Don Marti

Sat 11 Jun 2005 06:34:14 PM PDT

Down the Mine Shaft With Dr. Chiariglione?

Jonathan Peterson writes,

The record companies can't manage to agree on standards for DRM. Even if did agree, consumer electronics companies would want their share for helping to lock in the content and telcos would want a slice for carriage. Multiply by hundreds of different regulatory environments worldwide, and is it clear that a monolithic, secured, un-hackable Medianet cannot be created.

But who's even trying? People who are interested in DRM systems don't seem to have the personality traits required to cooperate on anything useful. DRM systems aren't IETF-scale projects. They're run by single vendors or small cartels. Compatibility is not a goal.

The reason that Leonardo Chiariglione, the Dr. Strangelove of DRM, failed once with SDMI and isn't getting much traction for what amounts to SDMI II, is that his ambitions for life down the DRM mineshaft are like Strangelove's: reconstruct an imitation of pre-collapse society that fulfils the dreams of those currently in power.

In Dr. Strangelove's proposed mine shaft colonies, male government and industry leaders would be preserved, along with ten women per man, to carry on the existing society with the existing power relationships—just a little better for those in charge. Dr. Chiariglione's proposed DRM mine shaft would do likewise, trying to set things up in a convoluted way to offer uninterrupted power to all the existing device vendors, media businesses, and middle-people.

To real DRMers, that's a big yawn. The DRM dream is more like that of General Bethlehem in The Postman. A copier salesman before the collapse, he went on to lead an army and control territory himself. That's more like it.

Ernest Miller writes,

What company wouldn't want to step into AT&T's pre-breakup shoes? Beats having to compete.

Pre-breakup AT&T was kind of a boring stock, wasn't it? Look at that nice wavy line under the S&P. What self-respecting modern-day CEO would want options in that?

The problem for the DRM daydream is that, unlike the "Mid-mannered me will rule a postapocalyptic band of assassins" daydream, the government is still in the picture. Any DRM powerful enough to actually work would be powerful enough that any government worthy of the name would have to regulate it.

What I'm still totally baffled about is how the big cheeses of today's media still seem to think the DRMers are going to build them a mine-shaft sex colony, or sell them a copier, and go home.

(Thanks to Cory and Doc for giving "If You Don't Believe in DRM, It Can't Hurt You" some links.)