"If you buy a DVD you have a copy. If you want a backup copy you buy another one." --Jack Valenti
"I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." --Jack Valenti
And I say to you, sir, SHAKAPOW!
No other word embodies how I feel about the current status of copyright law and the painful trek it took to get where it's at today. SHAKAPOW!, to me, is the epitome of an emotional feeling so strong that it erupts forth in an otherwise unintelligible manner. Kind of like after I eat a steak fajita burrito from Chipotle. A feeling so strong, so guttural, and so pure, that no word in the English language can encompass it. SHAKAPOW! is not to be whispered, nor merely spoken in passing - it is only to be bellowed from the depths of your soul. Unfortunately, I use this holy word among holy words to express my frustration with the current copyright situation:
Is the DOJ justified in treating illegal file swappers as terrorists trafficking in counterfeit drugs and cell phone batteries? SHAKAPOW! Can someone injunctify a public library for putting up a public text, which is in its public domain, for public consumption? SHAKAPOW! Are movie downloaders really going to make Manny lose his job because nobody is going to the movie theaters anymore, and yet somehow films like Ocean's Twelve are still generating almost $40 million in box office openings? SHAKAPOW!
Incidentally, did anyone actually go see Ocean's Twelve? Spoiler Alert: Were you as amazed as I was with the French thief's ability to use Capoeria, a Brazilian martial art, to dance his way through the most complex laser security system the world has ever seen, a la Britney Spears' Toxic music video? An excellent use of my $10, by the way. SHAKAPOW!
Increasing copyright durations does not encourage the creation of new works. So stop it.
I'd like to show you the center of my angst by borrowing from a previous post of mine. Let's take another look at the Copyright Duration Table of Justice:
|1790:||14 year copyright, 14 year renewal|
|1831:||28 year copyright, 14 year renewal|
|1909:||28 year copyright, 28 year renewal|
|1976:||Life of author + 50 years|
|1992:||Automatic copyright renewals|
|1998:||Life of author + 70 years|
|2010:||Life of author + 500 years|
Sweet Sassy Molassy, I think there's a trend here. Perhaps it's time to hit the internet in the face with what a copyright is supposed to accomplish by having a look-see at the ol' Constitution. You know, the thing that gives Congress and people like Hatch the authority to do things that give me ulcers. The U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to grant copyrights to "...promote the Progress of Science and useful arts, by securing for a limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." U.S. Const. art. I §8.
For a limited time, huh? As my fellow Mac enthusiast points out:
The Constitution did not intend to grant long term monopoly over IP. Instead, it sought to provide limited protection and encourage continued production. This limited protection has been far exceeded. Instead, the content lobby has effectively gained a lifetime+ monopoly.
Chris Sprigman also touches on the subject of the original intentions of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the rest of their crew with respect to copyrights: "The Framers of our Constitution viewed inventions and expression not as 'property,' but as public goods to which exclusive rights may be granted purely as a means of incenting production."
Take, for example, a person who wants to write a book. This book might take a year of hard work to write. Copyrights allow a temporary monopoly on a work so the author can at least have a fair shot at recouping his expenses and perhaps turn a profit as a result of his work, and thus copyrights give authors an incentive to create. And that's the purpose of a copyright - to incent invention. Without copyright protection, other people could take the book after it was published, make a bunch of copies, and sell 'em for less cash than what the author could afford to sell them at. So the copiers get easy $$$ while the poor author has to live in a box on the side of the street, wondering where his life took a turn for the worst and why he didn't choose to go to culinary school instead so that he may have one day competed in the Iron Chef Tournament of Champions.
Without copyright protection, nobody would want to be that first author who actually has to do the work, and so nobody would ever write a book. Unless they like living in a box on the side of a street. So copyrights are good. Well, I should say, copyrights were good. Now, as Dan Gillmore put it best, "...in this century of big and powerful media companies, Congress has turned the idea of "limited'' into something perversely long, with repeated extensions..."
Look at what prompted the Sonny Bono Act in 1998. Disney was all in a huff because the copyright on Steamboat Willie was about to expire in 2003. So Disney and its friends threw around more than $6.3 million in Washington to get copyright terms extended. Again. When Steamboat Willie is about to enter the public domain, again, you can bet your bottom dollar that Willie is going to get out his Visa and start buying votes in Congress. Again.
Does that sound like Congress is using copyrights to give authors an incentive to create?
