Wednesday, February 26, 2003
More on the DMCA: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act looks to be a bigger and bigger mistake as time goes by. Of course, we shouldn't be at all surprised by the inability of anyone over the age of 30 to understand modern technology. The new litmus test for passing any law relating to computers is a demonstrated ability to set the clock on a VCR.
PC Magazine's John C. Dvorak has an interesting report on the issue in the March 11 edition's "Inside Track" column (not available online).
More Bad News Dept: We all know that the printer companies have tried to turn their businesses into razor-blade schemes by selling printers at a loss and profiting from expensive supplies. You can almost buy a new printer for the same price as some replacement ink cartridges. It didn't take China long to figure out that money can be made selling replacement cartridges, which soon flooded the market, much to the chagrin of printer makers.
So they took the next step and added a proprietary chip to the cartridges to prevent unauthorized replacements. Soon after, chips were invented that could fool printers. In fact, a North Carolina company called Static Control Components is being sued by Lexmark for making cartridge clone chips. Lexmark is using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as leverage, saying these clone chips violate the act by bypassing copy protection. Lexmark should win merely by having more lawyers and going through civil instead of criminal courts.
As Hiawatha Bray writes in The Boston Globe: "You can see the future. Already some auto parts have chips embedded in them. Imagine a day when you can only replace a Ford headlamp with another Ford headlamp, or the car will stop running. Or imagine buying a house with nothing but Whirlpool appliances, designed so that a Kenmore fridge won't work."
It may actually be illegal, according to this law, to discuss any of this.
Of course, it's doubtful that it would ever go that far -- I hope.