Lost in Translation

Cory DoctorowI’ve previously blogged about a “new” German DRM scheme to change the text of a book each time it’s copied. Well, Cory Doctorow’s got something to say about it:

Shortcomings aside, this kind of DRM is hardly a breakthrough. I first encountered this proposal in the late 1980s, when it came up in a message board on the Science Fiction Round Table on GEnie, an online messaging service. I remember at first thinking that it sounded very clever, until someone pointed out that all it would take to de-identify a text would be to find two or more copies, compare them, make note of the differences, and randomly vary them. That’s easily done—a simple text comparison has been a largely solved problem since the advent of the Unix “diff” command, developed in the early 1970s.

But the fact that the basis behind this security measure was countered 25 years ago by employing a simple tool that’s getting into its 40s is not the silliest part of this supposed new DRM breakthrough. No, the silliest part is the idea that knowing who an e-book was sold to can actually serve as an effective means of fighting piracy. That belief rests on the idea that if you know to whom a file was sold, you can somehow take it out of their hide if you find lots of copies floating around on the Internet.

Read the full article @ PublishersWeekly.com.

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