Civil disobediance and what works or not

Read David Trowbridge‘s blog entry about the recent blogging campaign posting one of the AACS keys with interest. As someone who has to deal with software patents and DRM systems on an almost daily basis as part of my job I would have to say I disagree on his conclusion that such efforts have no value and should just be considered worthless online ‘whining’.

There was a similar thing happening with CSS back in the day, where people posted the DeCSS source code everywhere and put it on t-shirts etc. While it might not have caused the whole DRM eco-system to fail it did play a part in the content industry starting to question the value of DRM systems. If we get a similar story now with AACS it could be the decisive blow that ‘educates’ the content industry on the futility of pursuing DRM systems.

The fact that we have had DeCSS out there now for many years has also been a useful tool for countering many of the arguments made by for instance the DVD CCA, regarding why DRM systems are needed. In the DVD CCA FAQ there is a question about why CSS is necesarry. They are saying that without CSS the content industry would be hesistant to release their content. Well DeCSS has been out for a long while now and there is a long list of DVD rippers out there using it, available for all major operating systems, yet that fact doesn’t seem to have put a dampener on the willingness of the movie studios to release more DVD’s…..

So David might feel that the ‘Civil disobedience’ in regards to AACS is worthless, yet I say that discrediting the major DRM systems out there actually do serve a purpose in terms of educating people about the futility of such systems, and also demonstrates that the assumption that without effective DRM systems sales will collapse is a false one.

And being someone who has to deal with people doing hardware, software and content in this area I can tell you that the ‘educational effect’ of more and more DRM systems getting broken is slowly changing the mindset and level of understanding of the industry.

So while I as part of my work have to deal with the laws and regulations as they are today and have to work within the constraints they set that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the efforts of those being able to operate in less restrained ways than we can as a company. The world is a complex place and a working democracy is much more than just voting and mailing your local politician.