sub specie aeternitatis

Note to Sony: Take a hint from Lego

January 26, 2006

From a new article in Wired Magazine:

After a few months of wait-and-see, Lego concluded that limiting creativity was contrary to its mission of encouraging exploration and ingenuity. Besides, the hackers were providing a valuable service. “We came to understand that this is a great way to make the product more exciting,” Nipper says. “It’s a totally different business paradigm – although they don’t get paid for it, they enhance the experience you can have with the basic Mindstorms set.” Rather than send out cease and desist letters, Lego decided to let the modders flourish; it even wrote a “right to hack” into the Mindstorms software license, giving hobbyists explicit permission to let their imaginations run wild.

Yeah, that’s right Sony/RIAA/MPAA/insert IP holder here: allowing more creativity and freedom with your products makes customers happy AND boosts business. Who woulda thunk it? Imagine if Sony had produced Mindstorms instead of Lego. It would be less popular, almost impossible to really tinker with, and if you did try to tinker with it, you’d be sued. If big media companies would take a hint from Lego, we might have some really exciting products and innovation out there. Just think of all the cool things that won’t be built if the big giants of media get their way with laws controlling not just how you watch their crap, but also what you can build to try to watch it. Too sad.