August 27, 2005

Of Course Open Source DRM is Possible

Cory Doctorow and Donna Wentworth (citing a 2004 Ed Felten post) say that is impossible for logical reasons to build open source DRM technology.

That would make sense if it means "impossible to build effective open source DRM technology".

Obviously, people can build DRM technology that has no useful effect whatsoever as a open source project all day long without violating requirements of logic.

Doctorow has said again and again that DRM won't work anyway under any circumstances.

So under his theory the development method (open source or not) does not matter. DRM is always a failure.

In contrast, I think that there are cases where DRM actually works as it is supposed to. Gameboy software and mobile phone ringtones come to mind, as well as online games that require registration over the Internet. One might even think of "robots.txt" as an example. And I think the development model doesn't have much to do with it.

If someone tries to introduce some code in the official release of some open source DRM software that defies the purpose of that software, their code won't be accepted. People who want to build software to break the DRM in question will have to do so in a different project.

Posted by Karl-Friedrich Lenz at August 27, 2005 10:46 AM