It Used To Be Fun
Iíve ranted about music before, but the anguish just does not end. Huge record companies are working to copy protect every single musical release they have. How do they do it? Many are doing it by actually damaging the music and relying on error correction technology embedded in playback devices to put all the pieces back together and make it sound whole again. So let me get this straight - they are purposefully selling Damaged Goods to consumers and hoping that it will play back ok on most systems? Does this strike anybody as being a really sick and horrible thing? They are giving us Crippled music and telling us we have to live with it? For decades we have been recording tracks off of the radio and making custom mixes. We did the same with LPís, Casettes and now CDís. Why all of a sudden do these disgustingly rich companies want to stop us from doing this? How can they possibly justify it? Even normal, legal folks who just want to have the flexibility to listen to their music like they have for years are getting hammered by this.
DVDís are another area that is getting out of hand. I can sort of understand the bit about wanting to prevent people from copying these movies, but the way they have gone about copy protecting them is atrocious. Copy protection on these things has been buggy from the get-go and really does nothing more than get in the way. I remember when the first batch of DVD players came out and could not play many of the new releases because of tweaking they did in the copy protection code. Why should people have to pay money to have chips updated in their players just so they can view movies they have already paid for?
Not only is the copy protection a pain, but the fact that they are trying to throw people into prison who figure out how to break that copy protection is abominable! We have been able to go down to the library and learn how to make nuclear bombs for nearly 50 years, and nobody is sending those authors to jail. Writing the instructions is a first amendment free speech issue. It only becomes a crime when someone acts on that information in a manner that is illegal. How come a programmer who figures out the code is barred by the courts from simply sharing that information with the public? They are not advocating piracy, simply bringing knowledge forth right? The founding fathers must be rolling in their graves! How can this be possible? Look no further than these same huge conglomerates and money-sucking political action committees and members of congress.
The Politics Of Personal Freedom
For the first time in a long time, Congress is making a difference. Unfortunately, it is only doing something for those who pay them the big bucks, like the lobbyists. There have been some heinous pieces of legislation passed over the years, but one of the most brutal has to be the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. It is perhaps the most sweeping copyright legislation passed in a generation, and surprisingly, the ultra-conservative right isnít to blame for this one Ė President Clinton is. He signed this legislation in 1998 and ever since then, a serious chill has been cast upon the country.
Some may say that it is designed to protect intellectual property, but most of us know better. It is designed to circumvent the constitutional protection of free speech. It prevents an open discussion of flaws in copy protection schemes, for example. It prevents you from publishing detailed dissenting theses from scientific organizations. Oh, they claimed there were exceptions, but in point of fact, the law has been used to silence opposing viewpoints from those who challenge technologies and the claims of its makers. For example, if a writer decides to challenge the claims that DVD copy protection is state of the art, they are prevented from publishing that information. If a company claims their software security is unbreakable and a journalist shows that it can be broken and how, it may be jail time for him or her. Heck, a Princeton University professor is even being silenced over fears that he will be prosecuted for publishing the findings of a study regarding the technology behind the copy protection methods used on digital audio files. There are cases coming to the forefront that involve researchers trying to analyze copy protected code in medical devices so that they can be sure that the devices actually work as promised. Problem is, the medical equipment maker is suing to stop this so that they can be assured of not taking a bad publicity hit. They seem less concerned about saving lives than keeping their stock price high...