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Digg & Zen Stone

5:55 PM -- Yesterday, Digg.com faced a mutiny over its decision to censor a key for cracking the DRM on HD-DVDs. This morning, Creative unveiled the Zen Stone, its 1-Gbyte answer to the Shuffle. These two seemingly unrelated items both provide anti-DRM fodder. And that's my favorite kind of fodder!

The Digg debacle has all sorts of interesting implications for copyright law and the limits of the DMCA Safe Harbor provision, which are being discussed to no end on the Internet. But as EE Times points out, fretting about whether or not Digg broke the law by allowing the leak misses the point. Codes are always broken eventually, be it by malicious hackers or by bored dudes in their moms' basements (not that the two groups are mutually exclusive). As the article points out...

The NSA has learned to accept and live with the constant battle between code-creation and breaking. Content protectors in private industry need to do the same.


Which means, keeping a DRM technology secure (on any kind of content) means continually changing the locks every time a copy of the key escapes. You can sue the whole goddamn Internet, but the damage will already be done. Do the financial benefits of stamping out piracy (sort of) outweigh the possible millions spent outsmarting and suing hackers? Doesn't seem likely.

Meanwhile, in less controversial territory, Creative's Zen Stone is cute, cheap, and simple. Not too simple to handle standard Windows DRM, but too simple for subscription music. As Creative told Gizmodo:

Subscription support would have required much more processing power, which would have increased the cost and price of the player.

So, to recap, DRM maintenance is expensive, and not everyone thinks the extra computing power required to unlock some of the magic is worth the effort.

— A.L. Friedman, Editor at Large, Light Reading

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