How Microsoft predicted the Failure of DRM and silenced its Engineers

Ars Technica hat einen superspannenden Artikel über vier ehemalige Microsoft-Mitarbeiter, die bereits 2002 in einem Paper das Scheitern von DRM und die Unausweichlichkeit kulturellen Sharings durch das Entstehung von dezentralen P2P-Netzen und Darknets voraussagten. Dafür wurden sie beinahe gefeuert. Und zur Erinnerung: Danach kam Microsoft mit dem ganz fantastischen Zune-Player und der grandios gescheiterten DRM-Zertifizierung Plays For Sure. Hätten sie damals mal besser auf ihre eigenen Leute gehört.

The paper predicted that as information technology gets more powerful, it will grow easier and easier for people to share information with each other. Over time, people will assemble themselves into what the authors called the “darknet.” The term encompasses formal peer-to-peer networks such as Napster and BitTorrent, but it also includes other modes of sharing, such as swapping files over a local area network or exchanging USB thumb drives loaded with files.

Once a popular piece of information—say, a movie, a song, or a software title—”leaks” into the darknet, stopping its spread becomes practically impossible. This, the engineers realized, had an important implication: to prevent piracy, digital rights management had to work not just against average users, but against the most tech-savvy users on the planet. It only takes a single user to find a vulnerability in a DRM scheme, strip the protection from the content, and release the unencrypted version to the darknet. Then millions of other users merely need to know how to use ordinary tools such as BitTorrent to get their own copies.

How 4 Microsoft engineers proved that the “darknet” would defeat DRM