Best description of the intractable state of the DRM state

Summary:Over on Digital Media Thoughts, contributing editor Jeremy Charette and friends are tearing apart the problem I'm having playing 99 cent downloads on my $20,000 whole home entertainment system.

Over on Digital Media Thoughts, contributing editor Jeremy Charette and friends are tearing apart the problem I'm having playing 99 cent downloads on my $20,000 whole home entertainment system.  I thought this quote, found in one of the comments, offers what could be the best description of how and why the current state of the digital rights management state is an intractable one:

What makes it intractable is that the two camps are entrenched and completely uninterested in any level of compromise: the EFF crowd is philosophically opposed to *any* content controls, (even on private corporate systems for internal use!) while the content providers are convinced every customer is dead-set on redistributing their content for free on the internet the moment they get their hands on it. Not much to be done there or any hope of resolution any time soon. If anything, things are going to get worse now that politicians are getting involved in the DRM-standards debate. Expect things to get worse before they start to get better.

Also, bear in mind that I'm using the commonly accepted expansion of the acronym DRM out of convention, not belief.  The "R" in DRM, many anti-DRM activists argue, does not stand for "rights" because, they argue, the technology strips users of their rights.   Also, before you take the quote's characterization of either "party" at face value, please understand that I don't have any confirmation from officials or executives representing either side.  Nevertheless, if the picture this paints is that the two sides are worlds apart without any hope of a compromise, that's the perception and the feeling I'm getting, too.  In terms of some of what is said about my problem, I responded with some answers in the comments area of Charette's post.

[Update: Redmonk's Stephen O'Grady has a good post on why DRM is going to get worse, and may not get better.  A lot of people have been questioning the $20,000 worth of audio gear bit.  This has so far been a project that has spanned more than two years and that started at the infrastructure level of pulling all sorts of wire through the walls of my house.  That alone has so far accounted for about half the project's cost since, for each room, there are are wires going to specific speaker locations as well as to a location near each room's light switch where controllers that reach back to the centralized entertainment system are located.  The wiring includes monster cable audio wiring as well as Category 5 twisted pair for hard-wired Ethernet.  I'll leave out the details of why I did both, but it serves my needs for regular Internet access as well as some A/V needs. 

The wire itself wasn't that expensive.  Pulling it through the walls and terminating it was.  That's why, if you're building a house, I recommend doing this before the walls go up.  The savings can be significant since you can probably do a lot of the work yourself (most home builders don't have a clue how to build a digital home).   The actual gear, including its installation (connection to speakers, TVs, control panels, etc.) has so far accounted for the second half of the cost.  So, in total, it's not even $10,000 worth of gear. A goodly portion of the second half is the labor involved in installing and testing everything. 

Still, to me, the entire "system" -- at $20,000 so far -- should be able to play whatever music I buy from whatever source I want.  It can't.]

Topics: Hardware

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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