All in DRM

Ed Felten, in Judge Geeks Out, Says Cablevision DVR Infringes, provides an overviw of how technology played into a recent court decision on a case where Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. was pitted against Cablevisions Systems Corp. (2007 WL 867093). The issue:
Sometimes it's good to have everything in one place. Sometimes it's a good idea to have everything spread around. And sometimes having all your eggs in one basket will bite you. I was reminded of this earlier this week when my main laptop died. I was able to rapidly switch to two backup machines for most of what I needed to do while waiting for the Dell technician. In the process I observed a few things that are worth noting.
David Berlind's How the portable player tail wags the DRM and operating system dogs (ZDNet, April 25, 2006) is a good indicator of why I haven't written much about DRM here lately. I originally started writing about DRM last year when I realized its use in music CD's threatened my lifelong music collecting hobby. Now that I've pretty much given up buying music, DRM is pretty much a spectator sport for me.
I received the following email from fellow blogger Chris Law (1000 Flowers Bloom) in response to my article Web 2.0 and Maintaining the Integrity of Online Intellectual Property: I really like your article. One thing that I think is very much related is what happens if it’s not a document? What if it’s say the classified listings on my site that are then being mashed up with a Google Map?
"Web 2.0 and Maintaining the Integrity of Online Intellectual Property - Is 'Meta-Information' the Answer?" is a Sys-Con "Web 2.0 Journal" article, published March 3, 2006, that addresses what happens when individual writings become modified and changed -- sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose -- through the collaborative and transformative functionality of content-oriented Web 2.0 applications.
J. Alex Halderman and Edward W. Felten have published their "Lessons from the Sony CD DRM Episode" after an open and collaborative publishing and review cycle on their Freedom to Tinker blog. In my review I've tried to hit what I think are the high points. I recommend the entire paper to anyone interested in the complex relationship between the music business and technology given continued erosion of the music CD's market viability.
If I write something that is likely to be changed by the distribution system or by the actions of collaborating authors, what do I own? What if, when I write a blog article I come back and regularly change, update, and correct the original, and add comments? Do I have a way of knowing if people who read the original will know that I've made corrections or changes? These are difficuly questions, and one way to help answer them is to develop registration systems to help identify and describe works and their owners (or creators).
There are a couple of interesting discussion threads going on over at the Freedom to Tinker blog. One is called Not Just Another Buggy Program, the other CD Copy Protection: The Road to Spyware. I reproduce one of my comments below, but I suggest interested readers check out the entire threads if you're interested in some of the business and strategic aspects of what Sony is doing.
A while back I tried to find out from Sony whether the new Santana album contained the dreaded "rootkit" software.I received an email from SOny today instructing me on how to remove the XCP "rootkit" software. Only problem is, the new Santana album uses Sunncomm copy restrictions software. This may have just been a simple error but I do feel sorry for the people who have to mop up this sad affair.
Perhaps Sony BMG's mistake was that, out of technical ignorance, it let the technology manage its business processes, not the other way around. It sounds like Sony BMG did not understand how to manage those things it thought it had under its direct control (the DRM software in question). This is despite the fact that Sony's other divisions create industry leading consumer and professional technology.