back to article From today, it's OK in the US to thwart DRM to repair your stuff – if you keep the tools a secret

This week the US Copyright Office ruled it's OK for Americans to break anti-piracy protections in a bunch of home and personal devices, and vehicles, in the course of fixing or tinkering with said equipment. Mechanisms put in place to thwart unauthorized repairs or changes – such as firmware code that disables third-party …

  1. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Trollface

    But how are...

    Those poor companies going to make any money selling their overpriced crap that only works together with all their other overpriced crap ?

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: But how are...

      That is their problem, the right to make a profit isn't enshrined in the constitution but has to be earned.

      1. John Lilburne

        Re: But how are...

        Yay Wicked! Now we can have Bubba's engine management system modded truck scudding down the highway, with cousin Cletus's modded braking system in place. What could go wrong?

        1. ExampleOne

          Re: But how are...

          Assuming the modifications don't impact the safety of the truck, I fail to see why anything should go wrong.

          If the modifications DO impact the safety of the truck, isn't this all covered in other sections of the law any way (i.e. rules governing road worthiness and the use of the public highway)?

          1. John Lilburne

            Re: But how are...

            "If the modifications DO impact the safety of the truck, isn't this all covered in other sections of the law any way"

            When there are similar issues with OEM components the things get recalled and fixed and there is large company behind the failure. With a Bubba and Cletus mod good luck with getting compo out of Bubba/Cletus.

        2. Trilkhai

          Re: But how are...

          Then the solution is for more states to enact strict safety inspections for vehicles and enforce them. Though that only helps when vehicle owners actually pull their vehicles out of service after being told they're not road-worthy enough to be legal, unlike the asshole who owned the modded stretch limo that killed 20 people recently.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: But how are...

            In my state of New Jersey, we have eliminated safety inspections and registration time. All that is check is emissions to comply with federal law. In theory, a car could pass without functioning brakes. Actually, in reality, as related to me by one of the MVC "inspectors."

            But profits shall be protected...

        3. Juan Inamillion

          Re: But how are...

          'Yay Wicked! Now we can have Bubba's engine management system modded truck scudding down the highway, with cousin Cletus's modded braking system in place. What could go wrong?'

          Don't worry, Darwin will take care of them....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: But how are...

            I know your being sarcastic but I actually know a steel toe boot (no laces), red/black plaid fleece, Mesh backed Baseball capped, mullet wearing guy who mods tractor engines and claims to even double horse power... nothing could go wrong there right. He was kinda of a character, and I do agree with you on that.

            That said I would said we are leaving a time where most could claim ignorance and it is considered an acceptable defense. We are entering a time of "Walk out your door at your own peril", if people want all these toys and gadgets they better get on learning a lot more than they already know about tech and I mean most aspects of technology. I'm sure there are some thin skinned people out there that will take offence to my choice of words but to clarify, the "people" I mention are not the usuals that frequent this site since most are quite technically versed but I'm talking about everyone else. They need to know that they don't need a car, washing machine, toaster, fridge, dish washer, light bulbs... with WiFi, it is bad idea jeans to even go there... maybe revisit this if we ever get quantum communication going **correctly**. I can't totally beat down on the ignorant though, since vendors are most to blame for their ignorance. And of course governments are some blame to share as well:

            1) Gov needs to realize that if climate change is as dire as all are saying then we can't consume the way we have in the past, thus corporate/business models need to change. Therefore planned obsolescence must be either punished which always ends up being a money thing which then is forced onto consumers or make it profitable for them. Since punishment by tax hasn't really helped slow down climate change (cause people still have to live and don't have choice on how things are packaged, shipped, materials used in manufacturing, where these materials are sourced, how these things are manufactured) we need to go down the path of actually telling vendors that now things need to be done a certain way. Sounds great in principal but in my over 4 decades of life I have learned that governments are incompetent in general so good luck on these changes ever happening and good luck for the survival of the human race.

            2) Vendors need to castrated in certain areas and the one area I believe has a high likely hood of succeeding is patents. Maybe to clean up this world we should a brief pause in patents since that is probably the biggest thing in terms of cost and accessibility of technologies that will change climate. Corporations are not fluffy nice little kittens, they are the monsters we create. They are not there to make friends, they are there to make money, that is it. Everything else does not matter. Now if this is the only thing that matters then we have to as citizens be the adults and guide these immature and juvenile sociopaths down a road that benefits their wallets and the rest of society.

            3) Users need to start taking responsibility for their choices and should demand that there be such a thing as universal charge interfaces so you can use any power adapter on any device, this means that the industry as a hole (talking to you Apple) uses one standard interface, which can only be visited every 5 years at a minimum. It is absolutely idiotic that we do this. People need to start learning that we should demand that software when purchased does not have feature updates included in bug/security fixes. They should be separate ALWAYS, anyone who has used any type of tech over any period of time will realize that almost always it isn't the bug fix that brought the new bug but the feature update that does... less tested code. User must stop getting some poor chump young'n and play stupid and completely forget everything said 2 seconds later, YOU DESERVE EVERY PAIN/SUFFERING AND DOLLAR LOST, IT IS YOUR FAULT! not the poor kid that is trying to help you. As most parents say to their kids "choices have consequences" same goes with tech or anything else for that matter.

            All this to say that once you've paid for something IT IS YOURS GOD DAMN IT!! Vendors you don't own the device once the money has been exchanged YOU GOT YOUR CUT NOW LEAVE US ALONE. Provide legal methods of support after your warranty is done, you know like official third party support companies, if the device works after warranty then why should it be thrown away... security maintenance is the only thing you need to provide after that point... you don't build a car that rips up the road way cause its convenient for you and the profits are fat. You're going to destroy the road way infrastructure for everyone else... in tech terms you don't want the billions of Android/IOS/IoT devices pre-current versions to pwn the world cause "it costs too much to support" male cow excrement.

          2. wayward4now
            Childcatcher

            Re: But how are...

            "Don't worry, Darwin will take care of them...."

            Think of it as evolution in action...

        4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: But how are...

          Now we can have Bubba's engine management system modded truck scudding down the highway, with cousin Cletus's modded braking system in place.

          Yes, this is a dire modification of the current regime, in which it is impossible for anyone to make a dangerous modification to any vehicle.

          Though I like your odds in a collision, if you keep surrounding yourself with strawmen like that.

          1. dajames Silver badge

            Re: But how are...

            ... I like your odds in a collision, if you keep surrounding yourself with strawmen like that.

            Yeah, straw men provide a little cushioning, but catch fire really easily!

        5. JLV Silver badge

          Re: But how are...

          Dumb argument. There are tons of after market car parts available for purchase.

          And I bet tons of legal precedents skewering drivers who proceeded to render their car unroadworthy by screwing with it. In case of accident, someone who effed it deserves the book thrown at them.

          Till then, you buy, you own.

          Gotta try harder, you ain't going to be taking on the equivalent of Pai's responsibilities lobbying for "regulating" your chosen industry with such a feeble effort.

          BTW, wouldn't sharing source code, if it's not aimed at circumventing a law, be covered by the First Amendment?

      2. Craigie

        Re: But how are...

        Give Drumpf a few more months...

  2. Dwarf Silver badge

    Mine vs Yours

    Its time for the companies to start to tell the difference between "mine" and "yours".

    If its mine, I paid for it, I own it and I decide what I'll do with it. It may be what you expected, it may not be. For example, that hammer that you decided would be good for banging in nails, I might decide to use it to bang in screws or break bricks too.

    If its yours, then you need to be fully accountable for it - replacing things that break at your cost and not expecting me to part with any money - this means both direct costs and indirect costs like the weasel words of "service charges" etc.

    Who else on this forum thinks that those who repair things will continue to do so with the tools that already exist. Its not realistic to expect Aunt Mabel to understand how deep technical measures work when she only wants to change the battery - like she has done in all the other gadgets she has purchased over the years. This is partly a self-made problem. If manufacturers made the consumable parts (batteries, etc) user replaceable, then none of this would be a problem.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Mine vs Yours

      You, sir, are thinking in a rational manner and not like a corporate type. Have a cold one ---->

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mine vs Yours

      I wholeheartedly agree with you - if I own something and decide I want to use non-standard but equivalent consumables in it, that is my choice. I accept the risk and if it breaks it, it's my responsibility.

      If, for instance, Ford decided that from tomorrow anyone buying a new Ford vehicle anywhere in the world MUST have it serviced and maintained by an approved Ford dealer or service agent FOR THE WHOLE LIFETIME OF THE VEHICLE (which, incidentally, is only for as long as they want to support it for), and includes absolutely everything on and in the vehicle - all spare parts, new tyres, filters, oil, brake and transmission fluid, coolant (including water where required), screenwash, bulbs, wiper blades, floor mats, trim, polish, fuel (yes, fuel!), everything - even just pumping up a tyre must be done by them, and you will be charged whatever it costs at the time. There would doubtless be complete uproar and quite rightly so, because people like to have the choice around these things when it's their own property and don't like to have punitive restrictions placed on them, however misguided or just plain stupid they are.

      DRM is a good as a concept, but when badly implemented (which seems to be most of the time) is more of a hindrance then a benefit.

      Oh, and if you re-read the Ford scenario above and then apply it to Apple and their devices, that is exactly what that company are doing now. And a lot of people seem to be perfectly happy with that arrangement. That makes no sense whatsoever.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Mine vs Yours

        If, for instance, Ford decided ...

        That is a very good thing to mention, because some years ago the EU looked at the situation with cars - where manufacturers did in fact run a closed system, with approved dealerships (which had to be exclusive), it was a condition of the warranty that you had the car services at an approved dealership, and so on. The manufacturers of the cars made all teh same arguments we here these days - for the protection of the users from fake parts, to ensure updates get applied, and so on.

        The EU decided firmly that this was a load of male bovine manure and banned the practice. Manufacturers were no longer allowed to have exclusive dealerships, were no longer allowed to control sale of genuine parts, no longer able to make warranties dependent on servicing at approved dealerships, and so on.

        I think it was a separate ruling where they said that the manufacturers had to come up with a common and open diagnostics interface - and could no longer have proprietary interfaces and refuse to provide protocol/message details to third parties.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Mine vs Yours

          And yet - these same vehicle manufacturers who wanted me to service my vehicle exclusively with them required legislation to provide parts for more than a few years. I have a car only twenty-three years old which already has parts made of purest unobtanium - in some cases, the moulds for the castings have been destroyed. There are a couple of parts for which I will have to display a certain amount of creativity if they ever die; I've already had to write an interface to talk to the (non-OBD) engine management.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Mine vs Yours

            I would not worry too much about this - If the government gets it way, your classic car, be illegal on the roads (unless you remove the engine and floor pan, then you and co do a Fred Flintstone impression).

            1. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: Mine vs Yours

              >>>I would not worry too much about this - If the government gets it way, your classic car, be illegal on the roads (unless you remove the engine and floor pan, then you and co do a Fred Flintstone impression).<<<

              You could tow it behind a team of horses or with a steam traction engine.

