Intel’s DRM tech could screw over device makers as well as customers.

It’s not enough that the folks coming up with the various Digital Rights Management schemes are dead set on making sure content owners have the final say on what you can do with that shiny new CD/DVD you just bought, but it seems they’re perfectly prepared to screw over device makers as well. Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing has an entry up about Intel’s DRM implementation and what perils it has for device makers who decide license it:

If you cripple your products by adding Intel’s DTCP-IP DRM to it, you could be liable for more than eight million dollars in fines if your implementation gets cracked. In this Intel Developer Forum presentation, Intel’s Brett Branch explains everything you need to know about implementing Intel’s DTCP-IP (including a complicated philosophical argument about why this isn’t really DRM, even though it satisfies the primary definition of DRM: technology designed to give control of a device to someone other than its owner).

It’s pretty creepy: you have to allow for “system renewability messages” that can revoke features and even disable the DTCP-IP when they’re submitted. Ever wonder why enemy space-stations always seem to have a big red “press this to make the whole space-station explode” button in science fiction movies? I mean, wouldn’t it be smarter to just not build “self-destruct” into your space-station? Well, that’s what DTCP-IP demands of its implementers.

Scariest of all, though, is slide 25, shown here, which explains what happens if your DTCP-IP implementation results in a breach: $8m in fines, more fines from copyright holders, and revocation of your devices in the field (meaning potential lawsuits from your customers).

Why the fuck would anyone with half a brain want to add this crap to their new electronic gizmo and run the risk of being gang raped with lawsuits once someone figures out a way to crack the DRM? Someone WILL figure out how to crack the DRM and if you’re unlucky enough to be making the device they crack it on you had better get the anal lube out and start gritting your teeth. Intel apparently thinks idiots are plentiful in technology companies because they didn’t have any reservations in showing these guys the terms of the deal in big bold print.

24 thoughts on “Intel’s DRM tech could screw over device makers as well as customers.

  1. Have you looked at the articles at a site – supposedly – dedicated to gaming and computer enthusiasts (I won’t advertise for them here, they may not be deserving after you analyze their content – too “Pro-HDCP” if you ask me) lately? They are demanding these “technologies” of companies like it is something that all consumers want and railing against the companies because the companies aren’t providing it (yet). Now truthfully some of the opinions expressed seem more addressed to the truth of whether or not these features are already 100% in shipped products, and they may be right to take manufacturers to task for saying that their products are completely ready when they may not be, but for those that suggest that buyers (blanket statement, clearly visible) wait and only buy a HDCP compliant monitor would certainly seem to place the posers as nothing but shills for the content industry and Microsoft. DRM has been described by a number of people in the online media as “a necessary evil” and if you believe that any “evil” is ever necessary, and are willing to take upon yourself all of that “evil” but permit others to live without it, fine, but that certainly doesn’t appear to be the case this time.

  2. Not sure which site in particular you’re referring to, but I have seen the uproar over the video card makers advertising their cards as HDCP compliant when that wasn’t quite true. I’ve written about that problem before.

    Alas HDCP is coming whether we want it or not and there are actually folks out there willing to go that route if they have to. Personally I’m not that dead set on going high definition anything that I’ll rush out and buy the first products to hit the shelves, especially if it’s got DRM in it, and I’m hoping enough other people are of like-mind to get the technology companies to drop it by the time I can afford to move up to HD.

    For now, plain old DVD quality is just fine for me.

  3. Would be some small comfort if companies could be constrained to label products (sort of like the ingredients label on a food product here in the US) so that consumers truly could make an informed choice about any purchases (remember that the players keep changing names for the tech to hide possible undesirable consequences to the consumer until the product is an established “given” in the market). And hopefully we all could survive the coming period until some sanity returns in the tech companies’ boardrooms. Knowing what product to not purchase can get pretty dicey without adequate information being made available, and it may take 10+ years till this blows over so hopefully all of our non-DRM hobbled PCs will last that long. What this could do to the US economy isn’t so good. Can we as a country handle a protracted period of consumer dissent to an industry-sponsored media-content-inspired reign of hell?

  4. I think that someone else (http://www.boingboing.net/2006/03/07/add_intel_drm_to_you.html check the update near the bottom of the page) had a valid point about the legal wording of Intel’s license which could in its own way be infinitely more worrisome for consumers. It seems that Intel is making it “more palatable” for the industry to succumb to the DRM (and don’t forget XD-bit – or whatever – viruses and spyware are not as prevalent on PCs as industry people would like you to believe, only incorrectly managed PCs) forces.

  5. Why the fuck would anyone with half a brain want to add this crap to their new electronic gizmo and run the risk of being gang raped with lawsuits once someone figures out a way to crack the DRM?

    Because their customers are demanding it.  That’s a pretty good reason.

    Seriously, consumers are not stupid.  They know that a lot of content will be blacked out to them without DRM-compliant hardware.  Speaking for myself, my next monitor and video card (or my next laptop) will be fully DRM enabled.

    I don’t even own any highdef DVD’s (does anyone?).  For that matter, I don’t own any DRM-protected content at all.. But I like to keep my options open.  As someone who only buys a new computer every 3-6 years, it’s in my best interests to purchase hardware which is “DRM-ready”, in case I need that capability in the future.  I can’t just buy a new system in a year or two if I need DRM capabilities.

    Someone WILL figure out how to crack the DRM and if you’re unlucky enough to be making the device they crack

    It’s possible.  A lot of the slashdot types take it as a matter of religious dogma that Intel’s DRM will be cracked.  I wouldn’t be so sure.

    Previous content protection like the CSS on DVDs used ad-hoc encryption algorithms and tiny key sizes, and only protected digital content for a small portion of its life-cycle.  Any scheme which allows software players on untrusted computers is bound to fail in the long run.

    DRM is a different beast.  The encryption algorithms they use are AES and RSA public key.  Hackers have been working to crack those for ten and twenty years, respectively.  No luck so far.  All the DRM hardware uses paired, negated logic gates—one “off” and one “on”.  So forget about discerning any hidden data by analyzing electrical current draw.  Ditto for timing operations such as long multiplications: All their multiplier and accumulator units take the exact same time to complete, regardless of input values.

    Those were all clever attacks versus strong encryption which popped up over the past years, but the people hired to design DRM are not stupid.

    But far be it from me to discourage.  Perhaps some new and unanticipated attack vector against encryption hardware will appear.  It’s happened before.

    However, what’s far more likely is that a company building a DRM-compliant piece of hardware will do something incredibly stupid.  That’s why the standard provides for the disabling of individual device keys.  But the best way to make sure companies like Dell and Samsung and nVidia take their responsibilities seriously is to have them put some cash on the line.  If your company is on the hook 8 million bucks every time your engineers do something sloppy, you have a lot of incentive to double- and triple-check things.

  6. Daryl writes…

    Because their customers are demanding it.  That’s a pretty good reason.

    You’re the only person I know that’s demanding it. I know some folks who are going along with it because there’s no alternative, but I don’t know anyone else who’s demanding it outside of Hollywood.

    It’s possible.  A lot of the slashdot types take it as a matter of religious dogma that Intel’s DRM will be cracked.  I wouldn’t be so sure.

    It’s not only possible, but likely. Nothing put forth so far has stayed secure. I’ve already linked in another entry to a paper that discusses Intel’s HDCP DRM and it’s weaknesses and at least one cryptographer has claimed to have already broken HDCP, though he won’t publish his results because of the DMCA:

      Niels Ferguson announced last weekend that he has successfully defeated the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) specification, an encryption and authentication system for the DVI interface used to connect digital cameras, high-definition televisions, cable boxes and video disks players.

      “An experienced IT person could recover the master key in two weeks given four standard PCs and fifty HDCP displays,” said Ferguson. “The master key allows you to recover every other key in the system and lets you decrypt [HDCP video content], impersonate a device, or create new displays and start selling HDCP compatible devices.”

    If HDCP has already fallen then there’s good reason to presume DTCP will be next if it hasn’t been broken already.

