If you've been following any of the news regarding the now draft version 3 of the GNU General Public License, then you also know by now that the Free Software Foundation and its leader Richard Stallman are looking to prevent the mashing up of GPL'd software with digital rights management (DRM) technology (see TiVo in unenviable role as GPL3 vs. DRM guinea pig). Even though it's a scourge that lives at the intersection of technology and entertainment -- one that could severely limit our freedom to listen to or watch the content we pay our hard earned money for using the device of our choice -- most people are simply turning a blind eye every time DRM gets mentioned. It's not a very sexy acronym. There's no shock and awe. The DRM cartel likes it that way. They don't want any groundswell of opposition to interfere with their plans to control your horizontal and the vertical. No, this is not Outer Limits science fiction. This is the real deal.
To wake people up, I've come up with a new acronym for DRM: CRAP. It stands for Content Restriction Annulment and Protection. With CRAP technology (aka DRM), your ability to view or listen to the the content you acquire, record, or play in real-broadcast time (ie: a Cable TV or radio program) is easily resticted by its distributors. They can restrict whether you can record it and what devices you can play it on (including the portable players and the type of computers you can use for playback). You may agree to a certain license when you're first exposed to the technology. But the people at the CRAP controls can revoke those terms and issue new ones whenever they want (thus, annulment). And, the worst scourge to many: you're prevented by both the technology and the law (the Digital Millenium Copyright Act or DMCA) from tampering with CRAP technology, even if it's only to make a copy that works on an unsupported device for your own personal use (the protection part). I've written about CRAP. Made videos about CRAP. And now, I'm getting emails from Richard Stallman about CRAP.
Stallman appears to like the shock and awe value of CRAP but has proposed a different meaning for it's initials. Wrote Richard via email:
The main reason I prefer "Cancellation, Restriction and Punishment" is that it avoids the terms "Content" and "Protection". See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html for why I want to avoid them. However, I think these words [Cancellation, Restriction and Punishment] are more everyday and simple, which are goals that you have emphasized in our conversation.
The conversation he's referring to is one where he originally proposed "Cancellation/Restriction of Art Presentations." I objected to the "Art Presentations" part on the grounds that it's just as problematic in resonating with the masses as "DRM" is. I argued that we needed something that resonates with everyone who's at risk (basically, everyone). Cancellation? I get it. That's akin to annulment. Restriction? I'm jiggy with it. I'm already using it in my own CRAP. "A" for "And?" Just trying to make the acronym work. "P" for "Punishment?" Richard likes this because that's what you can get (punished) if you tamper with CRAP (based on the DMCA). It does get the point across. I kinda like my defintion and we've received a lot of supportive email from ZDNet's audience regarding my recasting of DRM as CRAP. But who am I to make such important decisions? Rather than work it out between us, I proposed to Richard that we throw it out there to the masses (kind of the way GPL'd software is developed) to see which of the two you prefer? So...
- Content Restriction Annulment and Protection
- Cancellation Restriction and Punishment
Let us know.