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Open-Source DRM Ready To Take On Big Guns 520

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the when-good-code-goes-bad dept.
Barence writes "An open-source digital rights management (DRM) scheme says it's ready to supplant Apple and Microsoft as the world's leading copy protection solution. Marlin, which is backed by companies such as Sony and Samsung, has just announced a new partner program that aims to drive the DRM system into more consumer devices. 'It works in a way that doesn't hold consumers hostage,' Talal Shamoon told PC Pro. 'It allows you to protect and share content in the home, in a way that people own the content, not the devices.' When asked about the biggest problem of DRM — that customers hate it — he argued that 'the biggest problem with DRM is people have implemented it badly. Make DRM invisible and people will use it.'"
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Open-Source DRM Ready To Take On Big Guns

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  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:31AM (#25482559) Homepage Journal

    I don't get it... If DRM works, it restricts what you do. If it restricts what you do, it's not inivisible. How is this implementation different from any other DRM?

    • by Mesa MIke (1193721) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:32AM (#25482573) Homepage

      It's different because it's Open Source!

      • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:15PM (#25483213) Journal
        Any DRM makes comsumers' use of lawfully acquired media subject to external control, which means that sooner or later the consumer is going to get ripped off. Notoriously frangible EULAs, market conditions, corporate acquisitions and mergers, etc., mean that someday the external entity that supports the continued use of the media will likely go away. This also ensures that the lifespan of media is temporary, rather than enduring. In a weird way, artists seeking to use DRM cash in on their work today are ensuring their relative anonymity tomorrow, when no one can find a playable copy of that old song they used to love so much as a kid back in '08.
        • by CarpetShark (865376) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:11PM (#25484061)

          Exactly. Using DRM to enforce copyright is the equivalent of having cops watch how much fuel you put in your car's tank, and checking your mileage after a journey, to make sure you don't speed. It's simply invasive, untrusting, and unnecessary for adults, and wrong, given that the assumptions are flawed. This is ESPECIALLY true, given the fact that we actually have a right to change the speed limit, if the majority of us decide to, or to copy things that were previously not copied, if the majority of us decide to.

        • by Sancho (17056) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:37PM (#25484473) Homepage

          This also ensures that the lifespan of media is temporary, rather than enduring. In a weird way, artists seeking to use DRM cash in on their work today are ensuring their relative anonymity tomorrow, when no one can find a playable copy of that old song they used to love so much as a kid back in '08.

          I tend to think of it as ensuring repeated sales of their art throughout their lifetimes.

          For a while there, ensuring this was as easy as making sure that your music was released on the format du jour. Records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs.... With the advent of digital music sans a physical medium, this trend of rebuying all of your albums is at risk. Suddenly, you're faced with customers never having to rebuy the White album, and you see your sustained profits going down the tubes.

          DRM solves that. Now, rather than coming out with a new format every few years, you just have to come up with a new DRM scheme and turn off the old servers. Because the devices playing the music are somewhat general purpose, it's easy to move quickly--you don't have to worry about market penetration for the players, because it's just a free software update away.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nicodoggie (1228876)

        Isn't one of the greatest benefits of open source, the hordes of community developers ready to monkey around with the code for free/cheap?

        What self-respecting coder would contribute to this project, if not only to create backdoors to it?

        This entire thing seems more than pointless to me

    • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:37AM (#25482657) Journal
      How is this implementation different from any other DRM?

      It's the shiniest turd of all!
      • by theaveng (1243528) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:46AM (#25482807)

        I visited their website. It appears to be based on the tried-and-true "license" model where you must buy a license in order to use a program... or in this case, play a song. The obvious flaw is that is the server goes down, no more license.

        And of course licensing is typically an annual payment plan. I don't want to "rent" my purchased songs year-after-year-after-year.

        http://www.marlin-community.com/technology/how_marlin_works [marlin-community.com]

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:02PM (#25483027) Homepage

          It dont matter. if I can play it I can rip it to a unencumbered format. all my Audible books are converted to mp3 the second I buy them.

          DRM is the emperor standing naked in the forum. only the foolish believe it is pretty, useful and works. I guess it makes them feel safer, like a child hiding under the covers to be protected from the monsters.

          To those with common sense and can actually see, DRM is useless, it's cracked moments after it is realeased and the worlds' 13-22 year olds have far more programming skill and resources than all the worlds companies combined.

          • by genner (694963) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:23PM (#25483333)

            I guess it makes them feel safer, like a child hiding under the covers to be protected from the monsters.

            Hey don't mock it. It works!

            My bedroom has been monster free for thirty years.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by DeskLazer (699263)

            I guess it makes them feel safer, like a child hiding under the covers to be protected from the monsters.

            wait, so you're saying that the blanket won't protect me? what about a towel instead?

          • by russotto (537200) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:12PM (#25484069) Journal

            To those with common sense and can actually see, DRM is useless, it's cracked moments after it is realeased and the worlds' 13-22 year olds have far more programming skill and resources than all the worlds companies combined.

            This is a bit unfair to the DRM creators. Cracking DRM isn't a competition between the skills of the designers of the scheme and the skills of the crackers of the scheme. It's a test of the skills of the crackers of the scheme against the already-written big fat stationary target of the scheme itself. To use a non-car analogy, it's a one-round game of hide-and-seek where the location of the hidden object (often an encryption key) is both fixed and extremely constrained.

          • Assuming that you'll be able to rip whatever DRM they use is dangerous. With hardware that cooperates to undermine you, PKI could easily be used to encrypt data in ways that are unbreakable through software -- by ANYONE. All it takes is a chip that publishes its public key for the media source, and re-encypts data directly to digital monitors (IE, an LCD monitor, and speakers) which also publish their public keys. Short of breaking your OWN chip apart to see it's unique key, you're screwed. Moreover, it

    • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:40AM (#25482713) Homepage

      Based on their description, they seem to have built it from a better understanding of the human psychology WRT ownership of property. Most people instinctively believe that they own their music and movies and that their personal use shouldn't be restricted. This DRM seems to operate on the basis of restricting the ability to playback the content to the devices controlled by a customer, not to a set number of devices.

      If this article turns out to be mostly right, it's a positive step. It recognizes the fact that most people will never get why it's infringement to share a CD or DVD across a family. So, the solution, is to focus more on how one user might give the data to a user that shouldn't receive it, than to focus on locking up the user's practical enjoyment of the product.

      The key to making DRM work is to back off the user's day-to-day playback, and focus on making it so that devices won't receive content from users that don't have permission to give it to them. That's what copyright was created for: to prevent unauthorized reproductions, not tell the user exactly how they will use the IP once they buy it.

      • by theaveng (1243528) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:50AM (#25482863)

        No it works on licensing. You can copy the song as many times as you want, including over the internet with friends, but you can't use the song until you obtain a license.

        I hate licensing. It's too much like renting. I want to OWN the device, program, song, whatever; not rent it.

        • I hate licensing. It's too much like renting. I want to OWN the device, program, song, whatever; not rent it.

          Exactly, if I buy something then it is mine for personal use and I will not tolerate any DRM whatsoever. And when it comes to music I want to own it. However, there are somethings which I don't mind renting because they only have limited replay value anyway. DRM allows the concept of renting to be extended into the digital realm where things are easily copied, and can create some nice business models that wold not be financially viable otherwise.

          It seems like most of the focus right now is on on-demand stre

      • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:55AM (#25482937)

        That sounds great... but I have trouble imagining a DRM system that could actually make the distinctions you mention (given that we haven't quite solved that whole artificial intelligence problem).

        For instance, the average person (as you mention) is going to want to be able to copy a song to their spouse's computer over the LAN. But how exactly does the DRM recognize the difference between a copy to the spouse's computer, a copy to a friend's computer, a copy to your work computer, a copy to a coworker's computer, a copy to a stranger's computer, or a copy to a redistribution server?

        The only way I can think is with encrypted content, and then by defining "permission zones" or somesuch, where various devices get authorized as part of a zone, with restrictions on how many devices can be registered in a zone at a time (so that you can't add your closest 30,000 P2P friends into your zone). But managing these zones isn't going to be invisible. You'll be adding new devices as they are purchased, removing old devices as they are sold/discarded (do you have to prove you've erased the previously authorized content?), flashing firmware to re-authorize devices (because keys will have been revoked), using a restricted set of software (that is able to understand the DRM), waiting for network connections to be available (because it's been too long since the last time the device phoned-home), and so on. The user will notice.

        I don't think there is any scheme that is sufficiently permissive that users will never notice it, yet sufficiently restrictive to actually put a dent in the "really bad copying" (commercial redistribution, uploading to P2P networks, ...). And TFA does nothing to actually address this issue: how does the software differentiate between good copies and bad copies.

        Answer: computers can't. Actually, given the confusion and disagreement around copyright law, evidently humans can't either.

      • by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:56AM (#25482941)
        It recognizes the fact that most people will never get why it's infringement to share a CD or DVD across a family..

        Now, see, I take issue with that statement. If that's true then it should apply to all IP, shouldn't it? That would include a printed book, too, shouldn't it? You're saying then that I can't loan a copy of a book I own to a friend or family member because it's copyright infringement. That's utter and complete bullshit. If I have physical media that I legally purchased, I should be able to loan that media out to whoever the hell I want to, and it's nobody's damned business.

        • by Evanisincontrol (830057) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:07PM (#25483107)

          You're saying then that I can't loan a copy of a book I own to a friend or family member because it's copyright infringement. That's utter and complete bullshit.

          No, he's saying that can't make a complete copy of a book you own and give it to a friend or family member because it's copyright infringement. And he's right. The difference between loaning a book and "loaning" an MP3 is that once you'd "loaned" your buddy a song, he has complete access to it whenever he wants. More importantly, he has complete parallel access to it with you. Only one instance of the song was paid for, yet two people are able to enjoy its use at any time, perhaps simultaneously.

          If I have physical media that I legally purchased, I should be able to loan that media out to whoever the hell I want to, and it's nobody's damned business.

          Agreed. If you have an iPod with songs on it that you purchased, you should absolutely be allowed to lend someone that physical media -- that is, the iPod -- and let them use it as long as they want. And you can. You cannot, however, just send them the songs off your iPod, for reasons stated above.

          • by BorgDrone (64343) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:27PM (#25483379) Homepage

            The difference between loaning a book and "loaning" an MP3 is that once you'd "loaned" your buddy a song, he has complete access to it whenever he wants. More importantly, he has complete parallel access to it with you.

            Indeed, and this is completely different from a physical object like a book. The problem is trying to apply an economic model to a situation where it doesn't apply. Prices of physical objects are more or less determined by supply and demand. For this to work the object in question has to be scarce. Digital data isn't. Once it's created, there is an endless supply of it. Supply and demand doesn't work here. Trying to create artificial scarcity through DRM is solving the wrong problem. Don't try to make a product fit your business model, adapt your business model to the actual product.

            Even worse, in trying to make the 'new' work exactly like the old they are actually trying to destroy some of the properties that make the 'new' more exiting and desirable.

    • by Aeolien (939711) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:50AM (#25482857)
      The most invisible form of DRM I've seen is Steam. That's because it isn't just DRM, it's a fairly significant service. I can't sell my game, but I can play it on any number of computers, even if I don't have the original disc. I can chat with friends during my game, and every so often, I can play a game for free for a weekend, or give out a guest pass to my friends for a month or two. Given these benefits, and because the only thing it restricts is reselling, I hardly ever think of it as DRM.
      • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:13PM (#25483199) Homepage Journal

        Unfortunately, I think this is the future of gaming. The next game consoles might not even have optical drives. You won't be able to loan a game to a friend, or rent a game from Blockbuster. And good luck reselling games that you bought over the Internet! Gamestop and others might go out of business. When your hard drive fails, you'll spend days re-downloading content (if you're lucky). If not, you'll be branded as a thief and have to spend hours arguing on the phone with Indian tech support for the right to re-download stuff you already paid for.

        The Internet has done a lot of great things for gaming, but I am really scared of what will happen if console manufacturers get rid of removable media for games.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kamokazi (1080091)
      Personally I think it's a great idea. Make DRM invisible. Going by our current level of cloaking technology, we could make it invisible by removing it completely. I'm all for it.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:31AM (#25482563) Journal

    Like it or not DRM restricts what you can do with your files. When you try to do something the copyright holders have forbidden, even the best DRM system will be plenty visible.

    • by MadKeithV (102058)
      A particular implementation of DRM might work if it expands what you can legally do with your files (relative to the normal terms-of-service). For example temporarily transfer your license to a friend for a weekend, selling your license to someone else, creating mash-ups based on the licensed files, etc...
      Of course that's still limited compared to a totally free unrestricted public domain file, but there just aren't that many of those around.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Alsee (515537)

        A particular implementation of DRM might work if it expands what you can legally do with your files (relative to the normal terms-of-service).

        All POSSIBLE implementations of DRM diminish your ability to make non-infringing use of your files It is impossible to have any meaningful DRM at all without criminalizing valuable non-infringing products and criminalizing non-infringing technology and criminalizing non-infringing people.

        DRM has absolutely nothing to do with copyright infringement. DRM is about crimin

    • by frieko (855745) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:03PM (#25483039)
      Exactly. There's no way to change a fundamental fact: No matter what you do, pirates will always strip the DRM and upload it. Therefore this new DRM doesn't prevent piracy, and (they claim) it doesn't prevent fair use, so therefore doesn't it have absolutely no utility whatsoever?
  • Impossible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheNecromancer (179644) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:33AM (#25482583)

    You can never make DRM invisible, since people are illegally sharing video and music files all the time today. If the point of DRM is to protect the content from being pirated, making it invisible to users will completely nullify its' original intent.

    • Re:Impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:36AM (#25482651) Homepage

      You can never make DRM invisible, since people are illegally sharing video and music files all the time today.

      I think they'll be happy if it's invisible to the people who have bought the content and are playing by their rules.

      The ones who are sharing files on the internet .. they'd like to stop and have the DRM be anything but invisible.

      Cheers

  • by DreamerFi (78710) <john@@@sinteur...com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:33AM (#25482595) Homepage

    And that's by not having it at all.

    I don't buy products with DRM, no matter how much they've tried to make it non-intrusive for me.

    And backed by Sony? That puts it on my personal blacklist right away.

  • by ijustam (1127015) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:33AM (#25482601) Journal

    ...allowing users to share content between any Marlin-enabled device in the home rather than on specific machines. "It works in a way that doesn't hold consumers hostage,"

    So long as Marlin stays in business, and every device you want your music on is a Marlin device. So, if Marlin goes under and your computer crashes, you're out of luck?

    • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:11PM (#25483171) Homepage Journal

      So, if Marlin goes under and your computer crashes, you're out of luck?

      Nope. Since it's Open Source, you just comment out the part of the code that says "If I can't contact the server, refuse to work," recompile, and then everything works.

      Or if they use a decryption key downloaded from Marlin, then before they go out of business, go into the part of the code where it downloads the decryption key, and store that key somewhere. No, wait, even better: use that key to decrypt your content, and store the plaintext and delete the original. At that point, everything works flawlessly regardless of when Marlin goes out of business.

      Now that's what I call effective DRM.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z34107 (925136)

      The bold-faced part of your quote is Marlin-enabled device, not just a "Marlin device." I think they're open-sourcing the DRM scheme because they want it on as many players (from different companies) as humanly possible.

      Which leads to interesting problems. Will Marlin have the one and only licensing server? Could each studio run their own server to license their own content under this scheme? Could I run my own h4x0r sever to license everything to myself?

      Ideally, this would be some kind of Steam/iTunes

  • Invisible! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadKeithV (102058) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:33AM (#25482603)
    "Make surveillance invisible and people won't object to it!"
    Still, the implementation details would be interesting. How quickly will this be broken? Probably before it ever gets popular.
    • by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:40AM (#25482709) Homepage Journal

      Any code made by a person can be broken by a person. We should invest less in cheap control schemes and more into robotic overlords.

    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:46AM (#25482801) Homepage Journal

      I've taken a look at the specs and it's pretty impressive actually. They're using ROT-26 encryption, and you manage copies using commands called "cp", "mv", and "rm". These commands look at a set of user rights before they operate - read, write, and execute permissions are set separately and the content owner can also assign permissions to groups or even the whole world.

      The only major fly in the ointment is that apparently DVD Jon has already released a beta of a tool called "chmod" that can change all of those permissions.

  • It will become visible as soon as Bob wants legitimately to copy the same song in his car player, his two desktops and his laptop...

  • Didn't Sony try that not too far back? And look at how well that worked out for them.

    The only way to make DRM truly invisible is to effectively pwn the users' box.

  • Is that the kind that silently reports you to The Authorities when you do something naughty with information?

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:36AM (#25482647) Homepage Journal

    1. It can never deprive me of my media.
    2. It can not restrict what devices I use my media on.
    3. It can not restrict the storage format of the media.

    In other words it is impossible.
    Heck I do believe that copyright infringement is wrong. I just refuse to pay the price for others breaking the law.

    • 4. ...
      5. CASH!
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:05PM (#25483059) Homepage Journal

      In other words it is impossible.

      Untrue! It is possible to cryptographically lock media to your identity. (Whereby your identity is represented by a public/private key pair.) By loading your key to your different devices (something that can be done transparently if there is a standard), you can remove the media barriers while still throwing up barriers against illicit sharing.

