for interoperability) than Open Source.

Is Open Source better than Open Standards?
For the purpose of interoperability, Open Source theoretically should not have
any advantage to Open Standards. It is irrelevant what goes on inside of a
program, provided that all data input and output conforms to the Open Standard.

In practice, Open Source almost certainly has advantages over mere Open
Standards. Open Standards are implemented in applications that read and write
data structured according to the Standard. It can happen that some application
that purports to implement an Open Standard does not in fact implement it,
because the way it reads or writes data does not conform to the Standard. This
can be due to an error in the design or implementation of the program. In such
cases, if the program is Open Source, then one can inspect and identify the
error, and from there reconstruct how correctly to read the file. This then is
an advantage provided by Open Source over mere Open Standards (i.e., Open
Standards without Open Source).

It can also happen that someone intentionally makes their implementation of an
Open Standard non-compliant. For example, someone might write a program that can
read files that comply with the Standard, but that writes files that do not
comply, and cannot therefore be read by other programs that do comply. Here, the
benefits to interoperability provided by Open Standards are severely reduced.
But if the program is Open Source, then once again one can examine the source
code to determine what format the program actually writes files in, which makes
it possible to restore interoperability that was not sustained merely by the
existence of an Open Standard. If the program in question is not Open Source,
then the fate of interoperability rests on factors other than Open Standards,
such as whether the non-compliant program is or can be made to be a de facto
standard. If so, then interoperability suffers.

Thus, there are some cases where Open Source provides advantages over Open
Standards, but no case where mere Open Standards provides advantage over Open

[ Reply to This | # ]

Trademark Infringement?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 09:51 PM EDT
Say, since there's ALREADY a Janus software project, isn't MS infringing their
trademark? Can MS register Janus as a trademark if it's provably already in use
by someone else who (probably) didn't register the name as a trademark? I know
trademark law is different from patent law, (no prior-art effect so far as I
know), but what's the situation vis-a-vis the Janus trademark?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ask the Politicians
Authored by: webster on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 09:56 PM EDT
"...Some politician in Germany thinks Microsoft can solve some of its
security problems and has signed an agreement with the company:

"The agreement...commits Microsoft to working with several
security-related bodies and supporting a German standard for secure legal

"As part of the deal, Germany will license extensible markup language
(XML) dialects used by Office 2003, the latest version of Microsoft's
market-leading productivity package.

"Microsoft agreed late last year to provide royalty-free licenses for
the XML schemas used by the main applications in Office, following an experiment
with the Danish government.

"Office uses XML to ensure that data in documents can be read by other
computing systems. While XML itself is an open standard, Office builds on the
standard with proprietary schemas some feared could be used to lock out
competing applications."

Ask the politicians if all citizens using whatever software will be allowed to
communicate with the government freely.

Ask the politicians if MS or the government will have the right to open these

Ask the politicians what are the terms of the contract and how they were let.

Ask the politicians how much MS contributed their personal campaigns and their


[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum Actually, it might work.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 10:16 PM EDT
Actually, I think it might work. (I don't use MS products unless absolutely have
no choice. I use Linux/Mac OS X at home and Solaris/HPUX/Linux on 32-bit and
64-bit machines at work. My wife can testify that I dislike MS a lot).

Subscription models only work when the product is constantly changing, and there
is a need to change. I work in a company where we derive about 85% of our
revenues through subscription ... the rest are perpetual licences. Our annual
revenue is more than US $1 billion. Our customers actually prefer the
subscription model because their needs are constantly changing, and we try to
respond very fast. Every 2 weeks to a month, we ship a new patches, and every
3-6 months, we ship a new release with new features, better runtime and memory
footprint. It also cost the customer less money than a perpetual license, and
are more flexible in payment terms. It is better for the company because it
gives us a very stable earnings forecast.

Now what about Janus? I think it can work for movies, in the same way that we
have video rentals at Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Considering that some
people are even willing to watch movies at $7.99 or more in hotel/motel rooms or
about $4(?) for a pay-per-view moview (of course, in the latter, you can tape it
--- not sure if that is legal for PPV). At the price of say $3 a movie, it is
about the same as a Blockbuster movie, and you don't have to worry about late
fees and return hours. You might even get to see some previews before you order
it, which is even better than at Blockbuster. Supposing that your laptop or
car/minivan is equipped with the appropriate equipment (my minivan has a VCR
system, now most of DVD systems), it can download the movies while you are
driving (eg. via satellite) and play them to keep your kids happy and quiet for
your trip. A lot of parents wouldn't mind a few dollars, especially on such long

Now, the problem with DiVX is that it came in a real disc that expires, leaving
you with disc for your coffe mug. Compared to a DVD, the price is not compelling
enough (even when it was US$4.99 for a few movies and then regular price after,
that is too expensive on average). On the other hand, if it is downloadable, and
cheap enough, then it may actually work, especially if the movies are compelling
and new releases (the problem of course is that most movies are crap). If they
don't like the movie, they won't have to spent a lot of money and if they like
it, they may want to buy the DVD. In the same way that downloaded music actually
help CD sales (contrary to what RIAA claims and tries to hide the facts),
downloadable movies can help DVD sales.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hailstorm Redux...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 10:35 PM EDT
It might work though, if the songs cost a penny a piece. Oh, micropayments have
yet to pan out too.

Have they thought about not providing anything of value and automatically
debiting your checking for it? They may have some takers. You never know.
They are smarter than everyone else, you know.

[ Reply to This | # ]

doesn't matter
Authored by: A F(r)iend on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 10:41 PM EDT
Products using these types of DRM schemes will most likely fail in the
marketplace but that's not a given. What if some highly in demand artists have
their music only available through a Janus protected medium? If I was a record
company, I'd twist the arms of my biggest artists to go along with it.

Will the American consumer just say no then? I'm guessing not but I admit I'm a

I think the real issue is bigger that the tomfoolery of the MPAA and RIAA. The
issue is we have very little genuine culture in this country. Culture is not a
one-way street. Culture is people sharing ideas and expanding on them. A CD or
DVD is the corpse of culture, a dead thing. MCs and mixers are turning these
dead things back into culture but that's sort of like Warhol autographing a
Campbell's soup can.

Real culture, to me, can be seen in drum circles and blues and folk jams.
Independent music and films are much more interesting than any most of the
schlock coming out of Hollywood and LA.

If the only choice consumers have is to buy DRM-enabled media, maybe more people
will drop out and find some real culture.

A F(r)iend

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: peshwali on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 10:55 PM EDT
In the "Odds and Ends" article here on Groklaw, PJ quotes Sun's
Jonathan Schwartz:

"Still, Sun has its apprehensions. 'What worries us about the GPL is its
capacity to encourage forking..."

