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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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  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fordiman ( 689627 ) * <fordiman AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:42AM (#15106096) Homepage Journal
    Generally. As long as the content's been paid for once, you can stream out the raw decoded content to ffmpeg or mencoder to produce non-DRM files that may be played as pleased.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:44AM (#15106112) Homepage Journal
    Not if its real DRM which has to be implemented in Hardware theoretically through use of the BIOS. The BIOS is where the DRM will reside.

    But of course the "DRM crowd" is generally a security through obsecurity one and will probably not comprehend the fact that DRM has to be secure even when the code is completely open...Well the programmers might, but I doubt if the bean counters or management ever will.
  • by Frank Grimes ( 211860 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:44AM (#15106121)
  • Seriously, no one likes your product. You left a bad taste in our mouths with your nagware/adware supported POS software back in the day. Your format and codec suck, and there's really no point in your continued existence. FALL INTO A FIRE AND DIE.
  • Wrong way around (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:46AM (#15106132)

    Ask not for the future of Linux without DRM, but for the future of DRM without Linux (or other free OSes, for that matter).

    If DRM becomes as oppressive as the big media players seem to want it to be, then it will drive people away from platforms requiring it and towards platforms that circumvent it. Moreover, there are enough such people that attempting to legislate such platforms out of existence is unlikely to meet with success, at least not for very long.

    History furnishes few examples of big business successfully forcing the people to accept something not in their interests for extended periods. Once the public get wise to something, it will stop.

  • by Fordiman ( 689627 ) * <fordiman AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:46AM (#15106140) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, but when was the last time this joker was relevant? 1996?
  • Kernel Driver? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CPIMatt ( 206195 ) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:47AM (#15106143)
    Wouldn't a DRM solution also include a closed source kernel driver? Even if you couldn't remove the DRM from the player, it still has to talk to the audio card. As far as I know all audio boards aren't encrypted, so you could modify the open source audio driver to capture the digital signal.

  • by AlexMax2742 ( 602517 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:47AM (#15106144)
    Seriously. When was the last time Real has been the least bit relevant?
  • No DRM for me. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <eric-slash@@@omnifarious...org> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:50AM (#15106170) Homepage Journal

    I won't use software that implements it, and I won't watch or listen to media that uses it. It is a direct attack on my freedom, and I don't take kindly to that at all.

    If the Linux community had any backbone, he would've been booed off the stage after he finished speaking. If it's DRM or die, I'd rather the latter.

  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:51AM (#15106182)
    Exactly. I think my favourite quote from the article has to be from the FSF guy. I think he's trying to tell Real something...

    The sooner we bury the foolish notion of putting each and every use of a computer under control of the media industry, the sooner we can start looking for real alternatives.

    ... although I think we already have plenty of Real alternatives, so Real can go play with their DRM in their own little corner. Bye, Real.
  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:51AM (#15106185) Homepage Journal
    As of today, I can buy CDs and DVDs that are DRM-free (or so nearly so that I don't care) for cheap, then shift them into the formats I find convenient. I haven't figured out yet what DRM would give me over and above that. Is it price? That certainly doesn't seem to be the case. Convenience? iTunes Music Store is nifty, but since I have to leave my house to go to work each day anyway, that's not a huge win.

    So, tell me *AA, what benefit does your DRM supposedly have to me, your customer? What would make me decide that your crippleware is actually something I'd want? Go ahead: we're listening.

  • DRM is E-fascisme (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:54AM (#15106212)
    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."
    I am a consumer and I am _NOT_ demanding DRM.
    DRM is E-fascisme.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:55AM (#15106215) Homepage
    Why would they have to make anything available under the GPL? They would if they took existing GPL code and modified it or incorporated it into a new project, but as long as they - for example - build a new media player from the ground up, they don't have to do anything.

    The issue gets a bit fuzzier if they'd want to add DRM support to the kernel itself, of course; but binary kernel modules are a contentious issue, anyway, and while most people seem to believe that they're a violation of the kernel's license, they have been tolerated so far. But I don't really see why you'd need kernel support here.
  • Willingness to lie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caffeination ( 947825 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:59AM (#15106256)
    This is one of the most blatant, bare faced lies I've ever seen.
    "The consequences of Linux not supporting DRM would be that fixed-purpose consumer electronics and Windows PCs would be the sole entertainment platforms available," 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."
    Not only is the first sentence not the intuitive fact it's presented as, but the last one is just pure crap. We didn't bend over to have DVD protection inserted, and now Linux is a better platform for DVD than Windows. We have compatibility with everyone's favourite digital format: mp3. These are the only two things I can see mattering for several years.

    Hilariously, their very greed is still the thing that holds them back. Each company jealously cautious about "licensing" its proprietary format, everyone in "talks", the whole PS3 fiasco...

