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Censorship Your Rights Online

What's Wrong With Content Protection? 375

EMlNEM sent us a link to this excellent rant from John Gilmore of the EFF.
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What's Wrong With Content Protection

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  • It doesn't protect us from the "content" in EMINEM's songs. :-)
  • by trazom28 ( 134909 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:08AM (#490903)
    I find this just a little disturbing. Fast-foward about 10 years. There's a show on TV that I enjoy watching, but will be missing because of a prior engagement. I used to be able to tape it and watch it later. Now? Tough luck... Will this also kill the Tivo market as well as the VCR market? If my VCR can't transmit to HDTV.. can I rent movies still?
  • by Wizard of OS ( 111213 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:08AM (#490904)
    This is the shortest description of an article that I've ever seen on slashdot in the last 2 years .. ;-)

  • Corporate types have been trained and trained and trained to think that information is equivalent to money. As long as this way of thinking is popular, we're going to have content protection, upto the 'Snowcrash' level, were even the information in your head is considered someone else's property
  • Does anybody have a link to a layman's summary of what copyright is, what the concepts of fair use and reverse engineering are, the current abuse of copyright in the world, and why copyright abuse is a severe erosion of our rights and abilities as end-users?

    I'd like to get some of my friends more aware of the issues (and hopefully, they'll get _their_ friends aware of the issues, who will get _their_ friends aware, etc.), but most of the summaries tend to be more technical than my friends are (they wouldn't understand a casual reference to the first-sale doctrine or have any clue what DeCSS is).

  • This is one of those rare well written articles which even laymen can understand. But the responses go to show that slashdot guys are definitely no laymen they just haven't read it. Yes too many things are wrong with copyrights of companies.THey are claiming to protect their rights but are invariably infringing on ours.
  • by mav[LAG] ( 31387 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:18AM (#490911)
    ...join the EFF [eff.org]. If you live outside the US, then do whatever you can to make sure that your government doesn't bow down and accept any stupid IP recommendations from the US.

    And if you're a pissed-off journalist, attend Sony press conferences and tell them they can shove their products up their corporate backsides. It make not make much difference but it _will_ make you feel better. Nothing better than seeing the grin freeze on some smart lackey with all the Playstation buzzwords after you tell him his company can go fsck themselves.

    And if you're a pissed-off techie and you work for anyone of these scum-buckets then I have just one question: WHY? Don't give me that "well I have to earn a living" shite. Go and work for someone else and get a clear conscience.

    Aah - I feel better already...

  • by bluecalix ( 128634 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:18AM (#490912) Homepage Journal
    The rant hits a few important points, but i think the most important is this: The media giants don't want you to be able to be a content provider. Not only do they want to put out their music on uncopiable formats, they don't want you to be able to use your own 'free mp3/get paid touring' business model because it could prove to other artists that the record companies are squeezing them dry. If they can keep you locked out of portable music players, home stereo components, and desktop software then their monopoly is assured.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:22AM (#490914)

    copy protection n.

    A class of methods for preventing incompetent pirates from stealing software and legitimate customers from using it. Considered silly.

  • Briefly:

    copyright exists in artistic works
    patents exist in processes

    Whenever you produce a work, it is protected by international treat and you own the copyright in it. You don't need to apply for copyright - you own it immediately.

    However, the copyright might belong to someone else under copyright. For example, under your contract of emplyoment, your work will probably be owned by your employers, and some websites might have as a condition of your agreement with them that they own the copyright.

    Fair use applies for criticism and study, broadly. Thus it is legitimate to post a few lines from a book in order to review it, since that would be fair use. Posting the entire book, OTOH would not be fair use.

    Reverse engineering OTOH, is not illegal as such, since copyright does not exist in ideas (only in expression of those ideas). Thus when Rob Malda said that he wouldn't sue
    Kuro5hin 'in the spirit of open source', he was wrong, since the idea cannot be copyrighted. Software code is treated as a literary work (although most code is not very poetic),
    and so is protected by copyright.

    There do exist design rights however, and the look and feel may be protected under copyright. So if you produced something that looked to similar to Slashdot, that would be breach of copyright.

    Patents exist in respect of processes - in particular there is a requirement for a novel and innovative way of doing something (with a particular requirement for absence of prior art). These can affect software, if the software includes a novel process.

    Finally, there is passing off - if a product is confusingly similar to another well-known product it will be passing off, provided they are in the same market sector.

    Thus a McDonalds construction company has no chance of confusion with the burger chain, whereas the cafe owned by Ronald McDonald was, since they were in the same business.

    In conclusion, the copyright holder owns the work, and can do what he likes with it. He can sue if you do anything, excluding fair use that breaks his owners rights.
  • The punchline of this article comes toward the end, where Gilmore points out that really what the content distributors are doing is enforcing a scarcity-based, inefficient market, even when the potential exists to have a much larger, more accessible, more efficient market. This is perhaps the first time that I can think of where a vastly better technology was not adopted.

    Yes, the removal of inefficiency will cause problems for those who are inefficient. That's too bad. As Bob Dylan said, "the times, they are a changin'"

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think this is a well written piece, if a slight bit disjointed around the MS reference. My onl niggle is with the fact that he uses MiniDisc as an example. It would be a nice example, except that

    1) There are MiniDisc /decks/ that have digital output. A feature not generally considered necessary on a portable because you rarely need to connect it to a digital input. (note, however, that portable CD players with digital output are NOT hard to find at all)

    1) MiniDisc is a lossy medium by design, it works very much the same way as MP3. Even if you use a digital output, you wouldn't be able to, effectively, record the track to a second MD, or convert it to an MP3. The generational losses of ATRAC->RAW->ATRAC/MP3 compression would ruin the Audio. (that being said, Pro-decks WILL do direct digital copying, but they cost $$)

    3) SCMS circuits and their schematics are readily available on the internet, and not all that expensive to build/buy. Add to that the fact that high-end MD decks completely ignore SCMS, and CD/MD dual-decks even offer high-speed CD->MD dubbing.
  • I guess what I got most out of the article is that we are stifling progress in order to make a few people rich. I never really thought about it in those terms before. Help! Help! I'm being repressed! [tripod.com]

    This way to the egress of repression > The Linux Pimp [thelinuxpimp.com]

  • by FunOne ( 45947 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:32AM (#490922)
    Just treat any modern form of IP (DVD, software, music) like you would old world IP, a book.

    Can I make copies of my book for myself? Yes.
    Can I take my book apart? Yes.
    Can I modify my book? Yes.
    Can I loan my book out? Yes.
    Can I read my book in any order? Yes.
    Can I read my book when I want? Yes.

    Look at all the HORRIBLE things I can do with books, and yet I dont see people claiming that modern copy machines are hurting book sales.

  • John Gilmore wrote:

    If by 2030 we have invented a matter duplicator that's as cheap as copying a CD today, will we outlaw it and drive it underground?

    There was an old science fiction book by the name of A for Anything [amazon.com] which explores the societal implications of just such a technology. It does not take anywhere's near as cheery a view as the EFF.

    I haven't decided exactly where I stand on the issue, but Mr. Gilmore raises some good points.

    But my grandest creation, as history will tell,
  • by mav[LAG] ( 31387 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:33AM (#490925)
    If you can show me one person who has not been able to pursue legitimate recording activites because of copy protection I will eat my words. Otherwise I stand by what I say.

    Easy. From the article (which I can tell you did read because of your quote later on):

    By private agreements behind the laws and standards, such as the unwritten agreement that DAT and MiniDisc recorders will treat analog inputs as if they contained copyrighted materials which the user has no rights in. (My recording of my brother's wedding is uncopyable, because my MiniDisc decks act as if I and my brother don't own the copyright on it.)

    John Gilmore wanted to pursue a legitimate recording activity and was unable to because of copy protection. Start eating.

    And people seem to think no-one gets hurt by these things. They are wrong. The people working for record and computer companies have jobs and families too.

    Boo-frigging-hoo. So the entire population must accept crippled technology and a steady erosion of its constitutional rights so that a small minority of sharks and their dependants can survive?

    As for the rest of your comment - copyright does not mean "owned by" and it is not the same as property. It means the copyright holder has a limited time over the distribution and use of his or her work.

  • Copyright protection which takes away fair use rights is basically saying "guilty until proven innocent". By using copyright controls, RIAA and MPAA are considering that all consumers are going to violate copyrights, instead of what really is only the 5% or so that will.

    I think what needs to happen is to have a paradigm shift in the way that RIAA/MPAA and others think about copyrights -- if they spent less time in the vigalence of copyrights and instead spent more in improving quality and increasing quantity of titles available, they would still pull in the same profits and possibly more.

  • If you can show me one person who has not been able to pursue legitimate recording activites because of copy protection I will eat my words.

    The fact that we can now, does not mean that your children can in the future. The rant is about people who want to deprive future generations, not the present. They are setting a trend whose logical conclusion would be to impoverish our kids. That is what the rant is about, amongst others. It is about the evils of a trend which is not good for society as a whole.

    I don't know about you, but the economic argument was the most compelling. The content guys make a few billions in a year combined, but the combined telco's and carriers make that sum in a few weeks. From a government's and lawmaker's perspective, that alone should give one pause about the relative merits of content protection vs free speech.

