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Interview with Charles Taylor About DRM and Poser Software

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Renderosity decided to have a chat with Smith Micro's Charles Taylor (nerd) about his thoughts on DRM as it relates to Smith Micro's Poser Software.

1.) What is Digital Rights Management (DRM) and how does it apply to the products we use to create digital art?

As digital artists, we are all faced with the problem of illegal, pirate copies of our work being distributed. Digital Rights Management is one technique to try and stop that piracy. It is a system where the software you use checks to make sure you have a valid license to use a digital asset before use. The intent of this system is to prevent piracy of digital content, be it a movie, song, or 3D asset.

2.) Many think that DRM is not good business practice. In fact, several larger companies have tried it and reversed their decision to use it. Why do you think that is?

The problem with DRM is that it is indiscriminate. It doesn't know a legitimate user from a pirate. All too frequently legitimate users are prevented from using the product they have a valid license to use. Also, every DRM system is eventually hacked, so the only piracy it truly prevents is casual piracy.

3.) One argument in favor of DRM is that it helps to protect intellectual property against piracy. How does Smith Micro feel about that view and is Smith Micro working on anything to protect the intellectual property of those who create content for Poser?

This is a very complex problem. Yes, it prevents some piracy. Would these people have purchased the content any way? We may never know that answer. Because every system is flawed, you add to your support burden helping people who have been wrongfully denied use. Then there is the negative sentiment surrounding DRM. Most of it seems to be the very legitimate concern that if the company that controls the DRM goes out of business, will the purchased products still work.

Ultimately DRM is no more effective than a padlock. It will keep the honest people honest. Anyone with a big enough hammer will steal it any way. The question that remains is, "Do you make your customers deal with the padlock every time they want to use the content they paid for just to keep the honest ones honest?"

At this time, we at Poser have no intent to introduce DRM to content. We think our customers are already honest.

4.) Is Smith Micro in favor of more freedom or more restrictions in the way Poser is used and the art and products created in the software?

We decided to actually go the opposite direction. In the Poser Universe, we often build off of each other's works. To encourage that kind of environment we announced that the new Poser figures are officially vendor resources. In the SR2 update for Poser 11 (released January 26, 2016) we amended the EULA to include the new Vendor Resource terminology. Presently this is just for the new P11 figures, Paul and Pauline. We hope to add more to that list.

As Vendor Resources, content creators can use the mesh, textures and character files in their own works. For example, a clothing creator can start their clothing mesh by cutting it out of the figure mesh, which is an easy way to start tight fitting clothing.

5.) Any additional thoughts about DRM you think would be important for users of Poser and other Smith Micro products?

DRM has its place. I don't think 3D content is one of those places. Especially given the myriad of available export options in most 3D programs. With a click of the mouse, Poser content can be exported to something like FBX. DRM is so easily broken, it's going to prevent very little piracy. It's not worth the trouble for the company, the vendors or the customers.

Some people will point out Poser has license management, which is a form of DRM. We have plans to make that something that can benefit users. I won't say what yet, but it's real. We're also continuing to build our license management portal to give Poser owners full control over what they own.

Carefully applied in the right place DRM can be good. I don't feel 3D assets are the place. Let's keep our community as open as possible.

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