The media companies want to lock down the works they own forever, which is not exactly for a limited time. Or as Valenti put it before he left the MPAA, copyrights should last "forever less one day."
This, in turn, prohibits others from building upon the works of their predecessors. In fancy-pants legal lingo, this is a bad thing. After all, copyrights are about an incentive to create. Once a copyright stops being an incentive to create and instead becomes a roadblock for future creation, the whole spirit behind copyright law (incentive to create!) gets thrown out the window. Creative progress is not about constantly reinventing the wheel all the time; it's about building upon the works in the public domain. Is Disney's monopoly over Willie for 70+ years really related to encouraging progress? I think not.
A wise man once said, "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." Cultural giants borrow because art doesn't exist in a vacuum - look at Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet borrowing from Arthur Brooke's poem Romeus and Juliet, Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story in turn borrowing from Romeo and Juliet, and Disney's whole Seven Dwarf troupe being borrowed from Rudyard Kipling's stories. I imagine Disney would be singing a different tune if Kipling had tried to lobby for an extension of his copyrighted works before Disney made eleventy billion dollars off of them.
Now then, I'm not an incarnation of Che here to advocate the obliteration of copyrights across the board. Copyrights, when not abused, do encourage the creation of new works and even go so far as to ensure the integrity of those works for a time. Just as the framers of the constitution intended. But just by looking at the Copyright Duration Table of Justice, it seems the spirit of copyright has been lost.
The answer? Well, I can't say for sure - but the current duration scheme is ridiculous and only looks to get worse. My gut tells me that the copyright schemes back in 1790, 1831 or 1909 were fair and so our copyright schemes need to regress back to the old school. Those durations seem to have the spirit of creation in mind along with the protection of the author's work for a limited time. I'm hesitant to come up with a specific duration number because today's technology must be accounted for in considering what copyright length promotes the maximum incentive to create - a task I happily pawn off to greater minds than my own.
But think as a copyfighter might, the problem still lies in the fact that fair ideas alone won't win against big media money. The only way our copyright scheme will get back on track towards being an incentive for creation is if, somehow, fair copyright duration arguments on the side of the copyfighters can match big media's money in favor of longer copyright durations. Call me cynical, but if I were a congressman and I had to choose between listening to me rant and rave or going out with Disney's money and buying a new yacht, I'd have to go with Disney.
I think a copyfighter needs money to fight money. And there are two ways to give copyfighters enough financial clout at the bargaining table to actually lend weight to their ideas:
1) Generate money for the cause: make an eff.orgish lobby group. The purpose of this group would only be to lobby against increasing copyright durations. The problem here is that I don't think the amount of donations needed to get this group up off the ground could come close to the millions available to the big media companies. Which brings me to option two...
2) Take away money against the cause: if we can't raise enough money on behalf of the copyfighters to be competitive at the same table with big media, then we can take money away from big media to even things up. And the way to do this is to inform the public of the truth. Inform Joe Consumer that big media's attempt to increase copyright durations is actually going to harm innovation in the long run. Tell him that if he'd like to help fight against big media and for fair copyright durations, don't buy their stuff.
Start by focusing in on one group...and right now it would probably be easiest to target one particular music label. Refuse to buy anything put out by that one music label. Encourage file-sharing in protest of big media's abuse of copyright durations. If enough consumers join in and make a dent in the label's bottom line, then maybe other big media companies would wake up and see that when they lobby for increased copyright durations, they're also lobbying against their consumer base. And if big media refuses to change, then maybe their bottom line would be dented enough to lower the amount available to lobby for increased copyright durations.
By generating pro-copyfighter lobbying funds while taking away from anti-copyfighter lobbying funds, the finances available to both groups to lobby would come (at least a little) closer together and maybe, just maybe, it would allow for congress to listen to the merits of a copyright duration argument instead of the ching-ching sounds of the cash register.
At least that's what my gut tells me needs to happen for copyright law to return to its roots as being an incentive to encourage the production of new works. But my gut also tells me to eat those fajita burritos from Chipotle, so take my advice with a grain a salt. And a tablet of Tums. SHAKAPOW!
Now that I've discussed the possible future of copyright, I would like to turn to future actions of the MPAA and RIAA to halt illegal file sharing under the current copyright regime. (See, I told you I'm not a copyright version of Che.)
Focus on offering a better alternative to illegal p2p file sharing, not on closing down the internet or increasing the prison population.
