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Letters re: HP declares war on sharing culture

Based on early feedback, it seems that HP confused its corporate needs with customer needs when announcing its commitment to DRM last week at the CES conference. A boycott of HP's consumer products is the last thing the company's struggling PC business needs, but that is exactly what some readers are discussing. We'll see if HP's decision to end the open PC pays off in the long run.

While we received countless letters, we can only print some of the best. And here they are.

I guess Carly decided that the 60 plus million PC owners in the USA who use file sharing applications (and the many hundreds of millions worldwide) must not be part of HP's core PC market. I wonder where she will find 60+ million PC buyers in the USA who don't believe they need to try something before they buy it.

It's an awfully brave CEO who declares war on her own customers. Most of the time, this strategy has not worked very well. One might even wonder about the sanity of the CEO who embraces such a strategy when it is clearly not working for the very industry she is sucking up to.

One day some bright bean counter will realize that DRM and other anti-consumer technology creates a high-friction "diseconomy of scale"market.

The addition of complex security to each node of a network market (music) will produce an exponential slowdown of that market over time.

As for the death of the open PC, I think the PC is not in the hands of HP anymore. The so-called "white box" market is the fastest growing segment of the PC market. There is no value-add to a name brand PC, especially in this day of offshored support whose job it is to blame everything on the customer.

If HP puts all sorts of draconian DRM-ware and spyware on their machine to appease the music industry, consumers will learn very quickly to buy another brand of PC.

It's going to be fun watching HP crash and burn. HP was once a great company, but the new HP is just a corrupt operating shell sort of company led by a technologically illiterate bean counter that the world will better off without.

Cheers,
Michael Slater


I didn't get to go to CES, but if I had, I'd have walked out of the keynote.

A bunch of us fans and artists are declaring our own war - on the music industry dinosaurs. It's just a small grassroots campaign but it's gaining momentum. Drop by sometime and we promise not to sue you! I'm just a fan and not affiliated with the folks who dreamed it up. Check it out at http://weedshare.com or any of the many sites distributing Weed files.

-- T.Rob


I have to point out Ms Fiorina seemed to spend her time "declaring war" on the online piracy of copyrighted products such as music and movies. In fact, Hewlett Packard has a long history of distributing files of software for free, including their own products, and GNU/Linux (not surprising considering they're a member of the OSDL).  They have even offered to indemnify users of Linux who may feel threatened by SCO's current legal campaign.

Yes, Hewlett Packard make a closed-source media centre product and will probably make many more, and will integrate DRM into those products, particlularly whilst they are making so much money from Microsoft-related products.  As will many of the other major OEMs - I'm sure Dell and IBM are only a few steps behind, and players like Sony and Hitachi are way ahead.  So please do not twist a marketing push on a commercial media product into such a broad and misleading statement.

You'll have to excuse me now - I'm off to install my hp-supplied "free" copy of RedHat ASE 3 on one of our new hp Integrity rx2600s.

Regards,
Matt Bryant


it seems there is more to this that I knew. The reason for the limiting of hardware is because HP jumped into bed with Apple's on-line music group. What better way to help themselves than to lock their own hardware. This has nothing to do with them being moral or standing up for anything except themselves.

Mark Shaheen


Makes my stomach turn. HP was a good company, I cut my teeth on HPs 3000 mini computer running the MPE operating system, have used HP calculators since the seventies and still have my HP 32e. , I'll never buy another HP product so long as they stand behind such things as DRM. I'll just keep my general purpose computer as it is thank you. Oh, and to the RIAA and MPAA, one does not NEED to buy music or movies like one needs to buy groceries and gasoline, your products are not necessary for survival nor are they addictive. I buy very little music or movies now, (nor do I share what I have with others, but I DO make tapes for my car), I will simply cease buying any new music and movies, simple.

S. Bungay


Assuming this comes to pass, I will never buy an HP unit that has this technology built into it. I'll continue to build my own stuff, so long as possible. I'll also do my best to inform HP where they can put their RIAA-ware, and I may not be able to be particularly polite about it.

David A. Florea


I would have added something to effect that musicians once had to tour more than sit in studios to make their livings. Remember Frank Zappa's 200 Motels and what that was all about? Even Hank Williams Sr. knew the value of live performance. Records were simply tools to bolster ticket sales, not generate the main income whilst sitting on their asses in their MTV crib-houses. Geez. We've become a nation of whiney-ass crybabies.

I appreciate your article! - Dave Stein


Mr. Vance:

Ms. Fiorina makes my blood boil. While on the one hand she defends "pirating" American jobs to the third world saying we have no "God given right" to them, she withdraws similar rights in the IP sharing arena.

As a consumer of HP OpenVMS support services (will "Open" now vanish from the name?), I expect a sharp reduction in the cost of the six service contracts I help administer in the near future.

It seems to me Carly and her ilk are the real pirates, robing user and vendor alike for their personal private pockets...

Werner L. Stunkel, Ph.D.

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