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DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 07:48 PM EST

With his kind permission, I am republishing Simon Phipps' article on DRM and the Death of Culture here on Groklaw. To set the mood, here's a photograph Simon took, Stone wall in Cornwall.

You'll see.

Stone wall in Cornwall

The article was orginally posted on his blog earlier today, where you find this disclaimer: "Remember that this is all written by Simon and not by Sun..."


DRM and the Death of a Culture

~ by Simon Phipps

I had the privilege of delivering a keynote at the Open Source Meets Business conference in Nürnberg, Germany this week (delegates will find my slides online as a PDF). I travelled there from an engagement in Paris, and took the Metro/U-bahn1 in both places. There was a very visible difference between the two experiences.

In Paris, I bought my Metro ticket and then used it in an automated barrier to reach the platform. I noticed lowlife furtively scanning the station and then vaulting the barriers, and I saw armed police at the station to catch the thieves doing this (they didn't catch any that I saw, and there were several at each station).

By contrast, the U-Bahn in Nürnberg has no barriers. I bought my ticket, boarded the train without fuss, there was no risk of being shot by a policeman targeting a barrier-vaulting cheat, and the system was still clean, efficient and well-used.

This all sprang to mind when a conversation about DRM followed the GPLv3 item up over on Stephen's blog. A comment writer (Christopher Baus) said of DRM:

I might be the only technologist on the other side of the DRM fence. To me it is like checking my lift ticket when I get on the ski lift. I might find that a bit annoying, but if ensures the resort can stay in business from collecting ticket money, then that is a net good thing for me. If the ski resort goes out of business I can't go skiing, and I would resent those who got on the lift w/out paying.

I think there are quite a few people around who have Christopher's view, which is unfortunately rather simplistic. DRM - the imposition of restrictions on usage of content by technical means - is far more than that. It's like checking the lift ticket, yes, but also the guy checks you are only wearing gear hired from the resort shop, skis with you down the slope and trips you if you try any manoeuvers that weren't taught to you by the resort ski instructor; then as you go down the slope he pushes you away from the moguls because those are a premium feature and finally you get to run the gauntlet of armed security guards at the bottom of the slope checking for people who haven't paid.

DRM's Collateral Damage

The problem with technology-enforced restrictions isn't that they allow legitimate enforcement of rights; it's the collateral damage they cause in the process. In my personal opinion the problems are (very concisely) that they:

  1. quantise and prejudge discretion,
  2. reduce "fair use" to "historic use",
  3. potentially empower a hierarchical agent to remain in the control loop, and
  4. condemn content to become inaccessible.

To go into more depth on those:

Technology-enforced restrictions quantise and prejudge discretion
People talk of "fair use" but what they actually mean is that we all depend on the exercise of judgement in every decision. Near the "bulls-eye" of copyright we're all clear what is what, but as Lessig eloquently explains in Free Culture, in the outer circles we have to make case-by-case judgements about what usage is fair and what usage is abuse. When a technologist embodies their or their employer's view of what's fair into a technology-enforced restriction, any potential for the exercise of discretion is turned from a scale to a step and freedom is quantised.

Technology-enforced restrictions reduce "fair use" to "historic use"
The natural consequence of having the quantum outlook and business model of one person replace the spectrum of discretion is that scope for new interpretations of what's fair usage in the future is removed. Future uses of the content involved are reduced to just historic uses the content had at the time it was locked up in the DRM wrapper. The law may change, the outlook of society may mature but the freedom to use that content according to the new view will never emerge from the quantised state the wrapper imposes. The code becomes the law, as Lessig again explains in Code. As others have pointed out, "fair use" is forward-looking, "historic use" is ossifying.

Technology-enforced restrictions potentially empower a hierarchical agent to remain in the control loop
When use of content depends on a technology from a single vendor, as is currently universally the case, that vendor effectively becomes the gate to ongoing use rather than the actual copyright owner. A great argument for an alternative approach like the open source, distributed-identity-based scheme in Project DReaM. What's much worse, though, is that the restrictions don't go away when the rights they are enforcing do. Copyright eventually runs out, but technology-enforced restrictions never do.

