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DRM

Subject: DRM
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro"
Date: Sat, 05 Nov 2005 14:34:57 -0500
Before we get too deep into the DRM discussion, I want to disclose my
personal view about DRM -- and for that matter, about GPL. These are my
*opinions*, and I am not asking anybody else to subscribe to them.

I believe that the author of a work should be able to determine how it
is used, up to the limits of copyright provisions. My reasons for using
GPL, LGPL, and so forth in my work are strategic. I do not (at present)
subscribe to Richard's ideology. This may be because I have never heard
the underlying principle(s) behind his ideology clearly stated in order
that I might evaluate them.

I do not believe that the DRM technology is evil per se. I strongly
dislike DRM, but I believe that an author should be able to control the
use of their work within the limits and framework of copyright. To the
extent that DRM permits such control, I have no problem with it.

Here is where I *do* have major problems with DRM (apologies that these
are expressed in U.S.-centric form):

  1. DRM sidesteps the quid pro quo of copyright. There is a real
     risk that the content will *never* be disclosed openly. This
     violates the fundamental quid pro quo that is the social basis
     of copyright.

  2. I think the DRM anticircumvention provisions are unconstitutional.

  3. While those provisions continue to exist in the law, I would
     strongly support a requirement that these provisions should be
     enforceable **only** if an unencrypted copy of the relevant
     content was held in escrow by the Library of Congress, to be
     released to the public on the date of copyright expiration.

  4. There are an ever-increasing set of provisions designed to
     ensure that *my* works must be subjected to DRM, even if I
     do not wish them to be. Taken in combination with the
     anticircumvention provisions, this has the effect of allowing
     the corporate content resellers to constrain my speech. I
     object to this quite violently.

In addition, I have profound objections to the creeping growth of
copyright durations. This is a separate matter from DRM, but the two
interact in very negative ways.

Finally, I believe that DRM is a legislative problem rather than a
technical problem. From a purely technical perspective, DRM is a
perversion of privacy. So far as I can tell, the same technologies that
enable DRM enable privacy. DRM was a problem created in the various
legislatures, and I think that it must be solved there.

HOWEVER:

I strongly dislike DRM. If we can arrive at a set of technical means
that supports privacy and security without supporting DRM, I would be
very comfortable with deploying a system that could not support DRM.

Having said this, I must also say: if the technical price of having
privacy is tolerating DRM, I believe that the value of privacy is
greater than the evil of DRM even in its current form.


shap



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