  7. If HDCP has already fallen then there’s good reason to presume DTCP will be next if it hasn’t been broken already.

    Never mistake the strength of a crypto-algorithm with the strength of the crypto system that implements it wink

  8. Point of distinction: I think what was being proposed (although badly stated) was that consumers are demanding high def content for their PCs (stupid HTPC dreams, but that’s just a personal opinion from a long time computer/electronics enthusiast), which somehow gets translated as demanding HDCP or DRM. There are probably plenty of customers demanding that they be able to buy one device (a HTPC) and have everything all-in-one, to which the media-content providers may respectfully decline if the industry doesn’t give them what they want. But I don’t know of any informed customers demanding just HDCP in and of itself, important distinction that those people demanding it (outside of Hollywood) are people who are demanding the capability to own all-in-one devices (computer plus media – improperly conceived and executed merger) that would be compatible with the latest and greatest new media.

  9. Les: You’re the only person I know that’s demanding it. I know some folks who are going along with it because there’s no alternative, but I don’t know anyone else who’s demanding it outside of Hollywood.

    Most of the people like me who are “going along with it” are also demanding it.  Witness the uproar on slashdot and FiringSquad when it was revealed that ATi and nVidia boards advertised as HDCP ready actually aren’t.

    People like me will demand DRM, because they want to keep their options open.  Having DRM-capable hardware doesn’t actually force me to buy DRM-protected content—now, or at any time in the future.  However if my hardware is not DRM capable, I definitely won’t be able to view DRM content.  That’s why any new computer gear I buy will have DRM as an absolute requirement.  I don’t have the money to just replace gear if my needs change.

    In any case, DRM isn’t just for Hollywood.  Hollywood is DRM’s biggest booster, but there are a lot of useful things you can do with DRM hardware:

    · Multiplayer games could establish a secure, encrypted channel to a trusted game client.  If you aren’t running a QUAKE_5.EXE file signed by id Software (or WOW.EXE signed by Blizzard), on a DRM-enabled video card, game servers could simply refuse connection.  “Sorry, we’re not interested in playing with you.”  Bots, hacks, and 3D-driver cheats become a thing of the past.

    · Store your sensitive files online, and access them from any public computer, anywhere.  Without your personal id token, it’s just an encrypted mess.  Trusted Computing lets you restrict your TurboTax file to only opening in TurboTax—not a modified TurboTax looking to steal your data.

    · Most high-end, expensive software will eventually go DRM-only, I expect.  Mathematica, Photoshop, AutoCAD—right now the ugly hacks they use to prevent piracy are rickety and unreliable.  As someone who actually buys my software legally, I welcome the lower prices which will inevitably follow.

    · Look for a lot of software to go subscription-based: Daryl pays $X per month for the right to use Visual Studio.  Microsoft doesn’t care how many computers it gets installed on—whichever computer has my hardware token plugged in can run it.  If I stop paying, Visual Studio stops working.  Lots of people would prefer a flat monthly fee, instead of forking over $2,500 up front.

    · Back to Hollywood for a moment: ripping CD’s and DVD’s is so last decade.  With a robust DRM infrastructure, movies and music could be distributed in digital form over the internet.  Nothing remotely like that will happen until there are believable guarantees to copyright owners.

    Les: Nothing put forth so far has stayed secure.. ..a paper that discusses Intel’s HDCP DRM and it’s weaknesses and at least one cryptographer has claimed to have already broken HDCP..

    HDCP suffers from the same flawed design process which doomed CSS, and countless other pretenders to the throne.  It was designed in secret, with no real peer review.  Not surprisingly, once released to the public, weaknesses started to appear.  The only organization capable of designing a truly secure encryption system entirely in-house is the NSA.

    Trusted Computing has taken a much smarter approach: 1) They’ve been very public about how everything works, inviting people to find flaws and correct them.  Secrecy is in the private keys, not the algorithms. 2) They’ve started from standard encryption algorithms like AES and RSA, instead of inventing their own flawed systems.  AES and RSA have been scrutinized by the best cryptographers in the world for many, many years and have stood the test of time.  The sort of stupid errors you saw in HDCP (the key exchange algorithm was deeply flawed) isn’t going to appear tomorrow; people have been looking for many years and not found it.

    In other words, Intel seems to have finally realized that “security through obscurity” doesn’t work in a product you’re hoping to sell to several billion people (duh).

  10. Les: I’m surprised, Daryl. You’ve swallowed the whole Trusted Computing Kool-aid

    You be the judge, Les.

