Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DRM Technology Your Rights Online

Doctorow: the Coming War On General-Purpose Computing 439

Posted by Soulskill
from the fought-with-dollar-bills dept.
GuerillaRadio writes "Cory Doctorow's keynote at 28C3 was about the upcoming war on general-purpose computing driven by increasingly futile regulation to appease big content. 'The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.'" If you don't have time for the entire 55-minute video, a transcript is available that you can probably finish more quickly.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Doctorow: the Coming War On General-Purpose Computing

Comments Filter:
  • Raspberry Pi (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Devices like the Raspberry Pi prove him wrong. If anything the backlash has already started: geeks are reclaiming their devices and building the systems that they want.

    The music industry realised they were on to a losing battle five years ago. The movie industry will realise the same, soon. In fact, I give it less than five years before Google are producing their own content and streaming it world-wide, without restrictions.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:41PM (#38543222)

      Did you even go through the speech?

      • by icebraining (1313345) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:14PM (#38543530) Homepage

        You must be new here.

        • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @09:24PM (#38545090)
          Same video on YouTube [youtube.com], in case you don't want to go to an ad and javascript infested online mag.
      • You don't get first posts by RTFA'ing.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Only in the short term. In the long term devices such as this, and the tools needed to work with them will be strictly controlled and only licensed individuals will get access ( most likely defense contractors. Hobbyists don't need to apply ).

      Code submission, auditing and other real-time monitoring will just be the beginning.

      • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

        by voidptr (609) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:30PM (#38544196) Homepage Journal

        Only in the short term. In the long term devices such as this, and the tools needed to work with them will be strictly controlled and only licensed individuals will get access

        .

        You couldn't even get MS and Apple to back that bill.

        The app store did at least $2 Billion in direct revenue for Apple this year, and that's not including $80 Billion for the devices it actually sold. Is anyone really going to argue they wouldn't understand that destroying the hobbyiest programmer wouldn't be slitting their own throat? Without guys willing to write apps, none of these guys make any money, and if you kill the garage hacker, you kill most of the software engineering profession. There aren't going to be that many kids going into CS if the first time they touch a compiler is when they're 19 in CS 103 after a government background check and a license, and the ones that do, probably aren't going to be any good.

        Dumb as most congressional representatives are, there can't be that many that wouldn't understand any bill like that would be economic suicide.

        • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

          by EdIII (1114411) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:41PM (#38544312)

          There is a love affair with being an outlaw. The outsider, the whole hacker manifesto.

          Growing up as kid I was the stereotypical nerd/geek that would take things apart, hack into them, re-purpose them, etc.

          With technology becoming so fundamental to our way of life, children don't see using smart phones, tablets, computers as geeky anymore. The person that can "rootkit" a device, really own it, etc. has become the new cool.

          Locking down the tools and the equipment? That will only put gasoline on a fire. Best way to encourage youth to break the law is to make something popular and fun illegal.

          The War on Drugs, cigarettes, and liquor has sure kept kids from using it huh?

          Sometimes I think the best way to get kids to read would be to outlaw the books.

          • by mellon (7048)

            The War on Drugs has put a lot of harmless people behind bars, cost the country billions of dollars, and put a lot of people in the ground, many of them innocent. It has cost people their homes, their savings, their marriages, and their lives. You may think it would be cool for being a geek to be illegal like being a dealer, but I would prefer that it not be the case that possession of a C compiler could be justification for a no-knock warrant that gets me or my wife shot by some fuckwit with an automat

    • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

      by roc97007 (608802) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:58PM (#38543394) Journal

      I hope you're right. The processors in even a total homebrew have to come from somewhere and I can see the content providers requiring DRM being built right into the CPU. (As I write that, I can't imagine that MPAA folks could even understand the issue, but anyway.)

      I agree with what you said about content being created elsewhere. A series I watch regularly started life as webisodes, and I believe Netflix is already creating original content. And that has *got* to scare the living crap out of Hollywood. If you can make a popular series in Lubbock with equipment from Best Buy and released on Netflix, what the heck do we need Hollywood for?

      • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Insightful)

        by voidptr (609) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:00PM (#38543904) Homepage Journal

        Most processors sold today (by individual units shipped) aren't used in a general purpose computer or even an appliance that would be considered one. They're used in embedded applications, but it's the same processor (or very closely related) to the ones that are used for general purposes.

        Most of those embedded users are squeezing every dime they can out of component costs, and those companies put together are far bigger than big content is. Nobody, including the chip fabs themselves, would stand for adding features to anything that looks like a CPU that would get in the way and drive up prices for the majority of their consumers. The latest x86-64 is used fairly heavily by embedded systems these days, plus the millions of them churning away in data centers around the globe on general purpose servers running every flavor of OS ever ported to it, making billions for their owners.

        Does anyone really think Intel would stand by and watch 75% of their market get either obliterated overnight or priced out the market, that Amazon would let AWS become illegal, that any congressman on the planet wouldn't have hundreds of constituents explaining how they built businesses around writing software?

      • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lgw (121541) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:17PM (#38544070) Journal

        When the height of copy protection was MacroVision, you could always buy VCRs that ignored it: but they weren't typical home use models, they were built for studio editing. Those general purpose tools have to exist for professionals, and it was such a small percentage of VCR sales that the studios didn't care.

        The situation with computers is similar - it's possible that general-purpose home computers will stop being mainstream, with everyone using appliances and pads and whatnot, all o which are locked down. But there will still be a need for general purpose computers that can work around restrictions, even/especially within the content-creation profession. And again the studios won't care, as long as the exception is sufficiently non-mainstream as to not affect their money grab, such as home-built computers running a free OS have always been.

        However, I also doubt that we'll ever reach a place where people can't use their locked-down applaices and pads to add music to thier funny cat videos, or home videos of kids playing. Try to mess with that and you've hit something the average voter actually cares about, it's not news for nerds any more, and democracy will happen. The MAFIAA can buy votes on geek issues, because the voters at large don't care, but touch something that people are going to have a strong opinion about regarldess of political advertisng and you're playing with fire. (And if you've never sold home video equipment, trust me, people really want to add music to their home videos of their kids playing, and goodness knows there's jst no stopping funy cat videos, those are a force of nature!).

        • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Informative)

          by Lumpy (12016) on Friday December 30, 2011 @09:04PM (#38544944) Homepage

          Radioshack has always sold a Macrovision remover. it was called the VHS video stabilizer. anyone that had a clue was able to get a device to defeat macrovision easily and cheaply.

          And if you had a clue about electronics, you could easily turn down the AGC setting on the VCR and defeat it.

      • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sunderland56 (621843) on Friday December 30, 2011 @09:30PM (#38545120)

        I hope you're right. The processors in even a total homebrew have to come from somewhere and I can see the content providers requiring DRM being built right into the CPU.

        They cannot do that. Content providers could require that some API report that the processor has DRM built in, but that is the beauty of software layers: they can report whatever you want.

        Or to be more specific: they can inquire what the hardware is on the Tor exit node you are currently on, but that has nothing to do with the hardware you are actually running. Cory Doctorow's future involves much heavier use of Tor than is required today.

      • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:4, Insightful)

        by JoeMerchant (803320) on Friday December 30, 2011 @09:52PM (#38545230)

        I hope you're right. The processors in even a total homebrew have to come from somewhere and I can see the content providers requiring DRM being built right into the CPU.

        They have teetered around getting Intel to do it, but it's a hard sell because that gives AMD an advantage, and, these days, you can do video media on ARM and any number of other architectures. Intel won't be giving up their market easily, and that's exactly what would happen if they became the MPAA's patsy before all their competition did.

    • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

      by currently_awake (1248758) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:02PM (#38543422)
      It's not the computer they're trying to control, it's the communications. And they are most definitely winning right now. It amazes me that a tiny minority can run the world so completely.
      • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:09PM (#38543486)
        It doesn't amaze me because a tiny minority does control most of the resources of the world and they pull the strings whenever they feel like.
      • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rsborg (111459) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:47PM (#38544372) Homepage

        It's not the computer they're trying to control, it's the communications. And they are most definitely winning right now.
        It amazes me that a tiny minority can run the world so completely.

        The tiny minority (the 0.1%) gets the next 20% to follow them by the fiction called the "stock market". This (easily game-able and impossible to adequately regulate) market allows those with the most to decide the winners (with insider knowledge) while constantly funneling money towards them [1]. While they fleece and rape the rest of the world and get the lion's share of the plunder, the next 20% have an opportunity to ride the wagon for a bit and get a bit more wealthy. Only when that next-to-top 20% wake up and coordinate with lower 79.9% will anything fundamental change. And thus you will see that kind of activity being made "illegal" under false-pretenses to "curb piracy" [2] or "hunt terrorists" [3].

        [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_running [wikipedia.org]
        [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act [wikipedia.org]
        [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act [wikipedia.org]

    • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pmontra (738736) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:03PM (#38543426) Homepage

      Devices like the Raspberry Pi prove him wrong.

      As long as they are legal. That was the point of the speech.

      • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Insightful)

        by voidptr (609) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:47PM (#38543776) Homepage Journal

        As long as they are legal. That was the point of the speech.

        Which is a law nobody's remotely proposing, nor one that would fly.

        There's about a dozen mainstream CPUs on the market today that can be integrated into a workable computer by practically anybody with a Newark catalog and a overnight board fab in their bookmarks, which the Raspberry Pi guys are proving. The reason there's so many is precisely because they are used everywhere; there's thousands of companies now that integrate them into their own appliances and more starting every day. Prohibiting the sale of general purpose CPUs or imposing mandatory content control features in anything that smells like a processor would bring the economy to a halt overnight.

        You think Intel would be stupid enough to not lobby every dime they had against such a bill? The alternative would be the death of the company.

        • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nick Ives (317) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:53PM (#38543804)

          Doctorow is making the argument that stuff like that is being proposed and fought for in the current copyright war. Desire for it may spread to other developed sectors of the economy.

          If it's Intel v everyone else and they do it on an international basis as part of a treaty, it could happen. The argument being made is that we should be aware of and prepared for this kind of thing because if other sectors of the economy start to get as annoyed by general purpose computers as the *AA have then there would be a serious fight.

        • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @09:03PM (#38544940) Journal

          Exactly. Both AMD and Intel probably sell a dozen server chips for every desktop, both have embedded chips in the C/E series and Atom respectively and while these chips are used in appliances there are also used in everything from camera control setups for businesses to micro desktops. There is just too much money in general purpose computing for either company to slit their own throats for what is essentially a bit player in the wide scheme of thing because despite all their bluster the MPAA really is a small fish compared to the worldwide computing market. this of course is only counting X86 and isn't even counting the Via chips that are used in car computing nor the myriad of ARM and MIPS chips used all over the damned place, to expect them ALL to kiss the ring is frankly the height of insanity.

          Finally as we all know thanks to Citizens united our laws are written by he who has the most cash and on their best day the MPAA lobbyists couldn't touch a consortium that had Intel, AMD, all the ARM and MIPS manufacturers and MSFT and Apple all joined together and join together they would because ALL of the above make boatloads of money on general purpose computing. The chip manufacturers sell more chips, and the software houses like Apple and MSFT make money off the appstore and getting people to use Visual studio to enhance their Windows platform respectively so the amount of money they'd stand to lose would frankly be staggering and for what? So a company doesn't have to wake up and smell the present and can instead still pretend like its 1983 and broadband doesn't exist?

