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The Customer is Always Wrong

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the steven-very-smart-and-very-right dept.

News 539

McSpew writes "Hackers author Steven Levy so far is the only person in the mainstream press to pick up on the the travesty of the SSSCA hearings. He points out that only the media giants could be so stupid as to think treating their customers like criminals will increase sales." Steven's a very smart guy - and very well said on this issue.

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The Price is Right (-1)

DonkeyHote (521235) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107540)

First Post!

RWD 2002

And this isn't stupid? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107556)

That a formerly free site is now attempting to charge people for content THEY, the customers, provide? WTF? Can someone please give me the slashdot defination of "hypocrite"?

Re:And this isn't stupid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107573)

Nobody makes you pay for that content. You're quite entitled to carry on viewing, just with ads....

Re:And this isn't stupid? (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107577)

> Can someone please give me the slashdot defination of "hypocrite"?

Well, for starters, someone who reads, and then posts to a site for free, complaining about having to pay for it (how much did that post costs you?), is a hypocrite.

Re:And this isn't stupid? (1, Offtopic)

Have Blue (616) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107768)

Someone who does not unilaterally praise Linux, demand that all information be free regardless of any associated costs, or fail to claim that any failure to reinforce the latter is an infringement on our personal God-given freedoms.

Re:And this isn't stupid? (3, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107786)

Blockquoth the poster:

That a formerly free site is now attempting to charge people for content THEY, the customers, provide?

Actually, it's perfectly valid to view this as slashdot charging for the service, not the content. They organize the servers, the software, maintain the archives, etc. Through their reputation (such as it is) and their userbase, they supply the eyeball.


Hey, sort of like open source.

Protecting yourself (-1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107575)

As a company, it makes a lot of sense to try to stop people from using your products illegally. By making clear that your company opposes illegal use of your product, even going so far as to lobby for the enactment of laws restricting your product's use, you remove liability from yourself and transfer it to those who seek to use your product for illegal purposes.

Apple would do well to consider this the next time they tell you to Rip, Mix, and Burn.

Re:Protecting yourself (3, Insightful)

TCaptain (115352) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107617)

Please! This is basically more of big, rich media companies convicting all their customers without a trial. Guilty because you own a piece of hardware. Yeah, file-sharing and copying is rampant...does it take away their profits? That's not clear...and in MY opinion, it doesn't since there's no guarantee that I would have purchased a CD containing a song I download...yet I know that many times, I've downloaded a song, liked it, then bought the CD.

As for the Apple campaign, nothing in it is promoting criminal behavior, only fair use...which is what these people would LOVE to stamp out.

Re:Protecting yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107655)

So you justify your illegal activities by saying that you 'give back'? Please yourself.

Re:Protecting yourself (1)

TCaptain (115352) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107696)

Actually I'm not justifying anything. I'm not saying that its less wrong because I bought the CD...just that the act itself made me buy the CD. Which means that in this case, this illegal activity gave them profit rather than reduced it as they would claim...

Re:Protecting yourself (1)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107811)

Credit Cards are great, right? But they also make stealing a person's money more convenient.

You claim file sharing is wrong. Ok, fine, but that doesn't mean that the technology to play mp3's on your computer isn't convenient and beneficial to us.

No one sues the credit card companies for providing a service for thieves to easily steal people's money, now do they?

When will you people learn that technology and knowledge is a double-edged sword?

Re:Protecting yourself (5, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107653)

Blockquoth the poster:

Apple would do well to consider this the next time they tell you to Rip, Mix, and Burn.


I think they're safe, especially since none of these are illegal activities. Violation of copyright is illegal. Unlimited distribution without permission of the copyright holder (not "owner") is illegal. But for music you've made, or music you've purchased, ripping, mixing, and burning are entirely legal for your personal use. Not only does common sense say so. So does the law and quite a number of federal courts.



Despite efforts to grab the mindspace, the Content Cartel is simply wrong when it claims that ripping, mixing, or burning are, prima facie, illegal. Don't yield that ground to them.

Re:Protecting yourself (3, Interesting)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107659)

As a company, it makes a lot of sense to try to stop people from using your products

I doan theeenk so.

What galls me most about the media oligopoly is that they think they have a right (and congress is, sadly, too eager to oblige) to have the general public shoulder additional costs so that the media oligarchs can easily apply their existing business models to new media.

Re:Protecting yourself (2, Insightful)

Hammer (14284) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107671)

The thing is that Copyright laws do allow you to make copies for your own use.
I have on my PC at work about 1500 mp3's that are perfectly legal and their purpose is to keep me from lugging CD's to and from work.
SSSCA would prevent that since the only purpose of mp3 is to steal music...

Re:Protecting yourself (2)

erasmus_ (119185) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107759)

Remember my.mp3.com? For those that don't, you could pop in your purchased cd at home, it would authorize you as having bought it, and then you could stream the mp3 from anywhere from that point, but only with your login. I thought it would stand up to legality as well, and used it quite a bit, authorizing at home and listening at work - no lugging! But of course mp3.com lost that lawsuit. Your example is different b/c you actually made those mp3s yourself, and I have plenty of those as well (a binder full), but proof enough that simply owning is not necessarily enough in the eyes of the law.

You haven't seen their print ads. (2, Funny)

J.C.B. (141141) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107677)

It's written very clearly on the bottom in 12 point type "Please don't steal music".

Re:Protecting yourself (2)

Have Blue (616) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107714)

They already do. Most of Apple's RipMixBurn and iPod materials have "Don't steal music." at the bottom.

Re:Protecting yourself (3, Insightful)

JordoCrouse (178999) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107800)

By making clear that your company opposes illegal use of your product, even going so far as to lobby for the enactment of laws restricting your product's use, you remove liability from yourself and transfer it to those who seek to use your product for illegal purposes.

Unfortunately, you transfer the liability to the hardware manufaturers, the courts, and the government. Its easy to implement crappy copy protection, and then rely on other people to protect you when somebody figures out how to circumvent it.

As a company, it makes a lot of sense to try to stop people from using your products illegally.

I agree. And I have no problem with any company trying to do this. If they want to, then there should be nothing trying to stop them. I, of course, am free to not use their products, and I am free to support any company that chooses not to use copy protection that interfers with my fair-use rights.

The problem is that they are trying to pass a law to remove these rights from me. They are taking the actions of a few illegal traders (who are outnumbered by legitimate CD buyers - Somebody must have made O-Town a #1 record) and turning them into legislation that will effectively, remove my ability to choose and to fairly use my media in a way that I see fit.

This scares the hell out of me.

Re:Protecting yourself (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107802)

C'mon.. look at this track record:

Copyright extention to oblivion

DMCA, no reverse engineering to get around it, either

SSSCA, everything is locked down and controlled.

See a pattern? Does this look like a balance being struck between the producers and consumers rights?

Netcraft Confirms : "The Customer is Always Wrong" (-1)

RoboTroll (560160) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107578)

Yet another crippling bombshell hit the beleaguered The Customer is Always Wrong community when last month IDC confirmed that The Customer is Always Wrong accounts for less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of the latest Netcraft survey which plainly states that The Customer is Always Wrong has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. The Customer is Always Wrong is collapsing in complete disarray, as further exemplified by failing dead last [sysadminmag.com] [sysadminmag.com] in th recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amdest.com] [amdest.com] to predict The Customer is Always Wrong's future. The hand writing is on the wall: The Customer is Always Wrong faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for The Customer is Always Wrong because The Customer is Always Wrong is dying. Things are looking very bad for The Customer is Always Wrong. As many of us are already aware, The Customer is Always Wrong continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood. FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

The Customer is Always Wrong leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of The Customer is Always Wrong. How many users of The Customer is Always Wrong are there? Let's see. The number of The Customer is Always Wrong versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 The Customer is Always Wrong users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of The Customer is Always Wrong posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put The Customer is Always Wrong at about 80 percent of the The Customer is Always Wrong market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 The Customer is Always Wrong users. This is consistent with the number of The Customer is Always Wrong Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, The Customer is Always Wrong went out of business and was taken over by The Customer is Always Wrong who sell another troubled OS. Now The Customer is Always Wrong is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that The Customer is Always Wrong has steadily declined in market share. The Customer is Always Wrong is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If The Customer is Always Wrong is to survive at all it will be among OS hobbyist dabblers. The Customer is Always Wrong continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, The Customer is Always Wrong is dead.

The Customer is Always Wrong is dying

Troll 7 of 109 from the annals of the Troll Library [slashdot.org] .

I think the headline was supposed to say.. (-1, Offtopic)

turbine216 (458014) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107581)

the slashdot reader who disagrees with the majority is always wrong. [slashdot.org]

I know this is karma suicide. Fuck my karma. This is just too much bullshit to keep hidden.

Re:I think the headline was supposed to say.. (1)

albat0r (526414) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107631)

"The Customer Is Always Wrong" title doens't come from /., it's the original title of the story from msnbc...

So before bitching about how slashdot isn't open-minded, read the article. Slashdot doesn't write articles, it only link to it.

Ya but he's using the article.. (1)

systemaster (174904) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107678)

...to link to another page with some VERY interesting stuff. Go to the page, follow the link, I just hope he is wrong. But what if hes not???
This sig is a virse, take it and use it.

Re:I think the headline was supposed to say.. (-1, Offtopic)

by FortKnox on (563942) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107728)

Slashdot doesn't write articles, it only link to it. Yeah, it's B.S. that they want to start charging for 100% un-original BS like minded stories.

Re:I think the headline was supposed to say.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107737)

what's your point, ass?

i realize that the title was carried over from the original article...I'm just tossing out a little irony. But apparently it was lost on you, you poor little sap.

You just keep buying into this slashdot crap...sooner or later, you'll get pissed about something and you'll agree with me.

Re:I think the headline was supposed to say.. (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107766)

that's just what the SS guards said.

fag

Re:I think the headline was supposed to say.. (2, Interesting)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107682)

Don't forget that if the Slashdot "Customer" is wrong, simply insult them in their own journal [slashdot.org] , even though they aren't a troll and have 50 karma...

Michael never did apologize for that, so, yes, I'm still sour about it.

Re:I think the headline was supposed to say.. (2)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107771)

My goodness, he knocked you for having 700+ posts? I hope he never takes a look at my user profile... And I'm not even that prolific a poster.

Kintanon

Isn't the first rule of advertising (-1)

Genghis Troll (158585) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107590)

to know your market? In which case, treating your potential customers like criminals would, in fact, be the best way to increase sales. I'm not saying that the SSSCA is the best or only way to "appeal" to this market, but it has become very clear that far more people are interested in stealing entertainment than in paying for it.

Always Yield to the Hands-On Imperative. (2, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107591)

"Always Yield to the Hands-On Imperative."

Thank you, Mr. Levy, for giving me, in Hackers, the words to express what I already knew to be true.

"Bite my [shiny metal] ass, Eisner."

OK, so my computer's version's not as eloquent. I think it gets the point across, though.

Only... (-1)

DonkeyHote (521235) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107598)

...The criminals and the woefully stupid would pay for a terrible site like slashdot. We should round up the slashbot subscribers and put them into rehabilitation camps, then take all the Janitor and put them back to work at fast-food jobs where they belong.

If the MPAA/RIAA want copy protected PCs... (5, Insightful)

bani (467531) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107603)

... they can build their own!

The SSSCA is just the result of a lazy slob MPAA/RIAA executives who want the PC industry to build them tailor-made-to-order PC technology to their exacting specifications, without having to invest a single penny or lift a single finger of effort. Oh, the industry won't play along? Let's pass legislation REQUIRING them to.

The MPAA/RIAA are so used to having their way with consumers, that they now believe they can hand the jar of vaseline to the PC industry and have their way with them, too.

And the scary bit is that for the most part, they're right...

