Open Source DRM

We’re not accustomed to hearing the words “DRM” and “open source” in the same breath, but get used to it. Eliot Van Buskirk, for Wired:

… open-source DRM is exactly what Sun Microsystems has proposed, with its DReaM initiative. Its goal is to promulgate an open-source architecture for digital rights management that would cut across devices, regardless of the manufacturer, and assign rights to individuals rather than gadgets.

Strange bedfellows yes, but the initiative is backed by no less than Larry Lessig, and will be fully Creative Commons-compatible. The big question is whether major players will adopt it. With France putting the skids to Apple’s DRM silo and Denmark threatening to follow suit, the world is waking up to the albatross of data lock-in. Traction for DReaM has the potential to finally break its back — at least as far as MP3 players go — and open things up. But some think DReaM doesn’t include enough guarantees that existing rights won’t still be abused:

Sun’s DReaM “Usage Scenarios” document says that its fair-use mechanism is purely optional for rights holders.

Fair use is optional? Even under open-source DRM? And this has Lessig’s backing? Strange world. Still, open source DRM is better than the alternative.

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