          In the end the MPAA will be dragged kicking and screaming into the present just like the music companies were and then will find out shock, gasp! That there is plenty of money to be made if you actually give customers what they want, which is cheap, easy and convenient access to anything they want. there is no damned reason in this day and age i just can't go to amazon and whip out my CC and buy an .AVI or .MP4 or whatever format i want movie just like i buy an MP3 or buy a game off of Steam or GOG except the MPAA is just too damned stupid to sell it to me. eventually they'll figure out what Valve did years ago and that is you'll never kill piracy but if you make it cheap and easy enough the majority simply won't bother because the legal version will be easier. I mean compare what it takes to load a movie onto an Nbox or WDTV now, you can 1.-go buy a disc, 2.-get the disc home, 3.-rip the disc to the HDD, 4.-convert it to the right format, 5.-drag it to the device, or you can just 1.-go to TPB and download the movie in the correct format and 2.- put it on the device. Which takes less steps? Now compare that to say Steam 1.-Pick game and push button to either keep or give to friend/family member, 2.-there is no step two. Make it simple, cheap and easy and people WILL buy, make it a royal PITA where the pirate gets less hassle than the guy that gives you money and watch the piracy soar, duh!

          • by pmontra (738736)

            Actually the smartphone/app store combo is a good example of a computing appliance. I can imagine a dystopic future in which an A666 chip will run only software signed from the store. No more jailbreaking or rooting, no more sideloading. This hardly damages the phone manufacturers, the chip manufacturers, the developers, the companies running the stores. All of them will make exactly the same amount of money as before but the Apples of that time will have a stronger grip on what we are allowed to see on our

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              Ya see pmontra you are falling for the same trap that has me bash my head against the wall with Linux zealots that just can't seem to grasp why "You can't just teach your customers to like CLI" because the simple fact is this...you are thinking like a geek. Ya see consumers are NOT geeks and are strange and curious creatures indeed and as someone who has been building and selling to them since 1983 I am probably one of a unique few that has insight into their strange and maddening habits.

              For the example y

    • by Junta (36770)

      The Raspberry Pi represents a vanishingly small proportion of the population. A Raspberry Pi platform probably can't even real-time decode some of the higher-end video files, and definitely won't be invited to the Netflix party and other platforms with DRM requirements that can't be bothered to provide for an open platform with nearly no users. In terms of content consumption, it won't make a blip and the only exciting bit about it really is the price. Orders of magnitude more people are going away from

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Vanders (110092)

        With the music industry, Apple *forced* their hands

        Google will force the hands of TV and movie companies in a similar manner. I'd bet on it.

        • by Junta (36770)

          I doubt it. Totally different situation.

          In the Apple case, iPods at the time were mostly straightforward devices (no 'apps' or other extensibility) that spent pretty much all their life offline. This meant music companies could only get into iPods by either giving a DRM-free MP3 or through the iTunes store, and had to provide for offline-playback case. If Apple is throwing its weight around, they *can't* go anywhere else and keep their DRM. At the same time, you know your sales through, say, MS DRM just

    • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:42PM (#38544318)

      I had mod points, and I was planning on use them all on this discussion, but as no one said what I wish to say, I'll spend them elsewhere. Here it goes.

      You claim that the Raspberry Pi proves Doctorow wrong. Well, tablet computers prove him right. And smartphones, too. These are the two personal computer forms which dominate today's market, and will continue to dominate in the future. The market for laptops is shrinking while the market for tablets has increased 42%, according to some estimates [dnaindia.com] Apple is becoming the world's dominant computer platform [computerworld.com], with the dominant product being a closed, locked-down, walled garden of a personal computer.

      And what about your home router? It's also a general purpose computer, which has been locked down hard to force you to not fiddle with it. The same applies to NAS and even some external HDs.

      If that isn't enough, take a look at every chinese trinket toy which is sold on ebay. I'm referring to stuff such as MP3 players, media players, tablets, video game consoles and all of the sort. You can't fiddle with their software, you can't tweak their OS, you can only use them until it gets bricked. I personally have purchased a cheap, 20 dollar MP3 player with a neat color display which, at the time, put my cellphone to shame, and the damned thing could only be used to display song names and play tetris. And it was a full blown computer, which had a SD card reader.

      My media player is also a general purpose computer, which has been castrated by my cable provider. My TV is also a general purpose computer, complete with HDMI input plugs, SD card reader and USB plug. It runs linux, too. But I can't do shit with it. It's from Sony, which also sells other personal computers, such as the Playstation line, playstation portable and playstation vita. And you can't do shit with them, either.

      This is what Doctorow is warning about. And you said he has been proven wrong? How?

      So no, Raspberry Pi does not prove him wrong. No matter how cool it is or how open it has been designed, it is a very specific product for a very specific market. There is a risk it will be put in the same category as a multitester, oscilloscopes and pulse generators: technical tools which only the technically literate are interested in using. That is, true general purpose computers are being relegated to something that only the fools at the local modern incantation of the homebrew computer club are even interested with, and this is very dangerous.

      This artificial limitation already plagues the software development world, where compilers are seen as scary stuff which only technical people care to have. I've seen police reports where they claimed that the target of the raid was somehow a hacker and a pirate because he had linux on his computer, as a dual boot. People already accept these absurd views on computers. They perceive locked down computers as something which is desirable and here to stay, and the hardware vendors are already taking advantage of that ignorance and lack of insight.

      The path to a computing world where all computers are tight-down walled gardens is already set, and if we don't acknowledge it and do something prevent this disaster to happen then it will happen. And it will happen in the near future.

      • by voidptr (609)

        You claim that the Raspberry Pi proves Doctorow wrong. Well, tablet computers prove him right. And smartphones, too. These are the two personal computer forms which dominate today's market, and will continue to dominate in the future. The market for laptops is shrinking while the market for tablets has increased 42%, according to some estimates Apple is becoming the world's dominant computer platform, with the dominant product being a closed, locked-down, walled garden of a personal computer.

        No, it doesn't prove his point. What would prove his point is someone proposing legislation that made manufacturing, selling, or owning a device that allowed the user to compile and run their own code illegal.

        • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

          by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:29AM (#38546266)

          No, it doesn't prove his point. What would prove his point is someone proposing legislation that made manufacturing, selling, or owning a device that allowed the user to compile and run their own code illegal.

