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Event on Saturday to get DRM out of the Boston Public Library [Feb. 7th, 2008|11:04 am]
The Boston Community

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[johnsu01]

DefectiveByDesign.org has announced an action against libraries that support DRM on their collections. Boston locals can join them this Saturday from 1pm to 3pm at the Boston Public Library's main branch, and non-locals are encouraged to stage an action against their own library if it's using DRM.

Read story at Digg

(I'll be there.)

linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: baughj
2008-02-07 05:06 pm (UTC)
...No, it doesn't. It just makes it harder. And along the way, you are forced to give up more and more control of your technology to arbitrary authorities (Apple, Microsoft, media cartels) about what you can and cannot do with the things you purchase. DRM isn't about rights, it's about restrictions. It's about converting ownership into rent; it's about a generalized erosion of property rights.

No one would ever suggest that a publisher has the right to come into my house and take back a copy of a book I purchased. Or that I can't give the book to hundreds of my friends to read - or cut up the book and paste it on my wall, if I so wanted, and then take pictures of that and call it my own art.

Why is it reasonable to suggest such things (or worse) for works which can be expressed digitally?
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[User Picture]From: perspicuity
2008-02-07 05:18 pm (UTC)
now i'm getting fuzzy... imho and all that. opinions may vary, contents may settle.

read the shrink wrap on software and movies. they generally try to assert that they own the software and all rights bleah bleah bleah, except that you are given a limited license to use and view it. the DR is already in the legal contract. yeah yeah, limited enforcement on shrinkwrap stuff. so they're also trying to enforce that via other methods. DRM != rootkits necessarily (those suck).

actually, yeah, some publishers would like to take their books back :) but also, down the line, if you destroy your book, you're not going to be able to ask the publisher for a backup copy. they really don't want you to lend it either. the fact you CAN is a particular they can't work around. trust me, if they could figure that out, they would. movies? in theory, you buy it for YOUR enjoyment. you're not suppoed to have "showings" or lend it out. they really hate that, but there's little they can do. at no time though do you OWN the movie or its content. just the shiny deliverly platter.

digital media is new. content is similar to old stuff (books). one of the complaints is that "books last forever" - well, no, not really. yes, i have a book 150 years old. exceptional really. that paperback i bought last week? i doubt it'll last 20 years of reading and lending.

so, cut up your cds, and make art. just don't sample them. that's bad ;)

#
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[User Picture]From: thetathx1138
2008-02-07 05:23 pm (UTC)
Spare me the canned sermon, because it's missing a good chunk of scripture.

I agree to a point about consumer rights, and I loathe VOD, but the reality is, digital media and physical media are not the same and cannot be treated as such. You can loan a book to your friends, sure, but that's not just the intellectual property; that's the physical object that you, yourself, purchased. You can't just stick the book in a printing press and run off 100,000 copies to sell out of your house.

It would be nice if people behaved ethically, but you know what? Enough don't that it makes DRM a necessary evil. I don't approve of all the ways that it's used or the problems with consumer rights that you mentioned.

But there's an easy way around that: don't buy digital media. I notice, however, DRM-haters like to avoid having that discussion...
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[User Picture]From: baughj
2008-02-07 05:50 pm (UTC)
So....let me get this straight. You're basically saying that my rights evaporate entirely when it comes to pure, aetheric "intellectual property" - but that the act of binding intellectual property to a physical object magically restores all of my rights? You must have been an alchemist in a previous life.

You also conflate the issue, and assume since I am against DRM, I must, of course, use BitTorrent 24 hours a day to screw artists out of money. Not everyone who dislikes DRM decides that artists need no compensation and decide to pirate everything and anything. The difference of opinion here is really about what rights the artist retains when he transmits the works (via whatever medium) to the consumer.

As far as DRM goes, there is no such thing as completely enforceable DRM, unless you like the concept of your computer's hardware and all its software not really belonging to you, and you also dig the idea of living in a police state.

