2006-04-15

DRM myths

I don't want to become a DRM advocate, but when I read articles like this I feel like a more balanced view should be expressed.

Both Lessig and Stallman are smart people. But it turns out they are very idealistic, and unrealistic, in their opinion on DRM and freedom in general.

The values of the Free Software Movement are the freedom to cooperate, and the freedom to have control over your own life. You should be free to control the software in your computer, and you should be free to share it.


The GPL that Stallman wrote (or was the main driving force) doesn't give you the freedom to share. It is an obligation. You replace a freedom with a constraint. It really feels like someone is deciding for you what kind of freedom is good for you. So it's always surprising to see him attack other Open Source licenses (that sometimes give you all rights) in the name of freedom.

Now about DRM, the freedom given to people (restricted rights) is exactly what they paid for. If they want more rights they should pay more money, and if they agree on less rights, they should pay less. That's the very basic reason why renting a DVD is cheaper than buying it. And the market, in other words the consumers, will decide what kind of rights they want. It's just unfortunate that the whole content market is ruled by oligopolies (on movies and on music) and therefore the DRM offers/choices are very scarce. But this has nothing to do with why DRM is good or bad.

the whole point of DRM is to deny your freedom and prevent you from having control over the software you use to access certain data.


When smart people start using stereotypes that means there's something fishy going on. After all the whole GPL relies on copyright laws. And Stallman, as such, is a strong defender of copy rights (copyleft as they call it) and intellectual property. But apparently electronic ways to ensure the rights are always respected are not good. He probably considers that doing this in court is preferrable, even for people who earn no money on what they create (like most GPL devs do).

4 comments:

Alexander Noé said...

I'm sure his views on Digital Restrictions Management would not be as negative if Sony hadn't made a Rootkit Virus of which the primary function was to sabotage your computer (p.e. by making reading any audio cd impossible), and of which only a minor side effect was to protect the contents of one specific disc.

His views certainly wouldn't be as negative if the RIAA didn't sue children of people who don't have children after trying to sue a person for using Kazaa who only owns a MAC [3]

His views certainly wouldn't be as negative if the RIAA didn't sue dead people, in order to verify they don't have a DSL connection in their tombe (I'm not kidding, that did happen as well)

His views certainly wouldn't be as negative if the RIAA didn't intentionally blackmail innocents people, making them pay protection money just to be let alone, or forcing them to prove their innocence instead of having to prove their guilt [2]

As you probably know, the Senat wants to reinstall the original Amendement Vivendi Universal, submitted by Vivendi Universal, who already made the EU copyright directive in 2001 [1], i.e. making FTP, BitTorrent etc. illegal (FTP doesn't include any means to prevent illegal file sharing, so it's obviously made for pirating). You probably also know that the Senat wants to delete any interoperability from DADVSI v2.0 modified by the Assemblée Nationale, to allow Apple to charge you again for music once an iPod2 shows up intentionally made not to play old files.

Some people want to learn the hard way... Digital Restrictions Management are designed to give people power who have proven beyond any possible doubt that even the slightest bit of power in their hands is dangerous.

[1]: http://www.senat.fr/rap/r05-267/r05-2671.html#toc1
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Le précédent intervenant indique que la loi proposée ne représente pas un cadeau pour les majors. J'aimerais que les gens sachent que la directive européenne de 2001 a été passée par une députée européenne mariée au PDG de Vivendi.
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[2] http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=30428

[3] http://www.p2pnet.net/article/8133

robUx4 said...

I understand the concern. But the problem you're talking about is not really about wether DRM is good or not, wether it makes sense or not. IMO it does make sense (unless the whole content/creation economy is radically changed). But in the other hand oligopolies should be faught. That's the problem you're talking about. The best people to do so are the people who create the content these oligopolies create. If they silently accept the situation, they are just as responsible of this situation as the oligopolies.

Anonymous said...

It was my understanding that the next GPL would disallow DRM to be used in a way that restricts a party's ability to redistribute or alter the software. It is not to be a ban on DRM.
This licence was to solve a specific problem with the last one: that people could distribute GPL code for their device (hardware and software), but lock their device using DRM so that only the licensor's compiled and signed binaries would work. Altered code once compiled could not be run on the device.

Maybe I understand wrongly. The Trouble is the wording of the licence is legalese and the discussion is hard to follow, and RMS when commenting on the GPL cannot seem to resist going off topic to argue about his philosophical opposition to DRM and how the GPL v3 is to a tool to fight it, without consistantly making a distinction about what behaviours the GPL V3 actually limits and what behavious he wishes everyone followed, regardless of the GPL ...

robUx4 said...

Yes, the idea behind the GPLv3 is to prevent code for being used to restrict rights digitally. That's another restrictions added to the GPL which claims to be The Free license. I just find it ironic or cynical or stupid. It's like saying that the GPL must be enforced but never digitally, only in court.