Listen to the Stopped Clock

by on September 29, 2006 · 64 comments

I’ve written before that Chris Castle is a technically clueless lawyer whose blog specializes in juvenile and mean-spirited insults of his ideological opponents. He and I clearly don’t see eye to eye on a lot of copyright-related subjects. Yet it seems that even a stopped clock is right once in a while:

I believe there is a good business case that can be made for selling in mp3. At the risk of stating the obvious, I would point out that the iPod, and almost every music player in the market, supports mp3. So the reason to sell in mp3 is not because DRM is bad. I completely disagree with Professor Lessig’s radical fringe that opposes DRM in all forms, and unlike many in the fringe, I support a copyright owner’s decision to sell in any format they wish–DRM or non-DRM.

But the business argument over selling in the unprotected mp3 format shouldn’t have anything to do with how you feel about DRM. The reason you sell in mp3, and the reason you sell in Fairplay, Windows Media and any other common format is because–they are common formats. A lot of people use them. It just happens that more people use mp3 than use Windows Media or Fairplay.

If a copyright owner sold an mp3 file, it could be suitably watermarked to carry identifiers that would allow accounting if an online service wanted to sell the tracks. The point is that if you sell in mp3 you are not giving a fan anything that they couldn’t make themselves if they bought a CD and ripped it.

I think he over-estimates the effectiveness of watermarking technologies. And Castle is wrong when he says that Lessig is in the “radical fringe” that opposes DRM in all of its forms. He’s not, much to my disappointment. But otherwise, this analysis is dead on. And given that Castle is clearly not an apologist for piracy or a critic of the music industry, maybe the music industry will listen to him.

I wonder if it’s occurred to Castle that it’s not a coincidence that MP3 is more widely deployed than FairPlay and Windows Media. The whole point of DRMed formats is to limit interoperability with third party devices. Hence, we shouldn’t be surprised that DRM is plagued by incompatibilities.

Update: I struck out the bit about Lessig’s attitude toward DRM, which on re-reading Lessig’s post clearly isn’t right. What I should have said is that Lessig is more sympathetic than me to the notion that some DRM is better than others, and that we should therefore settle for the least-bad DRM we can get, rather than focusing on persuading publishers to ditch it altogether.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    ***Chris Castle is a technically clueless lawyer***

    He would probably say the same thing about you regarding policy and business.

    How many times have you tried to justify DRM free business models!!! To say there is stretched effort there is an understatement.

    I hand it to you though: perhaps nobody has as many analogies for FOSS as you do Tim. But again, you understand FOSS as purely an analogy.

    Also, nobody can use so many definitions of the word monopoly in one paragraph like you can.

    ***it’s occurred to Castle that it’s not a coincidence that MP3 is more widely deployed than FairPlay and Windows Media***

    Wonderful, now check the revenues of MP3 v other music formats with the leading online music services.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    ***Chris Castle is a technically clueless lawyer***

    He would probably say the same thing about you regarding policy and business.

    How many times have you tried to justify DRM free business models!!! To say there is stretched effort there is an understatement.

    I hand it to you though: perhaps nobody has as many analogies for FOSS as you do Tim. But again, you understand FOSS as purely an analogy.

    Also, nobody can use so many definitions of the word monopoly in one paragraph like you can.

    ***it’s occurred to Castle that it’s not a coincidence that MP3 is more widely deployed than FairPlay and Windows Media***

    Wonderful, now check the revenues of MP3 v other music formats with the leading online music services.

  • Doug Lay

    Props to Castle for realizing that doing the right thing for “his people” means making his peace with the unprotected format that the industry has tried so hard to suppress for the past 10 years. If the industry had made their peace with MP3 back in the late 1990s, Napster and illicit file sharing would not have been the only game in town for years, and perhaps the digital transition would have been far less painful for the music business.

    I do wish Castle would rachet down the bitterness toward the tech community a few notches, but he would probably say the same about my feelings toward the entertainment biz.

  • http://techdirt.com/ Mike Masnick

    Noel writes:

    He would probably say the same thing about you regarding policy and business. How many times have you tried to justify DRM free business models!!!

    Noel, I’m curious why defending what you believe and backing it up with examples and data is the equivalent of being factually incorrect about technology, as Castle has been.

    Wonderful, now check the revenues of MP3 v other music formats with the leading online music services.

    That’s a ridiculous statement, and you know it. First of all, in places where MP3s are sold, they do quite well. eMusic and AllofMp3 shows that. However, your statement is the equivalent of someone selling mainframes looking at the low price of PCs back in the day and saying “check how much revenue PCs bring in compared to mainframes.”

  • Doug Lay

    Props to Castle for realizing that doing the right thing for “his people” means making his peace with the unprotected format that the industry has tried so hard to suppress for the past 10 years. If the industry had made their peace with MP3 back in the late 1990s, Napster and illicit file sharing would not have been the only game in town for years, and perhaps the digital transition would have been far less painful for the music business.

