Imagine a virus on your computer that looks at the media you use (movies, games, music, e-books, etc) and decides whether you have the right to use the media or not. If the virus decides you don’t have the right to use the media, it stops the media from being accessed or copied.
How could this virus possibly know whether you have the right to use the media or not? What are its criteria? You would never load such a virus on your computer intentionally…
But some of you did. Sony got busted making a virus exactly like this, which infected thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of unsuspecting user’s computers.
Defective by Design
I understand when people want to ‘rise up’ and tell The Man that they can’t do shit like that. A group called Defective By Design wants to put an end to DRM and ‘protect our rights’ against mega-corps like Sony.
I admire their spirit. I applaud their cause. I wish them well. But I won’t be joining them.
I won’t join them because the approach is wrong. Simply saying “Nope, you can’t do that!” to the Recording Industry and manufacturers/distributors of DRM is not going to work in a free market society. It is an ineffective approach to stand outside the capital and complain that companies aren’t making products the way you want them. FlashMob protests of this nature are really socio-political-jacking-off. You feel like you are doing something, but you aren’t.
So that I don’t end up falling into the same trap of Destructive Criticism, and simply complaining that Defective By Design’s plan wont work, and saying “Nope, you can’t do that!” I will make some suggestions of Constructive Criticism:
Work towards a solution
If you really want to help, then COME UP WITH A BETTER COPY PROTECTION IDEA THAN DRM. You don’t have to be a programmer, just a visionary.
Sadly, this solution won’t do much good for Johnny Consumer, who is pissed because he just realized that he does not ‘own’ all the music he bought on ITunes, and now he wants to Do Something. Without mad programming or visionary skillz, what is Johnny Consumer going to do? Of course! Pick up a sign, and storm the capitol! Hmm. Guess we need a better solution…
Put yourself in their shoes
How about looking at the problem from the industry’s point of view? What would you do if you were the CEO of Virgin Records and you learned that record sales were down and piracy was up? Fight fire with fire? Two wrongs make a right, right? Of course that’s not the case, but they did it anyway. We know that sucks, but what would you do differently?
What if the music industry changed music to a service instead of a product? Design a service which allows people to stream ANY audio or video recording on demand. Now, cross-breed the IPod with a cellular phone, and tie it to a monthly subscripton. Every audio and video recording at your fingertips, and no more concept of ‘buying’ or ‘owning’ media. You pay for the right to access it. Suddenly, we are talking about a product I would sell my fucking car to own, and to Hell with Cable, XM, Sattelite TV and Internet radio. Let’s see, Gas Bill, Internet Bill, Electric Bill, Media Access Bill…
Illuminate the Path
What if Defective By Design actually told you about other sites that Don’t use DRM? Strange that they dont. They are so Anti DRM, that they focus only on the companies using it, instead of the companies that aren’t. www.mp3tunes.com has been doing DRM-Free music for years. Amazon.com too.
If you really want to fight the fire-fighting-fire with fire, hows about advocating for some software which defeats DRM? Like this?
Unfortunately, what Defective By Design intends is a political battle waged on the steps of Congress, wrapped in the American Flag, and touting words like Liberty and Freedom, flogging their signs flaccidly in the air, in the hopes that the big “DRM” in a circle with a slash through it will change anything. This might work to keep a Wal-Mart from opening in your town, but I think it is a losing approach to fighting DRM.
So, to Defective By Design, I say “Good luck!” but if this were a fight I would put my money on the Recording Industry. I would feel pretty dirty about it, but the odds are too good to pass up…
PS: Change your freaking name! “Defective By Design” makes me think that the DRM technology can be ‘fixed’ somehow. If you really want to obliterate DRM, give it an unattractive name like “The AntiFreedom Virus” or something…