Ed at Freedom to Tinker comments on the triennial DCMA exception discussion.
Here’s a basic overview of the problem. Opponents of DRM say:
- There should be a stipulation allowing “users to remove from their computers certain DRM software that causes security and privacy harm”1
- Exemptions to bad DRM would mean that labels would be under presssure to come up with good DRM2
- Or, as worded by the CCIA and Open Source and Industry Association: add an exemption for DRM schemes that “employ access control measures which threaten critical infrastructure and potentially endanger lives.”3
Then Big Media (BSA, RIAA, MPAA, &tc.) says:
- There wouldn’t be any incentive to create better DRM it “would be fundamentally undermined if copyright owners […] were left in such serious doubt about which measures were or were not subject to circumvention under the exemption.
- [T]he boundaries of the proposed exemption would turn on whether access controls “threaten critical infrastructure and potentially endanger lives”
Now, I agree with Big Media insofar as the proposed exemptions are rather broadly defined, and you know that Big Media hates broad language unless it works to their benefit. However, when we’re talking about what defines a situation where DRM “threaten[s] critical infrastructure and potentially endanger[s] lives,” something tells me that we’re not talking about Joe Sixpack illegally obtaining the latest Korn album. That Big Media would quibble over such things is truly pathetic.
I’m surprised that they’re even pushing DRM so hard at all. Anyone who knows anything about technology has been saying for years that it’s a waste of time. It ruins your portable music player’s battery life, it can harm your computer, it doesn’t accurate reflect the usage pattern of most consumers, it’s not broadly compatible, and it hasn’t seemed to make a dent in the RIAA/MPAA’s bogeyman of INTERNET PIRACY!4
Here’s the thing: if my options are to pay $X to download a 128kbps AAC, MP3, or WMA file with copy protection that I can’t use indefinitely or play everywhere, or to “illegally” download a release group’s rip at 192kbps/
- those of you aware of, for instance, Starforce, a copy-prevention software that can physically ruin parts of your computer; similarly, recall the Sony-BMG rootkit fiasco[↩]
- I think this is a contradiction in terms[↩]
- recall that the Sony-BMG rootkit, for instance, could have been installed on mission critical computers, opening them up to failure or security breach[↩]
- dramatic chord[↩]