The Federal Trade Commission is requesting comments regarding DRM for a Town Hall meeting on the subject to take place on March 25th in Seattle. The deadline for comments, however, is Monday, February 09, 2009.
Here is a brief description of the request for comments from this form:
Digital rights management (DRM) refers to technologies typically used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, and copyright holders to attempt to control how consumers access and use media and entertainment content. Among other issues, the workshop will address the need to improve disclosures to consumers about DRM limitations. Interested parties may submit written comments or original research on this topic.
What follows is my comment, submitted just before I posted here.
There are many problems with copyright law as it currently stands, and DRM in particular. I am sure that you will be getting many long and detailed comments, so I will keep this one short and try to cover only my main objection to DRM and especially the special status granted to DRM under currently copyright law (i.e. the DMCA).
First I must state that DRM is an attempt to mechanise law enforcement. This basically abrogates the presumption of innocence under the law. However, philosophical objections aside, DRM fails in two ways. In statistics, these are called “type I error” (or “false Positive”) and “type II error” (or “false negative)”.
As applied copyright protection, this means that DRM both fails to prevent the determined criminal — strike that, the even halfway competant criminal — from making copies (type II error) while at the same time it prevents law-abiding citizens from actions that would otherwise be allowed under basic copyright law (type I error).
Basically, it fails to accomplish it’s stated goal of preventing piracy, and it prevents citizens for excercising their fair use rights regarding the material. DRM is doubly deficient and the additional protection for DRM mechanisms themselves over and above the protection of the material granted by copyright is a gross violation of … well, sanity with regard to copyright.
It is past time for the protections granted to DRM mechanisms by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) to be scrapped.
There are certainly many other problems with both the current copyright law, and DRM, but you can’t cover everything in one comment, and to attempt to do so dilutes the impact of the points you are attempting to make.
If you have thoughts on the subject, please submit your comments here: