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Dan Gillmor Says Apple Holding Out

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Apple still fair use friendly:

    I recently discovered that Apple’s DVD Player software, which came with my Powerbook G4 laptop, gives me flexibility in a way I hadn’t expected. Sometimes I like to watch a movie while I’m on a plane, but the DVD drive in my machine drains my battery too quickly. So before I leave home, I copy a movie — note to Hollywood: I do not do this with rental DVDs, only ones I own — to my hard disk. The DVD Player software reads it from the disk, which uses less power than the DVD drive.

    I wonder, now that I’ve published this, whether an upcoming version of the DVD Player will remove this user-friendly feature. Which leads me into some other questions:

    Can Apple’s distinctly pro-customer approach continue in the face of Hollywood’s ire and the entertainment industry’s clout in Congress?

    Will the manufacturers of the chips that Apple uses for the central brains of its computers build in what Intel and AMD are now promising? They’ve embraced an idea known as “trusted computing,” which sounds better than it may turn out to be. Trusted computing could give us more faith that an e-mail we send to someone else will get there intact and in privacy, but it’s also the perfect tool for the copyright cartel, not to mention future governments that care even less for liberty than the current one, to lock down PCs from officially unauthorized uses.

    An Intel senior executive vehemently disputes my characterization of his company as a toolmaker for the control freaks. He wants me to see trusted computing as an innovation.

    Sure, it’s an innovation — and could have some positive uses. But it inevitably will be used against us by the people who crave control.

    Meanwhile, Apple is holding fairly fast to the real compromise position. It’s encouraging honor, but not locking us down in ways that prevent innovative uses of the gear it sells.

    Maybe Apple will cave, too. If it does, it will betray customers and principle. So far, however, so good.

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