January 06, 2003

DRM and Nothing-Personal-Just-Business

Edward W. Felten has some comments dissecting a New York Times article regarding Studios Using Digital Armor to Fight Piracy . I found the article reasonably straightforward. I don't agree with the executive's positions therein, but it's not as if they are fatuous.

For example:

"We have zero objection to anyone's ability to duplicate, to record, to play back and to save any copy- able content whatsoever," said Peter Chernin, the president of 20th Century Fox. "But we'd be idiots not to be wary of the risks that come with that ability, and of the vulnerability of those of us supplying digitally unprotected films and shows."

And Felten comments:

Probably what he means is that Fox doesn't object to personal use, but they will try to regulate personal use anyway, because a ban on many personal uses is an unavoidable side-effect of the regulation they seek. If so, then "we have zero objection" is irrelevant at best, and misleading at worst.

It seems clear to me, especially in context of the article discussion of DRM, copy restrictions, the problems they're causing, and so on. Chernin is saying that it's not that they are against personal use, but that they aren't interested in protecting it or assuring it per se, if that conflicts with the distribution controls they want imposed. In his statement, I heard an echo of the executive's cliche "Nothing personal, it's just business" (pun intended!). When executives say this, they mean that don't hate you per se, but that their interests are opposed to your interests, and the negatives to you are regarded as subsidiary to the positives for them. Not nice, but not unclear at all.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in copyblight | on January 06, 2003 09:57 AM (Infothought permalink) | Followups

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