DRM and Joe Sixpack

Add Your Comments

Joe Sixpack doesn’t object to DRM because he doesn’t understand what it is.

Well, he thinks he knows what it is.

Joe watches the news and some of his workmates have PCs, so he’s fully aware
that he can download music from the internet. He does so regularly to make
compilation CDs for his car.

He knows he can download movies too, but isn’t too sure that the hours and
hours of downloading is worth the effort – especially when he has to watch
them on his PC. He doesn’t know how to turn a divx into a DVD, but Larry from
work is coming over next weekend to show him.

Joe’s understands copyright well enough to know that copying CDs, Videos, DVDs
etc is all wrong.

He knows that downloading songs and videos from the internet is a no-no, but
everyone is doing it and nobody he knows has been arrested for it. It’s not
like he is taking a camcorder into a cinema or stealing CDs from a shop –
that’s a huge no-no and he’d never do that!

His friends and co-workers try and justify their downloading by saying that
it’s not theft, nobody has lost out, and it’s not like the music or DVD was
good to buy anyway, so the companies can’t claim they “lost a sale”.

Digital Rights Management is some new technology that will stop him
downloading music for free. While he’s not exactly happy again, he’ll just go
back to buying his music on CD and make mp3s for his car.

Joe will care a whole lot about DRM when he realises that he won’t be able to
make compilation CDs for his car when he buys his first digital rights
enforced CD.

Because Joe is a *fairly* switched on kinda guy, he’ll know that the reason he
can’t copy his CD is because of the whole DRM thing. He’s not really very
happy about that – if he’s bought the CD, he can’t see what’s wrong with making
a compilation album for his own use in his car.

Joe first encountered DRM when he got a free DVD player with his new TV. He
ordered some cheap DVDs from Amazon.com and when they were delivered, not a
single one worked. Joe’s other DVDs worked fine, so he emailed Amazon about
returning his faulty DVDs.

A reply from Amazon said that the DVDs he’d bought were Regiona1, and he was
living in a Region2 country, so obviously the DVDs would not play and as they
were not faulty, Amazon would not accept the DVDs back.

Obviously Joe was not happy about this, so he called up his friend Larry who
told him about a website with instructions on how to make his player
region-free.

Joe didn’t know that DVDs from America wouldn’t work in his UK DVD player; as
far as he was concerned a DVD is a DVD is a DVD. He naturally assumed that
because the DVDs didn’t work, they were broken. It never really occurred to him
that DVD regions are a form of DRM.

Because Joe now knows about the different DVD regions, and his player isn’t
tied to a particular region, he regularly orders his DVDs from Amazon.com,
and he’s pretty sure that somebody will come up with a way of letting him
make compilations from digital rights enforced CDs so he can play them in
his car.

It won’t occur to most people that their DVD, or CD, is Digital Rights
protected until they try and do something that they’re not allowed to do,
like make a compilation CD for their car.

Just because the general population isn’t talking about DRM doesn’t mean
they’re all happy about it. They don’t really understand what it is and what
the implications are.

Explaining to a non-technically minded relative on Christmas day why the DVD
their wife just brought back from her holiday/shopping trip in New York won’t
work on his DVD player quickly got him a little upset about DRM.

Mike O’Hara – UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discussion
  1. i know it doesnt work on my mac.

    Heres some food for thought, i know darn wel that M$ media player is programmed what to and what to not play. SOme of my older black sabbath CDs will NOT play after i upgrade to MP10, says ineed more DRM crap..and its the legit CDS!!! it seems to be the sony label too... (not that sabbath was on it)

    my mac didnt seem to care about it...neither did SuSE.
    i was under the impression that zoom player pro will play encrypted wmv files, and not neccessarily in windows xp - have you tried that? its not an illegal program...


    Does it work in Linux too?

    I'll try it.
    i was under the impression that zoom player pro will play encrypted wmv files, and not neccessarily in windows xp - have you tried that? its not an illegal program...
    Nope, I'd be violating federal law and be liable for a bunch of money.


    Thats because you dont have a very well funded/connected lobby group to protect your interests.

