September 25, 2020

A View from DMP World

The “6th General Assembly of the Digital Media Project” recently released a set of documents “providing an Interoperable DRM Platform”. I’ve written before about the self-contradictory nature of their goal (A Perfectly Compatible Form of Incompatibility). Now we get to see how they plan to achieve the goal. And I have to say, the documents are a real piece of work. I could blog for a month just dissecting them; but I won’t subject you to that. Instead, just a small sample or two.

The documents describe a world unlike the one we actually live in. They do this, mostly, by redefining words that we all understand, creating improved versions that are distinguished typographically by capitalization. (There is a whole document devoted to definitions.) When you enter DMP-World, you give up your rights; they are replaced by Rights. And unlike ordinary rights, which you may possess simply by virtue of being a human being, Rights have to be Granted to you, and they can be Withdrawn by a Creator. In DMP-World, you can’t buy devices; all you can get are Devices. You don’t whistle a tune; you execute Functions on Governed Content. The goal of all of this is to achieve Trust: “a state where Users, Devices, or Content Data enable Users to execute Functions on Governed Content”.

All of this is done with little if any reference to copyright law. There is plenty of talk about “protection” and “intellectual property” and, of course, Rights. But not much is said about the actual scope of copyright law or its correspondence to the structure of DMP-World. Instead, DMP-World seems to redesign copyright from the ground up, replacing it with something much broader, and yet at the same time much less precise. Copyright law, for example, explains with moderate precision which types of works it covers and which it doesn’t cover. In DMP-World, the system covers Works. What is a Work? Here’s the explanation (from document 2, p. 13), which I swear I’m not making up:

The first object identified and to which IP is attributed to in the Creation Model is Work. Work refers to the fruit of an effort undertaken by an individual or group of individuals that constitutes the logical construct that persists independently of the innumerable possible physical representations of that construct. A Work on the one hand can be very concrete by being unequivocally identified through a large number of differing manifestations all of which are perceived as being of the Work yet it is also ephemeral in that proof of its existence requires the use of physically perceivable resources that are not of the Work. The Work is somewhat like an invisible hand that gives shape to a glove.

Work, it seems, it a lot like the Tao: both concrete and ephemeral, existing independently of physical manifestations, and knowable only through its tendency to give shape to the world. The Tao is even described, sometimes, using the hand/glove metaphor.

To aid your understanding, here is Lin Yutang’s translation of the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching, which does seem oddly relevant to DMP-World:

The Tao the can be told of
Is not the Absolute Tao;
The Names that can be given
Are not Absolute Names.

The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
The Named is the Mother of All Things.

Therefore:
Oftentimes, one strips oneself of passion
In order to see the Secret of Life;
Oftentimes, one regards life with passion,
In order to see its manifest forms.

These two (the Secret and its manifestations)
Are (in their nature) the same;
They are given different names
When they become manifest.

They may both be called the Cosmic Mystery:
Reaching from the Mystery into the Deeper Mystery
Is the Gate to the Secret of All Life.

That should make things perfectly clear.

Comments

  1. Robert T Childers says:

    You are so right that these guys are living a world that is not our world. At least not the world that I want to live in. One thing is for certain is that we need to keep our eyes on these people and resist them at all turns.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It certainly makes two things really clear:

    a) These people (as you point out) live in a world of their own; and
    b) These people are dangerous.

  3. PrivacyWatch says:

    This is some of the “best” double speak ever. Truly worthy of framing.

    On a related note, there seems to be a presumption on the part of the IP industry that IP laws invented creativity and that without draconian IP laws and DRM creativity will revert to nonexistence. Pure drivel.

  4. The consequences of such change have reaped havoc of our ability to plan accordingly and particularly in the language we are used to, our habitual language that we used to deal with concepts such as value, morals, ethics and of course of money, profits, margins and returns.

    http://www.dmpf.org/project/ga04/palws/index.htm
    —-
    It seems very clear to me.

  5. It would actually be an extremely libertarian prospect if the DMP-World could formulate and utilise its own mechanisms to create their preferred ‘rights’ environment, whilst at the same time copyright was abolished (as redundant and anachronistic).

    Then we’d have:
    1) Subscribe to clueless DMP-World corporations for the privilege of having furtive glimpses of restrained content.
    2) Sponsor enlightened, independent artists to deliver wholly unfettered art into the public domain.

    Let the market decide who produces the most and best art.

    I have a hunch it’s the latter. I reckon the artists would be better paid too.

  6. PrivacyWatch says:

    “The consequences of such change have reaped havoc of our ability to plan accordingly and particularly in the language we are used to,”

    I have no idea what you are saying. The consequences of *what* change? What does to “plan particularly in the language we are used to mean?”