  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:37AM (#490929) Homepage
    Ask the Irish about the dangers inherent in mono-culture.

    They became dependent on a single kind of potato even though the new world had dozens of them.

    The end result was the famine, the death of millions, economic disruption Ireland still hasn't recovered from and some stern lessons which are being ignored at the peril of those who would repeat history in technology instead of agriculture.

    Mono-cultures are forever poised on the knife edge of catastrophy. One slip leads to oblivion.

    Has anyone noticed that infection incidents are becoming more severe? Melissa is spawning faster and spreading much wider using ruses programed into it.

    Changing the vector from diskette to e-mail is part the reason. Using larger 'active' content is another part. Now imagine a exploit of content files, infected media. I'm sure someone's already getting hard at the thought.

    One particularly complex and capable computer virus which could be carried over the expanded communications channels in place now could conceivably wipe out everybody without a set of uninfected backups.

    The Luddites would win. But at what a cost...
  • > If we remove the tools, we remove the crime and the world is better off in the end.

    Are you insane!? By your logic, anything that can be useful inappropriately (in your opinion) should be denied to the people.

    Hmmm, Cars,Planes,Trains & Boats, cannot only be used to kill people, but to rapidly deliver other products that can be used to injure others. Get Rid of Them!

    Lets see, Fire! Fire can be used to burn people's homes and even the people themselves, Lets outlaw fire!

    Too radical an argument for you.. How about "Words" (tm). With "Words" (tm) you can incite violence and lead other people to revolution and worse. Look at Adolf Hitler, he used "Words" (tm) to devastate a continent. We definitely should outlaw "Words." (tm)

    The fundamental difference between a chain on your bike and the ownership of "Intellectual Property" is the following:

    If you give me your bike, you no longer have a bike.
    If you give me food, you no longer have food.
    You are worse off without your bike and without your food, and I am in a better situation.

    With "Intellectual Property", if you give me your IP, you have the IP and I have the IP.
    You still have it! You can give it to everyone and everyone can have it. There is INFINITE SUPPLY of IP!

    However, you have lost the opportunity to sell your IP to me or anyone I supply it too. The Media Companies and Music Companies work very hard to turn a infinte quantity (IP) into a finite quantity (CD's,DVD's, Books,etc...). These corporations have figured this out, and they expect the public to remain ignorant (seems to be a common trait today) of the real issues.

    Imagine, as John Gilmore did, that we extend this to future "properties" that become infinite in nature: Energy, Food, etc... Were these things to become plentiful and abdundant would you, as a human being, allow corporations to control the ability to harvest Energy and Food and force you to pay for something that costs them nothing to give?

    I'm all for a capitalist society, I'm a big fan of corporations being allowed to protect their business. But when everyone can benefit from something that costs nothing to share, and does not deprive the creator of its benefit, then its time to give to the world.

  • You are arguing from the premise that information is property--which is still open to debate. But for the sake of this discussion, let's assume that "information as property" actually makes sense:

    If I hear a song that you recorded (and "own") am I allowed to hum it to myself? Am I allowed to sing the song to someone else? Can I play the song with other people in the same room? According to popular corporate logic, all of these situations make me a pirate--I am reproducing your content without your permission. Of course these examples are absurd, but it only illustrates the absurdity that is "intellectual property".

    To corporate media, intellectual property is about PROFIT and PROGRAMMING. It's about control. Ideally, these huge conglomerates would like a garden hose that goes directly from their studio to your brain--preferrably a hose that required you to put money in each time to operate. They want a world where every bit of communication you might receive has a price tag. This is not the kind of world most people want to live in.

    The sad thing is, the people who believe communication is property are winning. They bought the appropriate laws, and they bought the approval of the government (armed enforcement). How do we fight this? Go to a free live concert (they are everywhere). Read a book in the library. See and appreciate the beauty in the world that, so far, has not been bottled up and sold by the corporate world. Spread the attitude that life would go on without Brittany Spears and Bruce Willis.
  • Next thing the free software guys will be trying to tell me that I can't put a chain on my bike!

    Nope, You cannot put a chain on your bike. The bike company provided your bike with its own patented locking mechanism, and by putting a chain on your bike, you would alter their copyrighted bike-design...

    OK you do have a point or two. Much of the talk about the freedom of information may really just be whining for a free lunch.
    There are laws regarding copyright. They do NOT give the copyright exclusive rights to published content. Some things are explicitly excluded. (fair use)
    What the various copy protection schemes aim at is *total* control of published content, that is beyond the copyright given by law.

    And no, piracy does not make companies go bust. (show me one single example that it does)
    Piracy limits the profit margin for popular content, true, but popular content, makes money anyway and less popular content is less widely pirated.

  • This is just my point. Why the hell shouldn't companies be allowed to protect their property?
    They can very well protect their property, but not using means that tramples on the rights of others. Just like you can't protect your real-estate with automatic infrared seeking guns and land mines.


  • As a Canadian citizen, I would really like to see the DMCA effect me directly. We have anti-piracy laws up here too, but if I want to tape something off T.V., there's nothing to stop me. If I want to record a copyrighted video stream, there will be a way, regardless of the method.
    Not too long ago, DISH network, who provides the hardware for ExpressVu was cracked. People everywhere made use of this. The same will happen with HDTV copy protection.
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:42AM (#490939) Homepage Journal
    Get ready to eat your words. Backup. I have children. Every once in a while CDs tend to get ruined. At the moment with most CDs that I have I can have a backup. I have a VCR at the moment I have backups of many of the tapes. The ones that I can't backup piss me off. One of the reasons I have not gone to a DVD yet is because of the backup issue. At the moment, and due to brain dead schemes like this, I buy a shiney new DVD and if by chance it should fall into the hands of my daughter it is going to be gone, bye-bye, sorry. I have *no* way of backing it up, my only choice is to buy it again. So yes I am being hosed at that point. And oh BTW "piracy" does not mean that great software never reaches me. I don't use software that is not free (as in speech) to start with. So why is that not a good use?
  • This is an excellent polemic. I would add it's only part of a larger phenomenon: Concentrated interests dominate diffuse interests. Irrespective of merit, right, numbers, or aggregate welfare.

    Media companies represent one concentrated interest. They exist mostly as a middleman between the artist/creator and their public. Their entire livelihood is threatened by new communications/electronic technology. (They mustn't be adding value anywhere else to feel so threatened!) So they fight tooth-and-nail in the Courts and Legislatures, spending money lavishly. No surprise.

    Consumers are the diffuse interest. Sure, they like the music/TV/whatever, but they won't die without it. What most are willing to do to protect their rights is very limited. Even if they are very numerous, their interest is difficult to concentrate. So they lose.

    Ultimately, this is a very bad thing for society. It harkens a return to feulalism.

    I wonder is somehow these restrictive contracts can be taken for litigation under some civil rights law action.

    Or maybe extend the protections of a legal/illegal contract, so that the rights a person has cannot be signed away under a contract, effectively killing some of these contracts.


    it seems like there has to be some sort of large scale action against these commercial interests to put the hurt on these actions. But because of their large financial resources, this is sure not going to be easy.

    IANAL, but there are days when I wish I knew it better than I do.

  • the fact is that most of the uses are not legitimate.

    According to who? You? Do you have a guilty conscience, or something? Are you not aware of your own rights? Are you too scared to exercise them?

    Why the hell shouldn't companies be allowed to protect their property?

    But it's not their property. You paid money for it. It's yours. Keep it, treasure it. Imagine you BUY somethign from a company, but at the end of the day they still own and control it? Can you spell 'sucker'?

    copyrighted - like 'owned by'. ... piracy makes companies go bust. Piracy ... Piracy ... free software guys will be trying to tell me that I can't put a chain on my bike! ... Communist ... theft ... Trolltrolltrolltroll. YHL. HAND.
  • You have to bear in mind that copyright is a right granted to the producers of a product to encourage distribution of ideas, and this right has taken away the right of other people the right to make copies of anything they buy.

    If you buy a lamp, for example, there is nothing preventing you from making thousands of other lamps just like it provided you can do so [and you don't pretend your lamp is made by anyone but yourself]. All you have to do is sort out and buy the materials to build one. In any other field, the ability to buy an object and make a cheaper copy of it is called Competition, not Piracy, which incidentally is something involving bloodshed, which Duplication (normally) doesn't. If copyright did not exist, prices would be forced down, not up, since an author would soon be priced out of the market by his copiers. Incidentally this would create jobs, not kill them, although it is arguable whether such jobs would be so rewarding

    Note that I am not denying that copyright should exist - its purpose is to ensure that authors, publishers etc receive a decent return on their investment of time effort and money, and I have no quibble with that. I do however quibble with how long that copyright lasts (up to 95 years!! well after the author has shuffled off his mortal coil).

    However the dividing line is that most people on 'our' side of the fence believe that providing we have bought a legal product, we should be free to do anything we like with that product short of distributing it to anyone else. For example, if I have bought a DVD, I should be free to put the music from that DVD onto my In-Car MP3 player, or edit the movie/contents for personal use in any way I see fit on my PC.

    Next thing the free software guys will be trying to tell me that I can't put a chain on my bike!

    We have no problems with you putting a chain to protect your bike, it's when you put a chain on our bike we start to get Bolshy (in the non-Communist sense of the word!). We are perhaps far more right wing than you in the sense we want more individual freedom and less corporate rights, since that is where copyright normally ends up.