Re:If the MPAA/RIAA want copy protected PCs... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107669)

The interesting thing is that if the MPAA built their own movie-playing hardware and only released titles that played on that machine, they'd likely be ruled a vertical monopoly as they were when they owned the theaters [cobbles.com] .

But if they accomplish the same thing via legislation, it's perfectly legal. Go figure.

Re:If the MPAA/RIAA want copy protected PCs... (1)

erasmus_ (119185) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107797)

But if they accomplish the same thing via legislation, it's perfectly legal. Go figure.

I don't understand how something accomplished via legislation could be legal. Wait, isn't it because the law is always legal until changed? Yes, I'm joking.

Re:If the MPAA/RIAA want copy protected PCs... (5, Insightful)

$carab (464226) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107779)

Okay, a couple of points on this... The RIAA, and perhaps soon the MPAA, are looking at a generation of people who have NEVER paid for their products (I've never bought a CD, for instance, but my music needs are met just fine). The RIAA is trying, desperately, to stop the problem as soon as possible, so the next generation of potential clients won't think their products are free (as in beer). The SSSCA is a findamental part of their plan, because the only way to shut down a P2P network is to kill off all the peers.

Secondly and most importantly, I don't think people realize just how big the SSSCA is. If it passes, all of these wonderful OSS initiatives will die off. This is the real deal people, so stop whining about Slashdot subscription services and start writing to your Representatives (Don't e-mail them, write them a real letter). A few well-reasoned and insightful letters will enlighten our elected officials, hopefully. This is a direct and fundamental threat to a good deal of the /. community, and this is the time to fight it.

See my vest, see my vest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107605)

See my vest, see my vest, made from real gorilla chest.

Re:See my vest, see my vest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107662)

Like...my...loafers? Former gophers. It was that or skin my chauffers. But a Greyhound fur tuxedo would be best!

Clockwork Orange (1)

Drakula (222725) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107606)

IMHO, the media companies want to take away our right as people to make moral decisions. Like the scientists in Clockwork Orange.

Nothing New (3, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107608)

As always, its the "Music industry has head stuck up ass. People will be mad. News at 11."

Duh.

It's a shame people dont have the time or money to care until it actually happens.

Re:Nothing New (1, Insightful)

Fembot (442827) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107697)

What would be news would be when they realised that the only mp3's I have on my harddrive that arent legal are ones that I wouldnt have bought anyway

Re:Nothing New (2)

clump (60191) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107842)

It's a shame people dont have the time or money to care until it actually happens.
Not to excuse procrastination, but we couldn't afford to act on every single injustice that takes place with regard to law. Eventually, we have to rely on our elected leaders to do what we elected them for.

Alan Thicke. DEAD. (-1)

Alan_Thicke (553655) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107611)

I just heard the sad news on CBC radio. Comedy actor/writer Alan Thicke was found dead in his home this morning. Even if you never liked his work, you can appreciate what he did for 80's television. Truly a Canadian icon. [slashdot.org]
He will be missed :(



Show me That Smile (The Growing Pains Theme Song):

Show me that smile again.
Ooh show me that smile.
Don't waste another minute on your crying.
We're nowhere near the end.
We're nowhere near.
The best is ready to begin.

As long as we got each other
We got the world
Sitting right in our hands.
Baby rain or shine;
All the time.
We got each other
Sharing the laughter and love.

Media giants. (4, Funny)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107618)

only the media giants could be so stupid as to think treating their customers like criminals will increase sales.

Hrm. I wonder if Microsoft will be able to license their Activation Code technology to the good people of Vivendi Universal.

"We're sorry, but someone is already listening to this pressing of the Britney Spheres CD."

--saint

it's not about piracy (5, Interesting)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107620)

It's not about piracy--its about destroying fair use and moving America to a pay-per-use business model. The whole piracy thing is arrant bullshit--content will still be created regardless of copying. After all, it's done pretty damned well even after 30 years of rampant analog copying.

The whole scare over "digital copying" is a red herring--what the RIAA and MPAA are trying to do is use this new-fangled technology thing to get rid of this profit-limiting concept of "buy once, play (or read) many times."

Get that message out there folks--its not about piracy, its about pay-per-view everywhere.

Re:it's not about piracy (5, Insightful)

moncyb (456490) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107781)

I also think it should be emphasized that this law will affect more than just the entertainment cartel's content.

It could very well destroy the common person's ability to create their own content. Want to create a home movie? You'll have to buy a $10,000 device. Want to record your daughter's piano recital? You'll have to pay $100 in patent fees to some company.

Not only that, it will probably go beyond audio and video. Want a choice of OS? You get Microsoft bloated unstable unsecure ass-fisting Winders 2004 or Sun Microsystems really expensive server OS. Want to send an email with an attachment (such as a spreadsheet)? Sorry, unless it has the proper content codes, you're not allowed to do that. Want to edit an essay you wrote pre-SSSCA? Sorry, that isn't copy controlled.

All of the news media stories I've seen don't even seem to mention this. That and calling it "security" really confuses the issue, so that the average person doesn't understand the true implications.

kind of odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107621)

Is it just me, or is there a certain amount of contradiction that a story casting SSSCA in a negative light is being reported on a Microsoft-owned website? I'd figure M$ would be all for the SSSCA.

decent article (1)

f00zbll (526151) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107628)

What a breathe of fresh air to read a reasonably well written article about this whole issue. Now if only some one would lock the senator, MI and the other execs in a padded cell for 100 years, we can all go back to a sane world.

Re:decent article (5, Funny)

gilroy (155262) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107745)

Blockquoth the poster:

Now if only some one would lock the senator, MI and the other execs in a padded cell for 100 years, ...

... they'd get out just about the time some 20th century stuff finally made it to public domain. :)

YES! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107629)

he is smart! i listen and obey! you say it, i know it to be true!

come on now, is this "my opinion for nerds" or what?

Hal hal! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107641)

Hal! Onse again Mr. Homos it appers that yu0=fag0rt!

