watch the qualifiers

“Add digital rights management and the story becomes more complex.”

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8 Responses to watch the qualifiers

  1. Jonathan Zetlaoui says:

    Indeed, with DRM, the story becomes much more complex. Yet, it also become much more interesting. Is DRM only an architecture of control? Can’t it be used to ease access to “free” works? Can’t a DRM-enabled “Semantic Web” unleash a potentially very powerful bottom-up, democratic movement of expression by allowing to easily find what othes have said on a particular issue?
    I (want to) believe it can. I (want to) believe we are not be live in a world where culture will be “microsoftised”. Maybe I’m way too optimistic. Or maybe there is a way for us to change our future, by acting now, collectively.
    So what do you think? Am I a fool?

  2. Ryan says:

    No, your not. I don’t think that the Internet has unleashed its potential yet. But DRM can either hinder it, or it can help it.

  3. Paul Roub says:

    But aren’t we confusing verification/identity with control? DRM *is*, by definition and intent, a control mechanism.

    There are many ways to provide verification without DRM. If I digitally sign a message, or provide a link in an MP3 to a page under my control, noting the Creative Commons license I’ve chosen for my songs, you know who wrote the message or the song.

    Neither of these in any way controls your right to copy or modify this material, but both provide means to track the original intent and author.

    The advantages DRM has in this are (even when used strictly for verification): at some point, a central verification mechanism is required; that mechanism will be provided by the DRM purveyor, so you don’t have to choose or create one; and large companies will push the system, giving some ubiquity, without which none of this works terribly well (if we all sign our messages through different means, it becomes tough to keep track of everything).


  4. Laurrent says:

    The main problem, I think, is one of vocabulary. DRM is like Clean Air Act, giving the right to polute. DRM does not manage, it enforce or restrict. And not all rights.
    My comment here is copyright myself. It is a fact, persuant Berne convention, etc… What DRM system will manage my rights, as the author of this comment ? And will manage the rights of reader to fair use ?
    A few year ago, there was a contest where one was to break some drm system. You may remember the problem it generated when one university searcher was prevented to publish its results breaking the system. I don’t remember the specifics of the case, but I remember that the system, in order to protect again unauthorized copy, automaticaly incorporated rights to files without them. There was a very rational justification for the process, but the fact is the specification obliged implementors to remove rights from the public. it is not drm, it is digital rights restriction and enforcement. And if those systems become mandatory, it is also Digital Rights Theft.
    Me, as an author, can no longer dispose freely from my creation. I don’t have any longer all the rights atached to it -> they are stolen from me.
    If I can no longer benefit of all the rights given to me by the Berne convention, what reason does I have to grant those rights to others ?
    If I’m no longer considered as an author, or composer when I use GarageBand, or a movie maker with my camescope, why should I accept that Disney and the RIAA have rights ?
    the Berne convention ask for reciprocity. Presently at the state level. Perhaps we should ask to have representation of the real powers of today : Corporations , and the Peoples.

  5. Jonathan Zetlaoui says:

    I think most people have too extremist a view on DRM. DRM is all too often understood as “Digital Restriction Management”:

    Paul Roub:

    DRM *is*, by definition and intent, a control mechanism.

    But just have a look at the standard the MPEG is currently working on. “IP Management and Protection” is only one of the many layers of the framework. DRM (in the broad meaning of the term) — such as the Resource Description Framework (RDF) used by Creative Commons — could potentially be much more than that: items description and identification, REL, etc.. I insist on the “potentially”: the way DRM will develop depends not only on the Microsofts and Disneys of this world, but also on how we, the public, react. This article proves that it is possible to influence the debate on DRM. I do want to believe DRM can be used in ways that prove beneficial to both the “medias” and the public.
    As you wrote (thank you again for dedicated my book!), Prof. Lessig, I do hope too that I’ll prove you wrong.

    Anyway, the point of my post was not to debate about that, but to point to the this paper, The Present and Future of DRM by S. Bechtold that I believe gives a more balanced view on DRM.

  6. James Day says:

    DRM is fundamentally hopeless. And it’s worse when there are penalties for circumventing it for lawful purposes. In theory it might be of use but I’m sure that in fact it will never be more than digital restrictions greater than those otherwise provided by copyright law. I can’t think of even one case where DRM has been used more productively than some alternative solution. I can think of many where it’s been used to limit existing rights to works.

    Better to compete with easy and fast availability, authenticity and packaging instead of trying to use DRM.

    I haven’t yet encountered a DRM use which met with my requirements, as a purchaser. I essentially avoided buying DVDs until I could get unhindered access to the content. Then I started buying them. To the extent which any product incorporates DRM, either as content (free or paid) or as player, I’m less likely to acquire that product because I know I’d be encouraging something fundamentally contary to both my interests and the progress of the useful arts if I did.

  7. James Day says:

    Rights tagging (not customer-specific) is a very different matter from DRM, in my opinion. It’s a good thing to indicate the creators and the parties the various rights have been transferred to, at least temporarily, along with the dates of these things.

    Easy and practical ways to get and pay for things like mechnical licenses for a printing of one CD would also be good.

  8. tim says:

    Why can’t rights management exist that protects artists, while including provisions for fair use to protect consumers? Shouldn’t we be talking about Fair Use Management instead? Of course, FUM is a really crappy acronym. Bummer.

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