Through the years, humans have always rebelled when told that they couldn’t do something.
When we are told no, we see it as a challenge that must be conquered.
This attitude is very prevalent in the hacker community.
Hackers like to have freedom over the devices that they use.
When a company places restriction on a device that has been purchased by the consumer, this is sort of like buying a car but then being told by the company that you can only drive certain places.
In the past ten years the way that companies have placed restrictions on their devices is to use a technique called DRM.
We will explain what this is and how the practice affects the hacker community.
When we talk about DRM, we are talking about code that is written into the hardware of devices that prevent the device from doing an activity that it has the ability to do.
The letters DRM stand for Digital Rights Management.
A company feels that it has to place DRM onto its products to either protect the companies secrets or to make sure that the company continues to make a profit.
Some companies feel that if a customer has the right to manipulate the device however they see fit, then they can hurt potential revenue streams.
Potential revenue streams may include upgrading the device with new features that the customer can add themselves.
Opponents to DRM argue the point that when they purchase a device then it should be theirs to use how they please.
They make a good point that in no other industry are you restricted from how to use the product once you purchase it.
A purchased device should imply ownership and if you are the owner of the product then you should be able to do whatever you please with it.
Is DRM Black, White or Gray?
Both sides have a good argument but there is a gray area that is in play as well.
In the consumers perspective, how far will the government allow company’s to restrict the devices that they sell.
What if a company that made MP3 players put a restriction on the device that you could only play MP3’s sold by them?
Are you breaking the law by cracking that restriction?
Or in the company’s perspective, what if a consumer changes their device to allow an already illegal practice to take place?
Should a company be allowed to place protections on their device to prevent this from happening?
Again there are a lot of gray areas that must be considered in this debate.
DRM is here right now and even though it mainly been proven to be ineffective to all but the most casual of users, companies seem to like it. The jury is out on whether the practice is worth it.
Maybe we shall see in a couple of years?