Thursday, March 02, 2006

imho DRM4


Found content:

My take:

DRM is another name for the latest perennial news-generating horserace in the IT industry’s daily grind.

DRM is so beautiful from a news fodder standpoint. It gives the intellectual property lawyers, the civil libertarians, the radicals, the anarchists, the “information longs to be free,” the iPod jockeys, the crypto/cipher spooks, and others an issue, technology, trend, lifestyle, etc to flog to death. “DRM is evil.” “No, you’re na├»ve and irresponsible—DRM is good—DRM is inevitable--get with the program.”

Absolutely perfect, if you own, publish, write for, broadcast for, or otherwise participate in the dissemination of current news that touches on tech-qua-tech and/or tech-qua-lifestyle. It gives you a never-ending polarized emotional semi-irrational quasi-high-stakes controversy to cover in perpetuity. And it gives the mouse potatoes of the world an abstract issue whose payoff to them is clear and visceral. “Wow…free music…free movies…free porn….free……..”

Years ago, when I entered this industry, I started compiling a mental list of the IT news-cycle “horseraces” that kept getting press coverage. Here are some of the principal entries on the horserace list: sysops vs. hackers, virus spreaders vs. anti-virus, spammers vs. anti-spam, spyware vs. anti-spyware, closed source vs. open source, Microsoft vs. world, and codemakers vs. codebreakers.

To that list I’ll have to add DRM-builders vs. DRM-busters. Most of the press coverage I’ve seen lately highlights the efforts of the DRM-busters. Such as the referenced article: “Gartner: piece of tape defeats any CD DRM.” Guess what—it’s flogging Sony yet again for the evil XCP rootkit, and pointing out that music on the company’s DRM-protected CDs could be liberated through a common household adhesive strip applied to the outer track. I’m not sure how he could make this claim, but some unnamed Gartner analyst said that “the use of a piece of tape will defeat any future DRM system on audio CDs designed to be played on a stand-alone CD player.” Any future DRM system? How can the analyst be so confident about the inefficacy of all future DRM innovations (does he/she have some sort of supermagical quadrant to consult on techno-futures)?

How about those DRM technologies that leverage whatever miracles (or disasters) come when humanity masters quantum computing (which will inaugurate a codemaking vs. codebreaking horserace the likes of which will blow everybody’s minds, and render public-key cryptography absolutely powerless)?

Can a piece of Scotch tape factor an arbitrarily long number into its prime factors instantaneously? If so, it can defeat any future crypto-based DRM technology.