There’s something wrong with my car

I live in Norway. A place where you’re not allowed to drive more than 100 km/h on any of our roads. Still, the speedometer of my car goes all the way to 220 km/h and according to Toyota’s official specs for my Rav4 it has a max speed of 185 km/h. Driving at that speed on Norwegian roads would be both dangerous and utterly illegal. Illegal to the point that they would put me in jail.

I bought the car in Norway. It’s registered and fully official. This isn’t an illegal pirate car. I can roam around Norwegian streets with it. Completely blessed by the police, the king and whatever person that cares. As long as I follow the rules and keep it under 100 km/h.

So why is it possible to drive the car in 185 km/h? Why on earh didn’t the officials put in some kind of Digital Speed Management (DSM)?

It should have looked like this when sold in Norway:

Complete with encryption to stop it from going faster than 100 km/h. That would probably save lives. Preventing people from driving too fast is important. Still we don’t add Digital Speed Management to cars. Not even in the pretty controlled and safe country of Norway.

We don’t do it because that would be too much of a limitation on our freedom. That would be very irritating when taking the car into Germany or another country where you can drive much faster than in Norway. Such limitations don’t fit into our mental models of what you get when you buy a car. People would protest. Loud protests.

Yes, I know. Digital Rights Management on music and movies isn’t exactly like this. But there is something with the comparison that’s not that far fetched. DRM sucks.

(And for all the people that keep asking me how I have the time to write articles on my blog. This was written at Stavanger airport while waiting for my plane to Oslo.)

There’s something wrong with my car

5½ lessons that legitimate retailers can learn from pirates

Bob the Millionaire 11

Sadly, the story about how Bob the Millionaire Became a pirate is still highly relevant. And not long ago Mark Pilgrim had an article out that describes a couple of lessons that the professional part of the industry could learn from the pirates. Well worth a read.

A story to show the problem
If you have two shops down the street. One sell illegal copies of movies and one sell legal originals.

The shop with the illegal copies work like this: you go inside, find what you want, have a look at it, pay and go home. At home you play the movie on whatever equipment you want.

The shop with the legal originals work like this: you need to pass five security checkpoints before you can enter. You need to register with credit card and all kinds of data before you can buy. If you’re citizen of the wrong country you get thrown out. If you have the wrong media player you get thrown out. If you have the wrong operating system you get thrown out. You can’t have a look at the product before you buy. The product you buy is infected with huge amounts of commercials for other products and annoying videos telling you that piracy is a crime (yes, only the people that actually pay for their products get the “piracy is a crime”-propaganda).

…what shop would you choose?

And a quick disclaimer:
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think piracy is OK. I am working within the content production industry. I know that it cost money to make high quality content. I think content producers should have the rights to earn money from what they make. The problem is that currently most of them have a very, very wrong idea of how to get paid and how to treat their customers.

(Thanks, Asbjørn Ulsberg)

5½ lessons that legitimate retailers can learn from pirates

Seems like DRM is dying

EMI logo London
EMI to offer DRM free high quality music for sale.

From the press release:

EMI Music launches DRM-free superior sound quality downloads across its entire digital repertoire. Apple’s iTunes store to be the first online music store to sell EMI’s new downloads.

As most of my regular readers know I don’t like DRM so this is good news. Very good news. Now, will this spread to the other big record companies? Will this influence new efforts like Amie Street and Sellaband? What about eMusic?

And, what about the television industry and hollywood? And that Vista slow suicide?

Seems like DRM free video downloads still is something that companies like Streamburst will have to take care of. From the Engadget live coverage of the Q&A at the EMI press conference:

Q: Will DRM now be removed from videos such as Disney’s where Steve has a say.
Steve: I knew I was going to get that question today. Video is different, they never distributed 90% of their wares DRM free like music companies. So he doesn’t hold the two in parallel.

The next couple of weeks will be interesting.

Seems like DRM is dying

Interesting alternative to DRM


Streamburst is a company that helps people making video content available for sale on the internet. The files are without DRM and will play on most devices out there.

What they have done to discourage people from making the files available all over the internet is that the copy you get is personalized. They mark the file with the name on the credit card used to pay for the download. Both as a three second tag in the beginning of the movie and as an invisible watermark through the file.

I guess it is possible to remove this watermark just like it is possible to remove most known types of DRM, but I think this approach is way better. And very user friendly. And future proof. The MPG4-files that you download will play on Mac, Windows and Linux through free tools like the VLC Media Player or Democracy Player.

