“Standard” DRM

Having a common pan European market for digital content is indeed a great thing, were it not for the threat of DRM looming in the dark. Of the ton of reasons that exist to ditch DRM (many of them expressed in the comments section of the /. thread), there is one that politicians just seem not to be able to grasp: the elementary technical reason why DRM has never worked, and never will.

DRM relies on encryption.

Encryption is designed to secure communication between Alice and Bob while denying it to the evil Eve.

In DRM, Bob and Eve are one and the same person.

In other words, DRM seeks to give a person access to an item while denying him/her access to that item. This is not a recipe for success.

The proponents of DRM seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the strengths and weaknesses of encryption, and so are attempting to use it in a manner that is inherently weak. The fact that DRM schemes are so frequently and so rapidly broken by people with minimal cracking resources is a clear pointer to this.

For further information, Google on Schneier.

A lengthier, and much more wittier explanation is given here. The only thing DRM so far has achieved sucessfully is wreak-havoc interoperability, which of course is Nirvana for Microsoft (and for Apple, in the digital music biz; and for any company in a market were they have uncontested monopoly). This view
is also expressed in this comment:

The only problem is that standardized DRM is a pipe dream.

DRM relies on a secret in order to work. If the DRM is standardized, that secret it out and the DRM is broken.

This, of course, presumes that the purpose of DRM is to “protect” content. We all know that the only purpose of DRM is to lock consumers into a product and restrict consumer choice. So standardizing DRM is something that companies want to avoid at all costs.

To make matters worse, though I’m not by any means a law expert, if in fact European law supersedes local state law, then this new law can have very direct (and unpleasant) effects on every citizen that has ever used a computer for anything other than writing a document…

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