Sunday, January 14, 2007

Copyright Chaos

To be honest with you, I am viciously sick of all these copyright laws and discussions being held. Americans and society in general has gotten so self centered yet so apathetic that they don't even realize the horrible rules and laws that are coming down among them. In an effort to curb what seemed to be an epidemic of illegal digital media sharing, the RIAA through the prominent voice of Lars, convinced the guilty public and friendless lawmakers that something needs to be done about this. Encryption technology had started emerging for securing and tethering music to a single computer however the intelligent people at the forefront of this war understood that software is breakable hence the term software. In order to discourage and subsequently legally punish these hoodlums of the new world, our trusty media mongrels convinced our government to pass the infamous DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) which seeks to apply severe limitations on the older sibling, the Copyright Act. The DMCA gives media distributors and publishers explicit rights to release their works in DRM (Digital Rights Management) package which ensures that the content is only used in the manner they deem allowable. With DRM they can control how, when, the number of times, and on device you choose to consume their content. If they don't want you copying it to another device, DRM can prevent that. If they don't want you to see it more than once, DRM can prevent. If your computer crashed midway through playing the file, oops, too bad. Better buy another license. If your computer crashed and you lost all your data before watching your movie, oops, too bad. If you decide you want to watch it in the comfort of your big lazy boy with a nice bucket of popcorn and a blanket then DMCA can say NO! We will not allow you to copy this here movie to DVD just because the industry says you must use 239829832983 different types of technology. Each technology requires a new license and new payment for that license.

The authors of the original Copyright Law understood that certain exceptions needed to be made however they were not explicitly clear in what was allowed and what was not. It was then left up to the judges to decide what constituted "fair use" and what was an obvious ploy to benefit off other peoples work. The RIAA realized that not all people would try to circumvent their technologies to make a profit, rather, the customers would circumvent their technologies in order to consume the content in a manner and on a platform of their choosing. This meant potentially missing out on huge licensing fees they could charge for the right to play a given file on your computer, DVD player, CD player, laptop, PSP, iPod Video, or else. They wanted each platform or device to require a seperate license. Hence the DMCA which states that distributing tools that allow you to circumvent the copy protection, play protection, and device locking schemes is highly illegal. Now, unless you as the individual know how to crack encryption code, your S.O.L. because the guy that does know how is not allowed to even give you a copy of his tool for fear of being fined billions of dollars. Why would be fined just for trying to help someone else fairly use their media? Well, the media conglomerates are afraid that as soon as you crack your media that your going to distribute it to the world or so that is what they claim. Really, I believe they are pissed because they want to sell you more licenses for each device.

If we carry this same mentality over to the analog world like newspapers, radio, and TV, then what would things look like. Well, every copy of a newspaper you get would be scrambled. You would get a special pair of glasses that allowed you to read the paper normally but as soon as you opened the package, the glasses started to darken until they were no longer usable. This means that you have enough time to read the paper but you better do it all at once because if you set the glasses down to do something else, they will still continue to darken and your paper would be worthless. In addition, you could not just give the glasses to someone else unless you did not plan to read the paper yourself. Forget about saving old editions for reference, all they are good for now is starting fires.

What about radio? This will require a special ear implant. In order to listen to the radio or other audio sources, you would need to get an implant in your ear that will decode the special audio being transmitted. The implant is not transferable. If you try to take it out, it becomes unusable. Soon food will carry such restrictions too. Everytime you go to the grocery, you will have to choose how you will prepare that food item and how many people will consume it. You then buy licenses for this use. Using the food in a manner not consistent with the license purchased is an illegal activity. In addition, spontaneously inviting people over for dinner and sharing that food that you purchased as a single person license is also punishable by the law.

Think I am crazy? Well your right but seriously, think for yourselves. Just how far is too far. We all know that complete freedom means no freedom but regulating everything also means no freedom. We need to start valuing certain freedoms and demanding certain rights and then enact laws to protect those freedoms and rights else these huge inanimate beings called corporations and special interest groups will rape all of humans of any rights we do have. People are waiting for the day when machines rule the world. Well, I argue that machines already do just we don't recognize them as machines yet.