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Lessig, Stallman on 'Open Source' DRM

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"If all one says is (a) 'Sun's openDRM is great,' that's praising DRM," says Lessig . "But if one says (b) 'we should live in a world without DRM, and we should be building infrastructure and laws that render DRM unnecessary, but if we have DRM, then Sun's is better than Hollywood's,' then that's not 'praising DRM' but identifying a lesser evil. Again, what I did was give a speech at Sun conference where I said (b).

He expanded -

"There's no disagreement about where we should end up - No DRM."

"The only real disagreement is about the dynamic consequences - how this new kind of DRM affects the ecology for DRM generally. About this, I think honest people have to say no one knows, but we each have our own hunch. My view is openDRM pollutes the control freaks' plan so significantly that it can't achieve what they want - a general infrastructure of control built into the technology. Of course, I could be wrong about that."

Lessig stresses he hasn't endorsed the Sun technology.

"How do you say free on the Apple platform? How do you even have the argument? There is no doubt some version of DRM is with us over the next 5 years at a minimum. I want it to be possible to wage the war for free culture in that space as easily as it can be waged in this world."

"We can win the battle against it without eradicating DRM from every corner of cyberspace. Instead, I view 'the battle' about DRM much like I view 'the battle' over free software. Free software (in the Stallman sense of that term) 'wins the battle' when it is the major platform upon which software development is done. In that sense, free software has already won in certain important fields of battle, and in that sense, I certainly think free software will 'win the battle.' But when it wins, it won't trouble me that there are machines out there that are running Windows. To close the loop on the analogy, once 'the battle' against proprietary software is lost, Windows will have lost its virulence."

To Lessig, it's simply a pragmatic solution. Mako Hill can understand the pragmatism, but he isn't impressed.

"His answer is that where DRM exists – where we have already lost, it’s better to beg for scraps from the table."

"I think what Lessig is seeing is that everybody who buys an iPod buys a machine with DRM, and there's a billion songs out there that have DRM on them, and he’s saying there are all these hundreds of millions of devices that use DRM, so do we want it to be an open source, friendly DRM? It can only take certain fair use rights into account if it’s going to be effective at all."

"I think what he got was a promise the system could be used in a way that protects fair use. But media producers have the right of choosing which implementations they want. Do you think Time Warner will allow their media to play on machines that allow people to copy things?" ®

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