this blog is girtby.net

Posted
03 February 2005

Categories
Verisimilitude Provocation

Tags

4 Comments

Parental Advisory: Explicit DRM

On the cover of a technical book published by Sybex it proclaims that the entire contents are available in PDF form on the accompanying CD. Which sounds nice, doesn't it? If only it were true.

The PDFs are DRM encrypted using the ironically-named FileOpen plugin. This means that the PDFs can only be viewed on a Windows box because that's the only platform supported by the DRM plugin. Hey guys, the P stands for Portable, remember? Viewing on a non-Windows box is one of many legitimate uses that are prevented by the DRM being used here.

What really irks me about all this is the fact that Sybex put DRM on the book without telling me upfront. It distinctly says "entire book in PDF", not "entire book in overly-restrictive DRM-encrusted PDF".

I see no reason why this shouldn't be a consumer rights issue. If we're going to have DRM shoved down our throats (and, for the time being it looks likely) at least let's know about it. They have warning labels for everything else these days: food containing peanut products or originated from GM crops, fizzy drinks containing phenylalanine, CDs containing explicit lyrics, movies containing frequent course sex and occasional language (or whatever), region coding of DVDs (a primitive form of DRM itself).

Why should DRM be any different? The presence of DRM mechanisms on a given product potentially affects the ability of the consumer to use the product in perfectly legitimate ways.

I demand that where DRM is used it should be clearly labelled up-front.

I've sent an email of complaint to Sybex. I've also mentioned this issue in my Amazon review. Responses, if any, will be posted here for your amusement.

4 Comments

Posted by
Boris
2005-02-02 23:52:33 -0600
#

If it is protected by FileOpen then you should not have too much trouble in cracking it ! Elcomsoft - www.elcomsoft.com might be able to help you out here.

Or if you look at the windows swap file you will see all the content in the clear anyway...

There system has been published as flawed and we are not talking about the encryption they use but simple ways to break the product because of how it has been implemented.


Posted by
qo
2005-02-02 23:52:33 -0600
#

this is rubbish.


Posted by
Jim
2005-02-02 23:52:33 -0600
#

I would like to know what you mean by "The presence of DRM mechanisms on a given product potentially affects the ability of the consumer to use the product in perfectly legitimate ways."

Most people think that because they purchase a product, such as an MP3, DVD or a PDF book, that they own it. This is not true. They have the right to use only one copy of it.

I am hoping that your idea of 'legitamate' ways do not include shareing with all of your friends. Please explain.

It is up to the copyright owner to enforce the copyright laws. The governments won't help here. If the owner cannot put the product into a form that guarantees them the product will be used only by the purchaser, then they cannot enforce their right to copy. This is why musicians are starving; because they cannot sell enough copies of their music to pay back the big loans (disguised as recording contracts) because everyone and their brother thinks that it is OK to share music.


Posted by
Alastair
2005-02-02 23:52:33 -0600
#

Jim, thanks for the comment.

I am hoping that your idea of ‘legitamate’ ways do not include shareing with all of your friends. Please explain.

I explained my idea of legitimate use in the article above, specifically: "Viewing on a non-Windows box is one of many legitimate uses that are prevented by the DRM being used here".

As for the rest of your comment, I profoundly disagree. I suggest you go read Lessig's Code 2.0. Or just about any of the stories on boingboing.