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Journal charlie's Journal: Why your next general-purpose computer may well be your last

For the last year, The Register has been tracking the entertainment lobby's attempts to get CPRM copy prevention built into all ATA standard hard disk drives.

The music and film industry is in big trouble, and they've got a vested interest in preventing digital copying because it drives the cost of their core commodity towards zero. (Forget the fact that 80% of the revenue from films comes in the form of merchandise and spin-off rights; these guys are totalitarian in their outlook, and none more so than the music industry who have neatly set things up as a supply-side monopoly and don't want cheap MP3 copying to disrupt the money pipeline.)

This article, by Hale Landis, is still valid, and it explains exactly what the core of the MPAA/RIAA strategy is: the total destruction of the general-purpose computer as we know it.

PC's are just too damn flexible to coexist with distribution monopolies, it seems, so the strategy is to push the big manufacturers towards making closed boxes (like the early Macintosh -- thank you, Steve Jobs) and bundling closed 'secure' (for whom?) operating systems on top of them. Software patents and 'trade secret' lawsuits can then be used to sue those pesky free software people into shutting down the sites that distribute their software, and closed hardware architecture will make it impossible for mere users to get at the underlying devices and use them for things like unrestricted and unfiltered data i/o.

This whole plan is completely insane, but there are worrying signs that it may be working. Remember: what they can't steal by stealth, they'll steal by passing a law to say that it isn't stealing (and trying to hold on to your rights is depriving them of their legally mandated source of income).

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Why your next general-purpose computer may well be your last

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