    I really am not being sarcastic, but I think that your post may be a defense of the DMP language, yet your language is equally hard to decipher.

    Both the DMP document and your post are very poorly written and hard to understand. In many cases, I think confusing language is used to disguise dumb ideas as brilliant academic insight.

  7. “And unlike ordinary rights, which you may possess simply by virtue of being a human being, Rights have to be Granted to you, and they can be Withdrawn by a Creator.”

    These are also called laws, and the Creator is the State.

    Nobody asks YOU, you are but the governed. I’m afraid we’ll have to deal with it, just like in the past centuries.

  8. PrivacyWatch says:

    “These are also called laws, and the Creator is the State.”

    And the the state, in the US anyway, is supposed to be empowered be the People, who can change it.

    One of the problems with DRM and DRM apologists is that DRM takes away existing rights granted to citizens under copyright law. As Mr. Felton points out, the DMP believes that Creators of content have an absolute right to control how their content is used and revoke access to it at will. Copyright law in the US does not concur. The doctrine of first sale gives people who buy copyrighted works the legal right to resell their book, record, CD, DVD, etc *without* needing any permission from the rights holder.

    Copyright is a property right conferred only by the state and there is no such right outside of the law. DRM takes away consumers rights under copyright law without a legal right to do so.

  9. “I really am not being sarcastic, but I think that your post may be a defense of the DMP language, yet your language is equally hard to decipher.”

    That’s because of the brain damage caused by trying too hard to decipher the DMP World documents, resulting in a ruptured blood vessel in the cerebrum.

    Unfortunately, the DMP World documents are their own proof of concept — truly unbreakable encryption that renders anything written in it, like the DMP World documents themselves, utterly incomprehensible. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    “Nobody asks YOU, you are but the governed. I’m afraid we’ll have to deal with it, just like in the past centuries.”

    Vive le revolution!

    Throw the bums out of the white house! Greedy oil company cronies, the lot of them!

    “Copyright is a property right conferred only by the state and there is no such right outside of the law. DRM takes away consumers rights under copyright law without a legal right to do so.”

    Unfortunately, it does seem to have a legal right to do so under the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clauses. Of course, the DMCA is unconstitutional, but it hasn’t been struck down on such grounds, unfortunately. Instead, a few specific cases have been decided in favor of the victims of attempted DMCA abuse (chamberlain v. skyling, lexmark v. static control, etc.) without the DMCA itself being seriously questioned by the high justices. 😛

  10. AOL-style “me too” posts are a waste of a comment IMO. And “vdfvdf”? What the heck is that supposed to mean, Teksty?

  11. Enlightenment says:

    It’s comment spam.

    You have been Enlightened.

  12. Some “rights” can be protected only by copyright because the “content” or, god help us, the “Work”, once released into the public domain, is no longer the “property” of the originator. Thus, under copyright law, the originator retains only the literal right to copy for a period of time set by statute. To reiterate: the historical protection of copyright does not vindicate ownership of content. DRM advocates’ efforts to limit legitimate copying and to extend the duration of copyright protections are attempts to make copyright law an effective protection of ownership interests that has not been a feature of the law until now.

  13. I’m not sure which of Tetsky’s posts you’re referring to, but neither of them is an advertisement, unless one is an ad so ineptly composed that it fails to even remotely resemble a sales pitch and therefore won’t generate anyone buying anything.

  14. Bernard says:

    “All of this is done with little if any reference to copyright law.”, you write. Yes, of course : what is a “copyright law”? It exists in USA, there is an “authors right law in some European countries, a copyright law in some others. And none are identical nor even compatible in some aspects. Thanks DMP, protection methods are not related to any of these laws or else they might be – they will be- incompatible with some others…

    Let them continue this good way

  15. “They do this, mostly, by redefining words that we all understand,”

    Is that true though? If you get 10 people in the same room and ask them the definition of a given word, how many different answers will you get? It would be nice to have the luxury of always having one’s own definition of a given word taken as gospel but in the real world, people working together on a given concept first have to agree on the terms they use to define the concept.

    “creating improved versions that are distinguished typographically by capitalization.”

    Capitalization is just one of the many ways used in different standards to identify terms defined in an associated document. You could just as well complain about other standards who use bold text to highlight defined terms.

    “And unlike ordinary rights, which you may possess simply by virtue of being a human being,”

    Being a human being where exactly? Are the rights I have where I am exactly the same as the rights you have where you are? Is it not likely that there are rights which either one of us enjoy that could be considered actually against the law in the other’s jurisdiction? Work with international law much?

