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June 29, 2004
Supporting the INDUCE Act
Not too long ago, I explained why I believed Microsoft was a supporter of DRM (Metaphors Gone Wild: On Pies, Ships, Regressive Taxes, DRM and Microsoft). Basically, my argument was that DRM acted as a barrier to entry and slowed innovation so that Microsoft could remain at the top of the mountain. Today, Ed Felten makes a similar argument with regard to the INDUCE Act and why tech companies can't seem to get their act together with regard to combatting Hollywood's lobbyists ("Tech" Lobbyists Slow to Respond to Dangerous Bills). Says Felten:
Giving the entertainment industry a veto over new technologies would have two main effects: it would slow the pace of technical innovation, and it would create barriers to entry in the tech markets. Incumbent companies may be perfectly happy to see slower innovation and higher barriers to entry, especially if the entertainment-industry veto contained some kind of grandfather clause, either implicit or explicit, that allowed incumbent products to stay in the market -- as seems likely should such a veto be imposed.
Just to be clear, an entertainment-industry veto would surely hurt the tech incumbents. It's just that it would hurt their upstart competitors more. So it's not entirely surprising that the incumbents would have some mixed feelings about veto proposals, though it is disappointing that the incumbents aren't standing up for the industry as a whole.
Absolutely, and Felten's argument is yet another facet of the technology industries that the Boston Globe
's Hiawatha Bray doesn't get (For geeks, it's a big misunderstanding
The question is, how do we convince the incumbent industries to defend the industry as a whole? With regard to Microsoft, I'm not sure that we can. I don't think it is anymore possible to convince Microsoft to support open innovation and markets than it would have been to convince AT&T to open up the telephone markets to competition in the late '70s.
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