Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Copyright, DRM, and Phone Repair

Copyright, DRM, 
and Phone Repair 

Back in October, 2018, things changed that most people didn't know needed changing.

Changes like this one are the substance of science fiction futurology, as the business of fiction writing is to take you on an adventure into a world that does not exist and propose solutions to problems you think you don't have.  The solutions that are most interesting are the ones you (as a reader) are certain would not work.

The writer's duty is to make you think about why you are so certain the solution would not work.  In the process, you may generate a solution to a real and current problem that will work.

In other words, fiction writers prompt you to make the world a better place.

The problem that needed solving was about the right to repair devices you own -- which contain or run on software you only license.

Software, and intellectual property such as fictional stories, come under copyright law -- and that law has had to be changed to keep pace with electronic media.  When the xerox copier was introduced to libraries, the uproar over copyright was intense, furious, adamant and heated.  Look where we are today with copy/paste.

So, today, companies tried to keep you leashed tightly to their own repair shops and prevent tinkering with your devices by yourself or an independent repair shop of your choice.

Repairing stuff has been a profession for thousands of years -- they tried to un-invent it.

The law may be challenged in court, reversed, modified, struck down, or just repealed and replaced.  The fight over "you didn't build that" and therefore you don't own or control that, is raging globally.

So read and ponder this as it pertains to self-publishing novels:



Advocates for the right to repair movement have cause to celebrate this weekend. New rules, which go into effect on Sunday, will allow consumers to legally hack the software on their own devices to repair them.

The new rules will allow consumers and repair shops not affiliated with brands to break DRM, or Digital Rights Management, which previously sought to prevent the copying and distribution of media and technology. Large corporations backed DRM, saying it was necessary to protect consumers and fight copyright infringement, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The DCMA, or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, sought to criminalize any attempts to bypass locks placed on devices, even if the attempt was made in an effort to repair or maintain it. The issue was primarily in the inability to repair a device that had already been bought and paid for. Instead, DRM forced consumers to take broken devices to specific repairers, stifling competition and monopolizing the market. DRM is “implemented by embedding code that prevents copying, specifies a time period in which the content can be accessed, or limits the number of devices the media can be installed on,” according to TechTarget.

The new rules proposed by the Library of Congress and U.S. Copyright Office will change that, allowing owners of smartphones, cars, tractors, smart home appliances, and a number of other devices to maintain their own property.

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"...maintain their own property."  -- "own?"

What does it mean to OWN something?  The esoteric and mystical ramifications of ownership are enormous.  Most people think ownership is a simple thing.  Children understand MINE at two years old.

Who is entitled to what for their creative work?  For any work, just the labor of moving one thing from one place to another place, we consider we have a right to be paid a living wage.

Do we?

And in what fundamental way will AI and all this automation change our "rights?"

Note this legal thrust includes cars and tractors.  Everything runs on chips now.

What will that imply about ownership in the future?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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