Linux, digital rights on collision course

Widespread use of Linux and open-source software is an inevitability, but the new programming technique is running into troubles with the important new technology of digital rights management, Hewlett-Packard's top Linux executive said Tuesday.

Digital rights management (DRM) uses encryption to protect proprietary content such as music or movies. But it's not just for entertainment: DRM also will govern confidential documents and other mainstream business information, said Martin Fink, HP's vice president for Linux, speaking at a keynote address at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.

Right now there is a risk that DRM adoption will lock out Linux and open-source software, Fink said. "Unfortunately, DRM and open-source software are today largely incompatible because of an extension to copyright law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act," Fink said. Indeed, the tensions between open-source software and DRM have led to legal fights in the case of Linux support for the decryption needed to play movies on DVD. Ultimately, the solution to the DMCA problem will require lobbying to change the rules, Fink said; some in Congress have proposed changes to the law.

News source: C|Net News.com

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