    You got screwed because someone else has a finger on the legislators.
    I'm worried about when they will leverage a network effect for drm media.

    When Windows will have drm built into it (Palladium/NGSCB) and all the common media like video and music hooks into that.

    So 1) you have to crack your own OS, which by itself is unpleasant. And it's not the same as cracking WinXP's product activation; it'd be more akin to being an unprivileged user on an NT box and running that "crack" that turns you into an admin. Those only exist in the form of exploits and Microsoft patches them. If Microsoft was smart, they'd autopatch those drm exploits in Longhorn over the Internet. If they had their way, you'd probably have to put a modchip into your own PC to accomplish this.

    And what's #2? I don't even intend to use Longhorn or Windows. So even if someone does get a crack that works for a short period of time before Microsoft autopatches it, I can't even enjoy my media without running Windows. As it is, I can buy DVDs and music cds and enjoy them on my Linux box. With the exception of Terminator 2's WMV. If I ran WinXP I'd still be offended at the prospect of installing another play for just one stupid movie.

    Really I guess the biggest thing that bothers me is that they are enforcing artificial requirements; nothing REALLY requires WinXP, but because of other stupid things they do it is required.

    I fear that if everyone rolls over, doesn't protest to pervasive drm and just waves their hand and says I don't care, it'll be cracked, we'll end up with a much less pleasant future. People should still fight this tooth and nail.

    One more thing:

    Nope, I'd be violating federal law and be liable for a bunch of money.
    what i really dont like..is getting a cd i just get from the store..and trying to convet it to mp3 onto my computer..when it brings up stuff about it not working.. so its a 5 min pain for me till i just get smart and open it up and decode the stuff. but from other people like joe sixpack people out there.. they dont know how to do this.. and alot of them dont even know much..they know downloading music and movies is bad..they would never steal from a store..but riping cds to your computer so u dont have 2000 cds in the door.. if i own it..its mine and i do what i wish with it.

    it also reminds me of m$ .. make a cd..or progarm.. and then the user has to spend 20 dollers more to buy another program so they can use the first program.. and the 2 program owners are the same person.. BS IMO
    You make good points , but as it seems we are both getting too close to a political discussion :argue: we had better call it quits. Although feel free to e-mail me :beer: if you like.
    By reeping the benefits of living within civilization and our society, there is no way to avoid compromise in order to accomplish the greatest good. It is part of our duty as citizens of the United States - we sacrifice some liberties, to enjoy others - safety, health, and peace of mind.

    There are places which do not have such laws, but there are also apparent trade offs to doing so - what sort of an injustice would it be if someone went to prison on a life sentence, because they killed your wife and your children because they were driving their car too fast, and didn't expect the car in front of them to change lanes? Is it not better to expect everyone to drive at a moderate pace, which has been studied and determined to reduce the risk for everyone, and minimize the chance of such injustices?

    I like your stance, because I also enjoy driving fast and think I am plenty able to maintain safety in operating my vehicle, however I do not see how the government could feasibly determine this. Your quote is also a good one - we should not allow temporary or inconsequential liberties to deny others of essential liberties. Tight enforcement of speed limits means that Joe Sixpack might get to work 5 minutes late, but he is less likely to remove any families from this world in doing so. Tight enforcement of Anti-Piracy rules may inconvenience someone every so often who is trying to enjoy their leisure time, however it helps to ensure that honest working people can earn a good wage and provide for their families.

    The protection of essential liberties are exactly what laws are about and what highest priority is placed on, and I believe that to be fairly apparent. Now I won't BS you and say there isn't a lot of money involved and there are a ton of extraneous factors which play into these things, but when this all boils down, what we're left with is the protection of essential liberties, and perhaps the compromise of some freedoms deemed to be slightly less important.
    You may need to consider this more deeply.

    Which law is in place that does not hamper the freedoms of law abiding citizens? I cannot think of one.

    Every law takes away some liberties in a way, to protect an entities rights in some way.

