Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Intellectual property, or theft?

Extreme Copy Protection for the next generation of digital TV is a bad idea for us, the viewers. It stops us from doing what we're legally entitled to do with TV signals and recordings. It holds back progress in technology. It's a pain. And it's not even necessary.

Now even the Financial Times has noticed. James Boyle, who teaches Intellectual Property Law, and should know what he's on about, says just why we're messing up the basic rules that define what we'll be able to do with the next generation of web and broadcast technology. Basically, it's deals in smoke-filled rooms between studios and lawmakers, with the interests of consumers firmly shut out. Restrictions are added with no consideration of whether they are needed, whether they are fair, or even if they will work! He also highlights a cunning scam that the World Intellectual Property Organisation is trying to pull off to grab ownership of even more content, for even longer than before. Have a read!

- "More Rights are Wrong for Webcasters" - James Boyle - Published September 26 2005

Just today there are reports that the Motion Picture Association of America is trying to sneak more compulsory copy protection through the US Congress - after it was thrown out by the courts [Ars Technica Article].

Why would this matter to the rest of us? Just think of the DVD-region scam the studios introduced to make us pay more and wait longer for our DVDs. What happens in the US infests all our living rooms before too long.

Burdening our viewing and listening with more and more legal and technical locks and barriers is wrong on many levels. There are loads of unhelpful parallels:
  • Historians - the landlords are fencing off the common land like during the enclosures!
  • Revolutionaries - Intellectual property is theft!
  • Speakers - free speech could be blocked!
  • Readers & listeners - works will be lost forever!
But what it boils down to is this:
  • Viewers - they want to cripple your videos and TVs, and make you pay for it!

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