How "Content Protection" hurts the consumer.

I ran across a post on Slashdot recently pointing to an article about how copyright issues are creating a problem for amateur photographers.

It seems that due to recent lawsuits that professional photographers have leveled against printing houses, the retail printing and development places are now refusing to print 'professional quality' digital images for fear they might be copyrighted and would therefore incur a lawsuit.

We now live in a world where the 1970s concept that "if you've got the negative, it's your picture" has been turned on its head by a digital process that has no 'base negative' that can't be reproduced. And as a photographic culture we need to accept that and adjust the business and the law to make room for a different kind of reproduction. Legal action is not the answer, especially not against an innocent third party developer that is just doing its job in providing the consumer with what they want.

This sort of lawsuit spawns from the same devious and shortsighted mentality the RIAA is using as justification for holding technology companies responsible for the actions of their consumers. It is absurd. Akin to suing a manufacturer of bolt-cutters because your bike was stolen.

Personally I think photographers should be selling the rights to the images they capture and not just prints of them. I've always thought that it was awfully sleazy to photograph a wedding and then rather than selling your services and the images, you sold printing access to them, as if the wedding was something you possessed and you could farm out the memories of its occurrence as you pleased.

To those photographers who have sued: It's one thing to defend your right to control the reproduction of your own images, as an artist. It is another entirely to sue a company for allowing such reproduction to occur. It is not their job to police your work, and doing so only discourages amateur photography as a whole (which I suppose might be your objective, since you are professionals and probably see us amateurs as competition).

The concept of "controlling reproduction" of information needs to be abandoned. We live in an age where any information can be reproduced, most of it flawlessly, without negligible resultant cost. Audio, Video, and Images can all be ripped, recorded or scanned and reproduced digitally for almost zero cost and little-to-no investment in hardware (a computer, scanner, and all the necessary software could total less than $500 and still be able to do almost all the reproduction work in near-real-time and many of us all possess those components already). That makes the concept of policing the reproduction of content almost meaningless.

This is akin to suing the manufacturer of my scanner because I might use it to scan a copyrighted work. It is foolish, anti-progress, and morally wrong.

To those who sue third-party technology houses and printing companies over such things: Don't target a brick-and-mortar business just because you can't get at what you perceive to be the enemy. Let your paradigm shift and realize that you live in a different world now. It's two-thousand and five. Welcome to the new fucking millennium. It is time for you to grow up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


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