DRM og retten til at eje en computer

Cory Doctorow har en lang artikel på Boing Boing, hvor han forklarer hvorfor DRM aldrig vil virke, og hvorfor kampen for at gennemtvinge kopibeskyttelse og afbryde adgangen til The Pirate Bay og diverse andre “uønskede” hjemmesider kun kan lykkes, hvis man forbyder folk at have computere.

Doctorow sammenligner denne type lovgivning med den situation, der ville opstå, hvis man med henvisning til et stigende antal bankrøverier ville forbyde biler at have hjul. Det er et vigtigt argument. Artiklen er værd at læse i sin helhed, men nedenstående citat fanger en central politisk pointe:

The important tests of whether or not a regulation is fit for a purpose are first whether it will work, and second whether or not it will, in the course of doing its work, have effects on everything else. If I wanted Congress, Parliament, or the E.U. to regulate a wheel, it’s unlikely I’d succeed. If I turned up, pointed out that bank robbers always make their escape on wheeled vehicles, and asked, “Can’t we do something about this?”, the answer would be “No”. This is because we don’t know how to make a wheel that is still generally useful for legitimate wheel applications, but useless to bad guys. We can all see that the general benefits of wheels are so profound that we’d be foolish to risk changing them in a foolish errand to stop bank robberies. Even if there were an epidemic of bank robberies—even if society were on the verge of collapse thanks to bank robberies—no-one would think that wheels were the right place to start solving our problems.

However, if I were to show up in that same body to say that I had absolute proof that hands-free phones were making cars dangerous, and I requested a law prohibiting hands-free phones in cars, the regulator might say “Yeah, I’d take your point, we’d do that.”

We might disagree about whether or not this is a good idea, or whether or not my evidence made sense, but very few of us would say that once you take the hands-free phones out of the car, they stop being cars.

We understand that cars remain cars even if we remove features from them. Cars are special-purpose, at least in comparison to wheels, and all that the addition of a hands-free phone does is add one more feature to an already-specialized technology. There’s a heuristic for this: special-purpose technologies are complex, and you can remove features from them without doing fundamental, disfiguring violence to their underlying utility.

This rule of thumb serves regulators well, by and large, but it is rendered null and void by the general-purpose computer and the general-purpose network—the PC and the Internet. If you think of computer software as a feature, a computer with spreadsheets running on it has a spreadsheet feature, and one that’s running World of Warcraft has an MMORPG feature. The heuristic would lead you to think that a computer unable to run spreadsheets or games would be no more of an attack on computing than a ban on car-phones would be an attack on cars.

And, if you think of protocols and websites as features of the network, then saying “fix the Internet so that it doesn’t run BitTorrent”, or “fix the Internet so that thepiratebay.org no longer resolves,” sounds a lot like “change the sound of busy signals,” or “take that pizzeria on the corner off the phone network,” and not like an attack on the fundamental principles of internetworking.

The rule of thumb works for cars, for houses, and for every other substantial area of technological regulation. Not realizing that it fails for the Internet does not make you evil, and it does not make you an ignoramus. It just makes you part of that vast majority of the world, for whom ideas like Turing completeness and end-to-end are meaningless.

Læs det hele.

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