Microsoft Engineers Predicted the Failure of DRM Back in 2002

Maximum PC Staff

Ten years ago a group of four Microsoft engineers took to the stage at a security conference in Washington, DC, and presented a paper titled “The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution”. In this paper, the authors made a compelling argument describing how the rise of information technology would make it easier and faster for people to share files, and how DRM would do little to slow the process down. At the time this premise was a bit controversial, and as the authors openly admit, it almost cost them their jobs.

The authors argued that, in theory, the only way to completely stop file sharing would be to create DRM methods so advanced, even the most tech-savvy users on the planet couldn’t crack it. Any break in the chain, or access to information pre-encryption would lead to release on the “darknet”, and make it impossible to contain. The darknet, as described by the authors, was any means of sharing information. This could be as advanced as bittorrent over the internet, or as basic as sharing a USB key.

The nearly 8,000 word .doc file can be downloaded directly for those with an interest, but as always it opens the age old debate. Is DRM more of a burden on honest consumers than its worth? It certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing down piracy.

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