I was quickly reminded of it when I read this:

"Office uses XML to ensure that data in documents can be read by other
computing systems. While XML itself is an open standard, Office builds on the
standard with proprietary schemas ..."

So, who is forking? Most of the "forking" that goes on comes from
Microsoft. Consider the lack of conformance with standards coming from the HTML
standard that MS uses, as opposed to the rest of the world. Now THAT affects a
lot of people!

[ Reply to This | # ]

dah dah dah duuuuuh
Authored by: dodger on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 11:01 PM EDT
NY Times:
According to local sources, the Library of Congress has lost Beethoven's 5th
Symphony. It's gone. Puuuft. Back in the year 2007, as part of on-going
archiving, digigal masters were mistakenly made with a MicroSCOpenSource (known
in those times as Microsoft) invention known as DRMS. Apparently this odd
technology was designed to make music disappear, after a certain amount of time.
They were protecting copyrights.

Well, folks, it worked.

The last 'time capsule' was searched in vain for traces of Beethoven's
masterpiece. Unfortunately, it was not found in a non-self-destruction form. The
world has lost forever those magic notes that started with dah dah dah duuuuuh.
Strangely enough, even people's memories were affected (due to the MSPCs
(MicroSCOpenSource Special Processor Chips) that are implanted at birth by
Social Services.

The world has lost a masterpiece.

At least we think we did. dah dah duuuuuuh dah. Or was it boop boop bi doop?
Reminds me of the time when all copies of Da Vinci's La Giaconda (Mona Lisa)
went white.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 11:13 PM EDT
I get it...

Microsoft is embarking on ....

A "Mission Impossible"

[ Reply to This | # ]

Janus the god of shams and scams
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 11:15 PM EDT
Another little tidbit with the name Janus.

Janus is the name of a mutual fund that has been fined $235M for scamming
investors. One should pick one's gods carefully.

PJ, did I understand you correctly that MS was going to be introducing a new
operating system "doors"? :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

God of Gates?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 11:23 PM EDT
That I can understand. But who is this Doors guy who Janus is also a god of? Is
he also with Microsoft?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • God of Gates? - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 05:31 AM EDT
Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 11:28 PM EDT
Without defending DRM as a technology, it does seem
that the american public today already rents movies
en masse. You can rent or buy the same movies, and
people choose to do both. Making the data go poof
seems to be analagous to returning the movie to
Blockbuster after your 5 days are up - with no chance
of a late fee. Of course if DRM would let your '5 days'
start when you first *used* the file, rather than
when you 'paid for it', that would be even better.
I know I have returned unwatched movies because I never
found the time to get to them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Deja vu - Self destructing media...
Authored by: FriedBob on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 11:41 PM EDT
This sounds rather familiar. Didn't Disney or someone come out with something
like this recently?

IIRC, it was a DVD that came sealed in a pouch, and after you open it, some
substance on the disc starts reacting with light. After X hours, the disc
starts to film up and you take the disc back to the store for recycling.

Again, IIRC, this was on the shelf in places like walgreens and the like. They
also lasted not even a month if memory serves. This isn't much different, but
instead of Disney doing this, it's Microsoft. And unless MS can somehow
convince consumers that this is "good for them", or can get enough
vendors in on it to be able to cram it down everyone's throat like they do
windows and their other products, I suspect this will last about as long.

Sorry, I don't have links to this DVD thing I was talking about, but I think it
was on slashdot.

"... [S]upreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without
fighting." -- Sun Tzu

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not That Bad... Sort of
Authored by: Observer on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 11:46 PM EDT
Actually, the idea of explicitly time-bombing digital content isn't that bad in my opinion. We have lots of business models built around stuff we rent for a while, and then have to give back. If I could have a DVD that "went POOF" after a couple of days, and didn't cost any more than a typical rental, then it would save me the hassle of having to return the DVD. Add to that the fact that I could now download the file off the Internet rather than driving to the video store, you're starting to make it appealing. If I know what I am buying, and how long I am buying it for, and I have options, I don't see any problem with it.

However, what scares the begezers out of me is the fact that this is now a patented Microsoft technology. You know that MS has no interest in making my life as a consumer easier, or for that matter, making my live as a owner running a rental business any easier. Microsoft is about controlling Digital Content and ONLY about controlling Digital Content. MS will use this to try and block out Open Source. MS will use this to control what I can see and when, who I can share information with, and how they can squeeze more money out of every time I blink.

It's all in who is left holding the keys...

The Observer

[ Reply to This | # ]

Guys you do understand
Authored by: arrg on Monday, May 03 2004 @ 11:55 PM EDT
The SCO fight is going to seem easy compared to this one. It's going to come
down to "does the common man have the right to buy something as opposed to
forced rental". MS has to win on two major fronts from what I see. One will
be getting manufacturers to build DRM only devices and the other is convincing
our leaders that non DRM devices should be illegal.

Sounds crazy but I don't think it will be all that difficult for them. We are
going to need to educate the general public. Make them understand the basic
freedoms they will loose once this comes to pass. We need to make them
understand that DRM is the presumption of Guilty before innocent. The
presumption that if given a device that can be used properly or improperly, a
person will choose the improperly and thus that persons choice must be
controlled. It is similar to building a car that will turn off if you break the
speed limit. We can not let this happen! Once we do it will spread and one day
you will be driving down the road and your car will shut off when you do 5

I don't think government or big business is inherently evil. The problems come
from the fact that there is no real head on the dragon. It's more like rain
drops all falling separately. One by one they slowly add up and before you know
it you have a flood and it's out of control.

They both act out of preservation and are run by many people all just trying to
survive. Lots of little raindrops just saying "hey I'm just doing my

We need to be the a force and say "hey I just want to live and make choices
good or bad, but at least make a choice". Without choice we loose all the
things that make us flourish and grow. Independence is one of the basic keys to
our survival. Lets not let them take it from us simply because they need to make
another dollar. Making dollars is good, making them at the cost of personal
liberties is bad.

Time is funny stuff, space has it's points too.... - Hap

[ Reply to This | # ]

The New Surveillance by Sonia Katyal
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 12:13 AM EDT

Link courtesy of Copyfight, a paper by Sonia Katyal, Fordham Law School, entitled "The New Surveillance" (Case Western Law Review, Vol. 54, No. 297, 2004):

A few years ago, it was fanciful to imagine a world where intellectual property owners - such as record companies, software owners, and publishers - were capable of invading the most sacred areas of the home in order to track, deter, and control uses of their products. Yet, today, strategies of copyright enforcement have rapidly multiplied, each strategy more invasive than the last. This new surveillance exposes the paradoxical nature of the Internet: It offers both the consumer and creator a seemingly endless capacity for human expression - a virtual marketplace of ideas - alongside an insurmountable array of capacities for panoptic surveillance. As a result, the Internet both enables and silences speech, often simultaneously.

This paradox, in turn, leads to the tension between privacy and intellectual property. Both areas of law face significant challenges because of technology's ever-expanding pace of development. Yet courts often exacerbate these challenges by sacrificing one area of law for the other, by eroding principles of informational privacy for the sake of unlimited control over intellectual property. Laws developed to address the problem of online piracy - in particular, the DMCA - have been unwittingly misplaced, inviting intellectual property owners to create private systems of copyright monitoring that I refer to as piracy surveillance. Piracy surveillance comprises extrajudicial methods of copyright enforcement that detect, deter, and control acts of consumer infringement.


This paper was selected as the winning entry for the 2004 Yale Law School Cybercrime and Digital Law Enforcement Conference writing competition, sponsored by the Yale Law School Information Society Project and the Yale Journal of Law and Technology

I'm just about to read this myself... so I don't know yet whether the paper does justice to the competition award... or whether the competition award does justice to this paper.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 12:25 AM EDT
What's next? Laws that forbid any other type of portable player? That is surely the only way anyone will ever use such a system.

Sorry to say, PJ, but this is exactly what's happening. There have been several attempts to "interest" legislators, Fritz Hollings being the main, proponent, to pass laws to do all sorts of wierd and dumb things.

Personally, I think the major problem is that too many people are not willing to simply stop using intellectual property that is too restrictive because there are no real alternitaves. For instance, HDTVs and receivers will be built so that the decryption of the signal can have it's keys revoked. Then you have this huge, expensive, useless equipment sitting in your home that can't be used and would be illegal to repair. (Thanks DMCA!)

I see this sort of thing all the time with people I privately call "smoke dancers". These people contribute nothing, do nothing, yet take the lion's share of the money and are quick to call their customers theifs. AOL, Time/Warner, DirecTV, MGM and so on. Once they have their teeth into a copyright or patent, then anything else even close is smashed in court to pay their coffers.

Quite simply, I've given up on TV and movies. Radio is next. Newspapers went a long time ago. I do like CDBABY.COM, at least they have some sense.

Sorry for the rant. I hate these people that churn out garbage and expect me to like it and pay for it, even if I don't want or use it. (Think blank media tax.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Eureka!
Authored by: robobright on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 12:37 AM EDT
It just came to me why any windowed M$ OS has to be reinstalled after a time...
To make the casual installer go out and by a legit copy of the newer, more
expensive software. YOu put Win98 on a few friend's and relative's PCs but
don't give them a copy of the CD. Then after a few years they get fed up with
how slowit runs and wham! $100, $200, $350 dollars to buy a new OS from

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 01:28 AM EDT
<i>"It should be noted that recruitment of more technically competent
staff was crucial in achieving these savings and the positive

I do find this one line kind of interesting. Let's assume for a second that not
all Windows IT personell are morons (I know some of you *nix users are laughing
already, but bare with me). I wonder how much cost savings there are if they
just replaced the incompetent staff with competent staff (without the software
change). Me thinks there would be cost savings anyway.
One of the biggest problems with Windows software is that anyone can fake his
way admining it. I'm a 5 and a half year Windows Systems/Network administrator
for a small engineering company. (I'm also a Linux advocate and I am pushing
the company towards FOSS). Anyway, the point of this is that when I first
started with the company I was merely desktop support. Fixing frozen mice,
ungunking the balls, searching for bugs, patching
workstations, etc. The overall network and servers were managed by an IT
consultant (this company was there from the beginning and sold my company their
first server). Over the first couple of years (took me a while to convince my
bosses otherwise), I watched, totally dumbfounded, as these certified
"engineers" (and working for REAL engineers, I totally resent M$
calling these halloween candy cetificates engineering certificates) bumble our
servers. Well, they did have 1 guy that probably they kept shackled in the
basement that you could call and had all the answers, but the idiots they sent
out on sight needed shooting (and I'm from Texas, so all I'd have to do is run
down to the truck).
Long story even longer. These guys created more problems than they fixed (well
since they were paid to fix their own mistakes, that's probably not true). They
could never leave well enough alone. Come to fix an email server issue, update
the working database server, and leave it not working. Mail server may or may
not be fixed. It was a total nightmare.
For the past 2+ years I've handled practically all Network issues (I'm not
trying to make myself sound the hero, just stating the facts). We have had
other professionals that I hand selected come in and perform more complicated
tasks that we wanted done (major server upgrades, expansions, etc.), but after
the scheduled work is complete, we never need call them again because it's done
right, and it's done according to what they tell us it will be (cost and all).
We now save ten's of thousands of dollars a year. All it took was the
replacement of incompetent IT personell with competent IT personell. I'll also
note that aside from a blackout, we haven't had a single downtime that was
company wide. And yes, we're running M$ products across the board.
I would still prefer FOSS over our current situation, and run linux in a few key
places, but I'm a much happier IT professional now that I don't have to
routinely deal with incompetent "professionals."


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Competent - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 01:29 AM EDT
  • Competent - Authored by: ujay on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 02:16 AM EDT
    • Competent - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 01:58 PM EDT
Nothing new here.
Authored by: iMeowbot on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 02:06 AM EDT
Nobody wants to rent disappearing music. Period.

Sure, people are willing to do that, in certain contexts. The jukebox would be the most obvious successful example.

Now, those are special cases, because to play music in a public place like that you're supposed to pay for a performance license. That doesn't apply to private settings. Time-limited DRM might be really interesting to certain industries like hospitality. For private home use, it's going to be a tough sell though.

[ Reply to This | # ]

RIAA == Executivus Obsoletus
Authored by: Daddio on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 02:14 AM EDT
I believe that the Recording industry has already foreseen what i realized just
a short time ago. They (that is, the distributors, the promotors, the giant
cd-pressing factories)

are irrelevent. Or soon will be.

music was and ART before the era of wax and vinyl made recordings were possible.
Composers were commisioned to create works of ART and those works were
PERFORMED by talented musicians.

Composers were worshipped. The performer, if he/she was good was praised. The
guy who delivered the sheet music?

Somehow it has all been twisted backwards.

But we are beginning to see it come full circle. i forsee a time not distant,
when music files will be like the glossy photo's aspiring actors pass around.
They (the musician) pay a professional producer to record and edit their music.
Then they give it away (if they can get you to take it) in hope of promoting
their business, PERFORMING MUSIC!

