DRM for Dummies (i.e. people like me) - the discussion below (which I guess I started) about the Lessig article has prompted many interesting responses, including one from the good professor himself (boy do I feel like I'm back in law school). Anyway, after reading all of the responses my brain started heating up like an over-clocked CPU. I like things to be simple, and I don't like to tax my brain so I'm looking for a simple model to understand Lessig's point.
Lessig (if I understand his point) says something like: Palladium is better DRM because at least it's not a blanket system that disables all copying of, say, music CD's. I guess there are other examples, but I don't know enough to come up with some good ones. (Professor Lessig, can you offer us a sampler platter of examples?) Anyway, if all of the examples involve locking down an otherwise-routine computer function like copying then, call me crazy, but that's not "digital rights management." It's digital rights censorship. Now, if there is a system that lets me use a routine computer function, but only if I meet certain conditions, well now...at least that's "management" of my digital rights. So that's how I understand it now, and I think that my brain can handle that.
And so now I can load that model into the "big picture" of DRM. From what I can see, basically, we're talking about which StormTrooper we'd prefer to have watch over us: the really mean one that never lets our computer do anything that might trip over someone's copyright golden goose, or the sort-of mean one that will let our computer do some things, if we have permission from The Empire's duly appointed representative. Yeah, I did misunderstand Lessig. I apologize for branding his description as "optimistic." And I hope that my lackluster class participation will not count too heavily against my final grade.