    You also have to remember that copyright has long been used as a bludgeon to prevent new technologies and ideas; exactly the opposite of what copyright is supposed to foster. Cassette tapes had a long battle with the recording industry (which still ain't over) and DAT effectively died because, amongst other reasons, the industry didn't want a media which made perfect personal copies 'out there'. 'Just use some other way' is not the point; if the industry had their way their would be no other way. MP3 players and other non-media recorders would not exist unless Diamond had the balls to stand up to the industry.

    [If you think this should be modded up, then mod the parent post up too - I think the points made in the parent post are why many people don't see our point of view]

  • No, there will be no real-time shows on TV. It will all be downloadable, for a price.

    Only live envents will be sent in real time, and rest assure that you will be able to purchase it afterwards. You will get your content whenever you want it, you'll just have to pay for it...

    Too bad if you want to watch the (unedited) olympics and happen to be in the US though.

  • I always hear this argument when it comes to copy protection. "It's not fair because people have legitimate uses."

    This might be true, but the fact is that most of the uses are not legitimate. This stuff about being denied access to these things unfairly is wrong.

    So you would outlaw lockpicks for example, because they are obviously buglary tools with only limited fair use? Or would you go further, and outlaw guns, because you can kill people with guns? Or crikey - you would outlaw hammers, because they can be used to bludgeon someone to death? Or outlaw writeable CDs, because obviously everyone uses them to copy their friends CDs (actually that is legal in Canada). Or eradicate any knowledge about encryption, since this information will, in part, be used to decrypt copy-protected information?

    If you go down this road, we will be living in a society that is living in the equivalent of a padded cell. Anything which can have illegal use is banned. Anything that could remove someone's (people or corporations) job or income today will disappear.

    And people seem to think no-one gets hurt by these things.

    They are wrong. The people working for record and computer companies have jobs and families too.

    When mechanisation arrived, thousands of agriculture workers lost their jobs. When steam powered looms were invented, the number of people needed to make cloth in quantity shrunk by at least an order of magnitude. The industrial revolution changed the working patterns of society. All major changes in production or techonolgy obsoletes certain ways of life. Puts people out of work. What you fail to recognise is that out of this change comes new opportunities. There is often a period of difficulties and resentment by those who are affected - this is natural and understandable.

    Don't stop the train just because you can't see the destination.

    This is just my point. Why the hell shouldn't companies be allowed to protect their property? The big word there is copyrighted - like 'owned by'. The fact is that piracy makes companies go bust. Piracy increases the costs for people who aren't thieves. Piracy means that some great software just doesn't reach you. If we remove the tools, we remove the crime, and the world is better off in the end.

    Fair use. Do you really want to live in a world where criticism of any work is not possible because content restrictions stop you publishing any of it, even it's name? Would you be happy knowing that you could not record you own musical or video creations and distribute them to a purchasing public, because everyone else has equipment that will only play 'trusted' media because of content restrictions?

    Piracy happens. The biggest threat to income is not the home user making MP3s of their music collection so they can listen to any track in any order. It is the CD pressing plants turning out thousands and thousands of copies of the latest Brittany Spears album (why, I don't know) or copies of Windows 2000 Professional (to be sold at $50 a shot). Organized crime makes vast profits from copying goods. Even DVDs, with all their encryption, access controls and region codes, can be churned out by a DVD pressing plant if you have one original to work from without having to break the original codes. Just make a bit copy which includes the key codes.

    Piracy does hurt the consumer. But why hurt the consumer further by limiting the consumers rights through technological barriers?


    Toby Haynes

  • by rangek ( 16645 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:48AM (#490948)

    You quote:

    What it quietly neglects to say is that you can't use it to copy or time-shift or record any audio or video copyrighted by major companies.

    And then you say:

    This is just my point. Why the hell shouldn't companies be allowed to protect their property? The big word there is copyrighted - like 'owned by'.

    Which makes no sense. Even if we accept your spurious interpretation of copyright as ownership, copyright law explicitly permits copying (e.g., for backup) and time-shifting.

    The fact is that piracy makes companies go bust.

    Name one.

    Next thing the free software guys will be trying to tell me that I can't put a chain on my bike!

    Information is not at all like a bike. If i use your bike, you can't, so you better lock it or walk home. But I can use your information and you can use mine all at the same time. We just like it when we compensate each other for the effort it took to create that information. That is what copyright is intended to do.

    In the "olden days", your bike analogy worked quite well. The only way for me to get compensated by consumers of my info. was to have them pay for copies. Now, the cost of making copies is essentially zero. New economic models are going to have to be created to deal with this. Someone mentioned a "'free mp3/get paid touring' business model". Why can't that work? Because it takes Time Warner and Sony out of the loop... Now does that sound right?

  • And the US is only too willing to send the cops to Norway if that what it takes to protect reruns of "I Love Lucy"

    Why? Because, if they get their way, you pay but it costs them nothing. Eventually you'll get bored and go back to culture and having some time for yourself in the evenings.

    I gave up on TV (and being a passive sponge,) and I'm having more fun that I ever did sitting there asking myself "Why am I watching this shit?"
  • "
    This is just my point. Why the hell shouldn't companies be allowed to protect their property?

    Why shouldn't I be allowed to protect my intellecual property. If the means exist to prevent me copying the material of a movie studio, and the movie studio is allowed to prevent me copying it's materials, why I am not allowed to choose what protection my original material has.

    If you can show me one person who has not been able to pursue legitimate recording activites because of copy protection I will eat my words. Otherwise I stand by what I say.

    I have a minidisc of a live Concert that *I* recorded of two friends of mine performing songs that they wrote. I am not allowed to copy it because the minidisc player has decided that I am not the copyright holder. As a result, of the three people involved, the other two are not allowed identical copies to the original. We were not able to distribute perfect promotional copies to pubs and clubs to get gigs since according to Sony we don't own the copyright.

    Next thing the free software guys will be trying to tell me that I can't put a chain on my bike!

    I think the problem is the Cycle companies have said, here, have the bike you paid for. You aren't allowed to give it away, resell it to someone else, photograph it without an approved photography device, ride it without an approved helmet or without paying the Cycle Company Road fee. If you wish to ride in a different country you must purchase a new bike because this European bike has been prevented from working in America. If this bike breaks and you attempt to fix it with a non Cycle company approved part you may be sent to jail. If you wish to lend your bike to a friend, you must write to the Cycle company and ask for permission first. Please note that attempting to make your own bicycle is in contravention of international law.

    The free software people are saying, here is a bike, ride it, give it away, resell it, if you want you can even set up your own bicycle manufacturing company based on this bikes design. The only thing you can't do is restrict the rights of anyone you give / sell a bike to.

    The people working for record and computer companies have jobs and families too
    So do executioners. Does this mean we should encourage murderers or the executioners would be out of a job?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:52AM (#490954)
    Check the redbook format for audio CDs. It actually defines, on a track by track basis, a "no copy" flag. Naturally this bit is set for all commercial audio CDs. It's also set by every CD burning program I've seen.

    Yet all CD ripping software, including that made by "big name" companies ignores the no copy flag. And the CD reader hardware happily extracts digital audio from tracks with the flag set too.

    How come no one is getting sued for circumventing this copy control? I think this should qualify as abandonment of the DMCA or selective enforcement. Take your pick, either is sufficient to have the DMCA stricken from the lawbooks.

  • I also have a problem with the apparant fact that the copyright to Disney characters will _never_ expire.

    Copyrights were never intended to last for eons.

  • by Slak ( 40625 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:54AM (#490957)
    One point about this whole thing that I haven't seen mentioned:

    The MPAA/RIAA and other "big media" "content owners" are operating under the assumption that their content is their's into perpetuity. This is wrong, per the Constitution which only grants "limited time" ownership. By behaving in a manner which assumes that content can never fall into the public domain, perhaps the EFF can seek to overturn all Copyright Extentions back to the original 14 + 14 year one.

    None of these players takes into account "content protection" expiration, and as such should be forced to include such features.
  • There isn't any book piracy. That's why we don't restrict copiers.

    Yes, there is book piracy. Ever buy a book with the cover torn off? Chances are the book wasn't "accidentally" damaged. It was reported as destroyed to the publisher

    Copiers are restricted. You aren't legally allowed to make copies of books. There is no TECHNOLOGICAL restriction. That is the difference.

  • You know I have heard abou tthese so many times.

    NDAs and Non-Competition agreements - its amazing. All the hassle and problems. I dunno about anyone else, but this is alot of why I am seriously thinking that I don't ever want to work for a "for profit" company again (right now I work for a university).

    In any case, I have already decided that I will NEVER sign an NDA, and I will never sign a non-compete agreement. EVER. I don't want to work on a project where I can't talk about it freely with my friends, or anyone else, and I wont.

    I also wont buy a DVD player either, not unless I can find one that will not respect "regions" or any of the other nastyness. My player is _MY_ equipment and should do what _I_ tell it. It should NEVER tell me "you can't do that" or refuse to operate for anything other than real technical problems...not for simple "policy decisions" (like region encoding)

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:56AM (#490960) Homepage
    Why would anyone buy a VCR/DVD-R which didn't allow them to record from the TV? DVDs sell because the consumer rarely feels the effect of multiple regions, but if they cannot record Friends while out at a party, they will stick to non-protected VHS. I can't see the manufacturers that were burned by the DAT fiasco wanting a repeat performance with digital video devices.
  • Yes. Exactly.
    I found that article summed up what I am unable to articulate myself.

