Just when science is making it possible to copy music perfectly, record companies are trying to make it impossible again, with government-enforced copy protection.
The invention of the phonograph created a situation where the best way to copy audio signals was by mass production. This temporary situation made record companies necessary and useful. It also made copyright a fairly harmless way of encouraging activities that benefit the public. (That was the original purpose of copyright.)
Digital audio tape machines will change all this. Mass produced copies will no longer be better than you can make. Record companies may still have customers, but they will be partly obsolete.
But obsolete institutions don’t peacefully accept being ignored. So there is a bill before Congress to require specific copy-protection equipment in every digital audio tape machine.
The proposed technical method involves degrading the quality of prerecorded music by eliminating a narrow frequency band. When the recorder notices that band is empty, it will shut off. Even if the signal comes over the radio, copying it will be impossible.
If this law passes, we can expect more of the same. In the past, there were many natural obstacles to copying information, and surmounting the obstacles was a business. The overall thrust of the information revolution is to remove these obstacles; to make information easy to copy and transform. Each time technology makes things easier, businesses that depend on obstacles demand a man-made obstacle–required by law–to replace the natural one.
A few general-purpose I/O devices can turn your computer into a digital audio tape recorder. Will there be a law to make this impossible? Perhaps a law that you can’t have source to your kernel, lest you patch around the government-imposed access control?
Oh, btw.. this is 20 year old news. The GNU project opposes DRM in 1987.