FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I support copyright, but my problems with DRM can be summed up as follows: 1. DRM never expires. Ideally, copyright is a legal device used to enrich society, to encourage artists to create works based on the understanding that they will be able to profit from said works for a limited amount of time. After this time period expires, the creative works get released into the public domain. Unfortunately, DRM’d files don’t do this- the music you bought on iTunes in 2003 will still be restricted in 3003. 2. DRM will never work correctly without overly restrictive government controls. For example, let’s assume that “Brand New Hyper DVD” format is completely uncrackable- the disks can never, ever be decrypted and copied digitally. So what? Take your camcorder, aim it at the screen, and press record. Voila! Brand new copy without DRM. The only way to stop this would be to force all electronics manufacturers to include complicated measures to insure that they can’t be used in this manner- but the next “DVD Jon” would show up around two days later and crack these measures. The only way to fight this from a corporate/government standpoint would be to force all electronics capable of being used in this kind of pirating scheme to “phone home” on a regular basis to update their DRM software, and to ban all older electronics without this “feature”. See where this is going? Do you want to live in this society? 3. DRM effectively turns your computer into a police snitch, working against you rather than for you. Just look at the Sony rootkit fiasco for an obvious example, or read up on the DMCA or broadcast flags or… you get the point. 4. DRM adds an extra degree of complexity to playback, which constitutes another failure mode. A computer crash can often reduce a DRM’d music library to binary junk unless the user has been meticulous enough to save the mountain of data necessary to identify his/her computer as “the authorized playback device” of said music. Want to switch to a different computer, or swap out some hardware? Good luck- this will probably be interpreted as a “new computer” and your music won’t play. Want to play your music on another device like your car stereo or your portable music player? You’d better hope the music vendor was “gracious” enough to bless you with that kind of “privilege”.