    The one phrase that really got me was the one about how copyright is the tail wagging the dog of human communications. That about sums it up.. the way I see it anyway.

    It's not about 'copyright holder's rights' or anything. Whether you can technically copy something doesn't take away their rights...

  • by Ergo2000 ( 203269 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:59AM (#490964) Homepage

    While I completely and absolutely agree that the restrictions on digital mediums (i.e. the crippling of DAT) are absurd and should not exist, I think the article took a turn for the worse near the end when it sort of proclaimed that we're in a brave new world where everything should be free, etc, because it can be copied.

    Firstly there is absolutely nothing stopping any of you from recording your own CD and sticking it on an FTP server. Note that I'm talking about an original work of art created by YOU with your banjo and Casio SK-1 keyboard, not ripped from your Kid Rock collection. Easy and free distribution! There is nothing stopping you from burning it on CDs and giving it away at the local homeless shelter. There is nothing stopping you from taking a DV camera and recording your own movie, mixing it down on your iMac, and cranking it to MPEG and putting it on your FTP server. NOTHING. Create all you want and you have to right to do whatever you want with it.

    However rather than pursuing that people like to look to the hard work and creations of others and say "Because I CAN copy this therefore it is my RIGHT to copy this....yoink!". For all the claims about legals rights, blah blah blah, let's get to the root of the matter which is that people think everything should be free. Everyone else should be busy making movies and great CDs and because we can, we have the almighty given right to distribute it for free. Napster, despite manys claims that it would be a replacement of big music (i.e. letting bands grow independantly through this brave new world) ended up being almost entirely (i'd wager >99.999%) about RIPPING OFF the music of big music. Uh, if you own the CD why are you trying to download it from someone else? That's one of the poorest excuses I've ever heard. Lots of free rippers to MP3s so no one can claim they can't do it themself.

    The matter is quite simply that people feel that if they CAN that they SHOULD. I could look on the net I'm sure that I can find a "How to steal a Chrysler" manual. Does that give me the right to go out and `borrow' Chryslers? Of course this gets into the "Well in that case you're depriving someone of something...but me I'm just making a copy! I've deprived no-one of anything!" That of course is complete bullshit that is the excuse of the thief. "Well that old bag had lots of money anyways!"

    I would love to see a free world of people creating movies, music, etc., but you can see by example that it DOESN'T WORK. Without the capitalist incentive these reams of independants don't seem to be bothering. Somehow this would be resolved by raping the media companies and depriving the only ones who are creating viable entertainment of the right to control their creations? How utterly absurd and foolish. The proof is all there right in people's faces but people ignore it under the pretense of righteous indignation.

  • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:59AM (#490965) Homepage Journal
    If you can show me one person who has not been able to pursue legitimate recording activites because of copy protection I will eat my words. Otherwise I stand by what I say.

    Not to slam you for what you think, but here is my example:

    I copied a CD which I paid full price for several years ago onto .wma format on my 400Mhz PII computer last year because the CD was starting to get a little scuffed up and hard for CD players to read due to some scratching that had occurred on its surface (I loved that CD and listened to it A LOT!). I then bought a new PIII 500Mhz computer with an even better sound system attached to it. I transferred all my music files, including the .wma files, to the new computer. Well guess what, now I'm not allowed to use them because I, quote "didn't purchase them", when in fact, I did. I would rather listen to the .wma files on my computer and let them get corrupted, than further scratch up a now out-of-print CD that can be copied over and over. Let me reiterate this: I CANNOT RE-PURCHASE THIS CD! The band has more or less broken up, and no longer puts out this CD. How else am I supposed to listen to these songs once my CD finally bites the dust?

    P.S. - As indicated in my sig, the 77's are the group I am referring to, and Pray Naked is the now out-of-print album.

  • I was wondering about this myself. At home, I have the first commercially available recordable mini-disc Sony released. I'm not sure if the no digital output is a recent phenomenon or what? I don't recall it not having a digital output, but I'd have to have the unit in front of me to see for sure...I think I paid like $500 for it when I bought it back in 1994 or so, and I don't think I've even used it since '95. :o) I'll have to dig that thing out of the closet when I get home from work, I think it's right next to my Sega Genesis and my 3D0.
  • by puppet10 ( 84610 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:02AM (#490968)
    Here is a link [ifla.org] to the International Fedration of Library Associations and Institutions with a huge bibliography of resources, not a summary but a great source of links to a large number of documents on current IP laws and regulations and some of the problems with the system.

    One interesting link [ifla.org] is about common myths of copyright.

    And here [landfield.com] is the copyright FAQ (a bit hard to find since the orignial link from the IFLAI is dead.
  • Do you have an example of a former member of the MPAA/RIAA who has gone bust solely due to piracy? Or any company for that matter.
  • ...which is why we need the fair use laws to protect from large corporations.

    The end result of freedom from copy restrictions is not a mono-culture, but many thousands of micro-cultures.

    Think about the root of the word "culture" - it stems from "cult." Now think about the cults you belong to - they;re not called cults these days, but that's essentially what they are.

    Our identity as individuals is shaped by the connections we form with others - Lion's Club Member, SCA, Republican, American, Socialist. It doesn't matter what the group is, as long as it holds value to you.

    What the corporations seek to do is turn everyone in the world into revenue streams - they've done it already with musicians, and most of them don't realize it. The corporate monoculture is exactly what fair use and copy-making are countering.

    The problem is, as you have pointed out, that as hard as the corps try to make us into drones, the opposition to them is trying to "free" the consumer from technology. What these Neo-Luddites fail to realize is that technology is not the problem, and abolishing it will solve nothing. Only a fundamental change in views will. The corporate mindset is a distant descendent of the worst inherent in slave-trade capitalists - the ones who made their money off of the sweat of others. The Luddite mindset is a knee-jerk fear of anything new.

    There *must* be a better way. These mindless giants (corporations and anti-corp terrorists) threaten everything that is good about copyright and technology.
  • It's already impossible to watch the (unedited) olympics, and always has been. Surely you weren't going to claim the IOC allows open unedited broadcasts....

    Nah, just insinuating that some tv companies are worse than others (as reported)

    Seriously, though. It would be very easy to alter history, if the stations official archive was the *only* archive. (No Trotskij was never there, see nowhere in our pictures, and if you have any record of him being there, you are a PIRATE!)

  • IP In the form of movies or music is not "infinite".

    Yes it is. Assuming digital media, there is an infinite supply of copies of existing works.

    It costs $$$ to make a movie (About $40 million on average these days).

    Right. That's the (one-time) cost of generating the content, not copying it. We're just used to "subsidizing" these costs by paying per-copy fees.

    We're going to have to either find other ways to "subsidize" content creators, or settle for a world in which it is effectively illegal for anyone but "authorized content providors" to create or copy content.

    I think I could live with the societal and artistic consequences of former better than I could the latter.

  • But frequently the sign without learning of the full implications of what they do.
  • > Imagine you BUY somethign from a company, but at the end of the day they still own and control it? Can you spell 'sucker'?

    You mean like a typical commercial software licencse? ;-)
    Or a driver's license?

    *ducks the flames, because this will get incorrectly mod'd as flamebait*

  • How do we get this into the wider public spaces, where it can draw more attention?

  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:20AM (#490990) Homepage Journal
    Hey, here's something the article sparked in me that I'd never thought of:
    Movie companies insisted on a "region coding" system for DVDs, because they would make less money if DVD movies were actually tradeable worldwide under existing free-trade laws.
    Why use use free-trade laws to attack things like regional encoding? IANAL, but it sounds reasonable that encoding might violate numerous trade agreements.
  • by TheFlu ( 213162 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:20AM (#490993) Homepage
    Minidisc's employ the SCMS [hometheatersite.com] (Serial Copy Mangement System) copy protection scheme, which basically means you can't make a digital copy of a digital copy. You can read a short CDR versus Minidisc review here [hometheatersite.com] and you can find out information about the Prospec MSP-730 SCMS "stripper" right here [hometheatersite.com]. The MSP-730 basically outputs unlimited SCMS bits to allow you to copy digital copies. I believe the article is a bit old, so there may or may not be other products like the 730 available. According to the article, the DMCA made this product illegal, but perhaps you could find someone somewhere still selling them, I haven't looked so I don't know. If you're intested in knowing more about the Minidisc, you can also check out the Minidisc FAQ [minidisc.org].
  • This just in:
    In a lawsuit filed today, CRAP (Cruiseline and Railway Associated Protectorate) has filed suit agains al of the world's major airlines, citing unfair competetive practices. A spokesman for crap made the follwing statement:
    "Because the airlines can get people from coast to coast, or even overseas, in an incredibly short amount of time, we can't compete. Therefore, we want to limit them to travelling at the same speeds as passenger trains and ocean liners."
    When informed that reducing airspeeds to such an extent would cause airplanes to fall out of the sky, the represenative replied, "That's their problem."

