Digital "Rights" Management, Digital Restrictions Management, Dishonest Relationship Misinformation

This is a generic acronym used to describe a system of software, often including technical measures, used by copyright holders who "claim" that this stops or reduces copyright infringement. DRM in fact does not affect those engaged in unlawful activities, and can only impose hidden digitally encoded contract terms on law abiding citizens.

Please see: Alphabet soup of acronyms: TPM, DRM, TCPA, RMS, RMI, Protecting property rights in a digital world.

Sony's DRM may end up on antivirus hit lists

This CNET News.com article by Matt Loney includes:

Antivirus companies are considering protecting their customers from the digital rights management software used by Sony on some CDs.

Kaspersky Lab has classed Sony's DRM software as spyware because, among other things, it can cause crashes and loss of data, and it can compromise system integrity and security.

It is important to remember that DRM doesn't stop people from infringing copyright as the DRM is always trivial for a technical person to remove. This harmful rootkit only infects the computers of law abiding citizens, not copyright infringers. I disagree with some of the security professionals that suggested that Sony's intent is not malicious intent, given the intent of Sony's software and other malware is to take control of a personal computer away from its owner. I recommend the advise of real security professionals like Edward W. Felten who recommend that Microsoft Windows users disable the auto-run "feature" to avoid getting infected by this malware.

[LAFKON] A movie about "Trusted Computing"

One of the hardest things to explain to non-technical people about the controversy over "technical measures", Digital Rights Management (DRM), and "trusted computing" is the question of "who has the keys to the digitial locks", and "who trust who".

A great way to explain why it matters who has the digital keys and whose idea of trust is being protected by this technology is through an animated short by Benjamin Stephan and Luts Vogel. (See also: Archive.org information on movie)

Why should you trust people who don't trust you, and that use digital locks to disallow you access to and control of your own personal property such as computers and portable multimedia devices?

Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far

SysInternals.com guru Mark Russinovich has a detailed investigation of a rootkit from Sony Music. The rootkit introduces several security holes into the system that could be exploited by others, such as hiding any executable file that starts with '$sys$'. Russinovich also identifies several programming bugs in the method it uses to hook system calls, and chronicles the painful steps he had to take to 'exorcise the daemon' from his system.

Please write your MP to ensure that they realize that it is Sony and other music distributors that are the ones "cracking" security and breaking into computers, and not people who are circumventing DRM in order to protect their rights (property, privacy, etc).

See also: p2pnet: New: Sony BMG rootkit DRM, The Register: Removing Sony's CD 'rootkit' kills Windows, CNET News.com: Sony CD protection sparks security concerns, PCPro: Sony DRM burrows into rootkit code, BetaNews: Sony to Help Remove its DRM Rootkit, BBC: Sony slated over anti-piracy CD

Do you want your home entertainment system to monitor your private life?

Canadian New Media included an article titled "Lack of education, standards hindering home networks". These are not traditional networks of computers, but networking other devices such as home entertainment. It suggested a new study from NPD Group reports that the interconnected home is still a long way off for many Canadians.

I sent the following letter as additional feedback.

There are more reasons for not wanting current generation consumer electronics devices networked. The legacy content industries want to monitor, meter and control the private activities of their customers in order to extend their past business models and monopolies. They are working with specific technology companies to try to ensure that these devices are not under the control of their owners, but under remote control and monitoring. These technology companies are quite happy to play along as they believe that if they manage the "digital keys" to unlock the digitally encoded content rather than their competitors that it will help them protect existing market monopolies with a captive customer base. The technology companies embed these digital keys in software within their specifically branded access devices, and claim it is illegal for the owners to extract and use these keys in competing software.

Followup letter to Honourable MP Bill Siksay (NDP) of Burnaby-Douglas

This letter was written by Oscar C. Lee:

Dear Honourable Bill Siksay, Member of Parliament,

Thank you for your kind reply to my last letter. I am very happy to know that the New Democrats will continue to defend Canada’s public domain and to prevent it from being further privatized.

I am writing today to inform you that there will be a special “Breakfast on the Hill” seminar from 7:45am to 9:00am on Thursday, October 27 at the Parliamentary Restaurant, 6th Floor, Centre Block. The speaker is professor Ian Kerr, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology at the University of Ottawa. The title of the seminar is "What happens when law protects the technologies that protect copyright?" Full details of the event are available at: http://www.digital-copyright.ca/node/1125.

What's wrong with technology companies having to ask entertainment companies for permission?

This document titled The 3-minute Guide to the Broadcast Flag by Canadian-born Cory Doctorow (EFF European Affairs Coordinator) is written about the US Broadcast Flag proposal, but is a good introduction to why it is wrong for creators of technology to have to ask permission of content companies before creating new technology.

It's like a law ordering that every car sold in America have its hood welded shut. Sure, most of us never plan on fixing or modifying our own car, but very few of us would take a hood- welding law lying down. It's not fair for the government to tell us that we're not allowed to peek inside, fix, and improve our own property.

Remember: It is our property, not the property of the copyright holders, that is being regulated here. Anyone who supports tangible property rights should be aggressively opposed to these types of proposals that would allow the questionable business models of a few to trump the property rights of everyone.

Disney backs antipiracy tech for Oscar DVDs

Someone replied to a Reuters story Disney backs antipiracy tech for Oscar DVDs suggesting to Hollywood that "If you can encode it, we can break it."

I wrote:

Lets be more clear here about your crypto 101 for those that are not very technically literate (IE: the vast majority of motion picture and recording industry, governments, lawyers, etc).

Digital/Analog lock/key truth: "If you lock it, and give us the key, we can unlock it".

There is no "cracking of encryption" involved here. There is content locked with a key, and a key embedded in a piece of software (that is also given to the audience member). A technically competent audience member has a simple time of taking the key, unlocking the content, and then it is only traditional copyright law (not the now non-existent DRM) that stops them from illegally sharing the content.

More thinking about what is wrong with "digital locks" around digital content

The "digital lock" analogy that is used to talk about specific types of "technical protection measures" is appropriate, as long as people follow through with the analogy and ask what is being locked and who has the keys. The main difference between digital locks and the physical locks people are familiar with is that asymmetric digital keys are popular. This is a situation where one key locks something and a different key unlocks it. Complex physical key/lock systems do exist, and it is not inconceivable that such a system would have uses in the physical world as well.

The following is an analogy to a tangible lock scenario to help understand the situation.

Microsoft temporarily backs off on music player exclusive contracts

Microsoft's recent attempt to mandate exclusive arrangements was noticed by the US department of Justice (DOJ). (MacWorld, Associated Press) These contracts were intended to exclude manufacturers from using both Microsoft's Media format and associated Digital Restrictions Management software, as well as competing software. This will not be their last attempt, given imposing media formats and specifically branded software onto customers is the only technical purpose for technical protection measures (TPMs) where the keys are embedded in specifically branded software. This misuse of TPMs does not in any way protect copyright-related rights, but is intended to circumvent competition/anti-trust policy.

DVD Jon Lands Dream Job Stateside

This Wired story by Annalee Newitz includes

Jon Lech Johansen, the 21-year-old Norwegian media hacker nicknamed DVD Jon, is moving to San Diego to work for maverick tech entrepreneur Michael Robertson
"Once again, this is a scheme that won't stop piracy, but it will stop open-source players," he said. "Pirates will steal one key, and not tell anyone about it. Then they'll decrypt HD-DVDs and put them on the net. But if you want an open-source player, you'll have to show your key, so (companies) will be able to find you and stop you."

See also: Michael Robertson's BLOG.

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