For those of you interested in the debate about copyright protection for music (digital rights management, or DRM, as it’s called) here’s an interesting article from the industry point of view
— and a lively discussion on the lively Slashdot forum
(some contributions are more, er, erudite than others).
Something I think hasn’t been thought through by either side on the debate is that once a product ceases to be purely the property of the holder — like a CD — then problems will occur. What happens if I want to sell the music I’ve downloaded via an online service using DRM? What happens when I want to sell software I’ve bought that uses an activation feature? In the old days I could just sell my CDs, or CD-ROMs, out of the trunk of my car.
From the We Should Have Known This Dept comes news that CD-ROMs degrade in months
, even at room temperature without sunlight. Dutch magazine PC Active
tested data disks from 30 manufacturers that were recorded 20 months ago. Several data CDs developed serious errors, or became virtually unreadable, The Register reports
It’s perhaps too early to tell, but the word seems to be: different dye systems used for CD-R disks are the root of the evil and that you’re better off storing your stuff on the more expensive disks. My tuppennies’: Keep backups of your most important data on different media — hard drive, online drive, CD-ROMs, DVD — in several copies.
Not sure why I missed this, but it’s an important development: a federal judge has issued a critical ruling supporting a patent lawsuit against Microsoft brought by InterTrust, a tiny digital rights management company. I wrote a little about this months ago; InterTrust, bought by an investor group led by Sony Corp. of America and Royal Philips Electronics in January for $453 million, stand either to make billions off Microsoft, or else force them to stop selling 85% of their products. Ouch.
This is all part of a battle over Digital Rights Management — who gets to decide what kind of software is going to lock up your DVD or CD or whatever, so you can’t copy it for any old Tom, Dick or Harry. Who owns the lock is basically going to make the money. Everyone else just puts the bits together.