As Jello Biafra once said, I believe during the HOPE conference, but I can't be sure, we are moving beyond simple capitalism and into a world of corporate feudalism. And our lords are becoming jealous lords. The push for protection of intellectual property (as if it's actually being infringed) appears to be almost paranoiac these days. The MPAA and the RIAA suing anyone and everyone for movie and music piracy--even those who don't have computers. Even suing Girl Scouts for singing copyrighted songs around the campfire.
Guitar tablature and lyrics sites are also taking the fall right about now. MxTabs.net, once one of the best resources for drum, bass, and guitar tabs on the internet was threatened with legal action by the music publishing industry until they took their site off the web. They returned briefly for awhile after several months, and then vanished again, informing us that the "new, all legal MxTabs will return." Giving more information, they revealed that it would be all legal to put up tabs on songs that they purchased licenses for. Not only that, but these licenses only grant the right for MxTabs to host personal interpretations of songs that their users work out by ear.
It is clearly a crappy time to want to enjoy anything on the internet. But it's the internet, when you get right down to it, that caused all of this. The internet is an example of an anarchic and socialist model. Nobody is in charge. Nobody has to pay anything to download Casino Royale off of Suprnova. It's just there, to be enjoyed. And yet the Motion Picture Association of America still continues to profit.
Doesn't this all have an air of desperation? Not convinced?
Windows Vista is the first OS ever constructed to take the right to use one's computer right out of the user's hands and place it in the hands of the Microsoft corporation. Digital Rights Movement protocols are written in between every function of Vista. Only DRM approved hardware (no generic stuff here! and you can bet your ass no outdated stuff, either) can play DRM improved DVDs and Blu-Rays on DRM approved monitors. Want to do something Microsoft doesn't want you to do? It isn't going to happen.
These corporations are desperate because of one thing. It used to be, there was only one way to get your hands on an entire album published by the RIAA. You could either buy it from a store, or be given it as a gift or a loan. You wanted to see a movie, you bought it or saw it at the theaters. When the tape recorder hit the market, the media giants first started to shake in their boots. The invention of the personal computer, especially in its current form, created a whole new multi-media platform. Another way to watch or listen to media produced by those very media giants. Throw in the internet, and the ability to store this media as data in a concrete location on your hard-drive, and you've got the very foundation of file-sharing.
These media giants have been used to decades of doing business one way, and now that there is a new variable in their market, they simply feel threatened. And rather than try and adapt to the new world like some smaller companies (such as Adult Swim, on whose website you can watch pretty much every new episode of every show they put out) they are trying to change the world back to suit them. An ancient, classic terrible last move.
These giants are dying because they can't face up to the fact that their model of business doesn't even exist anymore. They don't have a monopoly, and they can't get one back. And so, like a terrible monster that's been given the final blow, they're flailing uncontrollably in their death throes. And nothing could possibly be more dangerous.
In a sense, this could be considered a dark time. That feeling oppression that usually comes into mind with the word "master" is now more and more present with "Microsoft" and "government." In the days ahead, the only way to make sure that our model of digital exploration survives is to keep going, regardless of the new laws, regardless of the lawsuits, regardless of the claims of an obviously commercially owned government. To persevere in our way of life at this point in time is absolutely paramount.
We're in a deadly game of chicken, now. And we absolutely cannot flinch, and neither can they.
But we do have one distinct advantage.
We're not dying.
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