Friday , June 15 2018

Dave on DRM

In Wired, our own legendary David Weinberger digs into the violations against our humanity that underlie digital rights management (apparently, the subject of the day):

    Digital rights management sounds unobjectionable on paper: Consumers purchase certain rights to use creative works and are prevented from violating those rights. Who could balk at that except the pirates? Fair is fair, right? Well, no.

    In reality, our legal system usually leaves us wiggle room. What’s fair in one case won’t be in another – and only human judgment can discern the difference. As we write the rules of use into software and hardware, we are also rewriting the rules we live by as a society, without anyone first bothering to ask if that’s OK.

    ….DRM is barreling down the pike.

    The usual criticism is that the scheme gives too much power to copyright holders. But there’s a deeper problem: Perfect enforcement of rules is by its nature unfair. For contrast, consider how imperfectly rules are applied in the real world.

    ….For us to talk, argue, try out ideas, tear down and build up thoughts, assimilate and appropriate concepts – heck, just to be together in public – we have to grant all sorts of leeway. That’s how ideas breed, how cultures get built. If any public space needs plenty of light, air, and room to play, it’s the marketplace of ideas.

    There are times when rules need to be imposed within that marketplace, whether they’re international laws against bootleg CDs or the right of someone to sue for libel. But the fact that sometimes we resort to rules shouldn’t lead us to think that they are the norm. In fact, leeway is the default and rules are the exception.

    ….But in the digital world – the global marketplace of ideas made real – we’re on the verge of handing amorphous, context-dependent decisions to hard-coded software incapable of applying the snicker test. This is a problem, and not one that more and better programming can fix. That would just add more rules. What we really need is to recognize that the world – online and off – is necessarily imperfect, and that it’s important it stay that way.

Right flipping on, Dave.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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