- When Steve Jobs introduced the iTunes music store a few weeks ago, the acclaim was nearly universal. Nonetheless, a small but vocal minority viewed the online emporium as a menace – because the iTunes program somewhat limits a consumer’s ability to copy and share songs.
….But certain critics consider the very concept anathema. “I don’t think that DRM is in and of itself evil,” says David Weinberger, who recently published an essay in Wired titled “Copy Protection Is a Crime Against Humanity.” “But in the real world, it is evil. There’s no user demand for it. It’s being forced upon us by people with vested interests.”
Edward Felton, a Princeton computer scientist, believes that DRM perverts the basic deal of the Internet: the free flow of information benefits all. “The basic problem is that DRM is trying to turn information into something other than information so you can’t pass it on,” he says. “People want to control their technology, and the more the technology is eroded, the harder it is to use.”
….Critics like Weinberger also complain that computers enforcing DRM systems lack “the essential leeway by which ideas circulate.” Sure, Microsoft rights management will allow creators to set the rules. But will corporations dictate that every e-mail message and document be fitted with a virtual ball and chain: no copying … no forwarding … no amending … no archiving? Whistle-blowers won’t be able to do what they do,” says Joe Kraus of DigitalConsumer.org.
….Will we suffer the worst-case DRM scenario: a world so constricted that we can’t cut or paste a line from a poem, or forward the latest sick Internet joke to our buddies? I doubt it. But I do think that the files that arrive in our in boxes and jukeboxes will be on tighter leashes. And while I understand the reasoning for this, the prospect doesn’t gladden my heart.