Does DRM Impact Democracy?

from the questions-questions dept

jar writes "If you think DRM only effects your music collection, think again. It goes to the very heart of democracy. While most consumers associate DRM with what happens on their iPod, Bruce Perens discusses how policies that propose "eliminating piracy" actually limit political freedoms. DRM is far from just another consumer issue when legislative efforts like PERFORM and the WIPO broadcasting treaty aim to protect proprietary formats and put choice in the hands of just a few." Specifically, Perens is talking about the legislation we've discussed in the past that would require DRM on streaming audio, noting that this could hold back the discussion. The real situation here is that these laws are misplaced. They're trying to help protect the traditional one-to-many broadcast model of content production on systems that have historically been many-to-many communications platforms. The problem in doing so is that in order to enforce the one-to-many system, you often have to block out parts of the many-to-many system. That's breaking the system to protect one particular business model. The argument, then, is that forcing DRM on a communications system limits the ability of people to communicate -- and, if good communications and discourse is the key to a functioning democracy, forcing DRM on methods of communication could stifle democracy. Obviously, some may see this as a bit of a stretch, but it is at least worth recognizing that there are unintended consequences in calling in regulators to prop up a single business model -- especially when the changes required impact plenty of other systems.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Jezsik, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 11:49am

    Stretching it further ...

    Will we see digital rights management for text next? If you copy a web page to your hard drive for off-line reading, will you have to pay? What if you move it to your pocket PC? Why not make the user pay to print the content of the page? Will we see Adobe get together with printer manufacturers to charge a user for every page printed? This could simply be the thin edge of the wedge.

     

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  2.  
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    Terry, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 12:00pm

    DRM = BullShitake

    DRM is crap and if I buy It I should be able to do what ever I want with it.. PERIOD

     

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  3.  
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    ET, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 12:10pm

    Re: DRM = BullShitake

    As long as "what ever I want with it" does not include sharing this file with anyone or selling it.

     

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  4.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 7th, 2006 @ 12:18pm

    jesus, jezik, shut your damn mouth or you'll give

    j/k

    seriously, i wouldn't put it past someone in hollywood/redmond to try that very thing.

     

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  5.  
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    anonymous coward, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 12:20pm

    what about the theory of innocent until proven guilty? drm assumes everyone is a thief and therefore cripples its own product in an effort to protect itself.

    I understand that some level of security is necessary, that's why my home has a lock on the door, but DRM today is more like the equivalent of martial law:

    you can only leave your house between sun up and sun set and there will be roadblocks every 1/4 mile, you must carry id at all times, and violators will be shot on sight.

     

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  6.  
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    Jason, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 12:24pm

    DRM is a trade tarif, but worse.

    DRM legislation will seriously harm a country's ability to compete in a globalized economy.

     

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  7.  
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    ET, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    what about the theory of innocent until proven guilty? drm assumes everyone is a thief and therefore cripples its own product in an effort to protect itself.

    Retail stores assume everyone's a thief. Ever notice the anti-theft devices when you exit a store? Shame on them, hey assume everyone is a thief! How dare they! Naughty naughty...

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 1:02pm

    I Hate DRM

    A related site. http://www.ihatedrm.com

     

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  9.  
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    ChaOS, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 1:03pm

    what about me?

    What about the underground bands trying to get their name out. They have to encrypt their streams?

    Maybe they want their music to be ripped and shared, just to help them gain popularity. The real money for these kinds of artists comes from the shows, not the sales of CD's.

    As was said above, they break many models to "fix" one. I wonder if that will come back to bite FM broadcasters in the ass... Gotta protect that streaming audio at any cost!

     

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  10.  
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    Brian, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 1:29pm

    I just had a thought about the whole BS pricing model by the music industry. I can not "legally" share my music with people, but would it be illegal to make a "backup" of the cd and then sell the original, at say a garage sale price of $1. And what if everyone just did the same thing? Would that then be illegal?

    Just something to think about... What if someone set up a website where music cd's were bought and sold for very cheap prices between random people. Could that be deemed illegal?

    OK Back to work... hope that makes sense.

     

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  11.  
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    Jezsik, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 1:35pm

    Sorry, Brian, that won't work

    The idea was bandied about when software backups were discussed years ago. If you dispose of the orginal, you're not entitled to keep the copied material (it's not fair use).