              Enquiring minds want to know how much CO2 a large dray horse emits...

              1. A.P. Veening

                Dray horse

                "But that is natural" would be the response of green fanatics.

                I'll have to give them the point that the food for that hay burner can be considered renewable as long as no artificial fertilizer is used, but how about raising and warming the stable for that hay burner?

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Dray horse

                  "how about raising and warming the stable"

                  Pole barns can easily be made from trees grown & milled on site (I have a couple). Horses generate plenty of BTU, they don't need heaters.

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Mine vs Yours

        Oh, and if you re-read the Ford scenario above and then apply it to Apple and their devices, that is exactly what that company are doing now.

        You hinted at something in there that's indicative of what Apple is doing too with the line 'which, incidentally, is only for as long as they want to support it for'. Apple flatly refuses to repair some of their products, while at the same time trying to prevent those people from getting them repaired elsewhere. They know that if a person is invested in the iOS or Mac ecosystem, they've got only one vendor from which to get any replacement hardware, should their existing equipment become unrepairable. Other PC or phone makers can't get away with what Apple does, as there are lots of makers of Windows PCs or Android phones that a disgruntled customer can choose from.

        Apple deliberately cuts corners in their engineering, then blames the users when things go bad. They put moisture sensors on their motherboards specifically to give them a means to deny warranty claims, which they will do with only the slightest excuse. They make bizarre design decisions that make repair as expensive as possible, like making the keyboard, battery, and touchpad into a single replaceable unit in the case of those butterfly keyboard laptops, and then they sometimes simply refuse to perform any repairs at all, or to let anyone else do it either.

        They are truly a despicable company. They can sell their alleged respect for privacy all they want, but as long as they act the way they do with their hardware, I'm staying clear of anything Apple. (And before you ask, I avoid Google like the plague they are too.)

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Mine vs Yours

        Replace "Ford" with "Tesla" and you have what you are afraid of. Many of the Black Boxes in a Tesla are registered to the master Black Box and the only way to do a swap is to pay Tesla to do it OR you can pay Tesla for a massively expensive bit of software and an interface IF you happen to be someplace with Right to Repair laws. Rebuild a Tesla that has been assigned a salvage title and you have to take the car to Tesla and pay them a stack of bank notes to have the car re-certified or you get no updates, app for your mobile or access to the Superchargers.

        You are right in pointing out that many new cars, that are four wheel security bugfests, aren't likely to be supported 10 years down the road. More and more they are looking like SDMV (Software Defined Motor Vehicles).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tesla's

          Yep and the Tesla Disciples don't care. They love paying at the church of Musk /s /s /s

          I did mean to say paying rather than praying.

          Tesla's and owning them is an expensive thing to embark upon.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Mine vs Yours

        "If, for instance, Ford decided that from tomorrow anyone buying a new Ford vehicle anywhere in the world MUST have it serviced and maintained by an approved Ford dealer or service agent FOR THE WHOLE LIFETIME OF THE VEHICLE (which, incidentally, is only for as long as they want to support it for)"

        Take away the IF, substitute "John Deere" and you have a real-world already-existing situation.

        Carmakers already tried this to some extent and were slapped down by ODB2 laws worldwide mandating open standards (In Europe it's illegal to even require that your new Ford be maintained by the Ford stealership to keep the warranty, all that needs to be proven is competentcy where it _is_ serviced)

        Tractors and heavy trucks is a particular problem because the makers saw the loophole in the laws which allowed them to use/enforce DRM - and took it.

      5. dajames Silver badge

        DRM is always bad

        DRM is a good as a concept, ...

        Oh, no it isn't!

        ... but when badly implemented (which seems to be most of the time) is more of a hindrance then a benefit.

        he thing about DRM is that it is almost impossible to implement in a way that actually works -- there always seems to be some loophole that lets it be circumvented.

        Even if it worked as designed it would prevent legitimate licensees of copyrighted data from using the data in any way other than those supported by the licensor -- which would be limited by the licensor to the ways on which the DRM could be made to work, regardless of the desires of the licensee.

        DRM needs to be outlawed, pure and simple. Copyright violators can always be prosecuted after the act.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: DRM is always bad

          "he thing about DRM is that it is almost impossible to implement in a way that actually works -- there always seems to be some loophole that lets it be circumvented."

          It does work. As Cory Doctorow pointed out, it doesn't have to be good, it just has to be there. By putting in totally shire DRM, companies then have the full might of national governments behind them to go after anybody that has breached it. He has even pointed out some example like ink jet cartridges and similar objects where a "chip" is installed that does nothing useful for the consumer, but gives the maker a big club to go after people with.

  3. vtcodger Silver badge

    I'm guessing, but ...

    I'm guessing, but I suspect that when this all settles out "repairing" internal combustion engine ECUs and emissions control hardware may not be allowed on grounds of emission control. Likewise modifications to safety systems on gear that faces the public. Still though, it seems mostly a good thing if our moderately corrupt lawmakers can be persuaded to let something that actually benefits the public stand.

    1. 10forcash Bronze badge

      Re: I'm guessing, but ...

      "I'm guessing, but I suspect that when this all settles out "repairing" internal combustion engine ECUs and emissions control hardware may not be allowed on grounds of emission control. Likewise modifications to safety systems on gear that faces the public."

      It's already the case that repairs and modifications to a vehicle 'Must not' compromise or allow the vehicle to conform to a lower emission standard than extant at its first registration date - despite the open sale of EGR blanking kits, DEF defeaters etc. As far as the likely penalties in law are concerned, they are just as potent as fitting a shonky airbag unit from China, fitting a second hand unit over 10 years old or fitting a termination resistor in lieu of any airbag / SRS device at all.... but it still happens.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: I'm guessing, but ...

