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Explaining DRM to a Less-Experienced PC User? 195

An anonymous reader asks: "I have a question for Slashdot users eager for a challenge. How would one explain – at a casual level – the concept of, and problems with, DRM to someone who is competent using a computer, but with little technical knowledge?"
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Explaining DRM to a Less-Experienced PC User?

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  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ugayay>> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @09:48PM (#16021025) Journal

    This topic has been kicked around by

    • our government
    • RIAA
    • Microsoft, and others
    • MPAA
    • SONY, and others
    • slashdot, and others

    To date, I have not seen anything approaching a casual description of DRM. In fact, I've seen mostly confusion about and around it. If I were trying to explain to the uninitiated, I would take the tack of describing anything DRM'ed as potentially unusable on one or more devices you own. The fact there is so much turbulence swirling around DRM is an indicator how it hasn't gelled.

    Actually I've tried to explain to casual users. For example, I tell Tivo users (who can be extremely passionate) programs on their "Now Showing" list would not be guaranteed to stay around for as long as necessary to be viewed; or may not be viewable more than once; or may be "eaten" as they're viewed, leaving the ability to backtrack and rewatch segments no longer allowed. That usually gets them going.

    For CD listeners, I describe CDs that may or may not play on their computer, but are extremely likely to fail on any older CD player, in their car, or in their home entertainment system.

    The more I can drive home with examples what DRM looks and feels like, the more I find a spark in the unitiateds' eyes. They don't like it even when only getting a sense of DRM. They don't like it at all.

    I think that DRM can't be described casually, and is so amazingly complex, confusing, and potentially onerous lends even more amazement it could ever be allowed to be implemented.

    • by chris_eineke ( 634570 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:04PM (#16021124) Homepage Journal
      This talk by Cory Doctorow [craphound.com] is a good start.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BrokenHalo ( 565198 )
      I would just explain DRM in terms of something to be got around (so long as we're not advocating doing anything stupid like being an idiot on peer-to-peer). If the person is a competent computer user, you're already off to a head start...
    • by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl@excit e . com> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:16PM (#16021197) Journal

      To date, I have not seen anything approaching a casual description of DRM.

      I'm not sure that's necessarily so. While I use Linux and will not use encumbered media (at least none on which I can't trivially break the "locks", and even then I avoid it as much as possible) most of the less geek-oriented people I know will eventually run into trouble with it...and then they ask me for my help. At this point, you can give them a few basics (lock-in, not wanting things copied, etc.) However, what they inevitably take away from these discussions is exactly what I'd hope:

      DRM is what is causing my problem.

      At that point, they lump it in with all the other things which cause problems even though they don't have a full technical understanding of what they are. This particular heap also includes viruses, spyware, adware, and good things like that-exactly the classification DRM belongs in.

      • At that point, they lump it in with all the other things which cause problems even though they don't have a full technical understanding of what they are.
        So to summarize ...

        Q: Why won't my audio file play?
        A: Because they want you to pay for it again.
    • DRM is essentially just code that disobeys the user's wishes, and acts against the user, on their own computer. Most of us know DRM when we see it, but explaining the differences between DRM and regular software, and making formal definitions of DRM becomes trickier...
      • code that disobeys the user's wishes, and acts against the user, on their own computer

        Hey, you typed a dash at the beginning of a line! It looks like you're creating a bulleted list: and I know that what you really want is for me to reformat the line into a bulleted list with completely new and different formatting from what it had when you started typing

    • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sterno ( 16320 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:36PM (#16021300) Homepage
      It's actually not that hard. Imagine if you bought a car and the car had a key that only you could use. So if you wanted to loan the car to a friend, he couldn't use it. When you wanted to sell the car, you wouldn't be able to sell the car either because it wouldn't work for anybody else. It would work fine for you, but the moment your wife needed to drive it, too bad.

      That's DRM in a nutshell. It's actually worse than that but the metaphor degrades somewhat beyond that.
    • Overly casual explanation? That I can do. [blogspot.com]

      Also good if your friend speaks German or Chinese (or a bunch of other languages).

