I wrote this to initiate a discussion in the media appreciation group Column9, on the Digital Rights Management bill scheduled to come up in the winter session.
My friend and digital evangelist NAM Ismail of Prajavani was supposed to speak to the group about it. This piece was to break ice.
Whenever I think of my friend Ismail, I am reminded of an old joke. There was this nerdy university professor who was always looking for new things. He began work on a new dictionary of English, in which each word had the exact opposite meaning. Thus, in his dictionary, `go’ became `come’, and `fast’ became `slow’.
He got so involved in creating the dictionary that he began speaking the new found language.
This led to a situation where people laughed at him whenever he spoke, and he laughed at them whenever they spoke.
I don’t mean to say this is what explains Ismail’s enigmatic, omnipresent smile.
Now, Ismail wants to talk about DRM. As he has tried to explain it, it has become Dead Rights Management. I am sure he has used this term as he is knows we won’t understand any other term!
But then, the DRM bill promises to be draconian. The first fall out of the Act would be that patent laws would get stronger and there would zero tolerance of piracy. Simply, this means, you and I can no longer watch Children of Heaven, on DVD at home. Since few of us can afford to travel to film festivals in Europe, I don’t see any more heavenly treats for us!
The second point, which is more important, is that all your personal information could be gathered by some private `data management’ and sold to marketing agencies. We might have got used to Google scanning our mails and sending in targeted ads, but we will find difficult to digest the fact that a Isabgol seller ends up on your door step, after he has intercepted your phone call, where you told your cousin about your bad tummy.
If the DRM bill is passed, our fate would be worse than that of the commoners in `1984’ as we would have not just one Big Brother, but a chain of large corporations trying to wire us. There would be nothing private about us. We would be like toys in a show case, open for every one to see and comment and sell!