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DRM and Democracy 211

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the more-restrictions-are-always-fun dept.
jar writes to tell us Bruce Perens has a short editorial on why DRM could have an impact on much more than just our record collections. From the article: "Within the last century, electronic communications have increasingly become the vehicle of democratic discourse. Because radio and television broadcasting are expensive with limited frequencies available, the wealthy have dominated broadcasting. The Internet and World Wide Web place into the common man's hands the capability of global electronic broadcasting. [...] In order to protect democratic discourse in the future, the Internet must remain a fair and level playing field for the distribution of political speech. The full capability of the Internet must remain available to all, without restriction by religious, business, or political interests."
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DRM and Democracy

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  • Re:internet politics (Score:2, Informative)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:05PM (#15488428) Homepage Journal
    Really? [huffingtonpost.com]
  • Orwellian? (Score:3, Informative)

    by HumanisticJones (972339) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:11PM (#15488483) Homepage
    While not quite on the level of taking over language and slowly redfining it so that it becomes imposible to put into words bad thoughts about the current system, the idea that companies and governments could control the net crosses into that. We've already seen the government deciding to re-classify materials resulting in libraries suddenly missing books. What will happen when they can do this with the internet too? Who in the future will be able to debate the mistakes of our day when there is no record of them open to the public?
  • Mistake in article? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mypalmike (454265) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:11PM (#15488484) Homepage
    "DMCA does it today, Barbara Boxer's PERFORM act, and the WIPO broadcasting treaty will soon add to the burden."

    I believe the PERFORM act was introduced by Feinstein(D) and Graham(R), not Boxer(D).
  • by malraid (592373) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:20PM (#15488540)
    Sure there are lots and lots blogs and other political discussion going on. You and I and a lot of people are doing it in this particular story. But that's a small minority, and sadly it shows on election day.
  • by scovetta (632629) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @01:21PM (#15488553) Homepage
    I'm sorry, but I left my tin-foil at home on my dresser today. How exactly would DRM suppress freedom of speech (at the heart of the democratic process)? I can understand the TV/radio issue because they are finitely available resources, but the Internet is not the same. Let's say video/audio goes DRMed WMV/WMA, and maybe some DRMed DOC/HTML format becomes popular, too. So what? You can't copy/distribute out what other people (the companies) give you. Nothing stops you from distributing your own (non-DRMed) content.

    Of course, if non-DRMed content was made illegal, then that would change things dramatically, but I don't see how that would **ever** happen.

    DRM is a Bad Thing(TM), but I don't see it threatening democracy as the article suggests.
  • by umrain (698867) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:26PM (#15489027) Homepage Journal
    Basically, mainstream America is fine with DRM. Implemented properly, it's a reasonable part of a solution to a the real problem of widescale IP theft.

    DRM IS widescale IP "theft". An important part of copyright is that content expires into the public domain. DRM uses a technical loophole to gain the benefits of copyright with none of the responsibilities. In preventing protections from expiring, DRM essentially "steals" content from the public domain.

    This is far more akin to the legal definition of theft than unauthorized copying has ever been.

    A trustworthy expiration mechanism would go a long way towards legitimizing DRM systems, yet this is seemingly never implemented.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:22PM (#15489916)
    So what? You can't copy/distribute out what other people (the companies) give you. Nothing stops you from distributing your own (non-DRMed) content.

    DRM isn't only capable of preventing you from copying or distributing the document, it's also capable of preventing you from reading it too. This is what has the worst implications for Free Speech.

    Have you ever read 1984? If you have, then you should recall that the Ministry of Truth spent quite a lot of time and effort revising history every time policy changes. Now, imagine how easy it would be if all their documents used DRM: they could just revoke the keys for the old version, and issue a new "corrected" one.

    Just imagine: that leaked corporate email that proves corruption? Unreadable! Those White House recordings that provide damning evidence of some plot? Gone! That electronic map image showing that we've "always" been at war with Afghani... whoops, sorry, it shows Iraq now!

    And don't think this is just fiction, by the way -- this is real, and it exists now. Research "Remote Attestation," which is part of Treacherous Computing, for more info.

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