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Linux DRM Warning

Ogg Theora







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Summary: Now is a crucial time to protest against DRM in Linux

WE'VE already worried that Linux had adopted the equivalent of Tivoization. Now we find the threat of DRM in the most ubiquitous kernel of free operating systems, so we wanted to alert readers.



It's solely an issue regarding the following new article about DRM being considered for Linux. The technical chief of the Linux Foundation (and an IBM employee who downplays freedom) writes on the topic, which is covered in LWN.net:

Ts'o's message is worth reading in its entirety, but the basic point is that TXT enables Hollywood (or another DRM-happy entity) to take away some of the basic functionality of the hardware in order to preserve their "rights". Essentially, this takes away users' rights to protect companies' perceived or actual rights. The truly nightmarish scenario is one where one cannot do anything on a computer that isn't contained in a signed (presumably proprietary and closed source) application, running on a signed operating system. TXT could enable just that kind of functionality.

But, there are some scenarios (Ts'o mentions medical record access) under which TXT could be beneficial to the user. Other devices (voting machines and ATMs are the standard example) could benefit from TXT as well. Should kernel hackers stand in the way of adding this code to the kernel simply because it can be used for ill? The consensus, from the extremely limited subset of the kernel development community participating in the discussion, seems to be "no".


Victory is attained by GNU/Linux when users enjoy freedom on their desktop, not when market share goes a lot higher through unbounded compromise. It's not about creating yet another OS X or another Windows. It is important to keep Linux safe and immune to user-hostile intrusions such as DRM, which is about the computer user being controlled rather than put in control.

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