DRM technology and policy

Ian Grigg iang at systemics.com
Tue Apr 22 22:30:11 EDT 2003

"John S. Denker" <jsd at monmouth.com> writes:
> Recent anti-DRM arguments on the cryptography list have
> cited examples suggesting that there are _some_ DRM
> problems that cannot be well solved by _certain_
> technologies....  And then they claim to have "proved"
> thereby that all DRM is futile.  This is the height of
> illogic.

The basic argument goes thusly:  software product
can be copied for zero marginal cost (and some high
initial cracking cost).  Thus, the marginal cost of
the product should shrink as it is limited by the
cost of distribution and the cost of cracking
competing product.  Both of these are also zero.
So any free market would result in the costs of
software product shrinking to zero.

It's an economic proof, or theory, if you like.  The
real import is that it is practical and borne out
by experience:  There is no longer a plausible
physical foundation for the sysem of intellectual
property that is now in place to protect performances.

There used to be a physical cost for music:  the
cost of the making the tape (in both senses of the
word.  Before that, the cost of copying by pen the
songsheets.  The only thing that *ever* provided
meaningful protection for the intellectual property
of music was the cost of making a copy.  No longer.

(If you don't believe that, go to a birthday party,
and ask them not to sing Happy Birthday... still a
work under copyright.)

> We need a system whereby inventors, authors, performers,
> and even publishers get paid for their work.  SOMEBODY
> needs to bear the cost of this.  We need a system
> whereby the costs are distributed reasonably.

Those assumptions are being challenged, you can
no longer just assume them.  It is no longer cost
effective to protect performances.  If it is no
longer cost effective, why is it necessary to
pay these people?  As many have said, those old
assumptions don't hold any more.

> There's work to be done.  Let's stop fooling around.

Nobody's fooling here.  We are staring some
physical difficulties in the face.  There are
people on this list or close by that have
already spent millions on DRM (divx, hundreds
of academic papers, lots of failed systems,
lots of arbitrages...).


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