The DMCA and what it says about open-source software

The DMCA is more evidence that closed-source software companies think that their coders will lose to open-source coders

There's no reason here to go into all the reasons that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a bad law. Plenty of other people have done that. But there's an implication of one aspect of it that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere.

As most every geek knows these days, the DMCA makes it illegal (with a few exceptions) in the US to circumvent anti-piracy functions built into software. A non-geek might find that odd. Why should a big software company need to make subverting part of their software illegal? Couldn't they just make it impossible or at least very hard? Alas, on past form, they can't. Every form of copy protection I've heard of have been cracked sooner or later. And it's not large companies that crack copy-protection systems. It's mostly teenagers working in their spare time. The DMCA is just a matter of the big software companies running up a white flag. They're sure that whatever code they write will be cracked by a socially irresponsible teenager so they need to be able to sue.

But how is it that they can admit that they can't outwit teenagers and then say with a straight face that they produce better code than the thousands of dedicated people who work on open-source projects such as Linux and Python? Doesn't make sense, does it?

Posted: Sun - December 7, 2003 at 01:53   Main   Category: