Cory Doctorow is a science fiction writer. He makes a living doing that, even though (he would say *because*) he makes his new books available for free download. He is also a passionate spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He made a fascinating, right-on speech,(no, lecture) to Microsoft's Research Group a couple days ago about the evils of DRM. Via Lessig:
When MP3 rolled around and Sony's walkman customers were clamoring for a solid-state MP3 player, Sony let its music business-unit run its show. . . .They spent good money engineering "features" into these devices that kept their customers from freely moving their music back and forth between their devices. Customers stayed away in droves. Today, Sony is dead in the water when it comes to walkmen. . . .That's because Sony shipped a product that there was no market demand for. No Sony customer woke up one morning and said, "Damn, I wish Sony would devote some expensive engineering effort in order that I may do less with my music." Presented with an alternative, Sony's customers enthusiastically jumped ship.The whole thing is informative and a fabulous read.
The same thing happened to a lot of people I know who used to rip their CDs to WMA. You guys sold them software that produced smaller, better-sounding rips than the MP3 rippers, but you also fixed it so that the songs you ripped were device-locked to their PCs. What that meant is that when they backed up their music to another hard-drive and reinstalled their OS (something that the spyware and malware wars has made more common than ever), they discovered that after they restored their music that they could no longer play it. The player saw the new OS as a different machine, and locked them out of their own music.
There is no market demand for this "feature." None of your customers want you to make expensive modifications to your products that make backing up and restoring even harder.
I'm a Microsoft customer. Like millions of other Microsoft customers, I want a player that plays anything I throw at it, and I think that you are just the company to give it to me.
Yes, this would violate copyright law as it stands, but Microsoft has been making tools of piracy that change copyright law for decades now. Outlook, Exchange and MSN are tools that abet widescale digital infringement.
More significantly, IIS and your caching proxies all make and serve copies of documents without their authors' consent, something that, if it is legal today, is only legal because companies like Microsoft went ahead and did it and dared lawmakers to prosecute.
Microsoft stood up for its customers and for progress, and won so decisively that most people never even realized that there was a fight.
Do it again! This is a company that looks the world's roughest, toughest anti-trust regulators in the eye and laughs. Compared to anti-trust people, copyright lawmakers are pantywaists. You can take them with your arm behind your back.