Doc points I to Janis Ian's new rant (I loved her first one.)
The second piece makes a modest and brilliant challenge to the record companies: Create a giant download site filled with everything out of print, charge a quarter per download, share the proceeds with the artists, composers and heirs, and see what happens.
I then thought, well, the record companies wouldn't do this without some sort of Digital Rights Management system.
I was very familiar with the early Windows Media DRM systems, having worked for that team. I wondered if there were any "Open Source" DRM systems. According to the Electronic Privacy Information System, DRM and Open Source are at odds. In other words, if you have a way to lock content, they say, you can't be open.
DRM technology and legislation requiring the inclusion of copy control systems pose serious threats to privacy, open source software development, and the fair use of copyrighted content.
Yes, in the current form. But the Open Source community has created lots of CD Rippers (for everyone's legitmate use) and even Open Source Codecs for compressing your tunes.
Why not create an Open Source DRM solution? The EPIC piece suggests that the only way to do DRM is the ways it has been done before. To quote:
DRM systems could lead to a standard practice where content owners require all purchasers of media to identify themselves. In other areas where individuals can borrow or purchase media, such as video rental stores or libraries, statutory and ethical protections prevent the transfer of personal information linked to the content acquired.
Yes, very chilling. Really. But how about a DRM System that (to continue the train of thought started by David Weinberger and Doc and Eric Norlin and others...) :
Enables purchasing, anonymously.
Contains or works with business rules that allow the content owner to designate a package of rights, including "fair use" rights. How would this be done? Allow users to certify that the current play/viewing/use is a 'fair use' one. (Oh, you're saying, people will just abuse this. Fine. They're already doing
it. Come up with a better idea. That's the intent of this writing...)
Enables resale or transfer of rights
Enables copying to some devices for one fee, copying to additional devices for another, etc.
Makes sure money flows back to the correct parties, lowers friction.
Is open so people who wish know how the system works, can correct and improve it. It can work on whatever platforms can attract dev resources.
Is STABLE - the protocols and formats can't change all the time because keys are written into hardware.
I don't think these things are infeasible, just really, really hard. More thinking to come...