          Apparently there already is such legislation. You see, it's called the DMCA. Gun's don't kill people, people kill people. Software doesn't defeat DRM, people defeat DRM with software. We've been given VERY LIMITED exemptions to manufacture, sell, own or run software capable of cracking DRM, or Jailbreaking phones, but it's still illegal for me to crack my XBox or Playstation3, or ANY OTHER DRM DEVICE not on the magical white list.

          You're wasting your time if you're on the watch for legislation that prevents you from running any code you want. It already exists; It just depends on YOUR definition of "any". Furthermore, as long as EULAs allow MFGs to instant click-wrap legislation into being, you're looking in the wrong place, and you're even looking in the wrong direction!

          What we need now is the right to bear technology; I've been saying this for years, and am glad to see the sentiment being finally adopted. When my first 128bit public key encryption program was basically classified as "munitions" and prevented from exportation in the early 1990s I REJOICED! I actually danced a little jig! I foolishly believed that this meant my 2nd amendment rights, "The right to bear arms, lawfully", would come into effect and I'd be able to wield any computing technology just as I can legally wield a gun: If its self defense and/or I'm not physically harming anyone, what I'm doing shouldn't be illegal. To my dismay our Constitutional rights have not been interpreted in this way.

          The definition of what is "lawful" has become: That which the EULA allows. The definition of what is "causing harm" has become: That which we can not measure or prove, but suspect.

          It would have been as RIDICULOUS to outlaw guns in the pioneer era as it would have been to outlaw possessing ANY stone tool in the Stone age, or for using an iron tool on your own possessions in the Iron age. Yet, here we are in the INFORMATION AGE, and we've got laws against using particular information processing tools...

          Some would say that I do not own some of the information that I possess. To them I would ask: "Do you own the memories in your head?" Can I not read 1s and 0s and then use my mind to break encryptions? Can I not use the information in my own mind? I can use external tools such as graph paper and pencil to help me perform my mathematic algorithms too. However, If I use a GENERAL PURPOSE COMPUTER to help me do certain tasks with the INFORMATION that can be or has been absorbed and then extracted from MY OWN MIND -- Then I can be found guilty of violating existing legislation.

          Perhaps you're saying that as long as they don't outlaw all programs and general purpose computers, we've nothing to fear. I put it to you that standing buy while our 1st AND 2nd amendment rights are being restricted in any fashion is OUTRAGEOUS, has already occurred, and continues to occur each time you click the [_] Accept button on a restrictive EULA.

          What we need is the right to use our computers. The right to possess and use technology. You wouldn't stand a chance taking ancestors' stone or iron tools, or guns from them. I'll be damned if I'll stand idly by and let ANYONE take my INFORMATION tools from me.

          Those stone age peoples who opposed iron tools quickly became extinct: Welcome to the Information Age.

    • by citizenr (871508)

      Devices like the Raspberry Pi prove him wrong.

      Except for the small fact Rasppi will be running fat binary closed source BLOB controlling whole board and deciding what is enabled and what is not (gfx, decoders, IO)

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <{taiki} {at} {cox.net}> on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:30PM (#38543114)

    If we can't make the argument for general purpose computing then we get what we deserve.

    Most users never wanted freedom, they wanted to get work done or enjoy themselves. Unfortunately you don't need freedom for that. This is why the loss of basic and HyperCard doesn't matter.

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      Failure on whom?
      Consumers consume, producers produce, advertisers advertise, internet internets.
      They seem to be oblivious to the fact that people physically stealing things still occurs. How will this be any different?
    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:34PM (#38543154)
      I've brought this up before. Users do want freedom, they just don't realize it until they've completely lost it and then have a use for it.
      • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:47PM (#38543290) Homepage Journal

        That's because most users care about personal freedom -- where they're the only person that matters. Insular thinking is way too common and is way too corrosive. However, it does go a little bit beyond that. Metronets almost don't exist except in a few more enlightened places, because people were conned into thinking of it as a tax. They would be paying for someone else's Internet access. Well, no. What they'd be paying for is the freedom to choose your Internet access. Most places, the ISP is nothing more than a shell company that "provides" access to a single actual Internet provider - your "choice" is what illusion you want. It's not a real choice, which means that if the real provider decides to implement a specific restriction then ALL your "choices" implement that specific restriction.

        In short, Joe Public is easily tricked into giving up real freedoms because real freedom means someone else gets that freedom too and Joe Public would go through hell or high water before contributing to someone else's freedom. Real freedom is never individualistic, it's binary. It's there or it isn't. By deceiving people into thinking that they're gaining by inhibiting the freedom of "others", freedom becomes impossible. There is no gain in loss. Ever.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SalsaDoom (14830)

        Now, this is making sense. Because its true.

        People often ask me about my anti-Apple attitude (or anything really restrictive) and when I explain to them that they've bought something that don't actually really posses complete control over it they are usually understanding. I don't press my opinion in a "the world is ending soon because of..." sort of way. I explain the truth, that there is a trend for that type of activity and I'd like to see it reversed.

        In my experience, most people imagine that they "own"

        • by tzanger (1575) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:02PM (#38545268) Homepage

          People often ask me about my anti-Apple attitude (or anything really restrictive) and when I explain to them that they've bought something that don't actually really posses complete control over it they are usually understanding.

          You must certainly feel the same way about just about every cell (not just smart) phone, tablet, set-top box or embedded system. Unless you're given the full API documentation and enough of a schematic or layout documentation to be able to reflash the system (if not also the bootloader) then you simply don't have the means to hack away at the devices you have bought and own. I specifically don't include laptops or desktops here because generally speaking, they're designed to run whatever you want to put on them.

          In my experience, most people imagine that they "own" something when they purchase it. When they understand that they don't own their iPad in the same way they own their car or their house, they do understand why thats a bad thing *even if they lack of the technical knowledge to take advantage of it*.

          It's been my experience that most people you will talk to about this will give you a blank stare and a "yeah, so?" kind of look after having it explained to them. Most people are not stupid, I agree with you, but it's simply not a big deal to them.

          People don't want to spend hundreds of dollars to rent a thing. When you explain how all of this ties into planned obsolescence and other market strategies they can become quite offended at the idea. Owning a device you are free to operate fully means you can replace it on your own terms, not artificial ones (say, from lack of software updates).

          Again, you must be running with a different crowd than I am. Even my technically-minded friends, while not incensed when discussing this subject, don't feel it's a big problem. They usually want the faster processor or better graphics in a few years anyway. I do have a couple of friends who like to make their tech buys last as long as possible, and it's that type of personality that cares about this, by and large. It's been my experience that the general population gets it, but has bigger things to worry about.

      • by Shark (78448)

        Actually, that's the first thought that popped in my mind when I read the headline: General purpose computing empowers people. We all see what happens when you give people power... You lose your control over what they say, do and think!

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:44PM (#38543238)

      Depends on what you're arguing. If you mean that consumers prefer to buy walled-garden devices like iPads versus programmable computers, I agree that's something we have to fix ourselves, through outreach, PR, making better programming environments, whatever. But another angle is the government passing laws that make it increasingly difficult to offer unrestricted general-purpose computers. That I think is much more clearly a civil-liberties issue than just an issue of consumer preference.

    • by Absolut187 (816431) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:10PM (#38543496) Homepage

      You can make a great argument, but it's never going to be as good as the bribes that Congress gets from big content.
      The bribes are perfectly legal under Citizens United.
      But your modification of an appliance that you "own" may be a felony.

    • by suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:37PM (#38543688)

      "General purpose computing" is just a synonym for power, in the same way as violence, money, and land are.

      When you had land, you could do whatever you wanted on your land, even if it was criminal. When you had money, you could get whatever goods or services money could buy, even if it was criminal. When you had violence, you could take others' land and money, even if it is criminal (it isn't always; Police, in principle, "claim" land and money using violence, but not criminally). Naturally, government came in to regulate all three.

      When you have general purpose computing, you can have whatever the peripherals of your computer allow you to have, even if it's criminal. Such peripherals include, but are not limited to, recording devices and displays, CNC machines (fab), and telecom (the internet, VOIP, etc).

      The funny thing about computing though, is that it is not consumed in the process the way money and land are. Those have to be invested, because you really can't build a factory on a plot today, and then change it to apartments for a few hours to meet demand. You can't have your paycheck pay for food today, and then have the same money pay for rent tomorrow.

      So now users have this virtual land that isn't dedicated to a single purpose and can change at the drop of a hat from producing (or consuming) kitten videos to committing virtual crimes to emailing your mom and back again. It defies the concept of specialization of labor. It defies the concept of investment, because once you pay the overhead and produce something for that virtual land (software), everyone can use it without investing in it themselves.

      In other words, it defies the models of money and land. It is its own kind of beast, and computing is our window into that world. What computers we use are our "avatars," to use a tired term, and GP computing is the only avatar that isn't artificially hindered. But an avatar that is unhindered is (for the purposes of law enforcement) no different from allowing all citizens access to weaponry, without even background checks. Maybe it will take care of itself, maybe it won't; the arguments could go on forever.

      I would say that the argument for GP computing is more akin to the right to bear arms than the right to free speech. It's individually empowering, to the point of threatening other people. Either you respect that people will someday need it, or you get in the path of that train. Maybe you can derail it with your corpse, maybe not, I don't know, but there are a LOT of people who won't sit idly by as you take their (metaphorical) guns away.

  • Alarmism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:31PM (#38543120)

    I read the transcript, and by the time he started saying things like this:

    So today we have marketing departments who say things like "we don't need computers, we need... appliances. Make me a computer that doesn't run every program, just a program that does this specialized task, like streaming audio, or routing packets, or playing Xbox games, and make sure it doesn't run programs that I haven't authorized that might undermine our profits". And on the surface, this seems like a reasonable idea -- just a program that does one specialized task -- after all, we can put an electric motor in a blender, and we can install a motor in a dishwasher, and we don't worry if it's still possible to run a dishwashing program in a blender. But that's not what we do when we turn a computer into an appliance. We're not making a computer that runs only the "appliance" app; we're making a computer that can run every program, but which uses some combination of rootkits, spyware, and code-signing to prevent the user from knowing which processes are running, from installing her own software, and from terminating processes that she doesn't want. In other words, an appliance is not a stripped-down computer -- it is a fully functional computer with spyware on it out of the box.

    I'm immediately reminded of countless Slashdot posts decrying the rise of appliance computing and lamenting the industry's move away from "general-purpose computing." That phrase is actually a euphemism for "nerd playground made by nerds for nerds," because that is what is actually being missed. Nerds feel power when they invest time and master a system, but non-nerds have neither the time nor desire to make computing a hobby. To them, computers are simply a means to get a job done, and that's the extent of their interest.

    Doctorow argues that an appliance computer isn't a specialized computing device but a general-purpose computer running "spyware." This is a highly politicized perspective to take. But more importantly, it signifies a perspective that's out of touch with mainstream people; i.e., non-techies. Non-techies aren't interested in installing custom software or knowing what processes are running or uncovering their technological secrets. Those are things only techies care about.

    Doctorow conflates this lament for nerd power with a lot of talk about copyright, DRM, and that all-important buzzword, "freedom." Not only does it make techies feel powerful to have mastery over the system, but it makes them feel important if they believe that their hobby is not just a lone expenditure of free time but the actions of a freedom fighter. However, I believe this is a confusion of issues. Appliance computing and DRM are necessarily not intertwined (look at the DRM-free iTunes Music Store), and appliance computing is just a derogatory (among nerds, anyway) term for an accessible product that most people can use. That such accessibility often necessitates the removal of configurability is simply unfortunate and incidental.

    Stick-shift automobiles are generally more efficient gas-wise because you are able to directly control the gears used to move the vehicle, but most people today drive automatics. They don't want to mess with things, or tweak things, or dissect things. The car is a tool, and that is also true of computers.

    Doctorow ends the talk with this:

    We have been fighting the mini-boss, and that means that great challenges are yet to come, but like all good level designers, fate has sent us a soft target to train ourselves on -- we have a chance, a real chance, and if we support open and free systems, and the organizations that fight for them -- EFF, Bits of Freedom [?], Edrie [?], [?], Nets Politique [?], La Quadrature du Net, and all the others, who are thankfully, too numerous to name here -- we may yet win the battle, and secure the ammunition we'll need for the war.

    Disregarding the pandering videogame terminology for a moment, this is a perfe

    • Re:Alarmism (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:44PM (#38543242) Homepage Journal

      Doctorow argues that an appliance computer isn't a specialized computing device but a general-purpose computer running "spyware." This is a highly politicized perspective to take. But more importantly, it signifies a perspective that's out of touch with mainstream people; i.e., non-techies.

      it doesn't make him wrong about that point, though. he is, in fact, entirely correct. It's a problem that we the techies should be going out of our way to apprise the less nerdly of so that they can make intelligent decisions.

      There's no war. We're not soldiers. We're not fighting a "mini-boss" in a video game, and we're not "level designers."

      You can frame it any way you want. I like the video game metaphors, because I played a lot of video games growing up. And it's frankly true that if we stop buying general purpose computers over specific-purpose ones, we'll stop getting them, and we'll take gigantic steps backwards as a result. All these disparate devices that sit around idle most of the time are a terrible waste in a way that a computer with good power saving isn't.

      • Doctorow argues that an appliance computer isn't a specialized computing device but a general-purpose computer running "spyware." This is a highly politicized perspective to take. But more importantly, it signifies a perspective that's out of touch with mainstream people; i.e., non-techies.

        it doesn't make him wrong about that point, though. he is, in fact, entirely correct.

        Not really. Appliances usually won't have the RAM, GPU, storage, etc that a general purpose will have. Furthermore the "spyware" characterization is erroneous. Locked down and digitally signed perhaps, but that is something different than spyware.

        It's a problem that we the techies should be going out of our way to apprise the less nerdly of so that they can make intelligent decisions.

        You are proving the GP's point. The less nerdy are making rational intelligent decisions. Locked down helps avoid malware and other maintenance issues. They just want to turn it on and read email and browse the web, they don't want to be a weekend system administra

        • Not really. Appliances usually won't have the RAM, GPU, storage, etc that a general purpose will have.

          Way back in the way back, I had a computer upon which I had a development system and a web browser. It had a 16 MHz SPARC processor and 24 MB of RAM, a luxury back then. When the average cellphone of today is more powerful than the most powerful computers of then, this argument is beyond ridiculous.

          Furthermore the "spyware" characterization is erroneous.

          No, it really is not. Most network-connected devices will, at minimum, connect for update checks. Any television appliance that depends on remote servers for information is by definition tattling on you.

          The less nerdy are making rational intelligent decisions. Locked down helps avoid malware and other maintenance issues.

          [citation needed]

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jamstar7 (694492)

            Way back in the way back, I had a computer upon which I had a development system and a web browser. It had a 16 MHz SPARC processor and 24 MB of RAM, a luxury back then. When the average cellphone of today is more powerful than the most powerful computers of then, this argument is beyond ridiculous.

            The difference is, you could write your own software to run on that SPARC, you weren't at the mercy of whatever was in the 'SPARC App Store'. You weren't made to jump through many many burning hoops to get the t

        • by sjames (1099)

          I guess you don't look under the hood much. You may or may not remember 12 years or so ago when we thought our 1GHz PIII w/ a GB of RAM was a powerhouse, that would depend on your age. The new tablets out there kick the PIII's ass without breaking a sweat. Some of the phone appliances out there today do as well.

          The Linksys WRT54GL has a fairly anemic CPU for general purpose computing today, but it runs circles around the old Apple ][, C64, and IBM XT I learned on.

          Non nerd end users may like the appliance mo

    • Re:Alarmism (Score:5, Insightful)

      by russotto (537200) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:46PM (#38543264) Journal

      That was a long piece of flamebait, so you'll excuse me if I only take part of it.

      There's this self-absorbed attitude that I just can't wrap my head around, a petulant voice that screams "Don't tell me what to do!" like a child throwing a tantrum.

      "Don't tell me what to do!" is one thing from a child to a parent, another from a slave to his master, a third from a man to his government, and yet a fourth from a purchaser of a product to its seller. Unless you feel all purchasers are children, the demand is not necessarily children.

      The whole talk reeks of alarmism, as the very restrictions he rants about have all been circumvented already, and several major players have abandoned such restrictions entirely, such as the aforementioned iTunes Music Store, which dropped its DRM (something Apple doesn't get enough credit for, honestly--I can't imagine what Steve Jobs said to the labels to get them to play along).

      Alarmism? Yes, they've been circumvented. Illegally in many cases. Which is only resulting in the other side tightening the screws more. And do you think those restrictions could have been circumvented if the most open computer anyone could get was an iPad?

      Claiming this is alarmist with SOPA still on the table is sticking your head in the sand.

    • Re:Alarmism (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:49PM (#38543304)
      I'm inclined to agree with him rather more, because I recently had to root my tablet. During the last routine system update, mysterious new crap appeared: Something called Layar. It was impossible to uninstall without rooting, and the marketplace page for it is just page after page of people giving it one-star reviews and complaining that it was installed without their consent. I think it's some type of augmented-reality program.

      I spent a lot of money on that tablet so I can read books in the bath and watch FiM on the train. I don't need the problems of it updating itsself to install new junk I don't want.
    • Re:Alarmism (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:59PM (#38543398) Homepage Journal

      I disagree. What people don't want is unnecessary complication. Give a person a Swiss army knife and there'll be functions they'll never use but it will still be useful to them. They simply won't use the stuff that doesn't apply.

      Give someone an appliance, however, and you have a product that does one thing badly. It can't do that one thing well because nobody has the same one thing that they want to do. Nobody uses all the functions of a DVD player, but equally nobody uses exactly the same set of functions on a DVD player either.

      Toasters are no longer simple mechanical devices for a reason. If an "appliance" concept really worked, all you'd need is a 555 timer chip and a variable resistor. There hasn't been a toaster that simple in almost 2 decades! Why? Because even the simplest task the human mind can possibly imagine, the most uniform and consistent task a human can imagine, still has too much variability and uncertainty in it.

      The "appliance" market in domestic products is DEAD. We don't have single-purpose kiosks that look one thing up, we don't use PDAs, I don't even remember the last time I saw a shop selling single-function clockwork alarm clocks. I think it was some time in the early 70s. Appliances are a failure. People WANT general purpose tools, not over-specialized ones, because you can make the tool work the way YOU work, you don't have to work the way the tool does.

      Half the reason older generations despised the evolution of appliances is precisely because it didn't adapt, they had to. Why should they? People are the masters of tools, the tools exist to serve people, it is never the other way around. The move in computing from general-purpose to excessively specialized is to go down a path that is well-trodden and one history has marked as a failure EVERY time.

      • Re:Alarmism (Score:4, Informative)

        by jez9999 (618189) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:57PM (#38544460) Homepage Journal

        Toasters are no longer simple mechanical devices for a reason. If an "appliance" concept really worked, all you'd need is a 555 timer chip and a variable resistor. There hasn't been a toaster that simple in almost 2 decades!

        Last time I checked, msot toasters were actually pretty much that simple. Exactly which toasters have you been experiencing in the last 2 decades, and what more functionality do they contain?

    • Re:Alarmism (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vadim_t (324782) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:11PM (#38543506) Homepage

      I'm immediately reminded of countless Slashdot posts decrying the rise of appliance computing and lamenting the industry's move away from "general-purpose computing." That phrase is actually a euphemism for "nerd playground made by nerds for nerds," because that is what is actually being missed. Nerds feel power when they invest time and master a system, but non-nerds have neither the time nor desire to make computing a hobby. To them, computers are simply a means to get a job done, and that's the extent of their interest.

      There's no conflict between a general purpose device and an easy to use one. I don't see how lack of DRM and user restrictions would suddenly mean anything different for the interface. All it means for most users is the ability to install unofficial applications. For the rest, the UI can be exactly the same.

      Doctorow argues that an appliance computer isn't a specialized computing device but a general-purpose computer running "spyware." This is a highly politicized perspective to take.

      And an entirely correct one. If you're not the owner of your hardware, then somebody else is. And if they can make money by collecting all the data they can on you, why wouldn't they?

      Stick-shift automobiles are generally more efficient gas-wise because you are able to directly control the gears used to move the vehicle, but most people today drive automatics. They don't want to mess with things, or tweak things, or dissect things. The car is a tool, and that is also true of computers.

      Yes, a computer is a tool. A tool should do what it's told. A car should drive wherever I want, a hammer should hammer whatever I want, and a computer should execute whatever code I want. The tool is my slave and I'm its master, and that's the only relationship I'm willing to accept.

      Disregarding the pandering videogame terminology for a moment, this is a perfect example of the freedom-fighting perspective that appeals to techies and convinces them that they are soldiers in a "war". RMS has made a career out of this, and while his insistence on open technologies does contribute to progress in the long term, it's that step over the line into delusion that makes me cringe. There's no war. We're not soldiers. We're not fighting a "mini-boss" in a video game, and we're not "level designers." We're just nerds who like to tinker, and that is a niche demographic in this business. The free market has discovered that the best way to make a seamless experience is to close parts of it down so the user doesn't screw it up (and any of you who have done tech support already understand how painfully easy it is for non-techies to do just that).

      Bunch of nonsense. The reality is whatever we make it be. If we decide to make a war where there wasn't one before, then there will be a war. The "free market" isn't some sort of deity, it's simply the consequence of the actions of people.

      Besides, there's nothing approaching a free market in the modern economy. The cost of entry into say, the cell phone market is enormous, and all the existing players are busy making turf grabs to make sure nobody new moves in.

      Probably, posting this will get me modded down, but I just wanted to comment on the bitterness toward appliance computing that has sprung up in online tech communities since the popularization of mobile devices like the iPad. There's this self-absorbed attitude that I just can't wrap my head around, a petulant voice that screams "Don't tell me what to do!" like a child throwing a tantrum. It's so out of touch with where the industry has headed in the last 10 years that it risks marginalizing its believers, turning them into crotchety, narrow-minded, unpleasant people.

      You know, I don't get your position either. I used to hear that America was the Land Of The Free, where I imagine a sentiment like "Don't tell me what to

    • I used have similar principles, right up to a month ago when I got my Evo 3D. It opened my eyes -- I was amazed at the raw power of the thing, but more amazed at just how dead easy it is to use. Android (and, I assume, iOS) have finally figured out how to make computing not just useful, but easy for regular users. I still don't know if walled gardens in general are the best solution, but we've taken a big step in the right direction.

      That's not to say Doctorow and Stallman are absurd; on the contrary they

    • by Urza9814 (883915)

      You seem to be assuming that user-friendly NECESSITATES techie-hostile; it does not. Compare Archos's Android media players with an iPod touch or iPad. They have nearly identical interfaces as far as the casual user is concerned (there's not a HUGE difference between Android and iOS as far as user-friendliness goes) But the big difference in terms of freedom is that the Archos devices don't have any hardware or software intended to provent you from using them as you wish. In fact, if you go to the Archos we

    • ...non-nerds have neither the time nor desire to make computing a hobby. To them, computers are simply a means to get a job done, and that's the extent of their interest.

      That's correct, non-nerds only really care about getting a task done, but that doesn't mean that they don't care about having a locked down device either.

