Monday, September 20, 2010

Corey Doctorow's Rant on Property Laws that Leave You Propertyless

The new corporate model for "property rights" is to remove your right to "property" and turn everybody into renters for life:
Intel's latest business-model takes a page out of Hollywood's playbook: they're selling processors that have had some of their capabilities crippled (some of the cache and the hyperthreading support are switched off). For $50, they'll sell you a code that will unlock these capabilities. Conceptually, this is similar to the DRM notion that I can sell you a movie that you can watch on one screen for $5 today, and if you want to unlock your receiver's wireless output so you can watch it upstairs, it'll be another $5.
I remember the first time someone from the studios put this position to me. It was a rep from the MPAA at a DRM standards meeting, and that was just the example he used. He said: "When you buy a movie to watch in your living room, we're only selling you the right to see it in your living room. Sending the same show upstairs to watch in your bedroom has value, and if it has value, we should be able to charge money for it."

This idea, which Siva Vaidhyanathan calls "If value, then right," sounds reasonable on its face. But it's a principle that flies in the face of the entire human history of innovation. By this reasoning, the company that makes big tins of juice should be able to charge you extra for the right to use the empty cans to store lugnuts; the company that makes your living room TV should be able to charge more when you retire it to the cottage; the company that makes your coat-hanger should be able to charge more when you unbend it to fish something out from under the dryer.

Moreover, it's an idea that is fundamentally anti-private-property. Under the "If value, then right" theory, you don't own anything you buy. You are a mere licensor, entitled to extract only the value that your vendor has deigned to provide you with. The matchbook is to light birthday candles, not to fix a wobbly table. The toilet roll is to hold the paper, not to use in a craft project. "If value, then right," is a business model that relies on all the innovation taking place in large corporate labs, with none of it happening at the lab in your kitchen, or in your skull. It's a business model that says only companies can have the absolute right of property, and the rest of us are mere tenants.
Read the whole post by Corey Doctorow.

Here is the original post on that caught Corey Doctorow's eye and raised his ire. If you liked Corey's above post, you will probably enjoy his post "Business Software Alliance deploys yet another BS study to "prove" fighting piracy creates zillions of jobs". And, you can get a full dose of Corey by watching this hour lecture...

I wonder when door manufacturers will come to realize the "value added" of setting up a "per use" lock on the doors in your house. Every time you want to go from room to room you would have to pay a "rent" to the door manufacturer because you are using his "intellectual property" the is embodied in that wondrous science of door hinges, door knobs, and planks. Why not have fork manufacturers put a lock on your fork and charge you a "per bite fee" for every time you life a bit of food to your mouth? The possibilities for corporate lucre are endless!

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