EFF claims Flash DRM to squash creativity

YouTube is generally credited with helping to establish Flash Video as an online standard

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has warned that Adobe’s decision to embed DRM technology in Version 9 of its Flash Player and Version 3 of its Flash Media Server software could “give Adobe and its customers a powerful new legal weapon against competitors and ordinary users through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act”.

The EFF claims that clauses within the DMCA that outlaw any tools that could be used to “circumvent” DRM system could be used to shut down any users who try to break the encryption of DRM protected Flash Video content. Users of such tools will not be able to defend themselves by claiming fair use, and neither will Adobe be required to prove that it was infringing copyright.

The evils of DRM

Furthermore, warns the EFF, users may have to upgrade their software, while third-party Open Source Flash Video players may not be able to stream DRM encrypted material at all.

On a more practical level, the introduction of DRM could lead to the culling of the online ‘remix’ culture – the practice of taking online videos and remixing them with a different perspective. If this happens, says the EFF, it will “bankrupt a rich store of educational value”.

As if to reinforce its point, the EFF links to some interesting examples of remix culture. It undoubtedly has a point too. The world would indeed be a much duller place if such creativity, which is still in its infancy, was stamped out.

But of course, it won’t be. If there’s one thing the DRM lobby appear completely unable to grasp, it’s that it will never win by using only the 'big stick' approach.

As with all previous attempts at shackling users with DRM it surely won’t be long before some bright spark comes up with a way to bypass the restrictions, and a wealth of underground sites dedicated to hosting hacked material spring up. Ultimately, the biggest loser in all of this could actually be YouTube itself.