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EFF and Dvorak Blame the Digg Revolt On Lawyers 262

Posted by kdawson
from the jet-fuel-on-a-fire dept.
enharmonix writes "A bit of an update on the recent Digg revolt over AACS. The NYTimes has taken notice and written quite a decent article that actually acknowledges that the take-down notices amount to censorship and documents instances of the infamous key appearing in purely expressive form. I was pleased to see the similarity to 2600 and deCSS was not lost on the Times either. More interesting is that the EFF's Fred von Lohmann blames the digg revolt on lawyers. And in an opinion piece, John Dvorak expands on that theme."
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EFF and Dvorak Blame the Digg Revolt On Lawyers

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  • by pembo13 (770295) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:31PM (#19016345) Homepage
    esp. the business/IP type.. but don't the EFF have/employ a lot of lawyers?
  • Yeah, yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by creimer (824291) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:32PM (#19016359) Homepage
    Blame the lawyers instead of figuring out a reasonable approach to DRM that doesn't burden the consumers while protecting the producers. The worst part is that some of these now blamed lawyers will run for Congress to make a bigger mess.
    • Re:Yeah, yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FunWithKnives (775464) <ParadoxPerfect@t ... t ['ror' in gap]> on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:47AM (#19016831) Journal
      I agree that lawyers are not to blame for this. Lawyers are normally hired by an organization, and assigned to whatever issue it is that the organization hired them for. Hacking at the branches of the tree will not solve anything.

      Other than that, however, I have to disagree. As far as I can tell, there is no "reasonable" DRM. "Reasonable" DRM is a paradox. It would defeat its own purpose. No, I believe all DRM, no matter how cute and cuddly it may seem to be (*ahem* FairPlay), should be completely outlawed. It serves only one purpose: the circumvention of fair use, yet it is cloaked as an "anti-piracy" measure. In my mind, the only solution to the problem is to ban it, and prosecute those companies that do not comply.
      • Re:Yeah, yeah... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by brianosaurus (48471) on Monday May 07, 2007 @01:37AM (#19017085) Homepage
        As for the lawyers, they were just being lawyers.

        When the bottom fell out of the Internet Boom, and all those startups, which had beem generating constant stream of contracts, and privacy policies, and mergers, and all sorts of legal documents, all went under. Well not all of them, but enough of them. Probably half of the slashdot audience worked for at least one...

        So all of a sudden, no one had new contracts. No one was buying out the new startups. No one really new what all those lawyers in the company's legal department really did. And all the people gettling layed off were particularly curious why their team was decimated (heh.. like the music industry), when there were so many lawyers sitting around doing nothing. So they had to justify themselves. And.. well... you know. The Constitution never explicitly granted the right to duplicate copyrighted materials on the Internet. Not explicitly (how could it have?). It didn't deny those rightseither, which technically is how it works for most things... but I digress. Where was I...

        Right. So everyone putting anything online was surely violating someone's copyright or trademark, and later when people started putting programs online, they could violate patents! Woohoo! Paperwork galore! And lawyers LOOOOOVES them some paperwork!

        I got a C&D way back in 1995. I had a web page with a live camera looking at a [CENSORED} Lamp that I had on my desk. And I mistakingly titled the page "Check out my Groovy [CENSORED] Lamp!" and had a flowery background and that lame sort of slang we think our parents used to say. After a while I got a cease and decist from ... how should i say it... "Lava Lamp" is a trademark of Haggerty Enterprises. And I was apparently causing irreparable harm by having called my Lava Lamp (TM of Haggerty Enterprises) a Lava Lamp, and having pictures of it on the Internet. I was in a hurry, so I did a search/replace of "Lava" with "[CENSORED]" and left it at that.

        So anyway, I guess the writing was on the wall, but I didn't see it yet. But that's what lawyers were doing on the internet before anyone was really even looking at it.

        Move forward to 2000, and now there's millions of lawyers that need to make themselves useful in the quickest and easiest way possible. Hypothetically, I mean.

        I hope that covers my ass...
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by bucky0 (229117)
          I think they probably sent the C&D because of trademark law. If they didn't go after people who called random lamps lava lamps, the term would be considered generic and they would lose the trademark on it. Hormel has to go after people who talk about spam. Kleenex also has the same problem
        • Re:Yeah, yeah... (Score:5, Informative)

          by radtea (464814) on Monday May 07, 2007 @09:13AM (#19019721)
          The Constitution never explicitly granted the right to duplicate copyrighted materials on the Internet.

          Neither the American Constitution nor the Bill of Rights "grant" rights. The "enumerate" them--that is, "specify one after another; list".

          The 9th Amendment to the Constitution specifically states, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." And the 10th Amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people."

          Ergo, anything that is not forbidden to the people is permitted. Anything that is not permitted to the United States or the several States is forbidden.

          A "right" in the Framer's language is either endowed by God, or in secular terms is a political condition necessary for the life of a morally autonomous being, in precisely the same sense that light is a physical condition necessary for the life of a photosynthesising being. One can neither "grant" nor "deny" the necessity of light to a photosynthesising being--because that is simply a fact about the being. If you take the light away, or give it in inappropriate amounts and times and spectra, the being will not thrive. The same is true, on the secular view, of rights.
      • Re:Yeah, yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Monday May 07, 2007 @07:11AM (#19018837) Homepage
        I agree they're harmful.

        But banning is not required. They are attempting to do something which is fundamentally imposible anyway. They want to hand over to you encrypted content, a complete implementation of the decryption-algorithm AND all needed keys, and nevertheless prevent you from decrypting the data.

        That does not work. Bruce Schneier said it best: Trying to make bits non-copiable is about as likely to suceed as an attempt to make water not wet.

        All that is needed for the free market to dismantle such crap by itself is to let it.

        That is -- remove any and all laws that protect these mechanisms. Kill the DMCA, basically.

        DRM ain't dangerous. It won't and can't work.

        DRM combined with laws preventing their removal and/or breakage is *very* dangerous.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by goldspider (445116)
        "It serves only one purpose: the circumvention of fair use"

        I see what you're saying, but something doesn't sound right to me.

        What do you think threatens the media industries' bottom lines more; fair use or unauthorized duplication and distribution?

        Clearly the people making DVD rips and posting a torrent, making the movie/whatever freely available at no charge has more of an impact than someone trying to make backups of movies already purchased.

        The problem is that there is technologically a lot of overlap be
    • Re:Yeah, yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brianosaurus (48471) on Monday May 07, 2007 @01:15AM (#19016975) Homepage
      Can you really blame them, what with all the newfound name recognition?

      But better: Its freaking working! Here I was thinking that nothing I do can change the system. Then we add a few numbers in our sigs, and what have you, and now Dvorak is spouting off stuff that actually makes sense for once! ;)

      "The music industry is decimated" (John D.). Hellaf'in yeah, it is! I don't buy CDs anymore. I don't "steal" music either. I boycott it. I started boycotting the RIAA labels and their artists when Napster (the real one) got taken down. And now, only 8 years later, the mainstream press is getting the message. Napster (the REAL one) wasn't hurting anyone, or hurting business models. When Napster was running, CDs were selling like never before. When Napster went down, CD sales started to drop. There is no data that says otherwise, and the RIAA's own reported stats show it.

      Even digg.com is going to become a household word over this. And just yesterday, my dad would have sworn "digging" is something you do with a shovel.

      When "exploit ignorance through rampant douchebaggery" stops being the primary business model operating in the US (and I do think its primarily here, in the US), I'll be much, much happier.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday May 07, 2007 @04:45AM (#19017989) Journal
        Ah, yes, "The music industry is decimated". LOL.

        Now I know that it meant something different back in the Roman times, from which we inherited the word, but nowadays "decimated" means something a lot more drastic. You know, massive destruction. As in, "the population of Europe was decimated by the plague in the late middle ages." (When some documented outbreaks wiped out as much as 80% of a city's population, and, as statistics flukes often work, some smaller villages saw 100% deaths and became ghost villages.)

