The Battle Over DRM: Macrovision & Jobs

Jeremy Butler's picture
On legal grounds, the biggest threat to fair use in the U.S. is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). But on practical, logistic grounds, the biggest threat to fair use is digital rights management (DRM) run amok on music and video media. That's why many of us sat up and took notice when Steve Jobs (somewhat hypocritically) called for an examination of DRM and suggested the possibility of abolishing it. This did not sit well with Fred Amoroso, CEO & President of Macrovision Corporation, a company that has been marketing DRM crap... er... "solutions" for decades. He fired a salvo back at Jobs that was a model of PR double-speak. This did not sit well with John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who offered a "Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Macrovision CEO Fred Amoroso’s Response to Steve Jobs’s ‘Thoughts on Music’". It includes this helpful translation:
Well maintained and reasonably implemented DRM will increase the electronic distribution of content, not decrease it.
Translation: I am high as a kite.


Tim Anderson's picture

One of the things about DRM

One of the things about DRM is that, and few of us have noticed this before, there are so mnay competing schemes that the very companies that use DRM cripple themselves. Most hilarious for me has been Microsoft’s launch of the Zune player. Because it is dealing with such a ornate schema of DRM it won’t even play the comapnies own “Play for Sure” media files. Oops. Also, Forbes noted last week that the new Windows operating system, Vista, is so riddleed with DRM problems that it makes “your computer less reliable and less secure”. Great, DRM essentially eats itself.

I thought the world of Pal, NTSC and SECAM enforced interoperability was bad… sheesh!

Avi Santo's picture

I recall several years ago

I recall several years ago going into a certain electronics mega-store up in Montreal and purchasing a macrovision decryptor so that I could make a clip tape for one of my classes. The experience felt much like an adventure in legal loopholes when it comes to the drug trade. It was legal to sell the devices. It was legal to purchase them. It was just illegal to use them. Fortunately,I paid in cash and wore a baseball cap and sunglasses to conceal my true identity…

Tim Anderson's picture

Right, and I expect that

Right, and I expect that this kind of “retail humiliation” has always been part of the strategy of limiting the “free flow” of information. Of course, that is nothing new. You see it in cable theft campaigns, the MPAA’s attempt to curb downloads, the RIAA’s need to publicly flog college students in order to creat “examples”. I have always held that, discussions of DRM aside, the creation of this moral discourse is THE most important part of their project to ensure that you don’t pirate The Pirates of the Carribean.