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Law Technology: Freedom to Tinker
2007 Predictions Scorecard
By Ed Felten
As usual, we?ll start the new year by reviewing the predictions we made for the previous year. Here now, our 2007 predictions, in italics, with hindsight in ordinary type.
(1) DRM technology will still fail to prevent widespread infringement. In a related development, pigs will still fail to fly.
We predict this every year, and it?s always right. This prediction is so obvious that it?s almost unfair to count it. Verdict: right.
(2) An easy tool for cloning MySpace pages will show up, and young users will educate each other loudly about the evils of plagiarism.
This didn’t happen. Anyway, MySpace seems less relevant now than it did a year ago. Verdict: wrong.
(3) Despite the ascent of Howard Berman (D-Hollywood) to the chair of the House IP subcommittee, copyright issues will remain stalemated in Congress.
As predicted, not much happened in Congress on the copyright front. As usual, some bad bills were proposed, but none came close to passage. Verdict: right.
(4) Like the Republicans before them, the Democrats? tech policy will disappoint.
Very little changed. For the most part, tech policy issues do not break down neatly along party lines. Verdict: right.
(5) Major record companies will sell a significant number of MP3s, promoting them as compatible with everything. Movie studios won?t be ready to follow suit, persisting in their unsuccessful DRM strategy.
Two of the four major record companies now sell MP3s, and a third announced it will soon start. I haven’t seen sales statistics, but given that Amazon’s store sells only MP3s, sales can’t be too low. As predicted, movie studies are still betting on DRM. Verdict: right.
(6) Somebody will figure out the right way to sell and place video ads online, and will get very rich in the process. (We don?t know how they?ll do it. If we did, we wouldn?t be spending our time writing this blog.)
This didn’t happen. Verdict: wrong.
(7) Some mainstream TV shows will be built to facilitate YouTubing, for example by structuring a show as a series of separable nine-minute segments.
I thought this was a clever prediction, but it didn’t happen. The biggest news in commercial TV this year was the writers’ strike. Verdict: wrong.
(8) AACS, the encryption system for next-gen DVDs, will melt down and become as ineffectual as the CSS system used on ordinary DVDs.
AACS was defeated and you can now buy commercial software that circumvents it. Verdict: right.
(9) Congress will pass a national law regarding data leaks. It will be a watered-down version of the California law, and will preempt state laws.
There was talk about doing this but no bill was passed. Verdict: wrong.
(10) A worm infection will spread on game consoles.
To my knowledge this didn’t happen. It’s a good thing, too, because the closed nature of many game consoles would make a successful worm infection particularly challenging to stamp out. Verdict: wrong.
(11) There will be less attention to e-voting as the 2008 election seems far away and the public assumes progress is being made. The Holt e-voting bill will pass, ratifying the now-solid public consensus in favor of paper trails.
Attention to e-voting was down a bit. Despite widespread public unhappiness with paperless voting, the Holt bill did not pass, mostly due to pushback from state and local officials. Rep. Holt is reportedly readying a more limited bill for introduction in January. Verdict: mostly wrong.
(12) Bogus airport security procedures will peak and start to decrease.
Bogus procedures may or may not have peaked, but I didn’t see any decrease. Verdict: unclear.
(13) On cellphones, software products will increasingly compete independent of hardware.
There was a modest growth of third-party software applications for cellphones, including some cross-platform applications. But there was less of this than we predicted. Verdict: mostly wrong.
Our overall score: five right, two mostly wrong, five wrong, one unclear. Next: our predictions for 2008.
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