      Granted, the result would do little more than keep reasonably honest people honest, but that's about the best that companies can do anyway. If you can play it, you can crack it. So what's the point in coming up with ever-more convoluted DRM schemes? They all rely on security through obscurity, and are thus guaranteed to be circumvented.

      If token DRM would give companies a warm, fuzzy feeling, than I'm all for it. (Assuming that a consumer-friendly standard is drafted and a good key backup system is provisioned in the standard.) It may not do much to stop full-on pirates, but what will? It will achieve the exact same goals as current DRM, but without all the anti-consumerism. A friendly compromise if you will.

      Unfortunately, I have my doubts about the industry accepting such an idea. The RIAA's position appears to be that everyone is dirty-rotten pirates that must submit to their lord and master, the music cartel. Because if they don't submit, they'll just go back to their evil, immoral ways!

      Yeah. The industry would be a lot better off if the RIAA was dissolved. :-/

    • Well Put (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:22PM (#25483317) Homepage

      These are exactly the issues:

      (1) It should never be possible for me to lose access to media I have paid for, period. Perhaps this could be solved with a consumer rights law and enforced key escrow for media.

      (2) I should be able to play any media on any device I own which supports playing the underlying media. I should be able to convert between media types (ie, aac->mp3) for the purposes of using a media type on another device.

      (3) I should be able to make and keep backups on any media. I should be able to restore out of backup onto any device I own. There should not be onerous measures required to 'activate' my media on new devices (I'm looking at you, EA!)

      Ultimately, this is why piracy is attractive - piracy gives you a "better" copy - a copy you can use anywhere and move anywhere.

  • by interstellar_donkey (200782) <pathighgate@NOspAm.hotmail.com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:36AM (#25482649) Homepage Journal

    The article doesn't seem to be very clear.

    Will this mean I'll have to buy a new TV set, a new stereo receiver, a new DVD player, a new Cellphone, a new car stereo and reconfigure all of my PCs to be "Merlin enabled"?

    Probably not, since whenever someone claims it will be "more difficult to circumvent then current DRM schemes", that seems to be a challenge to some of the more clever programmers to break it.

  • by Carik (205890) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:37AM (#25482659)

    They don't mean invisible to everyone. They mean invisible to people who aren't breaking the law. Frankly, that's good enough for me, in this case; if it doesn't interfere with my legitimate use of a game or my music, I don't have a real problem with it. Yeah, it'd be nice if DRM weren't necessary, but when you get right down to it, most people will steal digital media (as opposed to physical media) when they think they can get away with it. I'm not going to debate whether that's morally wrong or not, but it IS against the law.

    Now, of course, I'm not convinced this company is going to be successful in creating effective DRM that doesn't interfere with legitimate use, but it'd be interesting if they managed it.

    • by jeffasselin (566598) <cormacolinde@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:41AM (#25482729) Journal

      Not "people who aren't breaking the law", but people "who aren't doing what we don't want them to do". Not the same thing at all.

      Most DRM schemes are trying to put themselves above law and morality then imply that they are simply enforcing that. But law and morality are more complex than any computer is currently able to understand and enforce.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aladrin (926209)

        Isn't it the same? They licensed their works to you under certain restrictions. Using the works outside those restrictions is not allowed under any license you have acquired, which makes it IP infringement, and therefore illegal.

        So yeah, it -is- the same. If you don't like that, work to fix the laws.

        Note that I made no moral or ethical judgements here. It is simply fact.

    • by Mesa MIke (1193721) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:41AM (#25482733) Homepage

      OK.
      But will it be invisible to those who would exercise fair use rights?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Not quite.

      They mean inviible to anyone who doesn't do what the corporation doesn't want you to do with it, even if it is within the bounds of the law.

      And that is NOT ok to me..

      Don't even get me started on the "If you are doing anything wrong" logical fallacy.

    • No, it's more appropriate to say it will be invisible to people who use the media in the ways the creators envisioned as the only legitimate uses. Those of us who are legitimate users who want to do something out of the mainstream (say, a home built media server; or putting a selection of titles on an inexpensive portable drive to take on vacation) are screwed.

