February 28, 2006
Digital Rights Management Update
Author Bruce Sterling recently summed up the complexity of Digital Rights Management debate when he wrote:
The real issue is the blurring of lines between blackhat hacking and legitimate business....It's time for lawmakers, trade groups, and public-interest organizations to get down to the hard work of hammering out standards for what businesses can and can't do to customers' computers. Such an effort will need to be international, because the Net knows no bounds. It will need to come up with simple, understandable language for end-user licensing agreements. It will need to draw red lines around unacceptably invasive hacks and map gray areas between spying and market research. |Wired|
As of taking a cue from Sterling, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently warned Sony that the use of a rootkit raises serious concerns for the nation's cyber-security, see C-Net's coverage.
Sony is not necessarily the only corporation whose DRM is raising the hackles of DHS.
[The Departmental of Homeland Security] has expressed concerns over the security of copy protection software. In November, DHS assistant secretary for policy Stewart Baker warned copyright holders to be careful of how they protected their music and DVDs. "In the pursuit of protection of intellectual property, it's important not to defeat or undermine the security measures that people need to adopt in these days... |ComputerWorld|
Despite industry protestations that Trusted Computing was not just another brand of DRM, new applications of Trusted Computing from Lenovo and Adobe turn out to be exactly that, using a fingerprint scanner to authenticate users and to log every viewing of Adobe documents |Information Week|
Not everyone is suprised by this revelation, back in 2002, Richard M. Stallman suggested that treacherous computing would be a more apt name than trusted computing.
In other recent DRM news, HBO has expressed its desire to use the broadcast flag to prohibit recording of any of its content by Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)|Ars Technica|. This issue will undoubtedly be getting more attention in light of a new report by the Carmel Group indicating that fifty percent (50%) of cable and satellite-television subscribers will have DVRs by 2010. |Free Summary||WSJ Coverage - Sub'n Req'd|
One final note in the realm of copyright and DRM, the Recording Industry Association of America has opined that copying legally purchased CDs to one's own iPod does not constitute 'Fair Use'|Slashdot|.
Neal R. Axton, Reference Librarian, William Mitchell College of Law
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