Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beyond the Beyond: Dead Media

Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on their "Digital Rights Management" entrenched music service, rendering any media that you legally bought through the comercially lagging MSN portal effectively unusable. I have noticed this is one of those "I told you so moments" by technology bloggers around cyberspace.

The legal precedent involved here I find troubling and increasingly widespread. Content distributors are creating a scenario where regardless of you purchasing software and media from them, they still technically own that intellectual property and legally control its use. This is somewhat like a hardware store sueing you because your twelve year old daughter cooked POP TARTS in your toaster instead of the toast bread it was intended for, thus potentially damaging the toaster brand and the future of toaster distribution as we know it.

As an artist, the concept that media conglomerates, software makers, and distributing networks can buy up copyrights in bulk, put seemingly innocuous digital locks on content, and then sue your pants off for trying to use that content for your own ends outside of the intended manner, is an incredibly threatening prospect.
People`s eyes tend to glaze over and look dreamily off into the distance when I talk about this stuff, because who really cares . . . iPods(TM) are so cool.


Pete said...

Microsoft consistently overestimates the stupidity of the American consumer. A somewhat mind boggling proposition.

Copyright and file sharing is a tough issue because I drink from the river of free media.

In the future I think that we will notice how a free and distributed network replaced a physical production system that used smog-spewing trucks to move bits of plastic to physical stores, which provided far fewer options and those of dubious taste anyway.

This will come into relief more so because it will happen to one industry after another. Desktop production will swallow old industries in the quiet, de facto way that file sharing did the music industry.

I don't know what will become of property rights as John Locke defined them.

Mr. Alex said...

"There’s no intrinsic reason why someone should continue to get paid for something long, long after the labor they expended on it is complete. Architects don’t get paid every time someone steps into one of their buildings. They’re paid to design the building, and that’s that. The ostensible reason we have patent and copyright law is, as the US Constitution says, “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” But travesties like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act don’t promote the progress of science; they actively discourage it. So do software and biotechnology patents. The patent system was intended to allow inventors to profit for a limited time on particular inventions, not to allow huge technology companies to put a stranglehold on innovation by patenting every tiny advance they make."

...more here. Unfortunately, the author goes on to use the phrase "cyberspace engineer" without even a hint of irony.

Also, in other news...