Letters of Mass Construction

I Am Not A Crook

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I am an honest person. If I see someone drop some money on the ground I return it. If the grocery store forgets to ring something up I point it out. I am sometimes brutally honest when people ask me questions (I try to make sure I let people know that before I answer). I try to live by a code of ethics that would make my family, friends, and students proud to say they know me.

This is why I think digital rights management (DRM) is quickly becoming my new swear words. It is big corporations way of screwing the honest people and doing no actual good in stopping piracy. Remember when you used to actually own things you bought. Well, if big business has their way those days are numbered. If you have a Kindle and buy a book from Amazon you didn’t actually buy the book, you rented it. Amazon gets to say which devices you can read it on and heaven forbid if Amazon actually went out of business your books would go with them.

Have you purchased a movie from iTunes? Well you didn’t really, you just licensed it. More and more items are coming out with incredibly restrictive rights usages. These policies only affect honest users. If you are dishonest guess what, you probably didn’t buy it. If you are dishonest it doesn’t matter how much DRM is put on the content, someone will break it and you can steal it. No company has ever been able to keep their software locked up. Apple released the iPad 3G on Friday and by Sunday there were already hacks all over the internet to break the DRM and set it free from Apple’s very long reach. Apple is one of the most innovative and smart companies out there and they couldn’t keep the iPad locked up for two days.

Only honest customers are affected by the backwards lunacy of DRM. If I buy comics, books, or movies for my iPad I will only be able to use them on my iPad until some company steps up and says, “Never mind, we trust our customers.” I have a little hope. No one thought the music industry would ever remove DRM from songs but they did.

We are still nowhere near a world where DRM dies the harsh death it deserves. Until this happens you will continue to have nightmare cluster fucks for customers. Only two months ago Eidos Games in their infinite wisdom put DRM on some new games which required your computer to verify your ownership over the internet before you could play. They forgot to figure out what they were going to do if their servers crashed, which they did. Hundreds of thousands of customers who legally paid for their games couldn’t play them because their machines had no way to verify their legal ownership. Way to penalize your paying customers Eidos.

I don’t steal things. I buy them. Right now I have to put up with DRM because companies make me and no one really cares about the consumers. Protect big business at all cost. I have drawn my line in the sand. If I ever get screwed by a company over DRM I will never do business with them again. It is time to find a different way to protect their intellectual property. Something which doesn’t make me feel like I am being treated like a crook.

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