      A bit light on real-world examples, though.
    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:10AM (#16021744) Homepage
      Imagine a bookstore that has all the books you could ever want. Now imagine that when you buy a book, it remains forever chained to a desk in that bookstore. You can come back and visit it, but you can never take it out of the bookstore. If the bookstore closes or moves, your books go away with it.

      • So, a private library.

        What's so bad about private libraries? You usually have to pay something to get into those as well.
        • Nothing, but at least at a private libary it's customary for them to make sure you understand that you are not purchasing an item from the collection when your paying for the privelage of looking.
      • Furthermore, imagine that although you legally own the book, you are only allowed to read it by wearing spectacles manufactured by certain companies chosen by the bookshop.
    • by quentin_quayle ( 868719 ) <quentin_quayle@noSpAm.yahoo.com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:10AM (#16022193)

      Refer them to a video [zdnet.com].

      From the page:

      ZDNet Executive Editor David Berlind suggests that CRAP or Content, Restriction, Annulment, and Protection, is a catchier phrase than DRM - Digital Rights Management. Why does he think this technology is crap? Once you've bought music or other content to play on one device, it won't play on any other device because of the proprietary layer of CRAP.

      This was torrented a while back. Maybe someone will put it on Youtube. It is quite funny and makes the point well.

    • To date, I have not seen anything approaching a casual description of DRM.

      How about this little book "The Pig and The Box" [blogspot.com]? It was written to help explain DRM to kids.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @09:53PM (#16021057)
    That is all.
  • by DoubleRing ( 908390 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @09:56PM (#16021072)
    DRM will feast on the bones of your children! It will send your soul to the firey depths of hellfire, as its deadly claws of DEATH drink your brains through your eyeballs! The D in DRM is for DEVIL!! (not sure what the R and the M stand for...) It is the Dread Pirate Roberts, here for your SOOOUUUUULLLS....
  • Two words (Score:2, Informative)

    "Copy protection"

    Seriously. I've tried explaining the matter to my friends and girlfriend. Those two words saved my life. :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bangenge ( 514660 )
      I've tried explaining the matter to my friends and girlfriend

      someone please revoke this guy's geek license...
    • by saskboy ( 600063 )
      That's a pretty good description.
      For further reading you might want to direct them to Michael Geist's site which goes into detail. He was recently featured on Slashdot for his 30 Days of DRM. I wrote about it as well here [abandonedstuff.com].
    • I see another two words: "copy restriction".

      DRM is not meant to be consumer friendly, but giving the illusion that it is. I stay away from the stuff by actually buying those circular plastic things, though the ones without the 'copy protected' logo. For this reason there are albums I would have bought that ended up staying the shelf. Trying to explain this to non-computer users or even a number of people in IT ( !!! ) is not always easy. Some people just don't want to know, or simply don't care. The other p
      • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
        You do know that the "copy protection" on CDs isn't even DRM? It's typically a program that wants to install that DRMs your music for you when you rip it (or a rootkit in the case of Sony BMG, so I guess I see your point).
  • Imagine a vendor who has absolutely no respect for you as a human being. That's someone who uses DRM.


  • by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @09:59PM (#16021096) Homepage
    DRM is somebody saying "You can have this lawnmower, but only if you always take this ball and chain with it. Just so I'm sure you don't run off with it. So that you can still use it, it also comes with a butler who will unlock it for you. He unlocks it by flipping a switch from "locked" to "unlocked". You may not flip the switch yourself. The butler only works on tuesdays."
    • DRM is like buying a Ford Expedition SUV that you think you own, but lo and behold, the hood is welded shut to prevent non Ford technicians from servicing, and to keep you from buying after market parts for it. It's like having a black box in your Expedition that shuts you down or calls the cops on you if you drive 66mph or cross state lines without paying a Ford interstate crossing fee. DRM is also like Chevron slapping in a gasoline meter that dings you an extra $1 per gallon for choosing Valero gasoline,
    • DRM is saying that the whims of companies get to determine what you can do with the things you own, not the law or common sense. And furthermore, thanks to some clever lobbying a few years back, the company's whims have the full force of the law behind them.

      DRM is saying that if you have the legal right to do something, but Sony or Disney or AOL decided that you shouldn't, you can be arrested for doing it.
  • I usually relate it to something people are familiar with since grade school, creating a montage, which most digital restrictions schemes make impossible.
  • Just tell them it saves the children -- that's all they need to know.
    • It's how the porn sites on the internet stay in business by making people pay for their porn rather than trading it for free; also the perverts use it to keep the cops from seeing the child-pornography they are trading. Record and Movie companies seem to like it, but a lot of their stuff is close to porn anyways!

      This works for all women from bible-thumpers to soccer-moms to ultra extreme femi-nazi's.
  • "You can't copy it." Jesus how complicated is that? What a leading question.
    • "You can't copy it."


      "You can't use it." (unless you fork over the cash to buy our hardware to play it on)
  • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:15PM (#16021187) Journal
    "You don't get to choose when and how to use what you've paid for."

    "Someone else gets to decide when and how you can play music you bought, watch the movies you're bought, play the games that you've paid for."
    • This is one of the better descriptions I've read.
    • I think that's not going to work with an average user. "It plays when I press play and stops when I press stop, doesn't it?" This trait alone makes it superior to television.

      Yes, I'm aware that there's more to getting to choose when and how to use it than that. However, that doesn't make a world of difference to a person who only wants to use the media in the manner suggested by the distributor.
    • DRM could be fair. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 )
      "You don't get to choose when and how to use what you've paid for."

      That's very close to what I would have come up with.

      I think one of the confusing things about these kinds of debates is that the pro and anti side focus on the intended or feared consequences. Thus, both sides tend to talke past each other. You've made a succinct statement of the anti-side's view. The pro side would put it this way:

      "People won't be able to steal movies and music and resell them."

      The problem with planning for the future is
  • Pop in a random DVD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi&evcircuits,com> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:17PM (#16021207) Homepage
    Pop in a random DVD in their player and let them (try to) skip the ads, the "you don't steal a dvd"-ad, the FBI warnings, the previews and then when you stop the movie for any reason, the fact that you have to watch that crap all over again.

    if($subject == devotechristian) {
                  include "american pie" . $previews

    Then tell them it will only get worse and that DVD was just a begin. Or tell $random_audiophile he won't be able to make back up copies of his "high quality master"...
    • DVDs are exactly the kind of thing to use to explain DRM to the general public. Start with skipping commercials, and then move on to region coding, CSS, Macrovision (I couldn't transfer my old VHS tapes to DVD using a $200 VCR/DVDRW machine because it mistakes a bad-quality tape for the Macrovision signal distortion), etc.

    • funny... most dvd's i've watched in the past 2 years i've been able to skip the previews and that stupid stealing ad.

      but i can't skip the fbi warning...
  • A Right to Read (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:19PM (#16021217) Homepage Journal

    Right to Read [gnu.org] explains the problem with the associated moral dillemas and pulls at the heartstrings. But it is serving as a sort of Animal Farm for DRM advocates, who seem to point out how much they can gain in the short term by enforcing these schemes to make people more money.

    Basically, you have to ask the guy about whether he'd be allowed to own anything. DRM is taking America (and a few other countries) into a dark age where there is really nothing you can buy - you can only rent it or lease it,with the owner living downstairs and always prying into your life. Somewhat like Three's Company Too, but except Mr Roper isn't really one person, but a composite of the company director board.

    But let me put my example up - I never bought new textbooks. In my college, it is customary to buy the books off your seniors, with the associated writings on the margin, underlined points and the odd love letter hidden in it. But as Right to Read illustrates, information when it loses its physical form becomes a commodity which can be sold over and over again to the same induvidual - for different uses. Meaning that, if I had an ebook DRM based textbook, all of them would have expired by now - while I still retain some of the CS books which have changed the way I think about computers. OR playing quake1 on my new Radeon box, I don't know if I'll ever be able to play Doom3 legally once the Steam servers go offline.

    DRM exploits the transience of information in the digital world to squeeze water from a stone, without adding any extra value to the customer (other than the carrots required for them to bite).

