86: Digital Rights Management

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Digital Rights Management
If you're interested in the subject, Lawrence Lessig's 'Free Culture' is pretty good
Title text: If you're interested in the subject, Lawrence Lessig's 'Free Culture' is pretty good


Digital rights management (DRM) is a class of methods for controlling digital files, such as by preventing media from playing on any device besides the device from which the purchase is made. It is used by several major companies, as it makes it more difficult to pirate media, which they claim cuts into their profits. Those companies typically also lobby for laws forbidding circumvention of DRM techniques, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

However, DRM is usually disliked by consumers, as it makes it difficult to use their purchased media. For example, if they buy a new computer, there's no guarantee that their DRM-covered media will be usable on the new computer. Thus, Black Hat is suggesting to the pro-DRM organizations Sony, Microsoft, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and Apple that they stop their DRM-fiddling and lobbying, and he'll stop his inexorable ice-wall. However, the "ice-wall" in question is a glacier, which moves much too slowly to be a threat to any of the organizations.[citation needed] (Alternatively, Black Hat is in fact controlling the wall of ice to make it move quickly enough to be a threat to these organizations, in which case forcing them to eliminate DRM would be little trouble for someone with such immense power at his disposal.)

The title text refers readers to law professor Lawrence Lessig's book Free Culture.


[Black Hat is standing on an advancing glacier.]
Black Hat: Dear Sony, Microsoft, the MPAA, the RIAA, and Apple: Let's make a deal. You stop trying to tell me where, when, and how I play my movies and music, and I won't crush your homes under my inexorably advancing wall of ice.


There appears to be a larger version of Black Hat, drawn in pencil and erased, behind him. The smaller figure makes the inexorably advancing wall of ice appear correspondingly larger.

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And cue global warming... Semicolon here (talk) 14:50, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

i might sound daft here, but is the wall of ice explained in any way? it feels like the humour here derives from it, and i'm not sure what to make of it. the explanation focusing on the details of the antipiracy laws and regulations feels a tad superfluous while i feel it doesn't really add anything that explains the joke. again, i'm a romanian, so my grasp of the english language (and the american culture) is below par, so this might be a silly question. feel free to remove my comment here if that's the case. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The idea is that a glacier is impossible to stop if it starts moving simply because it is so massive. This can be compared to the demands of people for DRM-free content, which is equally unstoppable no matter how many politicians the DRM companies bribe. 05:00, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

I agree; I think the "ice-wall" is a metaphor for the mass of the consumers. The companies are trying to go against the flow, and it's either bend or break. It's an ice-wall/glacier,, because there are few things in the world more powerful and unstoppable as a glacier. A glacier is also very slow, so it's also saying that although he might not be able to crush them immediately, he will eventually, and they'd better not forget it (no saying how far away he's starting from, either. 01:50, 12 May 2016 (UTC)

First thing that came to my mind: ICE == Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics, e.g. in Burning Chrome (by William Gibson); see [1]. IIRC, the book describes ICE as walls closing in on the protagonist's avatar in the virtual (cyber) world. -- 09:36, 31 January 2015 (UTC)

This may be a stretch but I associated this with "Now is the winter of our discontent" from Richard III. Discontent can both be applied to the general dislike and therefore discontent on the users, but also discontent in terms on the dis, meaning negativity and content relating to the digital content. The wall of ice represents the approaching Winter which will continue until the end of the discontent. --Igwarrender (talk) 15:53, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

This could also be a joke that the ice wall isn't actually stoppable by him, or is it?

It probably is. He's black hat. Knit cap (talk) 12:36, 9 December 2020 (UTC)

Game of Thrones / ASoIaF ice wall, anyone? 17:36, 10 August 2017 (UTC)

This just in: Major corporations behind global warming to stop threatening walls of ice! OhFFS (talk) 16:21, 28 April 2021 (UTC)

Just pointing out that a vague silhouette of a larger Black Hat (and the glaciers as well) can be seen behind the "normal"-sized Black Hat. 23:09, 13 June 2024 (UTC)

There is also a faint Cueball standing on the ground with what looks like to be a sword, around halfway under the clouds. 23:58, 13 June 2024 (UTC)
If this is (as it appears to be) from his "drawn on physical paper, then scanned" era, then BH could be part of the recomposition of the original drawing, but it looks possible that the Cueball after-image might have been drawn on the sheet before this one (or this one, in a prior false-start, but more thoroughly erased) and only showing up due to that indentation trick. 09:33, 14 June 2024 (UTC)