Monday, June 28, 2010

Artificial Scarcity - DRM

Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems is a category of systems which seeks to impose restrictions on the use of digital content, often to enforce artificial scarcity. Thus the FSF calls it "Digital Restrictions Management". Some of the general problems with DRM are:

Dependence on servers

Many DRM systems depends on central servers, which can be a bottleneck, for example if it goes down, like what was about to happen to MSN Music and Yahoo Music servers back in 2008.

Central control

Many DRM systems allow central control of content, like what happened in mid-2009 when copies of Animal Farm and 1984 was taken away from Amazon Kindle customers this way.

Trusted client problem

Most DRM systems have the trusted client problem, which is fundamental as any digital bits are easily copiable and relies on the client to enforce the restrictions. The only way to solve the problem would be to use something like Trusted Computing.

Fair use rights

DRM is often used unintentionally or intentionally to take away fair use rights and sometimes sell them back, assisted by anti-circumvention provisions in laws like the DMCA that applies regardless of things like fair use rights.

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