    I do wish Castle would rachet down the bitterness toward the tech community a few notches, but he would probably say the same about my feelings toward the entertainment biz.

  • http://techdirt.com/ Mike Masnick

    Noel writes:

    He would probably say the same thing about you regarding policy and business. How many times have you tried to justify DRM free business models!!!

    Noel, I’m curious why defending what you believe and backing it up with examples and data is the equivalent of being factually incorrect about technology, as Castle has been.

    Wonderful, now check the revenues of MP3 v other music formats with the leading online music services.

    That’s a ridiculous statement, and you know it. First of all, in places where MP3s are sold, they do quite well. eMusic and AllofMp3 shows that. However, your statement is the equivalent of someone selling mainframes looking at the low price of PCs back in the day and saying “check how much revenue PCs bring in compared to mainframes.”

  • Steve R.

    As I was reading this CNBC was reporting on cableTV (as psuedo-news) that the “The Institute for Policy Innovation” (founded by former Republican congressman Richard K. Armey) has released a study perpurting to show how badly piracy is hurting the economy. CNBC news also had a clip of NBC Universal chief executive Bob Wright on this topic.

    Unfortunately, I also see that the Washington Post (9/29/2006) is also reguritating this story as psuedo-news.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/28/AR2006092801640.html

    The Post writes “Seeking another weapon in its war on piracy, the movie industry hopes to wow lawmakers today with a study that says the economic impact of illegal DVD and Internet film distribution may be as much as three times what was previously estimated.

  • http://www2.blogger.com/profile/14380731108416527657 Steve R.

    As I was reading this CNBC was reporting on cableTV (as psuedo-news) that the “The Institute for Policy Innovation” (founded by former Republican congressman Richard K. Armey) has released a study perpurting to show how badly piracy is hurting the economy. CNBC news also had a clip of NBC Universal chief executive Bob Wright on this topic.

    Unfortunately, I also see that the Washington Post (9/29/2006) is also reguritating this story as psuedo-news.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ar

    The Post writes “Seeking another weapon in its war on piracy, the movie industry hopes to wow lawmakers today with a study that says the economic impact of illegal DVD and Internet film distribution may be as much as three times what was previously estimated.

  • Chris Castle

    “I do wish Castle would rachet down the bitterness toward the tech community a few notches, but he would probably say the same about my feelings toward the entertainment biz.”

    Hey Doug, we call these “jokes”. But then machines don’t come with a sense of humor, right? I guess humor doesn’t scale. (That’s a joke, too, fyi.)

    You have to admit that when Lessig tells us that he wishes his students thought of him as a “god” (his words, not mine), he is just BEGGING to be lampooned.

    I know it’s hard to take when the gods we worship turn out to put their pants on one leg at a time and have warts of their own, so I don’t blame you for getting weepy about having it pointed out to you. But just because I think Lessig is disingenous and kind of funny doesn’t make me meanspirited. I bear him no animus.

    And if I might correct you: publishing photos and home addresses of the children of copyright enforcement officials is meanspirited, maybe actionable and possibly criminal. That’s the kind of thing your side does at the fringe. Poking fun is…well, just poking fun. I can take it if you can.

    However, I will give you this: If it wasn’t clear before the debacle in France and the Swedish situation, there is a war on between Lessig and his followers and the creative community. It costs the MacArthur Foundation and others who fund the Lessig effort a lot of money–well over $7 million from the foundations alone by my count. I couldn’t agree more.

    As far as being “factually incorrect” goes, one thing I have learned about the radical fringe in tech is that they, and maybe “you”, are always as prepared to spin as anyone. I’m a student of the game and always take comments from sources before going live with anything complex, or complex to me. I make a sustained and abiding effort to understand the other side, which is more than I can say for the other side.

    But then I try to avoid the “neener neener neener” school of geeky intelligence. Although I do appreciate that sense of frustration when you read something that a person who is clearly intelligent has written and it just takes too long to unpack and correct than you have to write it down. That would be almost everything Lessig has written about the music business and that is regurgitated uncritically by his acolytes. It’s not that he’s dumb or “clueless”, it’s that he’s not informed.

  • Doug Lay

    Hey Chris:

    I ask if maybe you have it in you to rachet down the bitterness a bit, and you spend an entire 7-paragraph post pointing out how much more dirty and evil the tactics of the “other side” are. You’re a prisoner of hate, man! Maybe if I was in a darker mood I would engage you in your pissing match, but instead I’ll just compliment you – again – on recognizing that the industry has more to gain from endorsing the MP3 format than from continuing to shun it.

  • Chris Castle

    “I do wish Castle would rachet down the bitterness toward the tech community a few notches, but he would probably say the same about my feelings toward the entertainment biz.”

