Alan Cox Files DRM Patent

    January 15, 2007

Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology is a method of content protection that can limit the use of content to specific platforms, devices or other such methods as deemed by the content manufacturer. The practice has been widely scrutinized as of late, specifically in terms of digital music.

I just wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t start off the week with another piece about the content debacle that is Digital Rights Management.

Alan Cox, developer of the Linux Kernel, has filed a patent application seeking to obtain ownership of DRM, and all the technologies surrounding it. Taken from the patent abstract, Cox asserts the origins of DRM and outlines the practice in detail:

A rights management system monitors and controls use of a computer program to prevent use that is not in compliance with acceptable terms. The system monitors usage of the computer program for usage and activities that are not in compliance with the license or other use terms.

Upon detection of a violation of these terms, state information pertaining to the computer program is saved and operation of the computer program and/or a portion of the computer system is suspended. The system maintains the suspension for as long as the violation exists. Once compliance has been reestablished, the suspension is terminated.

Hold on just a second, though. We’re talking about Alan Cox here, right? He’s been a stalwart defender of open source software for such a long time. Why would he suddenly look to patent the rights (no pun intended) to rights management technology?

A Linux Questions forum post speculates on the nature of the filing:

[I]f this patent is granted it is likely that they will choose not to license this technology, and instead, sue for any use of it as a defense of OSS.

So the hope here is that Cox will obtain rights to license the technology, and then stick it to anyone currently making use of it in an attempt to destroy the ridiculous practice altogether.

Now that’s music to my ears.

Add to | Digg | Reddit | Furl

Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.