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