A Question Regarding Rights, or Lack Thereof

The question machine has made an exact copy of an arrangement of bits, which were then translated by my computer and came out like this:


I have a question regarding Digital Rights Management. I think this is a funny phrase to begin with, because clearly, I have no rights here.

I just got a copy of Empire Total War for the PC. A friend of mine bought the game for his machine but found out his system wasn’t up to the task. Being the owner of a beast-machine, I paid him $50 and took the game (DVDs and all) off him.

When I go to install the game on my PC, Steam tells me the game is already linked to my friend’s Steam account. Oh snap, better get him to relinquish his control of the licence. Hmm, no obvious way to do that, better hit up Steam support.

Hours later, I find out that it’s impossible to do. You can walk into a store and purchase a game, sell it to a friend (so you can no longer use it) and it’s worthless. You’re not buying a game, you’re leasing it from Valve and playing by their rules.

My question is, what can I do? Do I have a leg to stand on when it comes to fighting Valve? Do I have to return the game to my friend and ask for my money back?


Ah digital rights, and their management: a pet topic of mine. Pull up a seat, and lend me your ear for a short while. Continue reading “A Question Regarding Rights, or Lack Thereof”

Blu-ray Copy Protection Cracked

It should be common knowledge by now that digital copy-protection is a futile endeavor. Even if you ignore the analog hole, the fact is that viewers will always be in possession of both the encrypted content and the complete method to decrypt that content. Security experts will point out the fundamental flaw in this arrangement. Short of moving to some form of one-time pad system, commercial copy-protection will always have this flaw.

Additionally, the challenge in breaking these encryption systems is interesting enough that it will draw entire communities into the process. One community – Doom9 – has recently announced the crack of BD+. BD+ was the poster-child of copy-protection schemes, lauded as practically unbreakable. Reality bites.

The ironic result of this crack will be its affect on legitimate users. Sony and others will be forced to update the copy-protection scheme on new disks, new players, and old players that have update-able firmware. Early adopters will find that new disks won’t play on their Blu-ray players. In case that previous sentence wasn’t clear enough, I’ll spell it out in bullet points:

  • Legitimate users who don’t copy Blu-ray disks will be adversely affected by the BD+ copy-protection scheme.
  • “Illegal” users who copy Blu-ray disks for personal or nefarious purposes will not be affected.

Tell me again what DRM and copy-protection are intended to achieve?

I’ve used this quote before, but I’ll use it again because it is just so succinct. The context is computer game copy protection, but it applies to all forms of digital copy-protection:


Someone needs to emphasize this in such a way that the right people see it: people who pirate software enjoy cracking it. The game itself is orders of magnitude less amusing. And their distributed ingenuity will smash your firm, secure edifice into beach absolutely every Goddamn time. There are no exceptions to this rule.


Vodafone MusicStation and DRM-Free Tracks

I’m holding a Nokia 6121 loaded with Vodafone’s MusicStation software, and to be brutally honest, I’m largely disinterested in the music and software. There are, however, two things about Vodafone’s latest musical forays that interest me in a big way.

Firstly, I’m very interested to see what my 13 year old nephew makes of MusicStation. I’m quite happy to admit that I’m not in the target market for MusicStation. I use an iPhone, perfer to listen to my music on a home stereo, and get hold of my music from a mixture of original CD ripping, and DRM-free downloads (more on that later). My nephew on the other hand, treats his Sony-Ericsson phone in the same way that I remember my father using a transistor radio. He carries it everywhere, and it seems to be constantly emitting loud, tinny music (although thankfully not the mix of Radio New Zealand National Programme and Concert Radio that brings back embedded memories of many hours weeding the vegetable patch in Papatoetoe). Continue reading “Vodafone MusicStation and DRM-Free Tracks”

New Zealand Copyright Amendment Bill

Russell Brown reports on the return of the select committee report on the Copyright Amendement Bill.

The kinda good:

  • Libraries and archives retain the right to keep digital copies, and to break DRM in order to do so.
  • If a consumer wants to exercise their copy rights on a DRM’d copy (CD etc), then they no longer have to ask the copyright holder, but they still have to go and get a “qualified person” (perhaps a librarian or someone deemed qualified by the Governer General, no less) to do the deed.
  • The sunset clause is gone, so we retain these excellent options forever.

The mostly bad:

  • TPMs? remain protected and totally off limits from reverse engineering etc. by mere mortals.
  • The bill makes it abundantly clear that copyright owners can contract out of all? the permitted acts.? I presume this would be in the form of tiny, barely legible text on a CD cover or equivalent.

This all gets a big fat meh from me.? The select committee was basically the last avenue to have any of this legilsation watered down.? So now my position reverts to the hope and belief that the entire business model behind this legislation will change.? TPMs will soon become as utterly irrelvant as buggy whips, and the proposed legislation will sit inside dusty books, never to be referred to again.

Steve Jobs wants to get rid of DRM

Yes, you read that title correctly.


Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat.


Mark this day as the turning point in the DRM battle.

Additionally: how stupid does this make the NZ Copyright Amendment Bill look?? Don’t forget that submissions to the select committee close next Friday.

[tags]apple, drm, ipod[/tags]