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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Lambda
    September 13, 2017 @ 11:01 am

    Being repulsed at not owning something you’ve payed money for, without qualifications, does mean being repulsed by the concept of rent. Which is kind of reasonable in many cases because that’s capitalism at it’s most pure “rich people constantly taking from workers”, but it’s a generally accepted concept. The specific problem here is that it isn’t being called rental. So for me, claiming to be selling something which you don’t actually transfer full ownership and control of is just simply fraud.

    I don’t think, according to the law as written, it is actually legal for DRM companies to interfere with things which were advertised as sold, at least I very much doubt it’s legal in every jurisdiction where it happens. I think this is an illusion created by the combination of the police and criminal justice systems being unwilling to investigate large scale crime by corporations, and the writing of things like terms and conditions and EULAs in places which give everything a figleaf of respectability, giving the police etc. an excuse not to enforce the law.

    I am certainly very confident that crimes get committed around this area and left unpunished. Take the case where Sony distributed music CDs which secretly installed software on Windows computers they were inserted into through autoplay, which made those computers less functional as an anti-“piracy” measure, sometimes breaking their CD drives entirely. In the UK, that’s quite clearly in violation of both the Criminal Damage Act and the Computer Misuse Act. But when huge conspiracies commit crimes against millions of people whilst acting as a corporation, “class action” is the remedy, for some reason, instead of arresting all the conspirators and charging them with the crimes they’ve committed.

    If you sell something with a shrinkwrap EULA, you are knowingly selling something which doesn’t work (if the EULA has any force at all), since you have to enter a separate agreement to get a working thing. This isn’t going to be legal everywhere. Don’t just accept the word of society on matters like this.


  2. Przemek
    September 13, 2017 @ 2:37 pm

    That was very interesting. Thank you.


  3. John Hoare
    September 17, 2017 @ 5:05 am

    ST:TNG wasn’t edited on VHS, nor was the DVD master sourced from a “lossy VHS composite”.

    ST:TNG was edited on tape, but you’re confusing domestic consumer formats and professional broadcast standards.


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