Vision Matters

Thursday, January 19, 2006

DRM and Public Safety

Thanks to my correspondent and email friend James for pointing me to "Some Safety and Reliability Questions About DRM" by Victor Yodaiken"
The link is overloaded each time I have looked recently, but here are some highligths-
"We are entering the era of ubiquitous and safety critical computing, but the developers of DRM technologies seem to believe that computers are nothing more than personal entertainment systems for consumers." "DRM is a potentially dangerous and intrusive licensing technology that is being pushed into production before safety and reliability issues have been addressed."
Yodaiken is the creator of RTLinux and President and CEO of FSMLabs, a software development company. He is asking serious questions in which DRM are life and death practicalities, as opposed to ideology or greed.
One of my favorites- "Is it going to be easy for a technician upgrading software on a computer controlling an intensive care unit vent or an airplane communication system to inadvertently install DRM-sensitive software instead of the DRM-free software?"

Friday, January 13, 2006

Debating DRM- What's the point?

Over here, Shelly P is hosting a Debate on DRM, which David Smith had complained never took place.
Well, why should it? Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the dialogue taking place, and certainly there is a lot of intelligence and insight on display. But at the end of the day, none of the speculation is going to matter. The game is outside any lines that might contain it, and it is on.
The players will all act in their own interests. You and me included. Nobody will willingly give up control if they can avoid it, including individuals. Somewhere along the line players with resources will try to use the courts to advance their own interests.
People on all sides will claim superior ideals or values. Maybe even that "God" is on their side. Won't matter. This is one that gets fought long and hard, and lots of winners and losers along the way, and someday there will be a stable market for content licensed for use by anybody and everybody that provides compensation back through the value chain.
Can't say when. Can't say I'll like it, or that it will ever seem trouble free.
So the debate is something happening on the sidelines. To play, create content and decide how you extract value. Or create part of the pipeline, and decide who to be in business with.
If you have electricity in anyway, you probably can't stay out of it. Buy a computer, a tv, or any current handheld player, and you are then part of the game. Somebody give me a guide!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Think about money

Doc is depressed about a dialogue he read on Lloyd Shepard's site about how DRM might actually be good. The problem in all of this is that content lends itself to being thought of as product, while it is also ideas. Like the physics problem of light as waves or photons, either way of thinking becomes limited.
The best model is money. We want money to be in a mostly frictionless flow, to be readily available and able to move. And we don't want to make it too easy to steal. So with money what we have done is set up a series of institutions, most of them commercial profit motivated, to handle money. We print and circulate money with serial numbers, and watermarks and we accept that there is a certain level of larceny going to happen. We try to make it complicated to steal, and we try to make it easier to catch thieves when they do, with all manner of security, but our priority is facilitating transactions, flexibility and access.
Applying this to content, it means we need to develop the technologies that enable uniquely identifiable units of any given product, support for multiple marking schemes that will enable tracking and enforcement, and be focused on facilitation of transactions.
The proponents of DRM have narrowly defined things based on their interests. This is why the 'argument' David Smith is looking for hasn't taken place. History shows us that monopoly interests, or even attempts to dominate a market, are not served by an open discussion.
If you were Apple or Microsoft, attempting to get exclusive access to the world's most widely circulated content, why would you talk to anybody else, and why would you talk about anything other than the content guys' hot buttons? Seizing the territory is what they are doing, and a 'consumer' market outlook is resonates with the studio leadership. None of these companies undestand why or how 'consumer' is a dead end.
It isn't that information wants to be free, as much as it needs to be free to move to have value.
Just like money.