Cory’s DRM Talk

(timestamp updated for new content — read Cory’s talk, and then read Wendy Seltzer’s comments from Copyfight linked at the bottom – original stamp was 9:01 AM)

Microsoft Research DRM talk [via Slashdot] [update: a wiki page has been set up for annotations; PDF; another annotated site]

Here’s what I’m here to convince you of:

  1. That DRM systems don’t work

  2. DRM systems are bad for society

  3. That DRM systems are bad for business

  4. That DRM systems are bad for artists

  5. That DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT

[… from #5] The same thing happened to a lot of people I know who used to rip their CDs to WMA. You guys sold them software that produced smaller, better-sounding rips that the MP3 rippers, but you also fixed it so that the songs you ripped were device-locked to their PCs. What that meant is that when they backed up their music to another hard-drive and reinstalled their OS (something that the spyware and malware wars has made more common than ever), they discovered that after they restored their music that they could no longer play it. The player saw the new OS as a different machine, and locked them out of their own music.

There is no market demand for this “feature.” None of your customers want you to make expensive modifications to your products that make backing up and restoring even harder. And there is no moment when your customers will be less forgiving than the moment that they are recovering from catastrophic technology failures.

[…] 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.

Do it again! […]

[…] The market opportunity for a truly capable devices is enormous. There’s a company out there charging *$30,000* for a $600 DVD jukebox — go and eat their lunch! Steve Jobs isn’t going to do it: he’s off at the D conference telling studio execs not to release hi-def movies until they’re sure no one will make a hi-def DVD burner that works with a PC.

Ernest disagrees with #5

And Wendy disagrees with Ernest: DRM Is Bad for Monopolists, Too

The DRM moment has been left behind by science. Publishers were looking for pay-per-use and perfect price discrimination; DRM promised it to them. But DRM was backed by bad science. As long as we live in a world where we can still talk to our friends and still tinker with our tools, DRM is doomed to failure. And when it fails at its primary purpose, it succeeds only at driving potential customers to other sources.

Orrin Hatch: Other News

NPR’s Morning Edition gave us some audio from the hearing discussed in the Boston Globe article: Democrats’ subpoena bid fails. Be sure to listen (Republicans Block Subpoena of Torture Memos, with audio links), in that it gives a slightly different spin than that given in the Globe article.

If Orrin Hatch is going to defend John Ashcroft‘s behavior through this sort of thing, he may be end up more vulnerable than I imagined. It will be interresting to see if he can actually deliver on his “agreements.” I, for one, would have much preferred a subpoena.

Republicans yesterday lined up to defeat an attempt by Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats to subpoena Justice Department memos on how torture conventions apply in the interrogation of terror suspects.

But Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican of Utah and chairman of the committee, and other Republicans said the administration must be more forthcoming on policies that could have contributed to prisoner abuse in Iraq. Hatch said he had talked to White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez earlier in the day and been promised cooperation.

[…] Hatch added that, in addition to talking to Gonzalez, he had had discussions with Ashcroft who had asserted that he didn’t have the authority to release the requested documents but would talk to the White House about providing them to the committee.

Democrats argued that without subpoena authority the administration would not voluntarily turn over incriminating or embarrassing documents. “Hiding these documents from view is the brazen sign of a coverup, not of cooperation,” [Sen. Patrick] Leahy said.

Update: The Washington Post article includes the piece I wanted to make sure you all got: GOP Senators Block Subpoena on Memos but Prod White House

Hatch said he asked Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to turn over the 23 memos — some of which suggested legal justification for abuse of prisoners — and believed they would do so.

He described the Democrats’ subpoena request as a “dumb-ass thing to do” and a “fishing expedition . . . to make a political point” but added that “I think the White House should comply” with the committee’s earlier requests for the documents.

Democrats, accusing the administration of having “snubbed” and “stonewalled” the Senate on the issue, remained skeptical of administration intentions, however, and argued that subpoenas were the only guaranteed way to get the material.

“Hiding these documents from view is the brazen sign of a coverup, not cooperation,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), ranking minority member, who requested the subpoena on behalf of Democrats on the panel. “I haven’t seen this kind of stonewalling since the Nixon era,” he added.

And this letter to Lindsay Graham says it all: Subpoenas should be reserved for important issues

Intel’s Change In Marketing Thrust

Intel Is Aiming at Living Rooms in Marketing Its Latest Chip

“Intel has changed its design paradigm to start not just adding gigahertz, but to adding features that users demand,” Mr. Otellini said at an analysts’ meeting last month.

That strategic shift will be very much in evidence on Monday when PC makers announce the first new computers based on Intel’s new chips.

Intel executives said that the new chips will make possible higher-speed computing, more reliable storage and more advanced audiovisual standards and will represent fundamental change in the internal structure of the standard PC.

In a significant shift, the company, based in Santa Clara, Calif., will announce its fastest processor yet but will focus instead on the ability of the new chip sets to serve as a Wi-Fi base station, support a storage standard that protects against disk failure and allow users to view high-definition video and listen to higher-quality digital audio.

See also Intel offers a look at new chips

Now, when will this desire to supply what users want come into direct convlict with Sen. Hatch’s pending INDUCE Act? And what do you expect that Intel will do about it?

EU: All Hat, No Cattle?

European Body Said to Drop Objections to Music Merger (see earlier EU Hearings on Sony & BMG Merger)

Despite earlier objections, European antitrust regulators are now set to approve the merger of the music divisions of Sony and Bertelsmann, people close to the case said on Thursday.

The joint venture of Sony Music and the BMG unit of Bertelsmann would be the world’s biggest music company, rivaled only by the Universal Music unit of Vivendi.

The European Commission “came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to block the deal,” said a person close to the commission.

So, it looks like the theory of “collective dominance” didn’t fly — it’ll be interesting to see what the final decision actually says.

xxAAs Ask For State Involvement

Attorneys general told by lobbyists to monitor file sharing [via GigaLaw]

“P2P networks pose tremendous piracy problems … but they also pose very substantial threats to consumers,” said Fritz Attaway, executive vice president and general counsel for the Washington-based Motion Picture Association of America.

Copyright infringement laws are enforced at the federal level, and state courts have no jurisdiction. But on Thursday, Attaway and his counterpart at the Recording Industry Association of America, both repeatedly stressed consumer protection issues that might prove fertile ground for the state prosecutors to examine.

One example, whether the distributors of file-sharing software like Kazaa, Grokster and Morpheus do enough to warn users that they could be liable for sharing copyright content.

See also Hollywood Begging State AGs for Legal Help

Digital Music News on the Cato Conference

Conference Coverage: “Law and Economics of File Sharing & P2P Networks,” Washington, DC

Thursday`s “Law and Economics of File Sharing & P2P Networks” conference in DC, hosted by the Cato Institute, was a must for anyone even remotely involved in distributed file-sharing. Keynotes Rick Boucher (D-Va) and Jack Valenti (President & CEO, MPAA) were complimented by two panels focusing on the complicated legal and economic issues surrounding the P2P revolution. At the root of the conference was the question: “what should the recording and film industries be doing to maximize profits amidst the massively disruptive P2P explosion?” The half-day conference, one of the best in digital music this year, featured speakers representing every opposing viewpoint.

See Upcoming Cato Event