     

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  12.  
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    anonymous, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re:

    Retail stores assume everyone's a thief. Ever notice the anti-theft devices when you exit a store? Shame on them, hey assume everyone is a thief! How dare they! Naughty naughty...

    Not sure if that was meant to be sarcastic or not, but if it wasn't, it is a horrible analogy. With that line of thinking, it's like saying someone assumes their neighbors are thieves for locking their door at night. Then again, you might argue "I lock my door at night because I can't watch it while I sleep." If that is the case, then retail stores, in the same light, only put anti-theft devices on their merchandise because they can't watch it all at once. I mean, the devices do come off when you purchase the product, unlike DRM that is meant to stick with it.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    Re: 10

    correct me if im wrong

    if that cd has DRM on it than you are breaking the law just by making a copy, even though another law says it is fair use to make 1 backup of the original.

    great laws

     

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  14.  
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    ET, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not sure if that was meant to be sarcastic or not

    Nope, it was not meant to be sarcastic. So if the stores are not putting the security devices on their CD's and DVD's and electronics because they assume someone is going to steal it, then why do they do it? If you don't lock your door because someone out there might be a burglar, why do you lock it? If you don't lock your car when you park downtown Chicago because you think someone might break into it or steal it, why do you lock it?

    When it comes to DRM, it's not that they assume everyone's a thief, it's because they know there are some people out there who would rather steal it than buy it.

    Now, do I agree with DRM totally? Not anymore. The hundreds of stories and message boards our there did teach me DRM is not all good... I do feel you should be able to buy a song in any form of media and thansform it into any other form of media (like from CD to MP3 to listen to it on your portable audio or vice versa). I don't agree that it should be free. And if you sell it or give it away, you should not be allowed to keep any copies of that song in your posession.

    At least that's how I see it. If you prefer, we can agree to disagree on this one.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Stretching it further ...

    Adobe already has protection on some PDF e-books. Even if you pay for the e-book, all of the print functions are disabled (each publisher can make this decision). And to view the file on more than one device, you have to register and activate your copy of Reader and the book with their "DRM activator". Another case of not being allowed to move your purchase from one form of media to another.

     

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  16.  
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    Me, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Stretching it further ...

    This is a standard feature in PDF's... has been for eons. When you create a PDF, you can choose to disable anything from selecting text to printing. This has nothing to do with Adobe, this has to do with how anal the person was who created the PDF file or eBook.

    The DRM activator is an Adobe thing though... and that's just one nice example of how DRM limits what legal buyers can do with electronic media with DRM on it.

     

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  17.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 8:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Stretching it further ...

    Although I think you can copy the text into Lanother program somehow, even if you have to screenshot it, and use a charecter recognition program such as ABBYY Fine Reader, which can read from most picture file formats and preseve formatting. It would obviously need a lot of work, especially to produce anoter PDF, but I will try it out sometime.

     

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  18.  
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    Simon, Jun 8th, 2006 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re:

    Retail stores assume everyone's a thief. Ever notice the anti-theft devices when you exit a store? Shame on them, hey assume everyone is a thief! How dare they! Naughty naughty...

    The analogy to that would be not letting you download your music file until you've paid for it (which I don't think anyone complains about).

    A closer analogy to DRM would be the store having a security guard following you around for ever more to make sure you only ever play the CD you bought on their approved CD player - and don't even think of lending that CD to your buddy to listen to...

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2006 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Stretching it further ...

    Which is why they are moving to outlaw programs that can make "unauthorized" screenshots and such. I believe China may have recently passed such laws, for example, while the **AA, Adobe, etc. are pushing such laws through in the US.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2006 @ 4:57pm

    Re: Re: DRM = BullShitake

    Yeah, anyone who sells a secondhand product should go to prison for "theft".

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2006 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I do feel you should be able to buy a song in any form of media and thansform it into any other form of media (like from CD to MP3 to listen to it on your portable audio or vice versa).
    Then you also doublespeak.
    If you prefer, we can agree to disagree on this one.
    Heck, you even disagree with yourself. No need for anyone else.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2006 @ 5:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And don't forget about the store coming around and repossessing things you bought when they decide it's time for you to buy new ones.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2006 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Sorry, Brian, that won't work

    In the case of software you're not even allowed to resell the original in many cases.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2006 @ 6:17pm

    Democracy is bad for business.

     

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