        "DRM is a good as a concept, but when badly implemented (which seems to be most of the time) is more of a hindrance then a benefit."

        No, it's an inherently stupid concept : the idea that a signal can be transmitted in a form that can be decoded by a device, yet not decoded by someone who has access to that device. When you have physical access, security is gone.

        You can make it hard alright, but one way or another it will always be broken. The tools to break it are an essential part of the tool that is shipped to decode it.

        It is, as you say, also more of a hindrance than a benefit. As with most attempts to fix a social problem with a technical solution, it ends up being the honest consumer that suffers : it's more convenient to own the cracked media than the official copy.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: I'm guessing, but ...

        "fitting a second hand unit over 10 years old"

        That shouldn't be an issue. If you didn't have an accident that set off the airbag you are replacing, it would still be old. A "second hand" unit from another car that had never been deployed (similar year, make, model, etc) should work just fine.

        At the rate insurance companies "total" cars, any car that has been in an accident is likely to be scrapped so there isn't a market for third party replacement airbags for older cars. I ran into a similar problem with a catalytic converter. I needed a new one for a 1986 Mits pickup and was told I'd have to get one that met 1998 standards in California (thank god I moved). They weren't made. What they were telling me was that I would have to scrap my whole truck. No way, José. I had one shipped to a friend out of state (vendor wouldn't/couldn't ship to California) and sent him the money to send it on. Worked just fine, passed the emissions test with flying colors, so what's the problem?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I'm guessing, but ...

          "I needed a new one for a 1986 Mits pickup and was told I'd have to get one that met 1998 standards in California"

          You were misinformed, or you misunderstood. All you are required to do is bring it up to the standard that existed when the vehicle was new.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: I'm guessing, but ...

            "You were misinformed, or you misunderstood. All you are required to do is bring it up to the standard that existed when the vehicle was new."

            Nope, that's what I had thought, but The Peoples Republik of Kalifornia mandated that replacement catalytic converters meet a later spec. I crawled through many vendor websites and found that same information and that they would not send the OEM spec CC's to a Kallie address. It was another example of a really stupid law that is nigh impossible to enforce. The inspection station would have to crawl under the car, find the makers stamp on the CC and then compare it to a list, but if the emissions are under the limit, why would they bother? Most of them are "pass or don't pay" so it's in their best interest that you pass. They have to be on the lookout for inspectors so they can't just take a few extra bob to cheat, but they aren't going to go out of their way to look for faults if the measurements looks reasonable.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I'm guessing, but ...

        " despite the open sale of EGR blanking kits, DEF defeaters etc. "

        Yes, it's the "open sale" that's the problem. In some countries merely offering them is a criminal offence, let alone fitting them.

  4. _LC_ Bronze badge
    FAIL

    DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

    If by now they didn't manage to figure out that DRM and high prices killed Hollywood, they can't be helped.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

      DRM and pricing has little to do with it. What has killed Hollywood is a lack of writers. Hollywood hasn't had a new story idea in a couple decades. They are coasting along on recycled plots, and the GreatUnwashed is finally starting to notice. Unfortunately, it seems to be politically incorrect to point this out.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

        Did you read "Ready Player One"? Were you excited to see the movie? Were you extremely disappointed? I was. Wil Wheaton did a great reading for the audiobook and the story was a lot of fun. Spielberg gutted a great story line to create a non-stop action film with no character or story development. That's pretty much Hollywood in a nutshell these days. The Harry Potter series could have easily been 2 or 3 movies per book and left in a whole bunch of great sub-plots, but noooooo. They didn't believe that hardcore fans would pay the kings ransom for every installment AND buy overprice snacks too. What morons.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Harry Potter

          Seriously, your complaint about the Harry Potter films were that they needed another dozen of them? By the time they finished filming the last one, Harry, Ron and Hermoine would be 30 years old!

          Your mistake is saying that Hollywood not giving what the "hardcore fans wanted" was a problem. Those movies didn't make billions because of hardcore fans, they made billions because of their broad appeal. Make people have to watch two a year for 10 years and remember all sorts of backstories and plot twists, and they WOULD only be watched by the hardcore fans. And they'd end up making the same amount of revenue they made from the 8 films with 20 of them - but have 2.5x more expenses.

          Hollywood is a business, always has been. Turning books into movies that even the most hardcore fans won't find fault with is not a way to increase profit, it is a way to create movies that are impenetrable for the casual moviegoer that get rejected at the box office.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Harry Potter

            I've been involved in the movie business and one of the big problems with large productions is the fantastic waste of time on set. Small production companies that don't have unlimited budgets seem to be able to get far more screen time as a percentage of working hours. If the goal was to produce movies that were closer to the books, there is no reason why it couldn't have been done before Harry, Ron and Hermione were middle aged.

            In the case of the Harry Potter stories, broad appeal and hardcore fans might yield fairly similar numbers. There are some things that I wouldn't miss if they were cut, but I would have liked to have seen more of the adventures of Fred and George. And I could go on for pages about stuff in the movies that was made up or extrapolated to extend action scenes (Goblet of Fire).

            I'm just frustrated when the movie rights for a book go to a film that is only very loosely based on the text when what I really wanted to see was was a more literal adaptation. It's not like they couldn't have taken the broad outline from a book and written a good screenplay and titled it something else with different character names and set in a different location.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

          "They didn't believe that hardcore fans would pay the kings ransom for every installment AND buy overprice snacks too. What morons."

          The whole situation with theatres has been awkward for ages. For new release high profile movies, the theatres usually make about 25c/seat per screening. The rest of that ridiculous ticket price goes to the distributor.

          Basically they get fascist about snacks because they RELY on them to actually make money and not go under - (they actually make far more money from the film society screenings midweek or the low profile screenings also showing than the blockbusters. For the really high profile stuff it's been known for them to be forced to make a loss on the seats)

          Sooner or later something's going to break.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

            I prefer the rerun classics and double features that some of the budget theaters do mid week. If you enjoy classic westerns, they are much better in the cinema than at home. Even really hookey monster films can be a hoot and getting 3 for a fiver is value for money.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

        "DRM and pricing has little to do with it. What has killed Hollywood is a lack of writers."

        The second is true. The first twisted the knife a few times.

      3. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

        "Hollywood hasn't had a new story idea in a couple decades. They are coasting along on recycled plots, and the GreatUnwashed is finally starting to notice. "

        And they are using DRM and copyright laws to make sure what they are doing continues to make them a profit, without it they would need to come up with new ideas.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

          "And they are using DRM and copyright laws to make sure what they are doing continues to make them a profit"

          The Copyright laws have always been there and aren't really an issue. What DRM has done is to make removing a very simple copy protection scheme a major crime. Copyright doesn't prohibit making a backup copy of a DVD since you own the physical media and have purchased a license for what's on it. If you are truly just making a backup or changing/updating the media such as VHS to DVD and not making multiple copies to give away or sell, that's not a crime. If you have to circumvent any form of DRM, you are now in violation of a criminal statute and regardless of any "fair use" duplication, you can go to jail and be fined.

      4. _LC_ Bronze badge

        Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

        Let’s put it this way: they want(ed) to maximize profits; make the most money, with the smallest of effort.

        You will see that most Hollywood movies are being financed by foreign countries, these days (Canada, Germany, ...).

        Nonetheless, you can easily spot them spiraling downwards when it comes to financing. Even with foreign financiers, they still lack the money. A good example is the latest “Incredibles 2” from Disney (Pixar). If you know a little about computer animation, you can easily identify that they were squeezing each cent. In open scenes, they blurred the backgrounds. Mostly though, their setups were very “meager”. This used to be typical for cheap B-movies. Now it has reached the biggest studios. They are broke and they well deserve it. While they were flying high, they whipped their horses into collapse.

        The faithful costumer they painted on their posters had to be dumber than life. Blu-ray players which refused to play the exorbitantly expensive disks for the silliest reasons; 3D-hype and re-hype that went nowhere. If you were to follow their advice, you’d end up stuffing half of your income into the bin. None of it was lasting – trash the day you bought it...

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

      Hollywood was killed? That'll come as a surprise to them! They are in business to make money, and if people are willing to pay money to see more and more obscure "superheroes" on the silver screen, they are happy to deliver.

      If people wanted highbrow stuff they'd do that instead, but that's obviously not happening in Trump's America.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

        Hollywood officially went TITSUP with the release of TriStar's Godzilla in 1998. It's all been downhill from there, IMO.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

          "Hollywood officially went TITSUP with the release of TriStar's Godzilla in 1998. It's all been downhill from there, IMO."

          The remake of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was another nail in the coffin. After Gene Wilder, there't just no room for improvement.

          Any movie producer that is looking for movie ideas, I can recommend a whole shelf load of books with story lines that have never been seen at the cinema.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

            2005's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" proves my point.

            Yes, there are any number of books that would make good films. Shame Hollywood either can't read, or lacks a collective imagination. Or perhaps both.

            1. veti Silver badge

              Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

              Good grief, you name a couple of turkeys and present that as evidence that Hollywood is dead? Would you care to name the golden age in which there were no sucky films produced?

              Hollywood is doing very nicely, thank you for your concern. The complaint about everything being remakes and sequels has been made routinely for the past 20 years, and it's never been true. Just look at the programme at your nearest multiplex right now: is there really nothing new there?

              Of course the quality is completely hit and miss. It always was. But off the top of my head, since the alleged death of Hollywood, I've seen: Life of Pi, Saving Mr Banks, Gravity, The World's End, Frozen, Lincoln, Wreck-it Ralph, Pacific Rim, Death of Stalin, Zootopia, Moana. All of them pretty good, of their kind. If over the same period you've seen nothing but turkeys, remakes and superhero pap - I'm afraid that's on you.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

                "The complaint about everything being remakes and sequels has been made routinely for the past 90 years,"

                There, FTFY

              2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

                Re: "Just look at [..] your nearest multiplex right now: is there really nothing new there?"

                Challenge accepted :

                Today's films at my nearest Kinepolis are the following :

                A Star Is Born : IMDb says "A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral." I'm sure I've never heard such a story before.

                Alad 2 : has sequel right in the name.

                Goosebumps 2 : same here.

                First Man : IMDb says "A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. " Okay, I guess that can be qualified as new.

                Halloween : Seen that before.

                Johnny English Counter Attack : another sequel (that I wouldn't mind seeing).

                The Nun : horror story about nuns and the Devil. Yawn.

                The House with a Clock in Its Walls : magic and the End of the World with Cate Blanchette. Might take a gander at that.

                Sink or Swim (le Grand Bain) : the IMDb summary makes it sound like a typically French film that will follow the usual hardship-to-validation thread with a bit of romance thrown in because of course, it's French. Seen that a hundred times already.

                Belleville Cop : another platform for Omar Sy, up-and-coming French actor (and not a bad one). But it's a cop story and however well it is done, I do believe we've already seen all the possible permutations in that particular thematic. Which doesn't mean the film isn't good. Omar Sy apparently has a knack for good films.