    I'm not even worrying about this any more. Hopefully they will continue to try to compete technologically with FOSS, because so far, it's worked out great.

  • Re:Hahaha! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:59AM (#15106262) Homepage Journal
    I agree. But I also realize that we are at a crossroads here. I predict that Linux users are going to find that access to popular content is going to get increasingly harder. Sadly many of us will probably have to buy appliances to access this stuff which will take away from the elegance of home made devices. I'm already in that boat with DirecTV. The only PCI card that can play subscription content for PVR use is VERY expensive. Much more than just buying a ready made box. So I've had to circumvent by using a video capture card and LIRC to change the channels. It works, but it's not as pretty as having a DirecTV card in my mPC. Hence the reason my homemade PVR lives in the basement and the DVI cable comes up through the wall into my LCD monitor.

    The big problem with buying ready made devices is that you spend so much money in aggregate when you have multiple services. And of course, those devices rarely do what YOU want them to. This will be no different if some Linux distros decide to support DRM. The software will, obviously, not be open source. And it's likely that the software will not do what you want it to. This is going to be a nasty battle and I don't see how Linux can win. Since most people just go out and buy set top boxes, the won't even understand the DRM argument since it won't even be an issue to them. Joe and Jane average aren't typically interested in watching programming from outside of their region, so they'll never notice that their player can't play data from Europe (if they are USians) or vice-versa.

    Which leads to the really big question. WHY are the media companies so intent on controlling things by region? What is the possible reason? There is tons of brilliant programming from outside the US that is not available to Americans simply because of artificial restrictions like region codes or sales blocks. For example, I attempted to order the entire Hitchhiker's Guide radio series including the latest "Tertiary, Quandry and Quintessential" phases boradcast on the BBC in 2004/2005. The order was processed, but then I recieved an e-mail from the BBC store informing me that I wasn't allowed to buy that content due to licensing restrictions. Why? Why would licensing be involved at all? Who profits from this (since all artificial restrictions have financial reasons behind them)? How does this put the consumer first? What it really does is point to the fact that these systems are broken and it's getting worse. But only a small segment of the population will be inconvenienced. "...at least, no one worth speaking of", to throw out an Adams quote.

    The only way that Linux will gain access to this kind of media in the future will likely be through means that are considered to be "illegal" or "violate copyright laws" or some other language meant to demonize the people who expect more from their media than these corporations want them to. At that point it will be time to just say goodnight to these companies and find something else to do for entertainment. Sadly there are no viable options right now. Reading a book is nice, but it doesn't satisfy the urge for junk entertainment... And that is how the world becomes less pleasnt.
  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:00PM (#15106265)
    There is an old saying....

    If you want success: grow
    If you want spectacular success: grow and use leverage

    My point is that I don't see any reason in the world why we shouldn't be trying to use Linux as leverage against people who are trying to impose DRM. Market forces are clearly pushing Linux in spite of them anyhow. What do people who controll content really have to offer us that we somehow can't manage without? The truth is that the future is not about extracting revenue from content, but instead extracting revenue from content related services.

    IMHO, just as the plantation system tried to deal with the industrial revolution by fencing off the south and breaking off from the Union, the media system today is trying to deal with the information age by using DRM to fence off all content. Both are doomed stratigies, and the sooner we kill copyright and tools used to impose them, the sooner we will be doing ourselves and the information age a big favor.
  • Not a good idea... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by psyberjedi ( 650736 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:03PM (#15106285) Journal
    To make demands of a community that made its start "fighting the man."

    These are the same people who continued to work on a fledgling OS in the early 90's because they believed in it, despite the Microsoft behemoth.

    Through the cries of "Linux will never make it" to "Linux will never make it into real business server rooms" to the current "Linux will never make it onto the desktop."

    This is a community of people who thrive on problem solving.

    DRM is not a solution. It is a problem waiting to be solved.

    Linux. Adapt and survive.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:06PM (#15106315) Homepage Journal
    DRM guys have been growing up with regards to actual computer security though. Sure they're still making dumb mistakes, but sometimes they actually get it right. AFAIK the latest version of FairPlay has been out for awhile and nobody has managed to get a Hymn like program working again.

    Or if they have, they're keeping quiet in the hopes that Apple will stop pooping in their pot. This is another likely scenario.

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

    As always the biggest victims in these DRM schemes are the people who just want to do something a little unusual (but completely legal) that the media company didn't expect. It's just innovation stifling. The worst part is that for the media companies, innovation is often bad. They're in a precarious position already and one more disruptive technology could put them out to pasture for good.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by babbling ( 952366 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:07PM (#15106320)
    How do you write GPL'ed DRM? At some point, the GPL'ed player will get its hands on pixel data to write it to the screen. Anyone could modify that part of the program to simply save the data.

