If Bill Gates Thinks DRM Is So Flawed, Why Doesn't He Do Something About It?

from the money-where-your-mouth-is dept

Microsoft's been trying to get all touchy-feely with bloggers lately, and had a bunch of them up to its HQ for, among other things, an audience with Bill Gates. Apparently he was asked for his thoughts on DRM and copy protection, and his reponse was that it's pretty much broken. While not dismissing it out of hand, he says nobody's gotten it right, and that it causes too many problems for legitimate buyers -- which it does. So if Bill thinks it's such a problem, why doesn't he do something about it? It's all well and good for the likes of us to sit here and explain how DRM hurts content providers' businesses, but somehow, it seems that Hollywood's more likely to listen to somebody like Bill Gates when it comes to these things. Instead, we get Microsoft kowtowing to the recording industry and enabling all sorts of DRM-related problems with its Windows Media DRM, in particular its lack of support for devices like non-Windows PCs, and even its own Zune. It's high time that influential people who know better start explaining this stuff to the big content companies, whether it's Bill Gates, Steve Jobs (though his affinity for DRM seems to have changed), Yahoo execs or the few in the content business that seem to understand what's going on. Content owners need to wake up and realize that getting rid of DRM is good for their businesses; the idea just needs some influential evangelists to get them to listen.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ken, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 11:17am

    first

    Don't egg Bill on...he might actually try to change something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Brit, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 11:29am

    Ever Thought

    Have you ever thought that the media companies, MPAA, RIAA won't listen to Bill Gates or any of the others you mentioned, and perhaps Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, etc. need to let them try it out and prove how bad it is before they will see the light. If they lose enough business over it, perhaps they might see that it doesn't work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Mojo, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 11:31am

    Re: first

    Yeah, he might make the most widely used failure.... oh wait thats par for the course. I say let 'em try, there are several billion crackers in china that will have more fun then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Keep it Going, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 11:40am

    If Bill knew how to make DRM better, he would. The real problem is that everyone in the industry doesn't get together and put their heads together and try to improve it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    He's-not-all-bad, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 12:02pm

    Re: first

    He's changed things before...and not always for the worse. Wouldn't it be better for him to create another widely used failure that improves the situation than to simply let the current situation go unchecked?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    comboman, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 12:15pm

    broken or cracked?

    When Bill said DRM is broken, I think he's refering to the DRM in Windows Media Player.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    franticindustries, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 12:17pm

    big companies.

    I'm working in a big company, and I can tell you one thing: if all big companies are like my company, then very often no one man - even if he's the manager - can really control what the company does.

    A company in its early stages is good in nature, but once it establishes itself it's a money making factory and that's its only goal. And when you have a lot of big companies joining in a common goal of making money (DRM), it's a tough job taking their candy from them.

    Microsoft is not different. Bill Gates probably cannot do anything about DRM even if he wanted to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    justin, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 12:49pm

    re:

    why is it bills responsibilty to do anything about a known flawed system? He didn't created it, but he is stating the obvious ... and since he mentions it, he should write the code/plan/whatever to get it correct?

    lame.

    Maybe the RIAA will fix is, since it really only effects them and the trillions of dollars they are losing on CDs that are worth 1/10 of what they are being sold for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Bumbling old fool, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 12:52pm

    Re: re:

    why is it bills responsibilty to do anything about a known flawed system? He didn't created it, but he is stating the obvious ... and since he mentions it, he should write the code/plan/whatever to get it correct?

    lame.


    Uh, no, its up to Bill to fix if if Bill wants to reap the benefits fo fixing it. That is all the incentive there ever was, and Bill has proven that is enough incentive for him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    drivingmenuts, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 12:54pm

    Why?

    Because Bill likes to get paid the big bux. That's why he doesn't come out and say it outright.

    There's more money in continuing down the same old path than there is in actually fixing it.

    (Which would entail dispensing with it entirely.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    ConceptJunkie (profile), Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:04pm

    Re: first

    Right. The best way to make DRM worse is for Microsoft to try to "improve" it.

    I think MS has gotten to the point where they have been pretending so long that they actually believe what's best for them is best for the customer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Paul, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:08pm

    Why don't you.

    You seem to agree with Bill that DRM is broken, so why don't YOU fix it? Hypocrite.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    JohnnyZTS, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Mikey

    Leave it up to Bill ? Why not let Mikey do it? Mikey will do anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Carlo, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Why don't you.

    I assume your comment is directed at me. Here's why:

    1. To my knowledge, I, nor a company I run, are currently responsible for creating and copy protection technologies or software that run counter to my feelings about DRM.

    2. As I stated in the article, "It's all well and good for the likes of us to sit here and explain how DRM hurts content providers' businesses, but somehow, it seems that Hollywood's more likely to listen to somebody like Bill Gates when it comes to these things." Perhaps I'm just just overly humble, but I'd imagine that Hollywood execs who tend to think DRM is necessary to protect their businesses (and insist on using it) would sooner listen to Bill Gates' thoughts on the topic than mine. But I appreciate the obvious high regard in which you hold me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Bob, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    Bill quotes

    "We will never need more than 640k of memory"

    He changed his mind on that one

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Beerhunter, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Why don't you.