    Speed limits stop you from driving as fast as you like to, and why should you not be able to drive your $25,000 vehicle as fast as you like? Because this injunction against your personal liberty is necessary to ensure that you do not drive your vehicle into a slow moving station wagon and take out a whole family.

    In a similar way, DRM laws will inhibit the appropriate use by rightful owners of the data/software it protects, and it is not even a base intention of DRM to eliminate this. I'm certain DRM is intended to minimize it, but the implementers are fully aware that at the same time as they are making things more difficult for pirates, they are inconveniencing or possibly even completely cutting out portions of their market. Unfortunately, I think it is fairly clear in my research, that the tools are readily available to enable pirating of mainstream media, and even much that is obscure, with little or no effort and knowledge required.

    It simply makes me wonder when the decision makers will realize that their approach is wholly inadequate. The software protection they incorporate is useless, and more importantly, not free to develop. It is a shame that people who honor the laws, and respect fair use, are caught picking up part of the tab - they experience sanctions against their appropriate use still, but have no protection from others ripping and pirating at will.

    Anyways, my point was that with every law or form of protection, something is taken away from one entity, ideally, in order to provide a more positive factor for another entity.


    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety - Benjamin Franklin

    I will stand by my statement. I believe that DRM and the law you mentioned are bad laws. If I can drive my car safely at 120 mph then let me have it. Let me also know that if I can't there will be HARSH punishment. We seem to quick to lock the liquor cabinet up from the 100 people in the room because 1 person can't handle a drink. Why not just punish the people that can't handle it ?
    The scenario that XWRed1 is talking about is typical bass-ackwards law-making. IMHO sharing copyrighted material on the internet is wrong, there is no question about that. But a law should not inconvenience a law-abiding citizen it should only punish a criminal or it is a bad law.


    You may need to consider this more deeply.

    Which law is in place that does not hamper the freedoms of law abiding citizens? I cannot think of one.

    Every law takes away some liberties in a way, to protect an entities rights in some way.

    Speed limits stop you from driving as fast as you like to, and why should you not be able to drive your $25,000 vehicle as fast as you like? Because this injunction against your personal liberty is necessary to ensure that you do not drive your vehicle into a slow moving station wagon and take out a whole family.

    In a similar way, DRM laws will inhibit the appropriate use by rightful owners of the data/software it protects, and it is not even a base intention of DRM to eliminate this. I'm certain DRM is intended to minimize it, but the implementers are fully aware that at the same time as they are making things more difficult for pirates, they are inconveniencing or possibly even completely cutting out portions of their market. Unfortunately, I think it is fairly clear in my research, that the tools are readily available to enable pirating of mainstream media, and even much that is obscure, with little or no effort and knowledge required.

    It simply makes me wonder when the decision makers will realize that their approach is wholly inadequate. The software protection they incorporate is useless, and more importantly, not free to develop. It is a shame that people who honor the laws, and respect fair use, are caught picking up part of the tab - they experience sanctions against their appropriate use still, but have no protection from others ripping and pirating at will.

    Anyways, my point was that with every law or form of protection, something is taken away from one entity, ideally, in order to provide a more positive factor for another entity.


    I don't think anyone has cracked this. The proprietary player fetches licenses from the internet, and of course it has to know how to decrypt the movie (which is likely nontrivial).



    And what if you don't have an internet connection ?

    What if the first time I decide to watch this video is on my laptop at the hunting cabin with no pnone lines ?

    Again I would be doing nothing wrong and be getting punished because other people broke the law.
    The scenario that XWRed1 is talking about is typical bass-ackwards law-making. IMHO sharing copyrighted material on the internet is wrong, there is no question about that. But a law should not inconvenience a law-abiding citizen it should only punish a criminal or it is a bad law.
    Not all drm will be cracked. Alot will remain uncracked due to apathy.

    For example, I bought a Terminator 2 Extreme Edition DVD solely for the purpose of watching the hi-definition wmv on the 2nd disc. I already owned the movie on DVD. This cost me over $20.

    When I finally get a dvd rom for my computer, I find I can't watch it without installing their proprietary player which only works on Windows XP. If I feed the wmv to another program, it says it is encrypted.

