Below is a fascinating article on DRM technologies, with a call to
action for those with a stake in how information is shared, sold, and
Robertson Media Center
University of Virginia
Begin forwarded message:
> From: Rick Prelinger <footage@PANIX.COM>
> Date: July 12, 2007 3:42:00 PM EDT
> To: AMIA-L@LSV.UKY.EDU
> Subject: [AMIA-L] how DRM becomes law
> Reply-To: Association of Moving Image Archivists <AMIA-L@LSV.UKY.EDU>
> Cory Doctorow has been writing excellent articles on the false
> promise of digital rights management. Here is his newest piece
> explaining the behind-the-scenes and not-so-pretty story about how
> the broadcast flag and other forms of DRM were conceived.
> - - - - -
> A Behind-The-Scenes Look At How DRM Becomes Law
> Cory Doctorow looks at the back room dealing that allowed
> entertainment companies and electronics companies to craft public
> policy on digital rights management.
> By Cory Doctorow, InformationWeek
> July 11, 2007
> URL: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?
> Otto von Bismarck quipped, "Laws are like sausages, it is better
> not to see them being made." I've seen sausages made. I've seen
> laws made. Both processes are pleasant in comparison to the way
> anti-copying technology agreements are made.
> This technology, usually called "Digital Rights Management" (DRM)
> proposes to make it hard for your computer to copy some files.
> Because all computer operations involve copying, this is a daunting
> task -- as security expert Bruce Schneier has said, "Making bits
> harder to copy is like making water that's less wet."
> At root, DRMs are technologies that treat the owner of a computer
> or other device as an attacker, someone against whom the system
> must be armored. Like the electrical meter on the side of your
> house, a DRM is a technology that you possess, but that you are
> never supposed to be able to manipulate or modify. Unlike the your
> meter, though, a DRM that is defeated in one place is defeated in
> all places, nearly simultaneously. That is to say, once someone
> takes the DRM off a song or movie or e-book, that freed collection
> of bits can be sent to anyone else, anywhere the network reaches,
> in an eyeblink. DRM crackers need cunning: those who receive the
> fruits of their labor need only know how to download files from the
> Why manufacture a device that attacks its owner? One would assume
> that such a device would cost more to make than a friendlier one,
> and that customers would prefer not to buy devices that treat them
> as presumptive criminals. DRM technologies limit more than copying:
> they limit uses, such as viewing a movie in a different country,
> copying a song to a different manufacturer's player, or even
> pausing a movie for too long. Surely, this stuff hurts sales: Who
> goes into a store and asks, "Do you have any music that's locked to
> just one company's player? I'm in the market for some lock-in."
> The entertainment industry gets electronics companies to go along
> with DRM through a combination of rewards and threats.
> The reward is the entertainment industries' promise of access to
> their copyrighted works. Add DRM to your iPhone and we'll supply
> music for it. Add DRM to your TiVo and we'll let you plug it into
> our satellite receivers. Add DRM to your Zune and we'll let you
> retail our music in your Zune store.
> And the entertainment industry threatens to sue companies that
> don't comply. In recent years, entertainment companies fought over
> the creation of records, radios, jukeboxes, cable TV, VCRs, MP3
> players and other technologies that made it possible to experience
> a copyrighted work without the entertainment companies' permission.
> One battle serves as the archetype for the rest: the fight over the
> When Sony created the VCR, film studios were outraged. The studios
> had a DRM supplier they preferred, a company called Discovision
> that made non-recordable optical discs. Discovision was the only
> company authorized to play back movies in your living room. The
> only way to get a copyrighted work onto a VCR cassette was to
> record it off the TV, without permission.
> In their lawsuit, the studios argued that Sony -- whose Betamax was
> the canary in this legal coal mine -- was breaking the law by
> unjustly endangering their revenue from Discovision royalties.
> Sure, the studios could just sell pre-recorded Betamax tapes, but
> Betamax was a read-write medium: they could be copied. Moreover,
> your personal library of Betamax recordings of the Sunday night
> movie would eat into the market for Discovision discs: why would
> anyone buy a pre-recorded video cassette when they could amass all
> the video they needed with a home recorder and a rabbit-ear TV
> The Supreme Court threw out these arguments in a 1984 5-4 decision,
> the "Betamax Decision." This decision held that the VCR was legal
> because it was "capable of sustaining a substantially non-
> infringing use." That means that if you make a technology that your
> customers can use legally, you're not on the hook for the illegal
> stuff they do.
> This principle guided the creation of virtually every piece of IT
> invented since: the Web, search engines, YouTube, Blogger, Skype,
> ICQ, AOL, MySpace... You name it, if it's possible to violate
> copyright with it, the Betamax decision made it legal.