Composers can do pretty much what they always have...

b) get a wealthy sponsor, and teach his kid to play the piano, while you create
music, or
c) create art by commision, for whoever is willing to pay for it (this is the
pinnacle of success, to be independant, in demand, and in control)

And where, in this future, is SONY Music, where is Virgin Entertainment, where
is BMG? Remember the professional recording studio? Well, as long as they can
compete with the guy up the street who has a PC with a couple of expensive
multitrack sound cards and an insulated recording room in his basement, there is
still room for them :)

Joshua A Clayton
~Salt Lake City UT

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous Coward on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 03:01 AM EDT
The idiotic thing about DRM on music is that it is the distribution channel
(which has only existed for about 100 years) that is trying to control our
lives. Not the musicians, they could, still can and actually do (at least
according to some reports the only way to get big bucks) earn money by the time
honoured act of touring (a type of work that is at least as old as the roman

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 03:04 AM EDT
in a name. Janus is (maybe mistakenly) identified as Aeon's father in Mithraic Mythology (where Aeon is the infinte time, a facet of Kronos - Saturn in Latin mythology) So, Janus is not only the gatekeeper, but the father of time :) (Of course, Uranus may disgress) Illsear, who forgot to log-in and is too lazy (and tired to do it)

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM: a serial chain of single points of failure
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 03:48 AM EDT
All devices in the chain need to support DRM, so you end up with a serial chain
of single points of failure. If you thought MS software was tricky to keep
online, wait for DRM to be embedded.

Oh, did I mention it'll also be a technology version 1? Even with a trusted
vendor I'd not go near a v1 .

Coming soon to a hospital near you - how would you like to be treated in
Accident & Emergency today?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Anyone remember DIVX?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 04:17 AM EDT
Not the free open-source mpeg4 codec, but the competing DVD fomat you could rent for 48 hours and you couldn't play it after that?

Didn't think so...

[ Reply to This | # ]

A non-evil record company, a way of recording anything you can play, and "open" vs. "closed"
Authored by: futureweaver on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 04:26 AM EDT

The non-evil record company is Magnatune, whose music is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. They've gone beyond talk to actually trying to make this business model work.

The way of recording anything that goes through your soundcard is Total Recorder. It acts as a virtual soundcard and captures the PCM stream. Hard to see how DRM will stop this sort of approach except by locking down the hardware (like DECSS tried to). Then it's incredibly hard to maintain an open architecture - even if DECSS hadn't been broken, an approach like Total Recorder might well have succeeded for video. Microsoft's biggest asset is their huge independent developer community, and it's open to question whether they can close the architecture sufficiently without losing it.

And this points to the fundamental issue. Closed architecture generates profit through monopoly rents. Open architecture generates it through greater scale and community interaction. Microsoft has been hugely successful playing both sides of this game simultaneously, but is having increasing difficulty continuing. IBM has come down fairly firmly on the "open" side with a business model making profit by performance (services, they call it). It's clear that SCO wants to declare the "UNIX architecture" closed, and owned by them. This will run and run ... GrokEcon, anyone?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: gbl on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 05:15 AM EDT
The idea of adding DRM to the perfect copying machine (the computer) is very
silly and I've yet to see any proposed DRM scheme that would survive a
determined attack for more than a few hours (short reason - if the financial
return of cracking the DRM is sufficient, huge resources can be applied and you
only have to do it once. So the crackers have essentially fixed costs yet the
media companies have continuing costs creating and supporting successive DRM

If DRM is ever going to be acceptable to the public the charges for music/movies
must drop massively to essentially throw-away money. Secondly, copyright period
must be reduced to something like 7 years with no exceptions or extensions.

If you love some code, set it free.

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM is a trojan?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 05:23 AM EDT
As found in this article:

"Trojans, named after the famous Trojan Horse, are malicious programs
intentionally disguised as harmless or innocuous. At face value, trojans may
have some useful purpose, but their real intent is far more insidious."

Hmmm... sounds like DRM to me!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Explaining Valenti's reaction
Authored by: futureweaver on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 06:00 AM EDT

To understand why JV resorted to profanity, I think you have to see the qrpff 6 line DVD descrambler he was being shown. My impression is that he was truly shocked (rather than Casablanca-shocked, see below) that the DECSS system his industry had invested so much trust and money in could be undone by such a small thing. Evidently, and this is clear from the rest of the interview, he has not even "been there", never mind "got the t-shirt" (the one with qrpff on, naturally).

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Renault: Oh. Thank you very much. Everybody out at once.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 06:38 AM EDT
There is a Janus software project for Linux, as you may have noticed in the above link about the Roman god. The page says it's "a security tool for sandboxing untrusted applications within a restricted execution environment. This can be used to limit the harm that can be caused by any successful compromise of the application." Now that sounds actually useful.

This sounds very much like a chroot environment

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights absurdum- we'll finish with crypto implanted
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 06:46 AM EDT
Now everyone can connect the audio output of the player to the analog input of
the soundcard to get the reduced quality, but still digital record.

The ultimate solution for copyright protection will be the implanted cryptochip
located in our brains and directly stimulating it to provide audio/visual

Then MPIAA will be sure that only the legitimate buyer can hear/view their
precious content, as it will be encrypted with the public key of that particular

And probably there will be no problem with hackers - the chip could have a
special functions for detection of tampering end eg. could trigger an awfull
headache or something worse in that case.
How do you like such an idea?
I'd better apply for a patent for that, before someone else has done it!!! I'm
starting to fill the papers right now!

[ Reply to This | # ]

If you can't win one way... try another?
Authored by: deList on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 07:54 AM EDT
So, if your M$ and you lost a major, highly talked about O.S. battle in a city,
Just get the country to sign on with your proprietary applications and DTD's?
Kinda forces Windows back on those 14,000 boxes -- doesn't it?

"The problem with SCO is not them misunderstanding. It is daring anyone to call
them on their misinterpretation." - Anon, 1/13/2004

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: jstomel on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 08:01 AM EDT
This wouldn't be a bad idea if the technology could be made workable. No one is
going to <i>rent</i> you anything online if they have to depend on
you honorably deleting it at the end of the rental period. The problem is
really that it takes a propriatary player. You just know that someone is going
to find out a hack for their DRM code within a year of the format comming in to
use. Then MS will have to change their code and everyone will have to go out
and buy new players. I don't see that working very well.

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
--R. A. Heinlein

[ Reply to This | # ]

An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 08:26 AM EDT
The study states;
"It should be noted that recruitment of more technically competent staff
was crucial in achieving these savings and the positive outcomes."

