What's Wrong With Digital Rights Management

As electronic publishing becomes more common and more popular, some publishers have claimed that the problem of "piracy" is worth strong efforts to attack. One solution that has been advocated and adopted by a number of publishers is Digital Rights Management, or DRM for short. I won't go into a lengthy discussion of the ins and outs of DRM here--if you want more details, a good starting point is the Wikipedia entry on DRM. Here I'll only hit the salient points that I'll be using in my discussion in the rest of the article.

The basic idea of DRM is to allow a publisher of electronic content to limit the ways in which it can be viewed (played, read, printed etc.) or copied. An example with which many people are probably familiar (though they may not realize it) is the protection scheme currently used on most DVDs. This scheme does (or is supposed to do--as will be discussed below, often these schemes don't really do very well at what they're supposed to do) two things: first, it prevents you from making any playable copies of the DVD (i.e., you can put it in the DVD-ROM drive of your computer and copy its data to your hard drive, but the data will be gibberish to the media player on your computer unless you use some other means to defeat the protection on it), and second, it prevents you from playing the DVD itself except in a player with the right code inside it. The "codes" used in this protection scheme are regional (i.e., you can play a DVD bought in the US on a player bought in the US, but not on one bought in, for example, the UK--unless, again, you do something to your player to defeat the protection scheme), but that isn't an inherent requirement of the scheme; it was done so that DVD manufacturers could also use DRM technology as a marketing tool (which is one of the problems with DRM that I'll discuss below).

Although DVDs are probably the best-known example, DRM technology can be used for any electronic content. My discussion here will be focused on the types of content relevant to electronic publishing (mainly PDFs and other such file formats), but the same issues can arise in many other contexts. For example, copy protection has been used off and on by software vendors, in various forms, to try and prevent software piracy; and now, with more sophisticated technolgies becoming available, your computer's entire operating system (at least if you run Windows) could become a DRM-controlled piece of software. As I noted in the lead-in to this article, this more general issue is discussed in a number of the sites I link to in this category, particularly the Trusted Computing FAQ.

So what's wrong with DRM? Why do I think it's a bad idea? I'll answer that question from a number of different viewpoints in what follows.

As a technical person, I think DRM is a bad idea because, quite simply, it doesn't work. More precisely, it doesn't work well enough to make it a worthwhile method of stopping piracy. For example, consider the DVD protection scheme I referred to above. You may have noticed a loophole in how I described the protection against copying the DVD: I said you can copy the data using a DVD-ROM drive, but your computer can't read it unless you use some other means to defeat the protection. Depending on why you are doing it, that could qualify as "piracy", but it's also very easy to do, because those "other means" for defeating the protection are readily available. So if the point of the scheme is to prevent piracy, it isn't doing a good job.

Will the technology get better? Of course technology is always advancing, but in this case there are reasons to be highly skeptical that the stated goal (reliable prevention of piracy) can be achieved. The main reason is simple: if you are a content vendor and don't trust your customers not to make copies in ways you don't want them to, then no technology will be 100% successful at preventing them from doing so as long as they have final control over the devices that can be used to do it. (Of course that immediately suggests that a better fix for the problem is to take control of the customer's electronic devices from the customer and put it in the hands of the vendor, and that is indeed a tactic that is being pursued. It's possible that stronger DRM schemes like this would do better than the current ones at preventing unauthorized copying, or at least making it harder, but the price we would have to pay--losing control of our PCs and other devices--is a pretty steep one. I'll address this further later on.)

As a customer, I think DRM is a bad idea because it provides me absolutely no benefit--on the contrary, to me it's a hindrance. It keeps me from using a product in ways that are (or should be--I'll talk about the legal issues involved further below) perfectly legal, and are certainly ethical. For example, consider the DVD copy protection scheme I referred to above. If you circumvent that scheme to make a copy of the DVD to give to someone who doesn't way to pay for their own, that, strictly speaking, is "piracy"; but what if you just want to make a backup copy in case something happens to the original? (Or even better, what if you want to make a copy for actual use, keeping the original in a safe place so that it is there if something happens to the copy?) This is an example of what is called "fair use" in copyright law, and ethically there's certainly nothing wrong with it; yet you have to circumvent the DRM in order to do it.

