DRM *really* doesn’t work

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Well, that didn’t take long. Ars Technica is reporting that further vulnerabilities in the HD DVD content protection system have been uncovered. As I noted previously, any DRM system that depends on offline key distribution will be cracked. This latest vulnerability is one step closer to the complete dismantling of the HD DVD protection system.

How long before these guys ask the question: “what do our customers want”? From experience, 5-7 years.

16 Responses to “DRM *really* doesn’t work”

  1. J Says:

    And just think, it only took three years since DVDs were finalized for DeCSS to sprout. Before that, they were relying on Xing’s key until they broke (admittedly weak) 40-bit encryption.

    What a well-bought law that DMCA was, eh? It got them a few more years for probably only a billion dollars in corporate donations (from opensecrets.org) and scammed lots of LICENSING money from the studios and consumers who had to pay for it to Macrovision and the DVD Consortium.

  2. Roy Schestowitz Says:

    Hey Mark, don’t forget to phone us. The number is:


    Dial 9 first for an outside line. 😉

    PS – please don’t delete this comment. Fight /with/ us.

  3. Vincent Says:

    Well, duh, as if consumers come first, everyone know profit is most important 😉

    Let’s just hope that Dell’s action will show that listening to consumers makes most profit, i.e. the Dell PC’s that come with Ubuntu really need to be bought. Then hopefully the period of 5-7 years can be reduced by quite a few years.

  4. Karl Lattimer Says:

    Having a stance directly opposed to DRM does hurt Linux adoption. How? well VoD broadcasters and alike will simply scoff at linux as the media companies want DRM, by doing this the Linux user is excluded, therefore fewer people adopt linux because the lack of drm restricts them from merely watching/listening. Of course their model is flawed, hurts artists (mix tapes lead to buying albums), and restricts the user. This is one where the lack of freedom, vs. the lack of a lack of freedom becomes a rock and a hard place.

    Something better is needed, I suppose what I’m saying is that we should have a concerted combined effort in the open source community to provide a sensible ‘freedom’ oriented DRM. Which will increase the money the distributors make rather than no-drm which will (allegedly) diminish it. This was the idea behind fairplay, in so far that you can burn your tracks upto 5 times.

    Surely there is a better way, providing an open source, cross platform, universally acceptable fair usage policy for users and record labels et al, maybe a method which isn’t so easy to crack as giving the keys to the user. The people who make money out of media need to be able to sustain their business which means preventing piracy, if they could stop i dunno… the israeli mass production of pirate CD’s and DVD’s (the largest source of copied media) rather than hitting the end user with higher prices and encrypted media then it’d cost less in DRM development 😉

    There are 3 clear markets where DRM is an issue;
    * Distributed media, CD’s DVD’s HD etc… Not particularly a problem, the media has already been purchased, DRM should be abolished here
    * Online distribution, iTunes etc… There is a fairer case for DRM here to curtail massive (not casual) p-t-p stuff, however, it doesn’t need to be so rigid or closed
    * On Demand Distribution/Rental, this is just an emerging market, I download a video from 4oD and it expires after a few days. It is still possible to encompass this within an open solution.

    Isn’t sun working on something like this, the DReaM project springs to mind…

  5. MKR Says:

    I don’t know, the folks at the RIAA and MPAA have proven to be particularly hardheaded over the decades.

  6. Crosbie Fitch Says:

    I think you’ll find DRM stands for “Doesn’t Really Matter”.

    What matters are abominable laws such as the DMCA, which stands for “Respect the copyright holder’s TPMs or we’ll have to say Don’t Make Copies Again!”

    It’s strange how people have failed to notice copyright slip from a restriction on a few publishers, to a restriction on the public.

    Is it really surprising that a few publishers are having difficulty controlling the public?

    It is supposed to be the other way around.

    The public sets the law and elects a government to police it and ensure that a few corporations behave themselves.

  7. Ploum Says:

    DRM could works. Just apply the DRM equation to your specific case to see if it will be your case :

  8. McKinney Says:

    in germany the first music label (EMI) has resigned from DRM-protected music. they want to offer mp3 and even ogg-files for download without any restrictions. the will offer this first on itunes, but in future there will be more online stores who offer this. a disadvantage is that the songs will be a little more expensive. BUT they announced also that the mp3-files without DRM will be in a much better quality.

  9. Douglas Says:

    One would have thought that they would have learnt their lesson on the DVD CSS back in 1999 (yes that is 8 years ago now). On the face of it if they could get a system to work that was infallible they’d be fine and Apple while they are currently pushing a non-DRM future have some how successfully maintained a DRM system (albeit with cracks here and there over the years) since 2001. They were able to control this some what by making iTunes the only gateway to the iPod. I’m sure the MPAA would love to have an environment as restrictive as the one Apple has. The past few months have shown that the take up of the technology hasn’t been as massive as they would have liked and that is with third party software players, which is the critical hole that broke CSS and as it turned out ACSS. While it hasn’t happened yet I’d be very interested to see what the music/iTunes experiences is one year after they have started releasing DRM free content. Maybe it will finally be a business model that other people in the industry can point to and say that it works with out DRM.


  10. Kevin Mark Says:

    HD DVD protection system or any DRM would not exists without the DMCA, which is the root of all evil. When the DMCA is replaced by reason, then things will change and not before.

  11. Down the Rabbithole » Blog Archive » My contribution to the joy of the DMCA Says:

    […] For those who aren’t aware of the DMCA, the American legislation which makes a huge range of information illegal (including, but not limited to, the Hex Key which happens to unlock HD-DVD content) … go forth and read about it. Mark takes a fairly clear line on DRM and its ilk, which I tend to agree with. […]

  12. node-0 » Blog Archiv » Weitere Schwächen im DRM von HD-DVD Says:

    […] Neueste Informationen zu den jetzt gefundenen Schwächen gibt es im Blog von Mark Shuttleworth, dem Gründervater der Linux-Distribution »Ubuntu«, bei Ars Technica und sicherlich auch schon bald bei heise.de und golem. […]

  13. Tomer Chachamu Says:

    “DRM could works. Just apply the DRM equation to your specific case to see if it will be your case”

    Well, DRM could work for the business, but at the expense of fairness to the customer.

  14. Tony Agudo Says:

    @Roy Schestowitz:

    PS – please don’t delete this comment. Fight /with/ us.”

    I don’t think he’ll delete it. It’s already plastered everywhere on the Internet now(thanks Digg), and he linked to the hack that CAN’T be revoked. It’s DeCSS all over again, and I’d love to see the AACSLA capitulate, with a libaacs library for Linux as the end result. It’s one thing to simply encrypt media, but it’s outright stupid to make the DRM artificially cheapen the HD experience unless the consumer buys expensive new equipment, all in the name of “copy protection”.

  15. Nongeek Perspective Says:

    Fight For Freedom…

    Digg revolt changed the Internet or even the world? it’s hard to answer that question right now, but I think the answer is yes, partially. The revolt is about playing what you legally bought when, how and where you want. Here are some actions we can ….

  16. Latin Tech Talk » Says:

    […] Protección del HD-DVD ya fué crackiado – (Omar) […]