John Edwards spoke (and listened) at Gnomedex. I was really expecting a stump speech and it was much more of a Q&A. I didn’t get my question in and I can’t believe nobody else asked. Here it is.
Net Neutrality was mentioned, but its just the tip of iceberg. The real issue is consumer’s rights. Failure to ensure equal access to network bandwidth via common carrier regulations will hamper startups who are low on cash and limit the new services that consumers see. But there is more.
Digital Rights Mamagement – DRM (which should be called Digital Revenue Maximization) – keeps consumers from using the content they’ve paid for. Perpetual copyright, broadcast flags, region codes, copy protection, Sony rootkits, all work against the consumer and for the corporation. “We the people” are getting tired of being treated as criminals by default by our government that seems to have been bought by “them the corporations”. What about my rights? I paid for this stuff and I’m not allowed to use it?
As an example, I purchased several Disney DVD’s while living in Europe, only to find they won’t play in the US. I contacted Disney to try to get a media replacement in a format I can use. They told me to go pound sand. So much for respecting my content license. While they are terribly concerned about making certain their license terms are respected, they don’t seem to care about my side of the deal. This has to change.
All of this serves to damage the economy, prevent innovation and favor the status quo. As a content creator, I believe in intellectual property. But experience has shown the software industry that people will buy what they use and people who copy illegally weren’t going to buy anyhow. There is no lost sale.
Consider the warez scene where copies of thousand dollar software packages are swapped by kids like trading cards. None of those kids are doing much with the software other than kicking the tires. Certainly none of them were going to buy it. The people who rely on that software will pay for it because they want to support the creators and ensure that more like it will be coming. Same is true of music, movies, television content, and print.
I also thought Werner Vogels talk on net neutrality was brilliant.