Gwyneth Llewelyn recently offered a proposal to try to plug “the analogue hole” that makes content theft inevitable. Her proposal drew a lot of criticism, particularly from open source developers, and she has since withdrawn it.
I’m glad to read that she has; I was among those with objections to the proposal. But I’m disappointed by her reaction to the criticism she received:
The current community of developers — and by that I mean non-LL developers — is absolutely not interested in implementing any sort of content protection schemes.
… Their argument is that ultimately any measures taken to implement “trusted clients” that connect to LL’s grid will always be defeated since it’s too easy to create a “fake” trusted client. And that the trouble to go the way of trusted clients will, well, “stifle development” by making it harder, and, ultimately, the gain is poor compared to the hassle of going through a certification procedure.
I won’t fight that argument, since it’s discussing ideologies, not really security. Either the development is made by security-conscious developers, or by people who prefer that content ought to be copied anyway (since you’ll never be able to protect it), and they claim that the focus should be on making development easier, not worrying about how easy content is copied or not.
… “Technicalities” are just a way to cover their ideology: ultimately, theyÂ´re strong believers that content (and that includes development efforts to make Second Life better) ought to be free.
Despite what Gwyn suggests, one can object to a specific content protection scheme without being an ideological extremist who believes that everything should be free. Yes, there are individuals who take that viewpoint. Many of them are quite vocal, and some are rather arrogant and obnoxious. (I am of the opinion that this latter kind ought to be swatted hard over the head with a rolled-up newspaper. Repeatedly.)
But to imply that anyone opposing her proposal must be some kind of anticommercial tekkie-hippie is fallacious and juvenile, and just as dismissive as the rudest comments she received. I must admit that I expected better from Gwyn.
Now then, let me explain my opposition and criticism of the proposal. (This is not criticism of Gwyn as a person, nor of any of her other ideas besides this particular proposal.)
While I do appreciate and respect the choice to make one’s own efforts open and free, I do not believe everything should be forced to be free, and I did not oppose the proposal based on my views on that topic. I opposed it because I see three major flaws in the proposed system, two of them purely security-related:
- the certificates could be easily forged, which defeats the purpose of having them at all
- an effective certification system would put an extraordinary burden on developers
- the system does not address the most commonly exploited methods of content theft
I’ll expand on these points so that there can be no confusion about why I objected and still object to such a system. (I’ll give fair warning, though, that this is a rather long and probably dull post by most standards.)