Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forJanuary 2nd, 2005 | back to home

2 January 2005

Or has this been festering behind the scenes for months and only recently become public? (Or has there been argument somewhere I just haven’t been noticing?) It’s becoming clear that “Chris Anderson”:http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/andersonw.html – the Editor in Chief of Wired – has views on copyright that differ somewhat from the ‘bits want to be free’ ideology that the magazine has tended to espouse.

I noticed “last month”:http://blog.org/archives/cat_ecommerce.html#001325 that Chris A (as befits an ex-Economist writer) is keen to encourage commercial companies to sueeze every last penny of value out of their intellectual property while people like “Cory Doctorow”:http://www.craphound.com/ and “Lawrence Lessig”:http://www.lessig.org/ would rather copyright protection was somewhat loosened to make it easier for people to exercise their existing rights and to encourage more theoretically-marketable but marginal content to enter the public domain.

Now Cory and Chris have “locked horns on digital rights management”:http://www.boingboing.net/2004/12/29/cory_responds_to_wir.html. Cory it seems never saw a DRM implementation he liked – Chris is a little more open to persuasion. Certainly both Cory and Larry have been able to dig up plenty of examples of how stupid DRM software rules sometimes mess up consumers’ rights and how it is always possible to circumvent DRM if you try hard enough. But my guess is that even the clumsy DRM implemented today seldom inconveniences most consumers much and most consumers don’t bother trying to get around it, unless they are trying to do something they shouldn’t like giving away copyrighted content to their friends.

If companies managed to develop sophisticated DRM that didn’t significantly impede people’s legitimate desires to share media with their friends and their other devices I wouldn’t be against it if it encouraged companies to make more of their back catalogues available more inexpensively and conveniently online. At the moment the absence of a convenient and comprehensive commercial alternative naturally drives people to the free P2P networks (particularly for more obscure fare) and this just makes the ultimate day of digital convergence further away.

The EFF and others should be encouraging responsible DRM development not just slamming it. How about a code of conduct for responsible DRM coding?