defending the right to innovate
Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.
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A translation of macrovision's letter to Steve Jobs. (Strictly speaking, I think this is called a "fisking".)
Borys Musielak writes a long piece on DRM (link here). He calls for boycotting the hardware and software that impose DRM, most notably Vista currently, and for political action. He points us to ways to get around the controls where they have been broken but then notes that may not be legal. "For instance, if you have the misfortune of being located in the United States or France, you are prohibited by law to play your legally purchased music or films (sic!) that are secured by DRM if you don't buy an approved operating system (like MS Windows or MacOS) with an approved media player (like PowerDVD or iTunes). In the US this has been enforced by the DMCA act. In France, a similar act called DADVSI."
Are these great countries or what?
At the risk of being somewhat off topic: over on slashdot they are claiming that you won't be able to upgrade (or reinstall) windows Vista unless you already have some other version of windows installed...Vista already seems to be deep in the colossal blunders department. Have to wonder at this point how many people are going to try upgrading to this. The price is right - and you don't need to have old windows installation disks lying around to try it out.
I previously posted on an article by security researcher Peter Gutmann about DRM in Windows Vista in which he argues that Microsoft has chosen to degrade in important and significant ways the performance and capability of their operating system to protect "premium content." Microsoft has posted a response denying all charges. Unfortunately, reading the details of the denial, it appears that everything Gutmann said is true.
Slashdot draws our attention to an an article by security researcher Peter Gutmann about DRM in Windows Vista. The gist of the article: Microsoft has chosen to degrade in important and significant ways the performance and capability of their operating system to protect "premium content." He is of the view that it probably won't work as far as protecting premium content, but will significantly raise the cost and lower the performance of such things as video cards - as well as making them difficult to reverse engineer for open source operating systems such as Linux and FreeBSD. It may well be that the latter is the intention of Microsoft - certainly the evidence is that Apple's music DRM doesn't do much for protecting content - but protects Apple from competition in the music business.
That said - the demand for degraded computers that can play "premium content" is limited. People just don't buy computers to play movies on them. Michele and I previously dug out some numbers on the size of the "premium content" industry versus the IT industry. According to the RIAA, the value of all CD's, live presentations, music videos, dvds in 1998 was 13.72 billion US$. According to the SOI, in 1998 the business receipts of the computer and electronic product manufacturing including both hardware and software was 560.27 billion US$. I looked up at the census 1997 revenue in the telecommunications industry: 260.50 billion US$. So: are people going to give up their general purpose computers they spend $560 billion on to access less than $14 billion in content? Predictions are dangerous, but I will venture one: Microsoft's decision to build heavy DRM into the core of Vista will go down as one of the colossal business blunders of all time.
For a brief primer on how not to run a successful business see the business week article on the new Amazon downloading service. The short version: going out of your way to sell a not very good product at a high price is not a proven formula for business success.
Finally, there's the problem of how to watch these videos on the television, which remains the preferred place to watch for most people. Amazon's service, like others, allows a backup DVD of the digital files to be made, but that backup won't play in regular DVD players thanks to digital rights restrictions. A Windows Media Center PC can be cabled to a TV, but only through a relatively low-resolution S-video line.
Hmmm...a special DVD player or a "Windows Media Center PC" cabled to a TV. Sounds like a winner to me.
Jim Baen died two days ago. There is a moving obituary by David Drake. In case you are wondering what this might have to do with copyright and DRM, here is the relevant part
For example, the traditional model of electronic publishing required that the works be encrypted. Jim thought that just made it hard for people to read books, the worst mistake a publisher could make. His e-texts were clear and in a variety of common formats.
This is real entrepreneurship - making available a superior product at a good price. I expect it put more money in the pockets of authors than the other kind.
I owe my own personal gratitude to Jim Baen. He published the kind of science fiction I love to read - I was reading books he published long before electronic publishing was a gleam in his eye. I read fast, and I like to read on airplanes: while reading off of a palm pilot or tablet pc isn't quite as satisfying as a real book, the fact that I can bring a 1000 volume library with me wherever I am is worth a lot. For me Baen's electronic publication was a godsend. I went to his website to see how many Baen electronic books I own: 171 is the count. That means I've (happily) paid him over $600 for electronic books over the years - probably more than I've spent on traditional dead-tree fiction from all publishers during that time. I imagine quite a bit of that was well-earned money for the authors, as well as well-earned money for Baen himself. My only regret is that I will never have the opportunity to meet the man.
There is an article over on Ars Technica about emusic. After Apple they are the biggest vendor of online music. The interesting feature is that they sell MP3 tracks without DRM - which has the advantage that their music runs on anything, the iPod, for example.