    Suppose I could buy a car for $15,000 which met all my needs, and ran on gasoline.  Or for $15,200, I could buy the same car but it ran equally well on either gas or diesel.  Which should I buy?

    Now suppose that I wasn’t sure whether gasoline would be available in my area two or three years in the future.  Maybe it would, and maybe it wouldn’t.  Maybe it would, but it would cost a lot more than diesel.  Or maybe diesel would never really get off the ground, and everyone would keep using gasoline.

    By purchasing the car which runs on either gas or deisel, I keep my options open.  If I never end up putting diesel in the car, I’m only out $200.  But if I buy the gas-only car and then need to use diesel, I have to buy a whole new car!  That doesn’t seem very smart.

    The exact same thought process applies to computer hardware running DRM.  Buying the hardware does not actually force me to buy DRM-protected Blu-ray’s, software, or mp3’s.  What it does is keep my options open.  I could own my DRM-capable computer for 5 or 6 years, and never end up buying any DRM’ed content.  No great loss.

    Les: You’re right, it doesn’t force you to buy DRM products. Of course that assumes you have alternatives available.

    Here you are actually making my argument for me.  The possibility that there might not be any alternatives available in a few years is a great reason to buy a DRM-capable computer today.  If there aren’t alternatives available, I’ll be very happy that I kept my options open.

    If there are both DRM and non-DRM alternatives, I’ll make my content-purchasing decisions based on price, how restrictive any DRM limitations are, and so forth.

    If DRM never really takes off, I haven’t really lost anything.  The price difference on computer hardware will be tiny, or in some cases zero (Intel CPU’s will have DRM capabilities regardless).  In any case, I’m willing to pay a small premium on computer parts to protect myself from having to repurchase them if I ever decide that DRM offers me something I want.

    Les: Yep, that is one positive to DRM. Unless, of course, the DRM ends up being broken and then you’re right back where you started.
    Les: Again, good use of DRM. Again, assuming no one breaks it. If they do, you’re fucked.

    If DRM gets cracked, I haven’t actually “lost” anything.  I stop depending on it for security, I put up with people using hacked game clients, and I use computers exactly the same way I would have if DRM never existed.

    Les:Of course, they’ll want to charge you $1.99 every time you want to PLAY that content

    Want to charge me?  I suspect they will want to charge me $1,000,000 every time I play the content.  Getting me to pay is another matter.

    Seriously, many of the people arguing against DRM technology buy into the economically naïve idea that sellers set their own prices.  They don’t.  Sellers can only charge what they can talk people into paying.

    This “pay every time you use it” model has never actually worked in the mass-market.  For whatever reason, people don’t seem to like it.  Don’t take my word for it: the most recent format to try was DIVX, and that died in less than a year.

    Think about this logically, Les.  If someone came out with an iPod/iTunes clone where you had to pay $1.99 every time you wanted to play a song, who would buy it?  No one, of course.  That’s common sense.

    For a sceme like that to have any hope of making it in the marketplace, it would have to be much, much cheaper than buying a song with unlimited plays.  Who knows—at 1¢ per play, people might actually like it.  Or maybe not; let the market decide.

    The point is that a seller can’t simply “declare” that people will now pay $1.99 per play for their songs.  Free markets work because both buyer and seller have to agree, or no money changes hands.

    Les: Microsoft has considered making it so that not only does Visual Studio stop working, but the files can’t be read by any of their competitors.

    I imagine they would consider that.  I don’t think they’d actually do it, because very few people would buy it.  Again you make the assumption that, having bought DRM-capable hardware, I am somehow forced to buy software with all sorts of onerous licensing restrictions.  That’s not true.

    If I don’t think I’m getting value for my money, I’ll simply keep it in my wallet.

    Les: I remember being told that was one of the advantages to switching to CDs. Sure it was more expensive to start, but they promised they’d lower the prices in time as more people adopted it.

    I don’t remember anyone ever promising me that.  In any case, WalMart sells most CDs for $9.99 to $12.99.  In 1980 dollars, that’s $3.93 and $5.11, respectively (inflation calculator).  Not bad.

