DRM: the next electoral battleground? | Bleader

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

DRM: the next electoral battleground?

Posted By on 11.07.06 at 05:12 PM

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The world has a lot of problems right now -- Iraq, impending environmental collapse, the Genesis reunion -- that make the sticky matter of consumer rights in the digital marketplace look petty in comparison. As far as I know, digital rights management never came up as an issue in any campaigns this year; none of the candidates on the ballot I marked up this morning seemed to have strong opinions about it. Granted, I was mostly concerned with which candidates were willing to start open warfare with the corrupt motherfuckers currently in power, and I realize that when it comes to DRM a) it's not a big enough deal for most people even bother with, and b) probably only a couple of them know enough about technology to even be able to make a coherent argument one way or another. But it's still an issue to a lot of people, including me.

The laws determining how much control listeners have over music they pay for are being decided, and will continue to be decided, by a bunch of people that I wouldn't let pick out a blender for me, never mind offer an opinion on whether Microsoft is in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when its Zune music platform coats a Creative Commons-licensed song in proprietary DRM. If any member of Congress could even tell me what half the words in the last sentence mean I would probably piss myself in shock. The people we're electing today could determine a couple decades worth of digital rights policy, and on that level we're voting blind.

But these are piddling matters right now. Today's elections are about the course of the bloody war we're stuck in, the future of our civil rights, and maybe even the future of the planet. Honestly, if I could get a guarantee that we could get habeas corpus off the endangered species list, I'd be willing to let the RIAA have their My Chemical Romance back. Shit, they could send a dude over to stay on my couch and look over my shoulder every time I open my laptop. They could install a webcam in my shower. Whatever. But after another two years of the RIAA suing soccer moms, combined with companies like Tivo and Apple breaking out their own products with DRM, maybe it'll be an issue. How much do you want to bet we'll see commercials about it in the next election season?

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