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Sun's Open Source DRM 274

DigDuality writes "Wired has an interesting look at Sun's proposed 'Open Source DRM'. From the article: 'Its goal is to promulgate an open-source architecture for digital rights management that would cut across devices, regardless of the manufacturer, and assign rights to individuals rather than gadgets [...] If DReaM works, consumers will be able to access their purchased songs through a number of providers, and using a wide variety of devices." Slashdot took a first look at Sun's DReaM last August.
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Sun's Open Source DRM

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  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <yayagu@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:15PM (#15050902) Journal

    I'm kind of surprised Sun gets it wrong this time. DRM and its insult/harm to the consuming demographic has almost nothing to do with its technological underpinnings and mostly everything to do with customers' collective perception of the disdain by the industry.

    It's already enough of a pain to use unencumbered technology. Thankfully (I guess) I'm part of the tech-savvy crowd, I've done all of (okay most...) my research and homework on HDTV, mp3's and ripping, copy protected CDs not to buy (a tip of the hat to Amazon for flagging copy protected CDs) but it's a constant gauntlet we run.

    But have you helped and worked with people who are trying to get their home wired and set up and continued running? It's a nightmare, and I'm not even talking about DRM yet. Even if the first (two) generations of HD DVD roll out unencumbered, they're going to be a royal pain... but with DRM, commercial or open source, forget about it!

    From the article:

    Jacobs expects the fiercest resistance to come from backers of existing, closed-source DRM. "If you happen to be one of those handful of winners -- there are probably two winners at the moment -- you want to make sure there's a lot of FUD out there about how hard it is for the whole world to switch over to anything other than what they've already got. But in reality, everyone else is on the outside, looking with great envy at the potential for success that's been shown by this first generation of digital distribution solutions. And so all these other suppliers on the outside are looking at how they (can) get in."

    This is a red herring -- Jacobs merely describes the battle for rolling out DRM. The strongest resistance will come from the user community and I don't even think it's likely to be fierce, it's likely to be passive. Mass consumers will look at the wall of technology, the rules, the configurations, the expense, and will quietly resist the new technology and DRM by simply staying with the already-good-enough media they have.

    The article tries to compare this "fix" to the old saw about incompatibilities between browsers. This is NOT the same thing, this is about transparent and without paranoia product use and the "fix" fails the sniff test.

    If the industry: RIAA, etc, don't figure this out in time an entire generation of new technology for entertainment runs the risk of dying on the Ethernet vine.

    • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:22PM (#15050982) Homepage Journal
      MOD PARENT UP UP UP.

      This is so correct. My favorite media player is my modified Xbox because it works. I have no real need to pirate anything, but having your current library of videos available "on demand" is great, the added bonus of my daughter not being able to scratch her $40 a pop and up disney DVDs. DRM may kill this system, which means I will not be getting new content.
      -nB
      • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:34PM (#15051684)
        DRM may kill this system, which means I will not be getting new content.

        I just thought of what the media people would do if they were in another service industry. Lets take for example, running water. Lets pretend that Sony gets into the water business.

        If they were in the running water business, they would probably be in other businesses as well. Like Sony does content, hardware, etc. So you could get a Sony sink and faucet with your Sony water.

        The difference is that you would have to use your Sony sink, or Sony licensed sink to drink your Sony water. The Sony water would then have to be protected so that a Panasonic sink would not be able to dispense of the Sony water. How would they do that?

        DRM. Yes, they would add a poison to the water, at great expense and danger to the public. The water would kill you in seconds of ingestion without the aid of a Sony sink to remove the poison.

        Of course, you could license the rights to drink Sony's poisoned water, but all of the fittings would be nonstandard. You would have to get special tools to work on the sink. Oh, and Sony water would never just go through PVC or copper pipe. The Sony water would need an end to end transport system.

      • Amen bro. XBMC has been my favorite htpc-ish media player since installed it back in the day. The newer builds are quite nice, imho. It "Just Works(c)" with my linux media server, and with a remote, it passes the Fiencee test. Nothing at all like the garbage they put you through with the 360/MCE integration. Blech. I even bought a 2nd xbox to have xbmc in my bedroom.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The fact that you don't like DRM doesn't mean that it won't be there. Sun is trying to make a standard so that once it's everywhere, you can still actually enjoy your legally bought content without having to deal with even more restrictions, such as limited choice of playback devices, or other vendor fidelity requirements.
    • by Japher ( 887294 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:26PM (#15051027)
      I'll probably get modded down for this, but here goes anyway. I see a lot of valid arguments against each new DRM mechanisim that comes out, but nobody seems to be offering an alternative. Sure, it would be great if we didn't have to deal with DRM, and it would be nice if we could trust everyone not to steal protected content, but thats not the way things are. Don't get me wrong, I hate the RIAA as much as the next guy, and I think they generally work against the better interest of the public as well as artists, but they do have the right to protect their investments. So my question for everyone opposing this move by Sun is this: Whats wrong with having an open source, freely distributed DRM system so we can at least be sure nothing nasty is going on behind the scene?
      • I see a lot of valid arguments against each new DRM mechanisim that comes out, but nobody seems to be offering an alternative.

        The alternative is NO DRM, that's very easy: I buy and I can do whatever I want with it (no, I haven't said "put it on the internet") There is no DRM without problems to the customers: the CD that is not playing in the car, the song you can't put on your mp3 player or the game that won't play in three years on the new Windows (and yes, I still play Monkey Island, that would be impossible with DRM)

        Whats wrong with having an open source, freely distributed DRM system

        The DRM is wrong. If you don't trust me, your customer giving my money, I'm not buying.
        • "The alternative is NO DRM, that's very easy: I buy and I can do whatever I want with it..."

          So how about DRM that let's YOU do whatever you want with it? (Except put it on the internet, which you implied you weren't going to do anyway.)

          To my mind a "perfect" DRM system would do just that. A movie would "know" who bought it, and that person could do whatever they want with it, including loaning it to a friend, and transferring title to it, that is selling it. No restrictions on putting it on your compute

          • No internet? So when I want to back up my legally purchased stuff over FTP (or hell, even Samba), I won't be able to? The problem is you're saying the line needs to be drawn in one place, the bastards I mean "content providers" are saying it needs to be drawn in another, and I can grab quite literally whatever I want off the internet with no lines drawn anywhere.
          • All those Brick and Mortar security measures are to make sure that you are, indeed, a paying customer. Since he already claimed to be a paying customer, those aren't applicable to the situation. Basically, Brick and Mortar security measures end at the door. (or parking lot if you want to get picky)
          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:12PM (#15052927)
            "So from my perspective I think it's only rational to recognize that, unfortunately, we DO need locks on the front door. "

            Fine. Go put locks on YOUR front door, and post as many security guards and cameras around as you like. But if you're selling to me, your guards and cameras have no business being around once I pay. Stores have cameras to protect the property in the store; they don't attach a mini-camera to see what you do with products you buy.

            Or, would you like Ford to put a camera on your car, to check that you don't install third party parts? Perhaps Sony would like to visit once a month to see that you haven't modded your PS2? AT&T might like to stop by and make sure you're not putting any unapproved devices on your phone line. DirecTV knows you didn't buy satellite service from them, so they'd like to take a peek and make sure you didn't buy a black market receiver off ebay.

            There's got to be a limit to this, and that's at the point of sale. It doesn't matter if you trust the buyer. If you find they violated the copyright, go sue them later. That's the remedy the law provides, and it is perfectly adequate.

            Which brings up the problem that people seem to buy the claim that copying is currently a significant economic loss. Just about every non-??AA study I've heard suggests it is negligible, or encourages sales. That's not to say there isn't the right to enforce existing laws, but that there's no demonstrated need for additional protections. So this sort of lock is not only improper, it is entirely unnecessary. How much lower would DVD prices be, if casual copying were completely eliminated? How many more movies would be made per year, if only CSS were uncrackable? Which studios have closed shop, because the VCR and the Internet destroyed their revenue stream? If enforcement of existing laws is adequate, and there is no gain from stricter laws, why should anyone favor more rules?

            Think of speeding, maybe. It's not that it doesn't happen, or that it doesn't have negative effects when it does happen. It's just that it's silly to put a lot of additional effort into cracking down on it when we would gain little benefit. Why don't we put a speed governor in every car sold? I tend to think it's because there are some circumstances where it's better to let the driver make a judgment than to strictly enforce the law, but as much as I dislike the idea, I have no solid reasons. But arguing for DRM is a lot like saying every car must have a speed governor. ...

            Another comment is that "we're probably going to need to do it ourselves" doesn't apply to this any more than to Microsoft or Apple. It sounds like Sun is thinking of a closed-source project where applications would be reviewed by a committee rather than by a single company. This is probably good if you're a company; you never want to have to trust your product to a single competitor. But it's no more open to the average developer than the DVD CCA is. ...

            As a separate issue, how would an Open Source DRM system work? If I'm able to decrypt a file once, I'm able to save it in an unencumbered format. It's fundamentally different than encryption; PGP, for example, isn't designed to prevent you from posting every email you get to a web page. Current schemes assume that the recipient of the keys can be trusted to use them for only the intended purpose. This seems to be based on an assumption that a hacker can't see the code or key (because they're using a microcontroller that has a hardware Code Protect feature), that a network protocol can't be emulated (for cases where a key must be retrieved from a server), or that it's too much of a pain to bother (presumably what Windows Media and Fairplay must do). These are all essentially security through obscurity, and I don't see how that can work in an Open Source environment.
          • "If you don't trust me, your customer giving my money, I'm not buying."

            Then you must not shop or go anywhere in the real world. Security guards, cameras, devices, inspectors, ticket takers, why, any typical bricks-and-morter store has more security and "lack-of-trust" than you can shake a stick at.

            The problem is that you say I should trust you. Fine, but I don't know you. You might be trustworthy.. and you might not be. You say I should assume everyone is trustworthy. Fine, but when I turn off the cameras a

          • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:21PM (#15053467) Homepage
            Gahhh! I really wish people would QUIT TALKING ABOUT MAGIC FAIRY DUST!

            So how about DRM that let's YOU do whatever you want with it? (Except put it on the internet, which you implied you weren't going to do anyway.)
            To my mind a "perfect" DRM system would do just that.


            It does not exist. It cannot exist. It is a physical and logical impossibility.

            The general ability to make noninfringing use fundamentally means the ability to create general software and independantly independant products capable of reading the raw unrestricted data and manipulating it in any new and innovative way and creating general unrestricted output. Innovative uses and innovative products are BY DEFINITION impossible to define in advance.

            So either explain why a blind person should go to prison for using a text-to-speech converter on a DRM'd e-book and explain why a programmer should go to prison for distributing that text-to-speech converter to blind people, or quit saying that all you want is some physically impossible magic fairy dust DRM that allows people to do whatever noninfringing things.

            In one sense, this is what Apple does with iTMS music, in that I can put a purchased song on any number of iPods that I've registered as mine.

            Completely false. iTunes is completely locked down and PROHIBITS EVERYTHING, everything other than playing the files using the predefinded and restricted software on the predefined and restricted players in the predefined and restricted manner.

            They cannot be played on any other mp3 player. They cannot be played in WinAmp or any other music software. They cannot be run through any visulization software. They cannot be played backwards. They cannot be linked up with a lyrics text file for synchronized playback/lyrics display. You can't do ANYTHING except play it in the most basic manner, and only on a restricted Apple iPod or in the restricted Apple PC player.

            You claim you want a "perfect" DRM system would let people whatever they want (except put it on the internet), but in fact what you are defending is DRM that prohibits everything, and which says that blind people go to prison for text-to-speeching an e-book and which says that programmers go to prison for supplying that product for blind people.

            I'm sorry, but there is no magic fairy dust DRM system that you say you want. It does not and cannot exist. You either need to give up on DRM enforcment, or you need to exterminate the free market and prohibit innovative products and prohibit interoperable products and you need to say that blind people go to prison for playing e-books and that people who supply software for blind people also go to prison. That's what DRM enforcment means - that if the supplied e-book software didn't already have a text-to-speech feature that those blind people and those programmers are criminal for circumventing the DRM itself.

            I think it's only rational to recognize that, unfortunately, we DO need locks on the front door.

            Fine, put all the locks on the front door you like. However once I BUY THE HOUSE, it is absolutely absurd to suggest that I should go to prison for "picking the lock" and ripping the the entire door off MY house so I can move my piano into my livingroom.

            Why are so many people so keen on destroying traditional copyright, to instead replace it with DRM and imprisoning innocent noninfringing people? This is entirely new and it is entirely invalid and entirely unacceptable and entirely baseless.

            Yes to copyright, no to horribly broken DRM laws.

            DRM never worked... all we've done is create a broken law criminalizing innocent people in a horribly misguided attempt to get DRM to kinda-sorta work.

            -
            • It would help if you would read with some level comprehension before you go onto a rant. I said, "In one sense, this is what Apple does with iTMS music, in that I can put a purchased song on any number of iPods that I've registered as mine."

              Yes, I know about other mp3 players and all the other BS, but the point you completely missed is that they set it up so that a song will play on any number of pods that it "knows" are my pods. As such, a system could also be designed such that a song could play on my s

              • It would help if you would read with some level comprehension before you go onto a rant. I said, "In one sense, this is what Apple does with iTMS music, in that I can put a purchased song on any number of iPods that I've registered as mine."

                It does so only in the sense that you can have any color car, so long as it's black.

                In order to obstruct you at all from posting on the internet, DRM must obstruct you from doing "what you want" in general. To be even the least bit effective DRM must obstruct anything ne
      • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:12PM (#15051475) Homepage Journal
        I believe the alternative is called "Copyright Law" which is in of itself in need of a major overhaul, especially where the DRM mongers see copyright as a one-way street and oh-so-conveniently forget about Fair Use and also about expiration of the copyright down the road, which DRM effectively prevents.

        DRM should be outlawed since it allows copyright holders to violate copyright law by preventing a work from ever becoming public domain. Period.
        • Wishing I had mod points today.
        • While I favor a limited copyright period and I am not a lawyer,
          I do not think anything in copyright law states preventing a work from becoming public domain is illegal.

          Copyright law is an -extra protection-.

          The government agrees to help prevent others from copying your works for a limited period of time. If you have some other way of preventing others from copying your work it is not illegal.

          For example, I can put on a limited public performance of a song and prevent people from recording it. This happens

      • The alternative is paying for the service as if it were a service and not an end product.

        People pay good money every month for TV and radio service. With TV you have the options of free OTH broadcasts that are supported via advertising or "by the help of people like you" :) You can then get basic cable that has 13 or so channels, you can pay more and get more channels like Discovery, etc. You can then pay more for special channels like sports or movie channels. You could pay more and get DVR _service_
      • The alternative is that Puff Daddy won't be able to afford his platinum plated Hummer till next month.
      • Elementary (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Information does not follow the law of conservation of matter (since it isn't made of matter). This means that it is logically impossible to control information.

        Information cannot be controlled, but the business-model for content providers requires that information be controlled. So what do they do? They reach out at something they CAN control. Namely, you.