With this statement in mind, what steps are being taken by the OSS
trade/community to ensure an adequate supply of staff of the required standard?
At the moment the brighter coders are attracted to the open source methods, and
the less able work on developing for the more common closed source system. Will
a lack of good people hold back Linux adoption, or even discredit it?

[ Reply to This | # ]

[Slightly OT] The dodo bird..
Authored by: dexter on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 08:54 AM EDT
...vanished not because it coulnd't fly and was eaten by some predator, but
because it was killed to extinction by ignorant colonialists. In it's little
isle, it lived many millenia just fine. But when colonist arrived, it was too
funny for them to shoot at a bird who couldn't recognize an hostile intent one
inch from its nose. I'm so ashamed that colonial Europe did such an awful job
around the globe.

A good book to read about it and similar animals is Douglas Adams' "Last
chance to see". Yes, it's Adams as in "Hitchhiker's guide to

If you want to properly characterize something that is will disappear because
unfit to the envirorment, I think dinosaurs are a better pick.

Just for the sake of precision.

Two final notes:
1. My parents don't speak English. Maybe you've noticed...
2. Tae kwon dodo: attack! :-D


[ Reply to This | # ]

Predictions that Hold Irony.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 08:55 AM EDT
Fisrt, I think we'll see more aggregated licensing a la Netflix where you can
have X movies out at a time. You'll pay a monthly fee. As tracks expire, you get
to select new tracks. You can queue them up just like NetFlix too. This strategy
will work best for teenage girls. Who watch TV and must be at the fore front of
populalrity and modern culture.

However here's the irony: it does not jive well with anyone outside that
demographic. It'll actually become cheaper in the long run to BUY AND RIP THE
CD. Anyone realizing this should then realize that DRM will do more to boost CD
sales than to start a new segment of the industry. It's the same as buying vs
leasing a car. Only the foolish or businesses lease.

This should then get everyone realizing that CDs are reaching the end of their
reign. Prepare for a new DRM player to be the next avenue. To get people to
actually buy the thing, they will use DVD-Audio, and you'll just have files on
it rather than tracks. In she short term you can expect the same on a CD format.
Players that take CDs with ACC files and WMA are already here. CDs wil be
replaced because they last too long and they are open. Not because they're
superceeded in quality or recording time.

Ironically,things will go back to the way when they were in the 70's. We'll be
making audiorecordings of what comes out of the speakers (or through a loopback
cable). Tons of technical achievements broken by a $1 cable. Huge industry
pushes thwarted by a $1 cable. Millions spent and lost due to a $1 cable.

Of course the'll try to combat this with players that won't play whatever
format. They can look for watermarks, and we can remove them. They can do
acoustical analysis and figure out what the song is until we mix two tracks in
1, and at play time subtract out the one track.

Its the radar and radar detector cat-and-mouse game all over gain. They'll spend
millions, we'll spend dollars, and anyone with a brain will be able to subvert
their system.

This all assumes one thing: that invidiuals will be able to make unrestricted
recordings. Imagine if we had a system where to use any kind of recording
equiment you have to get a ID card. Then you feed this card into the machine.
And your credentials are stamped on the track.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Greebo on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 09:17 AM EDT
I think one thing that's being missed in all of this discussion is :

What makes people pirate movies and music in the first place?

The answer, as always, is Cost.

We all know that DVD's and CD's cost pennies to produce these days, so how can record companies justify the high prices?

DVD and CD prices could be slashed in half and they'd still make a very handsome profit, plus people like myself, who rarely buy Albums because of the high cost (and most of the time low quality of the rest of the tracks) would buy more music, not less, for the simple reason that i haven't lost so much money if one of them turns out to be crap. I'd much rather own an original than a pirate copy, but the cost is just so high. So, instead i go without, because i don't want to break the law, or put cash in M$ pocket.

iTunes have proved that people will buy good songs if they are directly available to them. It works. So why can't M$ get that into their heads?

Cut the price and i gaurentee you'd cut the pirating in half over night.

But M$ and the record companies wouldn't make any excessive profits then, would they....


Recent Linux Convert and Scared Cat Owner

[ Reply to This | # ]

Buy a DVD Player? I don't have a TV?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 09:40 AM EDT
So I'd have to buy a TV. Which means in the UK I'd need a TV License £100+ per
year. For something I don't want.

Anybody know of a way of connecting a DVD player to a hi-res monitor without
loss of quality?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 09:49 AM EDT
I fear that all arguments aside, Microsoft will "win the day". They,
with their billons of dollars in cash, along with other intrests that use
digital distribution will secure legislation to enforce DRM and other lock-in
technologies. They may also use the patent systems of the world to accomplish
this. It is said that Microsoft is applying for an average of 10 patents a day
in the US. They are behind the push in the EU to allow broad patents on
software technologies. Seeing some of their recent patents, or applications,
what they are trying to secure patents on are sometimes existing technologies.
But with the absurd status of the US PTO, Microsoft obtains(buys) these patents.
They will accomplish their stated view of completely owning the market by
direct or indirect methods.

In addition, I have a feeling that is why, in part, Sun threw in the towel. Sun
wants to access Microsoft's "innovative" technologies to hang on for a
little while longer.

Slashdots view of Microsoft as Borg is all too real. You will be assimilated or
, possibly literally, die.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights and Making Illegal Acts More Illegal
Authored by: apessos on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 09:53 AM EDT
Maybe the DMCA and DRM are what the future will become. How things will come to
be. It seems to be the mindset of the industry. I have to be stopped for
making all those illegal copies I'm going to make sometime in the future. Which
is crazy. But to be fair, the same thing could be said for theft laws. I have
to be stopped for taken all those things that I'm going to take that aren't mine
sometime in the future.

It seems that there are already laws against theft. Are more laws the

But I'm moving away from what I wanted to say.

Being an engineer, I want to shout the only guaranteed way to prevent exact
copying is to keep everything analog; the very nature of digitizing information
is to make it measureable, discrete, and easy to copy. But how can I? To do so
seems to go against allowing companies to protect their interests.

But information will continue to be digitized. And with that people will want
guarantees that their work won't be given away to thousands of people. Hence
copy protection works.

But copy protection schemes will be broken. They are always broken. More will
be made. Those will be broken. More will be made. And those will be broken.
All to stop something that is already illegal in the first place.

What was the solution for stopping this cycle? By making copy protection
circumvention illegal. But this will only be enforced on pirates and those
doing nasty illegal things. Right.

But, at anytime, was the issue addressed instead of band-aid fixes? Were the
older laws not effective? Could I honestly copy stuff legally before? I guess
I'm just overwhelmed with information and trying to make sense from this mess.

