Friday, September 17, 2010

American Ingenuity - What it Costs Us

The news recently broke that the HDCP Master Key had been decoded. TechDirt writes today that "Intel Confirms HDCP Master Key Is Out". Freedom to Tinker came out with a companion piece: "Understanding the HDCP Master Key Leak". A question naturally arises concerning what breaking the HDCP means in terms of breaking HDCP American ingenuity. The simple answer, one person was innovative enough to either crack it or get a copy of it.

But there is a deeper question.  American industry loves to proclaim how ingenious it is, look we're giving you HDTV!!!  True, but examine the cost to the consumer. As a quick example, TechDirt wrote: "Avatar Blu-Ray Customers Not Enjoying Their DRM-Crippled Discs" which demonstrated one instance of the new innovative technology not working. In the case of the New York Times wrote: "Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle". Which demonstrate the ability of a company post-sale to reach into your hardware and remove content at the company's whim. Thought you bought it; guess again.

The common theme? The implementation of American "innovation" is costing the American consumer their freedoms.  Furthermore, companies in their quest to pursue "innovation" have even gone to the Congressional supermarket to obtain laws that criminalize consumer activities that would not add to the corporate revenue stream.

Think of this, the content industry bought laws, they worked with many engineers to develop the HDCP standard, and they had to coerce manufactures worldwide to modify equipment to comply with and implement HDCP. The implementation of HDCP as an "innovative" technology took a long time, took a lot of effort, and cost a lot. So if American industry is innovative and can successfully deploy a universal DRM strategy world wide why won't it design a simple universal power adapter or a simple universal ink cartridge?  

Given time, every DRM scheme eventually fails. Now that HDCP has failed. The investment in time, money, and manpower in HDCP could have been invested in something productive such as universal power adapters and universal ink cartridges that would have been a win-win situation for both the companies and the consumer.  But it seems that companies are not interested in using innovation in a win-win manner.  Better to have an angry customer because Avatar won't play than to have a happy customer who can buy any printer cartridge. To bad.

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