Hit & Run

The Tethering Game

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What is it about copyright that seduces companies into making really stupid decisions? Okay, to be fair, companies can make stupid decisions about tethering all by themselves, but the Digital Millenium Copyright Act is helping.

Printer makers, garage-door-opener companies, and electronics manufacturers are busy installing useless ?handshake? code as an interface between the replaceable, disposable product (ink cartridge, remote control, battery) and the more durable host device. Soon we will see automobile companies limit the replacement market for batteries, filters, and tires by installing useless code or contractual restrictions on those who lease.

By using computer code as an ?access control device,? they can invoke the power of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to stifle competition from generic competitors.

The tethering of secondary goods within the extra-copyright industries is yet another piece of evidence that the DMCA is among the stupidest laws every passed. It is by all measures a complete failure that has retarded innovation and done nothing to protect copyright holders. And it has punished consumers.

Sure, locking your customers in to your replacement products can make a lot of money for your company. But is it really worth consumer anger over higher replacement prices and lack of choice? Plus, what's the consumer to do if the company goes out of business?

Also getting in on the tethering trend are coffee makers and mp3 players. The whole article is really worth a read. Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.