Technology-enforced restrictions condemn content to become inaccessible
As DRM's outspoken critic Cory Doctorow points out, DRM condemns content to suffer the fate which for documents I call corporate Alzheimer's. Each of the problems above combine in a 'perfect storm' to create a content owner's dream world of built-in obsolescence and repeated opportunity to sell the same content to the same people all over again if they actually like it enough to use it. Meanwhile, our collective cultural memory gets locked up in instances which become inaccessible the first time one of:
  • The content being 'turned off' by a usage rule
  • The implementation of the restriction mechanism is obsoleted by an "upgrade" of the host system
  • The original medium degrades into uselessness but couldn't be copied
  • A part of the "phone home for authorisation" chain goes out of business
  • The original license is no longer applicable (for example because your children have inherited the media but not the digital key)
Thus your children won't get to play your music, show your favourite films, share your culture, with your grandchildren because they won't inherit anything containing that from you that's usable.

Complacency leads to servitude

Christopher went on to express his complacency over the whole situation:

IMHO if DRM isn't good business it will go away. Simple as that. No need to worry.

Except the prior market power of huge corporations is being used to project it into markets in a way that distorts market forces and conceals the lack of ethics and the erosion of the social contract behind rights law. What if it's good business but bad humanity? What we're seeing here is the 21st century equivalent of enclosure - indeed, the comment by More from Utopia rings eerily true:

... not contented with the old rents which their farms yielded, nor thinking it enough that they, living at their ease, do no good to the public, resolve to do it hurt instead of good. They stop the course of agriculture, destroying houses and towns, reserving only the churches, and enclose grounds that they may lodge their sheep in them.

It's clearly right to "pay the labourer a wage" but is that enough excuse to also condemn culture into the memory hole and enforce an economy of constant repayment for the same stuff? Is there a solution?

If there is, it will surely involve a fundamental rethink of rights legislation - patents and copyrights - that goes back to the social contract on which both are based, giving limited and temporary one-time rights in exchange for the enrichment of society. We've forgotten that was the root of the whole system, and corporations now have the sort of entitlement culture they deride in individuals.

We also need the invention of schemes like the Open Media Commons that allow the technological equivalent of the Nürnberg U-Bahn for content and OpenDocument that guarantees future access to today's documents. And we need to recognise the point at which schemes like iTunes finally funnel us away from circumventable almost-locks into real servitude and not give in to the intentional seduction3 .

But whatever the answer, we need it soon, because we're rushing headlong into a world that will be doomed to forget its culture and history - if it doesn't keep paying the protection money. As a card on my wall reminds me, "the biggest enemy of freedom is a happy slave".

1 The title is a reference to Rookmaaker's influential religious book discussing how modern art signals an inner decay of society.

2 That's the subway/tube/underground railway - interesting how even in English there's no agreement what to call it. Just to complicate matters further, it was actually the RER that I took...

3 James Governor has been hammering me on this one for a while. I'm happy enough to use iTunes all the time there's a way to get real MP3s of my purchases that's not too much fuss as it also makes me take backups. But I'm pretty close to giving up on them because of their "5 users" limit (as a household we have 5 machines so we have to keep a careful eye on authorisations), and I don't buy their videos because I can't get unencumbered versions that will live on when iTunes dies.

© 2006 Simon Phipps, all rights reserved


DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps | 214 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 07:53 PM EST
I would suggest corrections here but then some one would
get mad since I am annomyous.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: webmink on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 07:59 PM EST
I'm not anonymous, so I'll start the corrections thread...

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: pallmall on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 08:47 PM EST
I think another skiing analogy would be that, instead of just checking your lift ticket, a patron would be required to be strapped with a 50 lb. backpack wired to explosive skis and a set of headphones. The backpack would track the trails you skied, how often you skied them, how often you fell, and who you skied with. Additionally, the backpack would monitor how frequently you visited the resort, and what you purchased at the lodge and ski shop.

Then, as you tried to enjoy the slopes, you would be constantly bombarded by advertisements "targeted" to your past spending history in order to "enhance your ski experience" and "provide greater value" to you, whether you want it or not. And if you try to take off the headphones, or lighten the burden of the backpack, your skis will explode and take your legs (analagous to hardware) out with them.

