As odd as it may seem, I’m both, a member of DefectiveByDesign and a researcher in DRM. Reading the post of the second 5’000 signatures pad sent to Apple recently triggered an irresistible need to write this open letter.
About 45 days for 10’000 signatures in Internet and Social Network times, is, and I’m sorry to say, nothing to be celebrated ! Comparatively, within a couple of weeks, iPad pre orders amount to hundreds of thousands. Some estimates even consider 10’000 pre orders a day ! In my world and according to my math, this suggests the benefits outweigh by far the point your want to make, however valid it may be. The reason lies simply in two things : User Experience and a Business Model that makes sense for the average user ! They did it with the iPod, did it again with the iPhone and the iPad will be nothing shy of its predecessors.
Sure DRM is defective by design and we ought to know better when it comes to respecting hard fought for and acquired rights (fair use, home copy, first sale, etc.) But who do we owe the current situation to ? The Media Industry who has relentlessly taken hostage the technology providers and lobbied for public policies considering the Internet wasn’t something they should consider in the evolution of their business.
So be it, but in the meantime we’re now stuck with totally bogus laws emerging around the world with Three Strikes progressive response approaches which needless to say are technically inapplicable as demonstrated by many researchers in the field.
So, what do we do ? We continue to fight along the extremes with DRM abolitionists (by analogy to Lessigs’ Internet cheerleaders) VS copyright freaks (MPAA / RIAA / ACTA / HADOPI, Digital Economy Bill and others around the world) who want to place a “Digital Decency Probe“ in every home ? Decency as in “Thou Shalt Not Enjoy Thy Media Experience”. Imposing already useless monitoring and deep packet inspection through ISPs ? What’s next, a Global Registrar of false positives banned from the Internet ? We’ll soon all need to file for Internet asylum somewhere, waiting for the Internet to die from suffocation, strangled by too many incompatible territorial laws trying to regulate an inherently global media.
I’m sorry to say but we’re all going south with this ! Is this the information society we want our kids to inherit ? Definitely not, and we need to act before it’s too late. Larry Lessig in a recent talk at the Italian parliament has brilliantly pictured the situation arguing about the evil of the Extremes, challenging each and everyone of us to some humility when it comes to regulations (regulatory humility).
So, dear Fellows, this letter is by no means an attempt at saying you don’t have a point and I’m grateful to see activism does exist here too. But I urge you to bring the debate to a level where everyone can humbly participate in co-creative redesign of DRM outside the corrosive extremes. In doing so, I would suspect we would be able to gather orders of magnitude more signatures to more effectively counterbalance things that don’t make sense.
Hoping you won’t sack me from your database for this, I kindly urge you to join the conversation towards what one might nowadays call socially responsible design !