November 02, 2005

Trying to Plug the Analog Hole -- An MPAA Exercise in Futility

Greetings. As you can read for yourself in a new MPAA draft document, the MPAA is back with another astoundingly inane proposal that would take Digital Rights Management (DRM) somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. The Target: The infamous "analog hole" and the ability of consumers to digitize analog materials on their own.

I won't even bother itemizing here the long list of ways in which attempts to "copy protect" analog sources are outrageous, oppressive, anti-consumer, and expressions of hubris on high, with a vast range of negative technological and social consequences, both planned and unintended by the proponents of such malarkey.

Instead, I have a simple comment for the would-be "analog hole pluggers":

Take a memo guys, it ain't gonna work! You will put yourselves, politicians, and the rest of us through the wringer, and in the end the video piracy situation will be as bad as before -- probably even worse since otherwise law-abiding and anti-piracy viewers may be driven to piracy just out of spite from your overreaching.

The main reason that the plan is doomed from the word go is that it only takes one digital copy of any given material to render the analog hole meaningless for that item. And that digital copy will be able to saturate the Internet despite any attempts at controlling ISPs, blocking file sharing, or even the return of Hypnovision!

There will always be very large numbers of "uncontrolled" analog conversion points. It is guaranteed that unauthorized analog-to-digital conversions will take place, in most cases at multiple locations. And once that happens, it's game over for controlling the digital existence of that particular item. This will happen with every single desirable item of media that you're attempting to control down by the ol' analog hole.

So in the end, what you'll have accomplished is inconveniencing honest consumers -- who aren't your real enemies -- while living up to old Soviet-style information control philosophies (which, by the way, were largely ineffective for them, too.)

I don't like piracy. I'm sympathetic to legitimate concerns about piracy. But as a famous fictional starship engineer once said, "Ya' cannot change the laws of physics!" Attempts to plug the analog hole won't do any good, but will do a lot of damage to technology, society, and -- oh yes -- to you.


Posted by Lauren at November 2, 2005 08:33 AM | Permalink
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