What happens when there’s DRM on everything?

Tuesday January 24th 2006, 10:59 pm

tarmle: Burnoff: Part 1 - The Bad Guys Win

Physical bookshops are a novelty now; they only sell works that are in the public domain, and only to a few die-hard paper enthusiasts. Their prices rise steadily as demand drops and the printing and binding industry falters. Tightened regulation has made it illegal to sell second hand books that are still under copyright - the bookshops will sometimes give the customer a few cents for old books, part of a commission they receive for sending them off to be destroyed by the publishers. Public libraries have almost disappeared - unable to adapt to an environment where more and more books were only available in locked digital formats, they were forced to close all but the largest repositories - and even those are rapidly becoming obsolete. The last book you tried to download to you eReader turned out to be incompatible. The latest novels are now being streamed as well, one page at a time, and you’ll have to buy a new reader that supports wireless quantum encryption. It seems odd that you’re old enough to remember when photocopiers were still legal.

The only way writers can get their novels read, or musicians have their music heard, is by signing with a content provider who will claim the work as their own and charge people for access. It’s nearly impossible for artists to make money anymore. The celebrities you read about, the millionaires who’s contribution to the industry was actually rewarded, are a microscopic minority. But wasn’t it always that way? There is nothing to stop an author from reading a work aloud in public, or a band from performing to a live audience, but few beyond that space will hear it. Hardly anyone has access to the technology that would let them record what they’re hearing, at least not in any permanent form, and even fewer have the means to share it once they have. And god forbid the artists accidentally use a sentence or lyric already claimed by one of the corporations…


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