[cc-licenses] Subject: Re: Version 3.0 - List Discussion Responses

Greg London teloscorbin at gmail.com
Thu Sep 28 11:45:17 EDT 2006

On 9/28/06, Evan Prodromou <evan at prodromou.name> wrote:
> On Wed, 2006-27-09 at 22:38 -0400, Greg London wrote:
> > > 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.
> >
> > If it really is so easy to get around DRM, then DRM Dave should
> > be prohibited from making DRM versions in the first place,
> > and Alice adn Bob should make non-DRM hardware to play
> > the works without any DRM restrictions.
> I'm not sure I follow why that's the case. It's relatively easy to "get
> around" DRM if DRM Dave has to distribute an unencumbered version, too.
> That's the whole point of parallel distribution: it lets people exercise
> their rights even if the licensee distributes a work with DRM enabled.

Ah, easy because of parallel distribution, not easy to reverse engineer
and create your own hardware platform.

On sept 27, 4:19, you said:
:: Or, they could create a DDU player in hardware.

At which point I took that to mean even without parallel distribution,
Alice and Bob could reverse engineer the proprietary format wtihout
violating DMCA, convert it to some open format,  and then build their
own hardware platform that plays the open format. Once you present
new hardware design as a zero-effort task, it sort of raises the bar to the
point that it doesn't matter if a parallel copy is available or not.

I must have read too much into this statement.

> > But then tell me above that even if Dave set himself up as a sole-source
> > provider, that Alice and Bob could work around it, figure out the format,
> > and create their own hardware players.
> You missed the parallel distribution part, right? There was a part where
> Dave had to distribute an _unencumbered_ (no-DRM) version of the Work
> due to the parallel distribution requirements in the (theoretical)
> license for the song. That's what makes it easy.

But is Dave required to allow the unencumbered version play on his hardware?
Or will Alice and Bob only be able to play it on their PC and hardware that
allows open formats without DRM?

If parallel distribution turns Dave into a sole source *for his platform*,
then the license has failed to maintain an equality among the community.

And while you can point to alternative platforms that play non-DRM works,
this needs to be taken in consideration with the fact that DRM is, on teh
scale of things, in its infancy. And there are those who envision a world
of start-to-finish channels of purely DRM content. Bruce Lehman, former
patent comissioner for the United States, being one of them. The man
proposed the end of Fair Use and per-copy metering as the future.
This as part of his official position. And this supported whole-heartedly
by the industry that wishes to maintain its monopoly.

So, the metaphor comparing DRM to an executable fails in one important fashion.
Namely, If Eve distributes an Executable in an attempt to hide the work
she did, the modifications she made, from the community, then parallel
distribution of the source code requires that she must distribute the original
source, so that Alice and Bob can see the mofications and so they can
create their own executable, and this is the important bit,

Eve creates an executable that runs on a linux box. She must distribute
the source code as well, and Alice and Bob can create their own executable
that runs on the very same linux box.

DRM is a way to monopolize a particular hardware platform.
PlayStationPortable, for example. If DRM Dave uses copyleft
code to create an executable that runs on his PSP platform,
and PSP is DRM-only, and if the license allows parallel distribution,
then Alice and Bob can use the work on their PC, but not the PSP.

Also, I do believe that people have been threatened with the DMCA
for creating PSP emulators that run on desktop PC's, and someone
else was threatened with DMCA for writing some software that would
read a PSP disc on a PC and decrypt it. Which points to the very
heart of the problem: DRM and DMCA is intended SPECIFICALLY
to create a private channel for DRM Dave, that Dave does not want
to share this channel in any way, and that parallel distribution does
not get around the problem created by a private, proprietary channel.

The metaphor that DRM is like a Binary fails to accurately describe
the problem. Parallel distribution of source code allows Alice and Bob
to create their own executable for the very same hardware. DRM,
in its worst case scenario, creates a problem that parallel distribution
does not solve.


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