DRM: My Stance

Some of you may or may not know that I'm homeschooled. I do my school online, and mostly self motivated. For anyone who cares, I'm with CAVA and K12.

Anyway, on one of the recent tests there was something new. It said that I had to have a program called ExamGuard to take the test. Now, I'm not against anti-cheating measures, but this was something different. It required me to install a program, ExamGuard, on my computer in order to take this test. This is what K12 says about ExamGuard. I was incredibly offended at this.

Here is the letter that I sent to my teacher.


Mrs. ______,

While I realize that you probably have no control over this, I feel the need to express my extreme discontent at ExamGuard, both in general and on this test.

The use of the program ExamGuard obviously makes it clear that the school doesn't believe students to be trustworthy, and apparently they need even more 'so called' anti-cheating measures than are already in place. Now, I would be much more understanding if anti-cheating measures were embedded into the webpage, I wouldn't have much of a problem with that. But, requiring me to install a program on my computer that limits my access to my own computer is simply outrageous.

For one, I do not know how this program works. It obviously is allowed to disallow network traffic from other software applications other than webbrowsers, along with disabling various functions of my computer, such as right-clicking. Because what this program does, for all I know it could be logging what I do with my computer, or where I go on the internet. It could also, for all I know, decide, at the whim of someone, remotely to lock down my computer. This is unacceptable. It demonstrates a profound lack of trust, both in your own website security, and in the integrity of your students. How can you expect your students to trust that what you do is in their best interest when you distrust them to do their best?

Again, I do not mean any offense to you in this matter. If any offense is incurred, I apologize, it was certainly not my intent.



This is my stance on a lot of things like this. They're called DRM (Digital Rights Management) in video games.

I find things like this extremely offensive, because it shows that the companies obviously don't trust the consumers to not steal their software. This is offensive to the people who legitimately bought the game, and it doesn't stop pirates at all.

For example, if you look at popular pirate sites, look up a game that has DRM. Guess what? You can download it for free. DRM doesn't work. It's a broken system that's trying to keep a business model from going obsolete. We now live in a world where giving someone a copy of something doesn't necessarily mean giving it up ourselves. When our parents were young this wasn't an issue. If they bought music, they bought a CD, or a cassette. If they wanted to give it to their friends, they would have to give away the CD or cassette. This is no longer the case.

Of course, I've said nothing new on this subject. People have gone back and forth for as long as DRM has existed on this topic, and you don't have to look far to see the debate, which is still raging.


Vaughan Hilts said...

Incorrect. Bootleg cassettes were around. x]

Elec0 said...

Yeah, yeah, but do you really think that most people knew how to do that back then? I'm not saying that it didn't exist, just that most people didn't know how to do it.

Anonymous said...

"DRM doesn't work. It's a broken system that's trying to keep a business model from going obsolete."

wow, that is quite a leap. so you are saying the entire capitalistic approach is no longer valid? we had a group in my days preaching the same thing, Cartman calls them 'hippies'.

"If they bought music, they bought a CD, or a cassette. If they wanted to give it to their friends, they would have to give away the CD or cassette. This is no longer the case."

Please explain why it is now OK to give away multiple copies of material that is sold. Just the fact that you can, does not make it a privilege. Explain how someone is to get paid, if the first person he sells it to, gives it away to everyone who wants a copy.

DRM like this is REQUIRED not because the majority cheats, but certainly a minority does. Your right, it does not work perfectly, but it does work some. Show the publishers how to put protection only on games that thieves buy and you will have solved the problem that offends you. BTW, I noticed after our recent discussion of deus ex, your steam account does not mention you actually have the game? weird, huh.

Elec0 said...

I don't mean the entire capitalistic approach isn't valid. I mean how can they expect it to work like it did before the dawn of the internet with a completely different system? That's like saying that just because a paradigm of programming worked well on DOS means that it should be just as applicable on Windows 7.

I'm not saying that it is okay give away copies of things you've bought, I'm also not saying it isn't. That's a completely different discussion.

What I'm talking about is the annoying DRM that developers plague customers with these days. My point was that DRM doesn't work. We need a new system of some kind to replace it.

And no, I don't have a solution. I wish I did, but I can tell you that how we're going about it today isn't the way it should be done.

billsteele777 said...

If the DRM prevents one person from cheating, or stealing, then it has fulfilled it's purpose at least to some extent.
I disagree that "most people are honest and don't steal or cheat."
Even people with sensible upbringings tend to bend the rules when it comes to digital content. Thinking that just because they can get it or do it, then it must be okay. I believe there are quite a few people paying hefty fines and in some cases doing jail time who had that same philosophy.
I know if I spent the time and energy and money to produce something, I sure as heck wouldn't want someone stealing it and giving it away to their friends. I might be willing to strike a deal with them for a reduced cost for multiple copies, but I sure wouldn't give it away.
This is just me, and as for school. In the classroom, the teacher is present and can keep an eye on the students to keep them honest. Can't do that virtually, so this is how the school has chosen to do it. I don't know if they are logging your keystrokes etc, but that would be unacceptable. Not allowing you to go out on the web to find your answers, that you should know for the test, I see NO PROBLEM with.
Anyway Sport, those are my thoughts.
Love you

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