      For instance, non-nerds will ask me if they can enable tethering for their laptop from their phone without paying extra, since they were already under the impression that they were already paying a hefty amount for unlimited everything. Some non-nerds will ask me about cheaper brands of ink, since they're paying through their nose for ink every time they'

  • Walled Gardens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:32PM (#38543136)
    He mentions U-EFI bootloaders, but gives Apple a pass on their walled garden. I think that's one of the big factors making a lot of this sort of control more acceptable. And before you bring it up, yes, I realize that the OS X still lets you install any software you want. I'm specifically referring to iOS here. I think it's rise is the knee in the downward curve of general purpose computing.
  • While there is a small hacker subculture, and while they ever innovate and add features people want, the public (or at least some of them) will flock to the more open devices.

    It isn't exactly something we can write laws about, because enforcement is hard, and it isn't something that is going to become law in every single country...

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:33PM (#38543144) Homepage

    Standard PC hardware is used absolutely everywhere now days, even places it really has no business being; ATMs, voting machines, automatic train control systems, etc.

    I'm sure Cory is trying to argue against locked-down devices -- the same argument he's been making for years -- but now he's repackaged the argument in a way that simply isn't true.

  • Choices... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bander (2001) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:51PM (#38543320) Homepage

    The popular success of iOS and other closed systems doesn't mean there aren't choices out there. I have an easily-unlocked and rooted Android phone, and I love it. Would my wife appreciate the command-line access and Python scripting facilities? Probably not -- she didn't even want a feature phone -- even an iPhone would be overkill for her use cases.

    HTC just announced that going forward, all their phones will have unlocked bootloaders. Not everything is going closed.

  • by schmidt349 (690948) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:56PM (#38543366)

    I think Mr. Doctorow errs in assuming two things: 1) that there's an intrinsic value in the total openness of programmable electronic devices, and 2) that the new "walled garden" approach adopted by Apple, Microsoft et al. is somehow being done to benefit the estate of Jack Valenti (thank God the Supreme Court couldn't extend his lifetime).

    Before you mod me into oblivion, hear me out.

    Most people do not give a good goddamn about having control over the code execution path. In fact they don't want control because they can get confused into letting viruses and other malware execute. They want their devices to make life easier, whether that means keeping track of information or playing games to pass the time or some other convenience, and given a two-dimensional optimization choice over the convenience/freedom axis they'll pick convenience every time. And they're not wrong or stupid or evil to do so. They just don't agree with your set of principles.

    And thank God for that, because I for one would not want to witness the consequences of a Melissa or Slammer-type worm infecting every Android or iOS device in the United States. We would just stop.

    There will always be vigorous and enthusiastic communities centered around truly general purpose devices. You need only look to the many devices other posters here have mentioned, such as the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and dozens of other hackables. Hell, through Amazon you can rent time on an infinite mountain of general-purpose computing if you're interested.

    Let's face it -- hackers, by which I mean the folks who want to push devices to do things they were neither designed nor intended to do, are a teensy minority in the world of users.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Most people do not give a good goddamn about having control over the code execution path

      And most people do not give a good goddamn about you having freedom of speech. Go ask all the fundie christians, they'd rather you be forced to live how they want you to. Is that a good thing?

      Appeals to the masses is BS, and for that alone you should be modbombed.

      Providing security for users does not have to be mutually exclusive to giving end-users full control over their property.

      There will always be vigorous and enthu

    • by kwalker (1383)

      1) There is. For the last ten years it has been euphamised as "innovation".
      2) Depends on what you define as "the estate of Jack Valenti".

      Do you honestly think we'd be in the same world if every Windows program down the line had to be approved by Microsoft prior to it being available to anyone? Do you think Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Opera would exist if Microsoft could kill them in the cradle because they competed with IE?

      If you're speaking literally about the estate of jack Valenti, then that's irrelevant

    • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:46PM (#38544362) Homepage
      Just because we are a small group, doesn't mean we are wrong.
  • The third great war (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sara Chan (138144) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:14PM (#38543538)
    The first half of the twentieth century was dominated by the war against fascism. The second half of the twentieth century was dominated by the war against communism. We are now engaged in a third great war: where governments try to gain total monitoring capabilities—where everything everyone does and says is monitored.

    The goal will be to have everything tracked and recorded. The technology will certainly exist, and governments will certainly try to deploy it. And most people will acquiesce. Because the governments are doing it "to protect the children", or "to stop terrorism". Or maybe it will be done just for convenience (e.g. portions of the Internet now require a Google account—and having a Google account now requires giving Google your phone number). Just remember, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

    This war will last decades, like the first two. The outcome is anyone's guess.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:41PM (#38543720)
    HTC just opened up their phones. There's tonnes of cheap tablets that are open. Thing is, even big guys like IBM want to keep things open. Look at HTML5. They're all too scared of Microsoft to risk a complete lock down.
  • Walled gardens... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blahplusplus (757119) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:59PM (#38543892)

    ... do not mean malware free computing, it means corporate sponsored malware the user is unaware of and can't get rid of. You people are dense who think walled gardens are going to be a panacea. The good thing about open systems at least is that they are analyzed by lots and lots of eyeballs. Closed systems will let nefarious organizations do whatever they want without your say or your knowledge.

  • by zuki (845560) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @06:56AM (#38547090) Journal
    I generally agree with the view that we are going down a slippery slope when it comes to individual liberties being subverted to fit the model of special interest groups like the copyright cartel. A couple of things I thought about.

    -1) It's worth remembering that Hollywood became what it was when the young movie industry felt stifled and encumbered by Thomas Edison's legal challenges asking everyone to pay license fees to use his inventions on the East Coast, so they decided to move West. (sounds familiar?...) People and companies will move again if there is no breathing room left in the US.

    -2) Between China and India there are over 2.5 billion people on the planet to whom this makes no difference whatsoever, as for all intents and purposes, copyright enforcement is non-existent. The market they create is too big to ignore, and general-purpose computing boxes that are fully open and customizable will always be around because of them.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

Working...