Still catching up on my blog reading after my trip to LWCE, and the long car trip back. This post on Copyfight highlights an important point about the DMCA and how it relates to open source.
The DMCA has largely been a failure at fighting illicit copying, but the unintended consequences have been substantial. If it has been largely ineffective, then why not look to getting rid of the statute? Probably because the unintended consequences are still favorable to the companies that pushed for the DMCA in the first place.
Fred von Lohmann points out, DRM is still popular because "anti-circumvention regulation constrains innovation and competition in the technology marketplace, thereby ensuring, in the words of one entertainment industry lawyer, a 'well-mannered marketplace.'" Without legislation protecting DRM, well, the entertainment industry would have to contend with a marketplace that is not so well-mannered.
Of course, open source is emphatically not well-mannered from the point of view of the entertainment industry (or the software industry, for that matter). Just the opposite, in fact. When people take matters into their own hands by writing open source software, they have a tendency to create software that does what they want, rather than what the entertainment industry wants. This is inconvenient for an industry that wants to make sure you can't even play DVDs from another "region" in your home DVD player, or make a back-up copy of a DVD for the road or in case the original is scratched. (I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed this, but DVDs are much more susceptible to scratches that affect playback than CDs...)
On the same topic, Ed Felten has a post on Hollywood controlling parts of Windows Vista design that is also well worth reading. Is this really what we want? A future where we cede more and more control over our personal computers and content that we have legally purchased to a small consortium of companies?