André Torrez writes why he will buy an iPad this weekend:
“If VHS home recording is made legal then our industry is ruined.”
“If CD quality music is allowed to be sold then our industry is ruined.”
“If DAT is made legal then our industry is ruined.”
“If the Rio PMP3000 is allowed to be sold then our industry is ruined.”
“If file sharing is permitted then our industry is ruined.”
The tactic is as old as the hills and used by some pretty dishonest people in the last few years to combat technology they feared would upset the nice apple cart they’d set up.
I don’t think this is justification enough to buy an iPad but it is justification for citizens of the United Kingdom to oppose the Digital Economy Bill. I support copyright, of course I do, but copyright is a human invention and the acceleration of human innovation is now hidebound by laws enacted when technology was in its infancy. Corporate interests now keep our writers’ works bound in law for 75 years after their death even when they have no descendants (I have a personal bet that copyright laws will be extended again in the UK before the end of 2012 – mark my words!). Wake up people – we’re being robbed of our heritage. In the olden days, we were DRM-free. We easily copied materials between us and making a living as an artist was fraught with peril. Copyright was introduced to help that and it helps artists make a living even when their creations are copied. But there has to be a sensible limit – it’s not meant to be in perpetuity. When you create something, when you have a performance, it’s not meant to secure an income for the entire length of your life and the length of life of your descendants. Let them create something too! Copyright, designed to protect the incomes of artists, ends up stifling artists because they lose one of their incentives to create, put simply: hunger
Here in the UK, we’re going to be paying 50 pence a month additional tax to fund an initiative which will put 2 Mbps broadband into every home in the nation. While I applaud the plan, I have grave concerns over how it has been thought through. Supplying broadband is part of the puzzle – what about the hardware to run it on? What about the electricity to power it? Will this empower or destroy smaller internet service providers?
But more importantly – what are the social implications of this. Just as there are naysayers who don’t think the iPad is a viable (let alone well executed) device and cannot see past their blinkers on what their definition of a mobile computing device is, there are similar limitations on what is possible with broadband for all. Will this broadband be delivered by a provider who gives set-top boxes to everyone which run a cut down thin client? Will the browser included be standards compliant? (I was present at a recent presentation to Belfast City Council where a solution was being offered for set-top boxes which would put everyone’s browser a version behind the current, control access to Facebook and Youtube, force Council-related advertising and was prepared to offer “Secure by Design, because it’s Ethernet”. Now, as a once-techie I have no fucking idea what that last bullet point was meant to mean but to be honest I’d already switched off from the presentation long before that porky-pie and considered it a very bad idea.
There is no way that the UK is ready for a 100% broadband uptake either in terms of social capability or technical ability. We need more than just lines into houses – we need social reform, we need the government to take charge and not be so lily-livered about “new” media. We need them to open their doors and allow complete transparency. Then, after all of that, maybe then we’ll be ready for everyone to be online.