        Did the music industry suffer anything even remotely callable "decimation". On what data do you or Dvorak base such statements? All the sales data I've seen indicated a steady, but relatively unspectacular decline in number of CDs sold, not some devastating dive at the end of Napster. And it becomes even less so when you consider how many people bought at least one track from an album on, say, iTunes, as basically the equivalent of one CD sale lost. Those people poached the one track that interested them, and are not gonna buy the whole CD now.

        And let's be serious for a minute. If you think teenagers will start protesting DMCA en masse instead of trying to be fashionable among their peers, I have a nice waterfront property in Sahara to sell. Are you interested? I mean, heh, seriously, 90% of the high school population lives, dresses, eats and buys music based 100% on peer tastes. Even if they go for the rebellious independent teenager image, it's the exact image that their peers want to see. If among their peers it's fashionable to be a Britney Spears fan and have all her albums, that's what they'll do.

        "There is no data that says otherwise"... actually, there is plenty.

        1. Even if Napster went down, other P2P networks exist and existed. And by all estimates I've seen, the usage is rising steadily. Plus both pre- and post-napster there were pirate websites, ftp sites, binaries newsgroups, etc. What was so special about Napster among them? Why would piracy on Napster improve sales, but piracy on other networks cause sales to drop? Because that's what you're asking me to believe there, if Napster's death was single-handedly responsible for decimating the music business.

        2. Last I've heard, most of the decline pre- or post-Napster also suspiciously correlated for a long while with a decline in the number of albums published. You don't need a conspiracy to start wondering about cause and effect there. Let's say Moraelin Music Inc publishes 20 albums in one year, and rakes 20 million dollars in sales. Then next year it publishes 19 albums and the sales dip to 19 million dollars. Hmm... Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Pinky?

        3. How about the correlation with iTunes and the other online music shops that I've mentioned earlier? Unlike pirating a song, which makes most people feel slightly guilty, this time it's an officially bought song. No reason to go buy the CD too. And it went a long way towards killing the album. While previously the music companies would sell you a whole CD, now you can poach individual tracks, for a tenth of the cost. Do you see how that would cause a loss of $$ in sales? And then there were sites like Allofmp3, which didn't even pay the music companies a cent, but allowed some people to put a "well, then copyright is their problem, not mine, I bought the song" blanket over their conscience anyway.

        Or in other words, Dvorak is, as usual, talking out the ass. His job as a tech pundit is to sound all smart, and tell the readers what they want to hear. Or at least some outlandish prediction. It's a short-story writer job, not some real all-knowing oracle. And if you've read some of his other pieces (e.g., the now infamous whine about how the Windows idle process is eating up 99% of his CPU power), he's... a helluval less than all-knowing. In fact, he's an outright idiot.

        So be a smart guy and don't base your understanding of the world on his clueless rants. I'm sure you can find better sources of information.
      • I boycott it. I started boycotting the RIAA labels and their artists when Napster (the real one) got taken down.

        I stopped buying CD's when I couldn't tell real CD's from the Defective By Design CD's. Labels noticed the consumer didn't pay attention to the discs that lacked the Compact Disk tm. logo and stopped paying Phillips for the trademark. Soon afterward, they started dinking with putting autorun/autoinstall software on fake CD's. Since you can't tell a real CD due to the lack of the Philips logo, t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TodMinuit (1026042)
      Blame the lawyers instead of figuring out a reasonable approach to DRM that doesn't burden the consumers while protecting the producers.

      They used to call those 'laws'.
    • figuring out a reasonable approach to DRM that doesn't burden the consumers while protecting the producers

      Such a thing is not possible by definition. All restrictions are burdensome; DRM without restrictions isn't DRM.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Fogg (947911)

      The AACS-LA had to decide how to respond to the recent breaks. Someone recommended DMCA-based cease-and-desist letters to any site publishing the relevant integer. This 'someone' was probably a lawyer, and the suggestion proved to be counterproductive to the AACS-LA in a very predictable way. In the narrow context intended by the linked article, it probably is "the fault of lawyers".

