Comments: Dull Righteous Mumblement

Oh come now, Seth. Doctorow's hardly malicious. It would be interesting to read what parts you disagree with.

Posted by Firas at June 22, 2004 12:38 AM

maybe when we get consumers to stop buying movies and music ... since we're pretty much the ones funding the RIAA and MPAA 's congressional agenda.

Posted by Kevin at June 22, 2004 01:48 AM

Firas: I can lose a lot more than I can win :-(.

Kevin: That was Richard Stallman's suggestion as a possible way to fight back. Implementation seems hard, though. was a nice stab at it.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at June 22, 2004 11:17 AM

Doctorow asked me to stop reading Boing-Boing after I posted too many critical commentaries.

As far as Field's comment, it's accurate but it doesn't really shed much light. He points out that Microsoft's customers are not really end users, but rather OEMs. This is why, supposedly, Microsoft is not responsive to end user concerns about DRM.

But this is not explanation, because the OEMs very definitely do have end users as their customers. Dell, Gateway, IBM and Sony want to sell computers, and their customers are end users. They absolutely do not want to put features into the hardware or software which will make their computers less desirable to users. Hence, if DRM is really contrary to end users' interests, these OEMs would be fighting to oppose the technology, and Microsoft would feel that pressure.

IMO the truth is that DRM really is in end user's interests, if we understand that the alternative is no legal music at all. This is why Dell et al will support DRM in music and video content. It is why they will support next-generation DVDs with built-in restrictions. It's because this is the only way they can provide this content to their customers.

Quixotic alternatives like appropriating all produced content into the public domain, or socialized music systems where the government taxes users and pays musicians, have no realistic chance of success. Free content activists have their hands full just trying to hold the line and keep copyright limitations from expanding. Hoping to legalize unauthorized file sharing is a pipe dream.

Given this reality, everyone's actions make perfect sense. Most customers of Dell and other companies will be perfectly happy with "DRM lite". It may need to be tweaked here and there, as with Apple's recent increase in the number of simultaneously authorized computers for iTunes. But the large masses of people will be more than happy to be able to play HD-DVDs (purchased or rented) on their Dell multimedia PCs and they won't care that they can't save them. Dell's customers will be thrilled and buy more PCs, Dell will buy more Microsoft OS's, and everyone will be happy.

Posted by Cypherpunk at June 24, 2004 01:49 PM