I had to suppress a smirk last week when I saw a kinder, gentler DRM (digital rights management) rear its ugly head over on Slashdot. The open-source world has long hated DRM, but perhaps open-source DRM is somehow blessed?
Marlin, a new open-source DRM scheme, is alleged to be different, as noted in PC Pro:
The co-chairman of the Marlin Developer Community claims the open-source system is far less oppressive than those from rivals such as Apple and Microsoft, allowing users to share content between any Marlin-enabled device in the home rather than on specific machines. "It works in a way that doesn't hold consumers hostage," Talal Shamoon told PC Pro. "It allows you to protect and share content in the home, in a way that people own the content, not the devices."
"Far less oppressive." Boy, that inspires confidence! It's not nearly as terrible as DRM normally is.
I personally don't mind DRM if it's the cost of enabling business on the Web. Some argue that DRM is a slippery slope, and they may be right. But I think there's enough value in free distribution that DRM is unlikely to hold up the Web for long.
Still, if we must have DRM, an open-source system seems best. Marlin isn't the first time open-source DRM has hit the market. Back in 2006, Sun Microsystems was talking up its own open-source DRM approach. Unfortunately, it never caught on. Nor did SideSpace's open-source DRM back in 2003.
Will Marlin be different? Maybe. But I wouldn't hold my breath.