    It seems to me that the only way GPL'ed programs could cooperate with DRM is if they are not the parts that are doing the decryption, and instead some proprietary hardware or software is doing the final stages of playback, dealing with the raw data. This seems to be the idea behind "Trusted Computing".
  • by Zephyros ( 966835 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:09PM (#15106346)

    In spite of the fact that I know I should know better, I find myself continually surprised by these execs just...not...getting it. The companies are hanging onto an obsolete business model. Consumers want our digital rights protected, not the company's.

    My hope is that one day they screw up and lock things down so tightly and inconveniently that Joe 'Average' Sixpack sits up and takes notice. The Sony rootkit fiasco was a start. That's who we need to convince, because if we get the mass market aware of and against DRM, the companies will face a tougher challenge in restricting our rights.

  • by Serapth ( 643581 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:10PM (#15106355)
    We didn't bend over to have DVD protection inserted, and now Linux is a better platform for DVD than Windows.

    First off... you remember what Linux went through to get DVD playback to even work? You know, the whole process of reverse engineering and cracking the protection algorithm. Or the court case against the author, followed by the legal battle funded by the EFF? No, Linux didnt bend over getting DVD support, but they sure as hell didnt have an easy go at it.

    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?

    The arrival of Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and secure Cable/HDTV is nothing but bad news for linux. Many times the barrier may be as simple as the fee required to get your hardware deviced signed. Beyond that, the laws today make reverse engineering, even whiteroom a very difficult (legal) prospect. Keeping support for the newest media storage schemes and hardware is going to be a hell of alot harder for the linux crowd then it will be for Microsoft.
  • Re:No DRM for me. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HoboMaster ( 639861 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:11PM (#15106371)
    So, you don't watch DVDs?
  • by doconnor ( 134648 ) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:14PM (#15106392) Homepage
    "And if the major Linux players go ahead and support DRM? Then other Linux distributors will come along with their DRM-less versions and scoop up market sahre, and users will see the movies and listen to the music they want to anyway using pirated versions of stuff. Let's not forget, what a coder creates, another coder can hack. No amount of DRM is going to keep enterprising coders from breaking it and freeing the content. The DRM camp is, as usual, kidding themselves."

    A DRM-less version will have no advantage over a DRM version of Linux, or Windows for that matter. Having DRM doesn't prevent you from doing anything you could have done before. It just means that DRMed movies and music will be supported that won't be on a DRM-less OS. Both will continue to play non-DRM content, including content which has been cracked.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kfg ( 145172 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:14PM (#15106394)
    The BIOS is where the DRM will reside.

    At first.

    Ya know that they're talking about closing the audio "analog hole" by moving the D/A conversion, and thus the decryption, out to the speakers themselves?

    Not that there aren't so many unchipped speakers out there in the world already that most of them are already gathering dust in closests, and not that you couldn't intercept the signal between the chip and the cone quite easily, but . . .

    This is the way they're thinking. Chip everything.

    I assume they know that it won't really work, because a dedicated geek will get the content unencrypted somehow anyway, but that it will knock out the casual copier.

    Won't I'm not sure they grasp is that in the Internet world most people don't do their own copying and that it only takes one dedicated geek to crack the shit and spread it to the world.

  • Re:analogy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:14PM (#15106396)

    While many of the media companies would like you to think this way, it is in fact false.

    DRM, which stands for digital rights management, has absolutely zero to do with piracy or even copyright protection, instead it has everything to do with giving up our rights to use our property as we wish. By allowing DRM, into our systems we abrogate our rights to use our systems as we choose and instead tell the media companies to decide for us what we are going to use our systems for. Don't believe me, look real closely at the whole TiVo thing.

    DRM is nothing more than the big corporations attempt to add more power to the DMCA. If you haven't read through the whole DMCA, I strongly encourage you to, because what you will find is that under the DMCA, you don't actually own any technology device that you buy, this includes software, hardware, and media, instead you are simply renting it on a simgle payment.

    And of course the whole reason the DMCA came about was because of piracy. Now, if you do decide to really read what I have recommended, then I will give you one more group of items to read here. First, you will want to read Courney Love's blog regarding the piracy, then followup with reading Baen Book's article on why they created their free library and the affect it has had on their company since then. When you read these you will learn some very very interesting things about what an abortion the DMCA is, what a crock the whole DRM issue is, and more importantly you would learn that there are much bigger criminals out there than Enron, Microsoft and the US Government. I'll give you a hint... They are the RIAA and MPAA.

  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:15PM (#15106407) Journal
    Or simply to use another distribution.

    Don't forget, unlike the Windows "market", the Linux market is a real, working market. That is, consumers have the choice, and therefore the power. You don't want Linux with DRM? Then get another one without DRM. If there's demand for such a Linux distro, there will be supply for it. And if there isn't demand for Linux with DRM, those distros will simply die (or drop DRM).
  • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:23PM (#15106469) Homepage Journal
    The media moguls want DRM, therefore, there will be DRM.

    You see, as a consumer, you';re just a blind, dumb automaton responding to media campaigns. Your "rights" don't matter unless money can be made off them.

    They don't care what's good for YOU, they just care what's good for them.

    It's all about cramming their preferred technology down your throat for their benefit,. Don't like it? Be prepared to be labeled a pirate or other "criminal" type.

    Remember Rule #1, demonize your opposition in the public opinion.
  • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:23PM (#15106473)
    Seriously. Why is Real even around any more?

    Because certain content providers insist on using Real's formats for their content.
  • by ScottLindner ( 954299 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:26PM (#15106481)
    I like the logic and well thought out message. But... either I missed some points, or I'm not in any of the groups you proposed and discussed. I do agree with what you said though. And I do see another group that isn't in your 4, and is also not the group I'm in either. There are a great number of people that feel companies have the right to write their own laws, and will not do anything at all but buy Dell, Microsoft, Intel, DRM, etc, etc, etc, because that's what a good law abiding citizen is supposed to do. Never thinking once that these companies are far out pacing our government's ability to fairly write laws to protect both company, and individual rights. Which means these companies are writing their own laws, enforcing their own laws, and passing judgement on those that break the laws they wrote with frivelous lawsuits to scare people into submission and acceptance. What about that group of people?

    The group I'm in? I'm very close to Group 2, but I will buy movies, I will rent movies, I hate all of the hording people do with their warez.. but at the same time I recognize that is their right to disobey the extortion like practices of the modern media companies. However, I'm very similar to group 2 because I enjoy the freedoms of enjoying the media I paid for the way I want to enjoy it... and not to be dictacted to me by the mega-corp that wants to own my living room and tell me how to enjoy their media, when it enjoy it, and the percentage of my pay check they are entitled to.
  • by XanC ( 644172 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:32PM (#15106529)
    What exactly makes linux the better ( or worse ) platform for DVDs here?

    mplayer doesn't tell me "action not allowed" or that I must go through the menu. I put in the DVD and tell it to play Title 1. That's it.

    In Windows, (or on a "real" DVD player), it's watch a few ads, look at the FBI warning, wait for the damn animation to finish, push Play, wait for another damn animation....

  • by Kilz ( 741999 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:33PM (#15106534)
    Why? You cant easily DRM Linux. Why , well imho its because Linux is community driven not profit driven. While some people make a profit off Linux it is not its end all be all. There is no central company to buy off to put DRM in. Communities design it to be free and open. Any project that decides to become DRM infested will lose community support. Without a community behind it the project is as good as dead. When one distro dies 4 more take its place. It isn't hard to do. Its easy to do with Linux, its called a fork! Using the last available code that wasn't DRM infected. But the biggest fear of the DRM crowd is that Linux is a DRM free alternative. mThey fear more people will find Linux is open, and easier than they thought. I know I did, no trusted computing OS for me! I see this as the biggest fear from people like Real. Will linux have DRM in the future? Maybe. It could be mandated by law, or some other dirty trick. But it all comes down to trust. Do I trust the Linux community or or closed sorce companies not to take away more than is abaslutly necessary? For me , its a no brainer.
  • Re:Hahaha! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dougmc ( 70836 ) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:42PM (#15106615) Homepage
    Which leads to the really big question. WHY are the media companies so intent on controlling things by region? What is the possible reason?
    That's easy. They want to be able to charge each region as much as they can, and certain regions will be willing to pay more than others. They feel that seperating things by region they can make more money.

    I attempted to order the entire Hitchhiker's Guide radio series ...
    Well, that's probably an unusual case. I was thinking more of DVDs. In any event, the HHGTTG recording you wanted may have really just been licensed only in the UK. Though I'm sure if you really wanted it you could get it on eBay or find somebody over there to get it for you.

    I agree with you, it's stupid, but it's the way it is.

  • Re:No DRM for me. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:44PM (#15106631) Homepage
    Which is fine so long as it has zero legal backing.
    If I only want to sell lawnmowers which are chained to large cement blocks, that's fine. The market will probably eliminate such idiocy.
    If I want to make it illegal for people to remove cement blocks from their lawnmowers, or to sell lawnmowers which do not contain cement blocks, or to distribute bolt-cutters, I should be executed for treason.

    It is that black-and-white.
  • by CrazedWalrus ( 901897 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:45PM (#15106635) Journal
    Sorry, Billosaur, I'm not picking on you in particular, but your post was the last one before I decided to say something about it.

    Whatever happened to the word "Patrons"? or "Customers"? Did anybody notice that?

    People are not consumers. Bacteria are consumers. Mindless consuming machines. The word itself is demeaning.

