Recently, I joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Some might equate the EFF the ACLU of the digital world. So, those of you that know my political leanings might ask, why? Let me try to explain.
Regular readers of this blog know that I work in the telecommunications industry. Specifically, for the last 10 years, I have been working to create products that allow telecommunications service providers to deliver broadcast-quality video over Internet Protocol (IP) over their networks. Our customers, the service providers, demand we create innovations in IPTV which give them competitive differentiation over the incumbent video service providers–typically the MSO (Multiple Service Operator) the cable company, or the Direct to Home (DTH) satellite company. Our ability to deliver these innovations is constantly under threat from traditional media sources which continuously fight new technology. The EFF is working to protect the rights of consumers to fair use which I believe protects our ability to innovate.
Does the EFF sometimes come into conflict with technology companies? Yes. In many cases, the same companies that lead the innovation charge are also working with traditional media companies on schemes to “protect” digital content. Where this “protection” limits consumer freedom, the EFF steps in to fight for consumer rights. Interestingly, it appears to me, that wherein the EFF and technology companies are in conflict, such conflict is limited to the short-term interests (some would say shortsighted) of that company. Protection of consumer rights is to the long-term benefit of all technology companies–whether they recognize this in their frenzy to generate quarterly results, depends on their ability to look beyond the numbers.
The EFF is fighting to protect consumer rights to fair use of content, whether it be in analog or digital formats.
Check out the Innovation section of the EFF website. Two areas of particular interest are Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). I encourage you to read the EFF information on both topics DRM and DMCA. For those of you who have PVRs or are contemplating a new HDTV purchase, the Digital Video Restrictions information is eye-opening.
EFF RSS Feeds can be found here.