Tue Mar 19 11:53:54 EST 2013

Why build the mechanism if every policy sucks?

So. The new Simcity came out, with always-online DRM (digital restrictions that only allow you to play if you're online). EA claimed that a constant Internet connection was necessary so clients could offload computations to EA's servers. Except that it's a total bald-faced lie.

In other news, the online manga publisher JManga announced its imminent closure. Once they shut down, what happens to their customers' purchases? They're gone, too bad, you can't download them. This isn't the first time that this sort of thing has happened (Wal*Mart Music, MSN Music, Yahoo Music). Once again, DRM only hurts legitimate users.

And now the lobbyists (including, amazingly enough, the BBC) are trying to get DRM into HTML. To put restrictions on web-delivered media, when the main reason the Internet worked so well is because commercial interests weren't part of the original design.

In the interests of hyperbole, I'd go so far as to suggest that at least 80% of the crap online is from people trying to make money out of the Internet. Spam? Annoying everyone to make money from the credulous. Facebook? Trapping your data and your social interactions so you can be farmed out to advertisers. Ads in general? Distracting you from what you actually want to do, to make money. DRM? Trying to control users because that's easier than changing a failing business model. (Most of the remainder is crap put up for the lulz and the tiny fraction left over is genuine technical suckage.)

There are people trying to derail the HTML DRM discussion by splitting hairs over mechanism vs. policy. Claiming that this is just a discussion of mechanisms and a sensible policy can be sorted out later. Don't be fooled. There is no reason to build a mechanism when every possible policy sucks. And worst of all? They're going to have the gall, the arrogance, to ask us programmers to build it for them. And someone will probably do it.

Why are we building our own prisons?

Posted by Jack Kelly | Permanent link | File under: rants