John Walker's Electronic House

CW 187

Copyright Watch 187

John Walker reports on two extremely different examples of the damage of modern Copyright on the individual.

There’s a reason why this column watches Copyright. It’s a worry that it might get lost amongst the outcry of another innocent person imprisoned, another family illegally sued, another press release of demonstrable lies from the recording industry, another revelation of criminal acts by the Big Four record companies, another announcement that sharing funds terrorism… These must be exceptional cases! They must be abnormal, blips in the system! Here are a couple of strikingly separate examples of why people need to wake up.

Australian schools already pay (Aus) $31million (£13.1m) a year for the right to use photocopiers for teaching their pupils, whether they copy material or not, and a current case at the Federal Court is deciding what figure will now be charged for using websites in education. Whatever it is, it will be more than the already cash-strapped schools can possibly afford, and any additional charge will ensure the internet is switched off in their buildings. Expect this to repeat worldwide very soon.

The next generation of DVDs won’t support the “managed copy” option that the already purchased tech has promised. Nor for many will they work at all. The power of Hollywood’s moguls is now so great that Sony, Phillips et al are only answering to them over the features their new discs will give us access to. Both Blu-ray and HD-DVD will not support Component Video connections or non-DVI graphics cards, meaning your year old HDTV will soon be useless for playing new discs. Your graphics card? Buy a new one. And why? Because the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), a concoction of Hollywood companies hiding behind a ridiculous, meaningless name, can’t enforce their new, more stringent copyright onto these widely owned systems. The tech companies, panicking in the face of these behemoths, have screwed every consumer.

It’s out of control, and it has to be taken notice of. Copyright is hurting you every day. If anything else were costing you so much, hindering you so abysmally, you’d say something, you’d do something.