Monday, February 19, 2007

How to Explain Copyright to Your Dad (or Whomever)

Some people don't quite get what's wrong with DRM. I'm not talking about people who understand the restrictions yet still want DRM for profit. I'm talking about people like my grandparents, or that kid in your class who can't comprehended what's wrong with rewarding business. It's a difficult concept to comprehend, especially if you are of a certain ideological persuasion. As such, the dudes over at WIRED came up with 5 easy ways to explain DRM to someone who might be out of touch (shockingly) with current arguments and opinions concerning digital-rights.

"1. I want to watch an Egyptian movie for my Middle Eastern studies class. But it is region coded not to play on my DVD player, in an effort to stop piracy. Now I have to hack my DVD player and break the law to get it to play. The movie isn't released in the U.S. This is the only version that was ever published. Since it isn't published in the US, and it's for academic purposes, I can rip it make copies for my classmates. That's fair use. But since I have to break the DRM to copy it -- I've broken the law anyway.

"2. My mom bought a phone that was a "music player" from Verizon. The manufacturer (LG) created a great phone to play all sorts of music. Verizon crippled the phone to only play music bought from the Verizon music store. If I hack my mom's phone, that she bought legally, to play music that she legally owns because she bought it on CD, I could be breaking the law my modifying a DRM scheme.

"3. In the Comcast situation, the MPAA and RIAA are leaning so hard on ISPs that they are afraid of legal action. This fear is causing ISPs to do a coast benefit analysis and adopt policies that are halting the development of the Internet. They are turning peoples access off without good reason. I can't sue them because of all the fine print in the service agreement., and if I could it would probably have to be in Delaware. People are using bandwidth to distribute perfectly legal creative commons software. (In this case, Linux.) It's necessary for people to exchange files to develop that software. Comcast infrastructure probably relies heavily on this software. Yet they are blocking it's development because they don't bother filtering out illegal from suspicious. The ISP start blocking "suspicious behavior" and makes life difficult for people like me.... Granted, Comcast is the party at fault in this situation, but I cansend you 100 other links of similar stories. Comcast is terrified of the copyright holders, and the draconian laws that are being rammed through congress and being copied by other nations are insanely unfair to the consumer...

"4. Democracy has been nurtured by the open source community for a while now. It's a combination Video player / RSS reader / torrent downloader. The concept is: I release a weekly/daily video-cast from my server. the first 10 people download from my server -- then the next 1000 people "swarm" download it torrent style. This way, as I get popular, I'm not put out of commission by the cost of bandwidth from one location. It distributes the bandwidth load to the network, where it is easily absorbed. ISPs are trying to block torrents because the MPAA is leaning on them to stop copyright violation. But Democracy isn't about pirating movies- It's about eliminating the costs of distribution. If you can choose from 500 movies available for free via Creative Commons, why watch the blockbuster feature? They are hindering new tech in the name of copyright. It's insane. And all this stuff flies under the radar for the most part.

"5. Microsoft sells a Zune. The Zune shares music, but you can only play that shared music for 3 days because when it's shared, it's wrapped up in a DRM scheme. If I'm in a band, and I release my songs for free under creative commons, and you download it and put it on a Zune -- you are breaking that creative commons licenses. There is no way to tell the Zune "don't protect this one". I don't want to sue my fans for locking up the music in DRM, and I don't have the resources to sue Microsoft for breaking the CC license. But the RIAA can sue 10 year olds."