A little more than three weeks after the new Disney+ movie streaming service went officially live, the Disney company has added Linux support to their Widevine DRM protection. No more “Error 83”. No more need to install the Windows version of Chrome in Wine. Watching your favorite movies is now possible in the native Linux browsers – both Mozilla and Google based. Firefox will download the Widevine CDM (content delivery module) automatically, Chrome has the support built-in and for my Chromium package and other Chromium-based browsers you;ll have to install my chromium-widevine-plugin package.
I guess that a sufficiently large group of Linux enthusiasts have been complaining. And with success!
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I don’t know what to celebrate here, the whole DRM phenomenon is quite terrible, it casually mistreats its users, and isn’t compatible with free software in the long run.
DRM and free software are different things. You and I have different definitions of “free”.
I am a proponent of free software but also of freedom of choice. DRM still gives you that choice. you do not have to consume the digital media that are protected by DRM.
As for me, free software is software that gives users 4 basic freedoms.
December 23, 2019 at 19:14
>I am a proponent of free software but also of freedom of choice. DRM still gives you that choice. you do not have to consume the digital media that are protected by DRM.
Freedom of choice between software that takes away your fellow users’ freedom and software that doesn’t? For me, it’s an ethical issue, and no one should face a choice between a decent option and a terrible option. Especially now, when we have all necessary technical means that allow us to avoid terrible options.
DRM has nothing to do with free software, or ethics for that matter.
It is a media distribution mechanism. You can add DRM to your free and opensource browser, or you don’t. That’s the freedom of choice you have.
In the past (no idea about your age) you would pay a subscription fee if you had a television set in the house. Nowadays you pay a fee to watch copyrighted and protected multimedia content online. In the past you would be able to record audio and video on tapes, but tapes deteriorate over time and cannot be duplicated unlimited. That was the protection of media producers in the past. Now you probably are not agreeing to the fact that your DRM-ed ebook or movie can not be played outside of the protected environment the media content provider offers you. And I can live with that, it is their business model. You no longer own content, you stream it – for a fee. I think you still live in the past, but if I discuss this with young people they are OK with the model of today. If they want to *own* something they buy a physical medium.
Please tell me what freedoms are taken away when a company decides to use DRM to protect its assets? You think everything on the Internet should be free? Well *then* you have an incomplete grasp of what it means to be free and to have a choice.
My choice is to make everything I produce available for free, no strings attached. Everybody should be able to make that choice for him- or herself.
“DRM has nothing to do with free software, or ethics for that matter.
It is a media distribution mechanism.”
Have you entertained a notion that the term “media distribution mechanism” when applied to a private corporation is profoundly unethical? I suppose it’s not a “media distribution mechanism”, it’s a “profit extracting mechanism” – and it’s based on a ridiculous kind of rent, where I “give” you bitstreams that can be instantly copied ad infinitum, and we both pretend we handle tangible goods. It’s not capitalism, it’s rent profiteering that depends on what? – on magic! And the only way to impose this magical thinking is through restrictive software. I doubt that the survival of writers and artists is at stake here – more likely, the survival of rent-seekers.
“Nowadays you pay a fee to watch copyrighted and protected multimedia content online”
For me this means, there are laws that treat bitstreams as “content” that can be “protected”, from what exactly? From my recognizing it for what it is – infinitely copiable digital data stored as 1/0’s on a magnetic disk. I ask myself, what is closer to reality, laws of a government lobbied by owners of “content” or physical laws?
“In the past you would be able to record audio and video on tapes, but tapes deteriorate over time and cannot be duplicated unlimited”
Absolutely. Now that “content” can be duplicated unlimited at zero marginal cost, what was put in place? Entities that prohibit exactly this.
“That was the protection of media producers in the past.”
I doubt it (as a media producer). More often it was their yoke that ensured their dependency on large record companies, film studios, TV conglomerates, etc. And it was justified in some ways – at least their models of distribution relied upon the production of cumbersome, fragile and costly storage items.
“Now you probably are not agreeing to the fact that your DRM-ed ebook or movie can not be played outside of the protected environment the media content provider offers you.”
Who are media content providers? When I enjoy some “content” nowadays, I can immediately send money directly to a content creator or his site through the Web. Having technologically unjustified intermediaries is absolutely irrational.
“And I can live with that, it is their business model.”
I disagree – I detect no business model here. It’s naked, unashamed rent-seeking with the help of abusive software. I can’t live with that.
“You no longer own content, you stream it”
You never own content, you can only own a physical item by means of which something is distributed. Owning content means intellectual property rights (which is a controversial topic, as any judge can tell you).
“I think you still live in the past”
Excuse me, but I recognize no future here, only a lobby trying to ruse me via legal gimmicks and the falsification of physics.
“Please tell me what freedoms are taken away when a company decides to use DRM to protect its assets?”
As I said, I don’t consider digital streams “assets” in any meaningful sense. I believe it’s an unsuitable mode of thinking by analogy with objects and qualities. DRM takes away my right to interact with bitstreams as I please – on *my* computer.
“You think everything on the Internet should be free?”
I think there are much better ways of distributing money and works of creators on the Web. And I think corporate giants are not the internet, they’re the old guys trying to impose their absurd ways. It’s a systemic issue: I see old established habits of thinking and doing business, and I believe they’re radically incompatible with the digital epoch.
Perhaps I’m a bigger capitalist than those guys – their capitalist *ideology* has become altogether irrational, magical. I firmly assert that intellectual property rights do not encourage creators, but instead serve malignant concentrations of money and proliferate unintelligent ideas.
Thanks for this discussion. While I do not agree with your reasoning for the larger part, I welcome the diatribe and your reasoning is sound.
Taking part in a healthy conflict is the best way for all sides to become more knowledgeable.
I appreciate your spirit of politeness, alienbob. I fully agree, I also think there should be more discussions that are intelligent and perceptive, that question and challenge the established ways of the digital realm and go beyond fanboyism, personal quarrels etc. Free software communities can greatly benefit from it too, considering the decline/stagnation of the desktop Linux userbase today.
But I wasn’t really aware of your outlook, so I wouldn’t say I was arguing – I was expressing my concerns, because I’ve just discovered your blog (and Slackware community). Maybe you’d care to tell me briefly why you don’t agree with my reasoning?
(And bear with my somewhat sarcastic tone here and there, hope you recognized it. I am by no means an admirer or adherent of capitalism in any form or shape 🙂 )
except for Slackapitalism, of course :~)