Unlicensed ThoughtsBy Juha Haataja
Ralph's life changed when he fell on his head down the stairs. The robot doctor repaired his broken neck vertebra and grew a new spinal cord. The next day Ralph was sent home with a dna-specific nano ointment for repairing the cuts on his face.
At home Ralph noticed that the Palladium system supervising copyright licensing was malfunctioning because of the hit to his head. Ralph was able to think all kinds of thoughts without Palladium checking the database for a license.
It was nice to sing pop songs in the shower without paying a penny for the copyrights. Lovely freedom!
Ralph started to think about the birth of Palladium. Everyone was taking the system for granted, but ten years ago the situation was different.
Microsoft rose during the end of the 20th century from an underdog to the top of the hill. The planners at Microsoft searched for ideas in the book Art of War by Sun Tzu: "Warfare is a great matter to a nation; it is the ground of death and of life; it is the way of survival and of destruction". The company bound the computer manufacturers to its products using software as a strategic weapon.
Microsoft however committed an error in software design: it integrated the web browser tightly with the operating system. This eased the use of the web but opened doors to viruses and crackers.
Microsoft could have separated the browser and the operating system from each other, or at least that part of the browser handing web-based, dangerous information. The company however claimed in the lawsuit by the US Ministy of Justice that the browser couldn't be separated. After this claim the dangerous design was here to stay.
When Microsoft announced a "trustworthy computing" initiative, many observers were making jokes about the company. Microsoft had however invented a way of changing the design blunder into a strategic weapon. This was the birth of the Palladium project.
Palladium was continuation of the earlier Passport project at Microsoft. Passport tried to make companies and consumers to rely on the central user database maintained by Microsoft. This didn't happen.
However, the US media companies were a pushover for the Palladium project. The companies were worried about consumers copying music recordings without paying. Microsoft skillfully took advantage of the paranoid media companies. Soon there passed a law which made the Palladium system obligatory. In addition, reverse engineering the Palladium system was prohibited by law.
Palladium stopped the use of unlicensed information. At first this was a feature of the Microsoft operating system and the media player. When the Delirium processors using Palladium technology came to market, the licensing was controlled on the hardware level. After this you could view on a computer only information approved by the system.
Palladium gave companies and societies the power to control what information was available on computers: writing, music, movies, and computer software. This control tempted especially those societies where the leaders wanted a stronger central control. The leaders did get more power, but the Palladium system made Microsoft a master of computers.
Of course, switching to the Palladium technology didn't happen without problems. However, Microsoft managed to bind all users to the products developed by its partners. Fear of losing the grace of Microsoft kept the partners in line.
Microsoft also developed a copyright control system for humans. The system is installed with frontal lobe surgery and works wirelessly supervising the collection of copyright payments. Unlicensed information is not allowed to spread.
"Freedom of thought was nice as long as it lasted," thought Ralph while waiting for the surgery. He was caught in a nightclub when presenting thoughts he thought original to a Microsoft agent. "It is lucky I don't have to carry these thoughts in my head much longer."