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Wednesday, April 13, 2005 |
iPod, DRM, and President Bush
The recent Bush iPod incident been reported practically everywhere nerds congregate, so I won't bore you with the fine details. In summary, Bush has an iPod, and it has music on it that is probably infringing/illegal. The music industry would have you call it "stolen", but we'll get to that in a minute. Whenever the topic of copyright infringement comes up (and don't be fooled by industry terms, it's copyright infringement, not theft) there are always these very obscure examples of how DRM prevents people from doing very legal things with their work. The artist who can't mix his own tracks because he didn't buy a license to tell the software that he owns the music he created. The mom who wants to play the same disney DVD on three seperate DVD players because her kids enjoy destroying everything all at once. The fan trying to move his music collection to three obscure homebuilt flash memory players. And while these are very illuminated, even my eyes glaze over at these awkward examples. Because it misses the point. The point is, the people want to infringe. And it's not a conscious decision, it's not like how the RIAA portrays evil teenage hackers in basements trading billions of terragigs of music while twirling their wax handlebar mustaches. It's everyday people, doing everyday things, that to them seem perfectly natural but are in fact illegal. Take this guy, who just got a new iPod because he likes to listen to music while he jogs. And he jogs a lot, so he needs a lot of music. He buys a bunch of stuff on the iTunes store. His friend says, I've got some really good stuff, I'll put it on your iPod to listen. So the guy puts on his friend's songs, and now has more good music to listen to. It's everyday. It's plain. It's what people will do naturally without giving it a second thought. It's also illegal. The friend owes the RIAA $10,000 in fines +damages. The guy has to hand over his iPod to be cleaned, and might face some fines himself. What they both did was very very wrong, and because of it Chistina Agulera has to run around half naked because she can't afford new clothes. And Jesus hates you too, law breaker. And the guy also happens to be President George W. Bush. Now, if the President and his friend are doing it, I'd wager the vast majority of people earning more then $30,000 are also doing it. Or their kids are doing it. And as a politician, do you want to stand up in front of all those voters and tell them what they are doing is wrong and they should pay $10,000 in fines +damages? Or do you change the copyright law and make the voters, the people who keep you in your cushy job, happy? Do you have the balls to tell the President what he's doing is wrong and illegal? Or do you do the smart thing and change the law. Seems like an easy call to me.


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