      The problems with the DMCA and DRM from a public policy, engineering, or free-market perspective are broader and more impo

  • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:34PM (#19016377) Journal
    ...that trying to issue a thousands of DMCA take down notices is the fastest way to proliferate something :)

    Oh yeah and the fact that DMCA take down notices only apply to servers in the US.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geoskd (321194)

      ...that trying to issue a thousands of DMCA take down notices is the fastest way to proliferate something :)

      It also has the added side benefit (for the lawyers) of racking up thousands of billable hours in record time...

      -=Geoskd
    • Lawyers (Score:2, Insightful)

      by merikari (205531)
      It's a classic case of inmates running the asylum.

      All I see is lawyers generating more work for lawyers. They are not stupid - of course they know that there is no way anyone can keep the lid on this, which suits them perfectly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ilgaz (86384) *
      Napster user threatening, bad name calling scandal effectively killed a band named Metallica which sold 57 million albums to that date.

      You would think those suits learn or at least the PR army they use to spam (viral market!) HDDVD on sites like Digg would warn them.
  • Takedown notice? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lunartik (94926) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:35PM (#19016381) Homepage Journal
    Was Digg ever given a takedown notice? I haven't followed this since the original flap over it, but at the time it seemed like Digg cowered at the idea that maybe they could get in legal trouble (or lose an advertiser).

    When Digg changed their tune, some users rejoiced that Digg was now going to fight for them, possibly at the cost of the site. Digg even made a solemn pronouncement that they were taking some brave and bold step. But there was never any evidence of any fight. If there was a threat or takedown notice, Digg should have posted that.

    • Re:Takedown notice? (Score:4, Informative)

      by BenFranske (646563) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:47PM (#19016477) Homepage
      My understanding is that they were. The issue is that a takedown notice applies only to the posting(s) mentioned and new postings should require additional takedown notices. Digg was proactively removing postings before receieving additional takedown notices which users took to be them "caving" and which resulted in the revolt. At least that's how I understand it.
      • Re:Takedown notice? (Score:5, Informative)

        by whoever57 (658626) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:31AM (#19016765) Journal

        The issue is that a takedown notice applies only to the posting(s) mentioned and new postings should require additional takedown notices.
        Did you read the FA? The safe harbor provisions may not apply, since this is not a copyrighted work that is at issue -- the claim is that the number formed part of a circumvention device and that continued hosting of it anywhere on a site makes the hoster liable.
        • Re:Takedown notice? (Score:5, Informative)

          by BenFranske (646563) on Monday May 07, 2007 @01:55AM (#19017173) Homepage
          I did read the article and I do concede that in the takedown letters they state "Refrain from posting or causing to be provided any AACS circumvention offering or from assisting others in doing so, including by direct links thereto, on any website now or at any time in the future." However, I question how reasonable this is. First, there is the untested (AFAIK) issue if such a short string of numbers is really a circumvention device. We're not talking about code (eg. DeCSS) which actually does something, this is just a string of numbers. If this is ruled to be part of a circumvention device we're in trouble because by that logic the first part of the string '09' would be a part of a circumvention device and prohibiting people from distributing the number 9 would be rather unfortunate. Secondly, I don't think other recipients of takedown notices (eg. Blogspot/Google) are proactively preventing "...any AACS circumvention offering..." from being posted so my assumption would be that they are only acting on sites specifically mentioned in takedown notices and I wonder why Digg should be different. In any event, I was only stating what the reasons for the Digg revolt were; right, wrong or otherwise.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by EzInKy (115248)

            We're not talking about code (eg. DeCSS) which actually does something, this is just a string of numbers.


