On Digital Theft


I walk around in mortal fear of losing my Treo, which combines my address book and other vitally important info to me (such as when I'm rehearsing with my a cappella quartet).

So I read with interest this item about some technology that broadcasts an alert if someone changes the SIM in a stolen mobile phone.

Actually, in my case, the data ON my phone would be the more devastating loss. But it's nice to know that at least someone wouldn't be able to rack up a huge excess-minutes bill on my behalf. I already do a good enough job of that myself.

The issue of digital rights management and the much-maligned P2P music-sharing services like Grokster is on the radar screen of the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

Although there hasn't been a ruling yet (as of when I'm posting this), this Associated Press report suggests that the justices are likely to rule on the side of innovation and not for the Hollywood content giants like M.G.M., which would prefer to see the practice of file-sharing snuffed out.

On the other hand, the justices aren't exactly thrilled by the defiant stance of some of the defendants, who seem to blatantly preach piracy tactics.

While we're waiting for the ruling, if you want to read another opinion on how intellectual property rights should be enforced, this report from Competitive Enterprise Institute analyst James Plummer argues that technology itself is probably the best way to meter the use of content.

Hmm, using technology to control technology. What a novel concept.

Still, there really do need to be some rules about what's right or wrong. My own discussions with friends about this topic lead me to believe that naivete is more to blame for digital content piracy than some massive conspiracy to bilk the system. Most people who don't own copyrights really don't understand what they are, or why they matter.