[cc-licenses] Subject: Re: Version 3.0 - List Discussion Responses
evan at prodromou.name
Wed Sep 27 16:19:45 EDT 2006
On Wed, 2006-27-09 at 14:10 -0400, Greg London wrote:
> unless DRM Dave is the only person who can supply DRM-enabled
> versions of the work that play on his hardware, and laws such as
> the DMCA prevent Alice and Bob from applying DRM themselves,
> then your parallel distribution fails to negate and creates an inequality.
I agree that parallel distribution fails to rectify that situation.
For example, let's say that DRM Dave's platform is a music player.
Charlie wrote a song, and licensed the sheet music and lyrics under
by-sa-3.x, which requires parallel distribution. DRM Dave's company
records someone performing the song (a derivative work, thus also
by-sa-3.x). The company releases it digitally as a .DDL file (DRM Dave's
Locked format, which has various copy-protection features). Under the
requirements of parallel distribution, DRM Dave's company also releases
the song as a .DDU file (DRM Dave's Unlocked format). Only DRM Dave has
the tools, and the legal authority, to convert DDU files into DDL files
that can be played on the player. So, even though Alice and Bob can copy
and modify the DDU file all they want, they can't make much use of the
file since they can't play it.
Have I captured the problem you're presenting correctly? I think it's a
good point -- although single-supplier platforms like this are rare, if
DRM Dave gets to pick and choose who gets to run a DDU->DDL converter
(say, a select group of technology licensees), it's effectively like
having a single supplier.
This seems to me to be equivalent to other problems with proprietary or
rare file formats or lossy compression. It also pops up with ports of
copyleft software to proprietary programming languages, runtimes, or
operating systems. Compare the "Java Trap" problem with Free Software:
Although it's annoying and inconvenient, I think it's still possible for
Alice and Bob to exercise their freedoms w/r/t the work. For example,
they can reverse-engineer the DDU format (note: such reverse engineering
is not prohibited under the DMCA, since the DDU format is by definition
not protected by an "effective technology measure"). They can then
convert the work into a widely-available format like Ogg Vorbis, FLAC,
or MP3. Or, they could write a software DDU-player. Or, they could
create a DDU player in hardware.
Now, forbidding re-distribution in DRM'd format would prevent DRM Dave
from doing this at all. So would forbidding re-distribution outright,
forbidding re-distribution in proprietary formats, forbidding
re-distribution of recorded songs, dot dot dot. Where we fine-tune the
system is balancing our desire to Stop DRM Dave with our desire to
enable other people -- like Alice and Bob -- to continue doing
interesting things and sharing them with other nice people.
Evan Prodromou -- http://evan.prodromou.name/
"By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart
of on the same terms." -- Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"
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