    I think it's high time that business started remembering the slogans: "The Customer is always right", and "Thank you for patronizing us". I think the shift to the demeaning and inhuman word, "Consumer", has a lot to do with the loss of respect for the "Customer" that's been developing in recent years.

    Words have power. Use the correct ones.
  • Support Them All (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:51PM (#15106673) Homepage Journal
    Linux is open software. I want to be able to play DRM content, as well as non-DRM content. Why should my "more open" platform be more closed to some formats? Let proprietary systems, like Windows and RealNetworks' servers, suffer from less content because they support only DRM content. Support all the formats, make content creation cheap and easy without DRM, and let people choose what we want to produce and consume. The open, easy to share stuff will win. Along the way it might even bring low the high & mighty Hollywood brand franchises and the DRM-mongers who love them.
  • by sbrown123 ( 229895 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:51PM (#15106678) Homepage
    Bullshit back at ya. Remember a few months back the fiasco of the Sony DRM rootkit? There is no law preventing companies from installing DRM material on your computer without your knowledge. And lets say, in the not so distant future, a particular DRM program was built to download huge quantities of advertisements to your computer, use the internet connection as a relay for the corporation that produced the media, and generally make your computer completely useless. We call these "zombies" nowadays but lets say corporations start making them too. They can't do that right? Again, no law. Now add in hardware DRM, which is here today, and you can't even uninstall this crap from your computer. No, formatting the hard drive will result in you having to purchase a new copy of Windows (install CDs are non-existant and it's a one time install per purchase service plan with Microsoft in the future). Replacing the harddrive will not work since the onboard DRM has registered THAT harddrive as the only valid harddrive. You are left with having to replace pretty much all the guts to the PC in order to remove the DRM that you installed because you bought a product.

    All this is for what exactly? Why are we heading in this direction? This is all to prevent software/media duplication? WTF. Hell, wouldn't be easier to just prevent the sell of recordable media in the U.S.? Oh, wait, that won't allow corporations to get CONTROL. They must have CONTROL.
  • by Crash Culligan ( 227354 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:57PM (#15106720) Journal
    I am a consumer and I am _NOT_ demanding DRM.
    DRM is E-fascisme.

    Tsk! You shouldn't have such a low opinion of yourself.

    You are not a consumer. You are a customer. Got that? To be a consumer is to become the product, sold by an advertising company to a content provider in the form of click-throughs, CD sales, or statistics. To be a customer means being reasonably educated and selective in the choice of product you buy from the merchant of your choice, and expect it to work the way you want it to.

    We're not there yet, but we'll work toward that "beautiful and delicate snowflake" thing slowly, mmmkay?

  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aquabat ( 724032 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:57PM (#15106731) Journal
    Excellent point: It's not the source that has to be signed, but rather the built binary.

    In this case, the source code is almost completely useless for building binaries. Even if you don't change the source, something as innocuous as changing the optimization level or version of your compiler will produce a useless binary.

    I didn't understand before what the big deal was with the DRM additions in GPLv3. I'm starting to get it now.

  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:59PM (#15106747)
    No more so than it's child's play to decrypt SSH packets when given access to the OpenSSH source code, I would imagine.
  • Nah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:00PM (#15106749)
    "The consequences of Linux not supporting DRM would be that fixed-purpose consumer electronics and Windows PCs would be the sole entertainment platforms available," 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."

    Nah, the rest of us non-Windows lusers will just use the pirated versions of content, since it'll be easier. Fuck the recording companies with a sharp, pointy, broken-glass-studded 12" long motorized 6666 rpm dildo. This will encourage *more* piracy, not less. And artists/bands will still make money by having concerts - if you like a band these days, you'll go to one of their concerts to get the full experience anyway. Free music will just give them more exposure - I downloaded music that I'd never even *heard* before from my college's network in the 90s, and I ended up liking quite a few of those bands, and going to their concerts or buying CDs. I think that the more piracy will also encourage artists to innovate or starve, since they won't be able to make money selling recordings of their music from 25 years ago.


  • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:15PM (#15106842) Journal
    With a Trusted Computing Platform it's all about who has the master key. If you have the master key, all this Trusted Computing stuff is actually pretty cool - it gives the you a lot of power over malware. If you don't have the master key - well, it really isn't your computer any more.

    For embedded electronics, say a DVD player or an iPod, I'd have no problems with not having the master key. If a device does what I want it to at a price I like, I can live without being able to tinker with it. But for a general purpose computer - Hell, no! But then, I'm willing to live without access to DRMed content if need be.
  • by SpecBear ( 769433 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:19PM (#15106870)

    For me it's about control. A while back I started wondering why it was that that media industry thought it was their right to control what I can and can't do with my computer. I buy the hardware, I buy (license) the software, I'm responsible for fixing stuff when it breaks, and I have to clean it up when their crappy software runs amok. When thay want to pay for my machine, they can tell me what to do with it.

    Besides, this is Real we're talking about. Did they suddenly become relevant while I was busy playing with iTunes?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:21PM (#15106886)
    If you look at the big picture, it might be good for Real not to go away. The more incompatible proprietary DRM formats there are carving up the market, the more complicated it is for those who want to try and control everyone and everything. This is a desirable alternative to one single monolithic DRM infrastructure imposed end-to-end.

    If the DRMers are divided, it is better for the human beings.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dare nMc ( 468959 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:33PM (#15106995)
    > No more so than it's child's play to decrypt SSH packets when given access to the OpenSSH source code, I would imagine.
    not sure if you entended to prove them GP right, or wrong.

    It is trivial to decrypt SSH packets, that is the reason for it's success. You need the key to do that, and once you got the data across, you are free to do whatever with the results with no way to know SSH was ever involved.

    So ya opensource DRM would work if the goal is to allow the consumer to make sure they got the files from the provider in-tact, and that the files were not damaged...
    That has little to do with RIAA/etc goal of making you re-buy all your content every-time a new DRM device/format comes out.
  • by Shimmer ( 3036 ) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:41PM (#15107077) Homepage Journal
    Remember Rule #1, demonize your opposition in the public opinion.

    Yes, that certainly seems to be the approach you're taking.
  • by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:42PM (#15107098)
    Temporarily, perhaps, but there is little honour amongst thieves. Sooner or later, a major player will realise that by offering products without DRM in a world that usually demands it, they can gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    Not in the case of a monopoly. If you want to buy the Lord of the Rings trilogy on DVD, you have no choice but to accept DRM. Music, movies and television are not fungible.

    Fox can't, for example, decide to undercut New Line and sell the LotR trilogy without DRM.

    People will buy their DRM-encumbered DVD, HD-DVD and BD players, because they will have no choice. They will buy their DRM-encumbered PCs and portable media players, because they will have no choice. And once all their hardware is DRM-encumbered, and all their commercial media is DRM-encumbered, why would they revolt?

    Their only alternative will be to not buy the films, shows, and music they want, and I don't see DRM becoming so restrictive that people will go to that extreme. Macrovision has circumvented our legal right to back up our physical property for well over a twenty years now, and there hasn't been a backlash.
  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:51PM (#15107164) Homepage Journal
    If people want content and content providers don't make that content available on Linux, then people won't use Linux.

    DRM won't work and only systems and artists who avoid it will profit and grow. Go visit the links I provided and tell me what content you are still lacking.

  • Re:No DRM for me. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:51PM (#15107167) Homepage
    That's just as good as them actually having no DRM for tech-savvy people who know where to find illegal tools that are hard to find because it is a separate crime to tell others how they function, help others find them or distribute it to others, and don't mind breaking the law merely by using them, because there is nothing about a DVD that prevents me from using it any way I like.

    There. Fixed that for you. Yes, we get around it. Anything that gets popular enough and known enough for the RIAA/MPAA to bother with (no, a tiny fraction of users going to doom9.net doesn't count) would be pummeled out of existance.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:01PM (#15107265)
    Their only alternative will be to not buy the films, shows, and music they want, and I don't see DRM becoming so restrictive that people will go to that extreme. Macrovision has circumvented our legal right to back up our physical property for well over a twenty years now, and there hasn't been a backlash.

    Ah, then this is where our expectations differ. I can see DRM becoming so annoying that there is a massive consumer backlash.

    Macrovision is mostly irrelevant, because few people try to back up their stuff anyway. OTOH, the average lifespan for a home computer is probably under five years, and I'm guessing most portable MP3 players and the like don't last that long before breaking. In a couple of years, the generation that bought lots of legal downloads recently will want to transfer them to a new toy. If they're told, "Sorry, you can't, your whole music collection is going to die with your iPod," then there are going to be a lot of very upset people around.

    Likewise, if people who just spent four-figure sums on big, flashy HDTVs a couple of years ago go and buy new HD-DVD or Blu-Ray discs and then find that they're stuck with upsampled low-res displays because they don't have HDCP, there are going to be a lot of very upset people around.

    The difference between this sort of thing and the crude "copy protection" technologies that have gone before is that the new generation of DRM will actively get in the way of things that typical users really want to do. Worse, it will do it only to users who are good customers, buying content from legal sources, while it will do jack to people who rip it - and someone, somewhere will always rip anything that's any good, and that rip will always be playable on systems that don't play ball with media megacorp DRM initiatives.

    If this isn't a recipe for a serious consumer backlash, then I don't know what is, and I reckon this one will probably be accompanied by plenty of antitrust suits in the US, deceptive marketing claims in Europe, etc. It's just a matter of how long it takes before DRM stops inconveniencing a fairly small and mostly silent minority (Macrovision) and goes mainstream (HDCP, legal music downloads, etc.).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:01PM (#15107266)

    The reason we are in so much trouble now is only partly to do with the media companies. They pushed for DRM systems, and the computer industry (or rather Microsoft, Intel and Compaq) setup the secretive Trusted Computing Initiative. A system designed to introduce DRM into the PC... without distrupting current applications, of course.