New World Order (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107647)

Has anyone thought about the New World Order implications of this? I mean, this is the turning point to where Big Business will truly control government, and not the People.

Bad news for ya, chief... (1)

clangro (564048) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107742)

The people haven't been in control of the government for over 100 years.

Do you honestly think the people have any say in the decision making process? Vietnam would have never happened, for one, but I digress.

Do you think the average person would say "Yes, please take away the rights I have using September 11th as an excuse(The "Patriot" act. I use the quotes because it's the most unpatriotic bill past in a long time). Please, let my PC be able to do less under the guise of piracy prevention, when in reality you guys just want complete control over everything you're associated with. Please, overcharge me for CDs that I can't even use under the guise of piracy."

The RIAA and MPAA are the 3rd reich of "entertainment". (Again, I use quotes because anyone who is entertained by the Backstreet Boys, Limp Bizkit, and dick and far jokes is an idiot)

The big deal for me (4, Insightful)

Violet Null (452694) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107648)

Then there's the impact on the electronics industry. If new computers, CD-DVD players and personal video recorders are hobbled, consumers will hold on to their pre-Hollings machines. As Intel's Leslie Vadasz warned the Commerce Committee, "[Your legislation] will substantially retard innovation ... and will reduce the usefulness of our products to consumers."

I own an Archos jukebox. Me buying music is dependant upon whether I can rip it to mp3 and put it on my jukebox. I'll happily wager that I'm not alone in this.

Force American companies to hobble their electronics, and you're just making it more tempting to buy an import. Think about what happens to sales when it's discovered this or that DVD player has a way to override regional controls. If this happens, some shop in Taiwan or Hong Kong is going to start making a killing.

Re:The big deal for me "quality" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107735)

"No outlaw service can ever provide consumers with the deep libraries at guaranteed high quality that content owners can deliver. And if media companies adopted a perfectly feasible system of "digital-rights management" that allowed music fans to make a few copies for personal use, most people wouldn't bother to do the pirate thing."

But the outlaw service does provide the high quality service now.

If only I could Buy and DL music that was encoded at something higher then 128kb.. That is what really pisses me off, I gota pay sometimes even more to buy MP3's that are encoded way to low..

If i'm buying them, there is no reason why I shouldn't be able to get them in 3-4 different bitrates.

Until i can buy mp3's at something higher then I will keep borrowing/ripping and downloading(stealing)

They'll learn the hard way. (1)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107649)

Some small label should start providing their stuff online and watch their sales soar. All it will take is one successful venture, and watch the giant fall.

Re:They'll learn the hard way. (2, Insightful)

Chaswell (222452) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107741)

If I could go straight and download high quality tracks directly from the company, I would do it in a heart beat. All of my CD's are stored in a box, I rip them to my Mac, drop to my IPod and no longer need my CD. I would love to not have to go into the record store and deal with those idiots when they have placed RATM in the Popular instead of the Rock. Give me an easier way, it doesn't even have to be that much cheaper!!!

New Distribution Model (5, Insightful)

TrollMan 5000 (454685) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107657)

True, the ease of making and distributing digital files will always present a challenge for the labels and studios. But it's also a potential gold mine: an instant, ultra-low-cost delivery system and a targeted marketing vehicle.

The problem with this is twofold:

First, the labels will not pin a price that is reasonable compared to the cost of production.

Look at CD's, despite falling from $6 to about $.50 to press, why haven't CD prices fallen as well? Besides, they make a lot of money selling 1 to 3 good tracks bundled with 10 tracks worth of filler.

Second: Unfortunately, there's a mindset that people will not pay for something that they got for free previously, despite the quality guarantees that a pay service might have. This explains why Napster's pay service is not rolling out as expected.

The result is the survival of a music distribution model with too many hands in the till.

Writing your congressperson (1)

FooKuff (562303) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107658)

I tried to write my congressmen about this on Saturday morning. My email was rejected because it hadn't been submitted using their web forms! I think everybody should switch to web forms. Fook multiple recipients and the CC and BCC fields! I guess I'll just print the damn email out on paper and send it in. Maybe they'll read in 9 months after they've sufficiently tested it for Anthrax, fingerprints, and whatever else. Never mind that it's trivial to forge real mail and non-PGP-signed email-- especially "email" submitted via web form.

The SSSCA is *insane*. It requires every piece of hardware/software to protect copyright, which means the end of cut & paste, email forwarding, and-- most importantly-- the entire alt.binaries.pictures.* hierarchy! Oh fook, did I mention that last one out loud?

But given that the Congress is apparently techno-illiterate, I doubt they'll understand the difference.

These are the coming signs of the apocalypse. (-1, Troll)

clangro (564048) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107660)

With all the school shootings, domestic violence, and how messed up society as a whole is, I'm shocked some disgruntled musician or similar person hasn't assassinated Hillary Rossen, Jack Valenti, or any of these other idiots backing these power tripping idiots.

It's just unfortunate that reasonable critism of these laws and ideas these greedy bastards purvey are immediately brushed off as endorcing theft. "I feel that it's a bit extreme to send a bouncer to someone's house to beat up anyone who has an mp3." "SHUT UP YOU CRIMINAL LOVING KLEPTOMANIAC!"

These groups are 2 minutes away from requesting government sanctioned executions of anyone who ever had a song on their computer.

Re:These are the coming signs of the apocalypse. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107756)

Americans will get tired of being bled for every dollar they have and something will happen. I'm afraid it will be a while longer of unrestrained greed but something has to give. America cannot infinitely support a one-way transfer of wealth.

Thankyou! (3, Insightful)

mlknowle (175506) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107661)

What a fantastic piece!

Arguing against those who favor copy protection measures extreme as these can sometimes be difficult for people who arn't particularly technologically inclined; that's why we always see anologies to Ford making cars whose engines need updgrades like Windows does. This article does a good job of making the electronic freedom arguement without resorting to such sillyness by pointing to the underlying economic reality: treating your customers like theives will never increase sales.

Let's hope this is just the first in a long line of articles making a sensible arguments against Disney et al., and their handpicked legislators.

If this had been done right... (5, Insightful)

Gedvondur (40666) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107664)

Specifically in the area of digital music, if this had been done right this would not be a problem. Music companies offering their catalogs for say .25 or .50 cents a song with a fat pipe and guaranteed quality would have been popular. I would have considered it myself. I would have download from them regardless of the availability of other sources such as the Gnutella network. I would have been happily legal, with clean, correct copies of my music. I think that many people would have also.

Sure, there would be quite a few people still pirating the content, but for audiophiles it would have been a no-brainer. Legal, fast, and clean would have been the watchwords. How many MP3s have you downloaded only to find out that it's a bad rip that took you an hour to get? Misnamed songs, misnamed authors, and things like that would have been things of the past. But no, we have to have paranoia, fear, and mistrust.

A company that would trust its customers a little bit could reap huge rewards. There will be piracy regardless of what they do. If it was created by man, it can be broken by man.

The first company to engender a little trust and lay on a little guilt "If one of your friends wants this song, send them to us so we can continue to offer you this premium service" would have made them money.

First FUCK SLASHDOT post (-1)

Fucky the troll (528068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107668)

Fuck slashdot. Fuck it into the ground. Thank you for your time.

Media (5, Insightful)

blkros (304521) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107670)

...Steven Levy so far is the only person in the mainstream press to pick up on the the travesty of the SSSCA hearings....
Uhmm...am I the only one who sees how obvious it is that mainstream media, controlled by the companies that are backing the sssca, wouldn't be reporting on it? Unless it wasn't going their way, that is.

IANAL (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107672)

But isn't it the burden of proof on the music and movie industry to actually prove that people are pirating (and not by getting the FBI to raid homes) and not the job of Congress to pass sweeping legislation for a mass fisting of consumers?

This was brought up on here a few times over the Napster debate where the court said that the record companies had to show proof of copyright over the music that was being traded.

Why hasn't Intel or someone testifying against this brought that up. Wouldn't that be an ace in the hole?

I, for one, am reserving judgement... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107679)

I, for one, am reserving judgement until I hear from "Cereal Killer", aka Emmanuel Goldstein [fazigu.org] , "Acid Burn" and "Crash Override" aka "Zero Cool", thank you very much!

An even funnier twist on this whole situation... (1)

clangro (564048) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107689)

Is that much of the piracy that happens is actually by EMPLOYEES of these companies.

A lot of piracy is coming from HQ. Anyone who knows "the scene" will agree. All it takes is an employee who doesn't care or wants to hook up a friend with a copy of an album 3 months early to start up a huge piracy spread of the work.

Boycott where it matters.. (2, Interesting)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107691)

I won't repeat the tired "Boycott the Music Industry!!" since the entire population of /. could to no ill effect. I believe a boycott could do some damage if the 12-18 age group was educated and organized. Every N*Stink and Britney Spears album that is purchased contributes to the Industry's cause. If you have a younger brother, sister, cousin, nephew or niece, please educate them! They'll listen if you take the time to explain. Something like the 'truth' campaign, but focused on the Industry. Don't buy music! (I could also use this opportunity to educate them on why the music sucks, but one battle at a time.. ;)

Just a shot in the dark...

Of course the customer is a criminal... (2)

mttlg (174815) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107692)

It's really quite simple - the only right of a consumer is to buy stuff, so if you are doing anything else, you must be an evil, un-American, commie bastard criminal. Since people obviously aren't playing along and sending all of their money to groups like the MPAA, RIAA, etc. in small, unmarked, non-sequential bills left under the third tier of the right field bleachers at the high school at precisely 6pm, they have no choice but to have all of their rights removed. We didn't bow down to our lord and god Big Business, paying tribute to its greatness with gifts of gold and promises of eternal servitude, so it shall smite us with the sting of a thousand legal restrictions. It's really quite fair when you consider that we've been given such wonderful gifts as the opportunity to pay for Britney Spears "music" and cinematic gems like "Super Troopers." So get out your checkbooks and bend over America, it's time for your medicine...

Computers are not just for digital movies/music! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107694)

This can't happen, if it did, you wouldn't be able to write your own code for your computer since it
would need a key to unlock the Northbridge and Soutbridge. This won't happen. I write databases and stuff for a living. I don't have a Kiosk that magiclly brings up a #ucking Disney movie.

Hey if this bill make it to law I will never watch
another movie again, as well as my wife and three
boys. This is bullshit.

Do you notice how... (2)

banky (9941) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107700)

... they're always saying "content holders"? Or content providers?

Nothing is going to change until the content producers -the artists - rebel. Nothing short of a mutiny by the bands and filmmakers will get the industry to change.

There have been attempts. The Offspring come to mind, with their pro-Napster stance. (Question: are the still pro-p2p? Are they still a BAND?) But their rebellion was too early, and they were "just a punk band" so I guess few listened.

Until you have Ms. Spears do a press conference stating that she is not going to sign with [whomever] when her contract gets renewed, because [whomever] only produces copy-protected CDs that her lil' girlfriends can't listen to on their Nomads or iPods, and other artists follow suit, there willbe no change. I hate to say it but this is one fight where drastic change is going to need a little violence, if only in the legal sense.

Give thanks to Democrats, Republicans, Greens, etc (4, Informative)

dada21 (163177) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107708)

Here's yet another reason why increasing the size and power of Government will only deteriorate the rights of the common man. These anti-speech measures will only increase in number as long as the average person votes for the three parties above.

Advocating liberty means supporting the decrease of big government. Stop asking for handouts, no matter what type (corporate subsidies, welfare, social security, etc) because those handouts come with reductions in our rights, like the big corporations want. If you want to end these ludicrous and obviously unconstitutional laws, then vote for the only party that advocates disassembling any law that is unconstitutional: the Libertarian Party [lp.org] .

I hate being a broken record, but ALL these laws (SSSCA, DMCA, etc) are unconstitutional, but as long as Congress is more powerful than the Constitution allows, they will never be repealed.

My view on copy protection: let manufacturers make an unbreakable copy protection scheme if they want. Let hardware developers get in bed with software developers. But DO NOT LET THEM have laws that prevent reverse engineering. Do let the free market consumer power choose between an encrypted uncopyable format, and possibly an open format advocated by another group of software publishers.

As long as we allow the RIAA and MPAA and other large organizations lobby Congress to overextend Congressional power, we'll always be victims. The free market works, but only if you get government out of it.

Re:Give thanks to Democrats, Republicans, Greens, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107749)

Right on, Libertarian Brother! George Bush is a Corporate Whore, and the Bitch of Big Buisiness! Who's with me?

Give thanks to my arse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107785)

Shut up wanker.

Same old song and dance. (2)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107716)

What makes this all totally insane is that Internet file sharing is not necessarily the foe of copyright holders. True, the ease of making and distributing digital files will always present a challenge for the labels and studios. But it's also a potential gold mine: an instant, ultra-low-cost delivery system and a targeted marketing vehicle. No outlaw service can ever provide consumers with the deep libraries at guaranteed high quality that content owners can deliver. And if media companies adopted a perfectly feasible system of "digital-rights management" that allowed music fans to make a few copies for personal use, most people wouldn't bother to do the pirate thing.
Sorry, but I don't really see this guy saying anything that hasn't been said a dozen times. In the words of one of my favorite enemies of Fair Use: "I can see your lips moving, but you ain't saing a M-F thing." What's this "perfectly feasible system of digital rights management" he talks about? Cuz nobody in the DRM industry has ever shown me one. There's a lot of movement toward such a system, but nobody has actually managed to come up with an effective one yet.

So here's Mr. Levy being bothered by the SSSCA, which could allow the intellectual property industry to force consumer electronics manufacturers to include copy prevention technology in their products. And yet he still chooses the cop-out of saying that digital downloads aren't bad because somebody could come up with a "feasible" DRM system. Hello -- am I the only one who sees the contradiction? Move along, folks, nothing to see here...

OT: Alternatives to the MP/RIAA?? (2)

jabber01 (225154) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107721)

Ok, so the only real way that a consumer has of telling the RIAA & MPAA how they feel is with their wallets..

So, short of not buying any more music or seeing any more movies, what are my alternatives?

Where can I find movies and music that don't grease the MPAA and RIAA wheels?

Re:OT: Alternatives to the MP/RIAA?? (1)

barjam (37372) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107814)

Don't bother, if you quit buying the media, it would just support their position that you are stealing it anyhow.

To them you are guilty of theft. Regardless of what you do.

Barjam

Hackers aren't customers. (0, Funny)

elenchos (237104) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107731)

Everyone knows that hackers only steal and never pay for what they use. They cannot possibly be anyone's "customer". Treating them like criminals is perfectly legitimate.

And how on earth could calling a hacker a hacker do anything to alienate the real paying customers? Regular people with jobs and families who work and earn money and spend it on fine music CDs and movies don't even know any hackers. Unless they are really unlucky.

So the consumers who keep the world running smoothly have no reason to mind the prosecution of those who do things that normal folks would never dream of doing. And that is why the regular media over in the real world has ignored this story.

Only over the fantasy world of the hacker "community" is it even noticed.

Death of an Industry (0)

BECoole (558920) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107733)

I disagree somewhat with his article in that I don't think that there is alot of opportunity for the media companies on the internet. What we are witnessing is a transformation of the industries. This will inevitably result in the deaths of some of these companies, like dinosaurs. To artificially prop them up is just plain wrong. Who knows what greater heights can be achieved without them in the way? I for one will happily kick the chair out from under them.

This is truly a music theme day... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107736)

Disney vs Apple [slashdot.org] , Kaaza [slashdot.org] and now this. The only thing that's missing is another Boondocks cartoon parodying the RIAA's paranoia and campaign to paint all people with the worst color brush.

All my friends who burn CD's do it from their own collections, I will too, once I get my new system together. I've supported the RIAA and MPAA over the years by purchasing hundreds of CD's, seeing hundreds of movies and buying several tapes and now some DVD's. I'm clearly public enemy #1 in their eyes since now I want to make my own mixes, employing an operating system (Linux) and freely available tools to do this awful deed. Unthinkable that an open source operating system could exist where users could easily bypass RIAA and MPAA mandated (via SSSCA) controls, surely it's a dream come true for Microsoft, it's a wonder they aren't out trumpeting this fact.

Heaven forbid that I should consider sampling my cruddy (and probably illegal as all heck) VHS collection of Ren & Stimpy, Alf, Star Trek:TNG, Max Headroom, etc. and weed out the 15 year old commercials and burn them onto DVD's which I could watch at my leisure. Well, damn them all to heck, since they don't make this stuff available anyway. If they would, and let's face it, they could put more resources into making all this content of the last 80 years (film, music, radio, etc) available over the web or by subscription, like Netflix, I could dump cartons of old tapes. Nah, that wouldn't work. Need to legislate morailty, strip freedoms, control control control, continue to push crap. Next you'll be paying Hollywood tax on a new guitar, because you might play a few bars of something copyrighted, and it should call up John Ashcroft and turn you in, if you do, just like soviet teenagers selling out their parents for a pair of Levi's...

I'm actually surprised Steven Levy's article is run by msnbc, as they're certainly part of the problem (NAB is certainly in favor of taking away your TiVo or ReplayTV, y'know) You certainly wouldn't see this on ABC...

The Disney Corp. was once celebrated for its crowd-pleasing recipe: underpromise and overdeliver. But Eisner and his copyright-holding counterparts, drinking deep from the fountain of fear, seem to have adopted a new motto: overcharge and disable.

Cheers to Steven!

Not the only one (1)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107738)

Steven Levy so far is the only person in the mainstream press to pick up on the the travesty of the SSSCA hearings.

Not true. Dan Gilmour of the San Jose Mercury News has been talking about it.

Check it out. [bayarea.com]

2002-02-28 20:27:33 Intel backs consumers over Hollywood (articles,news) (rejected)

Capitalist business vs. Gov't supported business (1)

Mad-Mage1 (235582) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107744)

Pleas and arguments to the government to "protect us" from the very consumers who help make and finance these companies should make all consumers of these company's products sit up and re-evaluate their intentions. Instead of innovating new and profitable ways to service the market, these companies reach a certain critical mass and then turn to lobbying and meaningless political rhetoric to try to bulwark their slowly degrading market share in areas that the consumer has slowly started to leave. Once these behemoths of corporate Amerika turn on to an issue, the PAC's and backdoor deals to pass legislation to "protect the consumer" inevitably follow. Capitalism is supposed to react to "market forces", not government interference. If the mass consumers WANT to steal music, they WILL!! If it causes large media organizations to fail, then let them. Ideally, whatever the consumer wants to get, it eventually will, at whatever acquisition cost it decides is agreeable.

In this case the music is "free" on various P2P networks. To the average consumer this price is acceptable, to the average unsigned band, this is acceptable. Only to the Record companies, and Major Label artists is this unacceptable. One way or another, this too shall pass and an equilibrium will be reached. What this is, I do not know. But rest assured, it will be reached, if and only if, the Government stays out of it.

Value (2)

swagr (244747) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107752)

The ONLY reason why any form of exchange/barter/loan/transaction works, is because both parties end up in the plus. I want CD abc more than I want $20. The label want's $20 more than that copy of the CD. We go through the transaction and we're both better off. Hence these exchanges, when executed properly, are not a zero sum game.

Many industries have taken the perspective that exchanges should be zero sum. i.e. Screw your customer for your own good. When that doesn't work, screw them more. Now even cockroaches learn quickly from negative re-enforcement. How does the record industry expect us to behave?

Ya know what? ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107763)

Here's what I want to say to the media industry:

Ya know what? Do it. We've been patiently WAITING for YEARS for a reason to topple you motherfuckers. So do it. Let's just get it all over with - the world is hungry for a revolution.

When this is all over the media companies will be wishing they never picked this fight. Go ahead, fuckers - do it. I fucking DARE you.

Could Hardware-Based Protection Work? (1)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107773)

I was actually disappointed by this Steven Levy article. He makes the same points that we've all seen 1000 times on Slashdot -- that all encryption will get broken. And treating your customers like criminals is a surefire way to lose sales.

But there's one question the SSSCA issue brings up that I really haven't seen intelligently discussed on Slashdot. And that is: can a combination of software encryption and hardware disabling make it impossible for a motivated user, with a few hundred bucks of special equipment, to copy a protected DVD to MPEG4 or whatever? With next-generation protected equipment, might we see the case where the protection scheme on DVD's can no longer be broken on the cheap?

I think it's fair to say that CDs can never be meaningfully protected, since the output of audio signals is so basic and so easy to recapture no matter what encryption is present.

But, should the SCCCA pass, can a case be made that a combination of hardware and software will make it essentially impossible to extract unprotected, high-quality versions of movies from a DVD?

I don't have the tech background to answer that question. But it seems like this is the question for which we all need a clear answer.

An upside to all of this... (3, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107775)

Business-school professors could feast for years on the unintended consequences that come from treating Britney Spears tunes like nuclear secrets.

So we might have Britney Spears tunes locked up with only a select few authorized to listen to them? Maybe there is a upside (albeit a tiny one) to this after all.

Libertarian Blogs have been on this for a week... (2, Informative)

Donut (128871) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107776)

Check out this log [instapundit.com] , and search for Hollings. The main point from the BlogSphere is that Hollings, the committee chairman, is bought and paid for by the entertainment industry, and why would the same industry give themselves negative press?

The good news is that the "evil" republican House seems to be willing to tell Hollings to take a leap.

Donut

Looking Grim at the Grammys (1)

donkeyboy (191279) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107777)

Check out this link too.
Looking Grim at the Grammys [msnbc.com]

Good background into what the music industry has gotten itself into.

I'm tired... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3107778)

... of people who think they know it all, claiming that everyone in the music and movie industries are complete morons.

only the media giants could be so stupid as to think treating their customers like criminals will increase sales

In fact, it's quite likely that trusting their customers not to share music or movies will eventually result in an extreme decrease in sales. In 10 years, when everyone has broadband and there's rampant Napster-like copying, this will happen.

Perhaps going the copy-protection route will also result in decreased sales, but I'll let them decide which is the lesser of two evils. I don't feel like I'm in the position to be able to tell them that one way is incredibly stupid.

The Utter Gall (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107792)

If the MPAA wants to distribute movies over the internet, then they can build their own hardware and develop their own crypto and market the product/service to consumers.

Where in the hell do they get the nerve to demand that the internet be made safe for their product? Hundreds of other companies are learning how to do business on the 'net and you don't hear them crying to Congress about how dangerous it is.

As for the RIAA, according to numerous accounts, they've been ripping off artists in order to fleece consumers for decades. Let's just call it even. They can start distributing their plainly-marked, copy-proof disks and get over it.

Either way, they're both going down. Technology will continue to progress. As the cost of producing high-quality digital entertainment becomes ever cheaper and the price and inflexibility of the Media Giants products increase, more and more people will turn to small, independent producers who have nothing to lose by offering copy control-free entertainment at budget prices.

MjM

Eisner's Facing Reality Cramps (5, Insightful)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107793)

The truly ridiculous thing about this is that, simply, implementing what the Big Media Whiners want is essentially impossible.

First, Linux and other technologies become illegal. Right. Good luck with that.

Additionally, kiss exports by-bye and say hello to foreign competition - or barring foreign imports. Nice job of foreign relations there.

But before that, imagine creating a standard that'll work and that people can agree on. No chance.

However, before that, you have to deal with the legal challenges that will come up. If some bill is passed, it's going to go into the courts faster than anyone can imagine.

