The Piracy Debate: Is Copy Protection Taking A New Turn?Wed Jan 16, 2008 @ 11:18AM PST
Posted by Eriq Gardner
As Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu and NBC Universal general counsel Rick Cotton participate in a New York Times-sponsored debate on the pros and cons of copy protection like anti-piracy technologies, we were pretty surprised to learn that Apple has just introduced a new MacBook laptop with no CD/DVD drive. Our tech-inclined, early-adopter friends tell us it's a must-grab.
If this new MacBook Air even approaches iPod-type adoption or signals the wave of the future for computer hardware makers, perhaps the debate over digital rights management is largely a moot one. Consumers may transition fully to getting their movies and music over the Internet where digital watermarking becomes way more important than the walking corpse of DRM.
More interesting, perhaps, is Day 2 of the Wu-Cotton debate or Wu's new column up on Slate that signals a slight shift in the war against piracy. Nowadays, the big hullabaloo is over how ISPs like AT&T and Comcast are monitoring Internet traffic for IP infringement and what they might do to crack down on piracy.
Actually, this is no longer an academic exercise. The Wu-Cotton debate dovetails nicely with the fierce lobbying campaign emanating from tech circles to prod the FCC to punish Comcast for blocking BitTorrent traffic and allegedly disobeying net neutrality rules. These rules were originally designed and promoted by tech companies like Google so that ISPs couldn't discriminate between content providers and charge a premium tax on better service, but has quickly evolved into a panicked stab at protecting a lot more.