Be careful what you wish for

You may have noticed that I push back against badly designed DRM and IPR. There are many reasons: I am not in favour of laws that treat everyone like criminals; I do not believe that the internet is primarily a vehicle built for Hollywood to distribute its “content” while protecting itself against “criminals”; I believe that intellectual property legislation is dated, irrelevant, no longer fit for purpose and inherently unusable; I could go on and on.

It’s not just about intellectual property. The same is true when it comes to discussions about the other two “i” words, identity and the internet. For identity also read privacy, for the internet also read net neutrality.

Where all this comes together is in the context of waste. Wasted opportunities, particularly in education, in healthcare and in government, opportunities wasted because people, often ill-informed, make decisions, often ill-judged, that continue to treat the internet as an extension of Hollywood, the music industry and publishers. And, buoyed up with the moral indignation that precedes such actions, and by the self-satisfaction that succeeds them, it is normal and understandable that nanny-state decisions then follow.

Which is why I found what Bill Thompson wrote instructive. Do take a look at a recent post by him in Index on Censorship, headlined Fools Rush in Where Programmers Fear to Tread. I particularly like this bit:

The real danger is not that politicians ask for things that the current network architecture cannot support, but that the network could be changed to make those things possible.

The Web is live, it is two-way, it is writeable. That is what makes it the Web, its interactive participative nature. The value proposition of the web in education, in healthcare and in government relies on this two-way-ness.

The Web is not about broadcast, it is not about access control, it is not about audiences and content. It’s not about Publishing 1.0, or for that matter Publishing 0.0.

If the people who make such decisions insist on using the metaphor of the Information Superhighway, then let us try and stop them from putting cattle grids every 100 yards. Because that is what is happening. Cattle grids that slow us down, make us more vulnerable to attacks from highwaymen.

There is one overarching reason. The waste of it all.

2 thoughts on “Be careful what you wish for”

  1. JP, I also hate the inconvenience of DRM and so does everyone.
    My concern is the economic model for the artists.
    OK in the 19th Century they were used to dying poor… but can they live on the Because effect? And I do not mean the absolute beginners (who must strive whatever the model) nor the Stones or Radiohead.
    But without a decent IP protection scheme, how will the local young band make it?
    Just asking…

  2. Making sure that artists and bands get paid for their creativity is one thing. They can and do get paid. And there are many new ways emerging.

    Using DRM is a different thing altogether.

Let me know what you think

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