whittling away at your rights

There was another Groklaw article today that I felt was worth sharing. It’s a very long article, sprinkled with links to other content.

Read the article, and then take another look at the right to read article I referenced a few posts ago.

That’s pretty scary stuff, in my opinion.

Do the big legal conglomerations that own all the actual rights that come with copyright on creative works (MPAA, RIAA, publisher associations, etc.) actually believe that the artists, writers, and other creative folks WANT this sort of thing done with their sweat and blood? If I ever produce anything creative, regardless of whether I wanted to make any money from it, I wouldn’t want it locked up behind DRM.

If I were to succeed in releasing this hypothetical work without DRM, it would lead to unauthorized copying, but in the end, who really cares? If my work was popular enough, it would happen anyway, because any DRM technology will ultimately be defeated. I doubt it would make any noticeable difference in the number of legit copies sold. It might even result in more copies sold, especially if it were available at a low price – which it would be if I could arrange to handle distribution myself.

Unfortunately, most creative folks have few choices. In order to get their work out to a large enough audience to have a prayer of making any money at all, they have to work though one of these large associations and sign away all the REAL rights that come with copyright. This allows the company to use the enormous legal power of owning thousands or millions of individual copyrights as a legal club when someone enjoys the work and without handing over a big chunk of money.

When Trusted Computing finally rears its ugly head in the industry, I believe it will be social engineering rather than technical engineering that ultimately breaks the encryption, but it’ll eventually be broken. What’s likely to happen is that someone with access to the all-important root keys that create Trusted Hardware will get tricked into releasing them, or one of those people will realize they are participants in an evil scheme and release them on their own. That person will likely lose their job and maybe end up in jail, but not before the cat’s out of the bag.

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