Webmink: GagaGate, DRM and How To Cripple The Cloud

by Volker Weber

I think that’s the answer. My hunch is that the GagaGate meltdown is all the fault of DRM. Rather than just adding a pointer to a shared file to the Cloud Drive, Amazon are required by the record company to create a unique copy of the file for every customer, watermarked to show who bought it. What’s more, the unique copy includes at least one MD5 hash that has to be computed on a per-file basis. So Amazon has both an enormous computing task and potentially an enormous storage bill (assuming it doesn’t just compute the watermark on the fly).

Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer vendor.

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Amazon MP3s have always been watermarked, which I regard as a nice compromise to eliminate true DRM. Clearly the issue is magnified when you have many simultaneous purchases, not just because it's a single album. The promotion is the problem; I admit, when I saw the 99 price I thought about it for a nanosecond, and I don't even like Lady Gaga's style of music.

Arthur Fontaine, 2011-05-24

I always assumed that DRM free iTunes music downloads are also watermarked with the buyer's account. After a short investigation it seems that there is just a meta data field with the email address. (And there are loads of tips how to get rid of it.)

Anyway, DRM is bad for everybody besides lawyers.

Sven Richert, 2011-05-24

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