        DRM is there to control YOU. It is there to decide what actions you will and will not take with your hardware. By controlling you, they prevent you
      • Whats wrong with having an open source, freely distributed DRM system so we can at least be sure nothing nasty is going on behind the scene?

        If DRM were used as you read, that would certainly make an argument for the validation of DRM. However, the people you speak of on this site that oppose DRM do so because it's not about piracy and lost moneys - it's about control. Taking control out of the hands of the consumer and putting control into the hands of the corporation.

        Originally, control of distribution was about as far as things went. But with technology, media companies see the ability to control the media (and the devices that play such media) through the entire lifecycle of the device or media. Creation to destruction - media corporations watching everything you do, every time you do it.

        In this understanding, DRM is inherantly (sp?) evil. Sun hopping on board - even with "open source" as a moniker, makes Sun still a player on the evil stage of control. Open source control of my legally purchased media is still control and is still - to it's very core concept - wrong.

      • Don't get me wrong, I hate the RIAA as much as the next guy, and I think they generally work against the better interest of the public as well as artists, but they do have the right to protect their investments.

        For once, someone actually is begging the question on /. The assumption here is that DRM significantly deters piracy. This claim is far from obviously true, and I have never seen any solid evidence to support it. However, it is known that people who use media encumbered by DRM if anything have a worse experience than those who use unencumbered media (including pirates). Definitely providing value to the customers is a better idea (and a sounder business decision) than possibly putting a small dent in piracy while inconveniencing legitimate customers.

      • Consideration (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nyet ( 19118 )
        The solution is obvious. The constitution awards patents and gives copyright protection in return for making your ideas and expressions thereof publicly available. When you DRM something, you no longer deserve consideration under current copyright law. If you do not publish your work (i.e. it is not encumbered with DRM), do are not given copyrights to it.

        It becomes similar to trade secrets: if it is ever cracked or leaked (the activity of which being illegal), it falls into the public domain.
      • Nothing. Seriously.

        We've see the evidence [slashdot.org]. It appears that piracy has near enough a zero effect on sales.

        This makes sense when you realise that people have x amount of disposable income to spend on such items as CDs and DVDs; in such a context, file sharing acts a little like radio play. The advertising effect appears to roughly cancel out the displacement effect. More precisely, for older and wealthier people, they are drawn to buy more when they have more information upon which to make their purc

      • I think we're taking the wrong approach. The whole idea behind DRM, in essence, is to prevent people from sharing files with 10,000 of their closest friends. As such, we put all sorts of nasty locks and restrictions into the system.

        What if we approach the idea from a different perspective? What if we could setup things so that people wouldn't want to share those files in the first place? And, incidentally, so you could play them on any device you own?

        Here's how. I buy a song from a iTMS-like store and i

        • Here's how. I buy a song from a iTMS-like store and it's downloaded as normal. During the process, the file was also watermarked and digitally signed with your name, address, and credit card number, which was also appended to the file in plaintext.

          Are you serious? I don't know about anyone else, but that kind of customer-hostile activity would make me more likely to obtain an unlicensed copy via murky channels, not less.
          • So how, exactly, is that a "customer-hostile activity"? People argue that the song/movie/whatever is theirs. In which case, why not have your name on your property?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:16PM (#15050912)
    is how they mean to spell it: Dream or D-Ream?
  • Interesting! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:18PM (#15050939)
    I always find it strange how Sun's business model seems to constantly be evolving towards developing products that either

    a) no one wants, or
    b) have already been made.

    Just because it's open source doesn't make it "right," or even useful. DRM is all about the content provider being able to dictate what your computer is capable, and incapable of doing; if you really do want your computer use restricted by commercial companies (not even necessarily within your own country), then yeah, maybe this might be a good idea.
    • I always find it strange how Sun's business model seems to constantly be evolving towards developing products that either

      a) no one wants, or
      b) have already been made.

      You mean you're not reading Slashdot on a Sun NC?
      • Hey! I often read Slashdot on a SunRay thin client! It's nice being in a room with no computer generated noise. In the corporate and education worlds, these things make a lot of sense. System administration sure got easier when we switched to these in our classrooms and simulators.

        I'm also interested in pushing the technology offsite to see if it the latest incaranation of the server software can really operate in that environment, i.e. on the big, bad Internet.
  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:19PM (#15050949)
    If I read the article correctly...

    I purchase the -right- to listen to a song.

    Once purchased, I can replace it if I lose it.

    Once purchased, I can listen to it on any new form of playback that comes along.

    ---
    I doubt it will be supported since it undercuts the dream by the media creators that we pay every single time we play a song- and we rebuy it for each new playback device.
  • Ironic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone else find it ironic that they're using a licence designed to let people share ideas and code, to design somthing used to restrict sharing?

    Just me.
  • Not GPL v3 then... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TangoCharlie ( 113383 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:21PM (#15050972) Homepage Journal
    I don't suppose it'll be licensed under the GPLv3 then?!

    I guess DRM is not going to go away anytime soon, so it would be better that
    the implementation is open-sourced. However, a high-quality open-sourced
    DRM mechanism is less likely to have the "holes" which the Hymn project,
    for example, rely on...

