Mr. Linux himself, Linus Torvalds, would allow Digital Rights Management in Linux. He’s no fan of it. But he’ll tolerate it, according to the Inquirer.

“I’ve had some private discussions with various people about this already,” he says, “and I do realize that a lot of people want to use the kernel in some way to just make DRM go away, at least as far as Linux is concerned.” However, he himself refuses to “play politics with Linux, and I think you can use Linux for whatever you want to–which very much includes things I don’t necessarily personally approve of.”

The TeleRead take: Exactly! No need for Linux advocates to outMicrosoft the Softies with a control fixation of their own.

Perhaps Torvalds’ thoughts can pave the way for an eventual compromise between at least some Linux boosters and Hollywood. Remember, if you keep DRM out of Linux, that just locks up Microsoft’s operating system monopoly further. In turn, the DRM boosters would do well to be open-minded toward nonproprietary protection systems of the type Jon Noring suggests. That would help pave the way for a universal e-book format at the consumer level for different OSes.

For some interesting DRM-related thoughts, see a recent BBC essay by Bill Thompson. He came up with some rather off-target rants about Europe and the Web last year, but could be dead right in certain ways on rights management. An excerpt from his DRM essay:

If copyright is a good thing, and most of us seem to support giving authors the ability to sell their work and decide who gets to copy it, then protecting copyright should surely be a good thing too.

In this light, bringing the Linux-using community into the rights management world makes a lot of sense.

Because if Linux does not support rights management then Linux users will either have to do without access to e-books, music, movies and all other forms of digitally signed and protected materials–or write their own programs to break whatever protection is provided, irrespective of the legal rights or artistic desires of the copyright owners.

This, of course, is just what happened with the DeCSS program, written to crack the rather shoddy encryption on commercial DVD movies so that a DVD player could be written for Linux.

OK, fine. But now it’s time for the DRM boosters to come forward with more flexibility–especially about e-books.

Interesting link: Check out a W3C workshop presentation on Open Digital Rights Management. Oh, to avoid those proprietary wrinkles in protection systems that can wreak havoc on “Open”!


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