Here are two stores using Streamburst:
In Search of the Valley
Long Way Round

Links to other sites discussing Streamburst:
DRM Alternatives: Q&A with Steve O’Hear
Film about Apple founders released DRM-free
DRM and creativity
Social DRM

Interesting alternative to DRM

Vista, DRM and the slow suicide

As you already know, I don’t like DRM. It seems like the next version of Windows will be full of it. Full of DRM and huge amounts of technology that is supposed to make it more “secure”. Or, to put it straight: limit you and what you can do with your computer. Cory Doctorow is a clever writer and again he has put some words on the situation:

Vista is a disaster. Microsoft is so desperate to get the entertainment industry locked into its platform that they’ll destroy themselves to get there. This is an operating system that, when idle, will have to check itself every 30 microseconds to make sure nothing is still happening, and no hackers are attacking it.

It acts like an unmedicated paranoid.

Well, time will show if this unmedicated paranoid will kill Microsoft like Sony’s content strategy nearly has killed them.

Vista, DRM and the slow suicide

DRM is a stupid idea

DRM Defeating Kit for iTunes
My article on music and marketing sparked a little debate about digital rights management (DRM). I am in the opinion that DRM is in general a bad idea. It doesn’t work. It’s not user friendly. And the only people it serves are the owners of the DRM systems that can lock people into their particular playback devices.

Like Oyvind point out in the comments here it’s not the end of the world. It’s not global warming or bird flu. But it’s annoying and limiting for the development of good distribution platforms and user friendly systems on digital media.

And because there are people out there that’s way smarter than me I’ll point you to three resources that goes a bit more into detail about why DRM is a bad idea and why it hopefully will disappear:

Gerd Leonhard
The end of DRM is near

Yes, indeed, we are just about there: DRM is on its way out, and I needed to tell you about it, in this podcast. The Music Industry’s equivalent of the Berlin Wall is indeed coming down…. soon.

Cory Doctorow
DRM doesn’t work, it’s bad for society, business and the artists

It used to be illegal to plug anything that didn’t come from AT&T into your phone-jack. They claimed that this was for the safety of the network, but really it was about propping up this little penny-ante racket that AT&T had in charging you a rental fee for your phone until you’d paid for it a thousand times over.

When that ban was struck down, it created the market for third-party phone equipment, from talking novelty phones to answering machines to cordless handsets to headsets — billions of dollars of economic activity that had been supressed by the closed interface. Note that AT&T was one of the big beneficiaries of this: they also got into the business of making phone-kit.

DRM is the software equivalent of these closed hardware interfaces.

A Copyfighter’s Musings
Microsoft’s Zune Won’t Play Protected Windows Media

May this be a lesson to those who mistakenly laud certain DRM as “open” and offering customers “freedom of choice” simply because it is widely-licensed. With DRM under the DMCA, nothing truly plays for sure, regardless of whether you’re purchasing from Apple, Microsoft, or anyone else.

DRM is a stupid idea

Windows Media DRM – Cracked!

For quite some time there has been some tools that would let you strip the DRM from encrypted Windows Media files. However, they have been difficult to use and have not worked on all systems.

Now a user called viodentia over at the Doom9 forums has posted a tool called FairUse4WM. It lets you remove the DRM from files that you have a valid license for on your computer.

Meaning that you can now safely buy music on all the Windows Media Based music shops and easily “set it free” so you can play it on whatever device you want.

This is great news for consumers and pretty bad news for some content owners and of course for Microsoft. They issued a patch for Windows Media Player shortly after the first release of FairUse4WM. The patch stopped FairUse4WM, but it took viodentia a couple of hours to release a new version that worked on patched media players as well. Let the good old cat and mouse game begin!

It seems like Cory Doctorow was right. DRM doesn’t work.

I have tested FairUse4WM and it works very well. First you point it to a media file that you have a working key for. You can download this one and play it once so a key is issued. Point FairUse4WM to it and when it has done its wonders on that file you get to the next screen where you simply drag and drop DRM’ed files. When you have added the files you want to make device independent you hit one button and FairUse4WM strips the DRM and saves the new files in a location that you have specified. It adds “[NoDRM]” to the name. Simple as that.

Please note that I am not in any way encouraging piracy here. FairUse4WM should be used on media that you have legally obtained and of course you should never redistribute media that you don’t own the rights to.

However, this tool is great if you have been stupid enough to buy music on any of the Windows Media DRM’ed shops on the net. This means that you can unlock and convert WMA and WMV so you can play it on your iPod, your Linux player or whatever box that has not been blessed by Microsoft. It means that buying music from the MSN Music store no longer is so stupid after all…

More information:

An article on some of the first tools to break the WMV DRM from Chris Laniers blog back in february 2005.

Engadget covers the story and publish an open letter to Microsoft. The Slashdot crowd chimes in. And, well – it’s all over the blogsphere and all over the net.

Windows Media DRM – Cracked!