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01.14.14

DRM is Not Dying, It is Spreading Like a Virus, Even to the World Wide Web

Posted in DRM at 10:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: DRM is destroying decades of technological advancement and even the biggest tool of communication, data sharing, and perhaps multimedia (competing with broadcast)

CORY from BoingBoing spent many years of his life fighting DRM. He is seemingly depressed, and claims to be unable to sleep, over what the World Wide Web Consortium is doing these days [1-3], noting additionally that DRM is now spreading to hardware [4,5]. GNU/Linux has already come under attack from Sony [6] because of DRM [7]. Steam, a DRM-loving rival of Sony, is also deleting games remotely right now, using DRM [8-9]. Some Linux-based ebook readers only support DRM ebooks that are also being deleted remotely, and the same goes for DRM-free ebooks [10], which can also be deleted remotely over the Internet. This makes DRM virtually a back door. It shows that Linux without freedom is not enough. DRM is a serious threat. It’s turning computing devices, not just data on them, into some kind of rented facilities, controlled remotely by some other party. How utterly disgusting. Amazon, which deleted books remotely (several times, even against the law), is now remotely deleting movies too [11,12]. The FOSS community is trying to fight back [13], but it cannot keep up with attacks on coding itself. The concept of ‘authorised’ programming/code (like DRM) is being introduced also [14], exceeding legal restriction and imposing them technically.

DRM is destroying our world. It is destroying our culture, it is ruining the Web, it burns books, it harms software development, and it also enables remote ‘bricking’ of machines. Devices become jails for their users, not just instruments of surveillance, and the very little useful function that remains in them can be removed or turned against the owners (remotely, with no indication of of it happening).

Those who still don’t understand why DRM is a very bad thing probably just don’t fully grasp DRM. DRM is in many way like a back door and now that the MPAA is part of the World Wide Web Consortium we expect future Web browsers — even FOSS browsers — to contain blobs and perhaps back doors. The MPAA spent many years lobbying to put back doors in every PC, not in order to target terrorists but in order to support an antiquated business model (protectionism, monopoly, and profit).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Requirements for DRM in HTML5 are a secret

    The work at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on adding DRM to HTML5 is one of the most disturbing developments in the recent history of technology. The W3C’s mailing lists have been full of controversy about this ever since the decision was announced.

    Most recently, a thread in the restricted media list asked about whether the requirements for DRM from the studios — who have pushed for DRM, largely through their partner Netflix — demonstrated that these requirements are secret.

    It’s hard to overstate how weird this is.

    Standardization is the process by which all the parties in a technical subject agree on how things should be done. It starts with a gathering of requirements — literally, “What is the standard required to do?” Without these requirements, it’s hard to see how standardization can take place. If you don’t know what you’re standardizing for, how can you standardize at all?

  2. Hollywood Needs The Internet More Than The Internet Needs Hollywood… So Why Is The W3C Pretending Otherwise?

    Last week, we wrote about the MPAA joining the W3C almost certainly as part of its ongoing effort to push for DRM to be built into HTML5. Cory Doctorow has a beautifully titled blog post about all of this, saying that “we are Huxleying ourselves into the full Orwell.”

  3. We are Huxleying ourselves into the full Orwell.

    As near as I can work out, there’s no one poised to do anything about this. Google, Apple and Microsoft have all built proprietary DRM silos that backed the WC3 into accepting standardization work on DRM (and now the W3C have admitted the MPAA as a member – an organization that expressly believes that all technology should be designed for remote, covert control by someone other than its owner, and that it should be illegal to subvert this control).

  4. High-end CNC machines can’t be moved without manufacturers’ permission
  5. Latest Twist On DRM Of Physical Products: Machines Locked Down By Geolocation

    As the Boing Boing article quoted above explains, this seems to be a requirement of the US government, and is designed to prevent machines being sent to Iran in violation of the embargo placed on that country.

    [...]

    What’s particularly troubling is that the cost of adding GPS capabilities is already low, and will inevitably become lower. That raises the possibility of a wider range of devices being locked down by geolocation — and of their owners’ rights being eroded down even more.

  6. Sony Class Action Over Linux On PS3 Partially Revived

    A Ninth Circuit panel on Monday partially reversed a lower court decision squashing a putative class action accusing Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC of reneging on its promise to let users run alternative operating systems on their PlayStation 3s.

  7. Blu-ray Encryption—Why Most People Pirate Movies

    I get a fair amount of e-mail from readers asking how a person could do “questionable” things due to limitations imposed by DRM. Whether it’s how to strip DRM from ebooks, how to connect to Usenet or how to decrypt video, I do my best to point folks in the right direction with lots of warnings and disclaimers. The most frustrating DRM by far has been with Blu-ray discs.

  8. Steam Removes Game ‘Order Of War: Challenge’ From User Libraries
  9. Valve deletes ‘Order of War: Challenge’ from Steam user libraries

    Lot of games have been taken down from Steam store in the past years, but for the very first time Steam has removed games from user libraries. Yes, the very game that the users had purchased with their money. The game in question is Order of War: Challenge, a World war II strategy game developed by Wargaming.net and published by Square Enix in 2009.

  10. Kobo Aura HD eReader is Linux-friendly

    So you can quite easily add your own existing ebooks to the Aura HD; however you can also, if you wish, take advantage of Kobo’s online ebook store. If you purchase ebooks from the store or even just wish to sample a preview, it will be added to your Kobo account and automatically synced to your device, which is nice. But if you wish to only buy and use DRM-free ebooks, you can do so and avoid the Kobo store altogether.

  11. Can’t stream that Christmas movie you “bought” on Amazon? Blame Disney
  12. Amazon Pulls Access to Purchased Christmas Videos During Christmas

    Disney has decided to pull access to several purchased Christmas videos from Amazon during the holiday season, as the movie studio wants its TV-channel to have the content exclusively. Affected customers have seen their videos disappear from their online libraries, showing once again that not everything you buy is actually yours to keep.

  13. GStreamer Might Tackle DRM, Blu-Ray Support

    At the recent GStreamer Conference 2013 there was a presentation on “Taking Gstreamer to the Next Level” and in there some interesting features were brought up.

  14. German Court Says CEO Of Open Source Company Liable For ‘Illegal’ Functions Submitted By Community

    We just had an article mentioning that Germany has a ridiculous (and dangerously anti-innovation) view towards secondary liability, in which the country’s courts often default to making third parties liable for actions they did not do. We noted that a court in Stuttgart had decided that the Wikimedia Foundation could be held liable for content submitted by a community member on the site, though only after the organization was alerted to the content (which still has significant problems for what are hopefully obvious reasons).

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