> Unfortunately, the Supremes shot the Betamax principle in the gut
> two years ago, with the Grokster decision. This decision says that
> a company can be found liable for its customers' bad acts if they
> can be shown to have "induced" copyright infringement. So, if your
> company advertises your product for an infringing use, or if it can
> be shown that you had infringement in mind at the design stage, you
> can be found liable for your customers' copying. The studios and
> record labels and broadcasters love this ruling, and they like to
> think that it's even broader than what the courts set out. For
> example, Viacom is suing Google for inducing copyright infringement
> by allowing YouTube users to flag some of their videos as private.
> Private videos can't be found by Viacom's copyright-enforcement
> bots, so Viacom says that privacy should be illegal, and that
> companies that give you the option of privacy should be sued for
> anything you do behind closed doors.
> The gutshot Betamax doctrine will bleed out all over the technology
> industry for decades (or until the courts or Congress restore it to
> health), providing a grisly reminder of what happens to companies
> that try to pour the entertainment companies' old wine into new
> digital bottles without permission. The tape-recorder was legal,
> but the digital tape-recorder is an inducement to infringement, and
> must be stopped.
> The promise of access to content and the threat of legal
> prosecution for non-compliance is enough to lure technology's
> biggest players to the DRM table.
> I started attending DRM meetings in March, 2002, on behalf of my
> former employers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. My first
> meeting was the one where Broadcast Flag was born. The Broadcast
> Flag was weird even by DRM standards. Broadcasters are required, by
> law, to deliver TV and radio without DRM, so that any standards-
> compliant receiver can receive them. The airwaves belong to the
> public, and are loaned to broadcasters who have to promise to serve
> the public interest in exchange. But the MPAA and the broadcasters
> wanted to add DRM to digital TV, and so they proposed that a law
> should be passed that would make all manufacturers promise to
> pretend that there was DRM on broadcast signals, receiving them and
> immediately squirreling them away in encrypted form.
> The Broadcast Flag was hammered out in a group called the Broadcast
> Protection Discussion Group (BPDG) a sub-group from the MPAA's
> "Content Protection Technology Working Group," which also included
> reps from all the big IT companies (Microsoft, Apple, Intel, and so
> on), consumer electronics companies (Panasonic, Philips, Zenith),
> cable companies, satellite companies, and anyone else who wanted to
> pay $100 to attend the "public" meetings, held every six weeks or
> so (you can attend these meetings yourself if you find yourself
> near LAX on one of the upcoming dates).
> CPTWG (pronounced Cee-Pee-Twig) is a venerable presence in the DRM
> world. It was at CPTWG that the DRM for DVDs was hammered out.
> CPTWG meetings open with a "benediction," delivered by a lawyer,
> who reminds everyone there that what they say might be quoted "on
> the front page of the New York Times," (though journalists are
> barred from attending CPTWG meetings and no minutes are published
> by the organization) and reminding all present not to do anything
> that would raise eyebrows at the FTC's anti-trust division (I could
> swear I've seen the Microsoft people giggling during this part,
> though that may have been my imagination).
> The first part of the meeting is usually taken up with
> administrative business and presentations from DRM vendors, who
> come out to promise that this time they've really, really figured
> out how to make computers worse at copying. The real meat comes
> after the lunch, when the group splits into a series of smaller
> meetings, many of them closed-door and private (the representatives
> of the organizations responsible for managing DRM on DVDs splinter
> off at this point).
> Then comes the working group meetings, like the BPDG. The BPDG was
> nominally set up to set up the rules for the Broadcast Flag. Under
> the Flag, manufacturers would be required to limit their "outputs
> and recording methods" to a set of "approved technologies."
> Naturally, every manufacturer in the room showed up with a
> technology to add to the list of approved technologies -- and the
> sneakier ones showed up with reasons why their competitors'
> technologies shouldn't be approved. If the Broadcast Flag became
> law, a spot on the "approved technologies" list would be a license
> to print money: everyone who built a next-gen digital TV would be
> required, by law, to buy only approved technologies for their gear.
> The CPTWG determined that there would be three "chairmen" of the
> meetings: a representative from the broadcasters, a representative
> from the studios, and a representative from the IT industry (note
> that no "consumer rights" chair was contemplated -- we proposed one
> and got laughed off the agenda). The IT chair was filled by an
> Intel representative, who seemed pleased that the MPAA chair, Fox
> Studios's Andy Setos, began the process by proposing that the
> approved technologies should include only two technologies, both of
> which Intel partially owned.
> Intel's presence on the committee was both reassurance and threat:
> reassurance because Intel signaled the fundamental reasonableness
> of the MPAA's requirements -- why would a company with a bigger
> turnover than the whole movie industry show up if the negotiations
> weren't worth having? Threat because Intel was poised to gain an
> advantage that might be denied to its competitors.
> We settled in for a long negotiation. The discussions were drawn
> out and heated. At regular intervals, the MPAA reps told us that we
> were wasting time -- if we didn't hurry things along, the world
> would move on and consumers would grow accustomed to un-crippled
> digital TVs. Moreover, Rep Billy Tauzin, the lawmaker who'd
> evidently promised to enact the Broadcast Flag into law, was
> growing impatient.
> You'd think that a "technology working group" would concern itself
> with technology, but there was precious little discussion of bits
> and bytes, ciphers and keys. Instead, we focused on what amounted
> to contractual terms: if your technology got approved as a DTV
> "output," what obligations would you have to assume? If a TiVo
> could serve as an "output" for a receiver, what outputs would the
> TiVo be allowed to have?
> The longer we sat there, the more snarled these contractual terms
> became: winning a coveted spot on the "approved technology" list
> would be quite a burden! Once you were in the club, there were all
> sorts of rules about whom you could associate with, how you had to
> comport yourself and so on.
> One of these rules of conduct was "robustness." As a condition of
> approval, manufacturers would have to harden their technologies so
> that their customers wouldn't be able to modify, improve upon, or
> even understand their workings. As you might imagine, the people
> who made open source TV tuners were not thrilled about this, as
> "open source" and "non-user-modifiable" are polar opposites.
> Another was "renewability:" the ability of the studios to revoke
> outputs that had been compromised in the field. The studios
> expected the manufacturers to make products with remote "kill
> switches" that could be used to shut down part or all of their
> device if someone, somewhere had figured out how to do something
> naughty with it. They promised that we'd establish criteria for
> renewability later, and that it would all be "fair."
> But we soldiered on. The MPAA had a gift for resolving the worst
> snarls: when shouting failed, they'd lead any recalcitrant player
> out of the room and negotiate in secret with them, leaving the rest
> of us to cool our heels. Once, they took the Microsoft team out of
> the room for six hours, then came back and announced that digital
> video would be allowed to output on non-DRM monitors at a greatly
> reduced resolution (this "feature" appears in Vista as "fuzzing").
> The further we went, the more nervous everyone became. We were
> headed for the real meat of the negotiations: the criteria by which
> approved technology would be evaluated: how many bits of crypto
> would you need? Which ciphers would be permissible? Which features
> would and wouldn't be allowed?
> Then the MPAA dropped the other shoe: the sole criterion for
> inclusion on the list would be the approval of one of its member-
> companies, or a quorum of broadcasters. In other words, the
> Broadcast Flag wouldn't be an "objective standard," describing the
> technical means by which video would be locked away -- it would be
> purely subjective, up to the whim of the studios. You could have
> the best product in the world, and they wouldn't approve it if your
> business-development guys hadn't bought enough drinks for their
> business-development guys at a CES party.
> To add insult to injury, the only technologies that the MPAA were
> willing to consider for initial inclusion as "approved" were the
> two that Intel was involved with. The Intel co-chairman had a hard
> time hiding his grin. He'd acted as Judas goat, luring in Apple,
> Microsoft, and the rest, to legitimize a process that would force
> them to license Intel's patents for every TV technology they
> shipped until the end of time.
> Why did the MPAA give Intel such a sweetheart deal? At the time, I
> figured that this was just straight quid pro quo, like Hannibal
> said to Clarice. But over the years, I started to see a larger
> pattern: Hollywood likes DRM consortia, and they hate individual
> DRM vendors. (I've written an entire article about this, but here's
> the gist: a single vendor who succeeds can name their price and
> terms -- think of Apple or Macrovision -- while a consortium is a
> more easily divided rabble, susceptible to co-option in order to
> produce ever-worsening technologies -- think of Blu-Ray and HD-
> DVD). Intel's technologies were held through two consortia, the 5C
> and 4C groups.
> The single-vendor manufacturers were livid at being locked out of
> the digital TV market. The final report of the consortiumv
> reflected this -- a few sheets written by the chairmen describing
> the "consensus" and hundreds of pages of angry invective from
> manufacturers and consumer groups decrying it as a sham.
> Tauzin washed his hands of the process: a canny, sleazy Hill
> operator, he had the political instincts to get his name off any
> proposal that could be shown to be a plot to break voters'
> televisions (Tauzin found a better industry to shill for, the
> pharmaceutical firms, who rewarded him with a $2,000,000/year job
> as chief of PHARMA, the pharmaceutical lobby).
> Even Representative Ernest "Fritz" Hollings ("The Senator from
> Disney," who once proposed a bill requiring entertainment industry
> oversight of all technologies capable of copying) backed away from
> proposing a bill that would turn the Broadcast Flag into law.
> Instead, Hollings sent a memo to Michael Powell, then-head of the
> FCC, telling him that the FCC already had jurisdiction to enact a
> Broadcast Flag regulation, without Congressional oversight.
> Powell's staff put Hollings's letter online, as they are required
> to do by federal sunshine laws. The memo arrived as a Microsoft
> Word file -- which EFF then downloaded and analyzed. Word stashes
> the identity of a document's author in the file metadata, which is
> how EFF discovered that the document had been written by a staffer
> at the MPAA.
> This was truly remarkable. Hollings was a powerful committee
> chairman, one who had taken immense sums of money from the
> industries he was supposed to be regulating. It's easy to be
> cynical about this kind of thing, but it's genuinely unforgivable:
> politicians draw a public salary to sit in public office and work
> for the public good. They're supposed to be working for us, not
> their donors.
> But we all know that this isn't true. Politicians are happy to give
> special favors to their pals in industry. However, the Hollings
> memo was beyond the pale. Staffers for the MPAA were writing
> Hollings's memos, memos that Hollings then signed and mailed off to
> the heads of major governmental agencies.
> The best part was that the legal eagles at the MPAA were wrong. The
> FCC took "Hollings's" advice and enacted a Broadcast Flag
> regulation that was almost identical to the proposal from the BPDG,
> turning themselves into America's "device czars," able to burden
> any digital technology with "robustness," "compliance" and
> "revocation rules." The rule lasted just long enough for the DC
> Circuit Court of Appeals to strike it down and slap the FCC for
> grabbing unprecedented jurisdiction over the devices in our living
> So ended the saga of the Broadcast Flag. More or less. In the years
> since the Flag was proposed, there have been several attempts to
> reintroduce it through legislation, all failed. And as more and
> more innovative, open devices like the Neuros OSD enter the market,
> it gets harder and harder to imagine that Americans will accept a
> mandate that takes away all that functionality.
> But the spirit of the Broadcast Flag lives on. DRM consortia are
> all the rage now -- outfits like AACS LA, the folks who control the
> DRM in Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, are thriving and making headlines by
> issuing fatwas against people who publish their secret integers. In
> Europe, a DRM consortium working under the auspices of the Digital
> Video Broadcasters Forum (DVB) has just shipped a proposed standard
> for digital TV DRM that makes the Broadcast Flag look like the work
> of patchouli-scented infohippies. The DVB proposal would give DRM
> consortium the ability to define what is and isn't a valid
> "household" for the purposes of sharing your video within your
> "household's devices." It limits how long you're allowed to pause a
> video for, and allows for restrictions to be put in place for
> hundreds of years, longer than any copyright system in the world
> would protect any work for.
> If all this stuff seems a little sneaky, underhanded and even
> illegal to you, you're not alone. When representatives of nearly
> all the world's entertainment, technology, broadcast, satellite and
> cable companies gather in a room to collude to cripple their
> offerings, limit their innovation, and restrict the market,
> regulators take notice.
> That's why the EU is taking a hard look at HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.
> These systems aren't designed: they're governed, and the governors
> are shadowy group of offshore giants who answer to no one -- not
> even their own members! I once called the DVD-Copy Control
> Association (DVD-CCA) on behalf of a Time-Warner magazine, Popular
> Science, for a comment about their DRM. Not only wouldn't they
> allow me to speak to a spokesman, the person who denied my request
> also refused to be identified.
> The sausage factory grinds away, but today, more activists than
> ever are finding ways to participate in the negotiations, slowing
> them up, making them account for themselves to the public. And so
> long as you, the technology-buying public, pay attention to what's
> going on, the activists will continue to hold back the tide.
> Cory Doctorow is co-author of the Boing Boing blog, as well as a
> journalist, Internet activist, and science fiction writer. Read his
> previous InformationWeek columns.
> Rick Prelinger
> Prelinger Archives http://www.prelinger.com
> P.O. Box 590622, San Francisco, Calif. 94159-0622 USA
> Prelinger Library: http://www.prelingerlibrary.org
> NEW: Prelinger Library Digital Collections
Below is a fascinating article = on DRM technologies, with a call to action for those with a stake in how = information is shared, sold, and controlled..
From: = Rick Prelinger <footage@PANIX.COM>
Date: = July 12, 2007 3:42:00 PM EDT