Entertainment industry seeks Goldilocks DRM

Techdirt has a post commenting that the MPAA is looking into ways of making DRM less annoying. Techdirt points out that this Goldilocks DRM (not too restrictive, not completely open) isn’t likely to come about.

The good news is there is an acknowledgement that DRM causes problems – but that’s only part of the issue.

As I see it there are 3 basic issues with DRM. The first is a business issue of whether that kind of control/restrictions on content actually helps the vendor. The second is that DRM tends to be annoying, user unfriendly, and brings unintended problems. The third is that someone always finds a way around it – so the protections are illusory.

While I understand that creators want to be compensated, I’m not convinced that DRM is the way to go about it.

Read the Techdirt post.

TiVo example shows bad side of DRM

Various sources have reported that the DRM in a new TiVo model will in some circumstances, when used with certain equipment, lock one out from viewing or recording certain legitimate content.

That points out one of the problems with DRM – that it often works (doesn’t work?) to restrict perfectly legitimate use that frustrates users. Sometimes there are ways to fix those “glitches”, but it is very annoying and counterproductive. Seems exactly the wrong approach in light of all the talk we have seen lately about the need to make the user experience simpler.

Read a boingboing post with the TiVo DRM details

DRM restricts our rights

David Canton – for the London Free Press – September 26, 2006

Read this on Canoe

Several countries have enacted or are considering enacting legislation dealing with Digital Rights Management (DRM).

DRM deals with electronic ways the vendor of digital content uses to limit what the buyer can do with that content. It might, for example, allow the buyer to play a song on a CD player, but not on a computer, or allow only a few copies to be made or make a song or video playable only on specific devices.

Canada is expected to make it illegal to break DRM in upcoming copyright reform legislation, which has caused much concern. Some say we need protection from DRM, rather than protection for it.

I believe legal protection for DRM is unwarranted and causes far more problems than it resolves.

The entertainment industry is not united in its support for DRM, either. While large media companies generally support it, many artists and smaller music and video companies do not.

The intent of DRM is to protect the vendor’s copyright. The reality is DRM is used to exert far more control than that and often restricts users from doing things they are legally entitled to do.

The U.S. protects DRM and has been criticized for the chill effect it has had on legitimate activity. Some countries have proposed to restrict DRM, rather than support it.

DRM often does not work as it is inevitable that ways are found to break it. The entertainment industry thus tries to lobby governments to make it illegal to break DRM.

Before content was digital, we could copy a vinyl record onto a cassette to listen to it in our car or walkman.

Until DRM, people were able to copy music they had purchased onto any recording medium.

DRM limits what we can do with music (or video or any other digital file) we purchase. It might, for example, limit us to playing it back on vendor-compatible devices.

It might limit us to playing it on no more than five computers — a significant limitation.

iTunes, for example, sells a lot of music, but the amount of music on iPods from iTunes is a small percentage. Many people download music for their iPods because they know about the restrictions.

One problem with DRM is it allows music vendors to limit consumer rights more narrowly than copyright law allows.

DRM advocates want to make it illegal for us to break DRM so we can exercise those rights the law has granted us — thus allowing the music vendor to limit the legal rights that the legislators have seen fit to give us.

To learn more on DRM and copyright legislation, see Prof. Michael Geist’s 30 days of DRM feature at www.michaelgeist.ca/daysofdrm.

Canadian Sony Rootkit settlement controversy

The settlement for the Canadian class action lawsuit over the rootkit has generated controversy because it was not as comprehensive as the US one.

In addition to pointing out the differences, CIPPIC has filed complaints with various Canadian consumer agencies and privacy commissioners.

More evidence that we need protection from DRM, not for it.

Read Michael Geist’s post on the subject

Read Howard Knopf’s post

Copyright reform & lawful access

We are expecting 2 pieces of federal legislation soon dealing with copyright reform and lawful access. Both will be controversial.

David Fraser has a good comment on the role that private sector service providers should play in the balance between privacy and security – and its not to act as police.

Michael Geist continues with his 30 days of DRM series that deals with copyright reform issues, particularly, what the legislation might say about protecting DRM. He also has a good comment on the questionable thinking contained in an education ministers proposal.

My position on DRM is that is causes more problems than it solves, and defeating it should not be outlawed. Michael has focussed on all the exeptions that shouod be allowed to any provision outlawing defeating DRM. It just reinforces to me that this is getting way too complicated. Far simpler, easier, more certain, and balanced to forget any notion of outlawing tools to defeat DRM, and to expand the definition of fair dealing.

Read David’s comment on service provider roles

Read Michael’s comment on the education minister proposal

Microsoft’s DRM cracked

The tech blogosphere was full of articles yesterday about a tool that will break the Windows media DRM, thus allowing users to do whatever they want with those music and other files.

To me the story is not so much about this particular tool, but another indication that DRM and TPM in the grand scheme of things is not that effective. It certainly doesn’t stop anyone illegally duplicating and selling content on a large scale. And it just makes life difficult for the average user who gets frustrated that the content they buy won’t work on some of their devices.

Read a Wired post

Read a Techdirt post

Read a Lifehacker post

Read a Gizmodo post