I think I'd rather see the resort close down.

Groklaw! -- If I had better things to do, I'd still be doing this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here
Authored by: LaurenceTux on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 08:50 PM EST
PJ please nuke the previous Off topic thread (i forgot to login)

I get to do the off topic thread??
don't forget to do the clickies

[ Reply to This | # ]

America should look at the connection between this subject and it's "raison d'etre".
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 09:03 PM EST

Freedom of thought, freedom from exploitation and the Rights of Man.

DRM as proposed will more effectively give away these "rights" to "Corporations" than censorship does in China.

I like your article.

PS Could you put up an OT also, I get trouble with my login.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 09:51 PM EST
The issue as I see it is that sure the music or movie companies or artists or
whatever may according to law own the content. But they don't own the recording
technology in mine or anyone else's home.

So for someone like me who does not give a crap about their garbage music and
movies, I will be imposed upon and inconvenienced because they want to alter the
recoding technology that is available to me and thousands of others who could
not give a dam about their garbage content.

I just want to easily make copies of my own photos, documents and movies etc.
without all their imposed restrictions. Not only do they want to own the
content, they want to control the recording media that I own as well. That
interferes with my rights, because I don't want anything to do with their

Do you think that the government will ever represent the rights of the citizens?
Do you think that they will ever do independent investigation of the truth,
instead of being fed all the crap by the RIAA.

This whole thing is headed back-ways to the days of the first printing presses,
when only certain privileged people were granted crown rights to own or operate
a printing press, or to have "copyrights".

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 11:45 PM EST
Ok, color me out to lunch, but ...
I think DRM stinks. So, I do not buy products that use it.
I prefer my principles to the latest payola-pushed Joe Cool band owned by an
RIAA member. So, I don't buy his/her/their music.

Now, I don't like paying annual taxes to Microsoft to use my computer. So, I
don't buy their products either.

When RIAA and MS finally buy enough congressfolk to pass laws making recording
equipment illegal unless it includes their proprietary DRM, I won't buy that
either. I bought Linux from a foreign company, I have no problem buying my
next-generation-DVD-whatever from a foreign company -- if that is what it takes
to be free. Fortunately, few industries have the power of the pharmas to pass
laws making the import of goods illegal. If RIAA and MS achieve this, then I,
like my 80+ year old friends and relatives, will become a criminal.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Somewhere between the extremes lies the answer
Authored by: DaveAtFraud on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 01:05 AM EST
It's really too bad that Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) has created the same polarization of views that seems to be characteristic of so many topics of the day. Just like the owner of the ski lift or the operator of the tram, the creator of content has the right to ask a price for access to that service. That price should be a fair market price and the transaction should not be coercive to either party (buyer or seller). The seller of the property or service sets the terms of the transaction and the buyer can either accept the terms, negotiate for better terms or walk away. That is, if the buyer is unwilling to meet the terms of the seller, the buyer can choose to do without the fruits of the seller's labor which also denies to the seller whatever the buyer was willing to offer in exchange.

Those who create intellectual property of whatever sort (music, movies, books, poetry, computer programs, etc.) may choose to demand compensation for access to their creations. For some of us, that is how we earn our living. That technology allows the reproduction of so many of these forms of intellectual property at a negligible cost does not negate the creator's interest in being compensated for access to their creative work (if the creator so chooses). DRM, in it's current form, is unfortunately just a ham fisted attempt by the corporate powers that control a significant portion of "entertainment content" to ensure that they get their cut under the same justification. One can argue the ethics of their specific entitlement but that is a quite different argument from whether any "owner" of some "intellectual property" is entitled to ask for compensation for access to that property.

Stripping away the extremes of exploding skis, etc., a content provider is entitled to ask for compensation for access to that content if they so choose. That price may be strictly monetary or the provider may choose to include indirect compensation. I may not like the implications of this "indirect" compensation but, as a consumer, I can only demand that all terms of the transaction be clearly stated and agreed to before the transaction takes place so that I can agree to the terms, negotiate or walk away. My complaint with current DRM is not that it exists but that I am not allowed to know the full costs before being asked to agree to the transaction.

