One of the biggest tech stories of 2006 was the issue of HDCP board versus GPU support. The issue has been discussed to death and today, board manufacturers clearly state whether or not a product has the HDCP Crypto-ROM support built-in. The reason why the HDCP story is important is that it's really an allegory about Digital Rights Management in the modern technology age.
Digital Rights Management is a good thing. The problem is that the way digital rights management has been handled by the industry has not
been so good. We have copy protection software that act just like malicious viruses and rootkits.
Defining the Problem
The industry needs to recognize that it'll be impossible to stop piracy. The more complex, innovative, or intricate the content protection system, the more interest and zeal crackers will have in subverting such protection. If the US was unable to keep nuclear weapons technology secret after WW2, there is no way the MPAA can ask consumer electronics companies to keep movies and music 100% secure, especially when the whole intent of music/movies is to be seen and heard.
The industry needs to recognize that most people are reasonable. The US gaming industry is over $10 billion dollars. The home video market is over $24 billion dollars. If everyone was a pirate, shouldn't that be zero? Flawed logic, I know, but these are still thriving industries despite the fact that "most games" and "most movies" really just aren't special to begin with. What's changed is how we choose to experience our media. We want movies that can be enjoyed in our home theater, airplane, or portable music player. We want security where a hard drive crash or malicious virus doesn’t mean that we’ve lost the digital content we've purchased with our hard-earned money. If our hardware is capable of enhancing the original content such as upsampling beyond 1080p, then let the consumer do so.
The industry needs to recognize that most people are... human. We may tell a store clerk they've given us to much change back, but our hunter-gathering DNA makes us look for bargains. Who among us hasn't jumped at a chance to stack multiple coupons or shopped at a clearance or special limited quantities sale? The promise of "free" movies and music is one that is hard to give up. When the CEO of Time Warner admits that his kids illegally downloaded music off the Internet too, it should show the industry that software piracy isn't something limited to l33t hax0rs. That doesn't mean everyone jumps at the opportunity of a five-finger discount at your local Best Buy though.
People are reasonable. The difference is that intuitively, stealing a physical item from a store is fundamentally different from copying bits in which the opportunity cost to the manufacturer is zero.
The Fundamental Issue
The general public just doesn't appreciate the true value of intellectual property. You can list off a ton of famous actors and directors, but how many famous screenwriters (who aren't directors or actors) can you name?