The Null Device

Slavery is freedom...

A Microsoft PR piece on why Digital Rights Management will make you free: (via Rocknerd)
Documents. Using a simple on-screen dialog prompt built into her word processing application, an advertising copywriter specifies that her document, a draft marketing plan, may be viewed and edited by a selection of the client company's managers for one week. She posts the document to a Web portal to share with them. Based on their feedback, she finalizes the plan and posts it. Managers who downloaded the obsolete draft can no longer open it, which prevents confusion as to which document is current.

And it also has the useful effect of destroying audit trails and suppressing documents which may, in future, come back to haunt their authors. DRM is not a value-neutral technology, as some free-market "libertarian" platygaeans would believe; it's one which reinforces existing power structures, and has more to offer to corporations and authoritarian states than to consumers or whistle-blowers.

Email communications. A senior partner in an accounting firm needs to send email to his partners with a confidential contract proposal attached. Besides specifying who may read the proposal and that they may not copy, paste or edit the information, he specifies that the email itself cannot be forwarded. The recipients' email and word processing applications transparently enforce these policies.

Which also has the nice effect of "de-commodifying" open standards for email. The glorious New Galambosianism of end-to-end total information control would depend on file formats remaining proprietary, a trade secret belonging only to a trusted gatekeeper, i.e., Microsoft. Thus it's hardly surprising that Microsoft, who have built an empire from locking people into proprietary file formats, are advocating such a totalitarian vision as the salvation of Capitalism and Civilisation As We Know It.

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