                Nothing to Hide : another claustrophobic French production which endlessly analyzes people and their (scripted) reactions in a one-room situation. This time it is not husband-wife-lover though, so for a French film, that's new enough.

                The Predator : sequel to the sequel of a sequel. Might still check it out, though.

                Venom : gah.

                And that is the list. 13 films for the evening, 6 of which are direct sequels. Of the other 7, there's only 1 I wouldn't mind seeing - but not at the cineplex. All of the rest look largely like rehashes of storylines we've all seen a hundred times.

                Then again, IIRC I think it's the Greeks who determined that there are only 7 stories worth telling, so . .

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

              Yes, there are any number of books that would make good films. Shame Hollywood either can't read, or lacks a collective imagination.

              I think it's simply that the major studios are risk-averse, in no small part because they've convinced audiences that films should mostly be gratuitous special effects, and thus be wildly expensive. So studios and investors are much more likely to back a remake of a once-successful property than try something new.

              Of course, the major Hollywood studios have nearly always been risk-averse, conservative, and mostly content to produce unimaginative pablum. Consider the studio system of the '50s and '60s, or the near-demise of major studios in the '70s before they were saved by the new genre of exploitation films.

              But none of this contradicts the point DougS made: The big Hollywood studios that are profitable are giving sufficiently-large audiences what they'll pay for, and thus have little incentive to change. Many people might deplore their product, but as long as they make a profit, they won't care.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

        "Hollywood was killed? That'll come as a surprise to them! They are in business to make money, "

        Despite the amount of publicity that Hollywood gathers and the political influence it's been able to wield, you might be surprised how little money they generate and how low the actual worth of the studios is.

        It's rather amusing when studios threaten the large ISPs/Telcos, as the latter companies could solve the problem permanently by BUYING the studios with small change from down the back of the sofa and then telling them to STFU. Kim Dotcom missed that trick and incurred their ire by setting up a rival production firm instead of simply buying out an existing organisation.

        1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

          Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

          "It's rather amusing when studios threaten the large ISPs/Telcos, as the latter companies could solve the problem permanently by BUYING the studios with small change from down the back of the sofa..."

          Comcast tried that with Fox. Didn't work. Maybe they should have used a bigger sofa.

    3. Suricou Raven

      Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

      I think most here can agree that almost every movie to come out of hollywood is crap. But there's a strange thing to consider: They still make money. A lot of money. Opening-weekend records are broken on a regular basis, and for some movies that alone is enough to cover the entire production cost. Cinema attendance is actually recovering from the crater caused by the rise of home viewing. Disc sales are going strong, streaming is booming. Even the movies which critics agree to be utterly abysmal in every possible way are raking in the cash - like the Transformers franchise.

      I really was hoping that piracy would kill hollywood, but it's just not happening.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Hollywood : They still make money.

        that's where you are wrong.

        According to Hollywood accounting rules very few or even NO films released by Hollywood make money. Yet the studio moguls still have their private jets and mansions in Bel-Air...?

        Even the Harry Potter franchise while amongst the biggest grossing movies of all time didn't make much (if any) profit simply due to the way the accounts are put together.

        Yes, us mortals know they make money but officially they don't.

        "Buddy, can you spare a dime?"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hollywood : They still make money.

          "According to Hollywood accounting rules very few or even NO films released by Hollywood make money. Yet the studio moguls still have their private jets and mansions in Bel-Air...?"

          That's so they can avoid taxes and paying writers, actors or anyone else with a contract giving them a share of the profits - instead the money is funneled into expenses at other companies... I wonder who owns them?

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

        Opening-weekend records are broken on a regular basis

        This is rather less impressive when adjusted for inflation, and when you consider that records typically reflect a few outliers and not the bulk of the business.

        For example, Toy Story 2 still has the inflation-adjusted domestic opening-weekend record for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and the fifth highest inflation-adjusted domestic 3-day holiday weekend overall, and it came out almost 20 years ago. Titanic is even older and still holds the record for the Super Bowl weekend.1

        In constant dollars, 1939's Gone with the Wind still has the highest total box office take in US history. The first movie from the present century to show in the list is Star Wars: Mumble Whatever at #11.2

        1See the-numbers.com.

        2See boxofficemojo.com.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

          Sure, but there are a lot more entertainment options in 2018 than there were in 1939, so it is hardly surprising that 1939's best movie leads in inflation adjusted take. If people had 4K televisions, Playstation 4s, iPhones, and the internet in 1939 I daresay Gone With the Wind would not have done quite so well.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: DRM didn't protect anything, ever.

          "For example, Toy Story 2 still has the inflation-adjusted domestic opening-weekend record for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend"

          Films that are family oriented or at least acceptable to parents for kids to watch are in their own category. A sequel means they can use the same designs and possibly tooling for another batch of tie-in merchandise along with a new character accessory pack of instantly loseable parts. The DVD's, downloads and streaming on those films turns into hours of babysitting since kids will watch the same film over and over again amortizing the cost quite nicely. Long holiday weekends are a great time to release a kid's film. Those are the times when families get together and it only takes a couple of adults to shuttle all of the kids down to the cinema and give the rest of the adults a chance to talk and a bit of a tipple without all of the kiddies underfoot complaining they are bored.

  5. Lorribot

    Do screwdrivers fall under this ruling? They would be tools used for opening the cases which would be illegal to sell.

    Wonder when they will start censoring websites in other countries that tell you how to do this stuff.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      You can already get arrested for having a screwdriver

      If you're wandering around and the officer decides it's a burglary tool.

      Of course here in the US, they'll just shoot you first.

