Microsoft Research DRM talk
June 17, 2004
This talk was originally given to Microsoft’s Research Group
and other interested parties from within the company at their
Redmond offices on June 17, 2004.
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Greetings fellow pirates! Arrrrr!
I’m here today to talk to you about copyright, technology and
DRM, I work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation on copyright
stuff (mostly), and I live in London. I’m not a lawyer — I’m a
kind of mouthpiece/activist type, though occasionally they shave
me and stuff me into my Bar Mitzvah suit and send me to a
standards body or the UN to stir up trouble. I spend about three
weeks a month on the road doing completely weird stuff like going
to Microsoft to talk about DRM.
I lead a double life: I’m also a science fiction writer. That
means I’ve got a dog in this fight, because I’ve been dreaming of
making my living from writing since I was 12 years old.
Admittedly, my IP-based biz isn’t as big as yours, but I
guarantee you that it’s every bit as important to me as yours is
Here’s what I’m here to convince you of:
1. That DRM systems don’t work
2. That DRM systems are bad for society
3. That DRM systems are bad for business
4. That DRM systems are bad for artists
5. That DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT
It’s a big brief, this talk. Microsoft has sunk a lot of capital
into DRM systems, and spent a lot of time sending folks like
Martha and Brian and Peter around to various smoke-filled rooms
to make sure that Microsoft DRM finds a hospitable home in the
future world. Companies like Microsoft steer like old Buicks, and
this issue has a lot of forward momentum that will be hard to
soak up without driving the engine block back into the driver’s
compartment. At best I think that Microsoft might convert some of
that momentum on DRM into angular momentum, and in so doing, save
all our asses.
Let’s dive into it.