    Trusted Computing rolled forward slowly for 8 or 9 years... all the while Intel and Microsoft (and now HP) were busy rearchitecting software protocols and designing things like HDCP.

    Now we are in a situation where most of the big technology companies have all signed up for this Trusted Computing stuff... and very few people seem to be asking the important questions. You may ask why I said the music industry is only partly responsible? It's because this has now gone way beyond them. Companies like Microsoft and Intel now understand that DRM is about far more than music and video. DRM is, fundamentally, about the hardware encforcing access to data "X" only to code which matches the digital signature "Y". They can enforce absolute control over what code gets to access a piece of data... if you code doesn't obey their arbitrary rules, it doesn't get access. For example: an application that accesses a particular word processing document must be written to ask a Microsoft Rights Management server (perhaps on the internet) what the user can do with this document -- are they allowed to open it at all, how much does it cost, how long can they keep it open, can they print etc etc. Applications which haven't got the correct digital signature doesn't get access by default. You, of course, have no say in any of this. You can't make a decision to trust... it is made for you, because *you* aren't trusted.

    This technology allows tech companies to completely control a PC... to specify what it can and cannot do. To be the brokers for access to digital data (be it music, video, emails, word processing documents) -- the hardware is essentially a big brother chip on the motherboard. So you see... DRM is far beyond music and video these days. The tech companies all know how much power it will give them, and they all want it badly. And if you think using Free software will save you... it won't. This hardware operates on the digital signature of a binary. If you have the source code for a program, you can't compile it and use it as you did because you can't sign the resulting binary.

    This is where Real's claims come in... to implement DRM, you first need to ensure that the kernel doesn't do anything you don't want it to (that it is "Trusted"). What Real is talking about is an unmodifiable Linux kernel... if you change it in anyway, it is no longer trusted and won't be allowed to access the data. Interested parties might also like to ask Red Hat just what the fuck they are doing working on the Linux equivalent of Microsoft's Protected Media Path -- a technology that relies on you not being able to modify your own software... so much for Red Hat being a supporter of Free software. They don't like talking about this much, for obvious reasons. Considering how much influence they have over the kernel, they should have to. One might also consider just what their game is with SELinux -- that's the basis for a DRM system when it is tied with an unmodifiable Linux kernel and TCG hardware (indeed, that was it's original design purpose at the NSA... only for controlling access to intelligence information, rather than music).

    More information:

    Trusted Computing' Frequently Asked Questions [cam.ac.uk]

    EFF: Trusted Computing: Promise and Risk [eff.org]

  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:14PM (#15107361) Homepage Journal
    If DRM becomes as oppressive as the big media players seem to want it to be, then it will drive people away from platforms requiring it and towards platforms that circumvent it.

    Back in the late 80's and early 90's, I was involved in a case that got a lot less publicity, but is perhaps an instructive parallel.

    At that time, AT&T's Sys/V unix was a market leader, and most vendors sold it with a curious restriction: The low-end systems had a limit of two simultaneous logins. For a price (on the order of $100), you could get an "upgrade" that relaxed this restriction. All it did was overwrite one or two bytes in one of the system files somewhere, but it would cost you.

    There were the usual problems with the /bin/login program, however. The frustrating part was that when something didn't work, all you got was a cryptic message that didn't tell you what the problem was. So I wrote another login program that pretty much did what /bin/login did, but it had a -d option to specify a debug level, so you could get a detailed log of a login exchange, complete with lots of information about anything that failed.

    It didn't enforce the login limit, because I didn't know how to determine the limit. There were discussions of this on mailing lists and newsgroups, where some people mentioned that they used my login mostly because it didn't enforce the login limit.

    I publicly offered to implement the limit (as a command-line option ;-), if only someone at AT&T would tell me where to find it. I never heard from them, though we knew that a lot of AT&T techies were reading the lists. Our theory was that if they told us where the limit was, we could simply erase it.

    We certainly could, of course, but this was silly on its face. We didn't need to erase it; we had my login program, duh. There were a few questions as to whether my program was legal. But we decided that was also silly; it was just a program that opened a port, did a bit of I/O, and then exec'd another program. If that's illegal, it would shoot down lots of important commercial apps that used the serial ports to talk to lots of useful gadgetry. Requiring that a plugged-in gadget go through /bin/login's checks is nonsensical on its face.

    Anyway you don't see any such discussion any more. To my knowledge, there are no longer any unix-like systems that have such a limit. At least I haven't encountered one for the last 8 or 10 years. Not even OS X has a login limit. (Anyone know of a system that does?)