DRM fails and will always fail because it assumes from the beginning that the agent who wishes to restrict has full control over the software and hardware of the machine. DRM is like handing someone keys to your house in a taped cardboard box and asking them "Please, don't open this box. Seriously."

It is not a deterrent in any way to piracy (this is absolutely proven) and it causes serious problems and interference for many consumers who genuinely want to support the artists. Ever been fucked over by FairPlay? How about the fact that the number of authorized devices for iTunes has gone down over time?

DRM means the rules change arbitrarily, when the enforcer feels like it. DRM means your access can be revoked at any time to what you have paid for. DRM means you don't actually own what you pay for, or have any irrevocable rights to it.

You wouldn't sign a contract if the contract said, in fine print, "WangCorp has the ability to retroactively update and change this contract, and reserves the right to do so without notification."

You wouldn't ever sign it. In fact, you'd probably tell them to piss off. Yet this is the very architecture and system you praise for "protecting your work".
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[User Picture]From: thetathx1138
2008-02-07 06:22 pm (UTC)
You're basically saying that my rights evaporate entirely when it comes to pure, aetheric "intellectual property" - but that the act of binding intellectual property to a physical object magically restores all of my rights?

No, I'm saying you're acting like digital media and physical media are the same. They're not and to assume so, especially for the case of something like this, is ridiculous. You are basically saying that if I make and distribute a digital copy of my work, only ONE person has to pay for it, and on the basis of that one person, everyone else with a computer gets it for free.

This is how your argument works out IN PRACTICE. Don't even pretend otherwise.

Not everyone who dislikes DRM decides that artists need no compensation and decide to pirate everything and anything. The difference of opinion here is really about what rights the artist retains when he transmits the works (via whatever medium) to the consumer.

Not everyone who dislikes DRM is a pirate, true. I'm not a pirate, I put my money where my mouth is. HOWEVER, enough people ARE pirates that it's a problem that needs to be carefully considered and makes the issue a lot greyer than either side likes to pretend it is.

As far as DRM goes, there is no such thing as completely enforceable DRM, unless you like the concept of your computer's hardware and all its software not really belonging to you, and you also dig the idea of living in a police state.

Yes, I am aware that DRM has holes. Thank you, for repeating the obvious.

Also, you seem to be under the impression that all DRM is draconian. Um, no. I'm also tired of the police-state hyperbole. Read up on East Germany before you trot that shit out.

Ever been fucked over by FairPlay? How about the fact that the number of authorized devices for iTunes has gone down over time?

No, I haven't. I don't switch computers and iPods often enough that either of these issues are such a big deal, and I knew about this kind of thing before I bought anything from the iTunes store. You're not going to win any arguments with me by getting into the crybaby corner assuming that the music labels were always going to play nice or by not reading the fine fucking print (yes, I read EULAs.) Anything that I don't want to lose, I buy a physical copy of.

DRM means the rules change arbitrarily, when the enforcer feels like it. DRM means your access can be revoked at any time to what you have paid for. DRM means you don't actually own what you pay for, or have any irrevocable rights to it.

No, no and no. Some DRM does in fact do this, and I object to those systems. Others it doesn't.
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[User Picture]From: anotherthink
2008-02-07 07:01 pm (UTC)
don't buy digital media.
In many cases, not a reasonable solution, since certain things (some music, movie, tv releases) are not available in non-digital format.
"Don't buy digital media" is a red herring. Following that advice will increasingly mean not buying recently created media -- and thus not supporting the artists who create it now.

Here's the issue as I see it:

Suppose I buy a book. I take the book home and start reading it in my living room. Then I go to another room and keep reading the same book. No one would suggest that I've done anything wrong or illegal here.

Now suppose I buy a DVD of my favorite TV show ($$ --> content creator; no piracy involved). I take it home and start watching it on the DVD player in my living room. Then I decide I want to finish watching it in another room on a different device. Oh... the DRM on the DVD prevents my other device from playing this DVD. And while I or someone else may have the technical skill to get the other device to play the DVD, thanks to the DMCA, it's completely illegal to do so WHETHER OR NOT any copyright infringement is involved (in this case, probably none is).