Furthermore, even using the product in ways that are permitted involves some amount of inconvenience. For example, even if I'm playing the original DVD I bought in the store, I may still have to sit through copyright warnings and other verbiage that I can't fast forward past to get to the stuff I actually want to watch. None of this is for my benefit as a customer; it's for the benefit of the content vendor. Put bluntly, why should I accept such limitations in a product I've paid for, just so the content vendor can avoid having to improve his business model?

Some people make the argument that DRM is like car keys. Having to have keys to my car imposes some inconveniences on me: I have to keep them somewhere, I have to take a few seconds to use them to get into my car and start it, and I run the risk of losing them or having them stolen. But the analogy fails, because unlike DRM, car keys are a benefit to me, the customer; they make it harder for my car to be stolen, which is a problem for me, not the car manufacturer [1]. The analogue of DRM in a car would be having a key that would only start the car after first getting a signal from the car manufacturer's central key server that it was okay for the car to run. (Such a scheme could also have a lot of other potential ramifications, which I'll discuss further below when I talk about the legal issues involved; this analogy with cars provides a good illustration of what's really at stake and why people should be concerned.)

I've seen other arguments purporting to show why DRM benefits me as a customer, but none of them have ever convinced me. The only argument that has carried any weight with me is that some particular pieces of content are worth enough to me to make me willing to put up with the DRM in order to have them. So far that argument has only convinced me in the case of a few particular DVDs, and I don't see it getting much more common with me than that. Also, the inconvenience to me in the case of DVDs is relatively small, since I don't play them often and the only other places I would possibly want to play them are the homes of friends and relatives who all live in the US, so the regional encoding isn't a hindrance. Having to deal with the same kinds of restrictions on any of the content on my personal computer would be much worse, as I'll discuss further in a bit when I take a computer user and programmer's viewpoint. (Of course, if a stronger DRM scheme for DVDs were in effect, so that I could play DVDs I had bought only on my own DVD player--to prevent "piracy"--I wouldn't even be able to take them to a friend's house to play them, which might be enough additional inconvenience to push a lot of people over the edge. This is one example of an action which should be perfectly legal, and is certainly ethical, that would be outlawed by strong enough DRM.)

In addition to the above, there is also the point that DRM is basically a statement by content vendors that all of their customers are potential pirates. In the eyes of many people, expecting them to buy electronic content that's protected with DRM is like expecting them to buy something with a big sign tacked on it that says: "I'm expecting you to try and steal this, so I've taken precautions. Be advised." Content vendors, of course, vehemently deny any such intention. They're only after the pirates; they have no problem with legitimate users. But since DRM doesn't really stop pirates, it's only really a problem for legitimate users, who have to deal with the inconveniences involved only because they, unlike pirates, understand and uphold the difference between legitimate and illegitimate use. Do we, the legitimate users, really want to be penalized because there are some pirates out there? (And if we're being penalized now, how much worse will we be penalized if the stronger DRM schemes that have been proposed--which would take away our control not just of particular electronic files but of our entire computers--become widespread?)

As a publisher, I think DRM is a bad idea because I won't inflict on customers something that I wouldn't put up with myself as a customer. It's really as simple as that. But there's another point that's worth touching on.

As a publisher, I'm also a copyright holder, and one of the purported arguments for DRM is that it's needed to help protect the copyright holders of digital works. That argument would carry more weight if it were the actual copyright holders (the authors of the works) who were asking for DRM, but they aren't. Quite the contrary. For example, musicians are tickled pink that they're able to self-publish CDs now and sell them over the Internet, instead of having to sign contracts with record companies. The benefit they gain from such direct contact with their fans and the elimination of the costs sucked up by middlemen--not to mention the ability to put out music they want to publish, instead of music that's censored by the record companies--more than makes up for whatever they lose to piracy. (So far the data seems to be saying that piracy has little, if any, effect on CD sales, even those of the record companies--CD burning technology has been available on PCs for a number of years now with no noticeable impact on sales.)

The ones asking for DRM are middlemen, companies who make money by selling works that other people created. Copyright protection was never intended to be a jobs program for those people; it was intended to encourage creative people to create, by promising them that they would have a set time to enjoy the profits from what they created, if there were any. (The if is important--copyright law doesn't guarantee any profits, it just says the copyright holder is the one who's entitled to them if they're there.) The middlemen only came into existence in the first place because the wherewithal to make copies of and distribute one's creative works was expensive, so there was a viable business model for publishers, who had the capital to invest, to work with authors and artists, who didn't. Electronic publishing has changed all that. Now anyone can create and distribute digital works for the price of a PC and an Internet connection. The game has changed, and it seems to me, as a publisher in the new game, that DRM is an attempt by those who are still playing the old game to force the new one to play by the same rules.

