January 12, 2009

I’m Sure Larry Doesn’t Care [9:03 pm]

But it’s still weird to see someone who follows this topic attribute this idea to Fred. I mean, Fred’s a true believer and all, but it’s Larry Lessig’s story: Despite the revamped iTunes, DRM is here to stay

But if DRM doesnt do anything to stem piracy—and, indeed, seems only to make piracy more attractive—why do companies keep crippling their content? Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an ardent opponent of copy-protection software, argues that DRMs main purpose is to allow entrenched publishers to control innovation that occurs around them. Before DRM, content producers were subject to disruptions caused by other peoples ideas: You might have a nice business selling second-run films, but then someone goes and invents a home-movie machine and suddenly youve got to fight in a brand-new industry. DRM changes that dynamic. Because copy-protection software is protected by federal law, wrapping all movies, music, and software with DRM allows companies to force innovators to ask for permission before creating something new. Say you invent a tiny portable movie projector and want your customers to be able to convert their DVDs to small files that can fit on the projectors removable drive. Youre out of luck—DVDs are protected by DRM, and you can be sure that Hollywood would ask you to pay for the privilege of letting people play their legally purchased movies on your new device.

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