September 20, 2020

Network Centric DRM

Remember when I promised not to post anymore on Lessig’s DRM piece? I lied. I just have to respond to a comment from Lessig himself.

He writes:

… Felten is skeptical that copyprotection would be placed in the network. “From an engineer standpoint, that assumption looks wrong to me,” he says. But what if we looked at Fritz “not an engineer” Holling’s perspective? The point of my article is that Congress is pushing copyprotection in the network, whatever engineers would argue is ideal….

Let me go farther, then. I don’t think anybody, including Sen. Hollings, is proposing building copy protection into the network itself. The Hollings CBDTPA would regulate “digital media devices,” i.e. endpoints. The proposed BPDG “broadcast flag” rules would also restrict endpoint products. The so-called “consensus watermark” proposals operate at the endpopints too. Normally when people talk about “regulating the Internet,” they’re really talking about regulating the endpoints.

Having said that, let’s not lose sight of the fact that I agree with Lessig about the main points in his article: that kneejerk anti-Microsoftism blinds some people to the real significance of Palladium, and that what Lessig calls “token based” DRM is a lesser evil than what he calls “copy protection”.