    Okay, so that's a little silly, but the point is, it's stupid to use litigation to limit competition, which is what a lot of entertainment companies these days seem to want. And, it's even more ridiculous building obsolesence into your technology to discourage fair use.

  • I think the best line in this rant is about 3/4ths the way down:

    I think we should work on understanding how people can make a living by creating new things and providing services, rather than by restricting the duplication of existing things.

    Afterall, isn't that what open source is all about?

    -the Babushka

  • Question: How do you play back HDTV content on DirectTivo? I didn't think it had a RGB or VGA output. Only S-Vid and Composite.
  • There isn't any book piracy.

    Apparently someone hasn't been to the ebooks newsgroups. Granted, it's not done with a photocopier, but there is indeed book piracy.


  • by Bluesee ( 173416 ) <michaelpatrickkenny.yahoo@com> on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:23AM (#491005)
    There are no consumer or civil rights representatives in the SDMI consortium.

    The problem in a nutshell, and a signal of an alarming trend not only in consumerism but in politics also. Although these practices violate the concept of a free society by keeping the ways and means of electronic discourse (free speech) in the hands of the 'landed gentry' (corporate monoliths), governments around the world allow this to happen because they have been corrupted. At least this is the only plausible explanation I can find. That plus the possibility that they are just a little too stupid (actually even smart people don't have time to keep up on these things) to understand how the technology is being used to disenfranchise people.

    Fact is, rights are being curtailed in many (all?) areas of daily life and we allow it. Why? Because we are used to being disenfranchised and powerless and our rage is almost always impotent. Rage cannot sustain itself for a long time, but lawyers and judges can file briefs, torts, and rulings forever.

    I imagine that this feeling I am getting deep inside can't be much different than that which ignited the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution. Not quite a "Bastille Day" level of angst, but sufficient to call to action at least one Patriot who waits patiently for the General Alarm to be sounded.

    This is a lot like Taxation without Representation.

    People ask me why I get upset about such things. What should I tell them? They seem blissfully and willfully ignorant of such matters, happy with their little SUVs and yes, DVDs... What watershed event could possibly provoke Them (about 95% of this country) to action? Can anybody help me here?
  • And if you're a pissed-off journalist, attend Sony press conferences and tell them they can shove their products up their corporate backsides.

    If you're a professional journalist, your job is to find out what's happening, and document it. Journalists shouldn't create the news, they should just illuminate it.

    If you're an advocate (at its polite best) or a demonstrator or a protestor, then yes, I agree, the corporations and other media should be made aware of this sort of conflict between rights and controls. But stressing the word advocate, there's a right way and a wrong way to do that.

    If a journalist sees an advocate acting rudely, disrupting a press conference, that can reach around and bite the advocate's cause: "some unruly demonstrators interrupted the press conference for a couple moments before security ushered them out with a twist of their arms."

    You don't want to have the undecided or uninitiated people to see the battle as "<sigh>, them deluded hippie protesters using Beatnux, always chanting 'free code' and thinking they can change the world." That spurs antipathy, not awareness.

  • The software industry went through a copy protection phase too, back in the '80's. Notice that most of those companies (except for a few that sell their software for $10,000 a seat or so) either stopped using copy protection or went out of business.

    I don't see these various odious laws and consortiums lasting all that long, as they will hurt or kill the media companies in the long run. I have no plans to buy an HDTV or a DVD player, and I've seen an HDTV in action. Yes, it looks great, but it's really not worth the hassle. I have to admit that I still take in two or three movies a year, but I'm passing on many more. There's a lot of live theater here that doesn't cost a lot more than the $8 ticket prices at the movie theater, and live theater is a much richer experience, in my opinion.

    I doubt it'll be too long before we start seeing real content producers popping up outside the MPAA, making content freely available. They'll do it either just for the joy of creating it, or they'll figure out some way to make money at it. And like the software companies during the '80's found, the customers will vote with their dollars for the most convienent and featureful systems.

  • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:31AM (#491015)
    The problem isn't that laws are being passed that are stealing our rights and selling them to corporations. The problem also isn't that manufacturers are building hardware to do what the laws aren't able to do.

    These are all things that are easily under control of the people. We like to believe in these conspiracy theories that secretive business and government agents are developing these laws and technologies, but the fact is these businesses have money to do this because consumers buy their products, and these government officials are elected.

    The true problem is twofold -- lack of understanding on the part of the general public, and a lack of caring on the part of many who do understand it. Does anyone on here think more than 1% of the population is aware of the DeCSS case? That's probably high by an order of magnitude! Does more than 1% of the population even know what DMCA is, much less how it affects them? I doubt it. And 99% of the people you could ask about restrictions like not being able to copy digital content at better than VHS quality wouldn't care, because they neither appreciate or have equipment capable of the higher quality.

    Public ignorance and apathy are the reason we're losing these freedoms, not corporate greed and governmental corruption. Neither of those would have any power at all in a world of educated people who care about their rights.
  • by burris ( 122191 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:32AM (#491016)
    The constitution and the writings of some of the framers of the consititution make it abundantly clear that copyright holders do NOT own the work. All copyrightable material is duly owned by the Public. Copyright only grants a temporary right to control the creation and distribution of copies (but not beyond the "First Sale"). It most certainly does not grant ownership in the same way I own pysical property.


  • by madhakr ( 119990 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:32AM (#491017)
    Yes, in fact, there is book piracy. Lots of it. I used to work for a bookstore across the street from a major engineering company. Every week, eight or ten engineers would come in and _each_ buy $800 or so in mechanical engineering, programming, UNIX administration, and database books. The following week, they would return all those books, having freshly photocopied them, and purchase more. We had a three-ring binder full of names of people who were never allowed to return books at our store for this reason.

    Do I think there should be more legal restrictions on book piracy? No. I think, for example, that teachers should be able to make copies to distribute in classes, especialy for book excerpts. You want to keep a photocopy of your book to read on the bus and not risk ruining the original? Go ahead. Want to type up an HTML version of your book and read it from any of your computers? Just don't advertize it to the general public. Loan your book to a friend? Feel free. Copying books is not much more difficult than copying software.

    And book publishers don't labor under the delusion that they still own the book after you buy it. Copyright doesn't work that way, contrary to what music and video publishers would have you believe. You buy the *right* to view/listen to/read the material packaged in the media. The media itself is irrelevant. If I buy a book, I simultaneously buy the right to put that book's text on audio tape, CD, DVD, mp3, video of me reading, other paper, transparency, braille rock carving, and whatever other media I find convenient for getting that text into my head. If I buy a DVD, I buy the same package of rights, but the manufacturers and publishers have decided that I can't be trusted to have the tools to exercise those rights.

    I have a DVD of a Stevie Ray Vaughan concert. I bought it. Legally. In a store. The right to consume that content is mine. And it's damn cool to see the way his hands fly over the guitar. But I'd like to take the audio portion, put it on CD, and listen to it in my car. Law lets me do this. I'm not selling, renting, giving, loaning, etc. this material to anyone else. I'm taking audio that I have paid for the right to hear and putting it on another medium that is more convenient for me. Nothing is wrong with this, except that companies won't make hardware that does it for fear of getting their asses sued off for selling something that *could* allow someone to make illegal copies. Time to ban Xerox machines. Throw out the pencil, you could transcribe the lyrics to a Popular Band(tm) song with that. It's dangerous!

    To go outside the mythos is to become insane...
  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:33AM (#491020) Journal
    Wow, you're full of shit.

    The bit about copying data being some old thief's excuse? What the hell is that? If I steal a Chrysler, that's a Chrysler the owner no longer possesses. If I make a copy of a song, the original owner still has the song. They have lost nothing. You've made no argument; you've simply stated, de facto, that this argument is wrong, without stating why.

    Furthermore, it's people like you who make what the content providers do socially acceptable. "You shouldn't be copying! You're just doing it nefariously to your own ends!" Napster's a bad example because of the way it's constructed: you can't really use it to do anything but search for songs or artists you already know exist. But what the content providers are trying to do is PREVENT ANYONE FROM GETTING A PIECE OF THEIR PIE. They want it to be their exclusive right to create and control popular media; they want to make it impossible for people to do what the Internet and cheap hardware have made it possible to do: create and distribute alternative media.

    Sure, I can go create a CD, like you said. But I can't create a DVD. Why not? Because the content providers don't want me to be able to.

    It's not about little people "stealing" from the big media companies; it's about the big media companies trying to control everything so they can make a little more money. And it fucking blows.

  • Who is "we" exactly...and how do "you" expect to cut budgets for all universities (there will still be other non-proits after universities you know)

    Do you actually have any clue how Universities work financially? or are you just spewing mindless blather (I assume the latter).

    Ok side question.... why is it that online discussion boards degenerate into such sillyness? Why do people post mindless blather?

    I mean, I can understand a discussion going offtopic, or people dicussing side issues.... but whats the mindset involved in trying to derail discussion or adding zero content noise?

    I just don't understand the mindset involved.

  • by burris ( 122191 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:38AM (#491026)
    John Gilmore drives home a very important point in this essay that is easily missed even though most of us are quite familiar with nanotechnology.

    What is happening now to the movie and music industries will soon happen to EVERY industry. When we can build universal assemblers (matter compilers) that can turn dirt into nourishing food at the push of a button, will we mandate copy protection to save the farmers? Will we ban these machines to protect the jobs of carpenters, skilled laborers, machine tool manufacturers, etc ad nauseum?

