Monday, July 30, 2012

Why should I care about DRM and closed source software, and what on earth do they have to do with expanding fair use?

Reading this article about how some DRM software allows attackers into your system reminded me of the interconnectedness of many of the concepts related to copyright and fair use.

The reason I advocate the expansion of fair use in copyright to cover all non-commercial use, is because that is the only way we can set a reasonably small target for internet abuse.  That is, the internet is for copying files.  If we are going to penalize everyone that copies files, the internet is going to suck.  Thus, let's just go after the worst offenders--people who are actually making money from copyright infringement.

You see, one of the outcomes of going after everybody is the prevalence of software like DRM software.  By its nature, it is "closed source", meaning, we don't have any real way of knowing what it's doing.  That's the whole idea--they want to control what you do with your machine, and letting you see how that works would defeat the purpose.

Think about that for a moment.  You are executing code on your information machine--and you don't know what it is doing.

Are you really so trusting?

Richard Stallman (often affectionately referred to as RMS), the guru of the open source movement, saw this coming a long time ago.  I used to think he was an extremist.  As the decades flow by, I've come around more and more to his point of view.  These days he seems merely sensible.

Ultimately, you are utterly mad to run closed source software on your computer.

Running a closed source operating system is even more insane, because that is the infrastructure that all other software runs on.  Maybe it's not so much crazy right now, but soon it will be--you can bank on it.  Especially if the coming UEFI debacle allows companies like Microsoft to *utterly* control your machine.

Like your cell phone.

You trust your cell phone carrier with all your secrets, right?  Which is why it's no problem that you can't install the operating system you wish on your phone, or even run as an Administrator or Root.


Cell phones have become the back door to this closed-source society they wish to build.

DRM and closed source software are ways of controlling you, and the push for copyright absolutism by the entertainment companies is the unwitting vehicle for the destruction of the internet as a good and useful thing.  Without open software (and the ability to actually run it), there is no free internet.

Expanding fair use would diminish the perceived need for this level of control, dramatically.

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