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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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  • GPL? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:41AM (#15106083) Homepage
    If they have to make the source available under the GPL, then it's child's play to unhook the DRM, yes?
  • by rtkluttz ( 244325 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:44AM (#15106119) Homepage
    As long as I am the one in control of my own computer and what it does (or does not do) instead of a mega corporation, then DRM is fine and dandy.
  • analogy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:46AM (#15106134) Homepage
    I guess it's like a visiting dignitary - if you want so-n-so to visit your country, you have to help provide him/her police protection. In The Future® if you want pop star so-n-so to appear on your computer in audio or video, you'll need DRM to protect the material from getting around without permission.

  • by spxero ( 782496 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:46AM (#15106135) Journal
    But I hope that it doesn't support DRM! With Vista going to DRM, I may be heading to Linux full-time.

    On a side note, when was the last time anyone used RealPlayer? I just haven't found a practical use for it since around '99, but it still seems to get on other users machines.
  • Re:Wrong way around (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dwandy ( 907337 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:51AM (#15106186) Homepage Journal
    from TFA:
    "The consequences of Linux not supporting DRM would be that fixed-purpose consumer electronics and Windows PCs would be the sole entertainment platforms available," Ayars said
    I'm amused that he believes the only way to play media is in shackles. I, for one, actually started down the Win-to-Lin migration path *because* of things like DRM. I absolutely refuse to let someone else tell me how I am going to use my general purpose computer.
    The coffee I bought at Starbucks this morning didn't come with usage restrictions, and neither will any media I consume or use.
  • The case against DRM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother.optonline@net> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:55AM (#15106221) Journal
    While it's a near-certainty that a DRM-free movie or music download service with major studio backing would become very popular, very quickly, it's equally probable that the files would be wildly pirated as well. But then again, it's already easy enough to find any song or film you need fairly quickly, if you just know where to look. Therefore, it seems much less certain that unprotected content would cause much harm to the pocketbooks of RIAA and MPAA members.

    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.

    And we've had unprotected media around us for years, like FM radio or good old cable TV, and all we need in order to make unauthorized copies of those broadcasts are cassette radios or VCRs. Just because content has gone digital shouldn't mean that we all are going to turn into the dirty, rotten pirates in need of heavy restraints that DRM proponents seem to assume that we are.

    There will always be freely available content, if you know where to look. Let's not forget: many radio stations stream their audio already, and how hard is it to record that stream? A user will always be able to pick up the content they want given the effort, the RIAA and all its cronies be damned. It doesn't make us criminals, but consumers forced to extraordinary lenghts to get the things we want without having to be beholden big media over and over again.

  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BrainInAJar ( 584756 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:28PM (#15106501)
    Or a rewrite of an X server where the display device is "a file on the harddrive", and an alsa driver that outputs to "another file on the harddrive".

    Linux is pretty good at letting you do whatever you want with your computer, especially if you know a bit of C
  • by fossa ( 212602 ) <> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:33PM (#15106533) Journal

    Um, the parent isn't flamebait. Real does indeed develop open source software for Linux. There's even a plugin for encoding video to Ogg Theora. I've heard Windows users claim that it is the best way to play and encode Theora on Windows...

    That said, having never used RealProducer or any Helix software, why would I want to use it? Like someone else said, they left a bad taste from previous nagware, and the RealMedia-RealVideo-RealAudio format and codecs remain proprietary and therefore uninteresting to me. I'd personally rather see GStreamer become stable and get some good frontends.

  • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:36PM (#15106569) Homepage Journal
    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.

    This may hurt your philosophy, but we were lucky and they were stupid. They don't have to let it happen again. With appropriate hardware support (and it's there in the EFI spec, so the mac crowd have it already) there's no reason at all DRM can't be effective.

  • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:42PM (#15106616) Homepage
    Q: 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.

