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[[133.8]] Because the general shape of the copyright wars and the lessons they can teach us about the upcoming fights over the destiny of the general purpose computer are important. In the beginning, we had packaged software, and the attendant industry, and we had sneakernet. So, we had floppy disks in ziplock bags, or in cardboard boxes, hung on pegs in shops, and sold like candy bars and magazines. And they were eminently susceptible to duplication, and so they were duplicated quickly, and widely, and this was to the great chagrin of people who made and sold software.[[172.6]] Enter DRM 0.96. They started to introduce physical defects to the disks or started to insist on other physical indicia which the software could check for -- dongles, hidden sectors, challenge/response protocols that required that you had physical possession of large, unwieldy manuals that were difficult to copy, and of course these failed, for two reasons. First, they were commercially unpopular, of course, because they reduced the usefulness of the software to the legitimate purchasers, while leaving the people who took the software without paying for it untouched. The legitimate purchasers resented the non-functionality of their backups, they hated the loss of scarce ports to the authentication dongles, and they resented the inconvenience of having to transport large manuals when they wanted to run their software. And second, these didn't stop pirates, who found it trivial to patch the software and bypass authentication. Typically, the way that happened is some expert who had possession of technology and expertise of equivalent sophistication to the software vendor itself, would reverse engineer the software and release cracked versions that quickly became widely circulated. While this kind of expertise and technology sounded highly specialized, it really wasn't; figuring out what recalcitrant programs were doing, and routing around the defects in crapty floppy disk media were both core skills for computer programmers, and were even more so in the era of fragile floppy disks and the rough-and-ready early days of software development. Anti-copying strategies only became more fraught as networks spread; once we had BBSes, online services, USENET newsgroups, and mailing lists, the expertise of people who figured out how to defeat these authentication systems could be packaged up in software as little crack files, or, as the network capacity increased, the cracked disk images or executables themselves could be spread on their own.[[296.4]] Which gave us DRM 1.0. By 1996, it became clear to everyone in the halls of power that there was something important about to happen. We were about to have an information economy, whatever the hell that was. They assumed it meant an economy where we bought and sold information. Now, information technology makes things efficient, so imagine the markets that an information economy would have. You could buy a book for a day, you could sell the right to watch the movie for one Euro, and then you could rent out the pause button at one penny per second. You could sell movies for one price in one country, and another price in another, and so on, and so on; the fantasies of those days were a little like a boring science fiction adaptation of the Old Testament book of Numbers, a kind of tedious enumeration of every permutation of things people do with information and the ways we could charge them for it.[[355.5]] But none of this would be possible unless we could control how people use their computers and the files we transfer to them. After all, it was well and good to talk about selling someone the 24 hour right to a video, or the right to move music onto an iPod, but not the right to move music from the iPod onto another device, but how the Hell could you do that once you'd given them the file? In order to do that, to make this work, you needed to figure out how to stop computers from running certain programs and inspecting certain files and processes. For example, you could encrypt the file, and then require the user to run a program that only unlocked the file under certain circumstances.[[395.8]] But as they say on the Internet, "now you have two problems". You also, now, have to stop the user from saving the file while it's in the clear, and you have to stop the user from figuring out where the unlocking program stores its keys, because if the user finds the keys, she'll just decrypt the file and throw away that stupid player app.
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