Patch Tuesday is just around the corner, that monthly ritual when Microsoft absorbs a not-inconsiderable chunk of Web bandwidth to fix the design problems it’s been sitting on for one to thirty days. One of those problems just might be the security breach created by ATI video card drivers.

But one design flaw is not likely to be fixed this month or any month. Vista, you see, makes HD movies and TV look worse by design. “Microsoft acknowledged that quality of premium content would be lowered if requested by copyright holders”, and some consumer-generated content is getting caught up in that feature. It seems as though the Hollywood studios may join the unholy trinity which has fueled cycle after cycle of upgrades.

The original cyclical marketing system required the new OS to be so slow that you had to buy new hardware that was fast enough to run it. You had to have the new OS because it was required by the latest version of applications. You had to have the latest version of applications because they came with new file formats which were incompatible with the old, yet perfectly functional, software. In order to effectively do business and exchange information, everyone had to jump on the merry-go-round and hang on for dear life.

However, software publisher influence is waning fast; their budgets pale by comparison to Hollywood’s pots of gold. They’re willing to do just about anything to lock up our computers so we can’t buy and sell movies, like we’ve bought and sold books and recordings for a century under the First Sale Doctrine. Early recordings (such as Edison cylinders) had license restrictions, but the trust-busting spirit of a century ago just might have had something to do with our current rights to buy and not rent books and music.

Has Linux and the Open Source movement arrived just in time to preserve our rights to own, not rent media?


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