Some of the MPAA's and RIAA's copyright concerns are valid, and some are nothing more than an excuse to further strangle an already suffocating field. The common theme you will see over and over again is that of better alternatives. If a better alternative to illegal file sharing is presented, the masses will follow. In the p2p context, a "better" alternative would be something that provides faster access to a bigger library of higher quality materials at a cheap cost.
Faster access: fast download speeds, organized library to make finding media quick and easy
Bigger library: lots of media to download
Higher quality: encode the media at a high bitrate, offer various formats
Cheap cost: the cheaper, the better
If one of these elements is missing from a p2p client (i.e. cheap cost), then the other elements be really good (i.e. really wide library of media) in order to offset the missing element and make it the better alternative.
It's not enough to sue the wrongdoers - business models need to change. If the RIAA/MPAA offer a better alternative to illegal file sharing, then people would naturally gravitate towards the better alternative, as you'll see below.
The internet is about sharing. It's a giant p2p network. File sharing has been around since Al Gore first invented the internet way-back-when. BBS's and warez sites offered all sorts of free media. And don't forget about mIRC, where chatrooms would be devoted to specific genres of media - be it a specific type of movie, application or music. People would join these chat rooms and download to their hearts content.
But mIRC was a little funky, a little hard to use, and cumbersome to search. Warez sites were incredibly difficult to navigate. Buying stuff in the store was a better alternative than illegally downloading it. It just made more sense to go out and get a copy instead of waiting countless hours to attempt to download it.
When Napster came on the scene, things were turned upside down; it was almost a joy to use. With the advent of broadband, you never even had to take a shower in the morning and you could have Metallica's entire collection on your computer by dinner. Not that I take showers anyway, but you get the drift. Now, illegally downloading music was a better alternative than any legal alternative to purchasing music.
After Napster took a bullet, all the shiny and new p2p programs came out with the ability not only to share music but also able to share anything on your harddrive. And these programs really made things easy. Gone were the days of 1337 h4x0rz who had to scour the dark corners of the internet to get the latest jingle from Lindsay Lohan - it was now "okay" to illegally download stuff...particularly music.
File sharing is now a societal norm. File sharing is not a crime like throwing babies off a balcony; people are okay with it. Okay with file sharing, that is, not with throwing babies off a balcony. [Insert Michael Jackson joke.] Illegally downloading media is not the same as illegally jacking a CD or DVD out of Best Buy. The nonrivalrous nature of downloading goods (downloading a movie or song does not interfere with another person's enjoyment of that media, whereas shoplifting a CD out of Best Buy does) makes illegal downloading "okay" in today's society.
So lock 'em up, beat people up with a stick, sue them into the ground - nothing will change their minds unless the masses have a better, legal alternative to go to. Changing norms without a better alternative is an uphill battle that cannot be won:
The truth is, it's really hard to talk to people about not stealing music when there's no legal alternative. --Steve Jobs
Throwing people in jail is not going to change any norms of society (See Prohibition) if there's not a better alternative for the people. Neither is suing them into the ground. Without a better alternative, people will not stop sharing. Where are they to go? They've tasted the forbidden fruit and want more. If a better alternative to illegal file sharing is not presented, then nothing will change. Oh, the p2p programs might change and go further underground, but nothing will change as far as people wanting to stop illegally downloading songs.
Perhaps an educational approach can be used to save our youth, but as was blogged here this has not yet worked out. I do believe an education approach has merit so long as the message doesn't get distorted with politics. If an educational approach was used to teach our youngsters why stealing nonrivalrous goods is a bad thing, it might fall to the same fate that D.A.R.E. did, which was another massive educational failure. Stigmatizing drugs in the manner that D.A.R.E. did was not effective, and stigmatizing illegal downloads as being theft in the classical sense of the word won't be effective either. Downloading a song is not like stealing something from a store, and pretending otherwise is merely going to alienate those you're trying to reach. If the educational approach is to stand a chance of working, the youngsters must also be provided with a better alternative to illegally downloading media, or they'll just tune out the message.
If a better, legal alternative is provided to those who illegally download media, then these downloaders will flock to the better alternative. Downloaders who choose to illegally download music are not inherently bad people or thieves - they're just using the best means of acquiring music and movies that is available within the boundaries of acceptable societal norms (whereas using warez sites of yesteryear may not have been as acceptable as new p2p programs). The MPAA and RIAA need to stop just spouting "Hey, downloading is bad, stop it stop it stop it stop it. You won't? Meet Bubba, your cellmate in D Block." That's not helping. Instead, offer a better alternative to the free p2p programs that media downloaders use.
