Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2006 19:02:55 -0500 (EST)
From:"Linux Pipeline Newsletter" <>
Subject: [LXP] Linux Pipeline - 03.15.2006 - A French Kiss-Off For DRM Linux Pipeline Newsletter | A French Kiss-Off For DRM | 03.15.2006
Linux Pipeline Newsletter
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In This Issue:
  • Editor's Note: A French Kiss-Off For DRM
  • Top Linux News
        - French Plan Allows Online Music Buyers To Remove DRM
        - U.S. Cuts Demand For Google Data, Judge Expects Quick Decision
        - Intel Plans Sub-$300 PC For Emerging Markets
        - More News...
  • Editor's Picks
        - Linux Web Conferencing: Share And Share Alike?
        - Red Hat, Novell Vie For Linux Virtualization Title
        - The Ultimate No-Cost Network Toolkit
        - More Picks...
  • Voting Booth: Firefox Faces The Future
  • Get More Out Of Linux Pipeline
  • Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

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    Editor's Note: A French Kiss-Off For DRM

    Digital rights management is a truly peculiar critter: It is a "product" no one wants, yet they get it anyway. And as others have pointed out in the past, DRM serves one fundamental purpose: to give customers fewer choices and less convenience.

    This was a match made in heaven for the music and film industries: Give the customers what you want them to have, when you want to give it to them. And the most amazing part of this scam is the fact that almost every government in the western world backs it at least in principle, and othen through force of law.

    That may change this week. If it does, then it's appropriate that France—home to some of the first organized efforts to protect the rights of authors—will also be the first country to tell the corporations controlling the music and film industries to quit using music and movie piracy as an excuse to pick its citizens' pockets.

    From this week's article on the French proposal:

    Under a draft law expected to be voted in parliament on Thursday, consumers would be able to legally use software that converts digital content into any format.

    It would no longer be illegal to crack digital rights management—the codes that protect music, films and other content—if it is to enable to the conversion from one format to another, said Christian Vanneste, Rapporteur, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France.

    "It will force some proprietary systems to be opened up ... You have to be able to download content and play it on any device," Vanneste told Reuters in a telephone interview on Monday.

    Most of the media coverage is playing this as a cage match between the French government and Apple Computer—if you read too quickly, you might not even realize that the law will apply to any type of digital content, including both music and video, from any content distributor. Apple is an obvious hook for this story; even today, the online music market in the EU consists of iTunes and a bunch of rounding errors. But that does not mean this story is all about Apple, or even mostly about Apple. It is not.

    In fact, the French government has a clear message it wants to send to Apple, and Real, and Microsoft, and every other player in this industry: quit working your customers, and work yourselves instead. Build business models dedicated to making your customers' lives easier and more convenient, and have some faith that the market will reward you.

    It's a message that may take a while to sink in: Apple will, by most accounts, hang the fermez sign on iTunes Music Store if the French law takes effect.

    Apple will also tell you (as will every other online music distributor) that it has no choice: Its suppliers will not license their product without some guarantee that it will not be pirated.

    Of course, that statement is a sham on so many levels that it's hard to know where to begin demolishing it. For starters, the music industry's product is being pirated, relentlessly and on an epic scale, by groups that have nothing to do with the honest, paying customers who end up snared in DRM's web of inconvenience. The industry knows it, most educated consumers know it, and the press certainly knows it, even if we're too polite to blast this charade out of the water every time we write something on the subject.

    Also, the notion that today's DRM schemes guarantee anything to anybody is a hoot: Apple's own Fairplay DRM platform has been hacked into complete and utter submission, and the company's countermeasures rarely work for more than a few days. Anyone who prefers to listen to their music without Apple's snitchware attached to it, for example, can take care of business without paying another penny for the privilege (or so I have heard).

    Apple's claim that it simply does as it is told by its DRM-addicted overlords in Hollywood is disingenuousness at its sordid best. In fact, the iTunes customers tied down by Fairplay—and most customers, fortunately for Apple, still cannot or will not, for various reasons, remove the DRM from the music they buy—are compelled to use Apple's Web site, client software, and portable media hardware. And when Apple has yet another link to sell customers for their golden handcuffs, the company has a captive audience ready and waiting to hear all about it.

    Finally, what about the danger that the music industry, shorn of its DRM "insurance," will gather its goodies and head for the hills? Think about what that means: a complete online-music market vacuum, where legal methods of acquiring digital music and video content simply are not available.

