Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why law can't keep up with technology

I was thinking today about technological advances and the law's inability to adjust for them (never mind the entertainment industry's inability).

I currently own what amounts to a multi-room wireless music playback system. A system that creates a private, encrypted, wireless mesh network for the purposes of playing music from networked music file libraries. By the way - this operates completely independently from any other home wireless network I may already have. You only need to buy multiple playback devices to expand this system further. Each device allows you to play music in another room or area on your property. The devices can be configured to play independently or play whatever the rest of the devices are playing. The more devices you own, the more widespread and ubiquitous the mesh network. All of this is managed and controlled as easily as getting an app for your iPhone or computer.

That got me to thinking. What if my neighbour bought one of these devices? With my cooperation, they could connect to my wireless mesh network, expanding it into their home. This would allow them to access all of my music. If they agreed to attach their own music collection to their device, it would enable each of us to listen to both collections combined. If my neighbour added more devices, they could expand the reach of their part of the mesh network throughout their property. If their neighbour did the same thing...... and so on, pretty soon, the entire block could become this big private wireless cloud, sharing everyone's collections. No internet required. No way for the entertainment industry to detect what we are doing (it's a private, encrypted network).

This is yet another example of why it is impractical to legislate protection for a business model based on 1950s culture and technology.

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