Brad Fitzpatrick (brad) wrote,
Brad Fitzpatrick
brad

future of computing... patents/"trusted" hardware...

I find myself rereading these every year or so and each time it feels even more sad:

Phil Salin: Freedom of Speech in Software
http://philsalin.com/patents.html

Richard Stallman: The Right to Read
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html

And the sad part is that these people were probably regarded as crazy, paranoid nutjobs at the time (hell, RMS still is, right?) but their predictions keep coming true.

The one thing that gives me hope against software patents, UCITA, the DMCA, TCPA/Palladium, etc., is that users and companies are starting to getting inconvenienced and pissed off.

Every time I read about somebody losing access to their files due to copy protection gone wrong, or their operating system not booting due to it being paranoid about hardware changes implying possible piracy, .... well, it fills me with hope that people will only take so much pain before they search for alternatives.

Now, if that was it alone, I wouldn't have much hope because individuals tend to be ineffectual at changing stupid laws. Sure, maybe they'd want to switch to Linux, but would Linux even boot on "Trusted" computers that won't run unsigned, uncertified code in 5 or 10 years? Maybe Linux wouldn't even be a feasible option by the time users really start to get irked.

But with so much corporate interest in Linux lately, and things like OSDL and its legal funds, I'm a little happier.

I don't know where I'm going with this.

I just get really pissed off and depressed to think that software patents and unhackable hardware are starting to destroy what I love so much in life. Will I even be able to program in the future, without working for a big company that has a certification program to sign my code? Or maybe I can program, but only self-sign things to run on my own machine, but not distribute to others....

I just have to continue to hope that Linux and Open Source in general keeps growing and more people take notice before it's too late. A Microsoft monopoly is bad enough, but hardware and laws which keep it so would be even worse.
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