Comics, PSPs, iPods, and copy protection

Before I start today's rant, I want to share something I found quite funny this morning. If you don't read Get Fuzzy and Pearls Before Swine it probably won't strike you as it did me. But this blog is all about me and what I care about. So if you are remotely intrigued, check the archives: Fuzzy; Pearls. It don't get much better than that for a dedicated funny pages guy like me. Sorry about the popups at comics.com.

Now my beef. Who's idea was it to have copy protection take all the pleasure out of the arts? OK - Stick with me for a minute. There's a story behind that one. It's the story of how I spent last evening.

My eldest children had been saving their pennies for quite some time now. Each with a goal to purchase one of the coolest new gadgets on the market. My son purchased his PSP, and daughter her iPod yesterday. I'm quite proud that they both were able to save that much from their allowances and such. Took each of them well over a year. It was no problem getting the games going on the PSP and music on the iPod. But another big attraction to those specific gadgets for each kid was the idea that they could transfer some of their favorite TV programs to the gadget. TiVo + Computer + (PSP or iPod) = portable TV programming (way cool for a pre-teen). So at this point I've spent an entire evening copying TV programs to gadgets, and I've copied a total of 0 TV programs to the PSP and 0 programs to the iPod.

Why is this so hard? Because our system for compensating the people who produce the TV programs, music, movies, or art in general is so screwed up. I'm all for compensating the artists. But wait, aren't some of the richest people in the world these very same artists? And aren't some of the most successful companies in the world the ones that produce and distribute this art? Let's see, my son wanted to watch Star Wars - Clone Wars on his PSP (a cartoon that was broadcast on Nickelodeon). I'm pretty sure George Lucas had something to do with that. Don't think he's living check to check. My daughter wanted to see High School Musical on her iPod (a Disney TV movie). Last I checked the NYSE Disney was doing OK. So it must be this copy protection stuff that assures these artists and distribution companies are fairly compensated for their work. So let me see if I've got this right. The idea of copy protection is to make it as difficult as possible to enjoy the art. This is supposed to assure the artist is fairly compensated. Give me a break.


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