Really sharp essay by Dave Winer on the current copy-protection mania in Congress

Really sharp essay by Dave Winer on the current copy-protection mania in Congress


The Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act would require rearchitecting all computer and software systems, and networks — including the Internet — so that every act of copying would be subject to what’s known as Digital Rights Management, a brilliant spin on an old idea, copy protection. It failed in the 80s, in the software business and the movie business, because copying is so very basic.

Computers do a lot of copying, all the time, and almost all of it is non-controversial. To insert a new controller into every bit of code and hardware that does copying would be like diverting the Mississippi River to irrigate the Great Plains, another idea the Congress contemplated at one time. You can’t do it, it won’t happen, there aren’t enough dollars or programmers in the world to make it so. Even in these tough economic times, it would be hard to recruit capable programmers to perform an act as utterly idiotic as trying to disable copying on computers.

Now the law may pass, but the future it envisions will not. The government will eventually realize that it would cripple even their own computers, so at some point they must come to their senses, and stop listening to the industry execs (many of whom are in bed with the entertainment industry) and talk directly to some scientists and engineers and find out what’s possible.

I suppose it’s also possible that we could vote Hollings and his colleagues out of office. That would be something. And politicians could be opportunists now, but only if they know something about computers. Get on the talk shows and strut [5] your stuff. A reasonably informed Congressperson could really shine now.