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Commerce Dep't to Hold Public Workshop on DRM 139

Posted by timothy
from the digital-rights-bottleneck dept.
ttyp writes: "The United States Department of Commerce Technology Administration (TA) announced a public workshop on digital entertainment and rights management. They're taking public comments here according to the announcement, but they sure have hidden it well. Can anybody find the form? The deadline is July 11!!"
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Commerce Dep't to Hold Public Workshop on DRM

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  • Just show up (Score:3, Informative)

    by KrazyFool (534528) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @04:58AM (#3836183)
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Further information relevant to the substantive issues to be addressed by this workshop may be obtained from Chris Israel Deputy Assistant Secretary for Technology Policy, Technology Administration, (202) 482-5687. Limited seating will be available to members of the general public. It is recommended that persons wishing to become general public attendees arrive early, as seating will be first come, first served.
  • by pmsyyz (23514) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @05:04AM (#3836197) Homepage Journal

    From http://www.ta.doc.gov/Medal/default.htm [doc.gov]

    The National Medal of Technology is the highest honor bestowed by the President of the United States to America's leading innovators.

    Guess who won it in 1992?

    http://www.ta.doc.gov/Medal/Recipients.htm#1992 [doc.gov]

    William H. Gates, III., Microsoft Corp.
    For his early vision of universal computing at home and in the office; for his technical and business management skills in creating a world-wide technology company; and for his contribution to the development of the personal computer industry.

    Competition crushing monopolists sure promote innovation.

    • Dude, BillG/Microsoft only suck in the eyes of the people who actually know the sleazy tactics they use to operate (usually, tech-oriented people, software developers, etc). Their products only suck in the eyes of people who are smart enough to compare them with competing software.

      The rest of the world (businessmen, congressmen, your manager, your neighbor Joe) all see a successful, huge company, the richest man in the world, and products that have shiny boxes.

      • The rest of the world (businessmen, congressmen, your manager, your neighbor Joe) all see a successful, huge company, the richest man in the world, and products that have shiny boxes.

        No, actually most casual users of computers are really sick and tired of the problems they face on a daily basis and are eager to learn about alternatives. Keep up the M$ badmouthing campaign, folks. The general public is slowly starting to see the light--at very least, that M$ software is buggy crap.
    • In 1992 Bill Gates deserved the medal. His vision of computing was much more coherant than the visions of other industry leaders of that time. Take into account some of these factors:

      1. This was before the Internet. Sure, some people in universities and some large corporations had Internet access... but mostly it didn't exist. If we wanted to communicate we used bulletin boards (like FidoNet) and 300bps modems;

      2. This was before Linux and in the infancy of the GPL;

      3. Unix was fragmented into dozens of incompatible versions each of which was priced out of the reach of mortal users (over $1,000 for SCO Xenix, as an example);

      4. Novell owned the small business network environment and charged over $1,000 for their operating system;

      5. Virtually no one had any idea what email was or why they'd need it.

      In this period of time Gates appeared to be leading us out of the wilderness of Big Computing Iron and giving us what we wanted (and needed). Who could have seen then the course MS would take in the years after this award?
      • Actually, Gates' company produced a couple of operating systems
        that were the popular platform built upon by many software and tech "innovators" ( for "leading us out of the wilderness of Big...Iron...".

        Take, for example, Borland, whose catalog at the time included Turbo/Borland C++, Pascal, Paradox, dBase III/IV, Quattro, (Wordperfect? still confused about that :), and
        a few years afterward Delphi, which was a real visual development AND programmers tool when compared next to Microsoft's Visual Basic and Basic products.

        There was also Stac (had they been squashed flat by MS by that time yet?), Norton, Novell Netware (expensive, yes, but fast, widely accepted, and little alternative in the market.)

        Microsoft's Word hadn't yet reached market saturation and Wordperfect was still kicking it. Windows was, what
        3.1, 3.11? Just a couple years past Windows 386 and Windows 2.x, yeesh.

        Gates arguably had a role in building a finally-decent platform for medium-to-large memory model apps (Windows 386/3.1x), and was finally begining to
        bring hardware vendors' drivers into the installer, but prior to that point you were
        dependent upon the manufacturer's distribution diskettes.

        No, the PC industry of 1992 was the sum of its parts, not the product of one individual, or even his company.
      • I don't know about what technology you used, but I ditched the 300-baud modems back in 1983-1984.

        In 1992, I had a 2400 baud modem that was replaced by a 14.4k modem sometime soon afterwards.

      • Are you on crack? In 1992 I personally had a NeXT cube and it was considered obsolete, it ran BSD Unix with the Mach kernel. I had a 14.4 modem. Email was in extremely common use, and AOL was used by tens of millions and the average idiot on the street knew pretty well what email was.

        Bill Gates was a f**king lucky individual and if there was a slight change in history around about 1980 he would be here on SlashDot complaining bitterly about whoever did become the meglamanical monopolist. He did absolutly nothing that tens of thousands of other people could see as obvious ways to progress, and in fact made serious errors in judgement such as dismissing the internet and thinking information delivered on CD's such as encylopaedias was the future.

        • Bill Gates was a f**king lucky individual and if there was a slight change in history around about 1980 he would be here on SlashDot complaining bitterly about whoever did become the meglamanical monopolist.

          The "slight change" would probably be something like him having had different parents. Also the idea that some other company would have been the "meglamaniacal monopolist" is pure conjecture. Maybe someone else would have been more reluctant to break the law :)
          • Actually I think either Steve Jobs or Scott McNealy (from Sun) would be far worse than Gates in that position. What about the guy who ran Lotus? Or Phillipe Kahn of Borland?

            It would seem likely that anybody able to get to CEO of a rapidly growing company would not be the nicest person in the world and would have a strong desire for controlling everything.

  • so... (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by david_g (24196)
    How many people who bitch here about DRM will actually send a comment?
    • Dunno, a lot of us aren't from the US.
      • And by the look of things will never be there!

        I think i prefered pre-glasnost URSS to nowadays USA...

        At least they where fair... you where always guilty! No questions asked... In today USA it depends on who you are, how much money do you have and in the prossecutors interpretation of a lot of misleading and badly worded laws!