    Hey Doug, we call these “jokes”. But then machines don’t come with a sense of humor, right? I guess humor doesn’t scale. (That’s a joke, too, fyi.)

    You have to admit that when Lessig tells us that he wishes his students thought of him as a “god” (his words, not mine), he is just BEGGING to be lampooned.

    I know it’s hard to take when the gods we worship turn out to put their pants on one leg at a time and have warts of their own, so I don’t blame you for getting weepy about having it pointed out to you. But just because I think Lessig is disingenous and kind of funny doesn’t make me meanspirited. I bear him no animus.

    And if I might correct you: publishing photos and home addresses of the children of copyright enforcement officials is meanspirited, maybe actionable and possibly criminal. That’s the kind of thing your side does at the fringe. Poking fun is…well, just poking fun. I can take it if you can.

    However, I will give you this: If it wasn’t clear before the debacle in France and the Swedish situation, there is a war on between Lessig and his followers and the creative community. It costs the MacArthur Foundation and others who fund the Lessig effort a lot of money–well over $7 million from the foundations alone by my count. I couldn’t agree more.

    As far as being “factually incorrect” goes, one thing I have learned about the radical fringe in tech is that they, and maybe “you”, are always as prepared to spin as anyone. I’m a student of the game and always take comments from sources before going live with anything complex, or complex to me. I make a sustained and abiding effort to understand the other side, which is more than I can say for the other side.

    But then I try to avoid the “neener neener neener” school of geeky intelligence. Although I do appreciate that sense of frustration when you read something that a person who is clearly intelligent has written and it just takes too long to unpack and correct than you have to write it down. That would be almost everything Lessig has written about the music business and that is regurgitated uncritically by his acolytes. It’s not that he’s dumb or “clueless”, it’s that he’s not informed.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Tim, your big hate for Castle doesn’t make much sense to me. I read his piece about net neutrality and didn’t find much to quibble with. Sure, he might have said “IP addresses obtained from DNS and DHCP” instead of DNS addresses, but that’s not a major point. And as some companies do buy VPNs under contracts with NSPs that give them extra-special service, on that point he’s more accurate than you are. The overall description of streams, packets, the high overhead of BitTorrent, illegal content and all that was right on the mark, actually.

    Being a network technologist myself (and a highly skilled one at that) I’m generally appalled at the level of technical insight in lawyerly writing on tech policy, but Castle is nowhere near as clueless as, say, Harold Feld, Art Brodsky, GiGi Sohn, or the Free Press wankers.

    Lessig is a menace, and his understanding of the Internet and DRM is way off the mark technically and intellectually. And not so much because he lacks the information – I’ve critiqued his claims about the Internet and discussed them with his greatness and his acolytes – but because he rejects any information that doesn’t conform to his prejudices.

    DRM is perfectly reasonable, and any company that wants to implement it should be free to do so, facing all the consequences of the choice, positive and negative. No creative artist has an obligation to Lessig and his minions to abet their sad campaign of selling books and conference speeches to young adults with lingering authority issues. And no creative artist has any more obligation to give his work away for free than do engineers and lawyers.

    If you’re looking for heroes and role models, you can do a lot better than Lessig.

  • Chris Castle

    Thanks, Doug. Actually, I’m quite amazed at how many people I think of as thought leaders in the music business have contacted me to compliment me on the mp3 piece. (I was actually bracing myself for some angry townsfolk with pitchforks, and it’s been quite the opposite.)

    Some people have told me that they felt it influenced recent events and decisions within their companies, and that’s very gratifying, even it it’s not entirely true.

    These are, by the way, some of the same people who find the Lessig pieces hilarious. I guess one person’s bitterness is another’s humor..! I guess a spoonful of sugar, etc.

  • Doug Lay

    Hey Chris:

    I ask if maybe you have it in you to rachet down the bitterness a bit, and you spend an entire 7-paragraph post pointing out how much more dirty and evil the tactics of the “other side” are. You’re a prisoner of hate, man! Maybe if I was in a darker mood I would engage you in your pissing match, but instead I’ll just compliment you – again – on recognizing that the industry has more to gain from endorsing the MP3 format than from continuing to shun it.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Tim, your big hate for Castle doesn’t make much sense to me. I read his piece about net neutrality and didn’t find much to quibble with. Sure, he might have said “IP addresses obtained from DNS and DHCP” instead of DNS addresses, but that’s not a major point. And as some companies do buy VPNs under contracts with NSPs that give them extra-special service, on that point he’s more accurate than you are. The overall description of streams, packets, the high overhead of BitTorrent, illegal content and all that was right on the mark, actually.

    Being a network technologist myself (and a highly skilled one at that) I’m generally appalled at the level of technical insight in lawyerly writing on tech policy, but Castle is nowhere near as clueless as, say, Harold Feld, Art Brodsky, GiGi Sohn, or the Free Press wankers.

