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DRM (Digital Rights Management)

There was a bit of a flurry when news sources reported that Intel had added DRM capabilities to its Pentium D chip. Intel immediately denied that, which is politically interesting because there's no doubt at all that Intel WILL have DRM enforcement. Obviously Intel finds themselves in a uncomfortable place here: they have to support this, but they know full well that the general public isn't pleased.

That's a recipe for secrecy, double-talk, weasel words and deception. Intel's specific reaction here:


While Intel continues to work with the industry to support other
content protection technologies, we have not added any unannounced
DRM technologies in either the Pentium D processor or the Intel
945 Express Chipset family.
 

I like that "have not added any unannounced DRM technologies". I bet more than a few PR types had a gander at that before it was released for public consumption.

This stuff makes folks uneasy. The underlying reality is that this is Big Brother built into hardware, effectively an overlord operating system that watches for transgession. Once you are watching, it's no great leap to imagine watching for other things. Gee, child molestors use computers and so do terrorists. Any bets against the idea that someone isn't pursing their lips and wondering just how to get Big Brother by those nasty folks who just don't buy the "ends justify the means" arguments? Once the camel has his nose in the tent, there's always someone measuring to see how the whole beast will fit, and no doubt designing drapes to keep you from noticing the intrusion.



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© Tony Lawrence







Tue Jul 12 09:00:47 2005: 778   Phil


It sounds bad to me. The situation isn't as cut-and-dried as the industry would have us believe, because while copyright isn't a bad idea in itself, there is such a thing as fair use, too. I can't copy a book and sell it as my own work, and it seems to me that that is how it should be. That protects the author's intellectual property. But I could photocopy a useful diagram from a book to have in my pocket, if I didn't want to take the book with me.

Steve Ballmer once said: "The most common form of music on a iPod is stolen". It's nice to be insulted by a sweaty rapacious slob. And I don't even use his trash! - I'm an OS X user. Everything on my iPod is ripped from my own CDs, which I bought - apart from a free podcast I just added via iTunes. And I should imagine this is true of most iPod owners. I'll do as want with my own property thank you, Mr Ballmer. And if it gets to the point where CDs have copy protection and I can't rip them to listen to on my iPod when I'm not at home, then it will have gone too far.

It's also worth remembering that I can lend a book I've bought to friends. It's not clear to me that I shouldn't do the same with a piece of music. In fact, this has been described as the industry's wanting to disrupt normal social relations merely because they think (rightly or wrongly) that it is in their own interest to do so. I can see that the problem here is that computer files can be easily duplicated - and, therefore, perhaps redistributed, which is a different matter. But this is most definitely a grey area and right does not lie simply where the industry says it does.

And when it comes to means of checking on the user and means of stopping him from copying even for fair use then it's erecting a repressive apparatus on what was always a shaky moral foundation. I haven't got a guard standing around in my home by my bookshelves checking on what I do with my books, and I don't want a virtual guardian inside my computer.

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