Thursday, June 08, 2006

After DRM and Without a Neutral Net

There has been a lot of movement on the DRM and Net Neutrality fronts lately, but it's hard to conceptualize why these issues are so important to our every day use of computers. Thankfully, recent news has given us examples of what exactly the computing world might be like.

First, it looks like unusable DRM and copyright restrictions could render legal web based media players and access inoperable. How about an obscene fine simply for installing software on your computer, or being the subject of seemingly random litigation and attempts at extortion by media corporations. This is all going on right now, but if the law goes the way big business wants it to, things will only get worse for the consumer. If, for some reason, you became the subject of copyright litigation, you would bear the burden of proving you didn't do anything wrong. That's called guilty until proven innocent, and flies in the face of American jurisprudence. How about having to pay for every single digital copy of a song you own, meaning paying for each song that you bought on a CD, paying again when you put it on your computer, and paying again to put it on your iPod. Things could get worse than this too. Taken to its logical end, DRM and copyright laws that abuse the consumer could lead to limitations on free speech, and ultimately the democratic process. Think it won't happen? Why not, the people making the law are listening to the people with the deep pockets that have their ear, and those people (read RIAA and MPAA) want to rob you of information and money because, for some reason, they can't find viable business model.

The buck doesn't stop there, though. In a world without Net Neutrality, your internet service provider could make entire websites disappear. This is already happening in China. If a hands off law were passed here, the big Telecommunications companies could violate your rights, and leave the average American without recourse. This is because to have a civil rights violation, the government must be violating your rights. Private big business is certainly not the government. Not only can you not speak freely, but you will have to pay to speak. It's no wonder why some internet business, like Google, are voicing opposition to this kind of legislation.

Call you congressional representative, otherwise, this could be the world we end up living in.

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