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DRM dreams or maybe nightmares

December 15, 2010

You know you’re a copyright and media law junkie when your concerns about DRM and crossing borders occupies a higher place on your list of things to do before moving abroad than what to do about your personal belongings. I am not having nightmares about it, but perhaps some unpleasant daydreams. All sorts of things are about to change:

  • Netflix streaming – I hear it works in Canada, but will it work via our Roku box.
  • Roku – will it revert to being an inert plastic box in Canada? Cannot imagine that all of the channels on Roku’s platform offer license for Canada.
  • Will my iTunes/iPod life get turned upside down because I have a Canadian address? Almost surely, based on experience.
  • Which apps on my iPhone will stop working when I switch it to Rogers from AT&T? That switch gives me the sweats just thinking about it.

I know, I know: most of these questions have answers, but my experiences in Germany taught me to fear the DRM monster, for it will rear its ugly head and make our media lives unpleasant. Don’t even get me started on the living hell I will endure to take my iPhone with me and get a Canadian number. AT&T wants a pound of my flesh, a quart of my lifeblood, half of my mojo, and something like $300 to let me out of my contract. One would think moving abroad would not be considered breach of contract, but why would I be so naive as to think that? Then in Canada, Rogers gets to inflict indentured servitude on me to allow me use my phone on their precious network. Arrgh.

Is it any wonder that there is a raging and active underground (and not so underground) economy for services and software that help us avoid this tyranny? From Skype to Creative Commons, Ubuntu to the Internet Archive we have alternatives, and more are surely on the way. Treat me nice, though, and my urge to break the yoke recedes. Is that so hard to figure out?

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