Of apocryphal tales and FairPlay and being locked out of lock-ins

Regular readers will know that (a) I liken bad DRM to bad EAI, paying to mine information that should not need to be mined and (b) I like apocryphal tales.

Many years ago, we had a bout of prohibition in India. These things happen. Sometime after the 1977 elections.

Some states went dry, some didn’t. And in my apocryphal story, one of the biggest states, Maharashtra, was one of the Dries. You could still consume alcohol there, but only in “permit rooms” and only if you had a “permit”. You could get a permit if you were (a) a foreign tourist spending hard currency or (b) certified as having a medical condition that needed regular intake of alcohol (!). And as the story goes, the permit-issuing agency in Maharashtra, the “richest” state, grew amazingly. Naturally. Many many medical conditions. Then, some time later, Maharashtra wanted to rescind prohibition. Problem. They couldn’t possibly shut down the permit agency, it employed too many people. What would the people do? So. It was decided. Wisdom of Solomon. No need to shut down the agency. Everyone could drink. But everyone needed permits. And the agency grew. And God was in His Heaven. And All was Well with the World.
Unintended consequence or apocryphal nonsense? You decide.

So it was with some amusement I read this story in GigaOM:  Someone has reverse-engineered FairPlay and used the learning to replicate an equivalent, and is now licensing the equivalent to third parties who have felt locked out of the lock-in.

I guess you could call it an unintended consequence. Continuing along this vein, albeit light-heartedly, I can imagine a time when regulators insist that DRM “facilities” (sic, I couldn’t find a better word) are kept distinct and separate from the OS, in order not to restrict consumer choice. Choose your OS. Choose your media player. Choose your DRMboat.
In Islington there was a man. The dog it was that died. Thanks to Oliver Goldsmith.

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