    Oblig. UF quote [userfriendly.org] (where's pitr these days ?)
  • House Analogy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gbobeck ( 926553 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:21PM (#16021220) Homepage Journal
    I have attempted in the past to explain DRM to my parents by using an analogy based on a house. I know house/lock/weaponry analogies tend to fail rather quickly, however, it strantely worked with my non-tech parents.

    I have included a rough transcript of the analogy below.


    For our purposes, we have a digital file, which is represented by a house.
    We have digital rights management (DRM), which is represented by an elaborite door and lock system which is operated by a rather burly doorman.

    Now for the cases...
    Case 1: You own the house and the doorman is under your control.
    (This is similar to you creating a document and applying your own DRM to it.)

    You are the owner of the house. You can tell the doorman to keep people out completely, to let certian people in so that they can see your model train collection in the basement, to let certian people open your refrigerator and take a beer... what ever you want, when you want.

    Case 2: You rent the house, but the doorman lets you do what you want
    (You get a document and the terms of usage are unlimited.)

    You may rent the house, but the doorman lets you do anything you want.

    Case 3: You rent the house, but the doorman has strict orders on what you can do
    (You get a document with moderate DRM)

    You are a tennant, but you can't repaint the walls. The doorman, unknown to you, has been forbidden to let your friends drink your beer.

    Case 4: You rent the house, but you have no control.
    (You get a document with extreme DRM)

    You live at the house, but the doorman can do anything he wants to you. Whenever you put beer in the frige, the doorman is the only person allowed to drink it. You are allowed a dog, but the doorman only allows it to poop in your bedroom. Occasionally, you wakeup and the entire place is redecorated by the landlord. You want to move, but the contract you signed prevents it until a replacement house is built.
  • You know you can still find some at swap meets these days... but eventually your music won't play anymore. Same with ACME Brand DRM...
    someday it will stop working. Then you get to buy it again. Remember records? Tapes? DRM is disposable.

    Don't buy
    Disposable Restricted Music.
    Doomed Regrettable Muck
    Digitally Reduced Mush
    Doubly Repurchased Music
    Damned Retarded Munchkins

    I gotta make a script for this!
    • Would you buy your music on 8-tracks? You know you can still find some at swap meets these days... but eventually your music won't play anymore. Same with ACME Brand DRM.

      Eventually we are all dead.

      8-Track tapes were disposable media for play in your car.

      They broke, they jammed, they melted, You paid for the convenience, not for permanence.

      All physical media can be lost to some trivial accident, all physical media degrades in time, all physical media demands storage and maintenance.

      Suppose I decide I

  • "Suppose there was a new movie coming out, but they would only let you into the theatre to see it if you had a chip implanted in your brain that stopped you from spoiling any part of the movie to people who hadn't seen it. Maybe it stops you from saying things about the content, or maybe it makes it come out as gibberish that other people who've seen the movie understand. Who knows? For all you know, the chip could stop you from not liking the movie, or force you to pay to see it multiple times, or compel y
  • Car analogy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Profound ( 50789 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:38PM (#16021314) Homepage
    Everyone likes car analogies. Think of an engine in a car.

    The big corporations who control the media, they're the piston. The cylinder is your ass.
  • It's easy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:38PM (#16021316) Homepage Journal
    See this CD you bought? You own it. You can make backups of it. You can lend it to a friend. You can make mix CDs for your car. You can make copies for any MP3 player you buy. If your car/mp3 player/etc./and/or CD gets stolen, you can make another MP3 and you can listen to your backup. If you get sick of it you can sell it to someone else who will appreciate it.

    See this Napster/Sony/Microsoft/FooDRM media file you "bought?" You do not own it. You cannot make backups. If your PC/Phone/MP3 player dies, so does your music. You cannot lend it to a friend. You cannot make mix CDs for your car. If you upgrade your MP3 player, you may have to "buy" it again. If your MP3 player/PC/etc. is stolen or dies, you also lose your music. If you get sick of the DRM'd music you "bought" you cannot resell it to someone else who will appreciate it. You "bought" nothing.
  • they don't care (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rizzo420 ( 136707 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:42PM (#16021339) Homepage Journal
    the less experience pc user generally doesn't care about DRM. they care only that they can listen to their music (or watch movies or whatever) in the way it was meant to be, which to them is many times on the ipod (which is the reason i don't consider apple to be any better than microsoft). they can listen to their itunes downloaded songs on their ipod and they don't really care about using it in any other way.

