While most of the attention on Downing Street's epetitions website has focused on the anti-road pricing campaign, an equally interesting part of the exercise has been the call for the government to ban DRM. 1,400 signed up, and now the government has come up with its response.
It'll come as a surprise to hear that New Labour is siding with the big companies. Still, let's give it a chance, shall we?
Thanks for the lesson, although to be fair people signing a petition about DRM actually already know this bit. And while it's true that DRM can prevent "illegal" copying, it also prevents legal copying. And interferes with consumer sovereignty.
We're not sure if this is just a joke on the government's part, or if they really believe that. DRM acts in precisely the opposite direction - by locking consumers into one supplier and one format, it means you have no control whatsoever over what you want to pay - unless Tony Blair knows of a website selling legal, iPod enabled major label tunes for the 33pence that we reckon is a fair price?
And since when was it unprecedented choice when I can't move tracks from device to device? Back in the 1980s, I could buy a vinyl record and put the songs onto any number of mixtapes for my own personal use - and often did. Now, if I buy a download, I'm limited in the number of mix CDs I can make with it. I suppose, effectively, having to choose if I'll include Something Kinda Ooh on my HappyFebruary mix, or keep it back in case it fits better on another mix sometime in the future is unprecedented, but I'm guessing the government were trying to use Unprecedented in a good way.
In other words: it's okay to chop off someone's rights, providing you tell them exactly how shit the deal they're being cut is. It's up to the retailer if he wants to include a cartoon of someone pointing and laughing at the consumer, though.
Ooh, a system of labelling. Why didn't you say so? That makes it so much the better.
Karl T, who flagged this story to us, had his own take:
Today we learn that DRM helps give users "unprecedented choice". As a connoisseur of government "black is white" nonesense, this is very disappointing- they're clearly not even trying anymore.