I think for the most part, the tech issues that interest, or rather more to the point – get a rise out of me – most are open source, privacy, and ‘understanding the ‘net issues. More specifically occasions when open source isn’t achieved, is attacked, misread or misunderstood. This extends to privacy and the use of the Internet either in dramatically brilliant or excessively stupid ways. Some people ‘get’ the ‘net, some people don’t. I like to believe I’m getting there albeit it took me awhile and it’s a long road ahead and there’s still much to learn.
The latest case that has caught my attention is the Nokia Ogg issue, or to be exact, Nokia’s claim that the Ogg Format is proprietary and hence must be removed from w3c’s web publishing standards for html5. The best article I’ve read explaining this so far is from Ars Technica, and by ‘best article explaining this’ I mean ‘I’ve only needed to read this 15x to understand it.
It’s a very complicated issue that reads more like a legal document rather than a technical white paper. In essence what Nokia appears to want to say is the ff.: (lifted from same article)
- W3C shouldn’t make any standards relating to codecs. Leave that to other standards bodies like ITU-T and ISO/IEC.
- There are over a billion PCs in the world today, many connected to the web, but these numbers are tiny compared to traditional video playback devices like DVD players.
- This industry is used to paying license fees and royalties for video codecs like MPEG-2.
- This industry is used to making money, and it doesn’t care about keeping things free.
- Web codec standards should be either free or low-cost to implement.
- Web codec standards should support DRM to placate Hollywood, but DRM implementations should be optional.
- H.264 for video and AAC for audio would be Nokia’s recommendations for codecs.
The questions arise partly from the manner with which Nokia chose to explain their position, occasionally including typos, emoticons and (again as quoted) “the author constantly puts “free” in quotation marks, as if to raise doubt about whether something that is available for free is actually free.
Then there is Nokia’s somewhat spotty reputation with regards to DRM, occasionally resorting to methods regarded as ‘underhanded’ by the community, as published in Engadget starting with here where they excitedly (and I don’t blame them) announce news of Nokia’s ‘Comes with Music’ program, only to discover hidden costs as detailed here.
Then finally there are merits of their argument itself, or lack of it. I’ll leave the rest alone, but issue #6, which accounts for Hollywood as the moving force behind implementing DRM seems to me the most myopic of all.
If the last few movies I enjoyed (Tropa de Elite and Lust, Caution) are indicators of anything, it’s that Hollywood in the next decade will play a vastly smaller role. Credit better movies outside of Hollywood. Credit cheaper and better technology. Credit rising stars, directors, actors and producers, all just as good or better than those in Hollywood. Even credit the ongoing writer’s strike if you like, an indication that far too much money is spent on stars rather than the people who really count. And yes credit the Internet. The Internet always play a bad role as far as music and videos are concerned, so yeah let’s not forget to credit the Internet.
The future shows a far more wider, bigger and larger scope than accounting for the interests of industry leaders today. Ten years from now, I am absolutely positive that DRM is going to be viewed as a laughable effort to try and dispel the obvious – people do not want to be shackled by the imposed limitations on the media that they buy. And even more laughable are methods such as hidden costs and attempts to kill off an open source format like Ogg by finding loopholes in it’s history.
The result? It’s obvious to me. If a Nokia gadget is not gonna let me listen and own my music or video in a manner I deem fit for my use, I’ll go and buy a Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Siemens, Philips, Bird, or any other type of phone that will. If using Ogg Vorbis, which is not all that popular to begin with, is apparently going to infringe on someone’s rights, then the industry which thought of Ogg in the first place will just go ahead and make Ogg 2.0 – it may not necessarily be better, but will certainly not be unhinged by Nokia’s or anyone else’s legal hullabaloo later on.
In other words, you can go impose your ‘rights’ on people and underhand your way to force them to buy your music, and they’ll just go ahead and find another way.