    Lessig is a menace, and his understanding of the Internet and DRM is way off the mark technically and intellectually. And not so much because he lacks the information – I’ve critiqued his claims about the Internet and discussed them with his greatness and his acolytes – but because he rejects any information that doesn’t conform to his prejudices.

    DRM is perfectly reasonable, and any company that wants to implement it should be free to do so, facing all the consequences of the choice, positive and negative. No creative artist has an obligation to Lessig and his minions to abet their sad campaign of selling books and conference speeches to young adults with lingering authority issues. And no creative artist has any more obligation to give his work away for free than do engineers and lawyers.

    If you’re looking for heroes and role models, you can do a lot better than Lessig.

  • Chris Castle

    Thanks, Doug. Actually, I’m quite amazed at how many people I think of as thought leaders in the music business have contacted me to compliment me on the mp3 piece. (I was actually bracing myself for some angry townsfolk with pitchforks, and it’s been quite the opposite.)

    Some people have told me that they felt it influenced recent events and decisions within their companies, and that’s very gratifying, even it it’s not entirely true.

    These are, by the way, some of the same people who find the Lessig pieces hilarious. I guess one person’s bitterness is another’s humor..! I guess a spoonful of sugar, etc.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Richard: If you look in the comments, you’ll see that Ed Felten pointed out the same technical errors that I did, and some others I didn’t catch. Moreover, I still say Castle’s thesis was nonsensical: nothing about NN regulations would prevent broadband ISPs from capping users’ bandwidth usage, so if, as he says, P2P applications use more bandwidth than others, a bandwidth cap would allow the ISPs to limit their use without running afoul of the law.

    Chris: Humor is fine, but the majority of your blog posts involve either mocking Lessig, insulting him, misrepresenting his arguments, or impugning his motives. At least judging from your last dozen posts or so, you don’t seem to find it worth your while to actually engage his arguments and explain why they’re wrong. Maybe the readers of your blog would find it enlightening to actually learn what Lessig says and why it’s wrong, rather than simply assuming everyone already agrees with you?

  • Percival Witherspoon

    Richard: I’m so glad to hear you’re a highly skilled network technologist. Kudos to you! And thank you for sharing your “original” blog, started way back in 1996 and in almost continuous service from that time. You’re quite the trendsetter.

    I’m also glad you pointed out that those who are against DRM are almost always young adults with lingering authority issues, rather than mature adults who are ready to responsibly cede the right to control their own machines for the benefit of a small industry. Keep up the good work!

  • Doug Lay

    Chris:

    Lessig can take care of himself. Just remember to spell his name right, okay?

    I’m glad to hear your biz buds are warming up to MP3, and look forward to some interesting products. I know I would greatly welcome major-label back catalog stuff on emusic.com.

    Richard:

    If DRM simply means encrypting content, I agree that it is perfectly reasonable. If it means overwriting system-level code on a user’s computer, then no, it is not reasonable.

    And even accepting that DRM-as-encryption is reasonable, there is the question of how much legal protection that encryption should receive. I think the DMCA anti-circumvention provision overrreaches. What do you think?

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Richard: If you look in the comments, you’ll see that Ed Felten pointed out the same technical errors that I did, and some others I didn’t catch. Moreover, I still say Castle’s thesis was nonsensical: nothing about NN regulations would prevent broadband ISPs from capping users’ bandwidth usage, so if, as he says, P2P applications use more bandwidth than others, a bandwidth cap would allow the ISPs to limit their use without running afoul of the law.

    Chris: Humor is fine, but the majority of your blog posts involve either mocking Lessig, insulting him, misrepresenting his arguments, or impugning his motives. At least judging from your last dozen posts or so, you don’t seem to find it worth your while to actually engage his arguments and explain why they’re wrong. Maybe the readers of your blog would find it enlightening to actually learn what Lessig says and why it’s wrong, rather than simply assuming everyone already agrees with you?

  • Percival Witherspoon

    Richard: I’m so glad to hear you’re a highly skilled network technologist. Kudos to you! And thank you for sharing your “original” blog, started way back in 1996 and in almost continuous service from that time. You’re quite the trendsetter.

    I’m also glad you pointed out that those who are against DRM are almost always young adults with lingering authority issues, rather than mature adults who are ready to responsibly cede the right to control their own machines for the benefit of a small industry. Keep up the good work!

  • Doug Lay

    Chris:

    Lessig can take care of himself. Just remember to spell his name right, okay?

    I’m glad to hear your biz buds are warming up to MP3, and look forward to some interesting products. I know I would greatly welcome major-label back catalog stuff on emusic.com.

    Richard:

    If DRM simply means encrypting content, I agree that it is perfectly reasonable. If it means overwriting system-level code on a user’s computer, then no, it is not reasonable.

    And even accepting that DRM-as-encryption is reasonable, there is the question of how much legal protection that encryption should receive. I think the DMCA anti-circumvention provision overrreaches. What do you think?

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Tim wrote: Chris: Humor is fine, but the majority of your blog posts involve either mocking Lessig, insulting him, misrepresenting his arguments, or impugning his motives.***

    Yes, I find that Chris provides some relaxing reading:)

    Tim, what Chris writes is important, given the aimless and mindless allegiance that Lessig seeks from his followers.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Tim wrote: Chris: Humor is fine, but the majority of your blog posts involve either mocking Lessig, insulting him, misrepresenting his arguments, or impugning his motives.***

    Yes, I find that Chris provides some relaxing reading:)

    Tim, what Chris writes is important, given the aimless and mindless allegiance that Lessig seeks from his followers.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Doug, how would you propose rewriting or scaling back sections of the DMCA.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    But the business argument over selling in the unprotected mp3 format shouldn’t have anything to do with how you feel about DRM. The reason you sell in mp3, and the reason you sell in Fairplay, Windows Media and any other common format is becauseÃ?¢â?‰?they are common formats. A lot of people use them. It just happens that more people use mp3 than use Windows Media or Fairplay.

    No it doesn’t “just happen” mp3 is was perceived as open format, and no one had asserted patnets on the technology, or implemented DRM. Those are the reasons mp3 was successful.

    I do realize that after the .mp3 fie format become a standard, someone had started asserting patents rights (which has given some very limited traction to the ogg vorbis format, BTW)

    People just don’t want DRM. The want free players ,too. Once they have them, it is very hard to go back and raise their price and eliminate their freedoms (beer and speech types here)

    Those who want the special legal protection such as the DMCA are doing exactly what those in the labor unions did when they asked (and didn’t get) some protection from competition. That is they are asking for: special freedom-limiting laws to protect the interests of a few producers over the interests of consumers. The only difference is that today those asking for the special protections are lawyers and big media companies, not autoworkers.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Doug, how would you propose rewriting or scaling back sections of the DMCA.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    It blows me away how completely unaware of the industry some folks are. Hence, statements like this: (Tim) The whole point of DRMed formats is to limit interoperability with third party devices.***

    When you think of policy in terms of absolute goods and evils, then yes, you can arrive at Tim’s conclusions.

    But technology, at least in the digital music business, is a facillitator, not an end in itself. Interoperability is not an end in itself. Decentralization is a laughable end in itself (especially when the analysis has absolute no policy basis:)

    With all this hoopla over absolute values, what I gather most is that folks won’t mind sub-par entertainment in the case that their policy wishes come true, and the only producers with incentive to undertake creative and productive work are those that currently HAVE TO GIVE THEIR STUFF AWAY FOR FREE b/c nobody will buy it.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    But the business argument over selling in the unprotected mp3 format shouldn’t have anything to do with how you feel about DRM. The reason you sell in mp3, and the reason you sell in Fairplay, Windows Media and any other common format is becauseÃ?¢â?‰?they are common formats. A lot of people use them. It just happens that more people use mp3 than use Windows Media or Fairplay.

    No it doesn’t “just happen” mp3 is was perceived as open format, and no one had asserted patnets on the technology, or implemented DRM. Those are the reasons mp3 was successful.

    I do realize that after the .mp3 fie format become a standard, someone had started asserting patents rights (which has given some very limited traction to the ogg vorbis format, BTW)

    People just don’t want DRM. The want free players ,too. Once they have them, it is very hard to go back and raise their price and eliminate their freedoms (beer and speech types here)

    Those who want the special legal protection such as the DMCA are doing exactly what those in the labor unions did when they asked (and didn’t get) some protection from competition. That is they are asking for: special freedom-limiting laws to protect the interests of a few producers over the interests of consumers. The only difference is that today those asking for the special protections are lawyers and big media companies, not autoworkers.

  • Percival Witherspoon

    Sub-par entertainment? Like “Planet of the Apes” 2002? There are a lot of smelly turds out there today, courtesy of Hollywood. It’s not just the free stuff that stinks. If we have it so good now, why all the crap movies?

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    It blows me away how completely unaware of the industry some folks are. Hence, statements like this: (Tim) The whole point of DRMed formats is to limit interoperability with third party devices.***

    When you think of policy in terms of absolute goods and evils, then yes, you can arrive at Tim’s conclusions.

    But technology, at least in the digital music business, is a facillitator, not an end in itself. Interoperability is not an end in itself. Decentralization is a laughable end in itself (especially when the analysis has absolute no policy basis:)

    With all this hoopla over absolute values, what I gather most is that folks won’t mind sub-par entertainment in the case that their policy wishes come true, and the only producers with incentive to undertake creative and productive work are those that currently HAVE TO GIVE THEIR STUFF AWAY FOR FREE b/c nobody will buy it.