      Just as there is no way to determine what all the end users will want to do with the products they purchase, there is no way to place restrictions o

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:33PM (#25483467) Journal

      1. Now I'm against piracy, but claiming something as broad as "invisible to people who aren't breaking the law" is BS.

      For example, from what I understand, you only need to try playing t on a device which isn't "Marlin-enabled", for it to become very visible right there. I fail to see what counts as "breaking the law" if I merely take my bought song and try to play it on my old car stereo. Care to explain?

      2. How _do_ you enforce a DRM without locking access to certain parts of the "pipeline"? E.g., if I can use open-source sound drivers, what's to keep me from writing an un-DRM-ed .WAV to disk of their music? E.g., if I can play it in a self-compiled music player, what's to keep me from writing the decrypted stream from the player instead of playing it? Etc.

      That's why MS's "trusted computing" insists on authorizing and authenticating every single bit of your computing, starting from the CPU. And you can't have a signed program that you can change, recompile and have it still stay signed.

      So basically they _have_ to restrict what drivers, software, etc, you use, or they can't guarantee enforcing that DRM. And as soon as you, say, went the OSS route and recompiled anything, again, it _has_ to become very visible. Because as soon as the binary has changed at all, you no longer know whether it now has a backdoor which extracts the binary stream.

      _But_, and here's the important part, the binary changes even if you didn't do anything devious there. If I, say, decide to play with these stupid drivers and make them able to play multiple streams like under windows (Gnome and KDE do come with daemons that do that mixing, but natively it isn't available) it necessarily produces a different executable.

      So, again, care to explain what's illegal or "breaking the law" if I decide to tweak my sound drivers on this here Linux machine? I mean, FFS, even MS's FUD at its darkest hour stayed clear of claiming that doing any OSS work is criminal.

      4. I thought that it was up to the courts to decide if a law has been broken? Just a thought. Deciding a priori that anyone running into trouble with a particular piece of retarded software is a criminal, is rich. The whole fundament of the western justice is based on such ideas as establishing exactly what happened, the degree of evil intent ("mens rea"), hearing the other side's half of the story too, etc. It seems to me that deciding a priori that, basically, anyone doing things differently than you imagined is automatically a criminal, goes against pretty much everything that justice stands for.

  • Invisibile (Score:2, Informative)

    by qoncept (599709)
    Surely each of the 3 commenters, who all phrase "if you can't copy yo shit, howzit invisible?" are intelligent to understand the guy clearly meant it's invisible during normal, fair use. Jesus Christ.

    While I'm sure it's a load of BS, I don't think many people will hate "perfect DRM" any better than what we've got now. They'll just stop complaining about how it annoys them as legitimate license owners and start complaining that stuff costs too much. Because the people that are complaining are usually pira
    • Re:Invisibile (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:44AM (#25482787) Homepage Journal

      No, plenty of people who aren't pirates complain, in my case it's a self fulfilling prophesy.
      I didn't use to pirate, but then they took away all are consumer protections and rights.
      When I can return a game I don't like, or resell it, or apply fair use I'll stop.

      Now if I like a game or music I pirate, I buy it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thepotoo (829391)

        plenty of people who aren't pirates complain

        People who aren't pirates are the only ones who complain (at least about music and movies).

        Game pirates gripe all the time about releases being a mere week in advance of retail release, or about how the crack just uses a VM to break the DRM without actually removing it from the executable.

  • by Non-Newtonian Fluid (16797) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:38AM (#25482671)

    One could make the argument that DRM, by its very nature, holds consumers hostage.

    Also, I wonder how many slashdotters will be won over by the fact that this implementation is open-source. I'm sure it might make some feel warm and fuzzy inside, but not me.

    • by cowscows (103644)

      You could make that argument, but it'd be stupid.

      There are plenty of legal ways to get DRM-free content. And there always will be, because there's a market for such things. While it's true and unfortunate that some consumers are getting stung by not understanding the details of the DRM that they might be buying into, that's nothing that a little education on the topic can't fix. As people learn, the market for specifically DRM-free media will increase. We're seeing that already start to happen in the online

  • Awww Man (Score:5, Funny)

    by svendsen (1029716) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:38AM (#25482673)
    Let's not open source a turd...
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:39AM (#25482685)
    The biggest problem with DRM isn't that people hate it while they're using it. It's that they REALLY hate it when the company they bought their music/movies/games from turns their entire collection of "owned" content to dust because the company got tired [techreport.com] of running their DRM servers.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:39AM (#25482687)

    "It works in a way that doesn't hold consumers hostage"

    But that's the point of DRM - the content distributor gets to decide what happens to the content, not the consumer. Your purchased content is held hostage to the whims of the distributor. That's the point of DRM.