By better, I don't necessarily mean free. If product X and Y are exactly the same, but X is $5 and Y is $0, then yes Y is better. But if X also offered doohickey A and supercalifragilistic B, then maybe X would be better than Y even though X costs more. The added benefits of A and B may outweigh X's extra cost, thus making X the better product.
Let's vary this example a bit. What if people liked product X's doohickey A and supercalifragilistic B, but they would forgo these two perks in favor of Y's price of $0. Now if X's price came down from $5 to $3, X may now be such a good deal that forgoing X's perks of A and B in favor of saving a measly $3 no longer makes sense. X's product is now better than Y's.
And that's all big media's product needs to do - offer a better alternative to illegal downloading. In the p2p context, "better" means faster access to a bigger library of higher quality materials at a cheap cost. The p2p clients offer media at $0...a tough price to beat. Big media must charge $$$ for access to their materials, but this cost can be offset by offering faster access to a bigger library of higher quality materials. And if the faster access/higher quality/bigger library is not great enough to outweigh the cost of such services, then lower the cost of the services until faster access/higher quality does outweigh the cost. Then big media will be offering a better alternative to illegally downloading music.
Now let's see how this theory of better alternatives can be applied to the illegal downloading situations the MPAA and RIAA face in their quest for copyright justice.
MPAA: Is illegally downloading a movie the best way to get the movie?
Pirating movies - either through illegally downloading newly released movies or illegally downloading DVDs - is not nearly as efficient as pirating music. Steve Jobs artfully says why:
[Movie piracy] is a problem. But movies are very different than music.
First of all, they're a hundred times larger. So in countries like the U.S., where broadband is not very evolved, it takes forever to download a high-quality version of a movie. And remember that the bar is going to get raised on that quality in another four years, when we have high-definition DVDs in the market. That's going to increase the download times by another ten X.
Second, movies are not deconstructable into songs, like an album is, that are easy to download. Five minutes of a movie isn't very useful. You want the whole thing.
Third, there's only been one way to buy your music -- that's on a CD. Look at the ways there are to legally buy a movie -- you can see it at the theater, you can buy it on home video, you can buy on DVD. But you can also rent it at Blockbuster or Netflix. You can watch it on pay-per-view. You can also watch it on cable or network TV. There are a lot of ways to legally get a movie.
Pirated movies - be it either newly released movies or pirated DVDs - are large. Too large to be efficiently downloaded. If you download a bunk version of a song, 5 minutes later you can have another. In the case of movies, at *best* you are looking at another hour down the tubes. Throw in the fact that movies are obtainable through a wide variety of means and it all adds up to the fact that illegally downloading movies is NOT the best way to obtain them. Paying for a movie is the better alternative to illegally downloading movies. This status may change with the advent of faster broadband, but it will only change with respect to the pirating of DVDs - pirating newly released movies will never be a threat to the movie industry. But for now, the MPAA can sit tight. Here's why.
Downloading films illegally before they're released on DVD:
The pirating of newly released movies is a trivial problem at best. People go to movies for the movie theater experience. The big screen, ear-bleeding sound, $40 popcorn, coke with more ice than coke, loud people in the first row, cell phones ringing in the middle of a French thief's capoeira dance through laser beams - these are all part of the movie experience. It's an event.
Downloading a shaky, hand-held recording of a movie with out-of-sync sound and heads blocking the screen is not part of the movie theater experience. No movie company is suffering any type of threatening damage from these bootleggers because a bootlegged copy is simply not better than going to the movies. The cost savings of downloading a $0 copy still doesn't outweigh the benefit of paying for the higher quality of the movie in a theater, including picture, sound and overall theater experience.
Don't believe me? Either take a trip down to the Alley in LA and buy a bootleg off of one of the guys selling them out of a cardboard box, or find a copy online if you have broadband and the time/patience to find and download a copy. If you're lucky, it will actually work. Now, if it works, you will be treated to a lifeless and dull display of the movie. One look at the quality of the bootleg and something becomes very clear: if you wanted to actually enjoy the newly released movie, you would have gone to see it at the theater.
A bootlegged copy of a movie is not yet a better alternative to going to see the movie live. Even though the bootleg can be found for free on the internet, it is not better than the live version in the theater - the level of quality between the two is huge, and the difference is not made up in $0 bootleg vs. $10 ticket. The difference is so huge that the faster access element is moot; the only way the higher quality of the live theater version would be overcome by the cheaper cost of the bootleg is if the bootleg paid people to watch it.
