Print 37 comment(s) - last by PrinceGaz.. on Apr 13 at 2:03 PM

Consumers gain one step against digital rights management

Late last year while Microsoft promoted its Windows Media digital rights management (DRM) system to developers and content producers, a team of coders found a way to circumvent the WM DRM system. With a tool called FairUse4WM, users were able to strip DRM coding from media files, allowing playback of said media on any device. With a great deal of concern, Microsoft launched a formal lawsuit on "Viodentia," the creator of FairUse4WM after a fix was released but was quickly cracked again.

After several months of pursuing the whereabouts of "Viodentia," Microsoft has submitted a Notice of Dismissal, removing all claims against "Viodentia." The reason for the dismissal was due to the fact that Microsoft was unable to locate "Viodentia" for prosecution.

The software giant went after FairUse4WM and "Viodentia" claiming that the creator of the tool had infringed on copyright laws. According to the dimissal, Microsoft said:
Please take notice that plaintiff Microsoft Corporation ("Microsoft") respectfully dismisses all of its claims, without prejudice, against John Does 1-10 a/k/a "viodentia." Microsoft was unable to locate these defendants through discovery and therefore could not serve them with process.
Without the tool, users were locked to playing purchased media. Only Microsoft PlaysForSure devices were able to decode the protected media. Bill Gates stated publicly late last year that he was against DRM, and that removing DRM from media and devices ultimately benefits the consumer. Apple's CEO Steve Jobs also echoed Gates' statement, indicating that he too preferred a DRM-free industry.

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RE: Perhaps this...
By TomZ on 4/10/2007 11:22:07 PM , Rating: 2
Your analogy assumes that there are two choices - DRM and theft. That is hardly accurate. Other alternatives include buying CDs, buying non-DRM downloads, and - gasp - not buying music at all. None of these alternatives to theft are hard to live with.

RE: Perhaps this...
By BMFPitt on 4/11/2007 7:45:19 AM , Rating: 2
How are any of those options relevant to the argument at hand? People keep stating that DRM prevents piracy, and it doesn't. Nobody who wants to pirate is being prevented from doing so because of DRM. People who would like to download the songs the want legally have only these two options in most cases, and at least a portion of them choose to pirate because of DRM.

That doesn't mean it's right, that means it happens. EMI has decided to give up on attacking their own customer base and releasing non-DRM music, and I expect that they will be greatly rewarded for this move by a lot of people who pirated starting buying legally. Exactly zero people will pirate now that didn't before because of this.

RE: Perhaps this...
By TomZ on 4/11/2007 10:37:29 AM , Rating: 2
DRM clearly prevents casual-copy pirating. The vast majority of consumers buying DRM-protected content are not going to seek out DRM-unlocking software; instead, they are simply living with the restrictions placed upon them. So in that sense, DRM is effective in reducing piracy.

But, and what you're getting at, DRM is not going to stop people dedicated to breaking it and sharing/selling the content anyway. Just like a lock on a door isn't going to stop a dedicated thief.

Casual-copy "pirating" will increase with non-DRM music, that is a fact. But EMI and others are betting that overall sales will also increase enough due to the virtues of non-DRM content, to offset the losses due to casual-copy pirating.

RE: Perhaps this...
By BMFPitt on 4/11/2007 10:45:46 AM , Rating: 2
Why the need for DRM breaking software when it's so easy to get anything off of P2P?

DRM is like the 2000 yard border fence in Texas.

RE: Perhaps this...
By PrinceGaz on 4/11/2007 3:28:22 PM , Rating: 2
Casual-copy "pirating" will increase with non-DRM music, that is a fact.

I personally very much doubt that will happen. For non-DRM music to increase casual-copy pirating, the people involved would have to belong to all three of the following groups:

(a) they download music over the internet
(b) they wish to share that music with other people, either online or offline
(c) they are unaware of P2P/file-sharing software and that a very large selection of music is available and freely exchanged using them

It is highly unlikely that people who fall into categories (a) and (b) they download music and want to share it with other people, also belong to (c) being unaware of file-sharing software and that music can be found with most of them.

Granted, there may be a few people who actually do fall into all three categories and the only reason they don't pirate their music is because of the DRM-protection on most legal downloads, but there are far more people who download pirated music because they want to avoid the DRM on legal downloads.

RE: Perhaps this...
By TomZ on 4/11/2007 4:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
Why? I think there are a lot of people who are in (a) and (b), and who would share non-DRM downloads, whereas with DRM downloads, they would not be able to.

The fundamental problem is that most people think that if it is possible to copy a file, then it is legal. Therefore, when they purchase DRM-free content, they will be inclined to share it. Record companies know this and plan this into their marketing strategies and cost decisions.

RE: Perhaps this...
By PrinceGaz on 4/11/2007 7:06:43 PM , Rating: 2
Your argument that people who used their own money to buy legal DRM-free music will share/pirate it to anyone because they might think it can be legally freely exchanged (despite the fact that they had to pay to receive it) is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Quite apart from the fact that they paid to download it, it is made quite clear to users of non-DRM paid for music downloads that it is illegal to give a copy of the file to other people. The only people inclined to share them would be those who knowingly break the law already, and they are already downloading files using P2P networks.

You might want to concede defeat on this one, TomZ, because your stance is fundamentally flawed.

DRM serves no purpose in preventing casual-copying because almost everyone who wants to casually copy is already doing so over P2P networks, but deters people from legally paying to download music because of the restrictions the DRM imposes.

RE: Perhaps this...
By TomZ on 4/11/2007 9:44:15 PM , Rating: 2
So you think that a person will differentiate between the legality of sharing MP3's they paid for versus those they got though Napster a few years back? I don't think so.

RE: Perhaps this...
By PrinceGaz on 4/13/2007 2:03:16 PM , Rating: 2
People who shared MP3s a few years ago with Napster did not have the option then to download them legally. They do now, or at least will have when legal paid-for MP3 services are readily available.

That means that although they may have originally obtained many of their MP3 files through Napster and other copyright-infringing P2P networks, those who switch to buying their MP3s legally will most likely have decided to stop using P2P software for sharing music altogether. Because of this, non-DRM legal music downloads could actually directly reduce piracy because many people will give up using P2P software when they can obtain the music in unprotected MP3 format legally.

There will still be plenty of people sharing MP3s on P2P networks, however they will be people who are never going to buy them from legal services anyway. But by offering legal DRM-free downloads, you give people who want the freedom of music in MP3 format the option to switch away from P2P networks.

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