What's Wrong With DRM?

Shall I make a list? :o)

Before I even get into the meat of why I'm posting, let me give you a comparison. Let's imagine you buy an automobile with DRM protection. Let's say your fingerprint is used as the "encryption key", so that you are the only one that can use it. Let's even say, it's the insurance company that insists on this DRM, in order to make sure YOU are the one driving the car, and the claim is to keep cost down so the giant insurance companies don't go bankrupt from lack of insurance payers.

This means:

1) You must use your fingerprint to start the car. (Like logging in with your account to listen to DRM music)

2) You can give people rides in your car, but you must always be with them. The car will not function unless your finger is on the reader. (Limited number of devices that can listen to music)

3) You'd better hope it doesn't get cold, because if you have gloves on, you can't get your fingerprint on the print reader. And nothing else will work. (No changing access to the music, it's only via the designated players, software or hardware)

4) If you buy a new car, you can only get a newer model from the same manufacturer, or you will need to purchase new fingers. Your old fingers won't start a different car. Sorry.

5) If you get your nails done, your car may never work again. You may or may not be able to get it fixed. You might have to buy a complete new car. Or not. It depends who you talk to at the factory when it won't start. (every lose your DRM music files? Getting them back can be... interesting)

6) Oh,and if you don't have standard swirl patterned fingerprints, you can't ever drive a car anyway. Don't even bother. (Yeah, got DRM music playing with Linux? Me neither.)

So why tell you something you already know? Well, I wanted to point Linux Journal readers to an interesting project Neuros Technology has started. Wouldn't it be great if we had a way to certify something would work on all platforms? Welcome "Unlocked Media." Sure, Neuros isn't a world dominating company like Microsoft or Apple. Sure, their plan really isn't much more than a cool logo, open licensing, and some grass roots, but isn't that precisely how Linux got it's start? I think that idea had some merit, and honestly, I think this one does too.

So tell your friends. Tell you neighbors. Then, tell someone that has a clue what your talking about. Blog about it. Sing about it. Perform interpretive dances about it, and then post the videos to YouTube. (and put a link here, because I'd like to see that...)

Be gone DRM!


Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.