There are still viable roles for middlemen in the new game (for example, the RPGNow web site, where PT Games' products are sold[2]), but they're different roles than in the old game. The middlemen in the old game are basically monopolists; their business model is wholly dependent on there being only a limited number of players in the game. In the new game, that business model is dead. DRM is an attempt to bring it back by adding superfluous costs--"superfluous" because they bring no benefit to either the publisher (since DRM doesn't really prevent piracy) or the customer, so the only ones they benefit are the middlemen who are trying to impose them. (Again, it's possible that stronger DRM schemes that have been proposed might actually make inroads into piracy, which would be a benefit to the publisher--but the price would be the loss of the very freedom inherent in electronic publishing, which to me is too high a price to pay. Since that's an issue to me not just as a publisher but as a citizen, I'll have my final say about it in the last section below.)

As a computer user and programmer, I think DRM is a bad idea because it can potentially cripple the most empowering general purpose device ever invented. Think about all the things you can do with a personal computer: not just the obvious things like e-mail, surfing the web, online shopping, and so forth, but things like putting up your own web site, having online discussions with people halfway around the world on any topic that strikes your fancy, instant messaging your friends, potentially having voice and picture communication anywhere in the world at a fraction of the cost of a conventional telephone call today. Those things aren't just conveniences; they're enhancements to everybody's quality of life.

Do you really want to give up the ability to choose when, where, and how you do all those things? Because that's what DRM does. If you download a DRM-protected e-book, you don't decide when, where, and how you can read it: the DRM does. If you download music from a site that uses DRM, you don't decide when, where, and how you listen to it: the DRM does. And if more and more applications that run on PCs make use of DRM, our range of such choices as computer users will get smaller and smaller. DRM makes possible a vision of the world where you don't decide anything about what applications run on your PC. Is that really a world you want to live in?

Going back to the car analogy I made above, suppose that you could only drive your car on roads that the car manufacturer, or the government, decided were OK for your car; if you tried to drive onto a "prohibited" road, the car would simply stop--or better yet, it would take over control from you and drive you back onto a "permitted" road. Of course nobody would want to give that kind of control over their cars to an outside party. Cars are too important to our sense of control over our daily lives for that. My argument is simply that, whether we realize it or not, PCs, for those of us that have them, are equally important--or at least important enough for us not to cede control over them.

(I haven't even mentioned the things that I most enjoy doing on the computer--programming and writing--because not everybody does them, but they're in jeopardy as well if DRM becomes ubiquitous, and that's why so many programmers are up in arms about it. Microsoft and Disney and other content providers, and the politicians who are abetting them, totally ignore the fact that a PC is not a consumer electronics device like a DVD player; it's a general purpose tool for individual empowerment. They basically view their customers as passive consumers of content, not active creators of it. And even if you're not a hardcore programmer, even if the only content you ever create on your computer is e-mail, you're still using it to create content, not just passively consume it. Do you really want to be treated otherwise?)

As a citizen, I think DRM is a bad idea because it is the thin edge of a wedge that could potentially seriously undercut personal freedom. This is really what worries me most about DRM, because all the other objections I gave above, from the other viewpoints, also feed into this one. In the name of preventing "piracy", DRM is being used as a tool, by content vendors who want to prop up outmoded business models instead of adapting to new realities, and by politicians who are abetting them or who have particular agendas, such as national security, which require (they believe) a level of control over information flow that is impossible in the Internet age without something like DRM being legally entrenched.

DRM has already scored one success in the US, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes it illegal to circumvent DRM schemes such as the DVD protection scheme, even if it's for a legitimate purpose (such as making an archival copy of a DVD you have legally purchased). There are current efforts in the US Congress to get further legislation passed that would require DRM to be installed in all electronic devices, including personal computers, that could ever, in any conceivable circumstance, be used to read, play, or otherwise process copyrighted content.

