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SubjectRe: Why DRM exists [was Re: Flame Linus to a crisp!]
On Wed, Apr 30, 2003 at 10:53:52AM -0600, Dax Kelson wrote:
> On Wed, 30 Apr 2003, Larry McVoy wrote:
> > Your post shows that you think that the reaction is bad and you even say
> > that the reaction is likely. You vigourously disagree with my conclusions
> > as to why the reaction is happening, I see that. OK, so let's try it
> > with a question rather than a statement: why are things like the DMCA and
> > DRM happening? It isn't the open source guys pushing those, obviously,
> > it's the corporations. So why are they doing it?
> DRM/DMCA do nothing to address reimplementation (it can't, see all
> previous posts on how it is a LEGAL activity).
> In my observation, DRM/DMCA addresses unauthorized audio and video content
> copying.
> So, if Open Source is all about reimplementation, and DRM/DMCA is about
> "protecting" audio/video content, where is the connection?

"Trusted Computing/Palladium" stuff is clearly headed in the direction
of encrypting everything, the only place it lands unencrypted is on
your display. I thought that fell under the heading of DRM but maybe
I'm mistaken.

I believe the point of that is "huh, people are going to copy our program?
OK, well, we're a monopoly, you have use our programs to generate the
data, we encrypt the data and poof! the reimplemented programs are

That line of reasoning, by the way, only works if they are a monopoly,
i.e., it doesn't work real well for BK, there are lots of other source
management systems. But it works very well for things like Word,
that's a de facto standard, contrary to what some people here believe
it is bloody difficult to negotiate a contract in anything but Word.
Try sending a lawyer anything else and you'll see what I mean.

So I don't agree that the DRM stuff is all about protecting audio/video
content at all, I think it goes much further than that. Maybe I'm
wrong, maybe DRM isn't all about that, but the point remains that there
is lots of activity in the directions I'm describing and whether it
falls under DRM, DMCA, Trusted Computing, Palladium, of BuzzWord2000,
the activity exists. And I think it exists at least in part because
of the threat of the open source reimplementations. I'm starting to
think I'm the only person on this list who thinks that, that may be,
but in the business world that I move in pretty much everyone thinks that.

The open source thing is a new twist, it's changing the playing field.
That can be good (it has been so far) but it can be bad too if the
corporations get all paranoid, which is what they look like to me.

What you do about it is an open question. My thought has been to focus
on creating new stuff that creates its own world of users and advocates.
Going back to Word, if there was a word processing system that was better
than Word and people switched to it, then any attempt by Microsoft to lock
up the data is irrelevant. Apply that pattern to any application which
operates on data - if you let any corporation have the best technology and
become a monopoly then they can lock up the data and you're shut out of
the game. That's one of the reasons I sort of think the BK clone attempts
are pointless, we can change the file format or encrypt it and unless
there is some other compelling reason to use the clone, it's irrelevant.
On the other hand, make something different and better and BK becomes
irrelevant (unless we do leapfrog with some new feature/whatever).

That's what I meant by chasing. If you are chasing the leader you are
automatically more at risk because you are trying to play in the leader's
playing field and they can change the rules to screw you up. You build
a better playing field and you turn the tables, now the leader is the
follower and they have to play by your rules.
Larry McVoy lm at
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