    “All of this is done with little if any reference to copyright law.”

    (Holding up a deck of cards) Pick a “copyright law” any copy right law and put it back in the pack and let me shuffle it.

    It would seem from my reading of the pecifications that trying to create a technology to implement one jurisdiction’s copy right law over another would be a fruitless task.

    On the other hand, creating a platform on which differing laws in differing regions can be implemented would seem to be much more universally applicable.

    Regarding a “Work”, I don’t have a problem with their definition as it seems much more consistent with the creative process than, for example the US copyright law which defines a work, and one’s rights to it, differently for say an audio recording or a piece of software.

    What is a “work” to the artist who arranged the notes that are performed by a symphony with words sung by a soloist? Is the “work” some piece of plastic with optical bits and bytes on it only? Is it all the 1’s and 0’s lined up that make it a work? For that matter, did those bits and bytes cause the lead trumpet player to pucker his lips expertly from years of dedicated practice and training to flawlessly render the notes arranged by the artist?

    Sure, we ALL know what a work is, or do we?

  16. Sympathy for the devil, Bernard?

  17. CAS, the problem with the whole thing, besides that it simply will not work, is that it amounts to replacing copyright law with blanket, unlimited terms exclusive rights to any use whatsoever, which in many jurisdictions would be unconstitutional; and moreover, enforcing that copyright law extrajudicially via *robots* incapable of exercising anything remotely resembling human judgment. Instead of cops and laws and legislatures and the courts making copyright laws/IP policy and enforcing them with human judgment and discretion, you’d let the big media companies write the laws, and even make them up differently for every item or for different customers (perhaps based on how much they’re willing to pay), and leave enforcement, from the role of cop to the role of judge, jury, and executioner, to a Fritz chip! Essentially, not only is this likely to be unconstitutional in most civilized places, but it’s also just plain wrong. It destroys consumer rights in any kind of digital media whatsoever, and destroys consumer confidence too. Will it work tomorrow? Depends on the whim of the “rights-holders”…which no longer includes the consumer, of course, since their fair use rights, flimsy though they were and expensive though they were to exercise, are moot given a combination of DRM and DMCA … Ultimately, however, it’s the extrajudicial enforcement regime that would really be terrible.

    Trusted computing: a cop and a court and a jury in every box. Impossible to bribe. Impossible to hide. Impossible to reason with. Brought to you by Microsoft and cronies.

  18. Privacywatch commented: “the DMP believes that Creators of content have an absolute right to control how their content is used and revoke access to it at will“.

    This is a fairly sinister development, that I ran into recently (see the second part of Egregious marketing … and chilling). Fine if someone wants to set up subscription access; that’ll stand or fall on its own merits. But increasing numbers of sites are trying to have it both ways: making content publicly visible, but invoking contract law to bind readers to demands that restrict their legal rights, override the Fair Use provision in copyright, and ‘chill’ links from sites with critical comments.

  19. Steve Purpura says:

    It’s hard to defend the body of work under scrutiny, but there is substantial academic work which questions human autonomy and the idea of natural rights. The basic idea is that the concept of rights evolved as a political deal to shift power.

    Anyone that subscribes to such a view of the world (and this viewpoint is shared by a much larger contingent than a bunch of crack pots) might be comfortable with the premise of the paper.

    What I think is more interesting is that this discussion never moves to an examination of whether the result *might be* Pareto optimal. It’s a difficult endeavor to calculate whether copyright policy might be Pareto optimal, but the debate would become much more interesting if we could argue about the assumptions which prove the policy is Pareto optimal. And if we don’t want the policy to be Pareto optimial, we could also examine how changes to the model would address equity distribution.

    Moving the discussion to an economic model would allow debates to occur in a manner similar to the debates about social security policy. Policy advocates could suggest a change and (an office equivalent to) CBO could score it.

  20. Steve — I kind of like the idea of having rights against self-incrimination, unreasonable search and seizure, wrongful imprisonment or death, and so forth thank you very much. I do think that any “rights of authors” concept that goes beyond “not to have one’s work misattributed” is bad, though.

  21. “The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters.”

    — H. L. Mencken, “Homo Neanderthalensis” (commentary on the Scopes trial), The Baltimore Evening Sun, June 29, 1955

  22. What the heck does religiom have to do with this topic?

  23. Steve Purpura says:

    Neo: I understand your point. Our system of laws includes the idea of natural rights. But if you believe that rights originate from a political need to balance societal organization then you can make the argument that the rights under question are free to evolve.

    Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just saying the premise isn’t totally crackpot.