The majors are terrified of piracy and so insist on strict DRM controls to safeguard their music. The indie labels that eMusic works with generally don't have that fear. "The indies have always viewed the world differently," says Pakman [the CEO of emusic]. "You know, the indies struggle for attention, for customers, so the notion of someone actually digging a track and e-mailing it to 10 of their best friends doing self-promotion that's music to the ears of the indie record labels. Whereas an RIAA member says, 'We've got to sue that guy.'"In other words: the marginal musicians - the ones who might stop producing music if they made less money - aren't getting much benefit of copyright. It is the star musicians - the ones who would keep right on making music for a fraction of what they are paid now - who benefit from copyright. But the purpose of copyright is not to enrich the star musician at the expense of everyone else.
From DRM Watch we find
The South Korean P2P file-sharing service Soribada revealed more details of its plans to convert to a paid service after losing a legal appeal against the Korean music industry last November. In an agreement with the Korea Music Producers' Association (KMPA), Soribada will charge users KRW 500 (US $0.51) for DRM-protected music tracks and KRW 700 ($0.72) for non-DRM-protected tracks. Soribada, one of several Korean P2P networks in discussions with KMPA, will use acoustic fingerprinting technology to control usage of some files on the network.DRM Watch then reaches the conclusion that this means the seller expects a 40% piracy rate. Ed Felten provides a clear explanation of why this conclusion is silly.
The Sony-BMG fiasco has demolished one argument for obtaining music legally rather than illegally over P2P networks. The RIAA advises against using file sharing networks because "file-sharers' computers are vulnerable to the viruses infecting other machines on the P2P networks." Leaving aside just how great this vulnerability is - F-Secure reports that there are no viruses to infect MP3 audio files - Sony-BMG has handily demolished this argument by planting its own malware on users computers.
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Catching Up The Ruth Lewis post is interesting, but incomplete. The very economies that are supposedly
at 01/31/2013 07:21 AM by Anonymous
Canada - A Copyright Year in Review Hello. I don't like copyright law but I don't think it will go away in my life. I started a
at 01/02/2013 04:58 AM by Sabrina
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at 12/28/2012 06:57 AM by Byte
From the Trenches Innovative remarks indeed. Cecil Quillen suggests the system needs to be modified, which I think
at 12/21/2012 06:18 PM by Anonymous
The golden age of beer innovation ""Perhaps the first reason [for the rate of patenting] is that during this period the rate of
at 12/20/2012 05:46 PM by Anonymous
Obama Transition Team Member on Holy cow. None of Your Beeswax is a Canadian (Laurier Optical is Canadian only). You don't even
at 12/19/2012 06:08 PM by Anonymous
The golden age of beer innovation Adam_Smith: Until the latter half of the 19th century, corporations routinely filed for patents,
at 12/19/2012 04:54 PM by Brewing Is Fun
The golden age of beer innovation It would seem from the account given in the previous comment that it was innovation that stimulated
at 12/19/2012 04:04 AM by Adam_Smith
Would books be published without copyright? taxpayer: "The Wealth of Nations" went through five editions in the first 13 years of publication,
at 12/05/2012 08:31 AM by Anonymous
Would books be published without copyright? I was wondering whether free-market advocate Adam Smith made much money from his books. On-line
at 12/04/2012 09:59 AM by taxpayer
Open Book Publisher Great work! Here's my quick review of the book: It seems to me that behavioral economists
at 11/27/2012 08:38 PM by Aaron Wolf
250000 Patents for Smartphone Technology Hi. Sorry for posting here as I cannot see a contact us section. How can I contact you? I have
at 11/27/2012 10:17 AM by Thomas Stringer
The golden age of beer innovation With respect to the beer innovation paper, I have to wonder whether the authors were overly focused
at 11/23/2012 08:31 AM by Brewing Is Fun
The golden age of beer innovation With respect to Christian's comment that "there was rapid innovation without recourse to patents,"
at 11/21/2012 03:16 PM by Beer Innovation
250000 Patents for Smartphone Technology I have seen several analysts who believe that the number of patents in this area indicate that our
at 10/24/2012 08:40 AM by Anonymous
Would books be published without copyright? Gael: I would be curious as to how much copyright litigation is costing. I have never seen any
at 10/19/2012 01:12 PM by Anonymous
Would books be published without copyright? I think it's going to evolve towards a better system with or without copyright. Right now copyright
at 10/19/2012 11:46 AM by Gael N.
Patents and Secrecy Of course patents are not the "only" answer. That is just plain dumb. There are multiple business
at 10/13/2012 08:47 AM by Anonymous
Open Book Publisher Thanks for the great book, and for making it free culture. It's worth mentioning that they don't
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What the New York Times Should Have Asked What is the patent number for the
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