Tools Of The Trade – What The Justice System Is NOT

I’m taking a breather from much studying to write up something I feel very strongly about. It has nothing to do with atheism, God, science, climate change…

Contrary to my interests, it has to do with Law. I shy away from Law. I don’t like it. It’s an ambiguous system which begs to be abused with different interpretations. An engineering manual is direct, concise and clear. There are no multiple interpretations of a hardware specification. This ambiguity is the reason we have a major noise today about ‘piracy’. Scare quotes intentional, yes.

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

That number up there is a processing key for HD-DVD. I’ll cut the story short – HD-DVD is, along with Blu Ray, one of the intended descendants of the DVD. Whether this is necessary at all at this day and age is a crucial question, but above that are the limitations and ethical concerns involved with both formats. Both of them are basically manifestations of DRM – Digital Rights Management. A euphemism for a digital switch which can turn off any content you have legally acquired on a company’s whim. It also kills interoperability, that is, it’s the reason why you have to buy a 30 second clip of a song for €3 (otherwise known as a ringtone) when you have already purchased the CD, the iTunes AAC and possibly other manifestations. Ergo, DRM is nothing but a profit margin inflater. Certainly, the economics of it are brilliant. Make the customer pay lots of times for one product.

Digital Rights Management. A euphemism for a digital switch which can turn off any content you have legally acquired on a company’s whim.

So it goes that one enterprising hacker managed to break the HD-DVD encryption and published the key online. This key can be used for copying HD-DVD’s, certainly, but it can also be used to play HD-DVD’s on unsponsored platforms such as Linux. It happened before with DVDs, in the midst of industry hysteria of what it would do to content creators. It certainly didn’t stop it!

The point is that the media companies are going berserk, not just with the HD-DVD key, but with ‘content piracy’ in general.

Brief history lesson: Hollywood was started in the middle of nowhere in California, far from the East Coast so that movie producers could avoid having to pay royalties to Edison for using his movie camera technology. Edison was a royal pain in the ass, don’t let American sentiments of national pride shield you from it. He thieved from his brilliant assistant, Nikola Tesla, and tried to undermine his future efforts in Alternating Current (A.C.) which is today, the basis of mainstream electric grids.

The point is that the media companies are going berserk, not just with the HD-DVD key, but with ‘content piracy’ in general.

The point is – copyright was useful in the XX Century to maintain an order of sorts, to ensure that content creators had an incentive to create. But even in Edison’s day, it got in the way of innovation. Edison was ready to charge movie creators a fee for expressing their innovative use of the movie camera. It doesn’t have to be said that the world would be very different if Edison had gotten his way and Hollywood had remained his bitch on the East Coast.

So the XXI Century is one of innovation and ideas. It’s one of neck-breaking speed in technological advances. And the media companies, the royalty pirates of old, are still livin’ the XX Century life. They still believe in the old model. They had a tough, tough time assimilating to Napster in its heyday (today’s travesty of Napster would have Tesla squirming in his grave). They still resist change. And they remain incredulous that their profits are dropping!

It doesn’t have to be said that the world would be very different if Edison had gotten his way and Hollywood had remained his bitch on the East Coast.

The point is that anything done against technological innovation can only harm society. Imagine replacing the utopian egalitarian grounds of the Internet with a rigorously enforced police state internet. Imagine society without the Internet. It sure is hard, even if it was a time only 10 years ago! But it spurned the greatest advances in medicine, economics, business, science, you name it.

Among the other benefits of the Internet there is the free and easy interchange of data. This data includes digitally encoded audio tracks and movies. It’s the perfect distribution system! And the media industry wonders why attendance to cinemas is pathetic nowadays.

Since when has the customer served the needs of the industry? It challenges the very core notion of capitalist economics!

Cutting my rant short:

Industries are always taking advantage of technological innovation. Nokia started off as a rubber tire company in the 19th century. The point is that media companies are clearly incapable of making any sense of what’s going on around them. They still live in a world of CDs, cinemas, content control and copyright royalties. Today, this translates to the equivalent of Stamp Taxes on CD’s, DVD’s, mp3 players, DVD players…

Let that sink in. A branch of government, designed to serve and protect the citizenry and uphold the rule of Law and Order has become subservient to an industry that wishes to persecute its own consumers in order to maintain a dwindling profit margin that stems from the industry’s incapability of reacting to technological innovation and change.

Since when has the customer been a criminal? Since when has the customer served the needs of the industry? It challenges the very core notion of capitalist economics! It’s communist, to say the least! What I find even more abhorrent is that they expect, and get, the judiciary to help them out.

Let that sink in. A branch of government, designed to serve and protect the citizenry and uphold the rule of Law and Order has become subservient to an industry that wishes to persecute its own consumers in order to maintain a dwindling profit margin that stems from the industry’s incapability of reacting to technological innovation and change.

That has got to stop, people. So spread this number:

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

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