    Gates is on his way to retirement. Why would he want to take on such a negative project?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Vishy Venugopalan, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 2:14pm

    How to fix DRM?

    Given how broken DRM is in practice, I am glad it is being acknowledged by an influential figure like Bill Gates. DRM is broken today because it ties ownership of a media artifact (mostly) to the device it is being played on, rather than its owner. I've written up a blog post about how using SIM card-like devices for digital media might lead to saner DRM schemes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 3:19pm

    Companies vs people

    @beerhunter "Gates is on his way to retirement. Why would he want to take on such a negative project?"

    For exactly that reason. Maybe he sees it as a positive fight. I mean we know copy protection and DRM is unworkable an impossible at a logical level right? So does Gates because he's not stupid. He's an odd character Gates, not that I know anything firsthand, but he's complex that's obvious. Once he is free of the responsibilty of Microsoft expect to see him do and say some wild things as he becomes an old and cantankarous legend in his own lifetime. Deep down he's old fashioned benevolent capitalist, earned it all himself etc etc. He enjoys respect and being liked and even though he probably understands the thinly veiled jealousy of the fellow geek world can't quite understand why he's become a figure of hate just for writing a a shitty operating system (Ok, *the* seminal shitty operating system). I suspect he doesn't want to be remembered for that and has plans to remain involved in "technology issues" while there's still breath in his body, which I hope is a long time yet. And I say that as a Windows hating Linux zealot too.

    @ franticindustries

    Agree. Corporations literally become an entity in their own right, not just a ficticious legal persona, but something gestalt. Individuals, even those who appear to have power, become the servants not masters of their creations. That is why we need have the law treat corporations with the exact equivilent powers to real people, not just the halfway niceities of incorporation, but have corporate murder, corporate insanity and corporate jailtime - sanctions that can usefully wipe out a company that is deemed a threat to society at large. Of course if that ever happened, Boeing, Haliburton, General Dynamics, and the whole nest of death profiteers would be disbanded within months.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    rijit (profile), Dec 14th, 2006 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Companies vs people

    @misanthropic humanist - In all the Sci-Fi and fiction I read, Corporations gaining individual rights or being treated as an individual is a bad thing ;)

    As for DRM, I still maintain if you tag a file when it is made/copied with the information of who did it, where, and when would make it easier to find pirated content. The Riaa and the Mpaa can feel like they are still needed by downloading the content of various sites and checking the tags daily, hourly, or whatever. If a tag doesn't hash out, they can go to work with the legal overkill and punish the mean ol' pirates. Of course there is problems with this system as well but at least we could use the files on the platform we want to use them on without having to buy the same content two or three times.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Pramit, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 12:05am

    Gates Interview

    Microsoft PR machine is planning for Vista's launch. Thus his interview with Microsoft-loving bloggers.

    MediaVidea has 5 questions for Bill gates .
    http://mediavidea.blogspot.com/2006/12/5-questions-for-bill-gates.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    another, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 7:17am

    Do you even understand the issues?

    I think not. The content owners are the ones who demand DRM, not Microsoft. These are two different industries. Bill Gates can talk to the content owners, but is powerless to do anything about it other than that because Microsoft doesn't produce content. The content owner doesn't care about the device, because they don't profit off the sale of the device.

    Why do you continue to ignore the fact that different industries have different goals and agendas? I know that content owners want their content being sold on as many different devices as consumers choose, but you need to realize that content owners want to be paid for their material. Its not a technical issue (although getting DRM to work is) its a business issue of who gets paid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Joe Schmoe, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 8:22am

    "The content owners are the ones who demand DRM"

    And let's not forget, it's the RIAA & the MPAA that are the content owners, not the content producers (artists who have signed over their content for the industry's age old promises of fame & fortune and seemingly lucrative deals...)

    The deathnell of the RIAA & MPAA will not be their non-acceptance of DRM free content. Rather, it will be from more and more artists realizing that they don't need to make deals with "the Man" anymore, and strick out on their own. Unfortunately, it is/will be a very long drawn out process.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    npgmbr, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: re:

    Ummmm.....No. Bill Gates can't do a darn thing about DRM. He can control WMP DRM but DRM as a whole he has no influence over because it's the content providers (aka the RIAA) that pull the strings. If you can't see that then your walking around with you eyes closed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Mike, Jan 13th, 2007 @ 5:01am

    DRM

    Someday we'll all look back on DRM and laugh at how ridiculous it all was. Our grandchildren probably won't even believe our wild stories of the lengths that the content distributors went to in order to keep us from the things *we* purchased.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Craig, Feb 3rd, 2007 @ 9:06am

    I wonder if the artists are being paid extra for being silent on the DRM issue, and the MPAA and RIAA's fight against piracy.

    It certainly wouldn't surprise me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Kent, Mar 22nd, 2008 @ 2:53pm

    Think a Class Action Law Suit is in Order

    Since Microsoft created the DRM technology that does not work and admits that it does not work I think compensation is in order for those of us that bought devices that do not work as we were told they would? Class action lawsuit anyone?

    http://microsoftdrmproblems.blogspot.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    turbopidar, Apr 23rd, 2008 @ 11:32am

    DRM

    You can find the files shared on uploading sites that the other crawlers miss here megaupload files

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This