Problems with revocable media


in Books and literature, Economics, Films and movies, Geek stuff, Internet matters, Law, Music, Politics, Rants

Dock and boats

One of the biggest problems with the way information is now distributed is the increasing limitations on how you can use it. With physical media like books and CDs, you had quite a few rights and a lot of security. You could lend the media to friends, use it in any number of ways, and be confident that it would still work decades later. There is much less confidence to be found with new media like music and movies with DRM, games that require a connection to the server to work, mobile phone applications, Kindle books, etc. Companies have shown a disappointing willingness to cripple functionality, or even eliminate it outright, for instance with Amazon deleting books off Kindles. Steven Metalitz, a lawyer representing the RIAA, has stated explicitly that people buying digital media should not expect it to work indefinitely: “We reject the view that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works.” Of course, the same people argue that they should be able to maintain their copyrights forever.

The solution to this, I think, is to make it legal for people to break whatever forms of copy protection companies put on their products, as long as the purpose for which they are being broken is fair use. It also wouldn’t hurt to clarify the ownership of such materials in favour of users. A Kindle book should be like a physical book – property of the person that bought it, and not subject to arbitrary modification or revocation by the seller.

Of course, politicians are under more effective pressure from media companies than from ordinary consumers. Perhaps a strong Canadian Pirate Party, asserting the rights of content users over content owners, would be a good thing. Of course, stronger support from mainstream parties that actually hold power would be of much more practical use.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

. July 31, 2009 at 11:51 am

Blog index >> Intellectual property

. July 31, 2009 at 11:52 am

Boing Boing >> Copyfight

BuddyRich July 31, 2009 at 1:47 pm

The spectre of bill c-61 which died on paper order when the last election was called is raising it’s ugly head again.

Rather quietly the government started public consultations in Vancouver last week, in preparation for drafting a new bill to be tabled after the summer break.

While the consult is nice, it remains to be seen if the Tories will listen. For me the two main issues are length of copyright (C-61 would have extended it) and the DRM circumvention restriction. They say reform is needed to get Canada in-line with it’s WIPO obligations, but neither of those provisions are required to be compliant yet they would be hesitant to remove the DRM restriction specifically. The last bill trumpted fair-use rights but the inclusion of the DRM circumvention restriction nullified them so our use would be at the whim of the content providers.

Milan July 31, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Michael Geist set up a new site on copyright in Canada: Speak Out On Copyright.

He has put up a response to the consultations.

Matt July 31, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Steven Metalitz, a lawyer representing the RIAA, has stated explicitly that people buying digital media should be able to expect it to work indefinitely…

Did you mean “should not” expect it to work indefinitely?

I was glad to read about the lawsuit that’s being brought against Amazon for deleting books off the Kindle. This article about the lawsuit mentions an analogy one of the lawyers involved in the case made, basically that Amazon would be upset if you electronically hacked into their account to retrieve an erroneous overpayment you made to them, and similarly users should be upset that Amazon hacks into your Kindle to delete an erroneous sale of a book to you.

R.K. July 31, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Canadians concerned about copyright issues should make their opinions known to the consultation.

BuddyRich July 31, 2009 at 2:58 pm

This Canadian already has, though I feel these consultations are just a show and the Conservatives are largely apathetic towards individual consumer concerns. No, I am afraid we will get a rehashing of Bill C-61, regardless of what these forums bring to light.

mek July 31, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Modern regulation of intellectual property is more regressive than anything we’ve ever seen, which is unsurprising given that corporate lobbies tend to basically control these debates. Just look at the history of Disney’s involvement in copyright law in the USA over the last 50 years. The DMCA, and Bill C-61, etc, all seek to protect the corporation from the individual, rather than protect the individual from the corporation.

What you see is what you get.

Tristan August 2, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Intellectual “property” is quite an interesting topic. I think it’s a mistake however, to say that Disney’s involvement is simply companies bossing states around, having too much power, etc… It might rather be a case of states allowing corporations with “intellectual property rights” keep the indefinitely because otherwise the logic of profit would begin to break down. Web 2.0 (user created content) is already outside the capitalist logic of production/consumption/profit – or rather it’s kept in only through a supplement (the add at the top). This transference of the productive (in terms of profit) element of transactions to the periphery isn’t new – television paid for by television advertising is the same movement 50 years ago. However, crucially with things like youtube or Gmail, or this blog, the desired item is produced completely outside the capitalist logic (posters of videos on youtube are not paid – or if they are paid they are not paid for their product but for a periphery service such as advertising).

Anyway, I’m not under any illusions that capitalism will crumble under the force of a bit of user created content. However, how regressive intellectual property law is/is becoming I think is a reflection of a real fear of more and more of life leaving the production/consumption realm towards a realm of free consumption/production where the profits can be made only at the periphery.

. August 4, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Ads Retroactively Added To Wipeout HD, Soon Others

“American users of Wipeout HD might have noticed that there’s an advertisement showing up all of a sudden during loading, both during online and offline play. This, according to a poster on the well-known gaming forum NeoGAF, is being done covertly. The writer suspects that the display software was installed during update 2.01, and the ad-content is now being snuck in. Gamasutra has a story on the company responsible for the software to deliver these ads, Double Fusion, which said it plans to launch in-game advertising in ‘another handful’ of PS3 games by the end of the year. So, what’s next? Can we look forward to fighting the Kool-Aid Man and zombified Mars bars in Uncharted, or is there anything that can be done to hinder companies from adding advertisements retroactively, without the customer’s prior knowledge?”

. October 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm
. November 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Stoking the trend is consumers’ growing realisation that they may not be (as they often think) buying their e-books, music downloads and other digital content outright. In many cases they are in effect just renting them, subject to tough rules buried in small print. Proprietary software can tie the e-book to a particular device. And the provider of the content can revoke the owner’s rights at whim.

. June 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm
. July 18, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Barnes & Noble is winding down its Nook division. Thanks to DRM, its customers may end up with unreadable libraries

. January 30, 2017 at 1:24 pm

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