What should DRM-related laws look like?

Posted in DRM, Legal at 5:46 pm by Jens Hardings

We have become used to think of DRM-related laws in terms of one-sided issues that consider only the publishers and completely ignore the general public as well as the potential authors of new material. The EUCD, DMCA and other implementations of the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Reading the articles on PRM as the next step by Ed Felten, about how the reasons put forward to justify DRM-related laws have shifted, I started reasoning about what such a law should look like. So, here I present some thoughts on what a law regarding DRM, that really considers the general public (society) and potential new authors, should look like.

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GPLv3 beta 2

Posted in DRM, FLOSS, GPLv3, Legal at 4:12 pm by Jens Hardings

GPLv3So, the second draft of the GPLv3 is out. Changes include a rephrasing of the anti-DRM aspects of the code. In fact, the wording DRM is not there anymore. As Richard Stallman has made it clear in his presentation at barcelona, the purpose of these clauses is to avoid the “tivoisation” of programs. That is, even if the source code of the GPL software is available, you cannot change some bit and trust it to be installed on the same hardware it was distributed with, and work. This is because you need a special key to do so, or the hardware will refuse to run the modified code.

If we assume as a fact that software enforcing DRM will exist in the future, I would rather like to have the code available, and being able to reproduce the compilation exactly as to generate the same binary that has been signed as “trusted”. That way, at least I would have enough information to choose whether I could trust the system enough or not, and this would set abuses on the part of publishers to a minimum. This does not mean that the code should be under the GPL, though. So up to this point there is really no problem.

There are some issues, though, where I’m not so sure about. One phrase in particular states:

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The same argument over and over

Posted in DRM, FUD, Legal at 6:35 pm by Jens Hardings

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) published an interesting ad in a Capitol Hill newspaper this week. It contains a few quotes of arguments that have been repeated over the time to oppose different technologies, and are basically the same we are hearing these days:

“I forsee a marked deterioration in American music…and a host of other injuries to music in its artistic manifestations, by virtue—or rather by vice—of the multiplication of the various music-reproducing machines…” -John Philip Sousa on the Player Piano (1906)

“The public will not buy songs that it can hear almost at will by a brief manipulation of the radio dials.” -Record Label Executive on FM Radio (1925)

“But now we are faced with a new and very troubling assault on our fiscal security, on our very economic life and we are facing it from a thing called the videocassette recorder.” -MPAA on the VCR (1982)

“When the manufacturers hand the public a license to record at home…not only will the songwriter tie a noose around his neck, not only will there be no more records to tape [but] the innocent public will be made an accessory to the destruction of four industries.” -ASCAP on the Cassette Tape (1982)

Seen via El Diablo en los Detalles and Arstechnica.


Objetivos de GPLv3 con respecto a DRM

Posted in DRM, FLOSS, Legal, Uncategorized at 1:21 pm by Jens Hardings

Ricardo Galli, en un intento por explicarme los objetivos y la forma en la cual el draft de la GPLv3 ataca el DRM, repite los objetivos de las cláusulas y cómo se espera que funcionen. No tengo dudas con eso, lo que yo planteo es que los objetivos no se cumplen, porque las cláusulas no funcionarán. Me hubiese gustado que se refiriera al ejemplo que planteo en el post que motivó su respuesta, así que replanteo los temas:

  • Me imagino que un sistema que entrega llaves para decriptar contenido (como un e-mail encriptado) a un programa en base a algún criterio, y si no cumple con ese criterio (por ejemplo, confianza en que no reenviará ese e-mail decriptado a toda la dirección en la agenda) no se le entrega la llave, debiera poder licenciarse bajo GPLv3.
  • Un criterio bien puede ser que exista una firma del binario por alguien que certificó el programa, sea el usuario mismo o alguien externo.

Si parece aceptable un esquema así, entonces es aceptable que ese programa esté en un sistema de DRM, y con eso no se logra el objetivo de desincentivar el uso de software libre en sistemas con DRM. Pero supongamos que no se considera aceptable el esquema.

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GPLv3 no evita el uso de DRM

Posted in DRM, FLOSS, Legal at 12:23 pm by Jens Hardings

La mayor parte de la discusión en relación a la nueva versión de la GPL (versión 3) está en su intento por evitar el uso de Software Libre en cualquier esquema de DRM. Mi interpretación de la licencia es que en realidad sólo se evita un cierto tipo de sistemas de DRM, que por lo demás han dado suficiente evidencia que no funcionan (ver lo que ha escrito Felten al respecto para detalles). Es más, Bruce Schneier incluso postula que ningún sistema de DRM va a funcionar, incluyendo los basados en hardware, argumentando que sería como intentar que el agua no moje. Pero aunque no funcionen, el término de “efectivo” en la legislación es bastante curioso: aunque no funcione, sigue siendo “efectivo” y al menos continúa siendo ilegal eludir esas medidas “efectivas”.

Ahora, de la misma manera en que no todos los usos de redes P2P son para crear copias ilegales, tampoco todos los usos de DRM son para reprimir y abusar de los consumidores. DRM es una herramienta que bien usada puede ser útil, y mal usada puede causar daño; no es la encarnación del diablo.
Supongamos que es perfectamente posible tener un sistema de DRM que funcione de la siguiente manera:

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