    Anyway, it's probably doomed anyway... can you see Apple or Microsoft using it?

    Erm, no.
  • Um, isn't this what LAWS are for?
    • by coldmist ( 154493 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:13PM (#15051491) Homepage

      No, laws NEVER, I repeat, NEVER assign rights to individuals. Rights should be protected by laws, from encroachments by the respective government or other individuals, but can not be "assigned".

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
      • That is exactly what copyright laws do. They assign the right to prevent the free flow of art to the author or anybody else that the author wants to sell that right to.
      • note that the statement you've emphasized simply says that there are certain rights which are inalienable, not that there exist no further rights which may be assigned. the government will recognize contracts in which one party gives up certain rights, such as the right to sue for certain claims, but not others, such as the right to freedom. there exist inalienable rights, but there may well exist others, as well. copyright is a prime example. and that's even before getting into the (always sticky) rights v
      • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights


        so what rights do i get as an aetheist? my only creators are my Mum and Dad!

  • Wake up Sun! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ex Machina ( 10710 ) <jonathan.william ... m ['gma' in gap]> on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:25PM (#15051010) Homepage
    When was the last time some consumer/end-user level standard you pushed was adopted en masse?

    Java... NO (not on set top boxes that is)
    JXTA... NO
    SunRay... NO (only a few universities / corps)
    Liberty Alliance... NO
    OpenLook... NO
    JINI... NO

    I'll throw in a few non-consumer things, just to be a dick:
    SBus, JavaOS/JavaStation, etc.

    Sun's history is littered with failured "standards".
    • Re:Wake up Sun! (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Ex Machina ( 10710 )
      and *my* posting history is littered with typos. Eesh.
    • Re:Wake up Sun! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jb.hl.com ( 782137 ) <joe&joe-baldwin,net> on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:27PM (#15051626) Homepage Journal
      Java is a massive success. Right now, a lot of people have it on their PCs, if only for LimeWire. And new mobile phones will, 99% of the time, have a Java runtime environment on them. I know mine does. Might just be used by bored commuters to play sudoku or whatever on the bus, but it's still used, and useful.
    • Re:Wake up Sun! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by larien ( 5608 )
      Failured(sic) standards like NFS, NIS, PAM?
    • Sun's history is littered with failured "standards".

      I guess Sun's success was NFS. Even with its faults, its handy and works "good enough".

      SPARC appears dead. Java has landed in the middleware arena. Solaris is OK, but so is BSD, Linux, etc. (No flamewars please).

      The best products they sell now under $10k are Opterons that run either Windows, Linux, or Solaris. Its a good business decision to sell such a niche product, eh? They would be in tough shape if other companies offered such products.
    • Java... NO (not on set top boxes that is)
      JXTA... NO
      SunRay... NO (only a few universities / corps)
      Liberty Alliance... NO
      OpenLook... NO
      JINI... NO


      As others have said, Java is all over the place. It's certainly on my cell phone, so I think you're very wrong there as for Java being some kind of failure.

      Sun stopped pushing OpenLook something like 11 or 12 years ago when they came out with CDE. Why are we talking about something that old?

      As for the SunRays being limited to universities and corporations, well who
  • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:26PM (#15051031)

    Open source support for DRM - con: DRM can only be successful with widespread software support. By supporting DRM, you make it easier for DRM to be successful.

    Open source boycott of DRM - con: DRM can probably gain widespread software support even without open-source software support, so a boycott is likely to only have the effect of alienating open-source software to end-users.

    If open-source platforms were significantly more popular, then supporting DRM probably wouldn't be a good idea. But because open-source platforms don't have significant mindshare among the general public, it's more difficult to resist, as the only effect resisting will have is negative.

  • by The Cisco Kid ( 31490 ) * on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:32PM (#15051083)
    If its 'open source', then it will be trivial for any qualified coder who wants to produce a modified version of the code to remove the restrictions instead of enforcing them. Even if the 'rights holders' are somehow fooled at first, I think they'll catch on eventually.

    There is no way for restrictions such as those desired by the 'rights holders' to be enforced absent proprietary binary-only programs doing it for them. And even those usually are defeated, as well. The scheme MS used to call Palladium, where the restrictions extend right to the hardware, is the only way it can ever work even close to their satisfaction. And quite frankly, I hope that never happens, becuase that is the end of any hope of ever overcoming the MS monopoly.
    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:49PM (#15051249) Homepage
      People used to say the same thing about encryption: If it was open, then anyone could break it easily. But we have learned that for encryption to be ubiquitous and reliable, the algorithm must be open.

      Perhaps it will turn out that DRM is the same way. Has anyone read any serious research into DRM strategies and algorithms? Does this turn out to be the case that it must be closed to be secure? Isn't it really just a key distribution question?
      • by sqlrob ( 173498 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:06PM (#15051422)
        It means they aren't secure.

        Open Source Encryption is fine, since only the people with the keys can do anything useful to the data stream, an attacker is still in trouble.

        With DRM, the attacker and the valid user can be one and the same. That's a lot harder to protect.

        • Perhaps.

          I think that, probably, an open source DRM system would have to be a 'User can play it' / 'User can't play it' system.

          Which is fine. If it's open source, I can tweak it to spit out the decrypted data for me to pipe where I like. I'll pay for online content if I can then go and do what I please with it.

          Like transcode it to 320x240 and watch it on my PDA. Or burn it to a DVD for archival purposes. Or - and damn you if you can't take it - put it up on eMule and let it self redistribute to people wh
          • If it's open source, I can tweak it to spit out the decrypted data for me to pipe where I like. I'll pay for online content if I can then go and do what I please with it.

            Correct, that's all open source DRM can do. How does that mesh with what the content providers want? (e.g. You stream it to LAME and toss the MP3 up on BitTorrent is likely something that providers don't want. How do you stop that with OSS? Once the data stream is decrypted, the DRM is gone)
      • Does this turn out to be the case that it must be closed to be secure? Isn't it really just a key distribution question?

        What DRM boils down to is, "someone other than me has control over my content, and is telling me what I can and cannot do with it." Somehow, the DRM system has to lock up the content until I request the key, and in order to be secure, the key must be kept secure until I request it. So, yes, it's just a key distribution question.

        However, DRM will never be, and can never be, fair to the cons
      • Encryption does not impose any restrictions upon you after decryption. When you know the algorithm and have the key, nothing can stop you from decrypting a message and saving it somewhere else, unencrypted. But this is exactly what a DRM system must prevent.

        I admit I haven't read Sun's proposal yet, but I believe that this is a problem that is not solvable. Any DRM system must maintain central control over production or playback (or both). If anyone could develop a playback device that will play back all c

    • That's like saying that if a cryptosystem is open source, it would be trivially easy for an attacker to unencrypt anything. Have you /read/ the DReaM proposals?

      If anything, an open source DRM system should be /more/ secure, since it is less likely to rely on security through obscurity. And it'd arguably be better for the end user, since it avoids vendor lock-in.

      I'm not convinced either, but I'm not writing it off out of hand yet. OTOH, I do have my doubts about Sun's ability to deliver.
    • If its 'open source', then it will be trivial for any qualified coder who wants to produce a modified version of the code to remove the restrictions instead of enforcing them.

      Hush! Don't spill the beans on this yet. Let them get this accepted by the industry and keep the modified code a secret.
  • by PastaLover ( 704500 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:34PM (#15051100) Journal
    Does anybody have a link to a good technical discussion of this thing? This article really is fluff and doesn't get into any details. I would very much like to know how they intend to bar un-authorized people from playing their files. After all, the program is open source (or is it?) so can be easily modified to allow the audio output to be written to an unprotected file somewhere. Obviously they would need to encrypt their files in some way, but then how do they intent to prevent people from getting at the keys?

    Totally confusing. :/
  • ource or not, any DRM scheme requires secure hardware and outside control of that hardware by the "Premium Content Provider", "Rights Owner" or whatever you want to call them. Even though the scheme used may be open source, it still doesn't necessarily mean I can disable it on a device that only allows me to listen to "premium content" so I can play the cool, independent stuff. This btw is also why I am violently opposed to TCPA. What use is it to me when I can't take full ownership of it by changing its r
  • Middlemanhandling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:50PM (#15051265) Homepage Journal
    How about consumers get to "access" the content we own any which way we please? Not just some restricted way that fits the transient business model of whoever used to own it before they sold it to us. Not just through some extra intermediary who adds no value, just enforces "rights" the seller feels privileged to retain in violation of actual property rights. Just sell us the damn stuff, and keep your greasy fingers out of our pockets while we use it however we want.

    If we actually do something that violates a law or agreement with you, then by all means prosecute/sue us. Or stay out of the business if it's too risky for you. Just stop selling me yet another copy of _Dark Side of the Moon_ just because you made my last player obsolete.
    • The music industry has decided this; you don't own the content, you're buying a right to play that content. This is why you shouldn't feel any guilt for downloading an album you own but for which the CD is damaged off of BitTorrent, or downloading a song you bought off iTunes but then lost off of Gnutella.
      • I've been involved with the music business for two decades. Many of my friends are professional musicians. I feel no guilt whatsoever doing whatever I want with a music recording, because I know I put more money in the pockets of musicians directly do than the "copyright license owners".

        Besides, I've never signed or otherwise agreed to any contract or license whenever I've bought any recording. The music business might have decided I've got only a license, but they've also decided musicians and listeners ar
        • Besides, I've never signed or otherwise agreed to any contract or license whenever I've bought any recording.

          Exactly. You never entered into any sort of arrangement that would give you the right to do "anything I please" with the recording. You have Fair Use rights, which do not include "anything I please", and never did, DRM or no DRM. This is Copyright 101.
          • No, the fundamental right is to do whatever I please, except where that interferes with rights. "Fair use" rights are those preserved despite the circumvention of property and expression rights by "limited time monopoly" copyright rules. Copyright 101 has a prerequisite: Constitutional Rights.

            DRM as described in the story summary, and as likewise used by the recording industry, further restricts our rights. That's wrong.

            Here's an absurd, by not necessarily impossible scenario: I use a CD I bought to prop up
            • Copyright 101 has a prerequisite: Constitutional Rights.

