digital rights

0A FA 12 03 9E 75 E4 5C D9 42 57 C6 64 57 89 C1

I’ve got back to a “proper” wired connection to find much furore over a sequence of hexadecimal digits. Apparently there’s some connection between those digits and the copy protection on BluRay DVDs, and there are threats of invoking the US’s DCMA law to contain the spread of these numbers.

But how far can you go to control digits? I’ve given this post a title of a series of hexadecimal number. Does this mean I might have done something wrong, even if I’ve just plucked those digits randomly? It’s just a sequence.

Combined with other information, for example the starting digits of the controversial sequence, and it might be possible for the educated to extrapolate a conclusion. But then who has erred in the eyes of the law?

As the value of abstract concepts soars, the stakes in protecting apparently arbitrary information becomes far higher. Submarine patents and software patents are other dangerously precidential areas for dispute. How do you draw the line between protecting an investment in content or technology, and protecting people’s freedom to exchange information without fear of inadvertently transgressing the law?

I’ve been shocked in the past at the breadth of patenting of what I would consider “plain common sense” technology. I’ve seen ideas I’ve just “chucked about” with people, patented. There appears to be a seedy side to patenting which is opportunistic and underhand, and discredits the genuine intent to protect investment in innovation.

As to this specific example? My view is that all DRM is merely shoring up dykes against a huge pressure to allow content to move about freely, and the lawyers are little Dutch boys running around plugging the holes. That might be what the DCMA demands, but who wants a career based on sticking their fingers in dykes?

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