Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why DRM IS NOT a good thing after all

The real damage is in how much of our technology is throttled down to Hollywood's constraints.
We see this in the LCDs. A computer LCD can be casually used as a TV screen but instead we must have purpose-built screens just for TV so we end up with 1080 lines instead of 1200 lines -- the latter being better at accommodating text. I can buy the 1920x1200 displays and now 2500x1600 but I can't use them thanks to DRM.

People keep complaining about the plethora of remote controls and asking why someone doesn't solve the problem.
But there is no problem -- we know that if we had simple video streams and device with open interfaces (such as XMLRPC) then we could write software to manage the streams and control the devices. Standards would follow after we've had experience but the big the advantage of the digital protocols is that we can learn by doing without having to pre-specify all of the details.
The Set Top Box is designed to prevent any of this from being feasible.

The consumer electronics industry still sees itself as part of the entertainment industry (Tellywood) rather than seeing a far larger opportunity. After all, they used to make record players and radios. Devices such as cassette recorders didn’t get the same respect.
They are helping the DRM effort by maintaining all of their oSS (Oh- So-Special) analog wires and connections rather than using a simple common medium.
Making it simple to interconnect is seen as a threat to the control of those who are delivering the content.
Were it not for DRM the users would be able to push back on the consumer electronics industry to create more extensible devices. We would provide opportunities for all sorts of new creativity and new value.
It’s a mirror of the 1950’s fears of hyper-automation. If we allow people to automate then there would be no jobs. Opportunity is to be viewed with fear because it changes the rules.

DRM is an attempt to prevent opportunity and disruptive change. It’s another attempt to frustrate the first amendment.
It’s the same battle as over whether telecom is in industry or simply a violation of anti-trust.
Perhaps the problem is that we have a generation that doesn’t understand that very idea that we can create our own solutions outside the central authority – both the libcons and those who want to do us good have to come to terms with this.

Liberally taken from Bob Frankston
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