June 21, 2004

Who is Bullying Who?

Robert Heverly has been blogging up a storm on Displacement of Concepts recently and he has several good posts on Cory Doctorow's recent speech at Microsoft on DRM including, I wish I had said that and Still More on Cory's Talk. In a slightly longer post, Heverly disagrees (Not Wanting to Bully, but Not Having That Choice) with a posting by Microsoft evangelical blogger Robert Scoble defending MS's use of DRM (Cory wants Microsoft to be a bully with the RIAA).

Scoble argues that:

Cory wants us to bully the RIAA and push a format that is easily copyable (for music, at least). He says that's exactly what the VCR industry did (yes, he says, they got sued, and won, and were repaid hansomely in the marketplace). Interesting argument. I don't agree with Cory that that'd be a good thing for Microsoft to do. I want to see us avoid the courtroom if at all possible and avoid situations where we're bullying anyone.

Heverly responds:
But Scoble's take is just plain wrong. Microsoft, by including DRM in its technology and not providing the option to operate without it, is bullying consumers. Even in Scoble's own framework, it's not really a "bully or not bully" choice; it's a "who to bully" choice. Put (hopefully) a bit more articulately, it's a question of where Microsoft's own interests lie, and it seems in the eyes of most people, that they lie with the consumers (remember, the customer is always right). [italics in original]

However, I'm not sure that Microsoft is the one doing the bullying in either case. Why, if the RIAA and MPAA are the ones threatening lawsuits over technology, they aren't the bullies? When Scoble is saying that Microsoft should avoid the courtroom in such a case, he is merely saying that Microsoft should accede to the bullying. Of course, one would think that if any company could stand up to litigious bullies, it would be Microsoft. Thus, the real reason must be that Microsoft sees supporting DRM as in its interest. So, I guess Heverly is right after all, Microsoft is on the side of the RIAA and MPAA in bullying consumers.

For more of my thoughts on Cory's speech, see:
my comments here: DRM Is Bad for Monopolists, Too
Cory on DRM @ Microsoft

Posted by Ernest at 6:56 PM
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psst, it's Scoble, not Scobel

Posted by Matt on June 21, 2004 07:02 PM | Permalink to Comment
Metaphors Gone Wild: On Pies, Ships, Regressive Taxes, DRM and Microsoft

Excerpt: First, I just want to be clear when that I'm talking about "DRM" here, I mean DRM backed by force of law, that is, the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions. It would hardly be important to discuss DRM at all except that...

Read the rest...

Trackback from The Importance of..., Jun 22, 2004 12:07 AM

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