Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Torvalds on DRM

Linus Torvalds has been outlining his views on digital rights management.

" I would suggest that anybody who wants to fight DRM practices seriously look at the equivalent angle. If you create interesting content, you can forbid that _content_ to ever be encrypted or limited.

In other words, I personally think that the anti-DRM clause is much more sensible in the context of the Creative Commons licenses, than in software licenses. If you create valuable and useful content that other people want to be able to use (catchy tunes, funny animation, good icons), I would suggest you protect that _content_ by saying that it cannot be used in any content-protection schemes.

Afaik, all the Creative Commons licenses already require that you can't use technological measures to restrict the rights you give with the CC licenses. The "Share Alike" license in particular requires all work based on it to also be shared alike, ie it has the "GPL feel" to it.

If enough interesting content is licensed that way, DRM eventually becomes marginalized. Yes, it takes decades, but that's really no different at all from how the GPL works. The GPL has taken decades, and it hasn't "marginalized" commercial proprietary software yet, but it's gotten to the point where fewer people at least _worry_ about it.

As long as you expect Disney to feed your brain and just sit there on your couch, Disney & co will always be able to control the content you see. DRM is the smallest part of it - the crap we see and hear every day (regardless of any protection) is a much bigger issue.

The GPL already requires source code (ie non-protected content). So the GPL already _does_ have an anti-DRM clause as far as the _software_ is concerned. If you want to fight DRM on non-software fronts, you need to create non-software content, and fight it _there_.

I realize that programmers are bad at content creation. So many programmers feel that they can't fight DRM that way. Tough. Spread the word instead. Don't try to fight DRM the wrong way."

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