DRM: Farewell to Dystopia
“If you think technology can solve your security problems, then you don’t understand the problems and you don’t understand the technology.”
It seems like a long time ago now, 1998, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, the criminalization of circumvention mechanisms and the alteration of Rights Management Information. Two regulatory mechanisms intended to clear the way for the development of a market in virtual media commodities protected by Digital Rights Management, cryptographic locks designed to limit access to paid-up consumers. This was the legal scaffolding upon which many horrors would be erected, notably the DeCSS litigation and the de facto extension of copyright law from rights over the use of copy to the rights to control access full stop. What was bizarre about all this was that those whose horizon wasn’t fully dominated by legalism saw, and lived, a very different reality to that suggested by the discourse of control coming from industry and regulators. Every scandalized article about Napster and its successors, every threat by the RIAA against users and developers, only swelled the growing army of the p2p hoi polloi unwittingly involved in a type of brute force attack on the copyright system online. And as a cryptographer will tell you, brute force, whilst neither smart nor elegant, will get what it seeks provided the resources or numbers thrown at it are big enough.
Paradigm changes take time to seep in however, particularly to those with jeopardised vested interests, and one of the most enjoyable specatacles of the unwinding of the music industry has been the scrutiny to which the middlemen have been subjected by the musicians, it is if you will the revenge of the romantic author.
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