    John Gilmore is one of the few people who truly understand what is happening and where this is all heading.


  • by pallex ( 126468 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:38AM (#491027)
    "that has things called trees and birds and sidewalks and parks and grass and stuff in it... it's amazing!"

    There are `girls` there too - sort of like the `female` characters in anime, only more interactive!

    (nice post mate!)

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:41AM (#491030) Homepage Journal
    Did you read the article? Many of these schemes being devised WILL prevent you from publishing your own work digitally unless you get a contract from one of the big recording companies or work in a movie studio.

    While current technology allows you to make copies like this, you can't expect people to use this technology forever, eventually most CD players will be replaced by DVD players or whatever the newest hottest technology is (how many of you still use cassette tapes?).

    The worst part is, these big companies are still exercising an economy of scarcity in a world with nearly free limitless copies. Instead of cutting out the middleman and setting up a system where bands are paid to produce music (but not charged to "publish" it, as the publishing is free), you could have thousands of happy bands making more money and selling their content for a fraction of what it costs today. The only companies that lose out in that scenero are the publishing companies that don't want to switch to the new, more efficent business. I can see why too, since they have carefully engineered a system (and even had parts of it set into law) where they can rip off not only the band/actors, but the general public as well.

    This is why these "Extremely low duplication/distribution costs can only be stealing!" posts really bug me.
  • If companies were to sue to prevent people from ripping CDs they own then they would most likely lose the suit on the grounds that ripping a CD for personal use is legal under the Supreme Court's BetaMax "time-shifting/media-shifting" ruling.

    The EFF should find some independent recording house and convince them to sue, so that the EFF can defend. This issue needs to be forced into the courts.

  • by cpuffer_hammer ( 31542 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @07:48AM (#491035) Homepage
    In this text John Gilmore brings a number problems with the "new copyright". First it prevents legal copies like backup, quotes, and satire. Second it removes the Constitutional end to a copyright. Third if prevents others from publishing by creating a barrier to entry into the media. He also brings up that it prevents the user from using there property as thy wish and it makes a joke of the 5th amendment by making search without probable cause a fact of life.

    I would like to add that to maintain this "new copyright" there will need to be more, bigger, and more powerful "police" like organizations. The SPA and the MPAA are already moving into these new roles. These "Police" will not only cost us money they will cost us liberty.

    Please explain this to your friends and associates. Even if they don't understand or with remain free, at least they will have a clue if they wakeup latter. If not we will have at least tried.

    Charles Puffer
  • And more importantly, can you prove they went away because of piracy and NOT because of pointy-haired business practices or spending double their annual sales on lawyers?
  • Well most universities are not funded by taxes (directly) anyway. So I have to wonder how you "the taxpayers" plan to cut Unioversity budgets.

    Most private Universities (like the one I work for) have whats called an endowment. The university has a large amount of money, that it invests and keeps in a bank, and it runs off the interest.

    Alot of money comes from grants, either from the government, or private companies, or even individuals. Thats usually money to do something specific like research or build a library.

    All in all taxpayers have very little say, except maybe in terms of some of he grants.

  • The law as it stands today, and the whole legal tradition of our culture, tells us that information is property.

    Nonsense. The legal tradition of our culture tells us that the authors of information have a certain set of rights to specify how and by whom that information may be used. This set of rights has traditionally been far less broad than the set of rights that is implied by the word "property".

  • Actually the cost of making copies is not zero. Or essentially zero. Or anything close to zero. (And no offense is intended to the poster to whom this is a reply, he/she has it mostly right, but this "no cost to make copies" idea permeates this discussion... so here's my rant)

    The first copy of any work is very expensive. For some movies, the first copy can cost into the several millions of dollars to produce. For software, the costs for the first copy can also be pretty high (think about how much programmer time costs, and how many of them it takes to build even a mid-sized application). For music albums the cost of the first copy varies widely. The cost of this first copy is a capital expense, and is not made greater or smaller no matter how many second copies are made.

    The cost of creating second copies is also called an incremental expense. In some cases, the incremental expense for the production company is quite low. Often this expense is so small that it is very easy for unauthorized duplication to take place and have a viable market. After all, the unauthorized duplicators have none of the major capital/fixed expense associated with the first copy. They only need a high fidelity second copy to make other high fidelity second copies.

    The total cost to produce a legitimate recording is capital expense + (incremental expense * units sold). The manufacturer then sets a price, in order to generate revenue to offset the total cost of production. They estimate projected unit sales and set a price such that (units sold * price) >= (total cost).

    If unauthorized duplication prevents the manufacturer from selling their projected units sold by undercutting the manufacturer's price (since the unauthorized duplicators have no need to pass along the fixed cost of production they are capable of pricing at or just above the incremental expense and still generating excess revenue -- profit), then their project is unprofitable for their firm and no future projects will be possible.

    Now that we have a basic understanding of micro-economics in hand, we can discuss the actual dynamics of information sharing. The cost of production is NOT the issue. The fact is, I have paid the production company to communicate their "information" to me when I make a VHS, DVD, CD, LP, or book purchase.

    The key at this point isn't that I have the right to have them recommunicate it to me over and over, should my copy become non-functional. The key is that they are taking away my ability to communicate that information TO MYSELF (at whatever cost to myself for duplication). I cannot make my own copies of the information I have legitimately because they've tied the extraction of the information to a device and made it illegal to tamper with that device (even though I've paid for that too). Well, that's crap. And every time you buy a DVD, CD, Aibo robodog, Intel inside computer, Microsoft license, or buy a ticket to a mainstream movie, you are helping fund the dismantling of freedom. But all the moralistic high-grounding to attempt to justify making unauthorized copies because "if I make a copy you don't lose your copy" is misleading. It obscures the issue. The issue is freedom to use things I've paid for the way I see fit, not cost of production.
  • This essay at last crystalizes my unease and mistrust of our government's ability to defend personal freedom and further the human condition in the face of massive lobbying by large corporations for laws that will result only in short-term gains for those companies.

    In fact, it inspired me to write to my congressmen. If you care about this issue at all, you should do the same. I summarized my feelings on these issues and gave reference to Gilmore's rant; you can do the same or just quote it at them if you're lazy. You can write to them in a web-based form from the U.S. Congress website [congress.org]... Just use the "Elected Officials" search with your zip code to get a listing of your senators and representatives for your cc list.

    Stop bitching about this here and go do something about it right now, dammit! The outcome is in your hands!
  • I think the article took a turn for the worse near the end when it sort of proclaimed that we're in a brave new world where everything should be free, etc, because it can be copied.

    I don't think he implied that at all. I think he was saying content providers should figure out a way to work with the distribution possibilities offered by digital technology, instead of trying to force controls and limits on that technology such that it's far more of a hassle to use than formats limited by physical scarcity. These technologies do make it easier for an independent artist to create and distribute works, and that scares those who normally have a hammerlock on "traditional" passages of distribution.

    Without the capitalist incentive these reams of independants don't seem to be bothering.

    Wow. You don't get out to music cafes and pubs much, do you? It's not as if one can get rich playing at one; a lot of bands do it to get exposed, or for the hell of it. Many do hit pubs and cafes to make a buck, but it's a hard buck to make. The independents are out there; you're just not looking for them.

    Somehow this would be resolved by raping the media companies and depriving the only ones who are creating viable entertainment of the right to control their creations? How utterly absurd and foolish.

    I've bolded those particular words, because I have a problem with that. You say the major media companies are the only ones creating "viable entertainment." I have a few CDs from either independents or very small labels that aren't tied very closely to the major corps at all, and they create very viable entertainment. Above you imply you aren't looking very hard for independent acts to support and enjoy; here, you prove it.
  • Content-Protection Racket Corporation Rep: "Questions?"
    Pissed-Off Journalist: "How do you answer the allegations that consumers won't even be able to copy =songs/movies/etc= that they have made themselves......?"

    See how easy it is? And the other journalists suddenly see another story brewing and jump on the bandwagon... after all, it's all about other peoples' misery, and seeing a consumer scandle with a big corporation is always good for news programs....
  • The software industry went through a copy protection phase too, back in the '80's. Notice that most of those companies (except for a few that sell their software for $10,000 a seat or so) either stopped using copy protection or went out of business.

    You wish. Microsoft uses Macrovision CD copy protection on some of its products, such as Flight Simulator. Some drives (Phillips CD-R drives especially) won't read such disks. They won't even load; the bad sector used by the copy protection system causes the disk to be totally rejected.

    Microsoft even released the Y2K update to Visual SourceSafe on a copy-protected disk that wouldn't read. That took me weeks on the phone to Microsoft to resolve; they kept sending me more bad disks, until they finally came up with a disk that wasn't protected.

  • The very concept of content protection as it exists today is wrong. It is merely a method of thought control at the lowest level possible: the file. You can't take a screenshot of a DVD movie because the publishers (not the director or the producer, the publishing company) doesn't find it in its best profitability interests to allow users to take full-quality screenshots. When DeCSS was released to the masses, the entire master plan of the MPAA fell apart; they could no longer be the exclusive provider of motion picture content. People started compressing the DeCSSed .VOB files into DivX or VCD, and users were downloading the files, even though it took considerably more time to do so than it would to walk to the local video store and buy the title. Why did they bother waiting hours (and sometimes even days) just to watch a movie? Simple: because they didn't have to pay for it, and therefore the MPAA is stiffed out of $7 of royalties.