      Edit: I'm really happy to hear about the Bunnie Huang lawsuit. He's a sharp cookie, and I hope he makes it stick.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: You can already get arrested for having a screwdriver

        Gene, if that were true I'd have been shot decades ago. I wander around with impunity with a Leatherman Supertool[0] on one side of my belt and a Buck 110 or Schrade LB7[1] on the other. If I've been felling trees, sometimes I have an axe & wedges on me, too. As far as I know, I haven't even been looked at by law enforcement.

        Stop turning isolated incidents into generalities. It makes you look ignorant.

        [0] Yes, it's big. I do real work with it. Toys need not apply.

        [1] Depending on mood. They were xmas gifts from my Grandfathers when I was a teenager. I use whichever one I'm carrying several times per day.

        1. John Lilburne

          Re: You can already get arrested for having a screwdriver

          "Gene, if that were true I'd have been shot decades ago."

          Hey I've had a metal comb described as an offensive weapon by some cop. My response was "Leave it out mate its a fucking comb", his response "what are them prongs on the end for then", his partner "Oh those are for frizzing up a perm thing", me "well you learn something every day from the most surprising of sources."

    2. harmjschoonhoven

      Screwdrivers, screwdrivers ...

      Do you mean a flat, cross, Torx, other hexagonal with or without central boring, triangular, two-pronged flat or watchmakers screwdriver? Or the one that fits the screw but that you and your friendly neighbour unfortunately does not possess?

      BTW If you cannot open the box: the last screw is under the label.

    3. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      I'm expecting to see ads for "Novelty 'Hacker Costume' Toolkits (For novelty, costume purposes only!)" for sale in the back pages of Popular Mechanics and PC World magazines soon.

  6. Jamie 14

    Land of the free!? One can get seriously nicked for collecting rainwater!!!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Not really.

      I collect rainwater here in Sonoma, California. Last time I checked, California was still in the US.

      I mean, who wouldn't? The garden shed's roof is about 100sqft. Given our average annual rainfall of 33 inches here at Chez Jake, that's a tick over 2,000 US gallons. Enough to keep the garden off the kitchen watered. Now throw in the water from the roofs of the houses, the barns, the tractor shed, etc, and we've got more than enough water to grow food (meat, too!), even in drought-stricken California. All completely legal.

      1. Jamie 14

        Re: Not really.

        Ok I stand corrected! In a few states! One can seriously get nicked for collecting Rainwater! Savy!

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Not really.

          In a few states! One can seriously get nicked for collecting Rainwater!

          You're correct, though it's more nuanced than that. Colorado long had a statewide prohibition on rainwater collection, though that was relaxed somewhat in 2009 (for well owners and some pilot projects) and further in 2016. Some other states, such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Ohio, have various regulations controlling and in some cases restricting the collection of rainwater.1

          Colorado's prohibition was based on a belief that rainwater collection would infringe on more-senior water rights. And that is a Big Deal in most of the US Southwest - and the situation will almost certainly get worse.

          1http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/rainwater-harvesting.aspx

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      You can get nicked for NOT being connected to public utilities.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Not really, mk II

        My places in Mendocino County California and Douglas County Nevada are completely off-grid, with the exception of a POTS line to each of them (no cell service). All relevant permits have been pulled, and I have occupancy permits for both of them.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Not really, mk II

          Ah, the USofA, the land of the Free ...

          Q: Have you got a permit for that?

          A: A permit for what?

          Q: To be free naturally.

          A: Eh?

          Q: Freedom costs money so where's yours eh?

          I managed 2 years in the USA before throwing in the towel and coming back to blighty.

          Permits for this, permits for just about everything. Madness.

          /s /s /s

      2. Suricou Raven

        This is correct, but it's not a state law thing - it's a local law thing. To live in a house, or to sell or rent it as a living space, you need a certificate of occupancy (at least in the US, not sure how it works in the UK). Both state and county law determine the minimum requirements for livability - fire codes, electrical codes, etc. In many counties this includes that the building must be connected to the public utility networks (These are typically built-up counties, and may have an exception for buildings which are outside of the area served by these networks) for power, water, sewage and gas.

        It's not that the government is trying to fight off-grid homes. It's just that off-grid homes are such an unusual thing that the law makes no accommodation for them. It's a real bother for people who want independent solar capability - both because they end up paying for a grid power connection they don't need,and because the local wiring codes often mandate that they use a grid-tie inverter with automatic shutdown for safety reasons - which means if the grid is disrupted for any reason, their solar power system shuts off as well, rather defeating the object of off-grid capability.

        1. Suricou Raven

          There is one exception to the certificate of occupancy I should mention: The Amish. They successfully argued that requiring their homes to meet basic livability and safety requirements would infringe upon their first amendment right to free exercise of religion, as their religious beliefs prohibit any dependence upon materials or services from outside the community. Like fire-retardant chemical treatment for timber, or connection to utility grids.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          UK based here and on-grid but with off-grid capability

          solar on the roof charges batteries which run all lighting but can (with a flick of a switch) run the whole house via some hefty inverters.

          If Batteries are flat there is a generator which is capable of running everything + recharging the batteries (diesel reserves to run it for 1 week before switching over to running it on heating fuel)

          All heating & hot water is from a big external wood burner (which runs on scrap wood from a local furniture company) - oil fired boiler as a backup (turn 2 valves to enable), wood reserves for approx 18 months (depending on how cold the winter is) and oil to run the oil boiler for around 6 months

          All rainwater is harvested - filtered into 2 underground tanks (around 30,000 litres overall)

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "which means if the grid is disrupted for any reason, their solar power system shuts off as well, rather defeating the object of off-grid capability."

