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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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  • Two words (Score:2, Informative)

    by corychristison ( 951993 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @09:56PM (#16021074)
    "Copy protection"

    Seriously. I've tried explaining the matter to my friends and girlfriend. Those two words saved my life. :-)
  • 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:Easy (Score:3, Informative)

    by maztuhblastah ( 745586 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:07PM (#16021140) Journal
    Then, should you happen to do this for someone who knows what an AAC file is, watch as you are laughed down.

    What you mean is:
    1) Go to iTunes Music Store
    2) Buy a protected AAC file from the store
    3) etc...

    AAC is not a proprietary file format, nor is it DRM-encumbered by default. The iTunes Music Store (NOT iTunes... it won't DRM tracks that you rip) uses a DRM wrapper around an AAC file... but these tracks aren't standard AAC files.
  • by Lord Prox ( 521892 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:10PM (#16021156) Homepage
    Even more is an animated short (CC) here on trusted computing DRM [youtube.com]. Or do a search on ED2K/LegalTorrents/Youtube others for "Trusted Computing" by Benjamin Stephan and Lutz Vogel

    Place a curse on those SOB's at the MPAA and RIAA and there damn DRM [i-curse.com]
  • 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 ?)
  • 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.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas