Home > BCS, DRM > I shot the Sheriff – of Open Source DRM

I shot the Sheriff – of Open Source DRM

Open Source DRM…. Now who said that? Seriously, can there really be such a thing, when it is so patently obvious that DRM is ultimately an economic tool? To hope for such a thing would surely be a futile fantasy, or is it?

Recent developments in the open source world, such as the release of the GNU Public License (GPL) version 3 by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), have more or less drawn the lines in the sand.

A DRM Watch article, by DRM guru Bill Rosenblatt, basically spells out the implications for DRM and open source – i.e. you can cook it, but it won’t taste good. The main point of contention is linked to the licensing of DRM software by developers. While GPL v3 does not prevent ‘open source’ licensing for DRM, it does make it less appealing for DRM vendors to adopt; and in fact the FSF’s release statement clearly states this as follows:

‘GPL version 3 does not restrict the features of a program; in particular, it does not prohibit DRM. However, it prohibits the use of tivoization and Treacherous Computing to stop users from changing the software. Thus, they are free to remove whatever features they may dislike’.


Also Ken Fisher’s article on Arstechnica explores the question of whether interoperable DRM is less secure, and suggests that ‘closed’ systems are not necessarily more secure than ‘open’ or licensed and interoperable systems.

Which way to go? I’d like to get your comments on the Open versus Proprietary DRM debate – which one will be the better option in the long run? Also who do you think will benefit the most from either?

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Note – Original post, including comments, can be found at: http://www.bcs.org/content/conBlogPost/63

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