Technology created the current dynamic tension between free disemination and protection of intellectual property by providing nearly effortless means to reproduce digital content. Current DRM is just a first, feeble attempt to use technology to restore the ballance between disemination and protection by somehow encapsulating the content. That is, those who choose to charge for access to their creations now want to use technology to ensure that their terms are met while still allowing the replication of their ideas. That there are those who want to surreptitiously include "costs" the consumer isn't aware of in this transaction does not preclude the right of the content creator to ask for reasonable compensation. The problem here is that the price being supposedly asked doesn't clearly include everything the buyer is being asked to give up. I would argue that instead of the open source community opposing any DRM technology perhaps a better answer would be for the open source community to create an open DRM that both ensures that a creator is compensated and that the consumer knows exactly what is transacted. If this is not technologically feasible then second best would be to demand full, up-front transparency in any DRM imposed on a consumer by a content creator as part of access to content since this would at least allow the consumer to make a fully informed choice.

Quietly implementing RFC 1925 wherever I go.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Paris subway
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 01:06 AM EST
The army in the paris subway is there to prevent terrorist attacks.
The police is mostly concerned about preventing and catching pick
pockers and vandalism.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Paris subway - Authored by: webmink on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 10:15 AM EST
  • Paris subway - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 03:27 PM EST
    • German Subways - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 09:31 PM EST
An Horrifying (DRM?) Experience
Authored by: iceworm on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 01:07 AM EST

This very evening (Saturday, 28 January, 2006) I witnessed what may have some connection to this DRM thing.

I went to the local Fred Meyer (editables and sundries chain for those in far off lands not so blessed =:-)}}} to pick up a gallon (US) of milk and a couple of boxes of tofu (Mori-Nu Silken, Firm: I know there are lands even close by that are not so blessed). I went to the self check-out and found myself at the station immediately in front of the sole clerk who oversees the five stations. As I was scanning and placing my items in the bag, I overheard the following, What do you mean I have to show my ID to buy a DVD. I have never had to do that before....

I turned around to see the clerk talking to the man at the self check-out station immediately behind me, who had his bag full and was apparently attempting to pay. Clearly he was not trying to sneak out without paying for the DVD, but there was something that caused the clerk to leave her station and approach the customer behind me.

Being in a hurry, I didn't tarry to find out whether he succeeded in purchasing the DVD without showing his ID, whether he decided not to purchase the DVD, or ... (there may be other outcomes, but my mind is boggled). I was about half way to where I parked when it hit me, This perhaps was a DRM event! I decided to post my experience on Groklaw, and oddly enough, this new thread seems to be the appropriate place.

iceworm (curmudgeon in training and apparently almost ready to graduate)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wrong analogy
Authored by: ile on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 03:31 AM EST
Without disputing the gist of the article, I'd like to point out that the presence of armed police (and in the past even some "Marsouins" - quite qualified military, the French Marines, in fact) has nothing to do with skipping the fare in the RER or Metro.

It is much more related to the 1995 bombings and later developments.

I guess it is possible that the RATP personnel might call on the police if someone caught without a valid ticket were to behave violently, but (at least when I used to live there) the RATP people move in big enough bunches not to need it. Plus, I am not quite sure how a big CRS guy would take such a demeaning task... (and the CRS people are frightening, I can tell you).

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Future
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 04:59 AM EST
It will be most interesting to see how this all ends. The existing and no doubt
fatally challenged model for the distribution of creative works is
unsatisfactory and has been for some time. It is exploitative of all but a
lucky few artists, arguably damaging to culture and places enormous power in the
hands of a few very powerful corporations and their executives. Technological
developments have been and are seen by the record companies, publishers, movie
studios etc. as a cash cow. For instance, movies which originally relied on
revenue essentially only from cinema screenings now derive revenue also from
endless televesion repeats, sales of dvd's (and even still the odd video
cassette), and of course merchandising and no doubt other revenue streams. And
of course, television, the vcr, the dvd and now of course peer to peer
filesharing have been and in the latter case are seen as the end of civilisation
as we know it. Plans for the DVD were set back somewhat by the later cheap and
readily available burners and by the efforts of DVD Jon with css and many others
with region coding. Now, of course, the whole battle will likely be fought all
over again with Blu-ray and hd dvd.

The content providers vision seems to be yet more revenue streams for their
content. Discs which you can play only once or twice or 5 times or whatever
number is decreed. Discs which can be played only once a week on a Sunday. The
possibilities are endless. Ideally, the public may not even be able to purchase
an unrestricted copy but must go on paying and paying. And of course the only
way that this wonderful vision can be realised is with the aid of legislation.
Because the very technology that has the power to create this content providers
utopia is also its greatest threat.

Certainly I don't want to see a return to the days when an artist relied, for
instance, on wealthy patrons to live whilst they concentrated on their works.
Nor do I want to see brilliant artists who bring pleasure to millions struggling
to make a living, though this is evidently the current norm except for a very
lucky few.

I believe that the hold of record companies on music is ultimately doomed.
Technology has reduced their role in the distribution system from an essential
one to one of simply filtering out a fraction of the torrent (no pun intended)
of music and artists to a few who receive mass exposure. Whilst this role is
still necessary I believe it can and will be fulfilled by other persons and
other means, though a more enlightened approach by these corporations could see
them retain this role. The movie corporations will probably survive, simply
because of the sheer costs of making a movie, though they too will need to make
their accommodations with new technology.

The challenge will, of course, be to find a model where artists (and not
obsolete middlemen) are rewarded for their efforts. I'm afraid I don't have the
answer, but hopefully one will be found.

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: geoff lane on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 05:01 AM EST
DRM seems like a solution to the problem of unauthorised copying of data but history tells us that it almost certainly will fail. It won't be a cheap failure either. The costs of DRM will appear in the cost to the customer of both players and media.

But far more importantly, DRM will be used as a method to restrict trade. If a player will only play DRM'ed material then the ability of independents to produce material will be restricted. The Sonys of this world are already trying to create entire product chains which will only work well when every component is supplied by Sony.

The legal attempts to close the analogue hole are nothing less than an attempt to restrict the production of media to a few priviledged performers licensed by the big companies and must be resisted.

The idea that analogue to digital converters can be a kind of restricted technology is laughable. There is nothing mystical about A2D hardware and anybody with a little knowledge of electronics could create one suitable for audio from scratch in a few days -- professional "pirates" could do much better.

Blatent plug for weekend SCO project. In an attempt to understand the global relationships in the SCO v. The World case I've put together a picture of the connections between the various people and companies which can be seen here.

I'm not a Windows user, consequently I'm not
afraid of receiving email from total strangers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 05:16 AM EST
You can copy the IBM RedBooks all you want. You can modify them, too; ask your employer to send you on a residency to IBM, or show up yourself.

You can find out all about how Sony's Playstation works at the IBM developerworks site.

Make all the content you want. Make it available to all those you wish, under as creative a licence as you would like.

You can license any IBM Intellectual Property here; 'Market rates', but free for appropriate things in the medical and education fields. (Not enough advances are being made. IBM does not want to stand in people's way). The preferred payment is 'in kind'; i.e. collaboration, or sharing inventions, rather than cash changing hands.

So, it's a serious problem. But not all corporations are 'bad' !

[ Reply to This | # ]

Main point missed - DRM is about monopoly control.
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 06:37 AM EST
DRM is essentially about control. The reason Microsoft and
the major recording an film studios are so keen to push
DRM has nothing to do with prevention of piracy or i l
legal use of content, it has everything to do with
leveraging the control to establish a price and market and
price fixing cartel.

Microsoft is well known for it's past and continuing
criminal activities in this respect. Microsoft's aim is to
use DRM enforcement as a means to lock out competeting
operating systems and devices.

The music industry is worried that new technologies,
particularly things like peer to peer technologies will
allow artists and customers to bypass the stranglehold
they have on the industry. Imagine an artist being able to
market his/her music directly through a small Internet
content provider without having to sign away his/her
rights over to a major record label - that would kill the
record labels by allowing artists to receive all the
profits from their work and cutting out the middle man.
The music industry's aim is to force through legislation
that would enforce their DRM system on all devices.
Requiring a specific DRM specification to be built into
all hardware or software which they can control using
patents and/or trade secrets means that they have a
monopoly control of all media distribution. This allows
the RIAA cartel to charge large license fees or require
joining the RIAA to keep small companies and artists from
selling their wares in competition with the cartel of big
record labels.

