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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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Copyfight, the Solo Years: April 2002-March 2004

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

« TiVo's Pyrrhic Victory | Main | The Induce Act - Surgically Enhanced »

August 6, 2004

A Spin-Spin Solution

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Posted by

HP and Philips, suggesting that the primary selling point of their Video Content Protection System (VCPS) is that it allows viewers to enjoy the benefits of FCC-mandated copy-controls without even knowing it:

VCPS provides a transparent solution for consumers -- there is no change in how the customer records and views their favorite TV program -- while automatically adhering to [FCC] regulations. [...]

"The result is VCPS, which is a win-win solution for the consumer, content providers and manufacturers."

So in the era of the tech mandate, the tech talent will stop with this "improving the product so the customer will buy it" nonsense. Instead, it will work on new and innovative ways to ensure that the viewing experience stays roughly the same, and that people don't notice the flexibility and features they've lost.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations


COMMENTS

1. cypherpunk on August 6, 2004 1:14 PM writes...

But isn't this truly the ideal solution? People can time shift, they can space shift, they can manipulate their data, remix it, edit it, skip commercials, turn R into PG and back, do all these things... but they can't republish the copyrighted materials on the net? If we're going to have copyright law at all, then the ideal technological enforcement realm would be one in which people can do everything that copyright permits, and nothing that copyright forbids. This is the essence of "transparent" enforcement.

Maybe you would prefer that there was no copyright. In that case, the proper solution is to convince the public to support that view and to vote on that basis. That's how you change policy in a democracy. But until you are able to command enough support to achieve your aims democratically, it is wrong to oppose technological measures which merely follow existing laws.

Transparent DRM is the best solution to the copyright wars. It's the direction in which we are going. All those horror stories and nightmare predictions about not being able to do simple things like share with your friends or skip commercials, they're not going to happen. The line will be drawn at mass file sharing. The technology will make that hard to do; everything else will be easy.

It's no wonder that you mock and satirize these developments, because you can probably foresee that this will undercut your arguments and reduce the effectiveness of your political movement. Few will join you if the DRM is so transparent that they only notice it when they try to blatantly break copyright, doing what they know is wrong by engaging in mass file sharing.

This is the wave of the future. It's the smartest move for the content companies, and they are starting to figure it out. DRM Lite will save their profits and take away the ammunition from the copyfighters. In truth, everyone wins, except for the information communists who believe that no one should have to pay for any information content.

Permalink to Comment

2. Richard on August 6, 2004 2:14 PM writes...

Even if we accept the current copyright scheme as an acceptable balance between content owners and consumers (not all popular 'round these parts), the scheme is not going to block exactly those actions which are illegal. To do so, the software would need to determine whether a potentially infringing use was fair. Even if this was possible in principle, which it's not given the current vague balancing test, it would require far more real-world knowledge to be embedded in the DRM software than we have any hope of putting there any time soon.

You've also ignored the "unintended" side-effects of DRM: locking out open-source competition, locking up public-domain works, preventing interoperability between products such as garage-door openers, etc.

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