              You do not have a constitutional right to do whatever you please with someone else's property (i.e. the recording). Once again, you do have Fair Use rights, which are not the same.

              I use a CD I bought to prop up a wobbly table leg. Later the record label's parent company markets leg proppers of their own, marketed under the same brand as the CD. They try to stop me from my "unlicensed" propping.

              That is among the stupidest things I have ever heard. Us
          • Actually he has entered into an agreement. Unfortunately, in all but 2 states it's going to be the default contract of sale defined by the Uniform Commercial Code. That means by default you have the rights granted under copyright law as regards making additional copies, plus the rights granted by the UCC as regards use of the copy you bought. This is one thing the copyright cartels try fiercely to avoid dealing with, with their copyright-law and "you only have a license" rhetoric, because there's a lot of U

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:13PM (#15051494)
    The problem is that most people feel that it's not harming anyone when they copy movies back and forth and things like that. I know that it's not taking money out of the hands of the studios and labels, but it does add up to sales that they could get. A lot of pirates are people with the money to actually buy the content that they copy for free.

    There is a very real free rider argument to be made here. Most small bands don't get a lot of support from the "fans" that just rip off their music. In college, I had a few guys be shocked by how good they thought Lacuna Coil's album Comalies was. They had the money to buy it, but they insisted that I just burn them CD-to-CD copies instead. They never went to the shows, never bought the merchandise, but hey Lacuna Coil kicks ass and damned if they can't eat off of good will from non-paying fans! Please, no bullshit comparisons to radio. That's like saying that since a movie is shown on HBO, that there is nothing harmful to the movie maker when the fans never buy the DVD, but just make a digital copy off of digital cable TV.

    You're not sticking it to the man, but rather sticking it to the very people who are getting fucked over by The Man. Even most bands that make it on Fuse and MTV2 are getting screwed by their labels. I'm still waiting for an alternative system to come into existance going on seven years after people started saying that Napster would give birth to one based on viral marketting and internet sales. Guess what? It hasn't happened. The best that we can hope for is to change the middleman's behavior the way that the antitrust trial forced Microsoft to stop pointing a knife at OEMs' throats.

    An open source DRM is something that can be defined in a fairly democratic way. It is a way for buyers to define the terms that they are happy with. If it's never supported, the labels and studios get less money. If it is, then great. Either way, no harm, no foul. Just don't expect the content creators to accept a world in which they are forced to rely on good will and honest behavior. If the terms of Apple's store aren't good enough for you, then promote this DRM by buying content sold through it. Simply taking content you want because it is not sold at prices and DRM terms of your liking is wrong, and dangerous, because the next generation might grow up thinking that that rule applies to jewelry, cars, electronics and other physical property.

    • No it isn't.

      Imagine if your friends were able to hit the play Lecuna Coil's latest or first or second album by pressing a button on their car, home, or portable player?

      Do you think they would still waste their time making copies of the stuff when all they want to do is listen to it when you want to listen to it.

      I predict that artists that use oil and canvas will soon have to DRM their paint if more people had this mentality.

    • your comment is insightful and well-reasoned. whoever moded you flamebait just has an axe to grind. that said, however, there are some flaws in the argument.

      I'm still waiting for an alternative system to come into existance going on seven years after people started saying that Napster would give birth to one based on viral marketting and internet sales. Guess what? It hasn't happened.

      see, there's the thing. it has - it's just a question of for whom.

      artists make most of their money on things other than albu

    • > That's like saying that since a movie is shown on HBO, that there is nothing harmful to the movie maker when the fans never buy the DVD, but just make a digital copy off of digital cable TV.

      Yeah! They should ban not buying DVDs of new releases - the content producer makes the DVD expecting us to buy it, and then we say "Nooo, I don't think its cheap enough", and the police man hears you "You're buying that DVD sonny, shopkeeper, take his credit card off of him". Better yet - just tax everybody and send
    • That's like saying that since a movie is shown on HBO, that there is nothing harmful to the movie maker when the fans never buy the DVD, but just make a digital copy off of digital cable TV.

      There is nothing harmful to the movie maker when the fans never buy the DVD, but just make a digital copy off of digital cable TV. When the company licensed the movie to the TV station they did so knowing that people would make copies (and accounting for it). The customers' right to make copies of what's on TV has bee
  • by sweetnjguy29 ( 880256 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:17PM (#15051536) Journal
    I really hate DRM because it limits my freedom. I don't like how complicated it makes copying a simple DVD. But I really like the idea of DRM because it has the potential to protect my work from unauthorized distribution and copying and increasing my cashflow.

    The problems I have seen so far with DRM are:
    1) Heavyhandedness of DRM schemes
    2) Shitty implimentation that causes serious problems on users' computers (eg Sony Rootkit)
    3) Inconsistant quality of the DRM scheme itself, which leads to...
    4) Easy to crack DRM that is useless.
    5) Consumers don't understand that DRM is restricting their rights because,...
    6) ...copyright holders mislead and confuse consumers when they buy DRM'ed goods.
    7) Small business people can't afford to set up and maintain a good DRM system
    8) Large business people don't understand DRM

    I think all 8 of these points could be solved with an open-source (or free) software solution. DRM needs to be fair. Not burdonsome.

