Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead
I’ve been following the controversy and conversation around Digg, HD-DVD keys, and the AACS-LA response. I’ve found the following to be among the more thoughtful and useful posts on the topic for my interests:
- Digg Users Revolt Over AACS Key
- AACS Plays Whack-a-Mole with Extracted Key
- EFF explains the law on AACS keys
- 09 f9: A Legal Primer
My views on copy protection and DRM (digital restrictions management/digital rights management) have generally been more pragmatic than ideological or policy oriented. I think the evidence suggests that copy protection and DRM schemes generally don’t accomplish what they ostensibly claim to. They don’t stop anyone who wishes to circumvent them, and they increase costs and interfere with the rights of those who do play by the rules.
In this most recent incident, we’re discovering that the latest generation of technology tools and services with explicitly social components are even farther ahead of law and policy than usual. “Cease and desist” letters begin to lose their effectiveness when the number of “offenders” starts to expand exponentially. “Deep pockets” lose their effectiveness when the conflict becomes asymmetrical.
The decision makers here are not stupid people, despite what their responses might suggest. On the other hand, they do appear to be “net deaf” or “net blind.” Their judgment is formed and informed by long experience in linear environments. Whether they can compensate for that experience in a changing world is problematic. Ed Yourdon in another post that just hit my feed reader offers some thoughts on why it may remain difficult.
The problems of hierarchy are largely invisible from the top. The power of new networks is hard to appreciate if you don’t immerse yourself in it. It’s a bit like trying to coach a sport that you’ve never played. There’s only so much you can learn by watching from the sidelines. If you want to make sound decisions, you need to invest in acquiring the requisite experience.