Let me be direct: Cory Doctorow and EFF's anti-DRM temper tantrum get it mostly wrong. There is probably no effective DRM that will make them happy. Ever. That's their right, of course.
In this posting, they claim that Sun's Open Media Commons initiative to create non-infringing, royalty-free rights management implementations is more like a "gated community" and incompatible with consumer rights under copyright law:
Any software system, open or not, that blocks users from making legal use of digital content is not consumer friendly. And DRM systems are notorious for blocking people from making fair uses of content by preventing the duplication of all works, even if those works are in the public domain, are being copied for educational purposes, or are publicly owned materials such as government-gathered facts. Because the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to circumvent DRM, there is no lawful way for people to override DRM systems -- even if they are doing it to make legal copies.
First, copyright is not the only legal regime under which digital information is made available. Contract law is becoming a more widely used tool to replace or augment copy right law.
That said, the main problem is the discrepancy between envisioned and implemented DRM capabilities. Some DRM implementations do function as lock boxes and lack the features and functions necessary to recognize a wide range of fair use contexts. Apple's FairPlay rights management lacks a certain sophistication. Nevertheless, it does allow iTunes subscribers to make a limited number of copies on subscribed devices, more than enough copying to permit personal backups.
Other DRM systems conceived or implemented enable content lending, sharing withing a defined community such as a college or students in a particular course. Other class-based rights can take into account research and government use as well. Mark Stefik's work at Xerox (now ContentGuard) clearly shows how lending could work. Long ago, so to speak, InterTrust showed how to do context-based rights enforcement. Among current DRM vendors, UK DRM company Avoco Secure's P2P DRM implementation enables context-based rights management as well although their market focus is on Enterprise rather than Consumer applications. The list could go on.
The EFF posting goes on to say:
Using "commons" in the name is unfortunate, because it suggests an online community committed to sharing creative works. DRM systems are about restricting access and use of creative works. A better way to protect the public's ability to make fair use of their media is to support the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA, HR 1201). That bill would permit people to circumvent DRM on media in order to make a legal use of that media.
Any cirumvention is an exceedingly bad idea, in my view. Circumvention obviously defeats the purpose of rights mangement, which, of course, is EFF's apparent goal.
A better way to meet the objections of EFF is to make DRM systems more capable of enabling the preponderance of fair uses.
Lastly, in my view, there is too little rather than too much DRM. Rights management should be available to all. Everone should have a DRM "packager" on their desktop.