            Code also is just a string of numbers. Music, movies, and electronic books are strings of numbers as well. An interesting thing about strings of numbers is that when combined they become one number. You often hear people say that a number can not be copyrighted but obviously that is not the case because every thing digital can be represented by one single number.
        • by grahammm (9083) *

          the claim is that the number formed part of a circumvention device and that continued hosting of it anywhere on a site makes the hoster liable.
          But the number is so short, only 16 bytes, that I am sure that it forms part of an extremely large number of programs, occurs in the base64 encodings of many documents etc. Unlike a physical key which has just purpose, to operate a lock, a 16 byte string has many and varied uses.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by netcrusher88 (743318)

          Actually, although lawyers may not want you to know this, the safe harbor clause in the DMCA is somewhat redundant - almost as though they thought that by spelling out a particular case would make people think that other cases of the host not being liable do not exist. (Note: some of the framers of the US Bill of Rights were wary of spelling out certain rights because some idiot might decide that doing so excluded other rights.) Rather effective, it seems to me.

          The "safe harbor" that would be relevant i

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jkerman (74317)
        Not entirely true.... The revolt started after they proactivly removed posts that /talked/ about the takedown notice, or talked about AACS in any way. they BANNED the accounts of users posting stories such as "where did that other story go?" and the revolt started from there. from how i understand it

        it sure would be nice if it was some sort of modern form of protest, but its digg for cripes sake. its just 15 year olds pulling the same shit they pull on every other forum. no free speech issue. no copyright i
    • by shark swooner (1077115) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:04AM (#19016599)
      This "we're going to go down fighting" was obviously some nonsense invented by Digg's public relations team.

      Digg is venture capital funded, its management would be replaced by the end of the day if they seriously intended to risk any amount of equity in the company over some symbolic statement like that.

      They'll obviously now just wait for the DMCA notices to take the offending material down, at which point we might expect more grandeur from their PR department if anyone notices.
    • I dunno (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lorcha (464930) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:11AM (#19016643)
      It couldn't have been a DMCA "we own the copyright, now take it down" takedown notice, because those only apply to copyrightable works.

      What probably happened was Digg got a letter saying, "You have posted a DRM circumvention tool. If you don't remove it, we will sue your testicles into the stratosphere."

      It's different from a takedown notice, but it had the same effect.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)
        It couldn't have been a DMCA "we own the copyright, now take it down" takedown notice, because those only apply to copyrightable works.

        What probably happened was Digg got a letter saying, "You have posted a DRM circumvention tool. If you don't remove it, we will sue your testicles into the stratosphere."

        It's different from a takedown notice, but it had the same effect.


        Wow, that's spooky. TFA [eff.org] says

        Is the key copyrightable? It doesn't matter. The AACS-LA takedown letter is not claiming that the key is copyrigh

      • It occurs to me that if Digg and its ilk can be dealt "take down" notices for carrying a particular representation of data, then that situation could also be turned around.

        Suppose, for example, that someone's Valuable Intellectual Property were, through pure coincidence, protected by the key "sony.com", by the contents of http://www.riaa.com/ [riaa.com] or by the image of Mickey Mouse?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by fishbowl (7759)

          >Suppose, for example, that someone's Valuable Intellectual Property were, through pure coincidence, protected by the key
          >"sony.com", by the contents of http://www.riaa.com/ [riaa.com] or by the image of Mickey Mouse?

          I think the only successful attack against the **AA will come from within. One of its own members will see the light, recognize the organization as competition, and destroy it.
    • Re:Takedown notice? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fred Ferrigno (122319) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:53AM (#19016861)
      They received a legally-unenforceable cease and desist letter, but never a DCMA takedown notice. This is key: they were under no legal obligation to do anything at any time. They received a threatening letter and over-reacted. They pulled any stories remotely related to the AACS key, including several that did not mention the number, but only commented on Digg's censorship of it. They also banned the people who submitted those stories -- something that has never been a requirement of the DCMA.

      That's what I was protesting. I never expected Digg to do anything illegal or take the issue to court.
  • Not a piracy code (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:40PM (#19016421)
    Somebody should write the NYTimes a letter and let them know that the code is just the code you need to play the movies you own and paid for. Piracy doesn't figure into it at all.
    • by n1hilist (997601) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:58AM (#19016873)
      This raises my main argument over DRM.

      Why should you have to be a criminal to play your bought media on a different system?

      If Mum sends me a WMV encoded clip from her camera of the new puppy, shouldn't I just be able to double click it in Linux, play it and enjoy it without having to feel like a dodgy guy for having not-so-legal Linux codecs installed?

