Why DRM cannot work

Cory Doctorow (of boingboing fame) wrote a nice column where he explains why DRM (Digital Rights Management) will never work. The article is intended to explain to non-technical people why DRM is impossible. It also explains why DRM only hurts people who actually go out and buy the content and NOT the pirates.

The thing is that when they say that you can’t travel than fast than the speed of light, they’re talking about the fundamental principles of physics: it’s impossible to get beyond lightspeed, even if science fiction movies help us conceptualise it.

In the same way, we can imagine building progressively better software locks for movies, music, ebooks, and software until we hit on one that even the wiliest hacker can’t defeat. But, just like the physicists, the geeks who say that DRM can never reach this point are speaking about fundamental principles of information science. It’s impossible to get that far.


HowTo replaygain your entire collection

Every time I need to do this, I forget where I found it. This information is copied from here.

Vorbis ogg:
vorbisgain -arfs *

mp3 (using mp3gain):
find -type d -exec sh -c "mp3gain \"{}\"/*.mp3" \;

mp4 and mp3:
find -type d -exec sh -c "mp3gain \"{}\"/*.mp3" \;

find -type d -exec sh -c "mp3gain \"{}\"/*.mpc" \;

flac: just use the –replay-gain option when encoding or use the following (treating all the flacs as one album!):

find originals -name "*.flac" -type f -print0 | xargs -0 metaflac --preserve-modtime --add-replay-gain

or you can create the following small script and call it with the name of your base directory (/srv/music, or something like that). This will treat all songs in one directory as one album.

for dir in `find $basedir -type d`; do
ls $dir/*.flac >/dev/null 2>&1 && metaflac --add-replay-gain $dir/*.flac

My own encryption key

Thanks to all kind of funny laws in the US of A I can now call myself the owner of the following 128 bit integer: 41 D5 77 97 FA B1 7B F9 3F D8 B9 06 DF 74 37 1C. Nope, you can not use this number anymore, it is mine.

You want one for yourself? Get it at freedom-to-tinker.com.

And if you don’t get what this is all about. You might want to check out this link for additional information and a funny solution for the problem.


Boingboing has an update to this and some backgrounds on the release of the new AACS key. This is all very funny and amazing, read it here.

Usb sound card, alsa and udev

Found the following information on Joeys blog:

If you’re like me and had to buy a usb sound card since the laptop’s onboard soundcard creates too much noise, and would like to have that card used by default when it’s plugged in, but otherwise have builtin card be used, create an /etc/udev/rules.d/00_local.rules containing:

# Default to using additional (USB) sound cards when they are available.
KERNEL=="pcmC[D0-9cp]*", ACTION=="add", PROGRAM="/bin/sh -c 'K=%k; K=$${K#pcmC}; K=$${K%%D*}; echo defaults.ctl.card $$K > /etc/asound.conf; echo defaults.pcm.card $$K >>/etc/asound.conf'"
KERNEL=="pcmC[D0-9cp]*", ACTION=="remove", PROGRAM="/bin/sh -c 'echo defaults.ctl.card 0 > /etc/asound.conf; echo defaults.pcm.card 0 >>/etc/asound.conf'"

Only programs started after the sound card is plugged in will use it of course, and this might not work if you have it plugged in while booting.


Bogus agreements.

READ CAREFULLY. By reading this article, you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies (“BOGUS AGREEMENTS”) that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.

More infos can be found here and here

Katapult ebuild

Current version: katapult-0.3.1

This is a very simple ebuild for katapult. Katapult is an application for KDE, written in C++, designed to allow faster access to applications, bookmarks, and other items. It is plugin-based, so it can launch anything that has a plugin for. Its display is driven by plugins as well, so its appearance is completely customizable. It was inspired by Quicksilver for OS X.
You can find more info here.

To use it:

  • Download the package
  • Check your /etc/make.conf and see what the value of your PORTDIR_OVERLAY variable is
  • Change to one of your ‘overlay’ directories and execute:
    tar zxvf /path/to/katapult.tar.gz
  • emerge katapult

Filed as Gentoo bug nr: 121721, seems it is a duplicate, and the ebuild already maintained by someone else… You can still use my ebuild, but I will not update it.

SonyBMG again

A while ago I blogged about my experiences with the Air album WalkieTalkie. This album has (had?) some awful content protection mechanism. The protection caused the album to sound like a LP that had seen too many parties. Back in the days I talked to BMG about it, they offered to change the CD for a new one. Since I didn’t have the feeling this would change my experience, I made a copy of the album. The copy is working fine…

It was then that I decided to never, ever buy a CD again that contains Copy Protection or DRM.

That was for about 1,5 years. Nowadays SonyBMG has a different way of telling you, the buyer of their products, that they don’t like you: they silently install software on your PC. They even hide the software and the EULA states that you agree to this by inserting the CD into your PC.

The EULA has a lot of other rules. They would have been funny if they weren’t so serious.

Time for a new rule in my life: no more Copy Protection / DRM and nothing from SonyBMG anymore.

More information about the software installed by SonyBMG can be found here.

Update: boingboing has some updates about Sony, that make for an interesting read:

  • Sony seems to be using another piece of software as well. Link.
  • Sony filed a patent to make media you can no longer sell or loan. Link.
  • Sony published an uninstaller for the first rootkit. This uninstaller leaves your pc open to the rest of the world. Link.
  • Sony did not respect copyright laws with their first rootkit. The rootkit uses pieces of lame, an opensource audio encoder, but so far no sources have been published by Sony. Link.

2nd Update
And here is a very nice roundup of everything that happened with Sony since Halloween: Link.