Know your rights

November 15, 2005

Big BrotherI’m sure by now many of you have heard about the Sony DRM Root-Kit debacle, but the underlying story is much more important than any single piracy counter-measure. It’s time we as consumers start taking notice of the impending threat behind the very idea of Sony’s little trojan horse, that’s right I’m calling it a trojan program. A trojan is defined as: a program that appears desirable but actually contains something harmful.

Now I’m sure Sony would claim the program isn’t harmful, but I and I alone should be the one deciding what is installed on my computer. Another thing to consider here is how many people actually consider the simple act of popping a CD in a computer as an acceptance of a EULA? I’d venture to guess not many. In my opinion the overwhelming majority of consumers were oblivious to the fact they were accepting anything other than listening/archiving their music. If we’re to be subjected to this sort of scheme I think we deserve to know beforehand what companies impose these sorts of big-brother tactics, so we have the option of not buying their products.

Now admittedly this whole scenario doesn’t play out very well with DVD players and home theater in general (HTPC’s notwithstanding), but it’s the very nature of these tactics we should keep an eye on. The fact that HTPC’s aren’t commonplace today doesn’t mean some sort of writeable device for movie playback wont be commonplace in the future, and this possibility alone is worth the home theater fan base’s involvement in the digital rights dialogue.

As consumers we should have full disclosure about what we are/aren’t accepting in the software/media we purchase. Do I advocate piracy? Of course not, I actually think we’re too lenient on those convicted of software piracy, but at the same time I never want to see innocent consumers being force-fed software and or rights restrictions against their will, on media they rightfully own.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a great repository for information about your digital rights and the threats imposed on them.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Commentary