    I don't think anyone has cracked this. The proprietary player fetches licenses from the internet, and of course it has to know how to decrypt the movie (which is likely nontrivial).

    I'd ask you rhetorically to link me to something that'll let me watch the movie I paid $20 for as a good consumer, but I don't think it exists and it'd be a dmca violation if you did.


    I understand your disdain, but that WMV has to be encrypted. If it wasn't then it would have found it's way to P2P networks like Kazaa - and the studio would have done all the legwork for this to happen. Some happy pirate would only have needed to copy the WMV from the disc to their shared folder. That's way too easy.

    However I do think you have a valid complaint to pursue - specifically that the studio's custom WMV player is only available for windows XP. That's poor judgement on their part to assume everyone who buys the DVD and wants to enjoy the WMV has XP. In your case you made the purchase solely for this feature so I can really sympathize. My advice is fire off an email saying you want a player for your specific OS or a refund.

    Now on to the larger point - that not all drm will be cracked. Of course there will be some obscure and out of the mainstream drm solutions that nobody will bother to crack. This is the type you used in the example. However, anything mainstream can and will be hacked. There has yet to be a widely distributed drm implementation that hasn't been defeated.

    Macrovision, satellite tv subscriptions, cable tv encryption, DVD region codes, DVD copy protection (CSS I think it's called) and so on and so on. All have fallen by the wayside. In the gaming world there are devices for the PS1 and PS2 which defeat copy protection, and in the PC world after every generation of SafeDisk is released an updated burning program comes out with a way around it.

    The problem content creators face is cost. While they have a strong desire to protect their work, they also realize that consumers will only pay so much for it. If every DVD cost about $90 for example because the protection was top notch do you think Hollywood would sell many? I think not. At $9 it's a whole nother story.

    In order for a drm solution to be basically hacker proof it would have to be very, very complex and the way to accomplish that is to make the required expenditure to crack it beyond the means of hackers. However, it would logically follow that such a drm solution would have a high fixed cost associated with it which would be reflected in a 'player' with a grossly bloated price and increased prices for the content as well.

    The bottom line is that content providers have to settle for some drm system that does the best possible job at a relatively low cost.... which leaves it prone to the will of hackers.
    I'd ask you rhetorically to link me to something that'll let me watch the movie I paid $20 for as a good consumer, but I don't think it exists and it'd be a dmca violation if you did.


    It would be "fair use" if you did.
    @ XWRED1

    If the sale conditions (of the dvd producer) state that it will only be able to play their dvd on their software, and if that information is freely available to anyone who is going to buy it, then it is legit. As a customer you then agree with it, so there is no legal right to complain.


    It isnt legal right hes on about - he is simply saying why should DRM mean I cant use the product in a way that would like to as a normal law abiding consumer. ie: why should decrypting that WMV be illegal if all he wishes to do is watch it as someone else would (on Windows XP).
    @ XWRED1

    If the sale conditions (of the dvd producer) state that it will only be able to play their dvd on their software, and if that information is freely available to anyone who is going to buy it, then it is legit. As a customer you then agree with it, so there is no legal right to complain.
    Not all drm will be cracked. Alot will remain uncracked due to apathy.

    For example, I bought a Terminator 2 Extreme Edition DVD solely for the purpose of watching the hi-definition wmv on the 2nd disc. I already owned the movie on DVD. This cost me over $20.

    When I finally get a dvd rom for my computer, I find I can't watch it without installing their proprietary player which only works on Windows XP. If I feed the wmv to another program, it says it is encrypted.

    I don't think anyone has cracked this. The proprietary player fetches licenses from the internet, and of course it has to know how to decrypt the movie (which is likely nontrivial).

    I'd ask you rhetorically to link me to something that'll let me watch the movie I paid $20 for as a good consumer, but I don't think it exists and it'd be a dmca violation if you did.
    yes agreed it was funny but i dont think that anyone with 5 minutes on their hands and google will be stopped from making copies of digital media because there will always be people that will know how to make the dvd players region free (like in the article) or someone that will make a proggy to crack the cds and such...

    just my .02