  • Percival Witherspoon

    Sub-par entertainment? Like “Planet of the Apes” 2002? There are a lot of smelly turds out there today, courtesy of Hollywood. It’s not just the free stuff that stinks. If we have it so good now, why all the crap movies?

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Noel, he is correct about the point that DRM is supposed to limit interoperability. This is the story of the IT industry since day one with most technologies. It’s not a radical statement, as the major vendors have not been very friendly about the idea of working together on a common approach a la CSS.

    I think you and Chris fail to understand where a lot of the bristling comes from. Most geeks despise the public policy mindset which effectively plays God with individual rights, using lawyerly speak to contravene organic concepts of right and wrong, freedom and property rights. You see taking away the right to hack our own hardware to protect DRM as a “good compromise,” we see it as an attack on fundamental property rights.

    Liberty is, generally speaking, a vacuum. I have said that here in the past and I’ll reassert it again. Public policy wonks invariably redefine liberty as a complex framework of laws and regulations that “enable things,” when in fact liberty is a chaotic vacuum that allows the people to fill it with whatever peaceful action we want.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Enigma, actually, people have asserted patents over MP3s, although so far those people haven’t made a serious effort to stamp out non-commercial uses of the format.

    Noel, the fundamental purpose of DRM is to prevent unauthorized devices from accessing content, is it not? And isn’t that just another way of saying that its purpose is “to limit interoperability with third party devices?” I don’t understand your objection.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Noel, he is correct about the point that DRM is supposed to limit interoperability. This is the story of the IT industry since day one with most technologies. It’s not a radical statement, as the major vendors have not been very friendly about the idea of working together on a common approach a la CSS.

    I think you and Chris fail to understand where a lot of the bristling comes from. Most geeks despise the public policy mindset which effectively plays God with individual rights, using lawyerly speak to contravene organic concepts of right and wrong, freedom and property rights. You see taking away the right to hack our own hardware to protect DRM as a “good compromise,” we see it as an attack on fundamental property rights.

    Liberty is, generally speaking, a vacuum. I have said that here in the past and I’ll reassert it again. Public policy wonks invariably redefine liberty as a complex framework of laws and regulations that “enable things,” when in fact liberty is a chaotic vacuum that allows the people to fill it with whatever peaceful action we want.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Enigma, actually, people have asserted patents over MP3s, although so far those people haven’t made a serious effort to stamp out non-commercial uses of the format.

    Noel, the fundamental purpose of DRM is to prevent unauthorized devices from accessing content, is it not? And isn’t that just another way of saying that its purpose is “to limit interoperability with third party devices?” I don’t understand your objection.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    I believe MSFT created its own digital formats for fear of licensing implications with MP3.

    ***the fundamental purpose of DRM is to prevent unauthorized devices from accessing content***

    Hmmm. Funny, Tim, it sounds like DRM is a goal within itself, as you never explain or qualify it any further than to state its effects on interoperability, at least not directly.

    But you’re clever Tim. Yes, very clever.

    I’m sure you’re more than aware that the goal of DRM is not just to “control” interoperability, but to manage the flow of and access to content between online and peripheral services/devices. This in turn supports business models. DRM is merely a mechanism for securing revenue in the process.

    The mechanism to what business models you ask? Well, Tim, your answer is that DRM is the mechanism for sub-optimal and impractical business models. I don’t care to list the posts you argue this in (basically, all of your posts on DRM), but will point out your argument, which surfaces when all pieces of the puzzle are put together: since artists can make money selling T-shirts and trinkets, DRM does not serve business purposes. Without the qualification of enabling and facillitating business models, the only remaining goal of DRM then becomes to simply cut-off interoperability.

    You don’t say it directly, but your chain of reasoning, Tim, implies that you want to prove DRM cutting off interoperability as the goal in itself of content and service owners. Such villification, I’m afraid, is simply uncalled for.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    I believe MSFT created its own digital formats for fear of licensing implications with MP3.

    ***the fundamental purpose of DRM is to prevent unauthorized devices from accessing content***

    Hmmm. Funny, Tim, it sounds like DRM is a goal within itself, as you never explain or qualify it any further than to state its effects on interoperability, at least not directly.

    But you’re clever Tim. Yes, very clever.

    I’m sure you’re more than aware that the goal of DRM is not just to “control” interoperability, but to manage the flow of and access to content between online and peripheral services/devices. This in turn supports business models. DRM is merely a mechanism for securing revenue in the process.

    The mechanism to what business models you ask? Well, Tim, your answer is that DRM is the mechanism for sub-optimal and impractical business models. I don’t care to list the posts you argue this in (basically, all of your posts on DRM), but will point out your argument, which surfaces when all pieces of the puzzle are put together: since artists can make money selling T-shirts and trinkets, DRM does not serve business purposes. Without the qualification of enabling and facillitating business models, the only remaining goal of DRM then becomes to simply cut-off interoperability.