    i work in a college. i have student employees. they just don't care. but here's where they do care. we have ruckus, which is drm'd wma files. they don't like that they can't play them on their ipod and consider it to be a fault of ruckus (granted, they have to buy a subscription to play it on a supported playsforsure player, of which the ipod is not one of them, but that's apple's fault, not ruckus's). they think it's stupid. they also don't like that they technically (although we found this to be untrue) cannot even listen to the music without a valid subscription (which is free during hte school year and costs money during the summer). but they don't care about their apple itunes drm... go figure.

    so there's almost no point in trying to explain it to them because they just don't care.
  • DRM baaaad....Freedom Goooood
  • I've explained this to a few people over time, and everyone seems to get the picture. What it usually boils down to is me telling the other people, "DRM gives companies control over your computer so that they can arbitrarily decide what you are and aren't allowed to do with it." People hate to hear this.

  • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:47PM (#16021643) Homepage
    Since this was on boingboing, I'd be surprised if someone didn't mention this already. There's a children's book that explains DRM [blogspot.com].
    • by ajs318 ( 655362 )
      I read the book, enjoyed it, followed the link to the other book, and enjoyed that even more. Nice cameo appearance on pp11-12 ..... check out the book the character is reading ..... and don't tell me it isn't a reference :) Seriously, it's great that there is some accessible media supporting The Cause.

      I'll definitely be printing them out for my little niece -- she's not reading yet, but she will be soon -- and sending the author a donation. That'll be easier all around than sending for the printed v
  • The point? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bongo Bill ( 853669 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:04AM (#16021714) Homepage
    In my experience, your normal user (i.e. not Slashdot readers, i.e. 99% of people, i.e. people who can't be made to foam at the mouth over anything tech-related, i.e. people with normal priorities) cares about one thing: does it work the way they expect it to?

    If a person buys a song off of iTMS, then their expectation is that they'll be able to play it on their iPod and in iTunes. For this reason, it would be pointless to "educate" the user about the DRM - because they don't care that they can't use it with non-iPod, non-iTunes modes of playback. It's about as likely to get them to care about DRM as it is to get them to care that they can't play VHS tapes in a DVD player.

    In general, people aren't stupid - even if they don't understand computers, they can still understand basic consumer skills. If a vendor of DRM'd software explains what the terms of the DRM are, and the user pays for it anyway, then it means that the user has no problem with buying a limited product. A DRM'd file is not a broken file, however much the Slashdot crowd may disagree. The file does exactly what it says it would do. The user doesn't care about being able to convert it to a different format, doesn't care about being able to send it to a different computer, doesn't care about what happens to the file when it goes into the public domain. The user has no problem accepting files that you can't do these things to, because the user never wanted to do any of those things anyway, and the user was never led to believe that any of these things would be possible. The user is not being cheated, any more than you'd be cheated if you had bought a copy of a single-player game, and was shocked to discover that it does not feature a multiplayer mode.

    So, we can clearly see that the point of this exercise is not to convince average users that DRM is Evil and that the vendors of DRM'd software are trying to cheat them. This raises the next question: what is the purpose of "educating" non-tech users about DRM? Is it just for the purpose of creating market forces that will enable us to buy non-DRM'd music (even if it costs more)? Is it an attempt to create a grass-roots resistance against the encroachment on technology rights by whatever government-controlling conspiracy it's popular to believe in this week, who no doubt want to make unlicensed software of any variety illegal? I'm not seeing it, here.

    • by Lussarn ( 105276 )
      How about the privacy issues, You have to tell the company about every computer you want to play the media on. Even if you have bought the track 10 years ago.