And, finally, foremost, this will blow up in the faces of the companies. People are used to this technology. Most are using it for understandable purposes, and almost none are evil, drooling, anti-american criminals. They will NOT be happy.

Ultimately, the companies involved have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. They're running out of feet.

So, where is the boycot ... (5, Insightful)

2Bits (167227) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107794)

that everyone here was talking about? People were talking about creating a grass root movement to boycott the RIAA/MPAA. So where is that?

I've not watched any TV for the last 2 years, I don't own any DVD products (disc, or player), I stop buying music CDs, I stop going to movies (last film I've watched in theater was The Matrix, and yes, I've not watched The LoTR!), I stop renting movies from Block Buster or Hollywood. In 1998, I spent about $3000 on music/movies (not including different players, discman, cables, figurines, posters, live concerts, etc). Not that big a sum, but that's the money those RIAA/MPAA fat folks do not get from me anymore on a yearly basis.

People complain, and then rush to give their money to those RIAA/MPAA monsters and witches. No wonder they get more and more powerful, and keep bullying the consumers, coz that's easy money. And for all the complaints that people have made, how does that affect their revenue? None! Au contraire, their pocket seems to get fatter, just look at every new hit. Every year is a record breaker in terms of box office and albums sold.

Treatment elicits behaviour (1)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107796)

"He points out that only the media giants could be so stupid as to think treating their customers like criminals will increase sales."

Agreed. If you treat a person like a criminal, they will act like a criminal. The industry is unknowingly shooting itself in the foot.

ban lighters! (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107808)

so since we are putting all this copy protection on and maybe someday banning cd-burners why not start banning cigarette lighters since I can use them to light up a crack pipe just as much as a cigarette. (sarcasm)

partial banned (1)

DarkSkiesAhead (562955) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107828)


I enjoyed the article until I came to this line:

And if media companies adopted a perfectly feasible system of "digital-rights management" that allowed music fans to make a few copies for personal use, most people wouldn't bother to do the pirate thing.

First, this is wrong. I think I can safely say that the majority of napster users were not looking for a copy of something they legally purchased. The music industry, stupid as they may be, will not believe that "a few copies for personal use" are harmless. They want complete control. They are willing to eliminate most legitimate uses to prevent "illegal activity".

Considering the entertainment industry's goals, a user-friendly DRM will be just as dangerous. If we settle for a DRM that allows for some legitimate uses, do you think those uses won't be abused as well? Then, the entertainment industry will complain and limit consumers even more.

Mandatory DRMs of any shape or size are at odds with our rights as consumers to the fair use of our possesions.

MP3s != illegal (1)

wbav (223901) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107831)

More than once, I've heard the mistake that ripping a cd is illegal or wrong; it isn't.

Millions of people commonly, and legally, buy CDs, rip the tunes on computer hard drives, and then either download to MP3 players or mix and burn their own CD compilations.


Now it seems to me, making it so that you cannot rip from a cd, via copy protection, then you have to break the law to get a copy. This is actually quite brilliant on the side of the MPAA. Basically they are making it illegal to make your own comp cds, thus if you make your own mix, you've broken the law.

But, this seems like a really bad thing to do. As countless people have pointed out, sampling an artist, via mp3s, has stimuated CD sales. An example of this, is when BNL released their single ahead of time with commentary.

I think most of us can agree, what the MPAA is trying to do to customers, is wrong. I tend to like this customer service (with the exception of banks, as they'd rather charge you a fee, then care if you got your money or not) boom that companies are doing. The MPAA seems to be against that, and I find it somewhat disturbing.

Please rate the article! (5, Informative)

Refrag (145266) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107833)

On MSNBC, you can rate the article is you scroll to the bottom. Please rate this article so that it may gain position in the "top ten articles page" and more people may read it.

Bad economic model and unconstitutional. (5, Interesting)

brad.hill (21936) | more than 12 years ago | (#3107843)

I'll repeat what I said on the MSFT thread since it's relevant here, too.

The fundamental problem behind many of the current threads here is the kicking and screaming refusal of industry to acknowledge the economic concept of a public good. (not good in the moral sense, but as in "goods and services") Public goods are those that are non-depletable, i.e. my using it doesn't hinder anybody else's use of it or make it unavailable to them, and they are non-excludable, i.e. anybody can get and use them. Digital media of any sort, including software, fits this description ideally.

Yet Microsoft, the RIAA, the MPAA, etc.. are all fighting for their lives on this last point. If they can create a non-depletable good with high value that is excludable, they've got an obvious gold mine. The problem is that this is VERY hard (if you believe Schiener, impossible). So they're trying to hijack governmental policy in an attempt to enforce excludability at a greater technical, social and economic cost than the goods themselves are worth to anybody but the current owners.

Ignoring the cost to consumers, simply consider the cost of using the mechanisms of government -considerable resources of the executive and judicial branch- to enforce ever stricter copyright laws currently being broken by millions of citizens. Isn't it very possible that this will be higher than the taxes collected off the sale of copyrighted material? Doesn't this amount to a public subsidy of an economically unsound business model? Somehow I doubt we'll hear this argument come up from the "free-markets, smaller-government, deregulation-is-good" types.

If the cost is foisted off on the hardware industry, then this represents an illegal transfer of wealth from these companies to copyright holders. If this cost is eventually foisted off on consumers of the hardware (who will ALSO pay more for the copyrighted material in such a regime) then there must be economic justification that this cost is less than the cost to the public of not having new creative material available that would only be produced under these strict legal regimes.

Given the immense creative urges inherent in humanity, our demand for new entertainment and the many possibilities for external compensation for creative works, it is a very difficult case to make that there would be great negative externalities and public harm if the current control on nearly all copyrighted material by a few large coporate interests were weakened.

The US Constitution explicitly states that government sanctions temporary intellectual property rghts only as part of a social contract to benefit the public citizenry. If the benefit of these laws is accruing to private corporations at the public's expense then these laws are unconstitutional.
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