Obama's Gift To British Prime Minister Rendered Useless By DRM

from the learning-process dept

A few years back, it emerged that US Senator Ted Stevens had been given an iPod by his daughter, and it had changed the way he saw the RIAA and the measures for which it lobbied. It's always seemed to me that once politicians -- at least those not beholden to the entertainment industry -- experienced the stupidity and frustration of the locks and controls that groups like the RIAA and MPAA put on content and want backed up by law, they'd realize they were little more than attempts to frustrate consumers and prop up outmoded business models. Maybe the UK is prepared for a similar political inflection point: its Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was recently given a gift of 25 DVDs of classic American movies by US President Barack Obama. When Brown sat down to watch one of them, he found he couldn't -- because Obama had given him Region 1 DVDs, unplayable in Brown's Region 2 DVD player. The pointless DRM didn't stop any piracy, it prevented an absolutely reasonable use of legitimately purchased content. Maybe this experience will help the British government understand how many of the entertainment industry's efforts to strengthen intellectual property controls do little more than irritate legitimate consumers in the name of supporting failing business models.

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  1. icon
    Alex (profile), 22 Mar 2009 @ 1:26pm

    Trade restraint

    If it were about *governments* explicitly regulating DVD disks and players so that DVDs purchased in one country would not be playable on players sold in another country, it would undoubtedly be classed as unlawful trade restraint under WTO rules, and stopped. But since it's a private body (DVD-CCA) doing it, there is apparently nothing stopping it (AFAIK (IANAL) the WTO has no control over actions by private bodies... altho' a case could perhaps be made that DMCA-like laws banning the bypassing of region codes mean that governments are effectively promoting such trade restraints).

    Apparently the DVD-CCA wanted to have separate regions within the EU, but were slapped down because the EU is a single market, so such trade restraints are forbidden within it. That's what a free market is supposed to be about --- anyone can buy things from anywhere. Wierd Harold seems to have a warped view of how markets should work: his view is essentially corporatist, as he apparently believes that businesses should be allowed to conspire to distort markets to their benefit at the expense of legitimate consumers. That is not how a free market is supposed to work. Every well-run capitalist economy has laws preventing companies from doing exactly that within its market. And so it should be the same globally. If the cheapest legtitimate DVDs are sold in Thailand, then consumers in Europe should not be artificially prevented from buying them in the Thai market and playing them in legitinately purchased equipment in their homes. It's as simple as that. Unfortunately ther is not enough international law to prevent businesses (as opposed to nations) from restraining trade against the public interest.

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