      The lock-in issues. It has been proven time and time again that DRM does little to protect the actual media, even in iTunes you can just burn it to a cd and re-rep it. Apple on the other hand makes lots and lots of cash from the ipod-itunes lock-in and they protect it using DRM (in the same way as HP tries to use DRM for their ink-cartridges). That mak
      • So, then, the issue is not so much about protecting the consumers as it is for creating a fairer and more transparent market? And informing the consumers is a means to that end?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Lussarn ( 105276 )
          No, by building a more transparent, vibrant and open market we are protecting the consumers (by not building monopolies). I couldn't care less how the market worked if it in the end was the best for the consumers.

          I don't understand why the market has to be in such a lock-in when it comes to DRM media. As an example I fly RC helicopters and in that bussines everybody is copying everybody. I'm not even talking about lookalikes, I'm talking about verbatim copying of parts and even complete helicopters (The sam
          • There are many distributors of media online. Not lots, but enough of them that there's real competition (though of course if iTMS gets too big that'll change in a hurry). The place where anti-competitive practices occur is not at the distributor level, but rather at the producer level. DRM strains the market in a number of ways, but at the end of the day media is still a competitive market, with or without excessive DRM. Rather, as we've seen in other situations, it is the media producers who break free tra
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Lussarn ( 105276 )
              The place where anti-competitive practices occur is not at the distributor level

              Apple has about 90% of the portable player market (in America), it's probably safe to asume they have about 90% of the market for music online also. Apple was able to strike a deal with the companies to sell music online for the iPod. No other company have been able to do that. Apple has unfair advantage because of DRM.

              Remove DRM from the equation and there'd still be many of the same problems we see today, only with copyright l
  • What's Wrong With Copy Protection [toad.com] by John Gilmore. He explains how copy prevention technology prevents him from making proper copies of an original work that he created and owns to copyright to.
  • "They want to stop your computer from doing what you want it to do, and I won't be able to fix it for you."
  • DRM isn't about copy protection any more. Now it's more about renting, instead of buying.

    "Sooner or later, you're going to have to buy all your music and videos again".

  • by dr.badass ( 25287 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:43AM (#16021870) Homepage
    The challenge of this question is coming up with a description of the "problems" of DRM that actually sound like problems to "less-experienced users".

    If you tell someone "When you buy from music from iTunes, you'll only be able to play it on all of your computers, all of your iPods, and all of your CD players.", chances are they aren't going to understand just how "obviously" oppressive and stifling that is.
  • DRM is a way of punishing paying consumers because the people who don't pay anyway get a superior unencumbered version online, for free. You see, companies want to give you incentive to NOT pay, er, um...... wait.
  • by Pinback ( 80041 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @01:32AM (#16022078) Homepage Journal
    DRM is ripping movies you bought so you can skip the FBI warning.

    DRM is ripping music you bought so it works on the player they don't want it to.

    DRM is downloading a crack for software you bought, so you don't have register it.

    DRM is changing a CMOS bit so your wireless card works in a system it isn't type accepted for.

    Anything you have to break to make it work is DRM.
  • by fuzzybunny ( 112938 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:04AM (#16022172) Homepage Journal
    I would use the following definition, or a variant thereof: "DRM is the name given to technology used by the people who sell you digital content to control how, when and where you view/listen, store or copy that content. It includes laws to make it illegal for you to get around those controls." Beyond that, don't bother explaining, show them what it is and how it works, read on:

    In years of trying to make my girlfriend, who is a strategy consultant and all-around pretty competent 'business' PC user (i.e. knows her way around Windows reasonably well, knows end-user apps, etc.) and a very bright person, I couldn't get her to care ("I buy all my music/films".)

    What'd it take for her to understand why this is important and to listen to me on how it works? Well, we're spending a year on another continent and all of a sudden, her DVDs don't work in the player in our furnished apartment. Oops. Boy, was she pissed. Boy, did she want to know how it worked, why it sucked and how to get around it all of a sudden.

    Same with why Windows is broken ("but it just works for what I want to do.") Until it didn't "just work." Same with data privacy ("I don't have anything to hide") until someone stole her credit card number.

    The phrase you need to remember is "show me the money" or, in consulting terminology, "where's the 'so what'?" Most people won't care or give a rat's ass until it affects them directly.
  • With DRM the company you "bought" it from has a say in what you can and can't do with it. If they have a deal with Microsoft, you can't listen to your music on a PC with MacOS or Linux (or anything else, for that matter) unless you download a hack, and you also won't be able to listen to it on your iPod or any other device that doesn't use MS software or hardware.