    I have a feeling that Sun's DRM scheme won't use a GPL or any other widely accepted open-source license. Thats the real issue here people!
    • #5-8 have no relation whatever to either DRM or OSS. Just replace "DRM" with "RFID" to see what I mean.
    • As mentioned above, it's the Copyright law that should be protecting your work and cashflow. DRM can only work well if we have "trusted computing" or if we limit our uses of the content. I'm not sure how comfortable you'd be with either option, but I know that I like neither.

      "Trusted computing" means that I don't control my machine, as only approved components and programs can be allowed to access protected data. I don't see how open source could spread if the document formats (think .doc) would contain D

  • Otherwise these guys [dr-ea-m.org] may have something to say about it.
  • DRM is evil, but open source is good! What is Sun trying to do, rip a hole in the universe by creating a logical paradox?
  • DRM and Open Source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by utlemming ( 654269 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:27PM (#15052169) Homepage
    Most of the problem with DRM's that people have is rooted in the fact that it restricts choice. If you have a DRM'ed song, then you can't use it certain devices, and you can't use it on a whole bunch of computers, and it make piracy harder.

    For a legitimate customer, DRM isn't bad as long as they have the choice to play it however they would like. I would argue that part of the reason why Linux user's hate DRM is that it doesn't trust the user, and it is hard to get the content to play on Linux. DRM becomes burdensome when it starts to become inconvient. People really wouldn't care about DRM if it wouldn't interfer with their convience. Sadly, I think that one of the only ways to insure convience is from trusted computing. Or if you could tie a copy of the music to a piece of hardware and then have each song downloaded per that piece of hardware.

    However, with all that said, an Open Source DRM is not bad, per se, if it allows consumer choice. If you can port your songs to wherever you want and listen to them without a losing quality would you use it? Also, by it being Open Source it will allow per review and you won't have to worry about the Sony Root Kit crap that went on. If you look at it, the whole filetrading fest that happened in the late 90's created the need for content providers to require DRM. Playing devil's advocate, I seriously doubt that anyone artist that is the target of heavy downloading, is going to be against DRM (with some notiable exceptions).

    The way I see it, DRM should be implemented in such a way as to balance consumer choice AND protect the rights of artist. As long as there is piracy there will be need for it. But, any artist that is refusing to take a risk of piracy is an artist that shouldn't be in business (as all businesses have risks).

    Do I like DRM? No. But do see the logical need for it.
  • c'mon (Score:2, Funny)

    by hyperbotfly ( 934309 )
    come on guys, April Fools day was two days ago........
  • by suitepotato ( 863945 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:41PM (#15052300)
    The DRM wars have taught us several things thus far.

    1. Content originators view any exposure to to their content as a potential profit and any exposure not paid for as theft.
    2. Content originator associations see #1 as an absolute beyond question on the level of religious dogma. This has risen to the level of holy effrontery [bigger-picture.co.uk].
    3. Content originator associations view all possible viewers of content as possible non-paying viewers of content and hence as possible theives of content.

    DRM has been essentially linked with the concept that we the people are the enemies of those who bring us our entertainment and we exist to be milked for money and nothing more. As a longtime writer who's given away his works for free, I keep in mind that sometimes being a content originator isn't about making money but about doing something more ephemeral for myself. In the clash of absolutes, an inflexible wall has been erected and we are up against it. DRM open source or otherwise is a dead issue, no sale.
  • Quick point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by goldcd ( 587052 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:00PM (#15052468) Homepage
    If something is produced as 'Open Source' in the true sense - i.e. contributions are made from a variety of the most talented people who wish to contribute - YET the content is something people might erm 'object' to - do we run the risk of it being sabotaged?

    By this I mean, somebody deliberately seeds the project with a hidden loophole, waits for it to be released and used and then when at critical mass, makes the loop-hole known. Just personally speaking I'd be tempted - and if you can recruit a couple of other like-minded people to assist in reviewing the 99.99% you want them to..
  • DRM is inevitible - get over it. The major players in the field have already decreed that it shall be so, and have taken steps to ensure that their will is done.

    So-o-o-o...would you rather have a nice little Microsoft/Intel closed source and proprietary system, performing at the whims of the industry masters who control it, or an open-source solution with predetermined abilities, intents and uses?

    I know how I'm voting! Hint - it isn't with the wonderful folks who (tried to) bring you Palladium.

  • I'm just wondering, but one issue that I've heard raised several times is that DRM prevents material from moving into the public domain and violates copyright law? Couldn't a consumer-driven DRM movement (not necessarily DReaM, but something Open Source) build into it's schema the ability to move material into the public domain once the copyright has expired. In this I mean, that this open source DRM would protect the owner's copyright, only so long as the copyright exists. After which, the DRM removes itse
  • This is pretty stupid. It's obvious that all DRM schemes boil down to this:

    if (rightsholders criteria are satisfied)
    {
          play the content
    }
    else
    {
          do not play the content
    }

    If the DRM code is open source, then anyone could reverse the logic. I really don't understand where they're going with this.

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