[clug] A most interesting read, most interesting

Sam Couter sam at couter.id.au
Tue Dec 26 22:35:52 GMT 2006

Michael Cohen <michael.cohen at netspeed.com.au> wrote:
> I disagree with that statement - it makes no difference what OS people use to
> whether the drivers are open source or binary only.

This only holds true while the diversity of popular operating systems is
low. Once there is high diversity in popular operating systems such that
a manufacturer can't just say "Windows, Mac and Linux [which one?]" and
have 99+% of the market, they will need to do more to support more
diverse operating systems. Releasing specs and/or driver source code would
be far more likely in such a world.

> Again the reason AV creators want to use DRM has nothing to do with the OS -
> its all about how they can control how their product is used. If the proportion
> of linux users increases to a significant level we will see DRM enforcing
> binary only media players appear for linux.

But with Linux it's impossible to create the secure multimedia path that
the big entertainment companies are currently having wet dreams over. We
will always be able to record digital outputs directly from the drivers
or the hardware. Linux and all Free Software gives control to the user,
which is entirely the point of the GPL and other copyleft licences.

> On the contrary, in the current situation you might
> have some moral (if not legal) right to reverse engineer DRM systems in order
> to make them work on linux, but if an itunes client is released for linux,
> there would be little justification for reversing it other than to pose a
> threat to apple's commercial grip.

And that's a valid moral reason! Just because you'd be happy with iTunes
doesn't mean everyone else would be. From the practical point of view, my
portable music player won't work with iTunes, nor will it play iTunes
music. From an ideological or slightly more paranoid yet still practical
point of view, closed source? How do I know what it's really doing?

[ Insert bad car analogy here; only Ford cars are available, they work,
if you don't like them you can suck it. Build your own, go to jail. ]
Sam Couter         |  mailto:sam at couter.id.au
                   |  jabber:sam at teknohaus.dyndns.org
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