Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Beyond madness: big media and big politics

I ranted a bit ago about the "BrainLock" technology of 2040 that will shut the final loopholes in digital rights management. I figured it was a good wild-eyed rant.

But then, a day later, another story makes my scenario seem all to likely:
EFF: DeepLinks

[if the proposed legislation passes ...] Every consumer analog video input device manufactured in the United States will be, within a year, forced to obey not one, but two new copy restriction technologies: a watermarking system called VEIL, and a rights system called CGMS-A (we've covered CGMS-A before; we'll talk a bit more about VEIL soon).

And what might these MPAA-specified, government-mandated technologies do?

They prescribe how many times (if at all) the analog video signal might be copied - and enforce it. This is the future world that was accidentally triggered for TiVo users a few months ago, when viewers found themselves lectured by their own PVR that their recorded programs would be deleted after a few days.

But it won't just be your TiVo: anything that brings analog video into the digital world will be shackled. Forget about buying a VCR with an un-DRMed digital output. Forget about getting a TV card for your computer that will willingly spit out an open, clear format.

Forget, realistically, that your computer will ever be under your control again. To allow any high-res digitization to take place at all, a new graveyard of digital content will have to built within your PC.

Freshly minted digital video from authorised video analog-to-digital converters will be marshalled here and here only, where they will be forced to comply with the battery of restrictions dictated by Hollywood.

In this Nightmare Before Turing, video content will be crippled, far more than it ever was in its old analog home. They will only be able to be recorded using "Authorized Recording Methods", or "Bound Recording Methods", and the entire subsystem will have to obey "robustness" requirements that will make circumvention for fair use - and open source development in general - near impossible.

The unprotected analog outputs of computers will be, in perpetuity, restricted to either DRM-laden standards, or to a "constrained image", "no more than 350,000 pixels". Analog video which has been branded as "do not copy", will last for only ninety minutes only in the digital world - and will be erased, literally frame by frame, megabyte by megabyte, from your PC, without your control. You'll watch a two hour film, and as you watch the final half hour, the first few scenes will be being dissolved away by statute.

Moore's Law won't dictate how technology might improve and innovate any longer: in this Halloween future, the new limit for technological innovation is No More's Law, where your specs are spelled out and frozen by Congress in a law drafted by standards that were laughable in the last century.
There's more. If we had an average government this wouldn't happen, but we're afflicted with what may be one of the worst governments (executive and legislative) in the history of the Republic. This government allows this sort of thing to happen and to become law.

The bright side? The American public appears to be in a deep coma. It's electroshock therapy like this bill that might wake them up and bring in a reform government. So, Bush et al, "bring it on". Pass more laws like this. Lots more. Americans need some serious voltage applied ...

It's good news for books though.

No comments: