DRM good or evil?
Posted Sep 23, 2006 18:19 UTC (Sat) by mingo
In reply to: Bad, bad DRM
Parent article: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
I dont think i should get into the business of trying to determine what is good, evil or silly - but you did this work for me, so my only job is to point out possible inconsistencies in your categorization:
most human tools have their purpose written upon them in neon letters. Are fingerprint-resistant automatic assault rifles good or evil? They are patently evil.
is it evil even if you found it on the street (honestly, some street gang left it there), and by accident you are attacked by a drunk maniac weilding an axe, who kills your dog with a single blow and now threatens to kill you, your wife and your son? So while i'd agree with you that the production of such a rifle is probably patently evil, actual use might still be considered "good", in special circumstances.
Is the atomic bomb good or evil? They are devised to decimate whole cities; it is hard to see what good they can bring.
Here again the answer is: "it depends". For example, which atomic bomb? The russian atomic bombs were never used against civilians, and they helped create a "balance of total mutual destruction", which resulted in no other atomic bombs being used after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (although they were very much considered militarily) Were thus those, "defensive" atomic bombs "evil" too? Or did they save humanity from total destruction?
another question here: man would have figured out the a-bomb no matter what. If not the Manhatten project then some other effort. If you had the choice, and this discovery was inevitable, which country would you have picked to discover the atomic bomb? Nazi Germany? Communist China under the rule of Mao? The Soviet Union under the rule of Stalin? Or maybe the USA?
Were the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki good or evil? They were utterly evil, and making them "the lesser of two huge evils" is not going to change that.
Did they save 3-4 hundreds of thousands of american lives, at the "expense" of 200,000 japanese lives? By simple, cold-blooded extrapolation from the casualty figures of Osaka's assault, probably yes. Is it evil to pick the lesser of two incredible evils? The answer depends on your fate. The Christian religion will most likely say: "yes, it was incredibly evil, man must not kill, let God decide". Under other religions it could be considered "good".
I think even these scenarios - although you picked them - are alot less clear-cut than you suggest. The same goes for DRM. It's a tool, and its morality depends on intent and other circumstances, not on the tool itself. DRM was not invented today, it was in use for more than a decade in probably every desktop chip that you used - and the use of that type of DRM was considered totally good. (the Intel microcode upload mechanism is DRM.) DRM has also been in use in probably almost every ATM that you used in your life, for over a decade. For a totally valid and non-evil purpose too. I believe you only consider DRM "evil" because you are seeing it used for evil things in things like DVD players. But even there it's not the use of DRM that is evil, but the intent of that use: the content mafia wants to preserve its monopoly.
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