For example, one proposed law would have required a chip (called the "Fritz" chip in reference to Senator Fritz Hollings, who sponsored the bill--it failed, but there are and will be others) to be installed in every device (including PCs) that would be inaccessible to the device's owner and would be required to authenticate the device to any remote provider of content. So, for example, if you purchased an e-book online, the Fritz chip in your PC would have to convince the online server that you were OK to receive that e-book before you could download it--and then, of course, you would be limited in your ability to do things with it. You couldn't even make a backup copy to CD (to have in case your hard drive crashed) unless the DRM in the document was set up to allow you to--and potentially you might be required to have the Fritz chip ask a remote server for permission even then.

Now it's bad enough that content vendors are trying to do these things with their products, but to try to get the sanction of law to entrench such practices is too much. Let's go back to the car analogy once more, just to illustrate how outrageous this is. Suppose that a law were passed making it mandatory for all cars to have VRM (vehicle rights management) technology installed, so that parties other than the owner could potentially control all aspects of the car's operation. The car manufacturer could restrict where you could buy gas, or what service shops you could go to, even for something as simple as getting the oil changed. The government could restrict where you could park, or what roads you could drive on, by using the VRM to shut the vehicle down and make it inoperable if you were parked illegally or tried to turn into a prohibited road. Would you be willing to cede control of your car to that extent? Would you be willing to have all that written into law, so that you would be liable to criminal penalties if you tried to bypass any part of it--for example, if you found a way to get the oil changed at Jiffy Lube instead of at the dealer, whose exorbitant prices you refuse to pay?

Nothing like the VRM scheme is ever likely to become law (at least I hope not), because we as citizens and customers realize that it would create an unhealthy state of affairs, where we simply didn't have enough control over our own lives. Even if we couldn't anticipate all the specific ways in which such a VRM scheme could be used by car manufacturers or governments against our interests, we would know that on principle it just wasn't a good idea. And if car manufacturers and politicians tried to convince us otherwise, we would understand why we shouldn't listen to them: because if that's the price that we would have to pay to keep their current business model alive, then it's time for them to find a better business model. If car manufacturers tried to tell us they needed VRM to keep selling us cars, we simply wouldn't believe them: we'd say, "tough". My point is simply that the same is true of DRM, because on principle it just isn't a good idea to give up that much control over our electronic lives. If electronic content vendors think they need DRM enforced by law to keep selling us content, then tough. They need to either find a better business model, or take the millions they've already made and retire.

More generally, if politicians try to tell us that DRM, or something like it, is needed to achieve some desired goal, like protecting privacy or national security, we should say "tough" for much the same reasons. Even if there are no hidden agendas (such as lobbying by powerful media corporations), it's still a bad idea just on principle. Even if it's possible that a strong enough DRM scheme (such as some of those being proposed) would make a significant dent in piracy and other illegal uses of copyrighted digital content, the price we would have to pay in personal freedom is just too high. The Internet, and the kind of personal, freewheeling electronic publishing it makes possible, is too valuable to let it be hijacked by such means, especially in a free society where, for the first time in history, freedom of speech really does mean just that. Today anybody can post content where anybody else anywhere in the world can read and use it. Do we really want to give that up?


I haven't said much in this article about the more general question of whether digital content should be treated differently from other types of content. Granted, it's a lot different technically, because of the ease of copying: making a friend a copy of a book I own would take a lot of time and would probably be more expensive than just going out and buying another one, whereas making a friend a copy of a digital work can be as simple as a few mouse clicks. But should the much greater ease of copying translate into a fundamental difference in the way the law treats the content? Put more bluntly, should people be allowed to copy digital works freely just because they can?

My answer to that particular question is "no"--digital works are still works created by somebody, and that person has the right to decide how they are used. There are differing opinions on this question--some people would answer "yes" to it because they think the benefits of free exchange of digital information outweigh the harm, if any, done by allowing it to be copied freely even if its creator doesn't want it to be. But that's not the question I was trying to answer in this article. The question I was trying to answer was simply, "Is DRM a good idea?" The question of whether unauthorized copying of digital content (or any copyrighted content, for that matter) is right or wrong is irrelevant, because, as I've shown, either (1) DRM won't prevent it, or (2) it will prevent it (by becoming much stronger than it is now), and will erode personal freedom and civil rights in the process, and that consequence is far worse than any putative problem it might be intended to correct.

Civil rights? Well, what about intellectual property rights? Aren't those civil rights too? Yes, they are, since they're a special case of property rights in general (we could quibble about whether property rights are really "civil rights", but it doesn't really matter here). However, that doesn't mean quite what you might think it does. Yes, you have the right to keep your intellectual property encapsulated inside a tight contract that severely restricts what anyone else can do with it. You have the right to do that with anything you own or create. (As I noted just now, some people would disagree with this, saying that there is no "property right" in information, but what I'm talking about isn't information per se. Copyright law doesn't protect information, it protects a specific expression of information, and that's what "digital content" is, at least in the publisher's sense. Some have also tried to argue that software is a special case, and should be treated differently from other types of digital content, but I'll leave that question for another time.)

So yes, you have the right to tell people they can't freely copy what you create. What you don't have the right to do is demand that the world guarantee you a living if you choose to treat your property that way. People may simply choose not to buy it on the terms you offer. You certainly don't have the right to have the law force them to choose between buying your version or buying nothing at all. And if there's someone else out there who chooses not to treat their property that way, to make it freely copyable and hope that enough people find enough value in it to make them a profit, people might choose to buy that person's content instead. If doing that with content involves a risk of piracy, that's each individual creator's choice to make; your rights don't include the right to stop them--much less to try to make what they're doing illegal or even impossible by putting a stranglehold on the medium itself.

Of course this works both ways: you also don't have the right to enjoy content that someone else created without respecting the way they choose to deliver it, and without compensating them fairly for creating it. Even if they make their content "open", there may still be what amounts to an honor system--if you like this, please contribute so I can create more of it--and you should abide by that. Or here's another way of looking at it: digital content is no different ethically from other types of content, but digital distribution of content has stripped away a red herring that was clouding our understanding of the issue. When copying content was expensive, we bought it because it was the cheapest way to get it; the idea that we ought to pay for it to compensate the creator for the effort put into it, and to encourage him to create more things that we enjoy, never entered our heads, because it didn't have to. We could go along believing that it was really the effort put into creating the copies that was being paid for, not the effort put into creating the content itself. Now computers have made copying content so cheap that that fiction is no longer viable. Now it's obvious that creators of content should be compensated because the talent they possess and the effort they expend is valuable, not because any given copy of the content is valuable.

Obviously DRM is an attempt to maintain the fiction, by making the copying of content artificially expensive again, and it appeals to the middlemen whose only function is to make copies of content, not content (which does not mean all middlemen--as I said above, there are viable roles for middlemen in the digital world; it's just that making copies of content isn't one of them). But if we discard the fiction, won't the net result be fewer creators of content? That's the prophecy of doom sounded by the middlemen and politicians when it looks like the other arguments have lost. But the ubiquity and ease of copying of content on the Internet today doesn't seem to have harmed authors and musicians and programmers; as we saw earlier, the ones complaining are the middlemen whose business models will have to change.

Even so, suppose that the net long-term result is that there are fewer creators of content? That will be because we, their customers, want it that way; there will be as many creators of content as we are able and willing to pay for. If DRM becomes strong enough and widespread enough, we won't have that power any more. Those are the two possible futures, and which one will come true is being decided right now. Take your pick.

There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit.

Robert Heinlein, "Life-Line"


[1] - It might be argued that keys also make it harder for a car to be broken into to remove valuables without stealing the car itself, but anyone who has seen a tow truck operator get into their car with a suitable tool in 15 seconds or so to retrieve the keys that were locked in it will realize that locking a car is about as effective in preventing theft of the valuables inside as DRM is in preventing copying--see the technical discussion above. Keys used to be about that effective even in preventing the car itself from being stolen, but that's no longer true with electronic ignition--a modern car can't be "hot wired" the way older cars could, and starting one without the proper key inserted is, while not impossible, difficult enough to make it beyond most thieves. Yes, this is an example where technological advance actually has made a security technology harder to "crack", but again, in this case it's to the benefit of the customer, so an analogy with DRM doesn't really hold. back to text

[2] - What are some of the viable roles that middlemen can play in the world of digital publishing? For one thing, they can provide a reliable and secure online store. For another, they can provide marketing and advertising services (much of which can be provided simply by providing a reliable and secure online store). The basic theory of what roles middlemen can fill effectively hasn't changed: they can do the things that, if you did them yourself, would distract you from your core business--which for an electronic publisher, is creating content. All that's changed is what specific things those are. I know that if you've invested a lot of capital in doing the things that were needed under the old business model, it's not going to look attractive to you to throw all that away and invest in doing the things that are needed under the new business model instead. But that's what's happened every time a significant technological change has reached the mainstream. Since such changes reach the mainstream when they provide a clear benefit to the end user, trying to convince the user to give up some of that benefit so you don't have to re-work your business isn't a viable strategy in the long run. back to text


It should come as no surprise that I am not the only one who sees problems with DRM. Here I've collected some links to items of interest on this topic.

