Thursday, 11 June 2015

DRM and why it can never work

It can never work for audio, anyway.

When Sony/BMG (and probably other record labels, they were just the first one that came into my head) software on their audio CDs as a attempt at copy-protection, it was fairly quickly binned. I would have thought the flaws were so obvious that I'm amazed they attempted it at all. Aside from changing the actual product from an audio CD into a CD-ROM (deviating from the Red Book standards, which ensured that all players, regardless of brand, could play standard audio CDs), causing the obvious problem of people being unable to play them on their old CD players, it was so laughably easily bypassable that seriously, everyone involved with it at Sony should have been immediately moved to another of their divisions, as they clearly didn't understand audio.

As I pointed out at the time, ask the question:

Q:  Can I play this CD and hear the music on it?

If the answer is "no", then the product is not fit for use and if the answer is "yes", then I can copy it (because if I can play it, I can record a DRM-free version of the audio through any number of ways). Either situation it's lose-lose for the company.

I don't think it's used on CDs at all now (for that reason) but there are still some internet companies that are using it (Napster still do, Apple used to but don't any more) but the same thing applies: If I can hear it, I can copy it.

Probably the companies (sorry, that didn't sound sinister enough - "The Companies" - yes, that's better) are slowly realising that the future sales of pretty much all music will be in a digital format and for this to work to their best advantage, there needs to be a industry-standard format (which I suppose at the moment is DRM-free mp3 files). This means no more fucking around with futile attempts at copy-protection.

As for DRM for software (games in particular), that's a completely different kettle of fish, because the company can insist on always-on DRM (persistent online authentication), which means you need to be connected to the internet (presumably after entering some other authentication) and I don't see an easy way around that for those without the technical expertise to crack them. Once cracked, DRM-free versions can be distributed willy-nilly, but I wouldn't personally know how to do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment