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Monday, April 10, 2006 

DRM in Linux?



Richard Stallman the father of free software, has created GPLv3 such that it excludes DRM. This means that if Linux is licensed under GPLv3 (currently it is using GPLv2) then no DRM implementation on Linux can exist without violating the license. This for example means that makers of existing Digital Media Adapters that have support for DRM will not be able to move to newer Linux versions. Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux, is not opposed to adding DRM to Linux and so there is a real debate going on right now in the open source community with respect to this issue. ZDNET has just published an interesting article about the subject in which Georg Greve (in the picture), the president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) said:

"The Sony rootkit case made it quite clear why DRM is not accepted by consumers, and why there is no successful business case for DRM," he said in an email. "Apple iTunes allows people to burn their tracks on regular CDs, which can then be re-encoded and file-shared easily — so is better described as 'digital inconvenience management' only. Emusic.com offers clean audio tracks without any restrictions. No DRM platform comes close to either of these in popularity."
"So fortunately it is up to the consumer to decide what the consumer market wants. And its answer is clear: It does not want DRM!" he said. "The sooner we bury the foolish notion of putting each and every use of a computer under control of the media industry, the sooner we can start looking for real alternatives."

While Jeff Ayars, a vice-president at Real Networks, said (in a talk at LinuxWorld in Boston on Tuesday):

"The consequences of Linux not supporting DRM would be that fixed-purpose consumer electronics and Windows PC's would be the sole entertainment platforms available," he said. "Linux would be further relegated to use in servers and business computers, since it would not be providing the multimedia technologies demanded by consumers."

I think operating system level support for hardware DRM should not be implemented in the Linux kernel, however third party extensions should be allowed. The DRM dispute cannot be settled by tech people deciding for others, just like it can't be dicatated by the labels.

DRM can only function if it is part of the core-OS. Anything else just can't prevent non-authorised programs to open said content.

That said ... I see no reason for DRM-like features to exist, unless it is the *user* that decides what and who to trust.

And as for 'Real'-comment : if there is no media or no one buys DRM-polluted media then there's no need to be afraid that Linux (or any other platform) will be out of the loop.

This is only sort-of related, but deserves some attention: attempt is being made in the US Congress (the opposite of Progress) to basically outlaw MP3 streams... follow the link to learn how...

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004587.php

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