Tuesday 30/07/2002Nawww.... This is just silly. Western Digital's latest drive, costing £250 or thereabouts, is 200GB.

Tuesday 30/07/2002
Nawww.... This is just silly. Western Digital's latest drive, costing £250 or thereabouts, is 200GB. Stonker! If you have a record collection too big to fit onto that, then you really should get out more. Unless you're The Avalanches (an Australian music duo, m'lud, who've made one smasheroonie of a record from 900 odd samples) in which case you should stay in and make more music pronto. And since even Microsoft and the army of synchronised penguins are proving unequal to the task of bulking up system and application software fast enough to keep pace with hard disk developments, there's not much doubt that such humongous data sponges are there for digital media.

Which is ironic, given the ever-more frantic efforts of the media owners to stop us doing any such thing. On top of last week's business of allowing the record companies to hack into your computer and destroy anything they don't like, we now see the Anticounterfeiting Amendments of 2002, a bill presented to the US Senate. This was originally aimed at people who fake holograms and certificates of authenticity, but has been quietly rewritten to cover anyone who tampers with digital rights management, file watermarking and so on. With fines of up to $25,000 per act of naughtiness, this could severely impact on the petty cash funds of anyone who's tempted to perform the massively illicit, technologically sophisticated evil of masking out bits of a protected audio CD with magic marker so it'll play on their CD. What a fun world we're building.

One of the effects of this sort of legislation, ironically, may be to weaken copy protection and anti-piracy technologies. If you know that you can bankrupt anyone who even so much as thinks of breaking your code, you don't bother to expend much energy in creating it. And the process of testing new methods and then building on what you find is going to be much harder, if it's illegal to do anything but play the content on whatever authorised players the powers that be are graciously releasing to the criminal classes this week.

Legislation's a lousy way to change human behaviour.