The DMCA poisoned the Internet of Things in its cradle

[Read the post]

1 Like

Those DCMA’d IoT products only ruin your life if you purchase them.


The internet of things died in its cradle because it’s a terrible idea. Do I want to have to worry about ruining system updates on my thermometer, my refrigerator launching a ddos attack, or my lighting system joining a botnet and mining bit coin? No.

Even open-ish manufacturers are terrible about putting out updates. One or two weird bits of hardware with custom drivers can make upgrading impossible. I don’t want more sysadmin in my home and most consumers wouldn’t know where to start with it. If DCMA is what’s prevented the internet of shot from beginning wide spread, then this is a silver lining in an otherwise terrible law.


IoT is a good idea, I’d say. The implementation often sucks, though. No wonder as the thing is new and not ripe yet.

I was looking at things like this for literally decades, wanting things to talk with each other, wanting a motion detector array for security system to also control lighting, a fridge to report that it is not fully closed, a possibility to remotely (or even automatically) shut down the stove, motors in a fridge, washing machine, etc. that listen to their own bearings and report degradation over time for preventive maintenance, lots and lots of other such applications.

What I did not expect is the often forced dependence on The Holy Cloud.


You can’t have custom software for your cochlear implant, or your programmable thermostat, or your computer-enabled Barbie doll.

And I do not feel one iota poorer. Particularly with toys, it seems like the ones that depend on imagination, like LEGO, totally outlive the ones that depend on a processor, like… what was the name of those computerized LEGOs? Does anybody remember?

And as for the poor auto mechanic who can’t even write his own custom software, really? I used to have an excellent mechanic, before I moved, and he would not have written his own custom software. He is an excellent auto mechanic, but he’s not a software engineer.

I know it’s about rights, but for all the trumpeting about the internet of things, I have yet to see an exciting application.


All the security experts tell us what a bad idea the IoT is. Every day theres some news to prove em right. So freakin what if it gets “poisoned in its cradle”?

This may well be the prize winning attention whoring headline of 2015.


Mindstorms? They were pretty cool actually. There was an an unofficial compiler out there called Not Quite C for em which made programming them interesting.


I believe you, but do you really not understand my point?

I do. Your argument is invalid.

Mindstorms. And many other variants. There are lots of robotics sets, and it’s good we have them.

The thing lives on, even if you aren’t aware of it. There is a fusion with other things, too; the motors and sensors can be connected to the Raspberry Pi now, allowing having controllers with way higher capability. Add OpenCV and you can have a lego robot that sees.

The software needs just one person in the world to write it. Your engineer may not be able/willing to write something himself, but may be as well able/willing to download the thing from github where it was posted by somebody half the planet away. He should have the capability - he doesn’t necessarily have to exercise it.

If everybody could, the few who can will do it for all of us.

You may not be irked by the lack of schematics available for laptops; you may not be even able to read them. But you will be bitten when a friend, who could find what is wrong with your machine in a half-hour session with a multimeter, if he knew what signal is what in the buck inverters section, doesn’t have the documentation and leaves you with an expense.

Define “exciting”?


You really are determined not to understand my point. Does that make me wronger? I suppose.

1 Like

You aren’t making any, it seems.

1 Like

Boom. That’s all that needs be said.


I presume this was just a typo, but the mind does boggle.


Isn’t @doctorow an open source advocate? So doesn’t the DMCA only really ruin IoT in proprietary forms? It sounds like there is already an easy solution at hand.


Very much so, when you’re talking about a set processor. But if you’ve ever played with anything like Logo, you should know that customizable programming really depends on your imagination, too. So it’s really circular to say.


As I read it, the argument is that the DMCA provides such a juicy short-term benefit to manufacturers who take advantage of it, that it’s almost impossible for their greedy little selves to pass it up. After all, who wouldn’t like to lock out competition, forever, without falling afoul of antitrust laws?

Of course, it’s a trap. Anyone who builds their product this way gives up network effects and will forever be a niche player. However, since everyone seems to have walked into the trap and no meaningful network benefits created, we end up with the “poisoned” headline.


And then there are the hybrids. Mindstorms and other robotics-grade legos as a base, Raspi as a brain, 3d-printed add-ons for holding the sensors and additional servos and adapters for non-lego rods and beams and other parts?

1 Like

We’ll end up with opensource protocol converters. Legal or not, this will be done; there is demand, the barrier to entry is not that much, and the line-level protocols are common so there won’t even be much or any soldering to be done.

The market will enforce that. On the box, there will of course be no warnings about which devices the given $thingX doesn’t cooperate with. The user gets it home, tries to get it talk with $thingY, fails, asks google for “how to get $thingX to cooperate with $thingY”, and gets the answer.

It will end up “illegal” but widely available anyway. Like VLC with libdecss-based DVD playback.

That’s close to how I read it.

My point was that commercial manufacturers are definitely not “everyone” - they are a minority, who represent the interests of a minority. That leaves the rest of us free to do what we like.

Such as?

1 Like