No amount of high-tech gadgetry to thwart those who bootleg will recoup lost revenue caused by consumers buying the bootleg because there is no notable lost revenue to be recouped. Those who want to see the movie and enjoy it before it's on DVD do so by going to the theater.
Instead of spending money on developing high-tech gadgetry to thwart those that have a minor (at best) affect on a movie company's bottom line, the money would be better spent on addressing a potentially more serious problem - like pirated DVDs. Which brings me to my next point...
Downloading films illegally after they're released on DVD:
Downloading pirated DVDs does pose a potential problem for the movie industry. But before chicken little claims the sky is falling, let's look at what it takes to download an illegally ripped DVD. It takes a while to find and download a DVD. It takes a while to rip and encode a DVD. It takes a while to re-download or re-rip or re-encode a bunk version. It also takes various programs to do so - but if you are pirating DVDs then you're probably pirating the software to pirate the DVDs too. Ahhh, the circle of life. Simba would be proud.
You may also have to cut out DVD extras like commentary, subtitles and other extras if your pirated DVD is bigger than the 4.7GB DVD-R you have. Or you may have to split the DVD up into multiple DVDs. You could also chose to encode the movie as a VCD or in DivX, which would be much smaller than a DVD, but then you are losing serious quality as well as playback device compatibility.
The point here is that pirating DVDs is not trivial. It is certainly not faster than going to the store and picking up a copy. And the quality loss is going to be noticeable, either in actual picture loss or loss of features and extras. Again, the main benefit of a pirated DVD is the lower cost, but is the lowered cost of $0 low enough to offset its loss in quality and slow access? My vote says no - downloading DVDs is not a better alternative to purchasing legal copies. Again, I find that the movie industry is relatively safe from having its profits siphoned off by pirates.
But assuming that the lowered cost of a downloading a pirated DVD is low enough to make a it a better alternative to a legally purchased DVD, then the movie industry would have to make some changes. These changes are the exact same changes that the music industry needs to make right now, which I am about to discuss below.
RIAA: Is illegally downloading a song the best way to get the song?
I think Steve Jobs has something to say here:
Our position, from the beginning, was that 80% of the people stealing music online don't really want to be thieves. But that it is such a compelling way to get music: It's instant gratification. You don't have to go to the record store; the music's already digitized, so you don't have to rip the CD. It's so compelling that people are willing to become thieves to do it. And to tell them that they should stop being thieves -- without a legal alternative, that offers those same benefits -- rings hollow. We said: We don't see how you convince people to stop being thieves, unless you can offer them a carrot -- not just a stick.
The key to stopping people from participating in illegal file sharing is to offer a better alternative. That's it. Not to throw people in the hole for 20 days. By offering a better legal alternative than the current illegal file sharing schemes, both the media companies and the consumers win. Media companies get $$$ and consumers get their media, legally. Right now, illegally downloading music is a better alternative to legally obtaining music, and in order for these types of copyright infringements to stop, some changes need to be made in order to make legally obtaining music a better alternative to illegally obtaining music.
So what are the magical changes that need to be made? I'm glad you asked. Let's take one p2p client that provides for illegal downloading of songs, like Soulseek, and compare it to legally obtaining songs on iTunes on the basis of: cost of songs, song library, access speed to songs and quality of songs.
If a better alternative to illegal file sharing is presented, the masses will follow. In the p2p context, a "better" alternative would be something that provides faster access to a bigger library of higher quality materials at a cheap cost. Once again...
Faster access: fast download speeds, organized library to make finding media quick and easy
Bigger library: lots of media to download
Higher quality: encode the media at a high bitrate, offer various formats
Cheap cost: the cheaper, the better
The cost of getting a song on a p2p client like Soulseek is $0. This beats any legal scheme. As for quality of the songs, Soulseek can provide high enough song quality that rivals that of songs on a CD or on iTunes, which is high enough for most p2p users. And Soulseek has a bigger library of songs to choose from as compared to iTunes' library. Soulseek outranks iTunes on 3 of the 4 better alternative requirements.
What iTunes has in its favor is faster access speeds to its songs, due to a number of reasons. First, it is much more organized than Soulseek. Second, it doesn't suffer from spoofed/bunk songs. Third, it offers dedicated servers so download speeds will always be high whereas on Soulseek and other p2p clients, download speeds are dependent on whether you can find a person with the song and how fast their upload speed is.
