(this page is part of the Family Guide to Digital Freedom, 2007 edition. Please do read that introduction to know more about the Guide, especially if you mean to comment this page. Thanks)

It is now time to summarize the causes and those responsible for the digital mess which everybody is living in today. Its main technical and legal reasons are closed file formats and communication protocols on one side, and abuses of copyright and other “intellectual property” regulations on the other. In and by itself, the fact that software and movie corporations try every trick to sell the same stuff many times is nothing new or special: car makers and fashion designers, to name but two very popular industries, have been doing just the same thing for decades. The problem is that software and digital technologies have a much more devastating effect on culture or everybody’s civil rights and are still regulated in a way which is both much more incoherent and much more behind the real world than what happens in most other sectors.

The blame for this is distributed, in different measures, amongst practically all the involved parties: overzealous governments and the software and entertainment industry (abuse and suboptimal development of technology), real and fake activists (extremism, fanaticism or opportunism when proposing alternative technological or cultural models), politicians of every party and the general public, which so far, by and large, have been simply happily absent from these discussions. Let’s look at these three problems one at a time.