DRM, a poor explanation

The Denver Public Library has started to offer downloadable video content on their Web site. I plan on testing it out shortly and writing a full review of the system. However, in looking through some of the documentation I found this little gem on the help page:

“The Windows Media Security Upgrade is a one-time process that must be performed before Microsoft Windows Media Player will allow any copyright-protected files to be played.”
[emphasis added]

This sentence is misleading at best and a lie at worst. Windows Media Player will play copyright protected files just fine without this “security upgrade”. I can stick the recently released DVD of King Kong, clearly protected by copyright, into my computer and play it with Windows Media Player just fine without this “security upgrade”. What it won’t play without the upgrade is files that include the DRM restrictions that the content creator is using to enforce their copyright. Yes, it’s semantics, but this is an important issue when attempting to explain to people why they need this software just to watch a video. Copyright protection is a concept, DRM is software.

Update 04/14: I have contacted DPL regarding this issue and here’s their reply —

“Thank you for calling our attention to this. We are working with the vendor to revise the wording.”

4 Replies to “DRM, a poor explanation”

  1. It isn’t a nit-pick to ask librarians to avoid sloppy language, especially when digital containers and DRM are only going to become more important to the world of the library. Users are going to look to librarians to educate them on intellectual property issues, and this demonstrates that many working in the profession don’t yet know enough to help those users.

  2. If you read the whole document it’s pretty standard industry biolerplate. I’m sure that the library had absoultly nothing to do with the language which was supplied from the vendor. However, that isn’t much of an excuse.

  3. Wow, a library tries something new and instead of just sending them an email saying hey, thought about changing this language? you just take it public? DPL has been in the downloadable business a long time. Hardly in the category of “don’t yet know enough to help those users.”

  4. Cindi – As I thought I clarified in my comment, I’m not blaming the library at all as I’m sure that the company that supplying the videos wrote the text that I was commenting on. Besides, what’s wrong with “taking it public”?

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