John Walker's Electronic House

CW 183

Copyright Watch 182

You’ve already heard PC Format’s take on the Sony rootkit debacle. Now let’s hear John Walker’s…

The pickle Sony have gotten themselves into over their latest foray into the world of unmitigated greed has raised ire and eyebrows all over the world. Which is interesting, as what they did is no new attack on our basic human rights. Corporations are pulling these sorts of deceptive DRM-bending, digital-liberty removing, fast ones on a regular basis. So why did everyone sit up and take notice this time? It’s because Sony’s attempt broke something we were using.

It appears that we, as a public, are willing to accept any degree of rights violations, let them install all the malware they can fit on our hard drives, and agree to whichever draconian and inhuman licence agreements they wish, just so long as they don’t prevent us from checking our email.

A few bloggers are beginning to take this idea to an interesting conclusion. Skimmed Cream (, and LXer ( are suggesting that perhaps the sorts of actions Sony took are exactly what we should be encouraging. Reflecting on the response to the prohibition of alcohol in 1920s America, the idea put forward is to let these companies continue in their current direction. Their greed is so powerful, as Sony have demonstrated, that they cannot think or act in a rational way. Allow this sociopathic irrationality to show through. Let them disturb our daily lives now, rather than the slow, drip-drip erosion that steals our future, because it appears that only then are we prepared to say we care.

The obvious metaphor is of the small, skinny ninja using his large, muscular enemy’s own weight against him. The peepy voices of a few bloggers and an angry columnist don’t have strength enough to topple these corporate behemoths. But the behemoths themselves have more than enough on their own. Their voracious gluttony is the most powerful weapon we have against them – let’s encourage it! Come on Sony, sue more children!