    The same thing happens for music, only worse: MP3 files take much less time at all to download (on Broadband/DSL, it takes less than an hour to download an entire album, given a reliable server). Bertelsmann AG saw this and purchased Napster while changing Napster's terms to include a flat rate fee. Many Napster users reluctantly complied, but others flat-out refused to pay, and therefore left Napster.

    Be warned, the images of the "starving musician" and the "starving movie producer" are just facades, used as an attempt to establish rationality in the exorbitant prices of CDs and movies. Personally, I don't mind paying for movies, but when it comes to music, that's a world full of extortion. The members of the RIAA and the MPAA seem to have a vacuum hose stuck in the pockets of the consumers, sucking out every dime of loose change accumulated. The consumers thoughtlessly comply, assuming that they'll be given a worthwhile service when, in fact, the music that they're paying for is worth barely more than the aluminum used to make the CDs. The latest example is Metallica; before Lars Ulrich started whining about the Napster situation, Metallica had a huge fan base. Now, many are defecting, and even more are downloading Metallica songs by other means (Gnutella, FTP, etc.).

    In this brave new world where any form of media can be compressed into files less than 1/10th of the original raw file (contemporary art has JPEG, music has MP3, movies have DivX), the respective industries can't cope with the tremendous revenue loss. However, I'm not crying for them; I'd rather see the media giants die like the leeches they are.

  • There is nothing stopping you from burning it on CDs and giving it away at the local homeless shelter.

    Soon, there will, that's the whole point! All CD burners and players that are not approved and properly fitted with whatever content protection they see fit, will be driven out of market, or better: be outlawed. I mean, there is no legitimate use for CD players that are not approved by the RIAA or some equivalent body, is there? They are just tools for piracy, right? After all, if you make music, do you have any reason for not going to RIAA to have it approved?

    Without the capitalist incentive these reams of independants don't seem to be bothering.

    I must respectfully disagree. Many great composer went through their life without making big money. Some were even quite poor. Some great composers even told their patrons to go fsck themselves when they told them to do things they didn't like. Money doesn't seem like an significant incentive at all if you ask me.

    Just look at the big moeny being poured into dotcoms, did those loads of money result in significant innovation? In my opinion, the development stopped around 1995 when hackers lost control of the internet.

    Somehow this would be resolved by raping the media companies and depriving the only ones who are creating viable entertainment of the right to control their creations?

    Like what? Britney Spears? Look, this is not a one-sided issue: Nothing is created in vacuo, and everything becomes a part of our cultural heritage. Which means that other composers learn and get inspired by works. Their creations are not just theirs, it's their contribution to the cultural heritage of mankind, and they should not be allowed to control every aspect of it. Copyright protection has been carefully tuned so that both creators and the rest of the population benefits from it. Now, the focus is shifted, the population is screwed, while the industry gains, with a net loss for mankind.

    Creators should be allowed to control their works only to the extent that they can be rewarded by society in such a way they can continue contributing to our common cultural heritage. If society fails to reward them, it is a problem, and indeed, these days, it may be a problem. Content protection is however very far from the answer. The definitive answer is yet to be worked out, but given brainpower on the task, I think it will be found.

  • I don't see these various odious laws and consortiums lasting all that long, as they will hurt or kill the media companies in the long run.

    as Keynes said, "In the long run, we are all dead". Media executives, like most executives, think from today to the next quarterly report because of the structure of incentives. This is quite rational. Long term thinking is risky, (the world changes ), a dollar today is worth much more than a dollar in a decade ( depreciation) and, most importantly, they will be elsewhere in a decade.

    In the short run, it pays to protect monopolies by all possible means. Every day you pay $18 for a cd because you are stuck, it is $18 more to bottomlime today. They know they will eventually "lose" . But time is money. So they are mostly concerned about "losing" later rather than sooner.

  • There are occasional rumbles about this out of the EU competition authorities, but from the (miniscule) extent of the actual action being taken, I think they've been nobbled.

    The problem is that Arts. 81 and 85 of the Treaty of Rome (which are what give competition law its bite in the EU) regulate trade within the EU and are interpreted almost wholly to mean trade and contractual provisions rather than technological limits.

    The copy-protection racketeers are therefore safe provided they keep the EU within a single DVD Region (they do) and keep a paradigm shift from occurring.

    They've got a useful weapon in the French, as well: all they have to do is tell the frog government that region-encoding makes it harder for people to import films in (*shudder*) English and they get all the support they want.

  • if you're a professional journalist, your job is to find out what's happening, and document it. Journalists shouldn't create the news, they should just illuminate it.

    You're right and I do - pretty much on a weekly basis when it comes to this kind of news these days. Consider the first paragraph as the professional advice and the last two as the rant :)

  • I don't believe in copy control, patents of any kind, or intellectual property, but anybody should have the right to market anything they want. That includes media companies---if they want to sell content on media which is difficult to duplicate, then that's fine with me. On the other hand, they should not expect the government to establish laws which prevent tampering with their devices. That is like trying to have your cake and eat it too: they want to sell a physical device or object, but not the rights to use or modify it.

    But look: if you try to take away the right of these companies to sell what they want to sell in the way they want to sell it, then you may also be taking away your own right in the future of ever selling something in the way you want to sell it. Maybe someday it will be the case that the public wants to tell you that you should behave in a certain way. It doesn't have to be copy control; it could be something else: the point is that you have the right to sell anything you own.

    The trouble with this particular instance, namely mass media like films, music and software, is that we think of it in the same way as we think of utilities like water and power, and resources like food. The fact is that you don't need to see Hollywood films, or listen to big-name bands, or use Microsoft software to live. Maybe you grew up taking it for granted, and now it seems indispensible, but that's your fault: you put your faith in the makers of these things, and now they are stabbing you in the back. You trusted the wrong people.

    Now live with it. If everybody just accepted that fact, then no one would buy these copy-controlled media, and the media companies would soon abandon the idea. Otherwise, you are being a hypocrite.

    Now, certainly I would like to continue to enjoy good films and good music, but if I just boycott the industry, the mass of sheep that inhabits the US will just go along with whatever the industry decides for them, and I will never get to enjoy my favorite media again. So what can I do?

    1. I can create my own content. Instead of merely benefitting from others' producing it, I can start contributing, and ensure that it remains in the public domain. Nearly everyone here is either a programmer or an artist, so I don't think I'm preaching to the wrong audience. Maybe you're a hardware designer; start making free hardware. (You know what I mean by "free"...!)

    2. I can support people who create free content. Donate to the FSF and to free software projects, or to specific bands or independent filmmakers who want to keep their films free. I can start buying goods from companies that don't participate in the CPRM agenda, and write drivers for their hardware. If an appropriate organization doesn't exist, I might think about founding one.

    3. I can tell other people why they should not buy non-free goods, or goods which the government will not let me own completely. Then I can tell them why they need to tell other people ("pay it forward"?).

    Maybe there other ways. The point is to give the market and our democracy a chance to sort the situation out itself using its own rules and mechanisms, rather than imposing more artificial rules which restrict anybody else's freedoms, including those of the media companies.

    This is not a perfect solution maybe, but it is the only one I see wherein I can protect both my freedoms and my integrity.

  • by pos ( 59949 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @08:13AM (#491061)
    Now even the poorest Americans have cars, television, telephones, heat, clean water, sanitary sewers -- things that the richest millionaires of 1900 could not buy. These technologies promise an end to physical want in the near future.

    We should be rejoicing in mutually creating a heaven on earth!

    Heaven on earth indeed! Technology doesn't make the world substatially better. Stuff does not make people truly happy. It's true that with the advancement of technology individuals have to face less hardships, but that doesn't mean the world is any better off. Hardship is not enjoyable but is a necessary part of growth. Weight training makes a person's body strong. Hardship makes a person emotionally strong. Mind you I am not advocating hardship and pain in quantities that it destroys or disrupts a person's growth, but a little bit in easy to swallow quantaties is healthy. I don't want people to become the emotional equivalent of veal. :)

    Too often I see people heralding technology as the answer to everything. Let's not overextend it here. TV, MP3's and DVD's are not the answer to Pain and Suffering. Emotional strength is. DVD's will not end physical want, they increase it!

    Other than this one point I agree with this article.


    The truth is more important than the facts.
  • Read the article more closely. With MiniDisc the author could not make copies of HIS recording of a wedding. Even though HE owned the copyrights to it.

    If he were to circumvent the protections, would he be violating the DMCA. Maybe not, since the circumvention would be "with the authority of the copyright owner".

    If he made a tool to do it, would that be a violation? Maybe, maybe not?

    If he were to distribute that tool, intending it to be used only to allow use by a copyright owner to circumvent protections to their own content? Likely to be treated as a violation since it could be used for bad purposes, in spite of the exemption for use with "authority of the copy right holder". THe judge would likely assume the intent was not for a legal purpose. Look at Judge Kaplan in the DeCSS lawsuit - he ruled against the defendants, saying that the intent of DeCSS was bad, and even if it was good he STILL would have ruled against them, saying it would STILL be a DMCA violation.

