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Although Camps A through C represent the strongest coalition against the pirating "Us," they sometimes exhibit the internal strife of a coalition of Afghan warlords. One small example: In May 2003, the BSA, the Computer Systems Policy Project, and the RIAA made a joint statement against forcing the consumer electronics industry to bake anticopyright into computer and entertainment hardware. This was a way to show solidarity with the camp selling the technology that makes their customers want more music and software (but also makes it easier to pirate—go figure).

The MPAA, however, just couldn't go along. Its client, the motion picture industry, preferred to lobby for just that—protection mandated in hardware to prevent DVD copying—first before Congress and then, when that failed, to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Without that protection, the industry was cool to the idea of committing high-definition content to either broadcast or optical media—they felt it was just too easy to pirate. This created a chicken-and-egg situation for the adoption of high-definition television (HDTV) in the U.S., which the FCC is trying to promote. No high-definition content, no HDTVs sold. No HDTVs, no reason for high-definition content. [8] (Our apologies for all the acronyms!)

But this little difference of opinion between members of Camp A is nothing compared to the apple fights, night raids, and outhouse tippings between the entertainment companies in Camp B and the technology companies in Camp C.

Both camps have the same customers: us, the consumers. Both want us to buy—the key word here being buy—their products. But the most sought-after features in Camp C products are the ones that allow customers to avoid buying Camp B's products. Conversely, if Camp C's hardware products don't find a market, who needs Camp B's media? So they need each other. They're wedded to each other. But it's a fractious, squabbling, dish-throwing marriage.

Napster provided a sense of urgency—and hearings before Congress on the broadcast flag issue the forum—but the lightning rod for the conflict might have been Apple Computer's 2001 ad campaign around the slogan, "rip, mix, burn."

The ad (see Figure 3-2) was created by Chiat-Day, the same agency that created Apple's famous Orwellian TV commercial broadcast during the 1984 Super Bowl to introduce the Macintosh personal computer. The "rip, mix, burn" slogan instantly hit an entertainment industry hot spot. Although the term "rip" technically means convert from another medium, [9] the entertainment industry interpreted it as an invitation to "rip off" the music industry. In testifying before Congress in the winter of 2002, Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, used the phrase as an example of how the technology industry is deliberately aiding and abetting piracy.


Figure 3-1 Innocence or intemperance? For a while, Apple marketing encouraged people to use the Mac's software and CD-making capabilities to personalize their music collections. It did not make the music industry happy, and the campaign was withdrawn, domestically at least.

As much as Steven Jobs fumed later that Eisner didn't know what the term meant, it is true that a lot more music was being downloaded illegally than legally.

But the technology industry, Camp B, didn't like being portrayed as the arms merchants of the copyright wars and countered. Andy Grove, CEO and founder of Intel, has pointed out that the entertainment industry fought video rentals tooth and nail and now gets 50 percent of its revenues from them. This chapter's opening quotes give the flavor of the discourse in 2002 about the subject.

Camp C thinks Camp B is a bunch of dinosaurs, Camp B thinks Camp C is a bunch of flesh-eating raptors.

To get a feeling for the nature of this interfamilia fisticuffs, just follow what's happened to copy protection on DVDs.

  • When DVD players first came out in 1997, they had "region" codes on them that prevented DVDs from other regions from playing on them. This was to help prevent piracy. Users quickly discovered ways around the codes.
  • In 1999, the new Region Code Enhancement came out. This offered tighter protection, but it also prevented some legitimate disks from playing. The technically adept once again figured a way around the codes, and eventually the full decryption algorithm was put onto the Net by a teenager.
  • In 2000, a new rule put the onus for checking on region codes on the hardware, not the software. Hackers couldn't get at them. But a hardware company came out with a Chinese-made DVD player that let users turn off copy protection.
  • The industry pressured the hardware company to drop the line, but in November 2002 a company called 321 Studios offered a program that bypasses regional lockouts and piracy protection. 321 Studios boldly sued nine entertainment companies for the right to distribute the software before they could retaliate. At the end of 2003, the case was still in the courts and had metastasized to other countries amid a blizzard of countersuits.

And so it goes. As we saw, the entertainment industry got its broadcast flag, and Camps B and C are once again playing nice with one another. But will it last? The continual advance of broadband communications, PC-based media centers, and wireless in the home would make us think not. There will always be some of Them willing to help Us against other Thems.

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