Wednesday, July 05, 2006

DRM sounds so friendly

This picture is for sale. If you choose to purchase you must abide by these conditions.
  • You may only have one copy of it at any one time. This also means you may not include the picture in any system backup you may perform for the safety of your data.
  • You must send me an e-mail and ask me permission every time you want to look at it. You will not be able to see the picture until I "activate" it. If I ever stroll off this mortal coil, you may never look at this picture again.
  • You may not print it
  • You may not change it in any way
  • You may not show anyone
  • You can only view it on this computer, in this configuration. If you upgrade the computer, or buy a new computer, you will have to run it by me before I let you look at the picture on it.
The DRM software in the picture can tell if you break any of these conditions and may take any/all of the following actions.
  • Prevent you from viewing the picture
  • Report you to the authorities
  • Delete itself
For those that have never head of the sarcasm font before, everything in italics above is complete rubbish. The sad thing is that in a lot of cases this is exactly the restrictions that can be imposed on you - legally.

Since Microsoft implemented a feature in Windows Media Player that prevented music ripped from your CD collection to your computer from playing on any other computer, I have had a bad feeling about "Digital Rights Management" (DRM). And I'm not the only one. Wikipedia point out that some would call it "Digital Restrictions Management" Michael Robertson, founder of, and LindowsOS (now Linspire) gives a great example of why DRM is a bad idea in one of his "Michael's Minutes" newsletters.

As someone who creates media and sells it, I can see where you might feel the pinch of lost sales when people copy your work and share it freely. However, I do not believe that the honest consumer should pay for it. Why make your paying customers jump through hoops like "Product Activation" or restrict the devices you can play your music or videos on. And to have your entire music, video or even software rendered useless because the company that sold it to you has gone bust and can no longer activate your product or verify your license.

If you buy something, you should own it. If you own something your should be able to do what you like with it. I should be able to copy a song to a tape, CD or mp3 player so I can play it anywhere. I should be able to rip a movie to my computer and put the original away so it doesn't get damaged. I should be able to record a TV show and watch it later. I should be able to print out that book that I purchased.

That's what I reckon anyway.

Here is a page explaining about Australian copyright law changes in regard to recording television and sharing music and video with friends from Attorney-General Philip Ruddock office. Scroll to the bottom and check out the numbered points. I am sure these new laws will be enforced just as effectively as the ones that prevented us all from taping shows on a VHS recorder. Watch it once and delete it indeed. "No officer, I swear I have never seen that episode of The Simpsons before."

Oh and all my visitors can feel free to take my photo and make it the desktop wallpaper of every computer on your corporate network, publish it on your own website, distribute over bittorrent networks, convert it to TIFF, cut the fish out and make it your business logo, convert the binary code to a sound file and play it on your mp3 player and by all means, print it out, laminate it and sell it for a profit!

On a completely unrelated note, here are a couple of cool free and Open Source programs.

Ares and Azureus.

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