With ever cheaper video cameras, computer based editing
and special effects, and Internet distribution, the big
film studios' control on the market is under threat from
smaller production companies. Again films can be legally
distributed over the Internet, which takes away the
control the few major studios have over distribution. By
removing the control the big studios have over the market,
this will inevitably reduce costs to the customer and the
profits of the big film studios. Again enforcing their
particular DRM spec on the market on all devices by law
and protecting it using patents and trade secrets will
give the MPAA cartel a monopoly of film media, membership
of which can be kept out of reach for Internet start-ups
by virtue of cartel membership costs.

The RIAA and MPAA doesn't dislike open source or peer to
peer file sharing technology because they promote piracy -
they dislike them for the same reason Microsoft does,
because they compete and because they can't exercise
monopoly control over them.

I have no problem with DRM itself, but enforcing a DRM
monopoly by law on computer users or hardware
manufacturers who do not want the MPAA or RIAA's content
is unacceptable. Also the mandating of a monopoly hardware
or software based DRM by law is unacceptable especially if
there are any license fees or royalty fees for patents
payable in order to do so. This would be tantamount to a
government enforced forced monopoly tax levied on all
computer users and content consumers. Any DRM scheme that
does not make it's implementation publicly documented and
free for anyone to implement without payment of royalties
and without restriction, will fall foul of
anti-competition law if mandated by government.

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: Sique on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 06:44 AM EST
From what I know about Copyright (and related legal constructions in other
countries) the idea had completely different sources than the rationale given
today. Copyright was not made to compensate the author of an work of art for
each copy made from his work, thus being a stimulant for him to create the next
work of art.

1. It was a matter of control and censorship: To be recognized as a copyright
holder you had to register your work. Thus you were not only entitled to the
priviledges, but also to the duties and responsabilities coming out of it. Works
with questionable standings with the mighty and the society of the time were
better published anonymously or with pseudonym.

2. It was a deal between the authors and the distribution channels. The
distributors, mainly owners of a printing press or another vehicle for mass
production had a big pricing advantage against everyone else who wanted a copy.
So for most people it was better to go for a printed copy instead of the tedious
work of copying themselves. On the other hand the printing press needed
something to print to make money, so they had to pay the authors for original
stuff (e.g. stuff no one else was printing), thus exclusive copy contracts
occured. At the same time laws were enacted to fight off leechers, printers who
just reprinted what other printers were selling.

Both of those points are moot right now. Except for the "redactional
responsibility" which is not necessarily connected to the authorship,
publishing something under your own name is no big risk anymore. Freedom of
Speech and Freedom of Press are constitutional (No comments about legal attacks
on them right now, the situation is still better than for most of the human
history). And everyone can make a copy of any work for cheap money, so there is
no need to ask the people with the printing press anymore for yet another copy.

This means that there shouldn't be any more business to shell out hundreds and
thousands of identical copies of the same work anymore, because everyone who is
interested could make the copy on his own. The whole business is still there,
because there are laws in place forbidding the copy. Without the legal laws,
there would only be the economical law, stating that the fair price of yet
another identical object is the price for making the next copy, thus putting the
economically fair price of a music cd to U.S$ 0.25.

The business for the people with the CD press would then be by selling the copy
for less, because their process would still be cheaper than home copying. But
the time of the big margins, which were gone for the real printing press (the
one generating books) with the advent of the rotation press and the paperback
(The price for paper and ink makes about 80-90% of the end price of a
paperback), are still here for music CDs, where the price for the polycarbonate
disk is about $0.10, but for the whole it's about $10-$20.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Author Plugs Project DReaM
Authored by: cmg on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 10:59 AM EST

This article seems to present a logical and reasoned analysis of the impact of DRM. I agree with the authors proposed collateral damages resulting from DRM. However, a reference was made to the open source "Project DReam" as a solution to 3rd collateral damage.

A little help from google provided some information about "Project DReam". This description seems to indicate that DReaM is a open source and open standards gateway to other DRM systems using a "play once" rule, as proposed by Sun. This review provides a more critical view of DReaM and talks about interesting patent twists affecting DRM.

So, the author proposes yet another DRM solution to one of the key collateral damages of DRM! Wow! Wow again!

It may be open source and open standards, but DReaM is still DRM. DReaM may fix some interoperability problems, but it's still DRM. Fair use rights are still restricted.

How's DReaM going to work to fix the other collateral damages of DRM proposed by the author, or even to prevent occurance of the 3rd collateral damage, to which it was offered as a solution?

I think I'll stick to my solution: I don't buy DRM'd movies, music, or software. I use open source software and donate for it, use non-DRM music from independent artists and pay for it, and I don't buy DVD's. Prevents all of the collateral damages - at least for me!

Got linux?

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DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: jsusanka on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 12:56 PM EST
great article

DRM is just bad - it is a technology that will drive the implementers out of

some people just have to learn the hard way.

MPAA and RIAA want you to pay everytime you view a movie or want to move a song
to a different playing device.

No matter how they spell it out that is their goal and they will buy any
politician and stomp on any innocent bystander without thinking twice.

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Authored by: Wol on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 02:25 PM EST
Actually, in English (as opposed to American) there is a clear distinction
between Tube and Underground (although much abused in practice).

As far as I am aware, "Subway" is an American word, certainly insofar
as it refers to a mode of transport. In English, it means a pedestrian tunnel
under a road.

"Underground" in the pedantic sense refers to the "cut and
cover" railways in London, namely the District, Circle and Metropolitan
lines. These were originally steam-hauled, and are also referred to as the
"sub-surface" lines - they couldn't go deep because of the technology
of the day. Their name is also used for the network as a whole because,
presumably, the entire network was originally just the Underground network.

The tube lines were built from the 30's on, although I can remember the Victoria
line being built in the sixties and the Jublilee Line in the seventies (so
called after the Queen's silver jubilee in 1977 - it was originally going to be
called the Fleet Line and open in 1976!). These lines are so-called because they
were built by drilling machines and the tunnels are tube-shaped.

So no, I wouldn't agree that "even in English we can't agree what to call
it" - but the pedantic meaning has been much blurred in common usage :-)

(And, iirc, the German U-Bahn is an Underground network, not a tube network :-)


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DRM is an attempt to impose value where none exists.
Authored by: kawabago on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 02:27 PM EST
Copyrights get their value not from copyrighted work but from the medium in
which they are distributed. Printed books, vinyl records and prints of films
all have a cost of production and require a central factory to produce them so
rights holders can extract their income from the factory and the factory recoups
that cost when it sells to the consumer.

The digital age reduced the cost of reproduction to near zero and made the
ability to copy ubiquitous. DRM is an attempt to add a virtual factory back
into the equation so rights holders can extract their income. The justification
for this is that without DRM noone will produce new content.

Bloggers are producing new content every day at no cost to the consumer. Photo
and movie blogs are springing up and new content is being produced in new ways
everywhere around the internet. Content creators no longer need a publisher to
access their audience, the internet provides a direct connection between the
content creator and her audience.

Pamela Jones is a perfect example of the new content creation model. She has
created an audience with her blog, which she wants as many people as possible to
read at no cost to the reader. The value is no longer in the content but in the

So in the digital age we have moved from a model where the content is valuable
to a model where the audience is valuable. Unfortunately for publishers the new
model doesn't have a use for them. That is why they want to impose DRM, to save
themselves from extinction.


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DRM and the Mono Culture
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 02:50 PM EST
Back in the early days of shrink wrapped software many programs were copy
protected, as customers complained and more importantly affected sales these
protection schemes were largely abandoned.

As one company became dominate in any market segment then the copy protection
began to creep back in and prices rose.

In entertainment industry there is so much money sloshing around in an
inefficient industry that controls the limited distribution channels a defacto
cartel works to keep market forces out. This results in higher prices for
consumers, low compensation for most artists with the management consuming most
of the income.

