Comments: Why News and Technical DRM Don't Mix: Linking and Linking Expression are Key

although the Washington Post's numbers should start to go down now that they require registration.

Posted by joe at March 29, 2004 11:43 AM

The newspapers CAN have their cake and eat it too. But they've got their pricing models backwards. New news should require a subscription BUT the links are permanent and will work for everyone (subscribers and non-subscribers) after three days. Subscribers won't pass around their access codes because it will affect their reputation. For more info please go to


Posted by Cynthia Typaldos at April 1, 2004 03:20 PM

The NY Times also makes you pay to access articles after 7 days of it being published I believe.

Posted by anon at April 2, 2004 03:51 AM

NYT and many others do make you pay after 7 or 14 days, but for the time those stories are most important, they are free and linkable. Also, there are ways to get at the stories after they go behind the firewall. For example, the WDCPost, if linked, will maintain the link beyond the 14 days content is searchable. After that, if you search for something 15 days old, they charge. But if we link in a post, it remains available directly.

Posted by mary hodder at April 2, 2004 07:39 AM


I read your excellent, thought-provoking piece on DRM'ing the news. (I'm a bit confused on what blog it is on, so wasn't sure where to put these coments, so am sending them directly to you. Feel free to post them to the appropriate blog if you care to.)

I would further emphasize the "hassle-factor" of DRM, particularly if used to encrypt individual articles. There are technical hassles (installation, use problems, multiple versions, obsolete technology/vendors), sharing/saving hassles, administration/licensing hassles (who handles disputes efficiently?), as well as the linking issues you mention.

I would also agree that history shows us, if the content is considered to be valuable enough, hackers will cut through the protections. If not valuable enough to encourage hacking, what's the point?

The peculiar time-dependency of news' value is also important. You say that it has "high" value the first 24 hours. Well, for the first 24 (or fewer) hours it is "news", but, given that it is largely considered to be a commodity and is almost always provided at no charge, I'd question the "high" value. But, in any case, there is some value during the first 24 hours. There is another value after it is in the archives and retrievable through a paid mechanism. And there is a third value during the period after the first 24 hours (when it is no longer current "news") and before it qualifies for paid retrieval.

Even if the value was sufficiently high to justify protection, it is hard to imagine a DRM system that could handle such time-based variability efficiently.


Terry Steichen

Posted by Terry Steichen at April 13, 2004 09:25 AM