  11. I know I’m liable to draw heat for expressing what may appear to be a naive position, but…if loads of people had “opposed” DIVX earlier (signifying their dislike to the companies considering it), couldn’t everyone have essentially saved time and money in the long run? No one would have then needed to resort to your colorful “buy it just in case you might need it later option.” Could you see before hand what was “going to happen” with DIVX? Could anyone else? This is slightly akin to what I believe is being suggested with regard to DRM and Treacherous Computing, that before we travel that road we look ahead and if doesn’t look worthwhile (despite scenarios which are limited in analysis to “it could save me money”) large enough groups of consumers should put their collective heels in “park” and refuse to budge.

  12. Daryl writes…

    You be the judge, Les.

    Suppose I could buy a car for $15,000 which met all my needs, and ran on gasoline.  Or for $15,200, I could buy the same car but it ran equally well on either gas or diesel.  Which should I buy?

    This is a flawed analogy. A better one would be:

    Suppose you could buy a car for $15,000 which met all your needs, and ran on gasoline. Or for $15,200, you could buy the same car but it ran equally well on gas or hydrogen fuel cells, but there was the potential that the folks putting out the hydrogen fuel cells may not allow you to use them in your particular brand of car or may charge you extra every time you start your car or may limit how long you can drive your car or if you can even start it in the first place. And the folks producing the fuel cells are also seeking to put similar restrictions on the distribution of gas in the future so you don’t really have an option after all. Which should you buy?

    I suppose you’d go ahead and buy the fuel cell car rather than be upset that someone is trying to remove your ability to control what you do with your vehicle on the blind faith that they won’t try to screw you over in the process.

    Here you are actually making my argument for me.  The possibility that there might not be any alternatives available in a few years is a great reason to buy a DRM-capable computer today.  If there aren’t alternatives available, I’ll be very happy that I kept my options open.

    If there are both DRM and non-DRM alternatives, I’ll make my content-purchasing decisions based on price, how restrictive any DRM limitations are, and so forth.

    If DRM never really takes off, I haven’t really lost anything.  The price difference on computer hardware will be tiny, or in some cases zero (Intel CPU’s will have DRM capabilities regardless).  In any case, I’m willing to pay a small premium on computer parts to protect myself from having to repurchase them if I ever decide that DRM offers me something I want.

    Or you could just vote with your wallet and not buy anything that could potentially take your options away from you at a later date. Any options you think it grants you are totally revocable at the whim of the people giving them to you.

    If DRM gets cracked, I haven’t actually “lost

  13. I’m reasonably certain Darryl’s quoted price for Walmart applies to a non-first run CD, out long after the first commercial realization. That or it wasn’t an offering liable to interest very many consumers and thus priced far below the norm.

  14. And the folks producing the fuel cells are also seeking to put similar restrictions on the distribution of gas in the future so you don’t really have an option after all.

    This is where you example breaks down.  How, exactly, does purchasing a DRM-capable computer limit my ability to run the same non-DRM software I already run?

    All of your “arugments” boil down to the same, flawed idea: DRM will play nice for a while, lock up the market, then BINGO BANGO jack up the prices.

    It’s a nice illusion, but it doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked, and it won’t work.  End of story.  Believe it or not, people have been trotting out this idea since the 1800’s.

    Back then it was textile imports: Industrialized nations were dumping textiles on the cheap to eliminate domestic competition, then they were going to charge through the nose!  It never happened.  Textiles stayed cheap.

    In the 1920’s, it was Standard Oil: they were going to lock up the whole world’s supply of kerosene, and then jack up the price.  What happened in reality?  Kerosene prices had fallen over 90% as Standard Oil ushered in economies of scale.  After the Sherman Anti-Trust act was used to “protect” consumers from Standard Oil by breaking it apart, kerosene prices tripled in less than 10 years.  Oops!

    In the 1980’s, it was Japanese steel makers who were “dumping” steel to drive our domestic producers out of business.  Once US Steel went bankrupt, the argument went, the Japanese would jack up the price of steel, and we would be forced to pay through the nose.  Again, it never happened.  Twenty years later, Japanese steel makers are barely alive: Korea and Thailand are eating away at their business from below.

    Same thing when Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas.  They were trying to corner the market!  Amusingly, this was almost immediately followed by calls to put tariffs on Airbus: they were using their government subsidies to drive Boeing out of business!  Airbus would charge through the nose once they had the market locked up.  Instead, Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer are making money hand-over-fist with 80-120 person mini-jets, while both Boeing and Airbus struggle to figure out a way to get in on the action.