    A: Digital signatures. The TCPA chip checks the bootloader signature, which checks the OS signature, which checks the application signature. Since your modified application doesn't have a valid signature, it won't get access to the same data because the TCPA system won't give it the key. They can ship source as much as they like, you can modify it as much as you want, but it won't actually be useful anymore. That is why the GPLv3 draft has a section about DRM signing keys. Of course, to do this you need to remove all the ways the signed code can dump the data - if you can trick the original code to dump data you've succeeded.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by atokata ( 872432 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:54PM (#15106698)
    Now, I actually design loudspeakers, and I'm not sure how they could pull this off. Do they want to put the DAC, the amp, and all the requisite power supplies into the speaker cabinet? At its most basic nature, a speaker element is just a piece of paper (or something similar), a coil, and a magnet. Are they planning on using some kind of macrovision-esque noise between the DAC and the amp? Even if they did, I could *still* take the speaker cabinet apart and rewire the speaker outputs from the amp, and record it that way. It'd be a pain in the ass, but I've still got a tape deck, and plenty of free time.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:02PM (#15106762) Homepage
    How do you write GPL'ed DRM?
    You can't within the United States legally. Revealing the source to a copy protection method is in violation of the DMCA, even if it's your own copy protection (you'd legally have to simply provided unrestricted content to the buyers), or so is my understanding; IANAL.

    This could *really* backfire for them though. With Dell and the like looking into Linux more seriously because XP licenses drive up the costs of bargin-basement systems astronomically, we could well see a much bigger percentage of users running Linux at home (provided, of course, that Dell invests some serious cash to make Linux more home-user friendly, particularly in the compatibility department). And no content provider is dumb enough to lock out the entire Dell userbase, not even Sony/BMG prior to realizing that the rootkit wasn't such a good idea after all.

    As to TC, that's how it'll probably be used although it's marketed as something to protect your system (the exact concept behind this somewhat escapes me, as it was such a poor cover for hardware-level bending over). Much like how crap is marketed as anti-piracy when it's obviously just a hardware lock-in.

  • by obender ( 546976 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:47PM (#15107128)
    (realplay.bin:609): Pango-CRITICAL **: _pango_engine_shape_shape: assertion `PANGO_IS_FONT (font)' failed

    Pango-ERROR **: file shape.c: line 75 (pango_shape): assertion failed: (glyphs->num_glyphs > 0)
    And that's all I have to say about RealPlayer. I'll stick to VideoLan, thank you very much.
  • by smchris ( 464899 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:55PM (#15107206)
    I'm sure Real doesn't believe in or care about the casual user but my experience is that if I can't run it, I'll run something else. When I could run a Windows 3.1 RealPlayer under WinOS/2, I listened to Real stations. When that was no longer possible because they moved on to a different format and Windows players only on the PC, I moved to streaming mp3. Now, under linux, my regular RealPlayer use has never bounced back and is limited to one stream -- but I still listen to streaming mp3.
  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @04:03PM (#15108308)
    The problem with stuff like this is that it'd increase costs a lot to make speakers really intrusion-proof; when these things are being manufactured in China for a few dollars, how are they going to get consumers to buy these "new improved DRM-enabled" speakers for $500 a set when they used to buy computer speakers for less than $100 (sometimes less than $10 for the really cheap ones)?

    Any technological measures to prevent copying which significantly increase costs won't succeed in the market, I think.
  • by janolder ( 536297 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @05:17PM (#15108963) Homepage
    My wife got an iPod nano for her birthday. She is also in the habit of getting books on CD from the library. The library recently started handing out DRMed copies of said books on CD, so my wife thought it would be quite neat to get one of those books and put it on her iPod.

    Due to various problems with the library's web site it took her a few hours to download the books. Amusingly (for me), the library DRM turned out to be Microsoft's PlayForSure which doesn't play on iPod, for sure. I was able to witness firsthand what DRM does to Jane user: At first she was confused. Then she was annoyed. Then she asked me what was going on. Then she was furious.

    Moral of the story: My wife will NEVER accept DRM ever again. She'd rather pick up a good old book at the library than waste any money on **AA's broken products, be it music or video.

    I think the **AA industry overestimates its own importance. DRMed entertainment is not a necessity of life. Once time and space shiftable media such as CDs and DVDs disappear, we'll likely cease to consume any **AA media altogether. We've already cancelled our cable subscription due to the poor programming and amazingly annoying ads. There are better things to do.

  • Re:GPL? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fordiman ( 689627 ) * <> on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @05:34PM (#15109090) Homepage Journal
    If Intel goes DRM, I will buy AMD. If AMD goes DRM, I will buy VIA. If VIA goes DRM, I will buy Transmeta. If Transmeta goes DRM, I will buy ARM or PPC or anything but DRM.

    I run linux. I don't need to stay on a given architechture. And I don't need DRM.

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra