Thanks to Slashdot, I found

  • Thanks to Slashdot, I found this informal essay on “What’s Wrong With Content Protection” by John Gilmore of the Electronic Freedom Foundation. Beyond the clear problems, like the fact that content protection disallows legal copying of media that you own, Gilmore points out that content protections, like SDMI have a chilling effect on the creation and marketing of digital recording devices that consumers can use to create media themselves. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) is one example, where its introduction in the states during the 1980s was held up for years in litigation due to worries by the music industry that it would be used to make perfect copies of CDs. Specs for content protection in forthcoming digital recording technologies would, in fact, even disable recording of content that wasn’t properly encrypted and accompanied by appropriate premission. In effect, this sort of content protection places significant restrictions on the ability of amateurs and independents to record and distribute their own media content outside the dominant entertainment and information industry.
    What’s most disturbing is that these content protection schemes prevent recording and copying that is absolutely legal. For example they are designed to prevent the recording of digitial television programs on a digital VCR without explicit permission, even if its just for timeshifting. Yet the right to record broadcast content freely for personal use has been securely protected by law since the so-called “Betamax” Supreme Court decision of the early 1980s.
    It goes to show that we need to be vigilant and not take for granted that the technologies we use today to help us be free and independent will continue to be available to do so.

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