TCPA Opportunity?

by Rasmus Lerdorf

The whole TCPA/Palladium outlook is rather bleak and depressing to me. Makes me want to go out and buy a Krispy Kreme franchise instead of spending all my time sitting in front of computers. For those of you who somehow haven't heard about TCPA and M$ Palladium, read this overview.



But, instead of making donuts or moving to Utah, we could take a positive look at this. It may just be the final straw required for a lot of people to abandon the Wintel monopoly. The majority of users are still a very pragmatic bunch that will follow current trends like lemmings, so I have no doubt that Palladium will get a majority of the market. The big question is how big will the alternative market be. The nice thing about TCPA/Palladium is that there will be a very clear separation. You are either running TCPA or you aren't. The bigger the side that reject the TCPA gets, the more power we will have. If we are big enough and we show enough perserverance that content providers won't be able to ignore use as a market, then we will have beaten the TCPA. And in this I see opportunity. Today there are countries that have rejected M$ technologies because they are weary of having an American corporation with so much control over their critical systems. If M$ and Intel go all out with TCPA/Palladium then I think many more countries will object because by its very nature TCPA introduces external control. These countries and people will be looking for alternatives and in most aspects there are already very viable technological alternatives. People just need the motivation to make the switch (I sound like an Apple commercial) and I think TCPA/Palladium will outrage enough people into this switch.



Speaking of Apple, one has to wonder where it fits in on this. I would very much like to say I was sure that Apple would be anti-TCPA and would be standing by our sides in our defiance against seemingly insurmountable odds. But with their past history of actions, specifically the way they presented their iDVD product where they failed to mention anywhere that it is not a full-featured DVD writer but rather a cripple-drive not capable of writing the key-blocks needed to make backup copies of dvds or even copy-protect your own works.



Building copy-protection and big-brother like monitoring into hardware. Forcing the masses to use it through existing monopolies. Stifling any sort of reverse engineering and innovation through legislation such as the DMCA. These all contribute to make sure that innovation will grind to a halt and existing large companies will be able to solidify their positions and ensure longterm earnings without worrying about some troublesome little company coming up with something cool and innovative that might serve to threaten their strangehold on their customers.



The motivation for this is clear with respect to the large companies involved. They have to do what it takes to ensure profits for their shareholders. The legislation that supports and encourages this view of the world is much more troublesome. What is the motivation behind this? That our society as a whole has reached its technological pinnacle? There is nothing else to be invented? So we legislate away innovation and focus on ensuring corporate profitability based on existing technologies and the few things various large corporations might choose to innovate that doesn't threaten their existing earnings? And this is presumably done to ensure a good economy so people will have jobs and lead happy lives. That doesn't really sound plausible, but if that isn't the motivation, then the only real answer is that the legislation is not focused on improving our society in any way, the government is not working for the people, but rather is merely implementing parts of the overall corporate policies of the companies with the most legislative influence.



2 Comments

shiflett
2002-07-05 11:13:58
Perspectives
I must say it's nice to see you with a weblog, Rasmus. I enjoy hearing your intelligent perspectives.


I think you bring up a very good point about the motivation of legislators:


"What is the motivation behind this? That our society as a whole has reached its technological pinnacle? There is nothing else to be invented? So we legislate away innovation and focus on ensuring corporate profitability based on existing technologies and the few things various large corporations might choose to innovate that doesn't threaten their existing earnings?"


I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I tend to think that legislators simply don't realize that there is a tradeoff here. Some see the success of American business as an essential characterstic of a successful American government. They have the perspective that they are "protecting" existing business rather than unfairly granting them advantages that stifle innovation and competition.


"And this is presumably done to ensure a good economy so people will have jobs and lead happy lives."


This statement probably has a lot of truth to it. It's very similar to people who "clear out" smaller trees in order to preserve the health of an older, larger tree in their yard. They don't care which one would be better; one is here now and it seems just fine.


While this approach may suffice for trees, the lack of long-term vision is more dangerous when applied to our economy.

anonymous2
2002-11-09 19:44:18
World will stop rotating shall copies stop to work
I really think that all the Open Source community will just gain weight once the pirated software becomes unusable. The crackers and crack-users are clever people and will find their ways. Many will join to build the Open Source many will join to use it.


I'd say this will be the last MS succesful product. Beyond that is only the dark for MS. I am all up for having Palladium on the market and teach people that there are free alternatives.


Maxim Maletsky
maxim@php.net