[linux-elitists] defining DRM?

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Thu Jan 20 17:12:26 PST 2005

I'm writing an article mentioning DRM, and trying to
come up with a definition.  Originally, I thought of,
"You know, DRM, it's like crypto, except evil instead
of cool."

You can't make your definition of DRM depend on
legal terms such as "copyright" because what a DRM
system does is to copyright law as a machine gun on
a motion detector is to real estate law.

I don't mind the expansion "Digital Rights Management"
since you can encourage people to think (Digital
Rights) Management, not Digital (Rights Management).
("Expert sex change", anyone?)  Keep your management
off my digital rights!

If "DRM" appeared in the DMCA, we could use that,
but the definition of "technological measure" in the
DMCA is uselessly broad.

A coin-operated jukebox is not DRM.

XORing the only copy of an audio file with
the output of /dev/random is not DRM.

chmod 600 my-seeekrit-file.txt on a multiuser system
is not DRM.

So here's my definition so far.  I'm sure it's full
of holes.

Digital Rights Management is any technology that
selectively restricts and permits uses of a copy of
a cultural work by the owner or authorized user of
the copy.

Don Marti

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