I thought Digital Rights Management was dying when iTunes no longer required it. I was wrong. It’s sneaking into HTML, it’s in coffee machines, it’s being discussed for JPEG, it’s led to the introduction of boot lockers to prevent users from modifying the operating system on their machine.
So what? Surely copyright holders have the right to protect their content, no matter that the entire music industry could be bought out with Google or Apple’s spare change. Surely they need the money to support the poor struggling up and coming artists, who they can’t afford to pay from streaming revenues. Surely we should just let Hollywood have their way?
And anyway, doesn’t restricting operating systems and the software we can install protect us from the bad guys? Apple will keep us safe in their protected iOS and App Store, right?
When you restrict tools via drm, only the professionals can use the full tools, but where do the next professionals come from? We’re suffering from a shortage of people who want to learn to develop software, and we’re putting extra barriers in place, so that we need specialist devices for teaching development in the form of the Raspberry Pi and others, because the main machines we use are locked down and restricted.
Knives are dangerous and they can kill, so Scotland has restrictions on their sale and carrying them, but we still teach children to cook, sharp knives and tools for sharpening them are still widely available, and you don’t need to be a licenced chef to use a real knife.
If we can trust society enough that we don’t need plastic knives outside preschool, fast food vendors and cheap airlines, why can’t we trust them with access to a fully functional computer?