Dying Gracefully

Dear Software Industry,

In this world, there is only a few hard and fast rules, of those, I’m going to talk about the impermanence and flux inherent of life and death. Sometimes it’s time for things to be laid to rest, and move on to bigger and better things, still keeping memories of that which came before. When I finally have reach my end-of-life period, and am no longer supported, I’d like to think that I’ll be able to accept it, and move on peacefully, hopefully leaving the world a better place than I found it. I would also like to think that everyone out there has a similar goal: to live for what they believe in, and move on when the time comes, leaving a good mark on the world.

Alas, there are a number of things that don’t follow this benevolent rule that I call ‘Dying Gracefully’: software and DRM restriction systems. While I’m not going to delve into the legally convoluted cesspit of DRM, I think it should be mentioned as the internet and the digital platform for content delivery starts on the next generation, that we respect our forebears and let them rest in peace, free to be shared by all. There are more and more stories in the news about subscription media services shutting down and leaving their customers with unusable music, force to buy the music over again, or resort to illegal DRM removal techniques. The same goes for software that is still perfectly functional, but unattainable because it’s been killed by its parent company, or the company no longer exists.

Should we not give our software the same honor of leaving a good impact on the world by releasing it as open-source when its developers no longer care to support it, giving it both a second chance at life after death, and a chance to be used by anyone and everyone. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth when I think of the consumers who got cheated out of their music because a corporation decided not to support the DRM system any longer. Would it be the end of the world to release the DRM keys to unlock the songs entombed forever by the shackles of DRM when you have no intention of using those keys to profit?

As a member of this capitalist society, I understand that open-source isn’t always the answer (though I wish it were), but I fail to see the logic in burying your old creations, never to be used, but ensuring no one else can either. This idea of “I don’t want this, but I don’t want you to have it either” reminds me of the petty arguments that toddlers have with toys; is this what our software industry has reduced itself to, a bunch of squabbling three year-olds?

Perhaps being a young lad, I fail to see the reasoning of burying your dead in a locked cemetery, where no one can see the tombstone, and remember what they gave to the world. Call me an ignorant philistine if you disagree, but I fail to see the logic (which is what software is) in this silly and petty act.

Sincerely,

Jacob Torrey

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