    You don’t say it directly, but your chain of reasoning, Tim, implies that you want to prove DRM cutting off interoperability as the goal in itself of content and service owners. Such villification, I’m afraid, is simply uncalled for.

  • Chris Castle

    I’m actually flattered in a weird kind of way that you’ve read a dozen of my blogs, Tim! I honestly only write them for fun, and serious writing shows up elsewhere.

    I know it’s difficult seeing one’s gods lampooned, but Lessig was the one who jumped up on the white horse to ride out in front of the p2p parade, so I’m sure he’s expecting a little mockery to come his way. I’m sure he could care less, he’s got the Google money and he’s immune. I would doubt that he even cares much about what the Stanford alumni think of him as long as he’s got his snout firmly in the Google trough.

    If it weren’t for the fact that Lessig overtly tries to hurt my friends, I wouldn’t mind what he wrote. It would be kind of like reading some of Tim’s assumptions about the music industry, just kind of a “Hmmm, another one doesn’t get it” and that would be it. No reason to spend any time writing or even thinking about someone’s misapprehension, and I wouldn’t presume that anyone would care what I thought about it anyway.

    But that’s not what Lessig does. Lessig hurts people because he provides a perverse normative justification for what Judge Wilson recently referred to as “massive copyright infringement” in yet another case the Lessig boys lost for some poor entrepreneur who’s probably going to go broke over it.

    I would also point out that I have absolutely no problem with legitimate technologists reverse engineering for the pursuit of knowledge, or even their own personal interests. What has happened, though, is that people like Lessig have taken that legitimate, if not noble, desire and transmogrified it into an excuse to rip off artists and destroy my business. I don’t think it’s the technology that’s destroying the music business, it’s using the technology to steal that’s destroying the music business–the problem is the choices people make, not the machines. Your freedom to tinker stops at the end of my nose, don’t you know.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Chris,

    Does any of your serious writing include critiques of Lessig’s arguments? If so, where would I find them? If not, don’t you think it reflects a somewhat strange set of priorities to spend so much time and energy mocking a guy whose arguments you don’t find worthy of serious rebuttal? If his arguments are obviously wrong, why do so many smart people agree with him?

  • Chris Castle

    Since I don’t live on grants, I haven’t finished a critique of one of the Grantwriter’s books, although I am working on it. I actually do most of it on planes. A lot of smart people agree with Usama bin Laden, too, right?

  • Chris Castle

    I’m actually flattered in a weird kind of way that you’ve read a dozen of my blogs, Tim! I honestly only write them for fun, and serious writing shows up elsewhere.

    I know it’s difficult seeing one’s gods lampooned, but Lessig was the one who jumped up on the white horse to ride out in front of the p2p parade, so I’m sure he’s expecting a little mockery to come his way. I’m sure he could care less, he’s got the Google money and he’s immune. I would doubt that he even cares much about what the Stanford alumni think of him as long as he’s got his snout firmly in the Google trough.

    If it weren’t for the fact that Lessig overtly tries to hurt my friends, I wouldn’t mind what he wrote. It would be kind of like reading some of Tim’s assumptions about the music industry, just kind of a “Hmmm, another one doesn’t get it” and that would be it. No reason to spend any time writing or even thinking about someone’s misapprehension, and I wouldn’t presume that anyone would care what I thought about it anyway.

    But that’s not what Lessig does. Lessig hurts people because he provides a perverse normative justification for what Judge Wilson recently referred to as “massive copyright infringement” in yet another case the Lessig boys lost for some poor entrepreneur who’s probably going to go broke over it.

    I would also point out that I have absolutely no problem with legitimate technologists reverse engineering for the pursuit of knowledge, or even their own personal interests. What has happened, though, is that people like Lessig have taken that legitimate, if not noble, desire and transmogrified it into an excuse to rip off artists and destroy my business. I don’t think it’s the technology that’s destroying the music business, it’s using the technology to steal that’s destroying the music business–the problem is the choices people make, not the machines. Your freedom to tinker stops at the end of my nose, don’t you know.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Chris,

    Does any of your serious writing include critiques of Lessig’s arguments? If so, where would I find them? If not, don’t you think it reflects a somewhat strange set of priorities to spend so much time and energy mocking a guy whose arguments you don’t find worthy of serious rebuttal? If his arguments are obviously wrong, why do so many smart people agree with him?

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Well, I hope you’ll let me know when your critique is published.

  • Chris Castle

    Since I don’t live on grants, I haven’t finished a critique of one of the Grantwriter’s books, although I am working on it. I actually do most of it on planes. A lot of smart people agree with Usama bin Laden, too, right?