This is my (and probably many other DRM/DMCA opponents') biggest issue -- we oppose these things not because they deter/prevent piracy/illegal uses or deter/prevent actions like unsanctioned copying that might hurt artists' ability to be compensated, but because they deter/prevent actions that would otherwise be completely legal and within the rights of the consumer.
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[User Picture]From: thetathx1138
2008-02-07 07:05 pm (UTC)
Here's the thing: what you cite is a minor annoyance. What carries more weight, the fact that you have to watch a DVD in one place in your house, or the fact that those who own the copyright and created the work could be screwed out of their just rewards?

I'm not saying I don't see your point, I'm just saying that I think the situation is a LOT more complicated than either side plays it off.
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[User Picture]From: anotherthink
2008-02-07 07:28 pm (UTC)
I'm not saying the situation isn't complicated; developing laws/technologies that help content creators retain rights and get compensated while consumers also retain rights and content doesn't end up locked up is obviously a difficult and currently unsolved problem.

But the current trend is for copyright owners (who often aren't even the content creators) to pressure lawmakers and software/hardware companies to sway things further in their favor -- in a way that entails harming the consumer. And consumers are getting used to this -- "why should I have a choice among software manufacturers? I don't have a right to that!". (In the example of this post -- using the BPL's audiobook service REQUIRES that you run Microsoft Windows.) Making DRM come standard means consumers are effectively restricted to one or two options for operating systems/music players/etc., which isn't an economically healthy situation.

I certainly think content creators should be compensated, and they need some legal/possibly technological protection against theft. But for starters -- how about not making it illegal to circumvent DRM when it wouldn't violate copyright to do so? (E.g. -- there's no need for DRM on an ebook of a public domain work.)

Also, this post is talking about DRM on library acquisitions -- no one (well, except maybe RMS) is saying we should be protesting Best Buy for selling DRMed DVDs. A public library is supposed to be keeping a long-term archive of material to be freely accessible to the public. If your ebook can only be accessed with Microsoft Windows, then if Microsoft goes out of business, the ebook is now worthless. For archival purposes, open-source licensed encodings are clearly the best choice. For commercial purposes -- well, that's a different issue (though some consumers place value on non-DRMed products for their future-proof qualities; e.g. I know I'll still be able to play my .ogg files 10 years in the future, but if I buy something from iTunes, they could decide to prevent me from accessing it 10 days from now!).
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[User Picture]From: thetathx1138
2008-02-07 07:38 pm (UTC)
developing laws/technologies that help content creators retain rights and get compensated while consumers also retain rights and content doesn't end up locked up is obviously a difficult and currently unsolved problem.

It's not that difficult, it's just that no one actually wants to solve it. The anti-DRM side, honestly, at best doesn't understand how artists are paid and at absolute worst doesn't think the artist DESERVES to get paid. The middlemen see it as an opportunity to try and get VOD and similar systems up and running (which, of course, will fail because the consumer hates them). And most artists aren't technically informed enough to be able to make these decisions.

Whining about software is fun: discussing copyright law in a calm, logical manner is boring. Therefore, people will choose to whine about software.
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[User Picture]From: anotherthink
2008-02-07 07:46 pm (UTC)
Well, if you've devised a scenario in which an ideal balance is achieved between artists' rights, consumers' rights, and media player creators' rights, I'd be interested to hear it.
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[User Picture]From: thetathx1138
2008-02-07 08:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, I've got all sorts of ideas on this topic. :-)

1) Codify, once and for all, the rights the consumer has when purchasing media. As of now, much of what people think of as a right (using it in your own artwork, for example) is a lot more legally nebulous than people realize, largely because true copyright enforcement is impossible in the physical world but VERY easy in the digital. Firming that up, under the First Amendment, would be great.

