Computer industry to entertainment industry: we lied (right on!)

RE: Computer industry to entertainment industry: we lied (right on!) Insightful personal correspondance from the Computer Industry to the Entertainment Industry.

Cory Doctorow: This amazing open letter to the entertainment industry, signed by the computer industry, is a nigh-perfect expression of what constitutes a successful approach to Internet technology. And it made me laugh my ass off.

We lied to you. In the golden 80s and 90s we told you micropayments and content protection would work; that you would be able to charge minuscule amounts of money whenever someone listened to your music or watched your movie. We told you untruths which we well knew would never work – after all, we would’ve never used them ourselves. Instead, we wrote things like Kazaa and Gnutella, and all other evil P2P applications to get the stuff free.

We told you these things so that you would finance the things we really wanted to build, not the things that you wanted to be built. We knew all along that DRM schemes do not work, and we knew that whatever we create can be broken by us. We don’t care anymore, because your money made us bigger than you.

Look at us: every year, we churn out more computer games than your entire industry is worth. You know how we do it? We like our customers. We don’t treat them like potential criminals, and try to make our products do less. We invent new things like online role-playing -games, where the money does not come from duplication of bits (which cannot be stopped, regardless of your DRM scheme) but from providing experiences that the people want.

We saw that you were old and weak. So we took advantage of it: told you things that you wanted to hear so we could kick you in the head in twenty years. Some of us told you that the future is going to be interactive – what did you do? You started to think how to make interactive movies (CD-I, anyone?), which is not what it really means, while we wrote games and tried to understand the new mediums, not how to bolt it on onto old things.

We lied to you. And we apologize for that, but it was for the greater good. So we’re not the least bit sorry.

Signed: The Computer Industry

I commented a while back that I saw Microsoft’s New Media Group as nothing more than a giant trojan horse (the historical one, not the viral one) to gain a foothold into the entertainment industry and then turn around and exploit it. In the end you cannot contain sound and light waves and this will be the ultimate downfall of the entertainment industry in the ongoing war between copyrights and consumers — between fair use and lawsuits with children and grandmothers. In the end the entertainment industry must evolve in order to survive and it’s track record at evolving has not been good to date.