I understand wanting to protect your work, but were and when is it to much?


[ Reply to This | # ]

Monopolist suppling services to price fixer
Authored by: lightsail on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 10:43 AM EDT
Goal: leverage current IP to maximize profits

A partnership made is .. OPPS, PJ does not like bad language. Sorry

[ Reply to This | # ]

My view on DRM
Authored by: kurt555gs on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 11:18 AM EDT
I have read many long winded discussions on DRM, hear and other places.
For me, this issue is really simple

If, I feel the need to manage MY digital rights, I will do it myself.



* Kurt *

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Where is Fair Use for Individuals?
Authored by: techgrrl on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 11:51 AM EDT
Let me first state that COMMERCIAL piracy must be followed up on and stamped
out. And the existing laws are perfectly adequate to do that. If someone
counterfeits videos, music, or software, and sells them as real, that is out and
out theft.

For individual consumers, the line between theft and fair use is a lot fuzzier.
The media 'suits', however, make no distinctions at all.

The fundamentally flawed assumption on the part of the media moguls (and the
BSA) is that every time someone copies something, it is a lost sale. This is
patently false. There have been some experiments that indicate that making
stuff free (libre AND gratis) actually INCREASES sales by making it available to
people who would otherwise not bother.

BAEN BOOKS has shown this to be true: They have a FREE LIBRARY available for
download of their authors' backlists. They have clearly demonstrated that this
has INCREASED sales for those authors: someone samples a book, likes it, and
goes down to Barnes and Noble to buy more! They discuss this on their web

Another myth is that people aren't buying CD's because they are stealing the
music. This is also not necessarily true.

For example, I OWN over 400 CD's. But many of them only have one or two songs
on them that I care about, so I rip and burn my own collections for enjoyment.
I play them at work in my PC, and in my car. I get 80 minutes of music on one
CD instead of 40 (or less) -and- EVERY song is one I enjoy.

Does DRM mean I can't do this any more? Then where is the fair use of the
copyright law come in?

BTW, I am not so sure that I wouldn't rent music for a short time. My Palm Zire
71 uses Real Player to play music. I could very well see going up to a kiosk at
the airport, and downloaded 10 or 20 songs, for maybe 25 cents each, with a life
span of a week. But at some point I would want to pay a little more (maybe
$1.00) for an unencumbered version that I could burn for fair use.

The point is, the digital world actually creates MORE business opportunities,
because it allows them to sell the same stuff over and over with very little
variable cost to serve...but the moguls DON'T GET IT!!!!!! Dear lord, Jack
Valenti is 75+ years old! Orrin Hatch is in his 80's!!! They are dinosaurs.
But their tracks will last for a long time, unless we act to insure our voices
are heard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Entertainment media DRM is a red herring....
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 12:46 PM EDT
Microsoft is allying with the RIAA and MPAA to get DRM
technologies and legislation implemented. The scary next
step is their incorporation of these technologies/laws
into e-mail clients and servers, word processors,
spreadsheets, and database managers (and any other sort of
content production software). With patent and DMCA
protections, we will be locked in to Microsoft
applications and operating systems if we want to have ANY
hope of interoperating with our neighbors and co-workers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 01:08 PM EDT
This may be posted before but I see a big rise in the sales
of tape recorders. Anybody remember those? May not
be as good as digital but they never went "poof!".
Just a very slow (years) fizzle. ;)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: storri on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 01:10 PM EDT

Its interesting that they treat us, the customers, as criminals because they believe that we are all out to deceive them and rob them of the money they are entitled to receive. So they develop a means by which will remove a song ,for example. from my computer after a period of time. Now I am willing to pay for music I want, movies to view or closed-source software if I need to use it. I don't advocate piracy.

What I do find humorous is that they want the file to be deleted after X days. Fine. Yet there is a flaw in this security. It relies on the fact that they content, e.g. music, will only be kept in the digital file format that I originally received it. So I can play it with the approved player to listen. Now since I play through my speakers I can listen to the music for as long as the rental is available.

As with movies I rent I return them to the store. So to think that I cannot be trusted to remove content from my computer after the rental is something I find offensive. They want to do it for me or prevent me from trying to copy the file to another medium. They hope to prevent me from trying to fool the system. Unfortunately they have already lost.

How have they lost? Once the file is played its digital form is played through the sound card, which is typically connected to a stereo or speakers, its in another form (analog/digital signal depending on the sound system). Once its in this form the signal can be recorded by another device. For example using a sound card which supports coaxial connect to a high-qualty receiver which is connected to a DAT recorder, the song can be recorded in another format.

So what does it gain by having this security measure. It keeps the honest people honest by restricting what they can do on their computer and treats them like a criminal. It may deter the semi-honest but only those that either lack the skill to do this kind of copying or the desire. Yet lets face it if someone wants to circumvent this then they will given enough time and money.

Pay for the music you listen to, the software you use and the movies you watch. Don't be restricted by the OS you use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Given Microsoft's record, this should be fun to watch
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 01:36 PM EDT
Since it generally takes Billy and Co. till Rel 5.x to get something that's
close to stable, this should be amazing fun to watch! The number of people
alienated by routine Microsoft failures will grow at an astounding (to M$)

The history of computing is littered with dead companies and software from
"copy protection" schemes and proprietery architectures gone wrong:-
PS/2 and TI99 come to mind. It has invariably penalized honest customers, while
hardly bothering the crooks. People do learn to avoid this stuff after they find
they've wasted time and money on it.

DRM, if M$ actually goes ahead with it, will drive people and organizations to
GNULinux in droves. In hindsight it will be agreed that it was responsible for
the fall of Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Most interesting article on Groklaw yet
Authored by: TobiasBXL on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 02:15 PM EDT
This might be one of the most interesting articles on Groklaw yet. Good work!


[ Reply to This | # ]

Ah, Valenti ... now, that takes me back.
Authored by: jre on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 02:34 PM EDT
Thanks, PJ, for your link to the Tech interview with Jack Valenti. He is quite a colorful and articulate character, Bono-esque gerund and all.

I was motivated after reading it to find a primary reference to Jack Valenti's most famous quote -- you know, the "VCR and the Boston Strangler."

It's even more interesting in context:
One of the Japanese lobbyists, Mr. Ferris, has said that the VCR -- well, if I am saying something wrong, forgive me. I don't know. He certainly is not MGM's lobbyist. That is for sure. He has said that the VCR is the greatest friend that the American film producer ever had. I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.

If I could ask just one question of Jack Valenti, it would be this:

"Mr. Valenti, looking back on your testimony of 1982, who do you think was right -- you or Mr. Ferris?
And if, by waving a magic wand you could make VCR technology (and Blockbuster) disappear, would you do it?"