    Nature may abhor a vacuum, but entrepreneurs hate them even more. Napster will fade into historical irrelevance, compared to the "free music" monster that would take an instant double-digit bite out of the music industry's global revenue, should online music distribution return suddenly to the Dark Ages. Even music-industry executives aren't that stupid.

    I see this as a case where the French government is doing exactly what a government should be doing: using its legislative powers to ensure fair competition on a level economic playing field. If only the alleged champions of lassez faire in our own government could take the hint. . .

    Enjoy the rest of your week, and stay in touch.

    Matt McKenzie
    Editor, Linux Pipeline

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    Top Linux News

    French Plan Allows Online Music Buyers To Remove DRM
    A draft law, expected to be voted in the French Parliament on Thursday, would allow consumers to legally use software that converts digital content into any format—and making DRM systems, such as that used by Apple's iTunes service, nearly useless in the process.

    U.S. Cuts Demand For Google Data, Judge Expects Quick Decision
    The government on Tuesday reduced the number of Google searches it wanted data on to just 50,000 Web addresses and roughly 5,000 search terms, down from the millions or potentially billions of addresses it had initially sought.

    Intel Plans Sub-$300 PC For Emerging Markets
    Intel is set to unveil sub-$300 systems in the next several weeks aimed in part at developing nations, including a pay-for-usage, community-based system in India.

    Google To Offer Online Access To Books
    Google plans to let people buy online versions of books, but only make them available for reading through a browser.

    Lighthouse Unveils Open Source Message Archiving Software
    The E-Trail Digital Archive software captures e-mail, instant messages, faxes and other unstructured data.

    EU Regulators Reject Microsoft Charges Of Bias
    The European Union's antitrust division on Friday rejected Microsoft Corp.'s allegations that the Competition Commission colluded with the software maker's rivals.

    Laszlo Aims To Tame The Ajax Beast
    Improvements in the OpenLaszlo development framework will focus on simplifying the process of building Ajax-driven Web apps, while also making the technology more accessible to developers used to working in Java, C++, and other languages.

    Wikipedia Members To Vote On New Main-Page Design
    The open-source, online encyclopedia Wikipedia asks its members to vote on a new design for its main page—currently a model of stripped-down, Google-like simplicity.

    Information Builders Integrates AJAX
    Information Builders will integrate AJAX into its WebFocus BI enterprise platform development tool suite in the June release, company executive said Thursday.

    Editor's Picks

    Linux Web Conferencing: Share And Share Alike?
    More Web conferencing services are rolling out the red carpet for desktop Linux users—but very few take them through the front door.

    Red Hat, Novell Vie For Linux Virtualization Title
    As Novell gets set to detail Xen support in its SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, rival Red Hat is slated to appear on stage with XenSource to discuss Xen support in its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 upgrade.

    The Ultimate No-Cost Network Toolkit
    Need to boost network performance, manage servers remotely, protect your network from hackers and more? Don't spend a bundle on expensive technicians or software—instead, turn to these free (and in many cases Open Source) apps.

    Intel Backs VMware And Microsoft, But Xen Wins Big At IDF
    Intel snuggled up to VMware and Microsoft at its developer's forum but it's Xen that will benefit most from the company's latest batch of virtualization technology-enabled server chips, sources claim.

    Reality IT: Quelling The Boss' Open-Source Fears
    Executives may not realize just how much their firms' networks and other systems rely upon open-source software. When they do find out, it may be up to you to give them some timely reassurance.

    Free E-Book: Get Up To Speed On Dual-Core Processors
    Whether your run Linux, Windows, Mac OS XIn the market for a new PC? Get the lowdown on Intel and AMD's desktop and mobile processors for 2006 with our CPU Roadmaps. Everything you need to know to make a smart purchase decision.

    Voting Booth: Firefox Faces The Future

    Cast Your Vote Now!
    This week's poll question: What will happen to Firefox when Internet Explorer 7 is released later this year? Will Microsoft finally squash Mozilla with a quality Web browser, or does Firefox still have plenty of tricks to keep Redmond second-guessing?

    Previous poll results: Is DRM DOA?
    Last week's question: Will the Sony BMG court settlement discourage other music and digital media companies from experimenting with digital rights management technology?

    Yes - 15 percent
    No - 71 percent
    Who cares? DRM can always be broken, anyway - 14 percent

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