But is iTunes' faster access speeds soooooooo much faster that it outweighs Soulseek's lower cost, bigger library and equivalent song quality? In a word, no. While iTunes does have faster access speeds, it needs more stuff in order to truly be a better alternative to free p2p clients.
Don't worry, all hope is not lost. Big media can charge for direct downloads of their music, and people will pay, if the cost is justified. Justification like increasing getting a wider library, increasing the quality of songs to such an extent that it cannot be offered on p2p clients as well as offering songs in a variety of encoding formats *in addition to* receipted backup files of purchased songs that are redeemable in case of loss, and maybe bonus content linked to a billing account or exclusive tracks only available on the big media's network.
In short, the justification for payment must be in the form of things that a free p2p client like Soulseek cannot provide. It's not enough to offer a slicker Soulseek and charge $0.99/song. Offering bonus content, linked to a billing account, or a receipted backup scheme for lost/destroyed songs that were paid for, in a clearly organized library on a dedicated server are examples of things Soulseek cannot provide. This raises the quality of and access speed to songs to a level that outweighs the cost of $0.99/song. Then increase the library size and *poof* you now have made a better alternative to illegally downloading music. If after all this, people still don't migrate over, then the music companies would need to lower prices until the paid for access speeds, high quality and wide selection do outweigh cost.
People would then have a reason to migrate away from their free, but often cluttered and usually mainstream-downloads-only p2p networks. Combine this with honestly educating the public about stealing media, and they'll come in droves.
Why suing/punishing illegal file downloaders, for the most part, will not work.
If throwing a finite amount of truly deserving bad faith uploaders in jail would stop illegal downloading, then all things being equal I'd be for it. Yes, I said it, I'd be for it. Same with suing them into the ground. Yes, I said that too. Maybe pigs have finally grown wings. But in the real world, this just won't work because it's against the nature of the internet. New uploaders would rise to take their spots, with new p2p clients that wouldn't allow for their detection. Things would get pushed further underground, and we'd have another Napster fallout of bigger and meaner p2p applications. Even if criminal sanctions / lawsuits were brought en masse against bad faith uploaders, I personally would be afraid of eager RIAA lawyers slipping down that slope and eventually suing good faith filesharers too. Fighting the p2p users is not the solution - working with them is. Provide a better alternative to the illegal downloading scheme they're all used to and they will come.
What does the RIAA have to look forward to if it continues on with lawsuits against otherwise law-abiding consumers who illegally download music? Well:
...you will rally ordinary people to your opponents and alienate a generation of buyers. Exactly what has the industry gained by suing, among others, a 12-year-old girl in New York for downloading songs? A raft of bad publicity, a reputation for being a bully, and a new litigation insurance scheme devised by peer-to-peer software companies who can now cloak themselves in Robin-Hood green.
The RIAA doesn't have to be the bad guys. They can be the good guys. Just work towards a better alternative to illegal downloading schemes and the illegal downloaders will come. Scouts honor.
Note: I realize I have not advocated for stronger encryption as a means to battle copyright infringers. I don't think stronger encryption is the cure-all answer because I view stronger encryption as little more than a thimble plugging the copyright hole, waiting for the decryption team to come along. Plus stronger encryption creates potential problems with playback devices, and that's just unfair to consumers because it's like punishing them for something they didn't do. But that's beside the point - I'm not saying that encryption needs to be jettisoned, just that the strongest encryption technique in the world will not solve the copyright problems we have. Fixing the problem lies in offering better alternatives to the illegal downloading schemes currently employed, not in designing a giant lock to put on the CD case.
If I were the King of Copyrightland, I would wave my magical wand and regress our copyright terms back about 100 years. I would also do a double-sow-cow and create a better, legal alternative to illegally downloading media that would naturally draw people towards it simply because it's better - low cost, superior quality of media, lightening download speed and large library. Everyone would gravitate towards this legal alternative. No jail terms, no suing people, no nastiness. Just copyright goodness that encourages creation while being fair to media companies and consumers alike.
Ah yes, if only I were the King of Copyrightland, I would spread copyright goodness to everyone.
Eh, who am I kidding. If I were the king of anything I'd demand instant ownership of all the copyrights in my land, take the mountain of gold generated from abusing my newly gained copyrights, buy a Bentley, slap 60" rims on it and ride off to Fiji. See you there.