OK, that's two questions.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: lpletch on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 03:50 PM EDT
"You know, that really heavy bird that couldn't fly..."

The problem with the Dodo was not the lack of flight it was the inability to
swim. The really heavy and mighty Gentoo Penguin can't fly but is the fastest
bird in the water.


[ Reply to This | # ]

My mind is an analog hole
Authored by: inode_buddha on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 04:49 PM EDT

"When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price." --
Richard M. Stallman

[ Reply to This | # ]

Blatavsky on Janus == Lucifer
Authored by: John Goodwin on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 04:51 PM EDT
"LUCIFER sends the best compliments of the season to his friends and subscribers, and wishes them a happy New Year and many returns of the same...." It gets better.

[ Reply to This | # ]

M$ Says this is the possible min req. for "foghorn"
Authored by: bsm2003 on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 04:58 PM EDT
Microsoft is expected to recommend that the "average" Longhorn PC feature a dual-core CPU running at 4 to 6GHz; a minimum of 2 gigs of RAM; up to a terabyte of storage; a 1 Gbit, built-in, Ethernet-wired port and an 802.11g wireless link; and a graphics processor that runs three times faster than those on the market today. HERE

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting Copyrights. Let's help them out.
Authored by: ihawk on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 05:15 PM EDT
I think we should help the entertainment industry protect its copyrighted material. Clearly, the industry is deeply concerned about the loss of it's intellectual property, so we, as responsible consumers can help them keep it safe.

Just don't use it.

Don't buy it. Don't copy it. Don't listen to it. Don't download it. Just ignore it.

There are many very talented performers local to you. Patronize them. Give your support directly to them. Patronize artists who understand that they and we do not need the artificial scarcity promoted by the entertainment distribution industry. We can support the creators directly.

Let the RIAA and MPAA lock up their content in a vault and protect its a** off.

We can find better quality and fair policies from the prople who actually create something.

Support independent artists.

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Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: dracoverdi on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 06:36 PM EDT
Is that what DRM stands for, Disappearing Rental Music?

Pizza is an acceptable breakfast.
Just think of it as a large pepperoni danish

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Laura DiDio quote on Linux Security
Authored by: hartr on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 07:46 PM EDT
Just came across the following gem from our favourite analyst See for
full details

Perhaps most noteworthy about Red Hat's desktop offering is the emphasis on
security, Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio told NewsFactor, pointing out that
the OS is touted as secure by design. "They are learning from the
Microsofts experience," she said. "The Linux community realizes that
there are flaws in the Linux kernel."

In security terms, the only thing that FOSS has learnt from Microsoft is how NOT
to do it!

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Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 07:55 PM EDT
Is everyone missing M$'s point or am I? Janus is not intended for the good of the user!

"The goal is to make it easier for companies who want customers to rent songs or videos, rather than own them, to also let those users play back the content on portable players."

This could end up like windows/office itself. I don't want any of it, but I am forced to use it because it is the de fact industry standard.

If all main stream content providers decide to go the M$ way, because it is advantageous to them (not necessarily their users), they just might do it. And if 95% of the user-base can play their content due to functionality M$ forced on them ("get the new janus compatible WMP - it fixes a critical bug!"), what's there to stop them? I hope i'm too cynical... Michiel (who is too lazy to create an account)

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DRM - carrot rather than stick approach?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 09:34 PM EDT

Very interesting topic and comments. Microsoft's audacity continues to astound me. Not trying to be a shill here, honest to god, but those who are interested in more on this DRM subject might enjoy seeing the angle on Microsoft DRM. I imagine it is not what MS had in mind.

This company (Weedshare) appears to have a LEGAL (ahh!) non-punitive scheme for using MS's WMA9 DRM scheme to share music files, and has been up and running for some months, though seemingly below the media radar screen as yet. The point: it permits RESALES of media files, and any buyer of a file has the right to resell it and get a cut of the sales to the next buyer. MLM anyone? Buyers are allowed three free plays before buying, but after buying, they "own" it, period, no "poof".

Easy to crack of course, but providing a financial incentive not to crack it seems to be the key: carrot rather than stick! Question: is this "old business model" or "new business model" or what the heck is it? Big media companies and "aggregators" might not favor such a decentralized distribution model, but the independent artist or "content-creator" might. Mac/Linux users are out of luck for now, and it definitely ain't FOSS, but I wonder if some similar content-protection scheme (semi-voluntary and incentive-based) could be implemented on Linux... hmmm...
Comments? (Anyone need a break from thinking about SCO?)

(Pamela, if this is too far off topic, feel free to nuke it... and thanks for Groklaw.)

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Protecting Freedom- Reductio Ad Absurdum - Lobbying and Law
Authored by: webster on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 10:09 PM EDT
MS is in a panic. Their market share is threatened. It is conceivable it could
go below 90% in a few years. In the name of security and protecting
intellectual property they see a way to lock in their products and
"finish" their monopoly. Monopoly means one, right up there under

Fighting them off might be impossible. One will have to match their lobbying
and then attack in court what they get passed.

Alternative software fans are going to have to make sure that Congress knows
they are stacking the deck in favor of a convicted monopolist. You can't keep
MS from the table but Congress should be sure that whatever is produced at their
behest is open and accessible to all at no fee, i. e. standards. So security
and DRM can be developed by anyone to government standards, but beneficial to
all, not only MS.

We also have to get First Amendment free speech arguments ready against any
government mandated software that limits interoperability and benefits the
monopoly. You should not lose your rights just because you use a different
"language." Imagine denying interpreters in Court for those who can't
speak English.

MS dwarfs even IBM. They will be tough to beat in the Campaign Fund/Lobbying
front. They have a huge head start in patents also. Most annoying of all is
the delay in developing or promoting a good desktop to win users over. It would
have to run MS Office, but would suggest Open or Star Office. With Mozilla it
would immediately be functional and show superior stability and security. I
know it already exists (Lindows?) but MS has all the marketing wrapped up. I
received a catalogue today that used to list one desktop with linux. No more.
Not even a Red Hat on the Software pages. Everyone is afraid to promote
alternatives. Here's an area for legislation--monopoly thru advertising

Sorry, can't rant no more. Got to do some work.


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Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 10:13 PM EDT
apparently the lack of news about sco today was a good thing for them, since
their stock actually went up... >.> +.13 to $6.14 -.-

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By the way, PJ is OK, there will be new articles
Authored by: webster on Tuesday, May 04 2004 @ 10:23 PM EDT
PJ is not ill. SCO is not undergoing a dull period.