    These days, we're seeing the same fuss over DRM limits. These limits are just as arbitrary and artificial as AT&T's login limit was. The purpose is to prevent users from using their computers' capabilities without paying extra for an "upgrade" that amounts to overwriting a few bytes in some hidden config file. Such an upgrade must be possible, because if the DRM is enforced everywhere, everywhere includes recording studios and production facilities, and nobody can produce commercial recordings. So there has to be a way to allow DRM violations for "professional" customers who pay enough to get those few bytes changed.

    I'm betting that DRM will fall to the same quandary that killed off the AT&T login limit.

    Of course, if they give me specs for their DRM, I'll be happy to add it (as a command-line option ;-) to my software. To make it easy, they should post the code (in C, perl, tcl and python, please) where we can all download it and use it.

    Maybe we can add a +DRM option to the cp, scp and rsync commands. I wouldn't object to the inclusion of such an option.

  • by glesga_kiss ( 596639 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:28PM (#15107486)
    ITMS means the end of searching every single store in town that sells CDs to find that one album that someone raved about, and getting it in only 30 minutes.

    iTMS also means:

    1. the end of kids listening to their parents records when they hit their teens (no authorisation)
    2. your enslavement to a single company for the rest of your days as your music won't work on anyone elses hardware
    3. the end of taking round a couple of CDs to a party/friends. You'd need to plan and burn in advance
    4. the end of lending a CD to a friend to see if they like it

    I'm sorry, but iTMS is just plain wrong and anyone who understands the technology yet still invests in it deserves all they get.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:57PM (#15107704)
    Aahh, that is the other side of DRM. It ensures that the media companies can continue to make you re-buy all your content due to forced obsolesence. This is the reason the electronics companies are behind it as well -- to sell more goods. Many people think that CDs and DVDs are good enough, and the gravy train of rebuying media is starting to run out. DRM limits your ability to move the media to a format of your choice, giving you no alternative but to keep rebuying.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @03:52PM (#15108235)
    That "special hardware" is also known as ANY VISTA-COMPATIBLE NEW COMPUTER. In fact, if you have reasonably new hardware, you're probably already infected with it.

    That's why this is scary -- because Microsoft has the ability to leverage its monopoly to force the "special hardware" on the public, and the RIAA/MPAA/BSA have the political power to outlaw "non-Trusted" machines (which of course would only be used for "piracy" anyway, you know)!
  • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @03:55PM (#15108252)
    If you have the master key, all this Trusted Computing stuff is actually pretty cool - it gives the you a lot of power over malware.
    If you have the master key, it's not called "Trusted Computing" anymore.

    The definition of "Trusted Computing" is that the Powers That Be have the ability to make your computer secure against you.
  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @04:06PM (#15108337) Homepage

    DRM isn't about stopping piracy. Piracy is nothing compared to the potential market of forcing the rest of the population that doesn't do pirating (about 85% right now, though that will decline as they push this) to have to pay extra just to play the music or watch the videos they already have. The content industry sees riches in everyone having to buy yet another copy for each different device, and even having to buy replacements for worn out copies (something they tried back when music was on 12 inch vinyl disks by going to a cheap product that would wear out in 10 to 20 plays). Getting the revenues from piracy is about a 15% gain. Getting the revenues from DRM forced re-buys could double or even triple their sales.

    1. Whine about lost sales due to piracy.
    2. Get tough laws to block anti-DRM products.
    3. Leave piracy running to keep the laws in place.
    4. Make content only play on DRM devices.
    5. Force re-buys for worn, lost, or stolen media (disallow backups).
    6. PROFIT!!!
  • Think ahead. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by twitter ( 104583 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @05:36PM (#15109106) Homepage Journal
    People are buying BILLIONS of dollars of DRM protected content TODAY. So, it works well enough for most people

    They are not buying WMAs, so that's not good enough. DVDs don't really sell as well as they could because of DRM. I don't buy them because I know my set top box won't last forever and that will be the end of them. The problems with other, better built systems like IPod come later. We will see if publishers survive the waves of betrayal they are generating. In the mean time, other publishers are going to jump right in and steal their market share.

    Will your kids be able to share and enjoy your music? I was able to convert my mom's 45s, had a great time doing it and will be able to share that with my daughter. I'll be able to move and convert those files around as I please. That's what people expect from things they buy and they really won't accept less.

  • by Darth23 ( 720385 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @06:56PM (#15109642) Journal
    Who needs Real?
  • by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @09:27PM (#15110365) Homepage Journal

    I think the imac system allows you to transfer your stuff to another computer if needed. You get a limited number of transfers per year. So as long as Apple stays in business, you can pass your collection on to a nother new machine, assuming your machine runs itunes.

    I am not an expert on this, but I have read this a couple of times.

Information is the inverse of entropy.