Does DRM Impact Democracy?
from the questions-questions dept
jar writes "If you think DRM only effects your music collection, think again. It goes to the very heart of democracy. While most consumers associate DRM with what happens on their iPod, Bruce Perens discusses how policies that propose "eliminating piracy" actually limit political freedoms. DRM is far from just another consumer issue when legislative efforts like PERFORM and the WIPO broadcasting treaty aim to protect proprietary formats and put choice in the hands of just a few." Specifically, Perens is talking about the legislation we've discussed in the past that would require DRM on streaming audio, noting that this could hold back the discussion. The real situation here is that these laws are misplaced. They're trying to help protect the traditional one-to-many broadcast model of content production on systems that have historically been many-to-many communications platforms. The problem in doing so is that in order to enforce the one-to-many system, you often have to block out parts of the many-to-many system. That's breaking the system to protect one particular business model. The argument, then, is that forcing DRM on a communications system limits the ability of people to communicate -- and, if good communications and discourse is the key to a functioning democracy, forcing DRM on methods of communication could stifle democracy. Obviously, some may see this as a bit of a stretch, but it is at least worth recognizing that there are unintended consequences in calling in regulators to prop up a single business model -- especially when the changes required impact plenty of other systems.