    Et cetera, et cetera.  This myth about the big, bad company coming to eliminate consumer choice and then jack up prices is just that: a myth.

    In reality, companies drive their competitors out of business by lowering their prices, and providing better value to their customers.

    Kysstfafm: I’m reasonably certain Darryl’s quoted price for Walmart applies to a non-first run CD, out long after the first commercial realization.

    Why can’t anyone except Les spell my name??

    Debut albums of most recent 2 Americal Idol winners: $12.88 each.  Most recent U2 CD: $9.72.

  15. I am sorry about misspelling someone’s actual name, that was totally unintentional.

    Daryl, do you know much about the internal workings of computers? So far you are seeming to argue based on economic history and models that take the “real” world perfectly into account, but unfortunately the computerization of things makes some economic scenarios that were unworkable in the “real” world and turns them on their head. To respond to Les, if you care to, and if you haven’t already, check out the details of the “Trusted Computing Platform,” to which we have been referring in our discussion and some things might become a little clearer. All of it, both good, bad and purely speculation, are hypothetically possible within the computerized world. But computers needn’t become embassies for corporations where users are less and less the “king” of the castle, as the trend towards Treacherous Computing seems to lead. None of the “features” that the pro TCP group are suggesting are in reality required for the majority of computer users. While many of the negatives pointed out by sensible and seasoned individuals who have known computers thoroughly for a considerable stretch of time would be heinous even for people who don’t realize that they could be so affected. The lack of information here is what many of the anti-TCP group lament, that and the devil-may-care attitudes of unruly individuals who just want their easy (seductive) tech pop delivered in the latest high-def without having to think about all of those issues that go into informed choice. For your analogy about an automobile, it might be more useful to consider that the automobile with the new feature that – while the model costs a little more and could potentially save you alot over time – if you bought it would also track your speed and movements and report back on you to someone else does not bother some people (both ones that do and do not do anything “bad”) while it does bother others (again both ones that do and do not do anything “bad”). Deeding over that much of what heretofore has been your sole territory – the equipment you bought – to an external entity is bad enough when it can only monitor, but when it can enforce and aggressively hinder your use based on someone else’s interpretations of your rights is another thing entirely.

  16. Maybe I’m a bit simple-minded, but I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. DRM does nothing for the consumer, except as an enabling technology to legally partake of products and services that are offered under coercive terms only. Specifically, under terms that make it impossible to legally exercise the right to fair use. If consumers agree to have their arms twisted and delay a backlash until it really hurts – instead of taking offense at somebody taking hold of their arm in the first place – then they don’t deserve better.

    The obvious problem is that as DRM technology becomes pervasive and invasive, choice is likely to be removed whether you purchase DRM offerings or not.

    Trusted Computing is a case in point. The first question upon hearing that term should be: Trusted by whom? If it is marketed as a secure computing platform, doesn’t it strike anybody as odd that the very folks that created the security cesspool in the first place try to sell you a solution that reduces the utility of computing products? Adding insult to injury, isn’t it? A more likely explanation is that the vendors of DRMed products want to trust future computing platforms to be unable to circumvent their DRM technology. I’m not interested in purchasing such a computing product unless I can legally install and run operating systems and applications that the DRM vendors do not trust.

  17. Kysstfafm: I’m reasonably certain Daryl’s quoted price for Walmart applies to a non-first run CD, out long after the first commercial realization.

    More WalMart price points:

    Current Billboard #1 Album: $9.72
    Current Billboard #2 Album: $9.72
    Current Billboard #3 Album: $12.88 (includes a bonus DVD!)
    Current Billboard #4 Album: $9.72
    Current Billboard #5 Album: $11.88
    Current “Best Original Score” Oscar soundtrack: $11.88

    You get the idea.  This is hardly the “bargain reject bin”, it’s the “everyday low prices bin”.

    By the way, notice that WalMart has risen to dominate its competitors the old fashioned way: by offering the same product at a lower price.  Shouldn’t they now jack up their prices and try to really stick it to the consumer??  Yeah right.