    That means that if you buy a CD with MS' DRM, you won't be able to listen on it on: - many CD players, including those built into stereos (car

    • Many end users don't see this as a limitation. As they see it, it's basically a different format: they accept it as fact that you can't play a VHS on a DVD player; why shouldn't they accept that you can't play this music (that says it's only compatible with certain software) on a different machine?

      Of course the situation becomes tricky when it doesn't inform the user. But in that case, it's not a bad technology, just a bad product.
  • DRM is sugar cubes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:45AM (#16022303) Journal
    Sugar cubes wich you cannot grind up and use as regular sugar because it is forbidden. Neither can you use them after they have been on the shelve for two months because that is forbidden. You can't put them in your tea you are drinking out of an old jam jar because that is forbidden. You can't made your own tea blend because that is forbidden. You most certainly can't use them in class-room chem experiments like making it burn (example of catalysts), because, you guessed it that is forbidden. Horses will just have to chased down before riding instead of attracted by the lure of a sugarcube.

    Who forbids it? Why the company that sold you the sugar cubes offcourse. Why do you have to obey them? Because DRM tells you too and if you do not you go to jail for longer then for rape or murder.

    That is DRM. It is like trusted computing, wich really means, we don't trust you computing. DRM and Trusted computing are about the seller telling the buyer what he can do with the product. This is a totally new idea.

    As said, nobody on the world would think of it to suggest that a sugar cube wich is clearly designed to be put into hot drinks cannot be used in any other way as the buyer sees fit. I can literally do anything with the sugar cubes I buy that I want with the only hindrance that the act may not be against the normal law. The seller has NOTHING whatsoever to say about it.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @05:14AM (#16022705)
    I've spent some days/months/years explaining the nature of DRM. It's not so much that people don't understand it. The problem is that they don't believe it!

    I mean, I can see that it's unbelievable. That the claims of people opposing DRM sound outlandish. And they do sound completely insane. The most insane thing about it is that they're true.

    Generally, I've met 3 reactions:

    1. Claims of impossibility
    These people usually go "They can't do that". They don't understand that it can be done. They stopped taking a close look at technology with compact cassettes and think that everything works like they did. I.e. that there is just a 'cable' coming out of their player and that this cable can be jacked into a recording device, and that this has to work all the time because, well, it has always worked this way.

    2. There will be a recorder
    Actually a subgroup of group one, those people usually counter with the motion that for every kind of protection so far, someone has made a program or device that "took care of the problem". What they fail to see is that it's illegal to create such a program or device. Another thing they can't believe, that it can be illegal to program something. Honestly, it is hard to believe...

    3. There will be a crack
    Finally the group that tells you "so what, someone's gonna crack it". While they are most likely right, I don't really see why I should go into illegality to execute a right I have.

    That's more the problem with DRM. It's not that people wouldn't listen. They just don't believe.
  • "It's like DVD region coding on everything. You know what a pain in the ass that is? Whoops, your computer's a different region to your iPod's a different region to your PVR! Nothing works together, and the only reason is so they can get you to pay three times. DRM is a way to rip people off."
  • Don't know if this has been mentioned here before.

    There is a very nice book written for kids with great illustrations available at "The pig and the box" [blogspot.com].

    from the page: The Pig and the Box is about a pig who finds a magic box that can replicate anything you put into it. The pig becomes so protective of it, and so suspicious of anyone that wants to use it, that he makes people take their copied items home in special buckets that act as... well, they're basically DRM. It's like a fable, except the moral

  • Computer Users: DRM turns your computer against you
    I know sometimes it seems like your computer has it's own agenda, when it refuses to print or copy or find your documents. DRM does this on purpose. It is designed to stop you copying and pasting, printing and sharing things. I don't think you want this.
    Computer Scientists: DRM will fail through emulation
    One of the basic precepts of Computer Science is the Church-Turing thesis [wikipedia.org], which shows that any computer can emulate any other one. This is not th

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