A slap on the wrist to etherealfionna
for not keeping a closer eye on her adoptive government.
According to The Register
, the Finns have passed a new law making it illegal to subvert copy protection to copy media, even for personal use. I'm not quite sure what's considered to constitute copy protection, but by some definitions ripping your CD collection to your MP3 player would qualify.
It also makes it illegal to posess, distribute or advertise tools to break copy protection, and even organised discussion of the matter is outlawed. So please add a few comments and we can make this post illegal in Finland.
While an isolated law in a small country on the other side of Europe might not be too much of a worry, if other EU states follow suit, things start looking pretty grim for digital media. As autopope
says, "in the future, information wants to be set free," but unfortunately corporate concerns intend to keep it locked up.
For me, "digital rights" is a fundamental issue about what I buy. When I buy an album or a novel or a movie, I recognise that a portion of the price is going to the physical cost of the media and its distribution, but I feel I'm paying for the artist for their work. Once I have paid the artist, I feel I should have the right to enjoy that piece of work over and over again, regardless of changes in technology. In the 80's I bought records and copied them to tape to put in my walkman. Today we rip our CDs and play them on our MP3 players. I have even sampled vinyl records into the PC and burned my own CDs - but that's hassle.
But as digital media take off we are dispensing with physical media altogether, and increasingly downloading files from the internet. This is resulting in a rapid proliferation of different incompatible formats. For example if I buy an iPod and fill it with songs I buy from Apple, I will never be able to play those songs on a non-Apple device. Alternatively, I could go down the Zapster road, but if I ever stop paying the subscription, all my downloaded music will stop working.
I personally came to digital rights from the viewpoint of eBooks, which have been struggling with this issue for many years. Many players and propriatory formats have come and gone, as have the poor suckers who invested in their dead-end technologies. There are currently three main "protected" eBook formats, and I have serious issues with all of them. The general problem is that if I lose my reading device (or have to reinstall its software, or just upgrade to a newer model), I have to enter a new key into the site I bought the book from and download it again. This is fine as long as the site still exists, but we all know a lot of dot-coms have come and gone.
I don't mind paying for eBooks, so long as I know I can keep my investment safe without depending on a third party website. However, I think autopope
has the best approach with Accelerando
- give the eBook away free and people will buy the paper version if they like it.
I think the same is true for music - I know lots of independant artists who give away their whole albums for free as high quality MP3s, and they all say that this only helps their CD sales. While its true that kids will grab songs from P2P sites, attempting translate these into lost sales is daft - kids are spending more on music than ever, and they have always swapped tapes in the school yard.
Trust me, when the kids grow up, they will go back and buy the albums they loved as kids in special gold plated deluxe boxed editions.