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[Discuss] DRM

Brendan Kidwell wrote:
> I can't stand anything related to DRM including software
> locking... I hate installing activation-requiring
> software, and I hate having to avoid pissing off the DRM and resetting
> the activation workflow.

The real question is what happens 10 years from now when Microsoft is a
shell of its former self (maybe not, but it is sort of heading that way)
and the servers used for online activation of Windows XP are long since
shut down and the call centers dissolved (pretty much guaranteed to
happy, regardless of how healthy Microsoft remains) and you need to
resurrect some antique program that only runs on Windows XP?

How about 50 years from now when some archivist wants to research
2000-era technology?

Far fetched, but there will be some people who run into this, and DRM
will stop them.

Rich Pieri wrote:
>> ...a message that your system needs to be activated. :-)
> This is a support licensing issue (not a DRM issue)...

Your definition of DRM is too narrow, then. DRM doesn't have to involve
encryption. Any mechanism used to limit the users ability to use a
digital product they purchased as legally permitted under copyright law
is DRM by my definition.

> Windows Activation is not a DRM mechanism and I don't care what
> Wikipedia or the EFF say. It does not prevent you from installing and
> running Windows on the computer of your choice assuming the hardware is
> capable of running the OS.

You're making a meaningless distinction. DRM is about the publisher
preventing the content licensee from being able to use the content in a
manner the publisher hasn't approved. Whether it is encrypted media or a
locked OS, both require some form of approval from the publisher before
you can use the content you licensed on the device of your choice.

> It's a license enforcement mechanism. It ensures (tries to ensure)
> that if you buy (license) one copy of Windows then you only have one
> copy of Windows installed and running as per the license that you
> agreed to abide by.

How is that materially different from the encryption placed on a Kindle
e-book used to insure that the licensee doesn't have the ability to
redistribute (share/sell/lend/archive) the book? It too is a license
enforcement mechanism. You don't own Kindle e-books.

> What rights does WPA (Windows Product Activation) deny you?

The right to run the software on the hardware of my choice *without*
Microsoft's approval. You seem to be confusing the issue because
Microsoft happens to give you a way (for now) to conveniently get their

If Amazon used some form of encryption that was an open standard, and
supported a wide range of hardware, and the decryption technology was
keyed to the reader hardware, and they let you call up and get a
decryption code at will (with some limits they enforce), would this no
longer be DRM? With said technology I could put Kindle e-books on any
wacky hardware I chose, and as long as Amazon approved my request for a
code, I could unlock the content without breaking the DRM. Does this
magically mean Kindle books aren't protected with DRM?

The "pain point" you see with most use cases for DRM comes about because
the publisher can't justify the cost of developing and supporting their
proprietary DRM technology on all the niche platforms (both hardware and
software) that users want to use.

In any case, it really doesn't matter whether we call it DRM. It's still
bad. (Not sure why you're hung up on the precise semantics.)

> You'll have similar issues with Linux support contracts...

Not the same thing. If your support contract is up, you can't download
vendor sanctioned updates, and they won't answer your support calls, but
you can still install the OS, and still get updates from other sources.
Agreed that support contracts are not DRM, but it also isn't as severe
as the restriction Microsoft puts on Windows.

Brendan Kidwell wrote:
> I know I'm preaching to the choir here...

Yes, I'm sure there aren't may fans of DRM on this list...just varying
degrees of tolerance.


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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