    I’m sure Target and Costco would love to see them try it!  smile

    While we’re on the subject of WalMart, they have opened their own downloadable music to compete with iTunes.  800,000 songs for 88¢ each.  Go WalMart!!  Always low prices, always!  Apple will have to price-match them eventually, or lose customers.  Let the downward price pressure on downloaded music begin!  Go capitalism!

    elwedriddsche: I’m not interested in purchasing such a computing product unless I can legally install and run operating systems and applications that the DRM vendors do not trust.

    Agreed, which is why I’m very hopeful that the current incarnation of DRM on offer by Intel catches on.  There’s nothing in it which keeps you from running whatever software you care to.

    I would much rather see this sort of system become ubiquitous, as opposed to what you normally find on console systems: “You can run what we say, and nothing else.”

    elwedriddsche: DRM does nothing for the consumer, except as an enabling technology to legally partake of products and services that are offered under coercive terms only.

    Well, I’ve already pointed out some of the DRM uses which have nothing to do with copy protection.

    The same technology which lets a Blizzard server connect to a trusted, secure WoW client will allow your bank to run a secure program on your computer which won’t be able to steal your account info—even if your computer is currently infected with a virus!  Nifty.

    As far as licenses with “coercive terms”, I will withhold judgement until I see the actual terms on offer.  If the “coercion” involves not being able to save my data in unencrypted format whenever I feel like it, I doubt I’d be interested.  If the “coercion” is that I’m unable to make copies for my friends, that’s fine with me.  As someone who actually pays for his software and doesn’t do napster, eDonkey, or whatever the kids are using today—I’m excited for the lower prices which would follow if piracy were impossible.

  18. This is where you example breaks down.  How, exactly, does purchasing a DRM-capable computer limit my ability to run the same non-DRM software I already run?

    You mentioned exactly how earlier. Via Trusted Computing refusing to run any software that doesn’t carry a Trusted Computing signature. The same technology that locks out spyware and viruses can be used to lockout any non-DRM software. Because of the way the system is setup it doesn’t even have to do it initially, it’s something that can be activated later without your consent under the rules they’re trying to establish.

    All of your “arugments

  19. Well, I’m more skeptical about any guarantees of price declines due to DRM (or whatever technology you’d care to substitute in for that term), we can all keep hoping for affordability. Things may behave as a purely economical model would suggest or then again things may deviate from expectations. And point of contention, price isn’t always the most important factor, quality does not always succeed in going up or even remain at an acceptable level while prices drop. I for one do not favor products built too cheaply to be any good simply because the market appears to only favor the maker of the cheapest parts (software modems anyone? and how about sub $1000 PCs for purposes that often truly requires a > $1000 product to actually suffice?).

  20. Kysstfafm: Well, I’m more skeptical about any guarantees of price declines due to DRM (or whatever technology you’d care to substitute in for that term)

    Let’s do a thought experiment, Kysstfafm.

    For our experiment, I’m going to use two pieces of software: TaxCut and TurboTax.  In case you’ve never used them, they’re basically the same.  They ask you questions, and fill out your tax forms.  I’ve used them both, and if you were ten feet away from your monitor and squinting, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.

    Naturally, they sell for the same price.  I believe TurboTax sells for $5 more, but has a $5 larger rebate.  Whatever.  Niether company can jack the price up without losing customers to the other.  Just to put some numbers out there, suppose they each cost $100.  We’ll say that every tax season, one million people buy each one, and another million people jack a copy from someone they know.  This is the situation today, although the numbers are made up.

    Now for the experiment!  Suppose that DRM becomes available which will allow software to be produced which can’t be copied.  And suppose that TaxCut makes use of DRM, while TurboTax decides not to.

    If TaxCut then cuts its price to $75, TurboTax has a problem on its hands.  Two things will happen: (1) People who used to buy TurboTax will start to buy TaxCut because it’s $25 cheaper. (2) People who pirate their software will have no choice but to use TurboTax, because TaxCut can’t be copied anymore.

    You can see that this is very bad for TurboTax.  They are losing the customers who pay, and accumulating freeloaders.  Before too long, TurboTax is going to jump on the DRM bandwagon.

