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15

Microsoft Research DRM Talk

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terms
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notes

talk given at Microsoft's Research Group Redmond offices on June 17, 2004. trying to convince them that DRM does not work:

  1. crypto-based technical argument (attackers are provided with the ciphertext, the cipher, and the key, and can transfer them to anyone)
  2. DRM only stops the least sophisticated/capable, and when they're foiled by DRM once they're more likely to bypass DRM next time (also, that geographical restrictions aren't even based on law, just a shitty business model)
  3. DRM is bad for business in the sense that it paralyses innovation
  4. DRM is bad for artists. story about piano rolls & Congress ruling that you could pay a publisher 2 cents for each piano roll copy (compulsory license). new technologies cheapen creation, reproduction, and distribution, and that's what game-changing about them, even despite their other flaws
  5. DRM is bad for microsoft. there's no market demand for better DRM. no customers want MS to spend time on this shit.

trying to get microsoft to build "the record player that can play everyone's records" (p34)

Doctorow, C. (2008). Microsoft Research DRM Talk. In Doctorow, C. Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future. Tachyon Publications, pp. 15-34

something coined by American cryptographer Bruce Schneier: any person can invent a security system so clever that she or he can't think of how to break it

20

Remember Schneier's Law? Anyone can come up with a security system so clever that he can't see its flaws.

—p.20 missing author
notable
2 years, 5 months ago

Remember Schneier's Law? Anyone can come up with a security system so clever that he can't see its flaws.

—p.20 missing author
notable
2 years, 5 months ago
24

To understand what DRM does to artists, you need to understand how copyright and technology interact. Copyright is inherently technological, since the things it addresses—copying, transmitting, and so on—are inherently technological.

—p.24 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago

To understand what DRM does to artists, you need to understand how copyright and technology interact. Copyright is inherently technological, since the things it addresses—copying, transmitting, and so on—are inherently technological.

—p.24 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago
26

But the Supreme Court ruled against Hollywood in 1984, when it determined that any device capable of a substantial non-infringing use was legal. In other words, "We don't buy this Boston Strangler business: if your business model can't survive the emergence of this general-purpose tool, it's time to get another business-model or go broke."

on Betamax

Boston Strangler thing: an analogy the entertainment industry used (Betamax does to the entertainment industry what the Boston Strangler does to a woman alone at home? it's weird)

—p.26 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago

But the Supreme Court ruled against Hollywood in 1984, when it determined that any device capable of a substantial non-infringing use was legal. In other words, "We don't buy this Boston Strangler business: if your business model can't survive the emergence of this general-purpose tool, it's time to get another business-model or go broke."

on Betamax

Boston Strangler thing: an analogy the entertainment industry used (Betamax does to the entertainment industry what the Boston Strangler does to a woman alone at home? it's weird)

—p.26 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago
27

Piano rolls didn't sound as good as the music of a skilled pianist: but they scaled better.

—p.27 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago

Piano rolls didn't sound as good as the music of a skilled pianist: but they scaled better.

—p.27 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago
29

Whenever a new technology has disrupted copyright, we've changed copyright. Copyright isn't an ethical proposition, it's a utilitarian one. There's nothing moral about paying a composer tuppence for the piano-roll rights, there's nothing immoral about not paying Hollywood for the right to videotape a movie off your TV. They're just the best way of balancing out so that people's physical property rights in their VCRs and phonographs are respected and so that creators get enough of a dangling carrot to go on making shows and music and books and paintings.

Technology that disrupts copyright does so because it simplifies and cheapens creation, reproduction and distribution. The existing copyright businesses exploit inefficiencies in the old production, reproduction and distribution system, and they'll be weakened by the new technology. But new technology always gives us more art with a wider reach: that's what tech is for.

[...]

Which means that today's copyright--the thing that DRM nominally props up--didn't come down off the mountain on two stone tablets. It was created in living memory to accommodate the technical reality created by the inventors of the previous generation. [...]

—p.29 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago

Whenever a new technology has disrupted copyright, we've changed copyright. Copyright isn't an ethical proposition, it's a utilitarian one. There's nothing moral about paying a composer tuppence for the piano-roll rights, there's nothing immoral about not paying Hollywood for the right to videotape a movie off your TV. They're just the best way of balancing out so that people's physical property rights in their VCRs and phonographs are respected and so that creators get enough of a dangling carrot to go on making shows and music and books and paintings.

Technology that disrupts copyright does so because it simplifies and cheapens creation, reproduction and distribution. The existing copyright businesses exploit inefficiencies in the old production, reproduction and distribution system, and they'll be weakened by the new technology. But new technology always gives us more art with a wider reach: that's what tech is for.

[...]

Which means that today's copyright--the thing that DRM nominally props up--didn't come down off the mountain on two stone tablets. It was created in living memory to accommodate the technical reality created by the inventors of the previous generation. [...]

—p.29 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago
32

I'm a Microsoft customer. Like millions of other Microsoft customers, I want a player that plays anything I throw at it, and I think that you are just the company to give it to me.

Yes, this would violate copyright law as it stands, but Microsoft has been making tools of piracy that change copyright law for decades now. Outlook, Exchange and MSN are tools that abet widescale digital infringement.

More significantly, IIS and your caching proxies all make and serve copies of documents without their authors' consent, something that, if it is legal today, is only legal because companies like Microsoft went ahead and did it and dared lawmakers to prosecute.

Microsoft stood up for its customers and for progress, and won so decisively that most people never even realized that there was a fight.

it's weird to think of microsoft as a pro-infringement company but i guess when it suits them ...

think about how this relates to corporations changing IP law to suit them? power resources theory? and how countervailing forces need to push for better (more freeing) changes?

—p.32 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm a Microsoft customer. Like millions of other Microsoft customers, I want a player that plays anything I throw at it, and I think that you are just the company to give it to me.

Yes, this would violate copyright law as it stands, but Microsoft has been making tools of piracy that change copyright law for decades now. Outlook, Exchange and MSN are tools that abet widescale digital infringement.

More significantly, IIS and your caching proxies all make and serve copies of documents without their authors' consent, something that, if it is legal today, is only legal because companies like Microsoft went ahead and did it and dared lawmakers to prosecute.

Microsoft stood up for its customers and for progress, and won so decisively that most people never even realized that there was a fight.

it's weird to think of microsoft as a pro-infringement company but i guess when it suits them ...

think about how this relates to corporations changing IP law to suit them? power resources theory? and how countervailing forces need to push for better (more freeing) changes?

—p.32 by Cory Doctorow 2 years, 5 months ago