She has had to work.

She should only work on Groklaw. How can we match MS with PJ doing research on
one family's contested last will and testament?

Help yourselves readers and click on the donation icons in the left margin. It
is greatly appreciated and promotes the cause by securing PJ's invaluable
services. Freedom thanks you.


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Protecting Copyrights - Reductio Ad Absurdum - and a Choice: An Independent FOSS Study
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 05 2004 @ 12:31 AM EDT
Interestingly enough, there was a protocol used on/with/by Fidonet by
Binkleyterm called Janus for file/mail transfer prior to this (around the
1990-1993 timeframe if I'm recalling correctly).

I rather doubt that the protocol was exclusive to Binkleyterm, but it may have
been ... it's been a while since I've used Fidonet, et al, but it strikes me as
rather funny that the original protocol was all about distributing files and
mail to the masses, while this one is about restricting how/when/where/why/by
who things can be distributed ....

bdubroy (at) HoTmAiL dot com (May take a while to respond)

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Content not devices is the control...
Authored by: tydyed on Wednesday, May 05 2004 @ 12:59 AM EDT
What's next? Laws that forbid any other type of portable player? That is surely the only way anyone will ever use such a system.

Unfortunately it won't take making alternate devices illegal. What will drive the use of the DRM devices is the availability of content or the lack of availability of non-drm content. If Microsoft convinces the MPAA and the RIAA to only produce music/movies in DRM format, Microsoft DRM format, what difference will it make that non DRM devices are available for sale. Tell me you don't think that Microsoft, the RIAA and the MPAA wouldn't co-operate fully on this!

Beta was a better video format (back in my day) than VHS, what drove beta out of business? The greater by far availability of titles on VHS tape, not the quality of the format.

An older member of the "GNU" generation!

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Wrong perception, PJ!
Authored by: Korpo on Wednesday, May 05 2004 @ 03:03 AM EDT
While we're all for advancing FOSS, your perception of the deal with the German
Minister of the Interior is IMHO wrong, very wrong indeed.

Actually the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for IT security (and inner
security as a whole). With a large part of the installed base in the country and
government being M$, the Ministry must do what I can do to achieve
infrastructure protection.

The biggest project in migration of public desktops started in the Ministry of
Interior, you know. They are converting Unix workstations to Linux desktops and
trying to find some efficient migration paths suitable for other agencies -
starting with police officers. The effort is country-wide with federal police
agencies and some sort of a pilot, and at least as big as the Munich deal, and I
think IBM and SuSE in with this, too.

The Ministry of the Interior can and will not ignore the voting of the Bundestag
(<=> House of Representatives), which for example voted in the
infrastructure migration issue of its own IT for Windows 2000 on the desktop,
and Linux in the backoffice. This is the legislative body of Germany, and its
rulings cannot be ignored, and the Minister of the Interior is responsible for
assuring the safety of all federal agencies and institutions.

They did the Linux deals (or semi-Linux) in spite of HEAVY lobbying, so give
them a break... ;)

German businesses and agencies seem to be rather quick on the uptake of FOSS, so
I don't think we "lost" one here. ;)

Yet I'm rather fond of your comment pieces, much more fond than of the
"only the legalese" posts. Or at least legalese posts with sandwiched
comments, and highlights. Those make great reads, too.

Keep up the great work and humor (especially the humor!)!!

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Protecting Copyrights - The Microsoft - Siemens deal.
Authored by: ABM_rulez on Wednesday, May 05 2004 @ 10:10 AM EDT
According to the Spiegel magazine which is published weekly similar to the Time magazine Microsoft and Siemens signed on a patent exchange agreement. What kind of deal is that?

According to heise Siemens holds approx. 45,000 patents against 10,000 patents Microsoft is owning. The Siemens patents include technical methods of constructing nuclear powerplants or high speed trains or high tech medical devices. What is Siemens getting in exchange? A Start button, a Microsoft patented MS Office XML-scheme or a shure fire method to produce a blue screen?

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Oh My God, They've Killed Palladium
Authored by: TAZ6416 on Wednesday, May 05 2004 @ 02:56 PM EDT


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"Money For Microsoft" by Dire Warning
Authored by: NZheretic on Wednesday, May 05 2004 @ 09:04 PM EDT
The realization that to get DRM'ed content will require you to do so though
Windows XP and/or Microsoft ...

[ With deepest apologies to Mark Knofler and Dire Straits ]

"Money for Microsoft" by Dire Warning
Sung by Steve Ballmer, backing by Bill Gates

You must buy ...
You must buy Win-XP

You must buy ...
You must buy Win-XP

You must buy ...
You must buy Win-XP

You must buy ...
You must buy Win-XP

Now look at them bozo's that's the way you do it
You lock them always on the Win-XP
That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
Money for Microsoft from Dot Net usage fees
Now that ain't workin' thats the way we do it
Lemme tell ya them guys are dumb
Maybe get a licence on your little desktop
Maybe get a licence on everyone

They gotta install Media Player
Passport Dot-Net deliveries
They gotta take these applications
They gotta take these subscription fees

Look at that, look at that

See the little Win-Troll spreading spin we makeup
Yeah buddy thats our own fear
That little Win-Troll got them always complain'
That little Win-Troll makes us billionares

They gotta install Media Player
Passport Dot-Net deliveries
They gotta take these applications
They gotta take these subscription fees

They shoulda learned to use the Linux
They shoulda learned to use them Macs
Look at that user, we got it stickin' to the customer
Man we could have some fun
And their down there, whats that? Protesting noises?
Plannin' on me dancing like a chimpanzee
That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
Get the money for Microsoft get our usage fee

They gotta install Media Player
Passport Dot-Net deliveries
They gotta take these applications
They gotta take these subscription fees

That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
You lock them always on the Win-XP
That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
Money for Microsoft from the license fee
Money for Microsoft from subscription fees

David Mohring - Original author

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Authored by: joeblakesley on Thursday, May 06 2004 @ 07:31 AM EDT
OK. I'm seen things like this from MS before, but, come on, this isn't even subtle. Marketing must have all been off or stoned on the day they did this for it to have got past them.

Naming their DRM software after the two-faced Roman god of gates (which also is used to mean someone who is two-faced or whose actions and words don't match). LOL.

Joe Llywelyn Griffith Blakesley

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  • Marketing? - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 06 2004 @ 04:16 PM EDT
Mission Impossible indeed
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 07 2004 @ 07:06 AM EDT
At some point, a music device has to create sound waves, or it will be hard for
listeners to enjoy the music. Those sound waves can then be sampled, digitally
recorded and freely reproduced forever. Period.

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