Digital rights management

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Digital rights management (often abbreviated to DRM) is any of several technologies used by publishers to control access to digital data (such as software, music, movies) and hardware, handling usage restrictions associated with a specific instance of a digital work.


  • If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we've already failed.
    • Peter Lee, an executive at Disney. [1]
  • Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?
    • Thomas Hesse, the head of Sony BMG's global digital business. [2]
  • The technology in question is an example of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) -- technology designed to restrict the public. Describing it as "copyright protection" puts a favorable spin on a mechanism intended to deny the public the exercise of those rights which copyright law has not yet denied them.
  • There is a cost associated with DRM, and that is lost sales of content.
    • Dave Goldberg [4]
  • DRM's primary role is not about keeping copyrighted content off P2P networks. DRMs support an orderly market for facilitating efficient economic transactions between content producers and content consumers.
    • Dan Glickman [5]
  • DRM is used to lock consumers to proprietary technology. It is used to control supply and push higher prices. It is used to undermine practices we have long defined as fair use so they can be shifted to fee-based.
  • Now, we need to understand that listening to music on your computer is an extra privilege. Normally people listen to music on their car or through their home stereos [...] If you are a Linux or Mac user, you should consider purchasing a regular CD player."
    • Tommi Kyyrä, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Finland, 2005 [7]
  • To recap: we decided to end the Google Video download to own/rent (DTO/DTR) program, and are now refocusing our Google Video engineering efforts. The week before last, we wrote to Google Video DTO/DTR program customers to let them know that videos they'd already bought would no longer be playable.
    • Official Google Blog [8]
  • The key issue here is that the protection scheme under Blu-ray is very anti-consumer and there's not much visibility of that. The inconvenience is that the movie studios got too much protection at the expense of consumers and it won't work well on PCs. You won't be able to play movies and do software in a flexible way. It's not the physical format that we have the issue with, it's that the protection scheme on Blu is very anti-consumer.
    • Bill Gates, 2005 [9]
  • It's a polite fiction... Lawyers and technologists continue to sell this snake oil of control, whether it's from the court and the police [RIAA legal jihad], or whether it's coming from technology [DRM]... When I was 14, I told girls I loved them to sleep with them too. It was a fiction. Steve Jobs just leaves a little money on the table. We see Jobs and Gates making promises to the content industry that they have no intention of keeping. It's the promise you make to move forward. The content owner wants to hear it. If we're honest we'd say to the content owners "we're not going to succeed from what we can tell..." But we don't say it. We'll say what we need to say to get it... Once you reach the realization that it isn't going to solve our problems, then you begin to embrace the alternatives.
    • Jim Griffin, former director of Geffen's technology group, now CEO of Cherry Lane Digital, 2004 [10]
  • We said [to the record companies]: None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.'s here, that know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content.
    • Steve Jobs, 2003 [11]
  • It's baffling to me that the content industries don't look at the experience of the software industry in the 80's, when copy protection on software was widely tried, and just as widely rejected by consumers.
    • Tim O'Reilly 2003 [12]
  • We conclude that given the current and foreseeable state of technology the content protection features of DRM are not effective at combating piracy.
    • Stuart Haber, Bill Horne, Joe Pato, Tomas Sander, Robert Endre Tarjan, Trusted Systems Laboratory, HP Laboratories Cambridge, 2003 [13]
  • The development of the Internet has... created significant challenges to any distribution model which depends on scarcity... The financial and skill barriers to making content available globally have simply fallen away... The application of technology to this problem, if it is to be effective, must therefore in some way reestablish a point of scarcity on behalf of the rights holder. However, this raises a fundamental paradox, [which is] the business of publishers lies in providing access rather than in preventing it... Nevertheless, unless copyright is to be abandoned as a mechanism for trading in intellectual property entirely, it will be essential to find an answer to this paradox... They [rights holders] also recognized that those approaches would be ineffective unless the law itself provided enhanced protection for those processes and systems.
    • Jeffrey P. Cunard, Keith Hill, and Chris Barlas: WIPO Report: Current Developments in the Field of Digital Rights Management, 2003 [14]
  • My personal opinion (not speaking for IBM) is that DRM is stupid, because it can never be effective, and it takes away existing rights of the consumer.
    • David Safford, IBM Research, 2002 [15]
  • We see no technical impediments to the darknet becoming increasingly efficient... We believe it probable that there will be a few more rounds of technical innovations... Finally, consumers themselves are likely to rebel against "footing the bill" for these ineffective content protection systems... increased security (e.g. stronger DRM systems) may act as a disincentive to legal commerce... In short, if you are competing with the darknet, you must compete on the darknet's own terms: that is convenience and low cost rather than additional security.
    • Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado und Bryan Willman, Microsoft Corporation, 2002 [16]
  • Digital files cannot be made uncopyable, any more than water can be made not wet.
    • Bruce Schneier 2001 [17]
  • In my opinion, content protection and rights management exist only as vestigial efforts to preserve existing models of content sales for as long as the bulk of the consumer market remains clueless. History has shown every content-protection scheme invented for consumer-grade goods to have almost no impact on piracy, and little impact on casual copying, except when it has doomed the technology carrying it. This is inevitable.
    • Mark S. Manasse, Compaq Systems Research Center, 2001 [18]
  • Why should self-interested companies be permitted to shift the balance of fundamental liberties, risking free expression, free markets, scientific progress, consumer rights, societal stability, and the end of physical and informational want? Because somebody might be able to steal a song? That seems a rather flimsy excuse.
    • John Gilmore, 2001 [19]
  • By treating Napster as the copyright antichrist, the industry is simply insuring that the vector of Internet technological development will move rapidly toward a lawsuit-proof, free-for-all distributed network of file-sharing -- the very outcome the owners of intellectual property wish to avoid. How stupid can you get? … The good news is that the brain-dead, colossally wasteful, artistically homogenizing old order of the recording industry is committing collective, time-delayed suicide in court.
    • Scott Rosenberg, 2000 [20]
  • Trusted systems presume that the consumer is dishonest.
    • Mark J. Stefik, Xerox PARC, 1996
  • The answer to the machine is in the machine.
    • Charles Clark, 1996 [21]
  • We also concluded that any single-machine locks and keys, or special time-out and self-destruct programs, would be onerous to our best customers and not effective against clever thieves. Because we could not devise practical physical security measures, we had to rely on the inherent honesty of our customers.
    • Watt S. Humprey on IBM's decision against copyprotection for software in 1969 [22]

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