          There are inverters that are capable of "islanding", but they are more expensive. If the grid goes down, the system physically switches the connection to the grid off and uses the solar/battery system to provide power to the home. When the grid comes on again, the connection will switch back and there are loads of variables that can be programmed in like having the system wait a certain amount of time in case the grid is being finicky.

  7. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Cars? Trucks?

    Hmmm.

    Being allowed to fix ones own 'puter or 'phone should be a no-brainer for those with the ability (with or without the help of manuals, tips, etc found on the 'net). And for being free to share information on the subject.

    But cars and trucks are potentially lethal weapons. Get that wrong and you could kill someone, including but not limited to yourself. Surely if there was ever a case for the law to say Thou Shalt Not (or at least for regulating the qualification to fix things), it's there? With, as quid pro quo, a regulator with real teeth monitoring the behaviour of the industry.

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Cars? Trucks?

      There already systems that cover the safety aspect.

      But, for example, John Deere has been using DMCA to prevent anyone but their authorised dealers repairing equipment. Bear in mind that modern tractors are highly computerised - engine management, gearbox management, etc, etc. Given that a big part of fixing a problem is working out what the problem is, being able to (for example) find out what the various sensors are doing is critical to that. Even if you could fix the problem without this help, often you need the diagnostics software to reset the system (perhaps take the engine out of "safe mode") and clear the fault light. Thus it makes a lot of maintenance impossible for third party mechanics - most of whom are as good as the ones working at the John Deere franchises.

      Quite simply, they are using the DMCA to cripple competition - but (falsely) using "safety" as the justification for it.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Cars? Trucks?

      Nick, I've been working on my own motor vehicles for close to 50 years, from simple oil changes & tuneups to frame-off, last bolt restorations. I've never killed anyone. You see, I drive the end result. It may come as a surprise to you, but most gear-heads have a rather large sense of self preservation. The ones that don't get sorted out one way or another when they are still on skates & riding bicycles.

      Here in the United States, any politician who tries to ban people working on their own cars will be voted out of office in the next election. And they know it, too. Likewise, any politician who even suggests banning classic cars from the roads will probably be tarred & feathered and run out of town on the rail. The installed base is really that large.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Cars? Trucks?

        It may come as a surprise to you, but most gear-heads have a rather large sense of self preservation

        Also, note we've had decades of people reflashing automotive firmware. It hasn't led to a significant number of adverse events. DRM did not greatly decrease this activity; DRM-protecting laws did not do so either. Removing those laws won't have much effect in the other direction. It will just make it legal.

  8. TsVk!
    Pirate

    Banning sharing the tools is optimistic

    Once someone creates a hack tool for whatever device or DRM there will be no stopping it when it hits the open internet, no matter what the law says.

    We've seen this already with firmware for game consoles and the (in)famous KMSpico.

    The fact that people will use this to seize their own rights rather than others is a triviality.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Banning sharing the tools is optimistic

      Maybe they're planning to mandate inclusion of DRM in the tools to prevent sharing...

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Banning sharing the tools is optimistic

      "Once someone creates a hack tool for whatever device or DRM there will be no stopping it when it hits the open internet, "

      Because it's illegal to hack DRM, the hacks that do get posted aren't credited to any legitimate company or individual. That makes it very difficult to track down the entity that made the hack and those hackers aren't going to go after anybody copying and distributing it.

  9. overunder

    Bunnies has a doctorate?

    They give these for cracking the Xbox with tools just laying around your house ;-P.

  10. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    Prohibition

    "This means people will end up downloading tools that are illegal. If there's going to be no legal aboveground tools market, you don't know what you are getting. People could unknowingly be adding malware to their systems."

    The US has form for exacerbating problems with legislation. You'd have thought they'd have learnt from the failure of alcohol, drugs and financial legislation, but they just make the same mistake over and over.

    The only way that works is to make the approved object - and the means of acquiring it - more attractive than the object you want to forbid. Making the forbidden object less attractive - by punishing possession, or the supplier - doesn't work. They just go underground and now you've got two problems. Carrots good, sticks bad.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DRM

    Doesn't

    Really

    Matter

  12. Tromos
    Joke

    Don't try it

    "DRM is also used to ensure people use only official printer ink cartridges or ground coffee beans."

    I had a go with 'Special Kenya Blend' but it clogged the print-heads.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Don't try it

      I see your problem ... you're supposed to brew with the ink, not print with the coffee.

  13. msknight Silver badge

    This is the age of the internet...

    Simply share/publish the knowledge on how to break the DRM on a server, in a country where it is legal to do so.

  14. Symon Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Water under the bridge?

    So, The Register has made its peace with Doctorow now?

    https://boingboing.net/2006/01/11/correcting-the-recor.html

  15. Rol Silver badge

    Binary Munitions!

    After demonstrating to the court that his client's program could in no way alter the DRM settings of a target machine the judge ruled there was no case to answer and ended the proceedings.

    It was a genius move on the coders part, to split the program in two. Neither part alone could effect any change to DRM settings, but together they tore DRM to shreds.

    It was the end user who had to source the scripts from separate sources and bring them together, and thus were deemed to have created their own tool.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't "traffic" your toolkits

    "And, yes, even if you give away the knowledge to crack DRM away as free or open-source materials, you're not in the clear, it appears. You can't "traffic" your toolkits: this means distributing them as open-source or free downloads is a gray area.

    So...could a person get in trouble if their collection of "toolkits" were accessible to world+dog because they were stored on a "misconfigured" cloud storage bucket?

    (Asking for a friend)

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