Unless these cartels can be broken we can expect the pattern to continue.


Not Logged In

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Or, in short...
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 07:25 PM EST
When you outlaw our rights, only the outlaws will have rights.

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DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 08:58 PM EST
The article claims that "Copyright eventually runs out, but
technology-enforced restrictions never do."

He is dreaming or high. Copyrights may have expired in the past - but they
won't anymore in the future. The most important aspect of american culture,
that must be protected regardless of cost, is that the copyright on mickey mouse
shall never expire.

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Electronic Memory Hole
Authored by: fgoldstein on Sunday, January 29 2006 @ 09:56 PM EST
If any of you haven't read 1984, I suggest you do so. It is highly relevant.

At the Ministry of Truth, history was routinely emended. If someone fell out of favor with the Party, they became an Unperson. All references to them were cut out of whatever, such as newspapers and public records, and placed into the Memory Hole, a convenient desktop incinerator. Oceania was always at war with Eurasia, except that when it was at war with Eastasia, it had always been at war with Eastasia, and there was never any evidence to the contrary.

DRM is perfect for that job. Replace newspapers with DRM-equipped e-Books, and the modern equivalent of the Ministry of Truth can simply change the permissions on the server, and suddenly material that was accessible to the consumer one day becomes inaccessible the next. DRM is how a future Big Brother (could be near future) gets to put information into the memory hole. There is no historical record; history is what DRM says it is, no more no less. Those who try to evade it are, per the DMCA, criminals.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Anti-DRM License
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 30 2006 @ 11:32 AM EST
Perhaps the time has come for a license that restricts use by companies that use
DRM and programmers who produce DRM software. I would like to suggest that the
terms should be that the content is licensed to such people in exchange for
certain restrictions:

1) Payment of a one-time fee of USD $10,000, or $0.50 per page view or $1.00 per

2) The licensee shall be required to use their own DRM software to enforce the

3) In the case of a personal license, the user shall submit credit reports from
all three major credit agencies.

4) In the case of a corporate license, a complete employee directory and all
internal accounting information shall be provided in a format to be specified by
the copyright holder.

5) The licensee's DRM software shall be required to delete everything from every
computer and electronic device that may have had access to the content in the
even that any of the terms of the license were violated.

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Enforce consumer rights on refunds, resale and format change.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 30 2006 @ 11:49 PM EST
Denying a partial refund or a transfer to another storage format (weather DRMed or not) is a breach of user rights, and a method of user lock-in which can be used to limit competition. Link

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DRM and the Death of Culture, by Simon Phipps
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 31 2006 @ 07:50 AM EST
Could someone explain the use of the word "quantise" here? The online
dictionaries are not very helpful.

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DRM'd Content should not get copyright protection
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 01 2006 @ 08:06 PM EST
I'd argue that similar to how a trade secret cannot be patented, content that is
only released with Digital Restriction Management should not be granted a

The reason for copyright is to give the content creator incentive to release his
work in a manner that will eventually be accessible by all in the public domain.
The copyright grants a legal time limited monopoly on that content as payment
for this future contribution to society.

As the article stated DRM removes the future contribution to society, and
therefore I don't believe payment (copyright) should be given.

As for content creators having the right to charge for their creation, I don't
believe that. Unlike physical property the creator of ideas does not have less
when someone else uses those ideas. The creator could decide not to share, and
in that case society would be worse off, which is why the copyright and patent
grants were originally created.

If copyright and patents lasted forever, society would probably be better off
without them, letting the creators keep those ideas secret (because secrets are
hard to keep forever).


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Picture of the stone wall
Authored by: sakshale on Thursday, February 02 2006 @ 01:44 PM EST
I was expecting to see some comments about the picture of the stone wall in the
blog. However, given that there is no sense of scale, I probably saw it
different than it is in reality. What I saw looking at the wall was a kind of
stairway. It clearly marks the boundard between the two properties, but if it
really is a stairway, it also facilitates crossing that boundary.

That is the kind of DRM that I could live with. Something that clearly
identifies the boundaries, but also aids in crossing those boundaries. Just
like the subway examples. One has fences and police... the other just has
domain limits identified.

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