Banana republic DRM

14 Feb

I’ve been reading a lot lately about software licensing agreements and Digital Rights Management, what I’m learning absolutely boggles me. As Cory Doctorow says in one of his speeches, they allow the media and software companies – the rights holders – to make up rights for themselves that go far beyond existing laws. They justify this by claiming that the agreements represent a “contract” between you and the company that, for instance, lets them tell you how you can and cannot use your television set.

A post on the Hoopty Rides blog titled “Is the Complete New Yorker Spyware?” sums it up very well:

When you buy a piece of software or CD or digital music file, you are entering into an agreement to abide by the laws of a banana republic. Existing law is set aside as you agree to a whole host of other laws by clicking the ‘YES’ button. Perhaps the dictator is benevolent and the laws are not onerous but, maybe the laws are insidious.

The post takes apart the licensing agreement for the software and shows how screwed-up it is. For instance, the New Yorker has the right to scrutinize what you’re reading and share that information with “third parties”.

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