[EAS]Censorship in Products

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Jun 4 15:11:42 EDT 2003

Subject:   Censorship in Products

(from INNOVATION, 4 June 2003)

Increasingly, technology makers are tamper-proofing products to make
them  secure and prevent pirating, but critics contend they're
stifling innovation in the process. Technology producers are
asserting an unprecedented degree of control over their goods, even
after they're paid for and in the hands of customers. This clashes
with the freedom that users have long taken for granted. The same
powerful trends that have brought tremendous leaps in performance,
ubiquitous microprocessors, cheap digital  storage, and virtually
free data transmission are making possible new ways for technology
makers to control the behavior of users. These developments reek of
Big Brother, complains Edward Tenner, author of "Why Things Bite 
Back." Tenner says technology makers increasingly prefer
incapacitation to  control users' behavior. Why pay lawyers when you
can simply tweak your products to keep buyers from using them in
unsanctioned ways, e.g., burning music to CDs? Why should legitimate
owners of CDs or DVDs object? The copy protection controls can
degrade audio and video quality, Tenner says. Even  some electrical
engineers acknowledge that people with discerning ears may be able
to distinguish the difference between an original and a copy. Audio
Revolution magazine reported that DVD players constructed without
the internal conversions between digital and analog formats --
circuits included by industry agreement purely to foil piracy --
produce "stunning" images compared to those from conventional
players. (Technology Review Jun  2003)

This also relates to earlier mailings to this list, relating to
aspects of ownership, e.g.

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