Thursday, April 04, 2002

Valenti Jack "Freedom is the enemy" Valenti clearly outlines Hollywood's goals in its ongoing jihad against the personal computer. He wants:

1) Policeware that checks for broadcast flags and keeps digital TV content off the Internet.
2) Banning all bitstreams that have no flag at all (to block people from redigitizing analog content. He refers to this as "plugging the analog hole" which I find delightfully colorful.)
3) Prohibiting individuals to self publish ("the persistent and devilish problem of peer-to-peer.")

The policeware system is designed to cripple the aftermarket for digital content. After all, advertisers put stuff on TV you want to see so they can show you stuff you don't want to see. So why should they care if their ads are distributed through more channels? Advertisers don't, but Hollywood does because it also sells its content directly to end-consumers via Blockbusters and unless they cripple the digital aftermarket, they will not be able to price discriminate between these two customer sets. (This is kinda how regional encoding in DVDs work)

Banning all unflagged bitstreams means consumers will be barred from producing their own content. A digital camcorder doesn't know if it's pointed at your nephew, or to a cinema screen. A microphone is indifferent towards a garage band and Celine Dion. Holywood's answer to this is just to assume all bitstreams are "stolen" and ban them all. This is insane. But no more insane that making it illegal for computers to speak with each other, which is essentially what the last point entails.

You'll note that text based content providers aren't moaning about rampant copying. They're free to lock up their content as much as they like, but what they do is irrelevant since readers have backward integrated into the content creation field via weblogs and are happy giving the stuff away. (Musical successes will do the same thing for recording). But Hollywood is on crack to think their business is threatened. Video transmits at 180Mbps uncompressed, and let's say 90Mbps compressed (with loss). At 0.3Mbps (which is what the FCC defines as "broadband") it'll take 750 hours to download a 2.5 hour movie. Even if you improved everything by three orders of magnitude it's still faster to go to Blockbusters.


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