DMCA and DRM: Dumb and Dumber

Post ImageOn Wednesday I wrote that the writing is on the wall for DRM. Today over at ars technica, Ken Fisher agrees:

What makes it even more deplorable this time is that it’s now 2007, and the writing is on the wall: DRM is a failed idea, and a waste of time and money.

I don’t want to pick solely on DRM though. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is just as much to blame for the whole HD-DVD key fiasco. Ken explains:

AACS LA isn’t claiming copyright protections for the key. Rather, the key could constitute a circumvention device, which makes it illegal per the DMCA. Until a court has ruled, it’s all speculation of course.

I think something has gone terribly wrong when the law makes the simple act of writing a number illegal. Bill Clinton did a lot of good things while in office, but signing the DMCA into law was not one of them (in my opinion).

The DMCA is not a real solution to the problems faced by copyright holders. DRM is essentially security through obscurity. In other words, it’s not at all secure, and once the secret has been revealed there’s no going back. Organizations like the MPAA and RIAA know this, so they look to the DMCA as a sort of fallback mechanism: “if the secret gets out, or is bypassed, we’ll just sue.”

Instead of using the DMCA to punish the potential circumvention of DRM, rights holders should be figuring out how to remove the need for DRM altogether (thus removing the desire to circumvent it). You know, like this.

Fix the business model, and the problems go away. Yes, I really do think it’s that simple.

Read: ars technica

One thought on “DMCA and DRM: Dumb and Dumber

  1. I think DRM for music should just go away, except for subscription-based which I think can still work, because it’s another cloud service that makes sense if people could just have it work on all their devices.

    DRM for video is gonna be harder, and I actually think it makes sense (as with music) in the on-demand video rental space for now.

    Canadian copyright law is heavily based on the related UK Acts which I’ve read. I think people should really educate themselves on what rights are actually granted to a copyright owner. People may also not realise that copyright infringement doesn’t easily cross the line from civil to criminal until bigger profitering is involved. Note that there are no ‘fair use rights’ in Canada and the UK, and the ‘infringement exceptions’ that do exist don’t include ‘personal use exceptions’. So, take the VCR (and it’s modern versions) – use would come under copyright infringement, but it’s impractical to pursue and people would just give up watching if they couldn’t record.

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