2) Put limits on the behavior of DRM (no narcing, no malware, only copy-blocking). If it is or becomes malware (Sony's rootkit), the company that issued is liable for those damages and problems, period. After all, if we're going to fight "cyberterrorism", let's fight cyber-pollution.

3) For things like FairPlay, ensure that the terms cannot change arbitrarily.

4) Establish REASONABLE penalties for piracy. Criminal charges are patently ridiculous, so let's take that off the board. Also private enforcement and civil suits. Instead, if you get caught, you fork over the fee you would have paid if you'd paid for the media in the first place. Similarly, if people downloaded it from you, they have to pay the fee. It's just being an adult; if you wouldn't watch it unless it was free, just wait for cable.

5) Make artist rights stronger. Instead of essentially buying the copyright as it stands now, the artist licenses it exclusively to the publisher. If that publisher goes out of business, engages in corporate malefeasence, or simply stops publishing the work and informs the artist that they're not going to be reissuing it, then the artist gets the rights back, period.

6) Fix public domain. Delete the Sonny Bono law from the books, at the very least, and create an "abandonment" standard so if the artist has no estate and the publisher is out of business, the material goes into the public domain.
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[User Picture]From: anotherthink
2008-02-07 08:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah, these are pretty good ideas, though there are some practical difficulties with enforcement of some of them.

There's also going to be disagreement about what rights the consumer should end up with; I'd like there to be generous provisions for sampling and remixing, but not everyone is going to agree with that, and even if they did you have to be able to determine what is a legitimate remix and what is essentially flat-out copying with a token change.

But yeah, definitely this would be better than the current system :).
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[User Picture]From: thetathx1138
2008-02-07 08:55 pm (UTC)
I'd like there to be generous provisions for sampling and remixing, but not everyone is going to agree with that, and even if they did you have to be able to determine what is a legitimate remix and what is essentially flat-out copying with a token change.


As long as the Tom-Tom Club gets their royalties. :-)
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[User Picture]From: sparkin
2008-02-09 06:09 am (UTC)

chiming in

1) It is. It's called "Fair Use" and the reason it can't be PRECISELY codified is Because technology will keep changing, and it's much much much harder to change strict and inflexible rules once they are on the books, then simply applying existing ones. Trouble is, the people creating the legislation as well as those in the courts judging the merits of these regulations as well as the numerous lawsuits that get brought up about this do NOT understand the technology or all it entails. So what we get is strict regulations that suffocate innovation, the exact opposite of what copyrights were created to do.

4) You do realize that the whole point behind penalties is not to make things REASONABLE, but to act as a strong deterrent, right? Although we both know that it's never a tactic that actually works. If penalties for crimes were handed out in such a rational fashion, I don't think criminal justice fiasco's like the war on drugs would be an issue for us freedom-lovin' Americans.

I'm totally down with 2, 3, and 6. 5 if it would work, but it wouldn't. Too much money to be made. That's why Disney's still got Mickey Mouse.
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[User Picture]From: thetathx1138
2008-02-09 03:49 pm (UTC)

Re: chiming in

5 if it would work, but it wouldn't. Too much money to be made. That's why Disney's still got Mickey Mouse.

Yeah, this is really pie-in-the-sky, if-we-lived-in-an-ideal-world stuff, some of it.

Fair Use is as updated as any other kind of copyright law (i.e. it was revisited last in MAYBE '68.) While I agree there has to be some wiggle room, part of the problem is that RIAA and others have been arguing that Fair Use only applies in the physical realm due to the limits on copying physical media inevitably impose.

I want reasonable penalties because strong deterrents have, as you noted, failed and honestly, you're more likely to get the point across by hitting people in their wallet. If you download "Meet the Spartans" illegally, hate it, and then forced to pay ten bucks for it, I honestly think that would curb piracy a lot more effectively than the Civil Lawsuits of Doom RIAA keeps flinging out.
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