TR: What about the act that Rep. Zoe Lofgren has introduced into Congress, BALANCE, for “Benefit Authors without Limiting Advancement or Net Consumer Expectations”? It would take some teeth out of the provisions of the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] of 1998 that make it illegal to circumvent copy-protection technologies.
BS: It would be neat if that passed – but never underestimate the power of the lobbyists to kill that stuff. Lobbyists are clever.
TR: Let’s talk about the antivirus companies. The Sony BMG rootkit was the kind of thing that antivirus software should have detected on people’s computers. Yet it wasn’t reported by anyone, until the Finnish security company F-Secure started looking into the matter.
BS: It is a black eye for the antivirus industry. But if big corporate buyers say to Symantec and other antivirus companies “What the hell were you doing while all this happened?” things are more likely to change. There are press reports that the Department of Homeland Security was really annoyed that their antivirus software didn’t catch the Sony rootkit. Now there’s a consumer with a little more leverage! The question is: Is all of this just noise, or will it turn into a change in behavior?
TR: It appears that Sony BMG, at least, won’t behave this way again.
BS: Why not? A few years from now, after the controversy goes away, why wouldn’t they, unless they’re told not to? The media companies have a business model that’s fighting for survival. And this time around they have realized that they can extend their business model through the legal system, by lobbying for laws like the DMCA. So they’re not going to go away quietly. They are going to defend it even after it stops making sense.