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Real Networks to Linux - DRM or Die 582

Baronvaile writes "ArsTechnica is running a story about RealNetworks VP Jeff Ayars at LinuxWorld Boston discussing the future of Linux for the consumer, if it does not support DRM." From the article: "Ayers has a few supporters in this issue from the Linux camp, as Novell, Linspire, and Red Hat spokespeople reportedly said they would be happy to add DRM to their distributions, but with some caveats. Novell, for example, is "currently in discussions with vendors who control proprietary formats" with the goal of supporting these formats in SuSE Linux. One can only surmise exactly which formats that would be, but recent rumblings from Redmond make it likely that Microsoft DRM solutions such as PlaysForSure could be among them."
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Real Networks to Linux - DRM or Die

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  • DRM...why bother? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Drachasor ( 723880 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:52AM (#15106193)
    Seriously, is there any real research that actually shows DRM to improve sales, customer relations, the economy, or anything save corporate egos? Contrast this to the numerous studies you can find via a simple google search that show "piracy", if anything, increases overall sales; those who pirate more, buy more than they would otherwise. Also, take Stardock's recent example in the videogame industry. Galactic Civilizations II is a number one seller, and it has no DRM at all. You don't even need a CD in the computer to play the game. It seems that DRM is largely ineffective or, if effective, violates fair use and pisses people off. I don't know about the other people on slashdot, but basically everyone I know that has ever pirated understand they have to buy good products. Afterall, if you don't then you aren't likely to see similar products in the future, and people understand this. Sure, you get some freeloaders with piracy, but in my (admittedly anecdotal) experience they are rare and research seems to support this. So, is there any real point to DRM? It seems far more harmful than good; it risks making products of today innaccessible in the future; it angers customers; it makes it much harder to transfer your information from an old computer to a new; it usually gets circumvented by crackers sooner or later anyhow; and all implementations seem to give an almost scary amount of control to content providers/makers. It just looks like a bad way to go. I think (and hope) this whole forray into DRM is a temporary insanity.
  • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:03PM (#15106289) Homepage [] (They provide a free,opensource, full feature player/server)

    and ml [] (see how they do lately)

    and [] (see platforms)

    But you will get +5 for posting "anti real player bs" and my post will fade -1 eventually. Not that I care.

  • You are forgetting. (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:09PM (#15106349) Homepage Journal
    They want to close the analog hole. Yes every analog to digital convert will have to have the ability to detect a water mark and then refuse to record the data! No I am not making it up that is what some groups want!
    Yes it is sickening. I don't download music or video but I do want the option to use it on my PC in a fair manner!
    I also want to have the option of buying AD chips that don't cost a bloody fortune and work.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:14PM (#15106399)
    The content industry sees DRM as its saviour from the pirates. In fact, it will be their doom. Let's take a look at what DRM will do, and to whom.

    For this we'll be looking at four groups of people:

    1. The joe average sixpack crowd, who buy some music, copy some more from his friends and generally think DRM is the new acronym for the thingie to plug into your car to make it faster. He's getting some music online, doesn't make heavy use of torrent and is still plugged into Kazaa, but complains he doesn't find much anymore.

    2. The people who use suck the net dry, whether they need it or not. It's there, it's free, it's on my HD. They don't know jack about the inner workings of the DeCSS, don't know who broke it, but they use it to rip it, with the neat and foolproof tools provided.

    3. The people who know what DRM means to their privacy and who fear, hate and fight it. Not necessarily in that order. Out of principle, not because they want to pirate what's available. But it's a privacy thing.

    4. The people with The Clue to actually break DRM.

    Group 1 will suddenly notice that their movies don't work anymore, or that they can't play the movie in the player they want. They bought a $3000+ HDTV set and they now got the same crappy rez because some part isn't to the DRM's liking, so they get the low-rez instead of the promised HD quality. They're understandably pissed, sink another 2k into the system to get better resolution and then find out that, again, some things will work while others don't, they suddenly can't borrow movies from their friends anymore. They do buy most of their movies, but they're PISSED because more often than not the DRM locks them out of their (bought) movies, following the creed of "better prohibit too much than allow too much".

    Group 2 will notice that they can't play the ripped movies anymore. They won't do anything about it but google the web up and down 'til Group 4 provides them with the tools to rip again. They won't buy a single movie. They're not in for the movie, they're in for the "wanna have".

    Group 3 will talk to Group 1 and blame whatever irks them on DRM. Until Group 1 starts listening to it and starts digging up information about DRM. And they get MORE pissed. Group 3 doesn't buy movies either. They're not in for the movies, they're in for the privacy issues.

    And finally Group 4 will spend its time tinkering with the DRM, they'll burn a few of the DRM crates 'til they figure out how to break it, release it and then we are right where we are now.

    With a few differences.

    Group 2-4 don't change their behaviour at all. They didn't buy before, they won't buy after. Group 1, though, is not PISSED at the industry for making it all so "complicated" and they will think and ask twice before ever buying any new equipment. They will no longer be on the spearhead of adaption, they will wait 'til one of their clued friends tells them that it's ok to get one of those babies.

    Who loses? Right. The content industry.
    Who wins? Nobody.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Informative)

    by pyros ( 61399 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:15PM (#15106409) Journal
    The worst part is that Hymn by itself was crummy for pirating since it left a big fat signature on the files that Apple could track back to your Credit Card. It was only really useful for people who wanted to play the music on their Linux machine.

    I think that was intentional as proof that they weren't producing the tool for the express purpose of copyright infringement.

    IIRC, iTunes won't even play the files that were decrypted that way, you have to use something like aacplay. Such a shame.

    That's incorrect, every file my wife bought from iTMS still played in iTunes (multiple versions on Windows and Mac) after having the FairPlay stripped. I don't think I even have the encrypted files anymore. Neve bothered to authorise any extra computers either.

  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:15PM (#15106410) Homepage Journal
    This could not be more backward:

    Ayers said. "Linux would be further relegated to use in servers and business computers, since it would not be providing the multimedia technologies demanded by consumers."

    People want music and movies not some greedy pig's Digital Restrictions Management. The absolute failure of "Plays for Sure" to gain any market share is because the DRM sucks. No one wants dissapearing music and convoluted subscription plans. You can, right now, get movies and music outside of such restrictions and that's where people are going to go.

    • [] has more than 33,000 live concerts and 70,000 recordings.
    • Magnatune [] has all sorts of good music.
    • Star Wreck [] shows what kind of movie can be made with a good idea and a few junky old computers and a few hundred bucks.

    That's just the beginning.

    These are the new winners. Their work is excellent and they are the kind of people I want to spend my money on. Do you think for an instant that I'm going to corrupt my computer with crap that will lock them out? I'm not alone. People are already outraged by DRM'd CDs and the only people less trusted than Sony is Microsoft. When whole collections vanish they will really howl. The winners will sit pretty on their nice media and wonder what all the fuss is about. Their market share is going to go up and up.

    I'm keeping my set top box for the old losers but it's going away. You can get them for $40 at the walmart and they do a nice slide show if you feed them a CD of your jpegs. I'll give the MPAA four bucks here and there to watch their little movies. That's all it takes to not feel like I live in a cave. As more content becomes available elsewhere, I'll spend less of my time and money on that set top box. I've already dropped cable TV and don't miss it.

  • by caffeination ( 947825 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:31PM (#15106524)
    What exactly makes linux the better ( or worse ) platform for DVDs here?
    Region encoding.
  • by derF024 ( 36585 ) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:40PM (#15106608) Homepage Journal
    As to being a better platform for DVDs, what??!!? Dvd.. insert... play movie. On modern hardware Linux and Windows basically render the same quality output, both have basically the same functional specs. What exactly makes linux the better ( or worse ) platform for DVDs here?

    I've come across Windows machines that would noticably drop frames, let the video fall out of sync with the audio, and pixelate due to some background process suddenly grabbing part of the CPU where similarly speced linux machines never had the same problems. Not to mention that Windows XP SP2 doesn't ship with DVD playback support, you have to buy it from a third party.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:4, Informative)

    by fossa ( 212602 ) <> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:50PM (#15106669) Journal

    I thought the goal was to have watermarks that would be recognized by consumer recording gear which would then fail to record. I can't imagine that working well... What if you were recording the sounds of traffic for background noise of a movie and a car rolled by blasting some watermarked music; would this break your recording? Oh, and they'd somehow restrict "professional" gear to professionals. The DMCA already makes it illegal to sell a VHS recorder without auto-gain (I think; the part that makes Macrovision copy protection work), unless the sale is to someone who will be using the recorder professionally (the DMCA defines this; I don't recall the exact wording).

  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Informative)

    by fossa ( 212602 ) <> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:39PM (#15107068) Journal

    What you say about auto gain is true, but what I say is true as well. The DMCA does indeed make it illegal to sell a VHS *recorder* that lacks "automatic gain control copy control technology". See US Code Title 17, Chapter 12, (something) 01, (k) (1) (A) (i) []; search for "automatic gain control". I'm only speculating that the recording industry would like to see similar laws applied to microphones and every analog recording device.

