Monday, May 16, 2005

An All-Time Low

Microsoft has asked all 14-17 year old children in the United Kingdom to compete in a short film-making contest dubbed "Thought Thieves". Their advertising poster reads -
"Thought Thieves is about people stealing the ideas in your head. It sounds like science fiction but it really happens, and it happens all the time."
"Stealing"? Using children to fuel propaganda in an attempt to reinforce the absurd notion that ideas are to be equated with physical property is truly an all-time low. More absurd is the fact that the film makers are forbidden to use any portion of copyrighted content within their film. Part 3 of the agreement terms states -
"You must not use any existing copyright works in your film including music, songs or existing film clips. You must not use any third party trademarks or other third party intellectual property rights in your film."
I suppose that would be quite a disaster for Microsoft if a child were to rip, mix, and burn new content from one of those "communist" works governed by a legal and legitimate copyright license which allows for derivation. So even if children create their film through legal means, they are still disqualified.

And the icing on the cake? The film is to be "between 30 and 45 seconds long".

This is approximately the amount of time Microsoft wants you to spend questioning the umbrella term - "Intellectual Property". In fact, don't question at all! You do believe, don't you?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

DRM Double-Take

Former RIAA chief executive Hilary Rosen has put her name on an amazingly insane article that makes one look twice in disbelief. We now have the former file-sharing crackdown queen poorly attempting to appear as a consumer advocate when in fact, it's obvious that she's now a shill for Microsoft. Rosen argues that Apple's iPod is being used as a monopoly lock-in device regarding the distribution of digital music. She goes on to point out how DRM that other distributors (i.e. Microsoft) employ is not compatible with the iPod. Perhaps true, but the shill-factor is laid bare when the following is noted but glossed over by Hilary -
"If you are really a geek, you can figure out how to strip the songs you might have bought from another on-line store of all identifying information so that they will go into the iPod."
So we now have the former RIAA chief executive quietly noting that legally obtained music cannot be universally played unless one is a real "geek" and can circumvent the DRM. Yes, DRM that squashes consumer rights yet was vociferously promoted by Rosen and the RIAA in the first place. The irony is remarkable.

And what now does the former RIAA head turned "consumer-conscious activist" propose?

Hilary disingenuously downplays the inherently oppressive nature of DRM by shifting gears and arguing that the companies implementing DRM must be more open through disclosure of their "proprietary technology" to fellow implementors (e.g. Microsoft). She says this is how to win the hearts of "consumers". She suggests that the current scheme with Apple on top is monopolistic, "anti-consumer", and "user unfriendly".

Hmm, kinda like the RIAAs p2p litigation against individuals, traditional "per copy" copyright licensing, the DMCA, and DRM itself, no?