    Now suppose that both software packages are using DRM and can no longer be copied.  Very soon, they’ll each cost $50.  Why?  Because both companies are still obligated to lower their prices until they’re just covering their costs and giving a reasonable return on investment.  Their costs haven’t really changed, so they need to take in about the same amount of money they always have.

    Put another way, they’ll both be forced to lower their price to $50 for the same reason that they were both forced to sell at $100 when we started.  It’s not that they wouldn’t love to sell for more, it’s just that niether one can get people to pay more than their competitor is charging.

    In reality, the price would settle somewhere below $50.  For you see, there would certainly be people who couldn’t or wouldn’t afford tax software when it was $100, and refuse to copy it illegally (or don’t know anyone to copy it from).  Some of those people would be willing to buy it at $50, however.  These new customers help spread the company’s production costs amongst more people, meaning each person pays less.

    The end result is a redistribution of costs: People who already buy their software legally will pay less once it can’t be copied, and (obviously) people who copy their software for free will pay more.  Since I’m in the group which will pay significantly less, I’m all for it.

    You can make the same argument for other types of media.  People who buy their DVDs at WalMart will pay less for them; people who grab the MPEG file off BitTorrent will pay more.  Yay!

  21. You mentioned exactly how earlier. Via Trusted Computing refusing to run any software that doesn’t carry a Trusted Computing signature. The same technology that locks out spyware and viruses can be used to lockout any non-DRM software. Because of the way the system is setup it doesn’t even have to do it initially, it’s something that can be activated later without your consent under the rules they’re trying to establish.

    Not really, no.  TCG Specifications require that a user activate all this DRM business from the BIOS, and that they can deactivate it if they no longer want to participate.

    There isn’t any “magic bullet” they can shoot at your computer over the internet and suddenly turn on DRM.

    Microsoft could decide that Windows 2009 is only going to run software signed by a particular authority.  But then, of course, no one would buy it.  One reason people run Windows in the first place is the tens of thousands of applications available: If they didn’t work on Windows 2009, who would want it?  It’s more likely that Bill Gates will feed his wife and kids to sharks.

    Earlier, you mentioned that rekey repudiation could turn your video card into a brick.  Again, that’s not correct.  It can turn your video card into a perfectly functioning, non-DRM video card—which was what Les wanted you to buy in the first place!  smile

    Wikipedia: in accordance with the TCG specifications, the user must enable the Trusted Platform Module before it can be used.

    Official TCG Spec: TPM is opt-in.

    • The decision for a platform owner to use TCG enabled capabilities should be one of positive assent. The ability of the user to suspend TPM operation should not be blocked; the consequences of opting out should be made clear to the user and should not extend beyond the minimum required by the owner’s security policy.

    • At any time, at the discretion of the user, a nontechnical user should be able to easily determine the operational state of the TPM.

  22. “Not really, no.  TCG Specifications require that a user activate all this DRM business from the BIOS, and that they can deactivate it if they no longer want to participate.”

    Just to clarify; these people – who’s opinions you may not share – who complained are partly responsible for that more “reasonable” approach, not the people who couldn’t care less about what’s being suggested. If a hue and cry hadn’t been raised by concerned citizens, that might not even have been an option because it certainly didn’t fit the desires of the industry as seen in the original spec. But again, the installation of additional hardware/software that isn’t actually called for is still something for which many people have a legit beef with the tech industry. You don’t have to “turn off” what was (intelligently) not added in the first place, nor do you have to pay for what you do not agree to. So if an alternative source for computer parts can be suggested that doesn’t have DRM added in, that would be probably be ok for the concerned consumers. But there have been suggestions of a revision to law in the US to demand that all computers be manufactured with such devices installed and the manufacture/sale of any other computer outlawed, and that is just plain wrong. Therefore discussion about the problem is important so that hopefully such attempts can be properly dealt with.

  23. Kysstfafm: If a hue and cry hadn’t been raised by concerned citizens, that might not even have been an option because it certainly didn’t fit the desires of the industry as seen in the original spec.

    Well, I can’t speak for the “orginal” spec because I haven’t read it.  However, if Intel and the TCG had released a restrictive system which didn’t allow you to run all of your old software, it would have been dead in the water.  No one would buy that.

    Kysstfafm: Daryl, do you know much about the internal workings of computers? So far you are seeming to argue based on economic history and models that take the “real

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