Open-source DRM ready to take on Apple and Microsoft

Is new open-source alternative the respectable face of DRM?

Barry Collins
23 Oct 2008

An open-source digital rights management (DRM) scheme says it's ready to supplant Apple and Microsoft as the world's leading copy protection solution.

Marlin, which is backed by companies such as Sony and Samsung, has just announced a new partner program that aims to drive the DRM system into more consumer devices.

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."

Shamoon claims the chief benefit of Marlin is that dozens of different device and content makers can run the DRM without restriction. "With Marlin, any device that runs Marlin can run content on the home domain," he adds. "It's a level playing field [for manufacturers] - they don't have to go up to Redmond with a begging bowl or suck up to Steve Jobs."

But with Microsoft's closed-source DRM falling prey to hackers, isn't an open-source solution more susceptible to cracking by its very nature? Not so, according to Shamoon, who says the "security is separate from the technology", allowing keys to be reissued if they are breached.

That still doesn't address the major bugbear with DRM: consumers hate it. "The biggest problem with DRM is people have implemented it badly," argues Shamoon. "Make DRM invisible and people will use it."

To see a full interview with Talal Shamoon pick up next month's issue of PC Pro

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