They hate us for our freedoms 4

Let’s be clear on where I am taking this part of the discussion. It’s not about how the music/entertainment industry needs a new business model — even the industry agrees that the times are changing. It’s about how their rear-guard efforts are turning into a scorched earth operation. Their refusal to adapt, I think, is logical and understandable. This week there have been a number of blogs on Clay Shirky’s keynote at NFAIS. While he apparently said a lot of insightful things, this is the takeaway quote for this essay:

It’s easy to say “preserve the best of the old and combine it with the best of the new,” but in revolution, the best of the new is incompatible with the best of the old. It’s about doing things a whole new way.

The point being, as I said last time, there’s no way that the entertainment industry can survive in its present form. If you are a caterpillar, you don’t care about how pretty the butterfly will be, you just know you won’t be you any more. Now, evolution has arranged things so that it doesn’t matter what the caterpillar thinks. Come autumn, the rules say, it’s spin thread or die. With business, it’s different. You can fight back, you can delay, you can change the rules.

The survival efforts of the entertainment industry have created a set of rules that are inimical to freedom of action in realms far beyond the latest hip-hop lyrics. I can no longer do things that I used to be able to to, because they don’t want me doing the new things that technology makes possible. This creates a lock-down environment, where every producer (in all industries, not just entertainment) wants total, cradle to grave, control over their product. Nintendo are involved in a running fight with makers, with tinkerers, with hackers (in the original, good, sense of the word) because they want total control over their Wii consoles, even after they have sold them to you. They change internal codes. They rig things so that a new update, which you must use if you want to play the game you just bought, will brick any console with a firmware hack. They will claim that they can’t be responsible for the impact of their engineering changes on unauthorized modifications. They are correct, except where they deliberately engineer the upgrades to break a modified system. They have even gone so far as to put a glob of potting compound on one of their chips so that it’s impossible to get access to the pinouts. The only engineering reason to do that would be to make the chip run hotter.

Nintendo isn’t the only one, of course. Back in the day, the Microsoft motto for Windows upgrades was reported to be “the job isn’t done until Lotus won’t run”. In more modern times, Apple has done for the iPhone what Nintendo has done for the Wii: worked very hard to ensure that they have complete control over the ‘user experience’. Medical firms copyright the procedure codes that the government requires hospitals to use as a way of limiting competition. Automobile manufacturers copyright, obfuscate, and change the error codes on their engine control chips so that small independent garages and shade tree mechanics can no longer diagnose and repair the systems. They want to control who does those repairs because control means dollars. It’s as simple as that.

Their control is my lack of freedom.

EDIT: and of course, no sooner do I post this than another good example pops up. Furniture company uses trademark and copyright threats to hamper website that shows how to build knock-off furniture.

Next up, bureaucracies.

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One Response to “They hate us for our freedoms 4”

  1. The Impeccable Logic of the RIAA « FoundOnWeb Says:

    […] in the 4th installment of “They Hate Us For Our Freedoms”, I suggested that the RIAA knew exactly what they […]

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