Hi Shane,

I think there are four aspects to this that should probably be treated separately, but are somewhat lumped together in your article.

1. Copyright Protection
2. The reality of what corporates claim is "copyright protection"
3. Controlling what people can/can't do with their own kit (and more)
4. Government spying claiming it's for "National Security"

In the case of #1, if a game company puts a scratch on their CD and a big warning saying it's copy protected, but this CD does not harm anyone's computer in any way, then I don't see the end user has a justified complaint. If they don't like games they can't copy, then go to a different company.

In the case of #2, this is where corporation X secretly installs SpyWare onto the end-user's computer as soon as the end-user opens their music/software (or in some cases merely visits their internet site). This has been going on for years, but was more heavily publicized in the case of Sony BMG and the root-kit. The corporations claim they are merely "protecting their intellectual property" and "informing customers about our wonderful products and services". In this case, the corporation is COMPLETELY in the wrong, and should be attacked and boycotted. In the US it seems people assume anything installed by a big-name corporation is safe? Thing is, these back-doors can see a lot more than any corporation's legitimate claim of it's use for tracking copyright breach. A common defense is that the end-user clicked some button and therefore "must have agreed" to our terms, but sometimes those terms are not legal outside the US, especially where privacy and minors are concerned.

In the case of #3 and trusted computing, this is just plain WRONG. Imagine if Intel and Microsoft struck a deal where suddenly you can only run Windows on your Intel based machine? You try to install Linux and it says "WARNING UNTRUSTED EXECUTION, SYSTEM HALTED". But a more likely scenario is where you'll find all Microsoft programs "just work", but every time you try to run an Open Source program you get an annoying dialog "YOU ARE TRYING TO RUN AN UNTRUSTED PROGRAM", and then some long drawn out list of how to obtain certificates etc.

(Actually, from what I've heard about Vista, even Microsoft's OWN programs cause pop-up warnings).

In the case of #4, the idea is that the "government knows best" and therefore everyone should allow government SpyWare on their machines and anyone who protests must be a "terrorist".

As I see it, the way forward for DRM and trusted computing will annoy people and they will end up shunning it. To some extent this is happening already, but even Adobe is in on the act now with their secure PDFs and most end users will simply end up with what they're given with their next hardware purchase - e.g. Windows Vista with everything locked down and DRM enabled. I hope the GNU people get it together to outlaw DRM in their new license. One other thing to note is that no one outside the US/UK gives a damn about any corporation's rights to anything; in Japan and China, copying is the "norm".

I'd be interested to know if it makes any difference if you use AMD/Sun processors?

Shane M. Coughlan wrote:
Hi FreeDOS guys :)

As well as making OpenGEM for FreeDOS, I spend time helping the Free
Software Foundation Europe.  One of our big topics of late has been DRM
and 'Trusted Computing', and I have just written a little article about

I'd really value any comments you may have.

I think these issues are really important to all Free Software
development.  FreeDOS (for instance) does not really help spread
multimedia and therefore is largely excluded from the DRM conversation.
 But what about in the future when only trusted software runs on trusted
hardware?  Suddenly this wonderful system (FreeDOS) might not be usable
by people, even if they want to try it.  We could be a victim of

Just a though...it's something that has been concerning me lately.


Gerry Hickman (London UK)

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