Don't Buy The Open Source DRM Hype

from the useless dept

Back in 2005, we wrote about Sun's doomed plans to offer an "open source DRM" solution. Not surprisingly, that went nowhere fast. Last year, Tim Lee took apart the claims of "Marlin," a supposedly new "open source DRM" solution. As Tim noted, open source and DRM are a contradiction in terms. So, it's not clear why last week some were celebrating the latest version of Marlin. As some pointed out, just because it's open source, doesn't mean that it should be "blessed" by the tech crowd. DRM is about destroying options for what you can do with bits. Open source is about multiplying the options. To mix them together makes no sense.

Filed Under: drm, marlin, open source


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    PaulT (profile), 31 Oct 2008 @ 4:25am

    Now that DRM is starting to be rejected by the music industry, hopefully this won't matter anyway and other industries will follow suit.

    However, one of the big, unspoken problems about DRM is that is reinforces existing monopolies. Just as you still can't play DVDs and MP3s out of the box on a Red Hat install thanks to patent worries, so Linux in general will have problems breaking into the desktop market while a rival OS maker can lock down the content to its own products. I've heard many people complain that Linux "sucks" because game DRM stops WINE from being able to run the thing or because they can't play their iTunes DRM crap. While everything about Linux is improving at an incredible rate - everything from software installation to hardware support - this is going to be one sticking point that will be impossible to overcome while a competitor holds all the keys.

    While I despise DRM, this is why I think that Marlin is an important project. While, in many ways, open source and DRM are incompatible concepts, there can only be positives to having a DRM that's not tied to the platforms that one company deems fit. A DRM that can actually work on any platform, be it Linux, BSD, Windows, an old Amiga that someone found in a cupboard, whatever, would bee great. It could remove both the built-in obsolescence of DRM as well as the muscle it gives to maintaining monopolies.

    DRM is the devil's work of course, and the sooner we're rid of it completely the better. Like it or not, Marlin is one backup plan that we need to have in case the idiots in charge of the content don't accept the fact that locking it down is a very bad thing for them and for us.

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