A . . . calmer . . . description of Senator Holling’s hearings can be found over at CNN.com. So does PC World.
There actually is some useful information in these two articles.
1) SSSCA will probably go nowhere this year, but the clock is clearly beginning to tick on this one. The technology people and the entertainment people are now supposed to report to the Senate Judiciary Committee bimonthly on their progress in coming up with something. This is how Congress tells people in a nice way to get on the stick, and while Congress has some patience, if the technofolks just dawdle, something like SSSCA could reemerge and fast.
2) A new organization (ironically headed by the founder of the now-bankrupt Excite.com) has been formed to lobby for fair use in electronic media. It’s called DigitalConsumer.org.
Please be forewarned that they say:
“Does this mean that we support the theft of digital content? Absolutely not. Stealing music or movies is (and always has been) illegal. We do not support or condone theft.”
Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be in favor of anything that might realistically work to prevent it. They apparently think the only copy protection content providers should have are the police.
Even the warez puppies know how ridiculous that is. They count on being tiny minnows in the Pacific Ocean, and it works.
You have to understand that when push comes to shove; the ones that have the goodies don’t have to play this game. You can’t make people sell where they don’t want. If content providers don’t feel secure in distributing legal digital content; they won’t do it. They’ll just take their ball and go home.
This doesn’t mean you give them everything or even most of what they want, but if you were New Line Cinema, would you make Lord of the Rings available and feel comfortable that your friendly local police will certainly arrest any miscreant who might illegally apply a legal crack to your copy protection?
So when DigitalConsumer.org argues how horrible it is for it to be illegal to break copy protection for legal purposes, keep in mind that if they get their way, they won’t have to worry about copy protection because there won’t be any digital content around to be copy protected.
Fair use isn’t much use when there’s nothing to use.
If you don’t believe that, what DigitalConsumer.org essentially wants is effectively what we have now. What do we have now? Outside of some samples here and there, how much digital content can you legally buy today? Nada.
3) Craig Barrett is the CEO for Intel, and he made some appealing noises before the committee. Unfortunately, the head of Disney, Michael Eisner, claimed that Intel execs wouldn’t even talk to him until Senate hearings were announced.
Around the same time he gave the Senate testimony, Mr. Barrett gave a big long speech at the Intel Developer’s Forum about the future of computing, and outside of one questionable paragraph concerning security, he didn’t even mention it.
Which is the real Craig Barrett? I think the second.
Squaring The Circle
The content providers want to lock everything up to the nth degree. That’s no good.
The consumer wants the doors left wide open to steal, or maybe they’ll pay if the price gets dropped 80-90% immediately. That’s no good (at least not for the foreseeable future), either.
The only people who are capable of finding a middle course between these two extremes are the technology people, and they’re at best not interested.
That’s the problem in a nutshell.
When government gets into it (and they will if this doesn’t get solved, period), unless the technology people get off their duffs and find a happy medium, the government people will jump in. Will they botch it? Probably. Will they botch it in favor of the content providers? They have been so far, don’t see any reason why that will change.
I don’t think that’s good, either, but that is what will happen if the status quo continues.
I know I must come across to many as being entirely on the side of the movie and music makers. I’m not. It’s just that I’m against extremism in any form, and let’s face it, those reading this are fairly likely to be way over on the other side of this divide.
If I wrote for an entertainment website, I’d be going after the content makers for wanting to lock everything up and throwing away the key.
There needs to be a balance between the legitimate interests of both sides, but moderation and seeing both sides of the story seems to be a lost virtue nowadays. Today, the real radical is the moderate.