    For an encore this guy will sell airplanes without wings that keep you safely on the ground, bladless knifes without handles, and a bucket of jumbo shrimp.

  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:39AM (#25482691) Homepage

    Just think what you'd need to do to bypass it:

    Original Source:

    bool isLicenceValid()
    {
          (Implementation goes here)
    }

    "Hacked" Source:

    bool isLicenceValid()
    {
          return true;
    }

    Job done :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      That's okay, since they've already planned to bundle a piece of "software" that prevents you from using a text editor, called OpenSony.

    • by Godji (957148) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:10PM (#25483155) Homepage
      Almost but not quite. More like:

      Original source:

      char* getData( ... ) {
      char* encryptedData = getDataFromSomewhere();
      char* key = getKeyFromSomewhere();
      if( key == NULL ) {
      return NULL;
      }
      return decrypt( encryptedData, key );
      }

      The point is that the content is encrypted, and if you purchased the key you can get the data. Otherwise there's nothing you could do short of breaking the cipher, open source or not.

      The whole thing about DRM is how to restrict the key to the people who have legal right to it. That's where having control over the platform begins to help, because you can hack it to not hide the key from you. Which is where Trusted (Trecherous) Computing comes into play: it holds the key in hardware, and tries to ensure that the software has not been tampered with before giving it away.

      Because TC cannot know whether a modification is a hack to circumvent DRM or a genuine improvement, it stays on the "safe" side by diassallowing all modification. Hence hardware DRM is incompatible with free software, and software DRM is undefined in the context of free software. Which is why the term "open-source DRM" is an oxymoron.

      P.S. How did you indent your code on Slashdot?
  • If it's open source, then I can go in, change the code and bypass the whole kit-n-kaboodle, right?
  • Same Issues? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Silentknyght (1042778) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:40AM (#25482717)
    FTFA:

    "With Marlin, any device that runs Marlin can run content on the home domain," he adds. "It's a level playing field [for manufacturers] - they don't have to go up to Redmond with a begging bowl or suck up to Steve Jobs."

    So, open source DRM that works well (only) with other hardware also running the same DRM? Don't we already have that? How is this new, or better? The only thing I can see is that, vis-a-vis it being open source, it could be circumvented easier.

  • not quite right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:40AM (#25482723) Homepage

    "the biggest problem with DRM is people have implemented it badly. Make DRM invisible and people will use it."

    That's not quite right. Yes, the biggest problem with DRM is people have implemented it badly. The solution, though, is to make DRM out in the forefront of the feature list and make the DRM HELPFUL and CONVENIENT to users. Making it invisible will show that the companies are trying to hide something. Steam is always brought up as an example of good DRM. People know there's DRM on it but nobody minds because it's actually useful and makes it easy to transfer the games you've bought over to other computers quicker and easier than if you had an actual disk. Make is useful and people will use it.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:43AM (#25482773) Homepage Journal

    Doesn't the latest revision of the GPL specifically prohibit DRM?

    So I assume (withot RTFA of course) that the source to this DRM is published, but it isn't GPL 3? Is it GPL 2 or some pseudo "open source"?

    Dumb Restrictions on Media can use any license it wants, I want no part of it. Anyone who has anything to do with DRM is either ignorant or a fraud, and I really don't like doing business with the ignorant or with frauds.

    When information isn't free, neither are you. I think I'll make that my new sig.

  • by hAckz0r (989977) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:45AM (#25482793)
    DRM is just using a technology to try and solve a "social" problem. It will never happen, in fact it just makes the urge to become a criminal stronger. I might not think of pirating software or music, but when I can't use what I purchased I then become a criminal under the DMCA for going around the technological road blocks.

    The whole concept of DRM is flawed, because they give me the media, and the key, and the algorithm and then tell me I can not put the three together in any other way than the way they choose. Sorry, not happening here. You can keep your broken products to yourself and I'll spend my money somewhere else.

  • by Sir_Dill (218371) <slashdot@zachuGINSBERGla.com minus poet> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:48AM (#25482839) Homepage
    I like many consumers have been bitten bad by drm and other content "protection" schemes.

    From my experience its not so much the DRM itself, but rather difference of opinions between the implementation and interpretation of the spec among the various hardware vendors.

