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Lessig: Content security squashing culture
Published: 2006-08-15

SAN FRANCISCO--The open-source movement has freed up creativity on the operating system and application levels, but digital-rights management threatens to turn creators into “pirates,” Stanford University professor Lawrence Lessing told attendees at LinuxWorld on Tuesday morning.

Wielding a simplified model of technology--with operating systems running on hardware and supporting applications on which content can be created and viewed--Lessig said that Linux and open-source software were already well established enough to offer an alternative system to proprietary development. However, more open content licensing models--such as Lessig's Creative Commons project--have not yet been adopted widely enough to offer an alternative to closed content.

The result is that current laws restricting uses of digital content turns creative kids into "pirates"--according to the major media companies--rather than fostering their imagination, Lessig argued.

"We can't kill the desire to create new things," he said. "We (the government) can only criminalize it."

Support for digital-rights management (DRM) has become more widespread as pay-for-download music sites, such as Apple iTunes, have become popular. Many digital-rights advocates have argued that DRM will prevent consumers and artists from using content in ways that have historically been considered fair use. Music company Sony BMG angered security experts and consumers late last year when the company distributed a rootkit-like copy protection program on more than 50 CD titles. The company finalized a settlement with a consumer class-action lawsuit in May.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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