Electronic Frontier Foundation DRM Page: The EFF's main page for DRM-related stuff. Brief discussion and a good collection of links.

Here's Philip Greenspun's Senate Testimony againts the Audio Home Recording Act of 1991 (an early salvo in the DRM battle).

Abandoning Copyright: A Blessing for Artists, Art, and Society: An article about why artists and other creators don't need or want DRM.

Courtney Love does the math: An article in Salon by singer Courtney Love. This is how it starts:

What is piracy? Piracy is the act of stealing an artist's work without any intention of paying for it. I'm not talking about Napster-type software.

I'm talking about major label recording contracts.

File Sharing: It's Music To Our Ears: An article on the Electronic Frontier Foundation website about ways that artists can electronically distribute digital content to their fans without needing DRM. A good overview of possible new business models (quite a few of which are already being explored), and convincing refutation of the industry claim that they need DRM to sell content.

A while back Sony made the news because they were selling CD's that, when played in a Windows PC's CD drive, installed a "rootkit" on the hapless PC in order to implement their DRM technology. (A "rootkit" is basically a set of files and configuration settings that does two things: (1) it gives itself "root" privileges, meaning it has complete control over the PC's hardware and software, just like a system administrator; and (2) it takes steps to hide itself so that another system administrator can't discover what it's done. This often means hijacking and changing the output of system commands, even simple ones like "dir" to get the listing of files in a folder--the rootkit may have to do this to hide its own files from view. The key is that all this is done without the PC's user's permission or even knowledge.) You can Google on "sony rootkit" to see a spate of articles on this, including the fact that trying to remove the rootkit will probably trash your entire PC, requiring a hard drive reformat and complete reinstall of Windows (you did back up your data, right?). There's also an interesting Groklaw article on Microsoft's response when they were asked whether Windows' internal virus scanning technology would spot and remove the rootkit.

A recent CD by the popular band Coldplay had DRM that was so restrictive you couldn't even play it on many car stereos (?!). What's more, the CD insert that explained this wasn't even visible to you until after you'd paid for the CD--and one of the license terms said that you couldn't return it except for "manufacturing defects"--basically meaning that you were screwed if, like any reasonable person, you weren't thrilled about the restriction on use. Here are articles on Boing Boing and Groklaw describing the issue. These discussions are fairly civil; another website entitled bad bad coldplay is less so. It should be noted that Coldplay itself almost certainly had nothing to do with the draconian DRM, which was most likely imposed by Virgin Records, the company distributing the CD.

By the way, for some evidence that Microsoft, at least, knows perfectly well that DRM won't stop piracy, see this paper by four Microsoft employees. (Be warned: this is an MS Word document, not an HTML web page.)

How to Stop MS's WGA from Phoning Home: An article in The Register about Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage tool, which is supposed to detect "problem" software but which "phones home" to MS's servers every day to give them detailed info on what's on your computer--a fact MS failed to tell customers. A good example of a "DRM-like" technology that is worse than the "disease" it's supposed to "cure".

Forbidding Vistas: Windows Licensing Disserves the User: Even without DRM in the hardware, Microsoft's licensing terms for Windows and Windows software is pretty draconian when you actually take the time to figure out what it says. Here's a good quick rundown of their latest, the license for the next version of Windows.

Who Do You Trust With Your Computing?: An entry at Yet Another Linux Blog (yes, that's its title) on Trusted Computing and DRM. I like it because the author uses the same analogy with cars that I do in the article above. :)

Windows Media Center "Updated" to Include More DRM: Microsoft has added more restrictions on what TV shows you can save using the Windows Media Center Edition DVR functionality. Last I checked, the whole point of having a DVR was to, um, save shows to watch later, so doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose to prohibit doing that? (By the way, the EFF link above is on their "Bad Vista" site, but the same problem exists in XP Media Center Edition-- see, for example, this blog entry.) More links here and here; you can digg the story here. It's also worth reading Microsoft's FAQ on Windows Media Center DRM, and noting that it dates from October 2005--before any of the latest set of draconian changes were made.