I own many DVDs — and thank goodness, given the “Reality-TV”-dominated programming starvation we face these days. My collection though is drawn from three “regions”, meaning that while I can play them all on my standalone DVD players I have trouble deciding which ones to play on my region-locked Powerbook. It has always struck me as stupid that the originators of a product people want to buy are intent on increasing their own costs and denying purchasers access to the product.
On June 17, 2004 Cory Doctorow gave a talk about Digital Rights Management (DRM) to Microsoft’s Research Group and other interested parties in which he spoke clearly and entertainingly on this whole topic. If you have any interest at all — ie if you enjoy reading books, listening to music, watching movies or in any other way “consuming” the product of creative people, then this talk is something you’d like to read.
[Via: Two Shows Nightly]
A particularly trenchant example he cites is that because he is too much a good customer he ended up being unable to listen to the music he’d bought. In this case it was Apple who locked him out, but if he’d been using another company’s products it would have been just the same.
I speak from experience. Because I buy a new Powerbook every ten months, and because I always order the new models the day they’re announced, I get a lot of lemons from Apple. That means that I hit Apple’s three-iTunes-authorized-computers limit pretty early on and found myself unable to play the hundreds of dollars’ worth of iTunes songs I’d bought because one of my authorized machines was a lemon that Apple had broken up for parts, one was in the shop getting fixed by Apple, and one was my mom’s computer, 3,000 miles away in Toronto.
If I had been a less good customer for Apple’s hardware, I would have been fine. If I had been a less enthusiastic evangelist for Apple’s products — if I hadn’t shown my mom how iTunes Music Store worked — I would have been fine. If I hadn’t bought so much iTunes music that burning it to CD and re-ripping it and re-keying all my metadata was too daunting a task to consider, I would have been fine.
As it was Apple rewarded my trust, evangelism and out-of-control spending by treating me like a crook and locking me out of my own music, at a time when my Powerbook was in the shop — i.e., at a time when I was hardly disposed to feel charitable to Apple.
Oh, and along the way he mentions the Baen Free Library. I’m not sure there’s anything there which appeals to me, but if you like sci-fi then take a look.