It’s Mine… Except I Didn’t Read The Fine Print.

Progress may be slow around these parts, but at least it means we’re still moving forward.

Last Friday the word came out that Congress (yeah, them!) were finally pulling their heads out and drafting legislation to address one of the colossal problems inherent in the DMCA: the illegality of unlocking cell phone technology.  Heaven forbid you should be able to do whatever you want with something you own.  

Despite this potential good news, there still remains a sticking point of the bill is its application to ebook technology.  Amazon is notorious for its draconian measures in regulating Kindle content, and the irony of that incident being the books in question were written by George Orwell is stunning.  And they still don’t even have to tell you why they remove content if they don’t want to.  If you’re the spiritual type this would be a really bad omen.

Of course it’s not mine… I bought it.

I don’t pretend to fully comprehend all the intricacies of Internet and Digital Domain laws.  I understand that there are legitimate concerns regarding the accessibility of digital media and its proprietary rights.  But at the heart of consumerism, at the core of capitalism- and the very basis of the industry’s argument against unlocking digital technology- is that once you acquire something, it belongs to you and you can do whatever you like with it.  If you’re a consumer, then you only have licensing.  Limited licensing.  In short- it’s theirs since they made it, but not yours since you paid them for it.  If you’re of a mind, consider signing up for the Fix the DMCA petition.

As we speak if I buy a book, cd, dvd, jacket, shirt or hooker, if I want to loan it out to someone, I can do it.  For as long as I want.  If I buy an Aston Martin, strip it down and convert it into a piece of shit IROC, that’s my business.  But if I buy a $0.99 ebook and want to share it with a friend, I’m a felon waiting for the soap.  Which is really funny now that Amazon has acquired the rights to sell used ebooks. But you and I still can’t.  Further info regarding the Unlocking Technology Act of 2013 can be found here.
This was the same argument with the advent of both cds and cassette tapes.  Blank cassettes allowed you to record vinyl, other cassettes and cds, yet despite the cries of the record industry, profits never slowed, even with the arrival of CD burners.  Same went with movies- VCRs exploded on the market, sales of blank tapes skyrocketed… and copyguard was born.  That worked out equally well, especially when dvd recorders emerged.  Seems like one hand didn’t quite know what the other is doing.
They see me rollin’… they hatin’… cause they all know that I’m Ridin’ Dirty…
Shit’s pretty damn good, btw
There’s no easy solution to this.  Blanket protections either way won’t solve anything- the scales are already weighted down on one side; switching the load over won’t help anything.  Like most cases, protections have to exist for both sides of the argument.  And as in most cases, some things are simply not negotiable or up for discussion.  And the fundamental concept that when I buy something I own it, is one of them.

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