  • Re:GPL? (Score:4, Informative)

    by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:49PM (#15107147)
    The thing is, GPLv3 just clarifies the incompatibility between DRM and GPL, to make it yet harder to twist the wording of the license. Even stock GPLv2 means you have to provide everything except for the compiler and/or system libraries.

    The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
    making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source
    code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any
    associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to
    control compilation and installation of the executable.
    However, as a
    special exception, the source code distributed need not include
    anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary
    form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the
    operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component
    itself accompanies the executable.

    If your "source" doesn't produce a working binary, it is not the real source. Source in the meaning of GPLv2 must be complete, that is, it must include all parts needed to duplicate the executable you distribute, starting from nothing but what is distributed with the operating system and/or compiler.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Informative)

    by polymath69 ( 94161 ) <> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:02PM (#15107269) Homepage
    a rewrite of an X server where the display device is "a file on the harddrive"

    No need to rewrite; the Xvfb [] (virtual frame buffer) server has been part of X for a long time.

  • Re:GPL? (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:04PM (#15107284) Journal
    That's incorrect, every file my wife bought from iTMS still played in iTunes

    No, the grandparent is correct. FairPlay originally left information in the meta-data that indicated that it was a formerly-protected file. An update to iTunes prevented it from playing these files. The next update to HYMN stopped leaving these tags in (making it better for piracy) and then iTunes would play them again. This was a while ago, so you may not have been using iTunes / HYMN back then (actually, I believe this was back when HYMN was called PlayFair).

  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:52PM (#15107658) Homepage Journal
    It is on the motherboard now, but it will be in the processor. Read the TCPA FAQ [] if you haven't already for the details. Suffice it to say that the technology is quite evil.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Informative)

    by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <roystgnr&ticam,utexas,edu> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @03:09PM (#15107812) Homepage
    If your "source" doesn't produce a working binary, it is not the real source. Source in the meaning of GPLv2 must be complete, that is, it must include all parts needed to duplicate the executable you distribute, starting from nothing but what is distributed with the operating system and/or compiler.

    Cool. Could you send me your copy of Red Hat's private keys?

    I suspect the answer is no. Of course, I can recompile Red Hat software and sign it with my own private keys and it will run just fine; it just won't install on computers whose administrators only allow RedHat-signed packages.

    You can recompile GPL'ed DRM software and sign it with your own private keys, and it will run just fine; it just won't get access to the DRM keys stored on computers whose administrators only give them to DRM-approved binaries.

    The big difference here isn't that DRM software makers are breaking the GPL and Red Hat isn't, the difference is that DRM hardware makers are planning to ensure that you won't truly be the administrator of the next computer you purchase; you'll be "root" of a sandbox instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @04:45PM (#15108682)
    Hey there,

    I just spent 9 months developing a music store for independant artists. We allow you to burn to cd, copy to flash disk, other hard disks, anything you want apart from giving it to other people. We don't use DRM either, since we're pretty sure that once one copy gets out there, any DRM serves from that point forward to exclusively be a bane to customers, so that not only is the pirate product cheaper, but also technically superior.

    Why isn't somone doing a story about [] instead. Ugh

    Thats what we get for not being a mainstream music flogging, drm-whoring conglomorate. Go figure.
  • Wrong headline (Score:2, Informative)

    by hotspotbloc ( 767418 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @06:27PM (#15109466) Homepage Journal
    It should read "Linux to Real Networks - drop DRM or Die." Any bets on who will be around longer?
  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MSG ( 12810 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @06:54PM (#15109632)
    Cool. Could you send me your copy of Red Hat's private keys?

    Why do people keep repeating Linus' ridiculous argument? Red Hat's OS does not require that scripts or binaries are signed by them in order to run. You can copy a binary from another system to a RHEL box, and it will run. Likewise, you can import your own keys into rpm, so that the package managers will install them without warning.

    GPL3 doesn't require Red Hat to release the keys that they use to sign packages. It would, only if there were no way to install or run software without those keys.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday April 12, 2006 @02:45AM (#15111717)
    DRM will only be relevent in the USA and only on new platforms - but the market for software such as this is global. It's companies like Realmedia that will have to adapt and not linux or the vast number of installed copies of older operating systems that don't have DRM.

    Other countries will not enforce some weird Hollywood protectionist legislation (which is really the core of DRM) unless it is forced upon them as part of a trade deal. The hardware with DRM will cost more to manufacture than that without - so it may just end up being a drag on US manufacturers who will be facing competition form cheaper imports without it. How much does Hollywood add to the revenue base for it to merit special protectionist laws that hurt larger portions of the economy - don't most large movies make a loss on paper to avoid tax?

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor