You don’t need them, but they need you: It is their content, but it is your money.


The industry wants to make money (as they should) and a country wants to protect its citizens. All noble causes except over the last years we have seen an unhealthy development in these areas, and we need to make sure, that the bucket not only stops but it needs to be “returned to sender”. And we need to remind the people working for us – our delegates who we are voting for and the companies who we are ‘voting’ for with our money – that they work for us. At least if they want our vote and money.

The weekend is always good for fetching up with some of my feeds and marked “comment on this” posts. Engadget’s “The Clicker: Microsoft’s OPM for the masses” was one which got me angry right away and still does after some days.

What is it about? A new Longhorn ‘feature’ to cripple your access:

So what is OPM? The successor to Microsoft’s rarely-mentioned COPP (Certified Output Protection Protocol), PVP-OPM (Protected Video Path – Output Protection Management) is the first play in Microsoft’s game plan to ensure that protected content stays protected. PVP-OPM performs two main functions.

First, it detects the capabilities of the display devices attached to the computer. For instance, does the DVI LCD monitor that you’re using have HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection)? Second, it manages what, if anything, gets sent to those devices.

You should read the article and the comments, especially from a Mike at #48:

Anyone who thinks M$ are the innocents in this doesn’t understand how M$ works. Here’s how the conversation between Studio X and M$ probably went:

Studio X: But we won’t release our films unless they can be protected!
M$: Yes, with our DRM we guarantee your stuff is safe.
Studio: And what about Linux or Apple customers?
M$: We can’t guarantee security on those systems, so you’ll have to use a format that will work _only_ on Windows!
Studio: Oh, OK.

In M$’s eyes, this is a strategy to drive more people to Windows: want to play that DVD? the only way to play it is to buy Windows.

He has a point. But I have something with starting with the letter p too: My purse. And a plog. (ok, bad joke.)

Before the internet, discussions at Engadget or an article like this here only would have happened on a local level or over telephone – if at all. Today I can go to a website produced in America and read it from all over the world – and discuss with people from all over the world.

The industry probably is not very fond of that, because suddenly there are people voicing opinions and influencing others. And with blogs, this has reached an epidemic level and is probably given some of the bosses more grey hairs than they ever wanted. Politicians are probably not aware of this problem, but they are getting to that point soon.

Why do I even care if I am not over there, but here in Europe? Yes, we don’t have a strong FCC over here in Germany, but of course I am interested in these topics, because they affect me too.

As we only get some English television in some parts of the country, cinemas with original tone are rare (I have to drive at least 1 hour for one), and DVD with English are hard to get (some only come with non removable subtitles), this news is quiet interesting, because it follows a long, long history of ‘the industry’ trying to put back the customer in a place where they think he belongs:

Paying, and quite.

Those days have gone and the desperate tries of this entertainment industry to get their golden ages backs are so antiquated, that I will not go the “you do as we tell you or you don’t get any!” way they are offering me.

I am going a third ways, leaving them behind and not be more interested in them.

This is why podcasting happens. This is why videoblogging will happen sooner than later.

Maybe not for the “working class” but they where never the group interested in paying thousands of dollars anyway. The industry is targeting my purse – and they lost view of the target for so long …

Integrated, even stricter DRM in Longhorn? Fine, do that. It will drive me (and as the industry is not interested in me but my purse: my purse) to other shores.

Where I will probably stay, because in order to get the then lost revenues back, they are likely to try even more desperate things.

I have not bought a standalone DVD-Player, because I don’t get a decent regional free one without a problem – but I need such to be able to import DVDs not sold here.

The ones I can buy with Regioncode 2 are crippled – so a no buy.

I have not bought CDs for ages, because I would rip them and put them on the devices I want them to be. Buying music online is so complicated – and crippled – that I won’t go through this DRM-crap so I don’t buy.

Audible offers me 2 free audiobooks since some months which I have not fetched yet and am as it seems quite unlikely to fetch ever. Why? Because of their drm. Besides, I have days of podcast to listen to, so I don’t need this complicated thing.

Hardware, which restricts my usage in the future? Am I crazy?

“It is their content and they can tell you, how you can use it, it is their right” – correct. And it is my money they want. So far, I can live without their content, but oviously they not without my money.

To stay on the example of longhorn, I have not seen many features I would want – but many features other parties want: absurd hardware requirements, restricted access to my data and even built in ‘features’ to cripple it even more after buying.

But companies like Microsoft need to protect copyrighted material, right? It is not allowed that I do with content as I choose! There are laws! So, why do I argue?

Everybody I know working on the other side of the licencing game (artist, producers, etc) always likes to forget, that copyright and it’s local equivilents are a basis on which compensation is to be discussed. It is not an absolut right which forces me as a consumer to pay as much as the other side likes, but is a set of rules which allows all participants to negotiate a proper compensation.

Most of the people on the consumer side don’t understand why these rights are there and why the big companies can crippled their usage. The laws where not made to let big companies dollar printing machines, they where made to help the “poor struggeling artist” – but those days have been long gone.

Creative Commons is a start of an answer for that. It is not the end. I am torn between how I as a user want access and pay nothing and as a producer want to produce and earn as much as I can get. I have no silver bullet for that either, but the current ‘bullet’ has outworn it’s purpose.

But there is a second side to it, why even more people love those restricted accesses – or let’s better say controlled access.

One big part why I am considering not to buy the new Thinkpad Tablet I have been tinkering with for some weeks now? Integrated “Trusted Platforms for Homeland Security” and a fingerprint reader.

While I don’t need to use the fingerprint reader (the data catched is good enough to let nobody else but my finger be used to open the tablet), I of course am tempted to use it. And the TPM-Processor? Well, without really looking into it, I would think from the current set of laws: Using a tpm based processor means it has special ‘features’ to ensure, you are not in control, what your computer does.

In order to run another OS on the system, you would need to – wait for it – surpass a basic DRM protection mechanism. Even ignoring it as in not using this part is misusing it to it’s original intend. I am not firm in all the US laws, but you get the drift.

But why would I object to this newest, greatest achievements in computing, only there to help me have a better expericence with my computer? Brian Carver hast listed some ‘benefits’ of this in his article EFF’s Trusted Computing Class:

  • Software Lock-in
  • Software tethering to a single computer
  • Prevention of Software Inter-operability
  • Forced DRM restrictions
  • Forced Upgrades/Downgrades
  • Total Elimination of Software Reverse Engineering
  • Truly Undetectable Spyware/Adware
  • Hardware Lock-in

So, how do you feel about not knowing what your hardware does?

While most of this is US centric at the moment, it has to be our agenda to take this protests to the European level, as many of the ‘good ideas’ are not passed as laws here. We need to be aware, and we need to be ready.

On a kind of unrelated note, Cameron Reilly has made a very nice display what blogs can do to shape opinions and sharpen awareness: “Follow The Money…” is an article about the connection between oil and the ties to the White House. But it suits to give me a good catch phrase for you: Follow the money.

Your delegate only partly wants to be unselfishly your representative. After that, it is different interests he or she is following. How do I know that? Otherwise they would not survive the jungle of politics. They still may have an idealistic heart, but don’t be mistaken, this is not what they are all about.

So, let’s use it, follow the money. What is it your delegate wants more than anything else? Stay at his job. What does he have to do, to stay in his job and make a career? He needs to be re-elected. This is where your money comes in – your voting right.

Sometimes you don’t have that ‘right’ because the delegate is set on a list. Okay, you have the money to get them from the list if they don’t represent you too: You can make sure the party is aware of the fact that you are unhappy with that person because it is not what you want. They don’t really care about what you want, but they know that they want your vote.

  • Be aware of what you are supporting with your money.
  • Get to know your local law system and be aware of planned changes. Take US laws and projects from the entertainment industry as indication, why is coming next to your country or the EU level.
  • Be aware of tries to undermine your privacy rights and connected rights (like what you are allowed under copyright laws).
  • It is probably safe to assume, that your representative has no clue about these topics. If you start with that mindset, it is much easier to get things done meaning to formulate in a way even a little kid can understand it. “Copyright bad. Privacy good. You against privacy? No vote for you.
  • Inform others. Again, in terms they understand and in topics they care about. It is safe to assume that they know nothing about the implications either.
  • Support organizations like the EFF (see about eff or if you not agree with them, look out for one you can support), because the people including the politicians need lobbying for our views on these topics

It is your life and your rights which have been cut back and they – politics and industry – want to cut them back even further, because they don’t like what they see. Let them not take it away. They are serving our needs, us as individuals.

They have been big partners in the past, due to money and access to media. We have the internet. Let’s use it.

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