this article about the new DVD standards, which will come locked down with new, onerous Digital Rights Management restrictions. It’s a good overview of how new consumer electronica are being designed to basically protect big corporations from the consumers who buy them.
One point that the article really misses, though, is how DRM isn’t really aimed at pirates, despite all of the entertainment industry’s protests to the contrary. Instead, the only real purpose of this technology is to force you to pay multiple times for same content. Want to watch a movie on your TV? Great! Buy the DVD. Want to watch it on your iPod? Well, here you go, buy it at iTunes. Want that music you downloaded from iTunes as your phone’s ringtone? Cough up more dough. What’s that you say? Fair use? Well, according to the past head of the MPAA, it doesn’t exist.
On a brighter note, Ars Technica has a profile of some of the good guys in the music industry: Emusic. Emusic is a digital music subscription service with no strings attached. No DRM, no limited playlists, no nothing. Just high-quality MP3’s that are compatible with just about all of the digital music players out there. It is interesting to note that they chose to be DRM free not because of any idealism, but because of a sound business decision. They wanted the maximum possible customer base for their product, so they selected the format that is most universal. And they seem to be making money at it, too. I signed up a few months ago, and I have to say I’m a happy customer.
Over on the Creative Commons weblog, there’s a short fascinating interview with a “gonzo SF novelist” about how three years of making his works available for free download has changed his way of thinking about “intellectual property” and “digital rights management” and stuff like that there. Check it out.
Hmm… well, been stumbling over piracy and DRM stories all day, so I figured I’d pass along the joy.
First up, Cory Doctorow does the Daniel in the lions’ den thing and tries to convince the folks at Microsoft that anti-piracy techniques like Digital Rights Management are ineffective and worse, (from Microsoft’s standpoint) bad for business. It makes a good primer for many of the issues being discussed regarding copyrights, copy protection, and the full-court press by the RIAA and MPAA to legislate away some of the American citizen’s rights, because they are inconvenient.
Meanwhile, back in the other Washington, Orrin Hatch (well known composer and sometimes legislator) is introducing a bill that might make any device that could be used to violate copyrights illegal. As with most other cases these days, this one is sold as vital to protect our children (which is, of course, just behind preventing terrorism as the excuse du jour for taking away your rights).
For anyone who goes to policy conferences (and who can ever get enough of those, eh?) and science fiction cons, I’m speaking at a couple of them over the next few months. Below is a list with links. If you actually read this thing, let me know; it gives my frail little ego something to cheer about and gives my pathetic life meaning. 🙂