    Case in point. My home theater receiver is HDCP compliant, however it doesn't play nice with Vista. This forces me to use gray market software just so I can watch video on my projector. For the record I am not talking about just DVDs and HD disc based content. I can record an AVI with my digital camera and I will still get errors trying to play that content on my projector.

    My main point is that its not necessarily the DRM itself that is the problem. HDCP "looks okay" on paper. However when you have a multitude of manufacturers interpreting the spec and the logistical impossibility of unit testing against everything else out there, ultimately its left up to the consumer to do the testing which will ALWAYS end up bad for the little guy. And there is NO WAY an individual user is going to have any teeth when a manufacturer doesn't play by the rules.

    My last point is this. DRM doesn't prevent piracy.

    again...let me repeat that for the industry folks who are a little slow. DRM DOESN'T PREVENT PIRACY.
    It's kind of like network security. The only truly secure computer is one that is sealed in concrete, has no keyboard, no monitor, no mouse, no network, and no power. If someone wants in bad enough, they will get in. Period.
    The only truly secure content is that which is never distributed.

    There will always be a better mouse.

  • Yeah, I heard this kind of promise from the FlexLM guys decades ago. Interoperability, you control the licenses, yadda yadda. It's a turd. Individual vendors couldn't get their client implementations working well enough to "play nice" with other competing vendors applications (yes, Altera and Xilinx, I'm looking at you.) If your network and license-server topology is slightly different from the reference one, nothing works properly. FlexLM is still a disaster. [woodmann.com] This form of restriction will be too.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:53AM (#25482905) Journal

    It is a simple problem but very hard to get around because the problem used to simply not exist. Standards.

    Get this and get this if you get nothing else. STANDARDS HAVE GONE OUT THE WINDOW in the digital age.

    ALL VHS was VHS. A LP's were LP's. All cassette tapes were cassete tapes.

    Sure, there were competing standards for a short time but by and large, to the consumer media tech had one standard.

    Now, in the digital age, this is no longer true. iPod may be synonmous with MP3 player but the fact is that it barely got 50% of the market. The rest of the market is split by dozens of brands each with dozen of models. Each model has its own system, its own capabilities.

    This is why iTunes is NOT the standard method to distribute music. Nor is MS fairplay. Hey, even zune didn't support that.

    This hampers DRM (and don't we all feel sad about this), how are you going to get your DRM method on all devices? Apple doesn't even bother with it, that is why it is trivial to convert iTunes music to MP3's and they don't license their solution out. Why would a MP3 maker bother with supporting fairplay when nobody uses it? And when so few players support it, nobody is going to use it.

    Sure, Sony is a big company, but we all know how succesful it has been in the MP3 market. The company that OWNS the walkman has totally lost its touch, choosing to push its own formats over making money.

    Unless someone comes up with a solution of DRM that works with just the file and doesn't need any software installed on devices that can't have software installed it can't work.

    This new system doesn't fix that. Why is going to buy a Marlin enabled device when there are no services that use it, and what service is going to support it when nobody is buy marlin enabled devices?

    Apples DRM slipped in by accident. People didn't buy iPod's because of iTunes. It just came with it. MS has totally screwed up its own changes by dropping its own system on its own MP3 players.

    Saying that Apple and MS are the big boys in DRM land says it all. THERE IS NO DRM INDUSTRY. The consumer not only doesn't want it, but has no need for it. The industry, the hardware makers only offers it if it thinks the extra checkmark on the box is worth the effort and increasingly, they don't.

  • DRM makes stuff fragile, so the consumer will lose it more easily. This just makes it fragile in an open environment, which is not relevant once you lose the stuff you paid for.
  • and your customers won't realized they've been pwn3d until its too late, kind of like Sony making the now infamous root kit invisible by patching the OS?

    They want to go to a license model for media, but they also want to charge for new media types (VHS->DVD->BluRay->)
    I've bought Bladerunner now, oh, I don't know, 10 times, but if you believe the media folks I've never actually owned it, I've only had the right to view it......

    making it open source might insure that you have a chance of using it eve

  • Not "open source" (Score:4, Informative)

    by lucas_picador (862520) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:14PM (#25483207)

    The article linked here is the only place on the web that makes the peculiar, and false, claim that Marlin is "open source". Marlin's own creators make no such claim; they only claim that it operates on "open standards", which is quite a different can of worms.

    No story here, just one careless reporter and one careless ./ submitter.

  • by wolf12886 (1206182) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:50PM (#25486707)

    Make abuse of IP law invisible, and people will tolerate it.

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