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[dvd-discuss] Discourse on DRMs - Responsibilities, Requirements, Ramblings
- To: dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
- Subject: [dvd-discuss] Discourse on DRMs - Responsibilities, Requirements, Ramblings
- From: "Michael A Rolenz" <Michael.A.Rolenz(at)aero.org>
- Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2002 08:45:43 -0800
- Reply-to: dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
- Sender: owner-dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
In reading the recent motions in the Skylarov case, and my own minor
problems with PDF files, the whole notion of DRM seems to be ANOTHER one
of those great sounding ideas that everyone is running about promoting
(.002 excepted) yet undefined. Assuming that I keep most of the same
rights I had <BIG assumption since that does not appear to be the case in
the DVD cases> , what have we had for Analog Rights Management (ARM) up to
After exchanging consideration (money), I receive a physical pobject-
book, a record, a CD, a tape-some item. I may use this item whenever,
whereever I choose. It becomes MY personal property that cannot be taken
from me except by due process of law. I may use this item for my lifetime.
It becomes a part of my estate upon my death and my heirs may acquire
ownership or dispose of it as they see fit. If the item is damaged, I may
repair it or make a copy. I may choose to give it away or sell it.
The only limitation upon my rights to use of that item are that I may not
make a copy of it and sell it. <Of course realize that the RIAA, MPAA, etc
consider making a copy even for yourself PIRACY> during the copyright
term. But at the end of the copyright term NO restrictions of any kind can
be put upon the use of the material. One may photocopy, republish,
reproduce, and even reprint facsimile copies.
Assuming this isn't pay for view or a license, After exchaning
consideration, I receive some work in digital format. It may be a CD or
DVD or Tape or it may be that I am allowed to provide my own media. I the
former case, the media must satisfy an warrenty of merchantability. What
is that standard? The media must last some reasonable lifetime and be free
of defects that render it unusable for at least the lifetime of the
original purchaser OR they must have the ability to repair that work
should it be damaged.
Now here's a real "monkey wrench" in the economics of DRMs. With ARM, as
time goes on typically the value of the work diminishes and is depreciated
because the media becomes physically worn (scratches, tears) and if the
original work is still available <Ignore the collectors market for out of
print works> these used works are worth less. Assuming Digital works do
not wear out<Ignoring a basic theorem of information theory here>, then
the value of a digital work does not diminish in time but actually
appreciates in value. The ebook I buy at $9.95 today and download is worth
whatever the market place charges for it next year. If ebooks raises the
price to $12.95, my copy is now worth up to $12.94 in the market place.
While this has always been true in the collectors markets, the textbook
market NOW with digital works it is true for everything in the
Now If I provide my own media, then whomever provides me with that work
cannot claim that they are providing me with a physical copy but the right
to own a copy. Should my copy become damaged or unusable, they have an
obligation to provide me with a new copy-I am not purchasing a copy but
the right to own a copy. The DRM has the responsibility to ensure that I
can do so for some reasonable time- How long? Next week? Next Year? Next
decade? Next CenturyUntil copyright runs out?
Consider then, that unlike ARM, DRMs act as a proxy for the publisher (NOT
the copyright holder as has been pointed out earlier in this list). Each
time I access something with a DRM, some form of remote authentication
occurs. The publisher using a DRM must ensure that for those "authorized",
access cannot be revoked (This is personal property. Not rental or pay for
view) regardless of the condition of the work. Again ...how long...until
copyright runs out?
Another question regarding DRMs is what happens to them when a company
goes out of business, merges, is bought, changes the DRM. The right of
ownership is independant of this in ARM but not so with DRMs, especially
if the authentication requires some call in (e.g., Windows XP, or ViDVD). Should DRMs be required to register with the government in some form of
What do do when copyright runs out? BIG problem.
There appear to be no "digital rights" to manage. But the longterm
managment of DRMs certainly have some issues. I suspect that DRMs are
totally impractical to manage in the long term and my present such an
administrative burden upon those misguided enough to try to use them that
they are better off not bothering.