What happens when the law of the land is in direct opposition to mainstream consumer behavior and desires?
What indeed? Thoughtful Salon article about the impending collision between the corporate and public interests.
“Hollywood is on the march. Adding copy protection to CDs is just one tactic in a comprehensive onslaught. Media behemoths like Disney, Sony and AOL Time Warner are seeking full control of all methods of entertainment distribution; if their vision is realized, digital television sets, hard drives, personal video-recorders and wireless devices will all have some form of copy protection. In the most dire incarnation of the digital entertainment future, consumers of music and movies won’t be able to make any copies at all without explicit permission; you might not even be able to move, for example, a recorded version of “The Simpsons” from the digital VCR in your den to the one in your bedroom.
Many critics are convinced that copy-protection technologies are doomed to failure. No system is perfectly secure, and anything that works too well is bound to annoy consumers. Veterans of the consumer industry recall the late 1980s, when many software manufacturers abandoned various copy-protection schemes as bad for business. That cycle, they argue, is set to repeat itself.
But there are signs that the digital future will not resemble the past. Not only do the content companies enjoy access to much more sophisticated technology, but they also have a new tool at their disposal: Congress. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 makes it illegal to distribute or even discuss anything that circumvents digital copyright control. And last month, Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, D-S.C., threatened to launch another bill — the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) — that will mandate the inclusion of copy-protection technology in all digital devices.
Computer-savvy geeks will likely find a way around every technological advance delivered by state-of-the-art copy protection. But what happens when the law of the land is in direct opposition to mainstream consumer behavior and desires? As the content companies accelerate the deployment of every legal, political and technological weapon in their arsenal, that is precisely the showdown that looms.”