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How could DRM on Linux impact admins?

There's a storm brewing over digital rights management (DRM) technology in the open source community, and Linux founder Linus Torvalds' recent acceptance of DRM usage seeded the clouds. In the aftermath of the storm, open source software could bear a greater resemblance to proprietary software. That could be both good and bad thing for system administrators, according to's resident experts Sam Greenblatt, Ken Milberg and John H. Terpstra. In a posting sent on April 24 to a mailing list, Torvalds said that Linux developers should not be prevented from using DRM. DRM tools make it difficult to distribute paid content (such as commercially marketed software or movies) over the Web. Some open-source developers believe that DRM tools infringe on programmers' freedom. So, how will wider use of DRM in the open source community affect IT shops? Ask the Expert advisors Milberg, Greenblatt, and Terpstra tackle that question in this article. Kenneth Milberg is president of Unix Solutions, a Unix consulting firm. Greenblatt is Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Linux Technology Group, Computer Associates. John H. Terpstra, co-founder of Samba Team and president of PrimaStasys Inc.

What is your reaction to Torvads' opinion about DRM?
In that posting, Linus Torvalds also stated "I also don't necessarily like DRM myself,..but...I'm an 'Oppenheimer,' and I refuse to play politics with Linux, and I think you can use Linux for whatever you want to -- which very much includes things I don't necessarily personally approve of."

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I very much agree that Linux will ultimately succeed or fail because of its abilities rather than the emotional ties people have for operating systems. Most people I know, include administrators that support the product, hate Windows but can't debate the success Microsoft has had. You would also think Linus would show more loyalty, to the folks that made him, but....

On the other hand, I am worried about the Draconian feel to DRM. Obviously open-source developers suspect something that might put them out of business, so to speak. If programs that they create won't be able to run on standard systems, then that fear is certainly not unfounded. There is also the fear that the authentication tools may allow big content companies (I.E. multimedia or movie studios) too much control over how computers use content. What is your reaction to Torvads' opinion about DRM?
I believe Linus is spot on, for him to limit any use of Linux would go counter to the very principals that drive it. What is your reaction to Torvads' opinion about DRM?
We (CA) reserve the right to protect our intellectual property through digital rights management technology and feel in no way does it impact the open-source community. The community can chose whether or not they want to use material covered by DRM technology. CA will continue in the debate to ensure that all parties are represented. How could DRM technologies on Linux be helpful to IT administrators?
Properly used and managed, DRM facilities will thus help the administrator. Developers of open source software will be out of tune if they do not provide DRM management and compliance tools. Perhaps we should sooner expect commercial software providers to step up to the bar with these tools, but past experience would suggest that these are the last to adopt a positive disposition towards open source software.

So it will be interesting to see who will take affirmative and who will take counter measures. What is the impact on corporate IT shops?
I believe that increasingly systems and network administrators will be held accountable for copyright violations. It is incumbent on administrators to set forth very clear site policies in defense of copyright and to demonstrate that the site has adequate measures in place to ensure that software licenses are held in compliance. Additionally, it will become increasingly necessary to demonstrate that a site does pursue software copyright infringement to the satisfaction of the copyright holder whose work has been infringed. What is the impact on corporate IT shops?
The use of digital rights management technology ensures that the data center has appropriate identification of use of computer software. It is not only software, but data centers that should ensure their own intellectual property through digital rights management technology. What is the impact on corporate IT shops?
As far as impact to the corporate world at this point, I think it's too early to tell. We'll need to see how the anti-DRM folks play their hand out, and whom they might be able to enlist on their end to help their cause. How could DRM technologies on Linux be helpful to IT administrators?
Digital rights management technology ensures that intellectual property is protected under the license agreements that have been developed for software other than GPL.

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