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Well, I hope you’ll let me know when your critique is published.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Upon close inspection, Professor Lessig does not really make substantive arguments. He makes claims to rile up the troops.

    I’ve stated time and time again the sheer absurdity of his history of innovation work. With patent policy, he’s even worse. His views on copyright at least allowed Professor Lessig to jump ship from “FOSS is more innovative” to “FOSS preserves culture;” when FOSS proved a tag along phenomenon.

    Lets see: my golf clubs, my car, my house, my culture… :)

    Note that Professor Lessig is almost entirely ignored in industrialization and innovation policy literature. Nobody really bothers substantively critiquing his work.

    Now I say this but I recognize the value Professor Lessig provides: societal commentary. Everyone I’ve talked to who has seen Professor Lessig present, or studied under him, says that he is sincere and adamant about his beliefs. Nothing wrong with that: it makes him commendable. We benefit, to some extent, because Professor Lessig provides an odd balance. However, it would be a mistake to consider Professor Lessig as a serious innovation scholar rather than a necessary evil.

    To MikeT, perhaps you’ve only read some of my writings, but I’m a very big proponent of reverse engineering, legitimate fair use and maintaining “tailored” IP policies that serve their utilitarian goals. Tell me again though- why are current policies inadequate specifically for you.

    I agree with MikeT that it is techies who innovate, not policy makers. Policy is secondary to the innovation that occurs in technological spaces, but as long as there is a field of policy, those who shape it should approach issues with experience rather than with the (unconscious) purpose of deriding its importance and seriousness out of simple amateurishness.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Upon close inspection, Professor Lessig does not really make substantive arguments. He makes claims to rile up the troops.

    I’ve stated time and time again the sheer absurdity of his history of innovation work. With patent policy, he’s even worse. His views on copyright at least allowed Professor Lessig to jump ship from “FOSS is more innovative” to “FOSS preserves culture;” when FOSS proved a tag along phenomenon.

    Lets see: my golf clubs, my car, my house, my culture… :)

    Note that Professor Lessig is almost entirely ignored in industrialization and innovation policy literature. Nobody really bothers substantively critiquing his work.

    Now I say this but I recognize the value Professor Lessig provides: societal commentary. Everyone I’ve talked to who has seen Professor Lessig present, or studied under him, says that he is sincere and adamant about his beliefs. Nothing wrong with that: it makes him commendable. We benefit, to some extent, because Professor Lessig provides an odd balance. However, it would be a mistake to consider Professor Lessig as a serious innovation scholar rather than a necessary evil.

    To MikeT, perhaps you’ve only read some of my writings, but I’m a very big proponent of reverse engineering, legitimate fair use and maintaining “tailored” IP policies that serve their utilitarian goals. Tell me again though- why are current policies inadequate specifically for you.

    I agree with MikeT that it is techies who innovate, not policy makers. Policy is secondary to the innovation that occurs in technological spaces, but as long as there is a field of policy, those who shape it should approach issues with experience rather than with the (unconscious) purpose of deriding its importance and seriousness out of simple amateurishness.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Tim, I’ve found technical errors in Ed Felten’s writing as well, as he tends to simplify things for the lay audience. Putting down an absolute bandwidth limit certainly can be done, and many service providers do. But limiting BitTorrent streams as a separate action is also reasonable, as they move across several end points in an ISP’s network and thereby consume more bandwidth than most legitimate applications. Since about 90% of BitTorrent is illegal anyhow, an ISP is probably right to give it very poor service.

    I agree with Noel’s comments on Lessig completely.

    And at a high level, Castle is certainly right that most NN advocates are also anti-DRM; in fact, the only exception I’ve ever seen is Tim Lee. It seems that NN support is a matter of following the fashion for a certain group of people, and among that group DRM is out of fashion, for stated reasons that are quite similar to those for NN: it’s a way of getting back at the “bad corporate people” who want to make profits at the expense of all the pimply-faced download artists of the world.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Tim, I’ve found technical errors in Ed Felten’s writing as well, as he tends to simplify things for the lay audience. Putting down an absolute bandwidth limit certainly can be done, and many service providers do. But limiting BitTorrent streams as a separate action is also reasonable, as they move across several end points in an ISP’s network and thereby consume more bandwidth than most legitimate applications. Since about 90% of BitTorrent is illegal anyhow, an ISP is probably right to give it very poor service.

    I agree with Noel’s comments on Lessig completely.

    And at a high level, Castle is certainly right that most NN advocates are also anti-DRM; in fact, the only exception I’ve ever seen is Tim Lee. It seems that NN support is a matter of following the fashion for a certain group of people, and among that group DRM is out of fashion, for stated reasons that are quite similar to those for NN: it’s a way of getting back at the “bad corporate people” who want to make profits at the expense of all the pimply-faced download artists of the world.

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