        Cheers...
    • Re:My Vote.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283)
      I vote with my pocketbook. I was shopping for a new GPS. I found the Magellan Meridian line use the SD card instead of one of the cheaper more popular cards for map storage. I would like a GPS with removable media for easy changing between topographic and street maps, but I refuse to support that memory format. I refuse to buy products using secure media. This includes SD cards, MMC cards, and the Sony Memory stick. I don't need or want to support 6 diffrent styles of memory card. Products must meet my specifications or it's no sale. So far I only support Compact flash and Smart Media. I have no intention on increasing the spread of non-interchangable parts. When I upgrade my camera, I will drop the Smart Media format.
      CD Recordable became popular because it was almost universaly interchangable. Sony MD is much less useful as they have a Data format and a Audio format that is not interchangable. I also voted against this format. I went CDRW in a CD/MP3 player instead. It was worth the wait. CD'r has left Sony MD's in the dust. Compact Flash can do the same thing to the SD card. Be sure to vote!
      • Well, gee. Maybe you should only support computer hardware that is built with common multi-sourced parts, like the 7400 series of TTL chips. You sound like a purchasing agent. Are you sure you're not the one blocking us from getting PCs that have USB ports on them? (recently you've been requiring the vendors to put black electrical tape over the connector or receiving refuses to let them off the dock)
        • Re:My Vote.. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Technician (215283)
          Maybe you should only support computer hardware that is built with common multi-sourced parts, like the 7400 series of TTL
          You missed the point. The new stuff is a downgrade, not an upgrade. It's memory. For more than the price of a 128 MEG compact flash card, I can get a slower more expensive 64 MEG SD card. In a pinch I can't use the card in my camera because it's a diffrent format. Use the faster cheaper more flexible and compatible format in your product and you have a much better chance of selling me your product. The SD format is not making faster higher capacity memory cards. They are making slower cards at a higher price that do not support all common file formats and will not work in my USB card reader/writer. (which supports 3 of the six formats) In short it cost more, does less, works slower, and is not interchangable. Show me an upgrade in that. If you think that is an upgrade, I will love to sell you my external floppy drive from my old tandy M100. It's single sided, with 2 sectors per track. It will not work with 1.4 meg floppies. If interested in this secure storage solution, drop me a line. Buying a card that will not store an MP3 or JPEG but encodes it into something else is not useful for me. Check out the reviews of the 20 Gig Nomad MP3 Jukebox. Check out it's number one complaint. It takes way too long to upload MP3's into it because it supports DRM and changes the file format. Now if it would just be a USB data drive to the PC without the DRM junk, they could sell a bunch of them because they would be more useful and would be much faster. By not supporting odball formats at higher prices is to encourage manufactures to drop the pricey hard to sell stuff for faster more featured stuff at better prices. Think about it, would you like to upload your data using a common USB card reader/writer, or would you like to have to upload the stuff at 19.2K baud. Think about it next time you download your digital camera. (You have tried to download a RS 232 serial megapixel camera haven't you? I upgraded and gave my old camera away for free. No more 20 minute downloads per 8 MEG for me. Don't even consider a 64 Meg transfer in a slow serial format!)
          Don't consider using anything with less capacity and slower speeds at higher prices.
          That is why I am not considering those models of GPS. It uses a format I refuse to support for the reasons listed. May the format die a quick death. The sooner it dies, the sooner we can get faster higher capacity compact flash at cheaper prices. There is economy in scale. Fracturing the memory market into 6+ formats makes all the specialty items expensive. I want far away from the market fragmentation.
      • Then I suppose Garmin would suit your needs, they have a non-secure proprietary flash memory. As an added bonus, they sell them at proprietary prices too!
        (approx $2/MB on-line prices)

        Just because Sony and MM-card formats have versions that support DRM does not mean you should boycott all forms of the format. There's plenty of support for the Meridian and the SD-cards in the GPS forums because it gets away from low availability of media and lowers prices for both the manufacturer and the consumer.

        And what do these formats mean to you as a camera user? MM, SM, CF, MS are all standard, the only time they become a burden is when you wish to change camera models to one that uses a competing format. I've never seen a camera that enforces DRM on the removable media (and that includes Sony). DRM and secure cards are in the realm of portable music players, especially those by major manufacturers. Heck, even Sony allows non-secure memory sticks to play MP3's in it's MP3-playing Clie palm units, they require Magic Gate only for the ATRAC3-format files.

        These various formats exist for reasons other than who is making them or DRM-style screwing-over of consumers, namely size. Standards are great, but we cannot always make do with one-size fits all. Just refuse to support the DRM versions of the cards. Simple enough.

        • Just refuse to support the DRM versions of the cards. Simple enough.
          Umm.. That is what I am doing. Check the specs on the SD card. It's a multimedia card that is slightly thicker with an added layer of SDMI protection. A multimedia card will fit into a SD card slot. The SD card is a Multimedia card with and extra layer of protection built in. It has handshaking encryption as an added layer. Magellan says zero, nada, zip about the ability of using a multimedia card in their GPS. I think it is because it refuses to work with less secure media that will fit the slot. Reading between the lines tells me they are using the card for the extra level of DRM features and that is why I am boycotting this beast. This feature of the device drives up the cost of the memory cards while reducing the speed and flexibility of the card and raising the price. My answer to this consumer unfriendly choice is NO THANKS! Would you buy CDR's at $5 each that formatted into a drive specific (by bios serial number) format? One that will only work on the PC that formatted it and your one camera/music player/GPS, etc.? Why buy a memory card with the same restriction? I wish to knock the wind out of this format and fast. It's consumer unfriendly at a severe performance and cost hit.
          • After a little google research [google.com] I found that regular multimedia cards work. Another thread [google.com] states that MM cards are not as fast as SD cards and are not recommended. What seems implied is that the Magellan does NOT use the DRM features of the card, only the added speed.
            • I was under the assumption they simply would not work in the GPS because the GPS would not write to unsecure media. Now the big why--- How can they encrypt a data stream and write it to memory faster than just writing to memory? How can they read and decrypt data with 2 way handshaking the data faster than just reading the data. How can they add a onboard processor to handle the DRM and use less precious battery power than just reading the memory. It is true the SD card has a couple extra pins over the multimedia card, but I think it's for the bidirectional handshaking. I think I am being lied to. I have found no speed and power requirement comparison between this format and any of the various formats and speeds of Compact Flash. Compact Flash cards are avaliable in several speeds for faster photography (less cycle time between shots) Show me the numbers!

              After a little google research [google.com] I found that regular multimedia cards work. Another thread [google.com] states that MM cards are not as fast as SD cards and are not recommended

              I checked your links. The first link does not state the specific GPS functions properly using a MMC, only that some products may work at slower speeds and left the question unanswered. The second link indicates the magellan does not work properly with a MMC. It randomly crashes. I think the speed issue is a PR ploy. I think it crashes because it does not DRM handshake. MMC is fast enough for digital photography but not fast enough for a vector map. Wanna bet when faster MMC cards come out, they also will have crashing problems? Compact Flash cards are avaliable in several speeds, how about fast MMC cards? Rememer MMC is also encumbered by DRM Features. SD cards have the level 2 of MMC and adds an encryption layer for level 3 SDMI rights management. Anybody have speed and power comparisons between CF and MMC? How about MMC and SD? I have seen the claims that SD is faster than MM cards. My car is faster than my kid on a bicycle. I haven't seen claims that SD is faster than CF or Smart Media cards. I want to compare it to the other fast media. Hmm somthing seems wrong here...... I think it is a ploy to have SD replace MMC as a SDMI memory device.

            • Here is some size and speeds of some of the compact flash cards. I'm still hunting for SD card data. Anybody think a MMC or SD card is an upgrade?
              http://www.dpreview.com/articles/mediaco mpare/

              This link shows CF comparisons only at the slower speeds and is the first refrence I found comparing CF to other formats. It does show the SD running about 4X faster than the competion. It does not show the faster CF which is popular with photographers in the comparison.

              http://www.asusemag.com.tw/latest/ch13/ch13-1.ht m

              I would like to use the 512 Meg CF card for my maps instead of the 64 meg SD for my GPS.

              I would like to upload to it via my USB card reader instad of at 9600 baud RS232.

  • here [mailto] is an email address on that page where the public can send comments. I don't know whether it's the right one, but since that site is collecting comments and has no form you could just try mailing them, if only to ask where the form is.
    • maybe that's their way of getting commens: hide the form, then say "well, nobody posted, meaning nobody cares about the issue... lets just pass the damn thing" They put it there; it's not their fault that nobody but the RIAA & MPAA could find it. Hmm...
  • From the document (Score:5, Insightful)

    by molrak (541582) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @05:25AM (#3836224) Homepage
    From the doucment:
    "Topics to be addressed at the workshop include:

    [rtrif] The effectiveness of efforts to pursue technical standards or solutions that are designed to provide a more predictable and secure environment for digital transmission of copyright material;"


    Let's see, so far the efforts that content providers have created to secure content include:
    Macrovision - prevents authorized and unauthorized copying of video content, also adds signal detioration--status: hardware cracks exist, may be negated by content providers abandoning it due to its inability to do anything of value
    CSS - DVD's digital protection--status: cracked by Norwegian linux users
    SDMI - Watermaking/digital music protection--status: cracked by a professor, stalled in deployment by its creators
    'secure' cds - prevents pcs from ripping cds, causes macs to expolode--status: cracked, felt tip marker

    [rtrif] Major obstacles facing an open commercial exchange of digital content;

    The industry itself seems to be the major obstacle.

    [rtrif] What a future framework for success might entail;

    A lessening of the current insane and ridicuously long copyright laws in the United States; abolition of the music industry in its current form
    Or, value added content, or value priced content using a working protection scheme

    [rtrif] Current consumer attitude towards online entertainment.

    Gimme, gimme, gimme.
    • Let's see, so far the efforts that content providers have created to secure content include:

      Don't forget to include the SDMI compliant music devices using secure memory products. These include devices using the DataPlay mini CD format, the sony MD player, and the SD Card. Read the specs on this toy. The memory card supports SDMI. Garmin and Magellan are both using it in some of their models of GPS'es.
      Too bad I'll be avoiding these models. I was hoping for a format I could upload to a card using a fast USB card reader instead of having to upload maps by serial port speeds, but it's not the case. Borrowing a card from the Handheld PC or GPS or MP3 player for a wedding shoot in a pinch is not an option with closed non-interchangable formats. I am standardising on Compact flash just for these reasons. I'm letting the manufacture know my decision of the supported format and the reason for it. Sigh.
      Press release regarding SD cards is here;
      http://www.sdcard.org/press3.htm
      Note this latecommer format has smaller memory sizes avaliable at higher prices than the established memory formats. SD cards are just now breaking the 128 Meg size. They are way behind the Compact Flash Cards in bang for the buck, avaliable sizes, and widespread use. Dataplay appears to simply be an optical version of this.
  • The worst thing any of us can do is flood them with comments like "DRM Sucks CowboyNeal's Dirty Toes" and the like. Be professional and curtious, and allow your concerns to be heard. Although I do not support any of today's proposed DRM technologies, I feel it is important to protect the artist's (as opposed to the profit-hungry record company's) interest.

    Whatever your stance is, however, Be Sure to Write! Someone probably will read your comment and take it into consideration, as long as you are professional about it. Now that we have the opportunity to be heard, be sure that we are.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 07, 2002 @05:48AM (#3836247)
      Protecting the artist's interest.

      In a perfect world, we'd just send artists money directly. All sorts. Musicians, authors, actors, CowboyNeal.. Remember, DRM isn't just about the music industry, though they'll be the biggest proponent behind it. I don't think the publishing and movie industry are that worried about being 'hard hit' by piracy, at least not like the RIAA. Publishers have had to deal with libraries, and box offices have had to deal with Blockbuster.

      But they'll be looking into DRM as more authors are willing to risk the snickers of their collegues and start to publish online, and *if* broad pipes ever become a reality to home users, Dreamworks and friends will start looking at distribution of movies over the 'net.

      Now, back to artists. Bands get squat from cd sales, and unless they're top 40, they don't even get much advertising from the bloodthirsty corps. Authors? As any good author can tell you, unless you're a marketing gimmick, or have been around for years, you'd best have a day job. Movies, well, there's one thing they've got going for them - a home theatre will never equal a *real* theatre. :) But even there, though most movie stars get a good deal in terms of pay, unless you're one of the 'top celebs', you probably aren't getting paid enough.

      Sucks, doesn't it? But think about this: With DRM, we ensure artists get *something*, even if it is a nickel. Without it, there's a much better chance they'll get screwed totally. One can argue that a person who steals (Not pirate. I don't see anyone with eyepatches, damnit!), wouldn't pay for such content anyway, but I'll not argue that anyway.

      Why? Because, DRM is coming. We can fight gloriously and lose, or we can cut our losses and give them input on how it should work. Don't let the bloody warcries on the death of the RIAA/MPAA/etc. dissuade you from tossing these guys some input. It could very well make life much more bearable until we do finally get rid of them. ;)
      • Disclaimer: I have a crass-capitalist-commercial interest in convincing folks to do as I say below. (IMO, it's also better for the artists' interests, too, but I'm told that's debatable.)

        In a perfect world, we'd just send artists money directly. All sorts. Musicians, authors, actors, CowboyNeal.. ...

        I can't offer a perfect world, but I've repeatedly offered a way of sending money directly to artists. www.radsfans.net [radsfans.net] is an example and I suspect others will pop up soon.

        If you look at the typical online tip (of whatever sort) you might get as a musician compared to what you'd end up with from a RIAA-member-pressed CD being sold, this might make financial sense. I wish I had a huge, silly dot com budget to promote the idea all over college campuses, but I don't, and the idea of paying for something -- even voluntarily, for something you like -- isn't as appealing as "free" (as in beer).

        If anyone wants to try e-gold, send me an acct.# and I will click you a bit of it (not much, though). Hopefully, you'll find it useful. Perhaps the idea of musicians online getting tips right now will also help "our side" in the broader "DRM" issue, too. I hope so.
        JMR

        I speak only for Jim Ray, userid notwithstanding.
      • With DRM, we ensure artists get *something*, even if it is a nickel. Without it, there's a much better chance they'll get screwed totally

        That's exactly the argument the RIAA uses. Of course it's absolute bullshit, but obviously people still believe it, otherwise you wouldn't have repeated it.

        In the long run, artists gain nothing from DRM (Hell, even movie studios don't put much faith into it [slashdot.org]).

        Consider that the average high-end artist makes about $.35 per CD sold (most earn less). So, after selling 1 million CD's, they have made $350,000. Now, consider if the artist put their CD on the web, DRM free, for $3.50. Now, instead of selling 1 million, they only have to sell 100,000 copies to make the same amount of money. Are some people going to pirate the CD then would otherwise? Probably. But not 90% more. And Far more people will shell out $3.50 for a CD then would pay $18 for the same CD. Even those pirated copies aren't that bad since people will be telling each other about it (Maybe put a short blurb before the first song: "Like this? Go to www.artist.com to support the artist.")

        In the long run, record companies are doomed. They know this, but they are trying to put off the inevitable for as long as possible with pointless technological tricks like this. Most of their artists buy into the party line simply because they are not technologically savvy enough to know better. But once a few big name artists try it & do well, the whole house of cards will come down.

        One more quick comment about this scheme (in case anybody is thinking about trying it): DON'T GET GREEDY! This ONLY works if the downloadable copy is priced as an impulse buy. $3.50 is about the highest you can go. More then that, and people WILL start to think "Why buy it when I can pirate it?". But at $3.50 (better yet, $3) or less, it's easier to just pay for it then to deal with the hassle of finding a copy of it. Remember, $3.50 is at least 10 times more then the record companies pay, so be happy with it!
    • Coincidentally I had just typed up a nice message for the customer service department at MusicNet. I thought it was only fair that I check out their service, just in case it might be a viable product. Not to worry: upon examination it's just as bad as it seems like it would be. This note may be one notch less than polite but they are valid questions that the industry needs to address.

      Hi. Just a few questions:

      1. You fail to mention the bit rate of your content anywhere on the site. 128k I assume? Or worse?
      2. You don't offer any way for me to see what I might want to download from your catalog. How do I know if you have what I want (hint: it's not necessarily Britney and nsync). If you don't have the song I'm looking for do I have any other option besides going to four or five other major label marketing machine sites until I happen on the one that has the music I want? Then I have to register again, download another client, pay again, etc...??
      3. How does your software enable CD burns and rips that are "faster than ever"? I thought my drive limited the burn and rip speeds and my CPU limited the encoding speed.
      4. What happens if a download stops before it is finished? Do I get my download credit back? What if I don't like the song?
      5. What if I DO like the song? Can I get a higher quality version without going to Tower? Can I burn anything I might hear on your site? Even streams?
      6. Does your software collect any information about me, my listening or my surfing habits? Can it be disabled? Is it going to install some inane and unecessary "download manager" which will play commercials without asking me while taking up loads of my precious screen real estate? Can it be easily uninstalled without ending my subscription?
      7. Is the video content encoded in an unbearably small resolution with a low frame rate and accompanied by tinny low bitrate sound? Can I fast forward and rewind at a reasonable speed? Why shouldn't I just turn on my TV? Can you make sure it doesn't drop out while I'm watching? I hate that.
      8. Why would a consumer want to shell out $10 a month for a product that is of inferior quality compared to an ordinary CD? If I buy the CD then I can do what I want with it, including backing it up for security, giving it to my friends on a mix tape, digitally encoding it without DRM in any format and quality I want, urinating on it, etc... I would NEVER put it online. But I could do all that other stuff without breaking the law, right?

      If anybody there can give me some reasonable answers I will plunk down my money for a month right now. It looks to me like your service is highly limited, expensive for what it is and inconsiderate of my personal privacy.

      Alex Mizell
      Atlanta, GA
      music fan, sound engineer, dj


      Don't even THINK about adding me to a mailing list. I opt out.


      • How does your software enable CD burns and rips that are "faster than ever"?

        RIAA Exec: "Apparently this 'Alex Mizell' character is immune to our marketing gimmicks."
        RIAA IT minion: "I'll flag him as UNPROFITABLY_INTELLIGENT in the database right away Sir!"

        --

    • " The worst thing any of us can do is flood them with comments like "DRM Sucks CowboyNeal's Dirty Toes" and the like."
      Saying that is kinda like saying "don't troll on slashdot". i.e. the same people that pay attention to the rules and common decency will of course make nice comments, and the rest of the 13 year old morons out there have already filled the mailbox beyond full with above comment and "digitally manage THIS! [goatse.cx]" type email.

      although i'm wondering who's rights are in the "digital rights management" term, the artist's or ours?
    • I'm sure I haven't said everything here, but it's a start. Critique it, mention what I left out, improve my presentation... then send your own letter. As the parent said, the more polite, informed letters they get, the better.

      Dear TA Workshop administrators,

      Your announcement inviting public comment on this issue is not well served by the lack of a form to do so. If you truly want the public's input it would help if there was a clear means for doing so. I offer this observation in the hope that future meetings of this type will have such forms available to aid the public in commenting effectively.

      I will unfortunately not be able to attend the workshop as a public citizen, but I would like to submit this comment:

      DRM is a flawed concept at base, since it treats all users of a technology as potential criminals. Furthermore, it will be difficult to the point of impossibility to implement DRM in any way which will not infringe on legal fair uses such as making backups, producing legal derivative works such as parodies and criticism, and reverse engineering for use on alternative platforms.

      I am therefore opposed to legal support for DRM implementation. Such support would be a disservice to the public, stifling legal innovations, raising the prices of consumer devices without any concomitant benefit to said consumer, and benefitting only entrenched oligopolies such as the RIAA and MPAA by protecting outdated business models.

      No other reaction from the US Government is necessary or appropriate. Absent legislation to force this flawed concept upon the public, I believe that DRM will die a well-deserved death at the hands of the free market.

      Thank you for your attention,

      Brian T. Murtagh

  • by ewhac (5844) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @05:48AM (#3836248) Homepage Journal

    Great. Once again our "elected" officials are fellating the monied interests and giving them exactly what they want, regardless of whether or not it's actually necessary. And I can think of few things less necessary that government-mandated copy protection.

    I can't begin to describe how infuriating it is to sit and watch this happen. Every time there's an "open" discussion of the issues surrounding digital copying. there is always an unstated assumption that it is something that must be stopped/controlled/regulated/quashed, and how best that can be accomplished. The very idea that, "The Sky Is Not, In Fact, Falling," is never brought up.

    Let us be clear: Everyone agrees that artists should be rewarded for their good work. The dissent centers around whether copyright is any longer the best way to provide that reward. I contend that it isn't. First off, it doesn't scale. When there are only a handful of people with a printing press, it is reasonable to expect them to be cognizant of each other's "property" and avoid infringement. However, every computer is the equivalent of a printing press. With hundreds of millions of presses out there, all turning out copyrighted works (by the Berne Convention, everything is copyrighted upon creation), it is mathematically impossible to be aware of and avoid infringement of every other article.

    Second, these legislative initiatives are being pushed because the respective industries claim to be losing money to unsanctioned copying (incorrectly referred to as "piracy"). However, these figures are complete fabrications, since they are attempts to measure events that never happened. No independent study of the effects of unsanctioned copying has ever been done. Heck, the industry's own claims have never been subjected to even the most rudimentary critical analysis. And yet these "reports" are being taken as gospel. The story is being repeated so many times, people are starting to believe it's true.

    Third, the idea that solution is to "clamp down" is, at best, extremely suspect. Consider the dawn of the automobile, when society had known nothing but the horse and buggy. Automobiles were loud, smelly, and moved far more quickly than their organic counterparts. It is easy to see how the initial reaction would be to "clamp down" on automobiles: To pass laws prohibiting them from travelling faster than 30 miles/hour (somewhat below the top speed of a horse); to mandate that engines have governors to physically prevent them from going faster than 30 MPH; to require radio tamper switches to report if anyone attempts to defeat the governor; and to authorize and provide for police on every street corner to monitor the speed of automobiles, and incarcerate anyone caught exceeding the established limit. Though some would claim it impossible, you could, in fact, incur the financial and social costs and make such a system work.

    ...Or, you could raise the speed limit.

    One of those solutions is much less costly and much less destructive to the social fabric we've struggled to create and grown to enjoy.

    We now find ourselves at a similar crossroads, where a new technology is upsetting the old order. "Solutions" are being discussed. And the idea of raising the speed limit is being assiduously kept off the agenda. One is forced to wonder why.

    Schwab

    • excellent commentary. Well written, etc., etc.
      but.... You are preaching to the choir....send that in, let them hear your voice!! (well, words written in electronic form anyway)
    • Excellent analogy with an even better conclusion. Nice job. Unlike the former commenter, I don't believe much more is necessary. I think /. comments are already being read, copied, and archived. But then again, I'm paranoid.
    • Everyone agrees that artists should be rewarded for their good work.

      Right. Artists [imdb.com] need to eat too. :)

      But what if the artists could "pirate" their food for free? What if they could warez their easle and paintbrushes? What if they could go off-grid with SPS solar power? What if they never needed medical care because their newfangled artificial immune system and fountain-of-youth magic? What if they could build themselves a nice palace from freely available molecules with no effort (in the ocean, away from rent-hungry landlords)? What if their AI-helper did most of their thinking and creating for them? What if they could download Lucy Lu from Nappster into a robot? Ahhhhhh! Free Beer is the root of all evil! (I was going somewhere with this... but got lost)

      --

    • I also have a gut reaction that copyright doesn't scale, but that's not a reasoned argument on my part. The nitpicker in me couldn't pass up pointing out this apparent non-sequiter in an otherwise excellent argument...
      With hundreds of millions of presses out there, all turning out copyrighted works (by the Berne Convention, everything is copyrighted upon creation), it is
      mathematically impossible to be aware of and avoid infringement of every other article.
      How does the number of presses out there affect whether or not I am aware that the information I publish is (a) my own creative effort or (b) someone else's, and therefore infringing?
      Or am I missing something in the definition of infringement?
      • ...it is mathematically impossible to be aware of and avoid infringement of every other article.

        How does the number of presses out there affect whether or not I am aware that the information I publish is (a) my own creative effort or (b) someone else's, and therefore infringing?

        Perhaps I could have been more precise by saying, "mathematically impractical," for the same reason it is mathematically impractical to crack encryption systems.

        In this specific case, the combinatorial explosion kills you. From math, you may remember the number of possible permutations of a set of n objects arranged in groups of k elements is given as:

        n!
        -------- = n_P_k
        (n - k)!

        Thus, as the number of elements increases, the number of possible permutations increases factorially.

        Now, as the owner of printing press/computer k, you need to make sure that the output work n infringes on no other item n. This becomes factorially hard as n increases. Add in the fact that infringement can be entirely subjective, and it gets even messier.

        Note well: It is entirely possible -- nay, highly probable -- that I am talking out my ass, and that the strict permutation formula used above doesn't apply here. However, it seems to me that, in order to maintain strict uniqueness among n objects, the work of comparing and testing that uniqueness is probably of order n! difficulty.

        Schwab

        • you seem to be running under the assumption that whoever is "publishing" this information with their computer is a publisher in the traditional sense: someone else (an 'author') gave them data, and they (the 'publisher') put it into a presentation format and make it available to others. but if the publisher is the author, there is no mathematics necessary, just a check of the memory. the only thing that affects the odds here is how much the publisher/author has read/seen/heard that is copyrighted by others and how good their memory is about such things and how honest they are (plagirism is still a punishable offense on most campuses).

          i still get a pain behind my left eye whenever i remember stat218, but it seems more likely that if you have
          k -- # of your publications
          n -- # of other publications
          then the length of time it will take to see if what you put out infringes would be
          n ^ k ,
          and if i remember my big Oh big theta stuff, this blows up faster than factorials [freaq prays for flame retardant] as you increase the number of items you publish. if the publisher has no creative input on what's being published.

          but if that isn't the assumption, oops please correct me.
    • I have e-mailed a modified version of this to Public_Affairs@ta.doc.gov (an e-mail address). I hope that it's the right address. All I really know is that it didn't bounce within 5 minutes, which doesn't prove much. But it is the link that operates on their web page.

      And they do request that comments be sent there. Still, as far as I know, it might be /dev/null
      • Oh, tsk! That utterly defeats his purpose -- if he posts to /. he doesn't have to do anything that would actually work towards change. He's doing this *instead* of commenting officially.

        Bad form!
    • I can't begin to describe how infuriating it is to sit and watch this happen. Every time there's an "open" discussion of the issues surrounding digital copying. there is always an unstated assumption that it is something that must be stopped/controlled/regulated/quashed, and how best that can be accomplished.

      There is also a very telling comment on the story "They're taking public comments here according to the announcement, but they sure have hidden it well. Can anybody find the form?". Which sounds very much like the idea of having a "public meeting", where the time and venue are unknown to the public.

      Let us be clear: Everyone agrees that artists should be rewarded for their good work.

      Actually there isn't agreement in where between "paid minimum wage" and "guarenteed income for their grandchildren" a line should be drawn. Using the term "rewarded" also tends to imply some divine right for the creator to make some sort of profit.

      The dissent centers around whether copyright is any longer the best way to provide that reward.

      In the US "copyright" isn't sacrosanct anyway. The US Congress is under no obligation to create a copyright law in the first place.
    • When there are only a handful of people with a printing press, it is reasonable to expect them to be cognizant of each other's "property" and avoid infringement. However, every computer is the equivalent of a printing press. With hundreds of millions of presses out there, all turning out copyrighted works (by the Berne Convention, everything is copyrighted upon creation), it is mathematically impossible to be aware of and avoid infringement of every other article.

      This argument is just wrong. I don't disagree with your motives, but your argument is fundamentally flawed. The only time you could possibly make such an argument is if you somehow independently created a work that someone else had created previously. While this is possible, it's quite unlikely. As a publisher, you only need to know the copyright status of what you publish. Everything else is irrelavent. SInce you will know the origin of each piece, it's very "mathematically possible" to be aware of the copyright status of what you publish. Of course the submittor of a piece could be lying, either about it's provenance or it's legal status, but if you act in good faith you will be clear of most legal responsibility.
      • This argument is just wrong. I don't disagree with your motives, but your argument is fundamentally flawed. The only time you could possibly make such an argument is if you somehow independently created a work that someone else had created previously. While this is possible, it's quite unlikely.

        This is tantamount to the statement, "No one will never need more than 640K of RAM." Whether you are doing software engineering or social engineering, you must consider the extreme case and its possible failure modes, and defend against it in your designs. Otherwise, it will come back to bite you on the bottom.

        Witness The Walt Disney Company's encounter with exactly this problem. Disney is one of the most vigorous and shrill proponents of strong copyright protection. And yet, their animated film, The Lion King [imdb.com], collided with Kimba The White Lion [imdb.com]. So, even if you have nearly unlimited resources to check for uniqueness, you can still get bitten.

        Schwab

    • Everyone agrees that artists should be rewarded for their good work. The dissent centers around whether copyright is any longer the best way to provide that reward.

      If you have DRM you don't need copyright. DRM is a replacement for copyright. Where copyright relies on laws, DRM relies on technology.

      Arguing against copyright is no way to oppose DRM; if anything, saying that copyright is bad may be interpreted to mean that DRM is good.

    • I just copied your post and sent it to their PR address.

      Maybe you need some stricter rights management on your posts.
  • Form (Score:2, Informative)

    by rgbrenner (317308)
    Did the submitter even read the workshop announcement? From the announcement:

    DATES: This workshop will be held on July 17, 2002, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

    ADDRESSES: The workshop will be held at the Herbert C. Hoover Building,
    1401 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room 4830, Washington, DC. Entrance on
    14th between Pennsylvania and Constitution Aves., NW.
    In other words: There is _NO_ form.
    • I dunno about you, but when an organization decides to hold a public workshop regarding the legal future of modern computers and electronics, I assume that its 'online presence' will be more than just a page giving the meatspace address. But since this is the US government we're talking about, this sort of thing isn't too surprising.
    • by ttyp (180849)
      You have to read the whole announcement:

      The workshop will focus on these and other related issues. Anyone
      wishing to comment on these or raise related issues is free to do so,
      either in writing before the meeting, or in person at the meeting.
      Prior comments will be collected via the Technology Administration Web
      site--www.ta.doc.gov/
  • Ok, so this is going to be a series of moderated meetings between the Commerce Dept. and the "stakeholders". Why do I suspect the only stakeholders included will be the **aa's? I call bullshit.

    Who can represent us? There has to be someone the Commerce Dept. rates as a "stakeholder" that doesn't work for Disney. EFF?
    • by agentZ (210674) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @09:35AM (#3836517)
      I live in the Washington DC area and am a computer crime investigator with one of the federal agencies based here. I also care a lot about this issue and will be attending this meeting. Given my credientials, I should be able to get in without being labeled as "one of those long-haired Linux freaks." (i.e. They might listen to me. Yes, sad as it is, law makers don't speak geek and don't believe anybody who isn't from "their" system.)

      If I get the chance to speak at the meeting, I'm debating what I should say:
      • As a federal agent, enforcing the laws on DRM would be impossibly hard. The bad guys are just going to break whatever system you put out there.
      • As a law abiding, but busy guy, I like the convenience of downloading music on-line and putting it on my iPod when I go jogging (to stay in shape and help defend America from terrorists. Okay, that last part is implied, but it would curry favor with the types on this kind of panel.)
      • Forcing everyone to use DRM will stifle innovation as it limits the uses of the music. JXL would never have been able to get an editable copy of Elvis Presley's "Little Less Conversation" to remix into the new cool tune he put out. (Yes, I know JXL went through all of the licensing hoops, but IMHO it's a good example of something that would be denied to ordinary people if DRM is universal.)
      Does anybody else have any other ideas? I'm open to suggestions.
      • Let me suggest a starting point: Content publishers should not be permitted to use technology to add restrictions above and beyond what copyright law gives them.

        Specifically,

        • It should be illegal to place copy-control restrictions on content broadcast over the public airwaves. Attempts to do so take away a right that the Supreme Court gave the public in the Betamax case, and Congress gave the public in the Audio Home Recording Act. The FCC should thus prohibit copy control in content sent by broadcast stations.
        • It may be a illegal conspiracy in restraint of trade, under antitrust law, to require manufacturers to license a copy-control system in order to build content players. Such restrictions will artificially force up the price of consumer electronics and hurt the economy. Aggressive enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts by the Justice Department is indicated here.
        • In general, digital-rights-management technology must not be used as an end-run around the antitrust laws. Using such technology to prevent the introduction of compatible products is illegal under current law, and that law should be enforced. In severe cases, use of the forfeiture provisions of the Sherman Act would be appropriate as a means of timely action against such violators.
      • DRM potentially affects all types of data -- ALL types. So, music, public documents, operating systems, videos (publicly available, etc.), games (i.e. backups of), and potentially even things you, the user, create!

        I'm sort of waiting for the day when I get a call from a user who had to rebuild her/his PC, actually had backups(!!), and suddenly can't use the backups because "this is not the system on which these documents were created." Joy.
      • I think the best way to get peoples attention on this subject is make it apply to them. For instance, you could try to explain how M$'s Palladium would make it difficult (if not impossible) for other platforms to survive. Without Apple, there would be no iPod, and so on. You brought up stifling innovation, but what we are really talking about is the death of technological innovation (or worse yet, putting it in a few peoples hands).

        And why are we going through all of this? Because some record exec. thinks he won't be able to buy his third "summer" home in Malibu. Worse yet, if the Record Industry would have just shut their collective yap and let Napster survive, they probably would have made MORE money than they are now.

        Although I'm not sure what the answer is to this problem, I am sure that we need a new way of doing things as far as copyright is concerned. We need sensibility, not knee-jerk responses that could endanger the future of all Americans.
      • As far as I can tell, MOST of the problems caused for consumers by DRM plans involve the **AA's focus on preventing "copying" (indeed, it's even called "COPYright")...despite the fact that the Fair Use doctrine seems to imply that COPYING is not the "cause" of a copyright violation - DISTRIBUTION is.

        Theoretically, anything I have a legal right to access, I also have a legal "Fair Use" right to copy, translate, garble, "space shift" to other media, "time shift" to watch later [I assume rented media includes this right, up to the length of the rental agreement, after which I no longer have a right to KEEP a copy], and so on. Where the violation occurs is when I DISTRIBUTE these copies to people who don't have a right to them.

        If the focus of DRM would move towards distribution rather than copying, I'd feel a lot less worried about what the **AA were buying from my government. (Not to say that I WANT some sort of monitor chip implanted in every ethernet card, but I would feel less constrained by that than the monitor chip getting in my way every time I try to make a copy for my own personal use...)

        • As far as I can tell, MOST of the problems caused for consumers by DRM plans involve the **AA's focus on preventing "copying" (indeed, it's even called "COPYright")...despite the fact that the Fair Use doctrine seems to imply that COPYING is not the "cause" of a copyright violation - DISTRIBUTION is.

          This is a great point, but I suspect it will be very hard to get anyone to listen to it. That's because DRM does NOTHING to prevent organized piracy. People trying to profit from piracy will do so with or without DRM. What DRM does is force people like me to replace all my CD's with new ones when my CD case is stolen from my car (rather then just burning new CDR's). It makes me replace old CD's when they get scratched. Etc. DRM does more to encourage multiple purchases then it does to prevent piracy. The RIAA knows this, but you'll never get them to admit it in public.
      • If people are to become accustomed to spending money on the internet, we need convenient online payment systems. We need electronic cash that can not be traced or otherwise used to invade our privacy. The technology exists, but it is encumbered with patents. Ironically, those patents are held by a Danish company, but they only apply in the United States.

        We need a well established, open standard where people can just type in a password to authorize payment. Thus saving people the trouble of taking out their credit card and copying down a sixteen digit number. I envision a system were you click a button on a web page which accesses the financial transaction system in your web browser. When you click the link, your web browser pops up a window specifying the size of the transaction. You select a payment method, type in a password to authorize the transaction and the computer does the rest, transfering money, a reciept, and if applicable, the content.

        That standard should permit open source implementations, so that the most popular web server in the world can use it, and so that free web browsers can use it.

        The standard needs support from banks. The banks would be an excellent place to charge for modest patent royalties.

        Keep in mind, the record companies do not want convenient online payment systems. With convenient online payment systems, people could buy music direct from the artists, skipping the record companies all together.

        Congress should establish some grants to develop a convenient online payment standard.

        • That idea would be seriously flawed. Convience usually means lax security. A password as a method of authorizing payment would be incredibly insecure. Most people cant pick out a good password - most people will use the same password for all their accounts. Most people will pick something stupid like their brithday as their password. These passwords would be broken in minutes and those people would have all their information available for anyone to take. Your idea would raise the number of fradulent transactions dramtically.

          I also do not see what this has to do with DRM. What exactly is your point (with regard to this story)?
          • Oh yeah! My point! I guess I left that part out. My point was that people would be more likely to pay for content if it was convenient and confidential. The sky is not falling. Congress should address this issue before messing with digital rights management.

            Obviously, security would be a major concern. I would hope that all key datum (account numbers, receipts, etc) are encrypted with some large randomly generated key. The key itself would be encrypted with a password. The key should only be accessible to a priveledged user, banker.

            When a customer clicks on a payment link, the web browser would call a setuid banker program, passing a dollar amount, transaction ID, and any other pertinant data. Running under the banker userid, a window would pop up asking the user to select a payment method and to enter their password.

            Any time someone tries to start a transaction, a window would pop up asking the user to type in their password. Even if someone physically sat down and started typing passwords, the system could control how often someone can enter their password, dramatically slowing a dictionary attack. All transactions, encryption, and decryption would be managed under the banker ID. The user would never see their encryption key, not even the encrypted version of their key.

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this essentially how OpenSSH works? Except that OpenSSH lets the user access their encrypted key.

            If someone wants to break this system, they will have to gain priveledged access to the user's machine, and then figure out the password. With a well designed system, such as SE Linux, rooting the box wouldn't even work.

            Alternatively, someone could try breaking into the bank, or decrypting the user's data. But these things would be protected with keys much stronger than a password.

          • sounds like a good plan, but you're making this a linux-centric system. the system must be available to windows and macintosh users to be accepted in the market. and we all know how secure a standard install of windows is...
      • One of the reasons that lawmakers often "don't speak geek" is that they "speak law" instead. Many of us in the computer world do not realize the inordinate amount of work that these people must go through to get a law degree. One might even say that the profession of law is even more bloated with jargon than our own profession is - a quick look at the infamous Jargon File [tuxedo.org] [warning, 2.2MB link] will prove that. (incidentally, if printed, it's about 785 pages of stuff!)

        While I may give the legislators this chip to bargain with, it is taken away just as quickly by telling them that if they are to make laws that govern the fruits of our profession, (by "our profession" I mean programmers, primarily) they must understand it. It is this core point that legislators fail to accept. It is also this core point that lawyers often refuse to accept.

        The only solution in this matter is to educate - and for that to happen, those of us who are so quick to judge people who do not intrinsically understand the ways computers work (and lawmakers often understand less about computers than the average bear) must put aside some of that cynicism and try to teach these people enough so that their laws not only are effective, but enforceable.

        Note the difference - these people are not your 90 year old grandmas who only use their computers as a glorified typewriter!! Especially in reading some posts here, we are quick to rail away against our legislators because they do not seem to understand the ramifications of their actions. I am not discounting that the mafia-boss style tactics of the MPAA and RIAA, for example, have an effect on our legislators' votes, because they do, but maybe by giving our legislators enough good information about how computers work and how these things can actually be managed, the legislators might actually be able to out-think idiots like Hilary Rosen and Jack Valenti.

        Or am I being too optimistic?
        --
      • If you want something to re-enforce your first bullet, you should point out that copy protection is basically cryptography. I can give two examples of cryptographics systems that the creators relied upon because they > they were unbreakable: Enigma and JNC (Japanese Naval Code). That assumption was a major contributor to the German and Jananese defeat in WWII. It is highly likely that any encryption scheme will eventually fail (probably within a few years). [Anybody know of any examples of an encryption scheme that has held for 5 years? 10 years?

        I'be been telling anybody who will listen that the only workable scheme is to put a royalty on blank media and device the fairest scheme possible for setting the rates and distributing the royalties. It's not perfect, but it is technically feasible and it won't cripple innovation. It also won't inconvenience (or screw) the customers. Something most other players in this arena don't bother to think about.
        • If you want something to re-enforce your first bullet, you should point out that copy protection is basically cryptography.

          Used in a way in which cryptography dosn't work very well. Cryptography is a good method for sending information to people who you trust where evesedropping by people you don't trust is likely. However the idea behind DRM is to send information to people you don't trust. Using cypher machines in black boxes supplied as mass market commodities. Genetically engineering pigs with avian DNA may well be an easier task.
      • Forcing everyone to use DRM will stifle innovation as it limits the uses of the music

        This doesn't even scratch the surface.

        Forcing everyone to use DRM will eliminate innovation, because nobody except big business will be able to create anything.

        The logic goes like this:
        1. Everyone is forced to use DRM
        2. DRM only works if content is signed
        3. "hackers" can remove signatures, so therefore
        4. everything that's not signed is pirated.

        If you make a recording studio in your basement, and record a song, you will be unable to distribute your own work without (a) signing over copyright to a big studio, or (b) paying huge$$$ to a DRM company for your own cert. Either way, you lose, and your competition (the big labels) win.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 07, 2002 @06:32AM (#3836284)
    I think that the issue of DRM falls into a much larger debate about society in general. If we can prevent people from breaking the law, should we do it ? This question will become very relevant in the near future, as techologies are inevitably developed which can remove peoples' ability to break the law (be it copyright law or something else).

    I believe that it is fundamental aspect of a free society that people can break laws as they see fit and suffer the consequences. After all, this is one of the few remaining options for ordinary people to overturn "bad" laws. Wherever our ability to break the law is removed we will have transfered absolute, nearly unaccountable power to the people and organizations who write the laws. This is particularly disturbing when the people behind such schemes are not even elected, ie: Microsoft and Palladium.

    Most slashdot readers probably understand the importance of this principle to democracy, but I wonder how many lawmakers do. We should bring this to their attention, because although we will likely win the war over DRM, there will be numerous other techologies of a similiar nature appearing on the horizon shortly.
  • by PinkSchizoid (264768) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @06:44AM (#3836292)
    As stated, this is strictly a meeting for "relevant stakeholders" in the industry. It is relevant only as pertains to the economy of the United States. The notice does however devote one line to consumers stating (in part): "the proper role for the Government in facilitating solutions that are best for innovation and best for consumers.".
    Strictly speaking, the primary goal of both is to substantially change some fundamental underpinnings of how data is transferred from point A to point B and perhaps back. The problem (as has been discussed to death here on /.) is just who is going to dictate what goes where and by what method, and how it will change what you and I call the net.
    Many of us are a bit paranoid about it as well we should be. The term "Digital Revolution" may even conjure up a new meaning for a few of us if this keeps up. Please comment in person, in writing, or via email to anybody and everybody you can concerning this because OUR GOVERNMENT HAS SOLD US OUT! It's as simple as that. They even put it in writing. It's a done deal and anyone who thinks differently should really look at what's been happening.
    Same old story. It's been gathering steam for quite a while and now it may be rolling too fast to stop.
    Secure, Broadband, Economy? Hmmm, sort of sounds like something my t.v. cable company should be scheming with, not the Feds and certainly not in collusion with what they blatantly refer to as the major stakeholders. I don't want to say too much here as it may get misconstrued as a threat to national security (chuckle...), but this is utter bullshit. In theory, you can get your voice heard if you contact your Government representative. Beyond that this may require a MOVEMENT, a SIT-IN, a DEMONSTRATION, or something perhaps even more substantial.
    IMHO, we will all see the internet become a place where even the most trivial activity will eventually be monitored, archived, and we will all be operating under an OS with the Federal seal of approval. This is not a good thing.
    I specifically said we will all see this happen as it will not take too long in the making if nothing is done to put it in check.

    I'm Mad As Hell and I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore!
  • not the first... (Score:3, Informative)

    by kubla2000 (218039) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @06:47AM (#3836293) Homepage

    This is not the first such workshop that has been held.

    The previous was held on December 17, 2001: http://www.ta.doc.gov/PRel/MA011214.htm [doc.gov]

    Participants included all the usual suspects including the MPAA, RIAA, Microsoft, and Intel

    Interestingly, one of the participants was Forrester Research who, in their public archives which unfortunatly only has summaries available, include several reports such as:

    http://www.forrester.com/ER/Research/Report/Summar y/0,1338,10020,FF.html [forrester.com]

    whose summaries with punch line conclusions like "Media companies turn into eBusiness network" alone would have been enough to curl the nose hairs of any movie / recording industry executive still stuck in the 90s (1990s that is).

  • by mikeplokta (223052) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @07:25AM (#3836330)
    My criterion for an acceptable DRM system is simple. It must be incapable of removing any rights from the end user. Where any form of copying or other use is legally permissible without the consent of the copyright holder, such as redistributing extracts as part of a criticism or comment, making a copy for personal use on a different device, copying a broadcast for later viewing ("time-shifting"), viewing a work on a player in a different part of the world and so on, the copyright holder must be incapable of using the DRM system to prevent such copying.

    If a technical solution to preserving "fair use" is not possible, a legal solution would be acceptable -- legislation would have to require that a copyright holder not use a DRM system in such a way as to prevent fair use, and I suggest that the appropriate penalty for failure to comply would be for them to lose the copyright on the work concerned and have it placed in the public domain for all to copy and resell freely.

    You will note that several existing DRM technologies, such as DVD region coding and Macrovision, fail to meet this criterion. This is a serious issue which I suggest you should address at the workshop.
    • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @08:06AM (#3836372) Homepage
      My criterion for an acceptable DRM system is simple. It must be incapable of removing any rights from the end user.

      That goal cannot be achieved technically for the same reason that DRM cannot be achieved technically. Information is policy neutral, the only means of attaching a policy to information is through secure hardware which does not exist in mass producable form (as the advocates of the Clipper chip discovered).

      I have not yet written a submission, if I do it will probably be on the following lines:

      1. DRM technology must be judged by its actual capabilities and not the claims made for it.
        At present DRM technologies are subject to a technical equivalent of Gresham's law, the bad schemes drive out the good. Nobody has a scheme that can provide for perfect security.
      2. The purpose of security technology is to control risk, not eliminate it
      3. Legislation should not be used to deprive consumers of use rights, in particular those that operate in restraint of trade
        The real purpose of the DVD zone scheme is to allow artificial price differentials between markets to be preserved. While this is repeatedly denied these denials are not credible.
      4. The primary impact of any DRM enforcement mechanism is psychological.

    • Before reading my comments, you are required to read and accept the following End Reader Licensing Agreement.
      1. The following content is owned by the Me Corporation (hereafter referred to as "Me").
      2. The content may not be redistributed without the handwritten consent of an officer of Me.
      3. By reading the content, the reader agrees to allow Me to remove any incompatible software on the reader's computer.
      4. The reader further agrees to allow Me to install any software Me deems necessary to ensure this ERLA is adhered to.
      5. The reader is hereby licensed to read the content a maximum of two times. A fee of $5 U.S. will be charged to each credit card number found on the reader's computer for each reading in excess of two.
      6. The reader agrees to hold harmless Me and its officers for any damages or unintended effects that result from Me's Digital Rights Management.
      [reject] [ACCEPT]

      <ENCRYPTED CONTENT>
      I respectfully submit that Digital Rights Management will enable corporations to exert inappropriate control over the consumer's rights and property, and that it will be abused in ways we can only imagine in the persuit of every last penny of profit.
      </ENCRYPTED CONTENT>

    • You forgot one right: Expiration of copyright.

      Copyrights are for a limited time. That's written on a piece of parchment somewhere.

      So how will DRM allow me to access this stuff when the copyright expires?

  • RIAA/MPAA are complaining about piracy but are
    themselves in the process of a big time theft
    of all personal computers in the world.

    A crooked world isn't it? //Pingo

  • Where exactly is the form I need to respond to? I don't see anything on the second page linked that says "form here" and none of the random links I've clicked get me there. It's all well and good to be clever and say "see, they hid it", but let us know where it is so we can respond!
    • We can't see the form because we're not authorized to see it.

      (What, you expect a government agency involved with publication to know how to properly publish announcements?)

  • Announce a workshop on the day before (what is for the people who would be most affected by the outcome of the workshop) a four day weekend to virtually guarantee that few, if any, people are going to hear about it or have the time to compose any meaningful input.

    Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't publicly announce the workshop until July 12th.

    This smacks of the ``let's sneak it through when they're not looking'' tactic that the mayor of Chicago and his political cronies pulled in Illinois when they pushed through a bill to authorize a major airport expansion on Christmas Eve because they knew that few people would catch on.

  • I'm curious about something, and hopefully someone will be able to answer. Most of the hardware is made outside the US for US companies. WIll this mean that different hardware will be produced for countries != US? (IE: Canada), where the copyright laws are different?

    I'm sure implementing US laws on hardware shipped outside the US probably breaks a few trade agreements (not to mention it enforces US laws [legal or copyright] on other countries). How will this affect us (us being users outside the US)?
    • I'm sure implementing US laws on hardware shipped outside the US probably breaks a few trade agreements (not to mention it enforces US laws [legal or copyright] on other countries). How will this affect us (us being users outside the US)?

      At a guess the US will claim that the trade agreements in question oblige the rest of the world to go along with this. If they manage to fool the rest of the world then this will get pushed everywhere in the name of "globalization" & "harmonization".
      The US would likely try very hard for this interpretation. Since as most of hardware in question simply cannot be sourced from within the US, including systems utterly vital to government.

  • Check out the CV on Chris Israel [doc.gov], the person who is supposed to be collecting comments for his office to work on.

    Seems like Jack Valenti has his hands up all the major puppets these days...


  • ...and it was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard". (Apologies to DNA [douglasadams.com]).
  • Mr. Chris Israel:

    I was reading Slashdot (http://www.Slashdot.org, a great geek / technical site) and found a story about someone there at the Dept. of Commerce Technology Administration soliciting input on Digital Rights Management (DRM). There was much to-do on this Slashdot report about the fact that your office was soliciting comments by July 11th, 2002, but that it was impossible to figure out how to do so via your website. This might possibly be interpreted as being disingenuous.

    I'd like to suggest that you put more email addresses on your web page, as well as having a link about where to submit comments about specific topics. There are many technically literate and astute observers of technical trends and complex issues that read slashdot.

    If you have issues about which you'd like technical people to vote, you can always ask slashdot to run the poll for you, or put it on your own website and mention it on TomsHardware.com, Slashdot.org, Arstechnica.com, etc. and they'll get you people with a range of technically well-considered opinions.

    Please feel free to visit slashdot (it's a very widely read site) and post a message about where to find this DRM comment-solicitation link, be it a web-submit form or an email address. Or, respond to me, and I'll post the link there.

    I guarantee once you have a valid link available, you'll find lots of people willing to provide constructive input.

    thanks for your time,
    Cordially yours,
    -- Kevin Rice
    Buffalo grove, Illinois
    http://www.Justanyone.com
    kevin@justany one.com
  • These people seem to make it as hard as possible, Contact us: Public.Affairs@ta.doc.gov which is of course linked to Public_Affairs@ta.doc.gov not Public.Affairs@ta.doc.gov. I am sure they do this knowing full well that most people would copy-and-paste this into an e-mail and not click a mailto: link and expect it to bring up certain web-based e-mails Yahoo (the patch to fix this is only for IE), hushmail, etc . Or for some linux users, they don't have the browser set-up to work with their e-mail client... Anyways, the contact address is Public_Affairs@ta.doc.gov and not Public.Affairs@ta.doc.gov
  • Excuse me if this has already been posted (I checked but may have missed it).

    In response to the query for the locationto submit comments the URL is:

    http://www.ta.doc.gov/comments/comments.htm

  • To whom it may concern: As a citizen of the United States and as a consumer, I am opposed to any legislation which restricts my Fair Use Rights. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a technology which will greatly restrict my Fair Use Rights by: 1) assuming untrusted software is guilty until proven innocent 2) limting my rights to produce my own music, movies, and software 3) limiting my product choices 4) centralizing control of DRM rights into the hands of a few at the expense of many In conclusion, I see Digital Rights Managements as the RIAA's and MPAA's declaration of war on the consumer.
  • To the Conference,

    Copyright in America is demonstrably not a public concern.

    Fritz Hollings says "over 10 million people" are "stealing" copyrighted works. Well, usually that would be called a riot, and that nobody is treating is such is telling.

    Copying a digital file is not stealing. Robbing somebody of a physical object is.

    Before you sit to consider the benefits of better copyright protection, please first ensure the validity of the current concept of copyright.

    When I explain Disney's very long copyright on Mickey Mouse to people in my family, and then proceed to explain Disney's use of the Grimm Brother fairy-tales to make their business, it is clear to everyone that Disney isn't playing fair. Why should we then ensure Disney's ability to lock-down our use of "their" material?

    Why should a music and film industry with increasingly less art and increasingly more commerce be "protected"?

    Make copyright 7 years, decommercialize the arts and seed the public domain for good.

    Then you should enforce copyright all you want.
  • Go here [doc.gov].

"Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberrys!" -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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