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Stop DRM from becoming a "privacy nightmare"

Stop DRM from becoming a "privacy nightmare"

The news that iTunes will offer songs from the three of the largest labels free of copy protection software was music to the ears of many users. Privacy experts say it's a sign the industry is realizing how counter-productive digital rights management (DRM) limitations actually are.

Some of the most successful Canadian record labels absolutely reject the use DRM, Geist said.

While the music industry has turned away from DRM in the past year, the technology continues to impose "impermissible burdens on consumers," according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

It cites Apple's DRM restrictions on iTunes movies, iPhones and iPods.

DRM can also be risky from a security standpoint, the Foundation says, citing the infamous Sony BMG case to demonstrate how DRM can introduce "security flaws into millions of computers."

What impact will widespread commercial availability of DRM-free have on illegal file sharing on peer-to-peer networks? That's a hotly debated question.

Geist doesn't believe digital locks - and legally prohibiting people from removing those - will reduce P2P file sharing. "Ten years of experience tells us that's simply not true."

He noted that if something is locked down, all it takes is one unlocked copy to appear on a file sharing network and it can be easily and freely shared.

It's a view echoed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Evidence continues to mount that DRM does little to inhibit unauthorized copying, it may actually encourage it."

Several so-called solutions to the copyright violation problem aren't possible from a technical standpoint, according to an executive from ipoque, a Leipzig, Germany-based provider of deep packet inspection (DPI) products for Internet traffic management and analysis.

And those that take a social approach could never be implemented, adds Hendrik Schulze, chief technology officer, ipoque.

ipoque seeks to objectively assess P2P counter-measures in its recently published a white paper, Copyright Protection in the Internet.

It acknowledges that the interests of different groups - such as industry lobbyists and privacy activists - differ significantly on this issue.

The white paper subjects these methods to a "reality check" by taking a technical point of view.


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