Originally Posted by backtomac
Without DRM how can the artist protect themselves from piracy?
How exactly does DRM protect artists from piracy? Answer - it doesn't. Check it out, I bet you any popular track currently on iTunes is also available on p2p networks. DRM can never protect artists from piracy, because even if everything
was protected with secure DRM (i.e. anti-digital-copy mechanisms that actually worked unlike DVD's encryption system and FairPlay (which is currently removable)), you would still have to be able to play back the file, which involves converting to analogue. That analogue signal can then be recorded to create a non-DRM file.
In addition, and this really should be obvious: people buying from iTunes are not pirates, because they are buying from iTunes, not pirating! So the only thing that DRM is doing is preventing the legitimate purchaser from using the tracks in any way that they wish.
Now, you could say that the DRM prevents casual sharing amongst friends. I think that in itself (if restricted to making compilations for your friends to introduce them to new music) is acceptable, but what if those friends then seed the music you've given them on p2p? You have to remember though, that the current FairPlay DRM doesn't stop that, because if you burn a CD for your friend, they can rip the tracks DRM-free and then seed.
A technical problem with DRM, beyond the ability that you can just record the analogue output, is that when you sell a DRM-protected track to someone, you also have
to provide them with a key and a mechanism to decrypt the track, otherwise they can't play the track. Hopefully it is obvious that this makes it highly likely that the end user will then be able to figure out a way to permanently remove the DRM using the key and mechanism that has been provided to them for playback purposes.
I believe that a much better system than DRM is encrypted watermarking. A company that I used to work for developed a watermarking technology that is encrypted into the noise of a music file (I believe that it works-in-a-similar-manner-to/uses-the-same-principles-as DSSS
). Because the watermark is embedded in noise, you can't hear it. Because it is encrypted, you can't remove it, even by re-encoding the song or recording and compressing the analogue signal. In order to remove the watermark, you'd have to compress the signal so much it would no longer be listenable.
Because you can't hear the watermark, there is no reason for the end-user to need to remove it for playback purposes. This means that the user need not be provided with a key for the watermark or a mechanism for removing it (unlike DRM). Coupled with the fact that the watermark survives conversion to analogue, back to digital and subsequent re-compression, removal of the watermark by the end-user is impossible (without more-or-less destroying the file).
The system would work like this: each user has a unique watermark encryption key (just like at the moment, they have unique DRM encryption key). The key is stored on iTS servers, linked to an iTS account, but is never given to the end user. The watermark is added to the file before being sent to the user. The user is made aware that the file contains an inaudible watermark. If the user then were to share the file over p2p, the file could easily be traced back to them. They could then have their iTS account deleted and be prosecuted in the courts if necessary. Basically, it is an un-obstrusive method to help keep honest people (they're honest because they're using iTS rather than p2p to get the songs) honest.
Have a read of this article that Aegis posted earlier: arstechnica article