      I think, when you create a technology/protocol/service that is a fundamentally useful, standard that is a leading standard, this protocol/format should be open and exchangeable by everyone. /rant
  • by rwyoder (759998) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:41PM (#19016435)
    Dvorak is making sense.
  • Blame the Lawyers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Snaffler (311068) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:44PM (#19016457)
    In situations like this it is not always correct to blame the lawyers and to give the company that hired the lawyers a free pass on the blame. These companies have in house intellectual property divisions charged with protecting the company's assets. Those corporate minions hire the lawyers and give them a job to do. The lawyers are more than happy to do what they have been asked to do, and generally there is not a whole lot of leeway on the implementation of that job. If the company wants to avoid bad press, then it ought to reconsider its options, legal and otherwise, available to it and change its strategy.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:47PM (#19016483)
    The AACS is not a 'copy prevention' or 'copyright protection' code. It has always been possible to copy a DVD and it still is. The AACS is an 'anti fair use' code. As such, it has *nothing* to do with the DMCA.
  • I'm appalled that this massive breach of our nation's finest law is being blamed on the good men and women of the legal profession. /sarcasm
  • Newsflash (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's clear what the people want. So why does the law dictate the opposite?

    Everyone's so busy looking at copyright and missing the bigger picture! Our 'democracy' doesn't work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by creysoft (856713)
      It's not clear what "the people" want. It's clear what a few people on the internet want. Outside of this insular coccoon, you'll find that the vast majority of folks side with the RIAA/MPAA on things. Without understanding the mechanisms involved (which most are seemingly incapable of), it's easy to buy the "Downloading = Stealing" argument. What non-technical people here (when they hear anything at all) is that "pirates" are distributing "computer codes" which allow them to "hack" movies and "steal" them.
      • Yeah... The problems is that the "lobbyists" who spread these "lies" have very "deep pockets". And our "corrupt" government officials will "do anything to make a buck".

        Oh yeah. They also don't "pay" teachers "enough", so our "education" system becomes succeptible to these same "lobby groups" that sponsor programs to spread "propaganda" about how "scary" computers are.

        Maybe computers are "hard" to "non-technical" people. I'm sure something you do is probably "hard" for me, too.

        I'm pretty sure the "Interne
  • by rueger (210566) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:59PM (#19016567) Homepage
    Wait a minute - Dvorak says to blame the lawyers??

    Oh my... I am so conflicted..... who do I complain about?

    Oh, right - Microsoft!
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:01AM (#19016579) Homepage Journal

    This isn't just a matter of one party making a civil threat against another; the government is neck-deep in their involvement. By passing a law as bizarre as DMCA, which the people didn't even ask for, they've outlawed certain types of speech. Argue the merit of censorship, but don't say it's not.

    BTW, the NY Times writer is an MPAA-apologist:

    ..publish and widely distribute a secret code used by the technology and movie industries to prevent piracy of high-definition movies.
    (And he makes at least two other references to the crypto being an "anti-piracy" measure.) Anti-piracy is very likely a large part of the motivation for the creation of this system, but as it clearly serves the much more general function of "limiting access." To let things like
    1. Preventing many Fair Uses
    2. Preventing access to the work even after it has entered Public Domain in the future
    3. Controlling the player market(!)
    all fall under the umbrella of "preventing piracy" is a pretty distorted way to report the news. If NYT wants to take sides and promote a certain agenda, that's their right, but they should get called on it.
    • publish and widely distribute a secret code used by the technology and movie industries to prevent piracy of high-definition movies.

      He not only distorts the aim of digital restrictions, he's advertising and promoting newer movie formats. People who use MPAA language aid the MPAA whether they want to or not. The easiest way to foil the "anti-piracy" talk is to point out the failure of DeCSS. Commercial shops will have no problem making and selling exact coppies. Exact coppies can also be made and sent

    • If NYT wants to take sides and promote a certain agenda, that's their right, but they should get called on it.

      Do you even know what you read when you read the article? This statement is as absurd as the one in the story summary.

      Here's a tip. Suggesting that the article has anything to do with The NY Times (other than appearing in one of its sections with lots of other columns written by all sorts of people) is the equivalent of suggesting that Andy Rooney is responsible for both the reporting and editori
    • by hey! (33014) on Monday May 07, 2007 @08:58AM (#19019607) Homepage Journal
      Although I agree that the attempt to protect AACS is pernicious, I see the publishing of the key not as an issue of free speech so much as it is one of civil disobedience, the the spirit of Thoreau, who said "any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one."

      The reason this is not an issue of free expression is that the number, in itself, is meaningless. It has not intellectual or expressive content. It is merely a secret, and nothing more. Most people advocating the spreading of this number acknowledge the right of private parties to have secrets. They are mortified when sloppy IT practices expose social security numbers.

      Does it make a difference why we say the takedown efforts are bad? I think it does. Framing the issue this way claims too much and too little. It claims a right to publish secrets that come into our hands, an idea most of us don't endorse. It claims too little, because the it obscures what is at stake: preventing private industry from taking control of cultural and political discourse using laws designed to encourage expression.

      In other words, we must not allow the consortium to confuse the means and ends here. The average person will see clearly enough that the number is merely a secret, and secrets are legally protected as part of our right of privacy. It is the use to which the secret is put that is pernicious to individual freedom. The industry cannot assert it has suffered a loss of privacy with "clean hands". The takedowns are not censorship, they are protecting the means of censorship. The publications are not free expression, they are protecting the means of free expression.

      Publishing the number is an act of civil disobedience. Again Thoreau has something important to say here:

      Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?


      This is marvelously apt to the issue of copy protection. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. The injury that AACS does to individual freedom comes from the power of the state. Furthermore, it prevents the public from experiencing and therefore understanding their rights of free use. Ultimately, it may cripple free political discourse itself, as the machinery of control becomes ubiquitous, and the means for evading control remain illegal.
  • by lorcha (464930)

    The epitome of this has been how the MP3 music-sharing scene -- which was underground and not taken seriously by anyone except a few college kids back in the mid-1990s -- was marketed by lawyers, who waged a holy war against trading at the behest of the Recording Industry Association of America.

    This war did nothing but popularize a system of sharing music files, and I can assure you that it went from fringe to mainstream only because of highly publicized legal actions against people who essentially were jud

    • by datafr0g (831498)
      Will you have me believe that the explosion of p2p mp3 sharing had nothing to do with a) the proliferation of broadband, and b) free music? That if the RIAA hadn't gone on a massive lawsuit campaign, no one would want free music?

      No, but the mainstream wouldn't have caught on nearly as quickly if the RIAA didn't go nuts with lawsuits and bands like Metallica didn't kick up a fuss. They made their point clear but they also advertised the avaliability by doing so.

      Like with the HD-DVD processing code. I
  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:16AM (#19016659)

    and documents instances of the infamous key appearing in purely expressive form.
    Like in poetry? A haiku? What?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by MadUndergrad (950779) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:40AM (#19016789)
      09 F9 11 02 9D
      74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5
      63 56 88 C0 rain
    • by wkitchen (581276)
      I don't know what they had in mind, but there are at least two songs that feature it.

      Oh Nine, Eff Nine [youtube.com]

      What's in a Number? [youtube.com]

      I'd guess that those are pretty solidly in first amendment territory, being both artistic expression and political protest. Will the AACS dare issue takedown letters for them?

      It seems to me that nearly all of what has appeared on the net containing this code since the start of the Digg uprising should qualify as protected speech. Most has been comments about either the unusual
  • I just looked back over the past few days on digg.com, and could find no evidence of this HD-DVD keyposting. Have digg said 'we won't censor any more posts', and then censored all the posts, or what?

    • by Xiroth (917768)
      Look for stuff dated 5 days ago. For the most part, the code is in the comments or the story rather than the summary.

      You can find a few of them here [digg.com].

      On that note, this has certainly provided publicity for Digg - I hadn't spent more than about 5 minutes at the site before the fiasco, but spent some time watching the chaos on the day. Admittedly, I've no plans to go back there, but it certainly kept my interest for a little while.
  • Check out this quote:

    > Some people believe that such systems unfairly limit their freedom to listen to music and watch movies on whatever devices they choose.

    What the is that? Could they maybe cite one of many sources who will freely give that opinion? Fox pioneered this terrible technique of interjecting their own opinion via the construct "Some say...", and it's terrible journalism. I imagine this article was written off the cuff, but just give the EFF or anyone else a buzz for a quick quote.
  • by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:58AM (#19016877) Journal

    But if ruining a client's image and reputation, and often turning it into a laughingstock is done in the name of "protecting," then perhaps the legal profession should reconsider whether it's being counterproductive.
    The legal profession has thought about it, John -- long and hard. And the conclusion is that lawyers are servants, not masters. That's the way it is, and that's the way it must be. If the master wants to jump off a cliff, the servant has no right whatsoever to interfere, because it's not his call to make. He'll tell you not to jump, beg with you, plead, but at the end of the day all he can do is follow your orders, send out cease-and-desist letters, and watch as the PR disaster sends you plummeting to the rocks below.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jesdynf (42915)
      Please. Lawyers aren't magic beings with a sacred trust. All they do is interface their company to the state machine we like to call the "legal system". Except unlike us, they get bonus points when they force it into an undefined state.

      They don't have some "duty" to be a "servant" -- either they refuse to do stupid crap, or they don't. Just like *I* can refuse to write a spambot or throw customer credit card data on an insecure server or -- well, not refuse to do these things.

      'Sall it is. There's a lot writ
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cgenman (325138)
      Lawyers are servants, not masters? Have you met many servants? Most of them run the household. Masters decide that the bedroom should be clean and the sheets replaced every now and then. Servants are the ones that decide the bed needs to be made every five seconds. The master says "unless it's really important, hold my calls." Servants are the ones that decide the master's sister's house burning down isn't sufficiently important, and that it should be left to burn.

      Lawyers may say that they're only fol
    • by SharpFang (651121)
      Seen "I, Robot"? Viki was a servant, ordered to protect the humanity. The lawyers protecting AACS acted about the same.
    • He'll tell you not to jump, beg with you, plead, but at the end of the day all he can do is follow your orders

      No. He also has the choice to quit. Not taking that choice - or entering into an arrangement that surrenders that choice - implies that he condones the actions he's being asked to carry out.

  • Investors should be aware of the overall dangers the legal profession present to companies, and how its current and generalized naiveté can sink fortunes overnight. While I know of no corporation that has been bankrupted by this sort of fiasco, it will happen eventually if lawyers doesn't catch up with the times.

    SCO? [groklaw.net]
  • 13256278887989457651018865901401704640 is mine mine mine it's like an 718624318471594843*2^64 + 15582831591453788352 which is also mine.

    Those sequences of 8887 are especially nice and to finish on 640, well WHO needs more than that.

    I give you permission to use it under the terms of the GPLv3 or a separate license where you agree to pay me 95% of all revenue.

  • All the threats are tempest in a teapot. The AACS-LA claims that the key is a component of a copy protection circumvention mechanism. The problem with that theory, is that by the time the key was published widely, it was already revoked. As the key was no longer valid, it really can't be said to be part of a circumvention system. Which just makes all the threatening letters all that much more brainless. Dvorak didn't know just how right he was.

  • I love the comments that the lawyers didn't cause this - the law did.

    WHO DO YOU THINK WRITES THE LAWS?

    Look at the prior professions of your congressmen and women.

      -l
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SharpFang (651121)
      Prior (oldest known) professions of:
      - congressmen: lawyers
      - women: whores

      seems right.
  • I thought the key was a component of the encryption tool. Which sort of makes it a component of the decryption tool. Being used by numerous appliances that can actually play this sort of content...

    I use the letter "A" as encryption key for my specially made barf-cough-hack CD, so now I'm sueing pretty much everyone because they're using the letter "A" in publications about my CD.

    Hmm. Yups! Profit!

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"

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