Opinion: Page (1) of 2 - 10/18/01 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Talkin' Smack: The Security Scam

Digital rights and consumer wrongs By Dave Nagel
So, is it just me, or does everyone hate rights management companies? You know, those guys who make the technology that other people use to keep consumers from copying their stuff. Take Macrovision, for example, since it's their technology that has annoyed me most recently. Macrovision is the company that makes that encoding technology to "prevent piracy." At least that's the claim. In practice, it's the technology that causes me to go out and buy more expensive equipment because I can't use my VCR as a media hub because Macrovision's technology doesn't understand the difference between passthrough and recording. In other words, I can't run my DVD player through my VCR and actually watch a DVD because Macrovision thinks I'm trying to pirate my DVD just by virtue of the fact that both my VCR and DVD player are turned on at the same time.

I suppose I can't blame Macrovision too much. If I could figure out a way to scam electronics manufacturers out of millions, I suppose I would too. (Macrovision raked in $23 million last quarter alone.) I use the word "scam" because there's actually nothing in Macrovision's technology that prevents actual piracy. See, if I felt like it, I could play my DVD through something like a FireWire bridge and into a digital or analog recorder. Or, for real volume, I could just duplicate the DVDs bit by bit and not worry about a thing. I'd have the original interactive menus and everything. Then I hook up with an outfit offshore and start taking orders....

Of course, I wouldn't advocate doing this, as I wouldn't want my stuff stolen either, but I'm using it as an example of how companies that offer security services leech upon the insecurities of others without actually providing solutions to problems?and actually cause problems in the process. It's the same with those companies that sell security systems to airports or alarm systems to elderly people who are too enfeebled to realize they'll be dead before the rent-a-cop shows up.

Scam, the whole lot of them. Scams against consumers and vendors alike.

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