    If he were to distribute it, intenting it be used for any "fair use" reason, the would very likely be a DMCA violation. Heck, even if he crippled his tool in such a way that it COULD only be used for a "fair use" reason, it would still be likely to be illegal. Judge Kaplan would rule it so, for example. We will see what happens to an open source LiViD DVD player for Linux without copy ability, whether it is ruled illegal. If Kaplan gets the case, it will be. Then people can see that exercising "fair use" rights is illegal.

    Maybe the best we can hope for is things get bad enough, fast enough to wake people up and make them fight back. Throw a frog in boiling water and it jumps right out. Put it in cold water and heat it and it will stay until it dies. People and their rights are like that too. Take rights away slow enough and they won't notice until it is too late. It seems fast to us, but it is slow enough to trick the public.

    Perhaps Bush, unlike Clinton, will be so aggressive and fast at "protecting" industry, and so inept at doing it and making it look good, that the people will notice.

    Anyway, anyone care to comment on which of my scenarios above would be safe, which ones would get one sued, but one would win, and which ones would get one sued and where one would LOSE? Any coments on what we can do? Anything an independant content producer should know or do to protect their right to release unprotected content?
  • > * You are currently working at a University

    Yes I do.

    > * At some point in time, he predicted either
    > your University will lay you off, or your salary
    > will become too meager to live on (a wife, and
    > a child or two, etc)

    I don't see how these are very likely predictions. His actual prediction was that "We" would somehow effect the budget of Universities...a prediction that I am skeptical of at best.

    Also, while th emoney is meager, compared to what I could be making doing the same job (Unix sysadmin) elsewhere, its certainly enough to live on. Were I to have a wife, I would expect her to work and bring in money also. I don't ever plan on breeding (and I wish others would do the same) so....I don't see this happening.

    > * If you don't want to sign an NDA or a
    > non-compete, then start handing in resume's
    > at McDonalds, as *every* *single* tech company
    > requires minimally an NDA for employment.

    Thats fine for them. I wont work for them. As it is, I said I don't think I will EVER be looking to work for a for-profit company again anyway.

    There are plenty of jobs available for people who do not want to sign NDAs, even in this industry. As a person who has had steady employment for the past 4 years, and has never signed an NDA, I think I am living proof of that.

    Beyond that, there are plenty of Non-Macdonalds jobs that are not in this industry. The world is not "Programmers, Executives, and burger flippers".
    > NDA's are absolutely nessecary pieces of paper
    > for an employer.

    I happen to disagree there. They may be necissary for certain things that some companies like to do (like selling proprietary software), but these are activities that I don't want to be onvolved with anyway (I wont write code where the programs are distributed but not the code)

  • This is of course why the entertainment industries are buying your representitives to pass laws that make it a crime to manufacture/trade devices that "circumvent effective copy protection" ... They want people to continue using their VHS recorders because serial copying quickly degrades the already low quality.

    However, it is the general purpose computers that circumvent the laws yet are technically capable (and programmable!) of being a media player that will save the day. Ultimately the consumers will get what they want and by and large everyone will win (artists, entertainers, and their management overall will be richer than ever), though there will be a lot of bloodshed on the way.

    Also, did DAT fail because of the copy protection? I think DAT failed because it has all the disadvantages of tape; no instant random track access, complicated/expensive/failure-prone transport with very delicate media (thin mylar tape), limited high speed duplication capability, etc... that make it pretty lousy compared to the CD's consumers would be copying with it. Notice CDR's have taken off like gangbusters and burners/media have dropped in price like rocks. "Consumer Audio" CD products have the same copy protection as DAT... You buy a computer burner/media or prosumer DAT deck / computer media to avoid copy protection. DAT is still very much alive for musicians and people recording concerts. Sony still makes ever smaller walkman sized decks that are very popular for bootlegging concerts of Sony Music Artists...


  • They get ink all over my new stuff!

    bwahahaha, inc. [ridiculopathy.com]

  • I'm building hardware so I can tell you what the problem is here.

    I'm building pro audio hardware and trying to place orders for the parts I need. They are about as unlike what you'll find in a hardware store as the parts in a DVD-R drive would be. Output transformers, order of 100, check. 5-bit grey code rotary encoders, phew- lucked out! Found a source, order of 100, check. Re'an uber phone jacks, thought they were discontinued, thankfully not- order of 10, check. Triple-ganged audio taper pots... WHOOAAAAA OUTTA THE POOL! No soup for YOU! 1000 piece minimum order on that puppy!

    Do we see the problem? There isn't a mass market for these things. The future may lead to increased and more fine-grained availability on these things (20 years ago I daresay it'd be 10,000 piece minimum order before they'd even talk to you) but that would require some changes from the industrial manufacturers- and I don't believe that is going to happen. For one- why would Sony want its supplier to be selling the individual parts of DVD-Rs to hobbyists? Again it's the power relationships.

    There is a place for open hardware- I contribute to it when I can- but the existence of it does not imply an industrial infrastructure. On the contrary, there's the very real risk that if, for instance, some startup began making a one-chip, solder-it-yourself DVD-R, the electronics companies would see to it that you couldn't get the lasers, the servos, the parts to make it actually work.

    Doing open hardware and getting a genuine market for the parts are separate problems. They require separate solutions. The first, requires committment, dedication and talent, and a recognition of the merits (it places hardware in the same context as the traditional Scientific Method, permitting rapid progress). The second requires trustbusting. Period.

  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @08:27AM (#491071) Homepage
    Even that tounge-in-cheek solution doesn't really work well at all, because when you use one raster-scan device to record another raster-scan device, you get a nasty flicker unless you have some specialized equipment to sync the scan of the recorder with the scan of the TV screen.

    (It's basicly the looking-at-something-cyclical-under-a-strobelight effect. You can get anything from a false impression that it's standing still, to a false impression that it's moving backward, to a false impression that it's moving slower forward than is is - all depending on minor changes in timing between the cyclical activity (like spinning a wheel) and the strobelight speed.)

    Camcorder recordings of a TV screen look terrible.

  • Wouldn't it be simpler for the EFF to get a "declaratory judgement" by a court that it is legal, rather than having a whole suit?
  • The chances of us getting back to the original 28-year copyright are slim to none. The United States is bound by treaties requiring we adhere to international copyright standards, which require a copyright be valid for at least 50 years after the death of the last living author.
    Thanks largely to the efforts of major copyright holders, the U.S. requires an additional twenty years beyond that and grants 120-year copyright on works made for hire.

    It makes me physically ill to realize that Socialist France dictated national copyright policy to the land of the free and the home of the brave; the leaders of the land (when I was 5 years old, in 1978) did nothing to prevent it, and the current representatives are moving to strengthen the poorly-crafted dictates of earlier misguided legislators.

    If you're interested in knowing what really happened to fair use in the USA and form an intelligent opinion regarding the legality of these technological measures to discourage fair use, I strongly recommend you consult some resources linked from http://fairuse.stanford.edu [stanford.edu], particularly A History of Copyright in the U.S. [cni.org].

    Matt Barnson

  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @08:50AM (#491091) Homepage
    You have fallen for the snow job given to us by the existing media moguls. They have tried to paint these technolgies as only being about pirating, when they also have other uses.

    1 - If you *already own* a legal copy of a song, it is perfectly legal and ethically correct to copy that song to some other format. (For example, I have no CD player in my car, so I often make cassette tape compilations of some of my CD's so I can use them in the car. There is nothing wrong with this. I should not have to buy a song *twice* just to change its type of recording media. I've already paid the copyright holder for the right to listen to his intellectual property when I bought the song in its first form (CD). Therefore, If I use Napster to get an MP3 of a song *I already have* in CD form, I've done nothing wrong. This is the problem with the Metallica suit. They assumed falsely that everyone trading their songs was doing it illegally, when some of them probably were not. (They also arrogantly assumed that any file with a title that looked like one of their songs must be one of their songs, even though, for example, there are lots of artists with songs called "One".)

    2 - DeCSS was written to allow people to view DVDs on opensource software. Because of the restrictions on getting the decrpytion information from the MPAA, this *required* that the encryption be reverse-engineered - the MPAA's non-disclosure agreement prevents people from showing their decrypting source code to the outside world, so if they wanted to make an opensource player they had to do it without signing that NDA, hence the reverse-engineering. DeCSS was *NOT* written for the purpose of pirating, although admittedly it can be used in that fashion.

    Is it right to take away a technology becuase it *can* be used harmfully, even if that is not its main intended purpose? If that is truly how you feel, then I suggest you try outlawing automobiles, since they can be used for drive-by shootings, or running people over, or getting away from the cops after a robbery. The fact that their intended primary use is simple transportation doesn't matter to you apparently.

  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @10:01AM (#491131) Homepage Journal

    If proprietary formats are going to "prevent" people from copyright their own creations (such as the example "birthday party" video)

    At most birthday parties, the copyrighted musical work "Happy Birthday to You"[?] [everything2.com] is performed. Thus, Warner-Chappell Music (a division of AOL Time Warner and the "Happy Birthday" copyright owner) has the right to claim your birthday party video (which includes a performance of "Happy Birthday") as a "derivative work" under copyright law. And no, the copyright on "Happy Birthday" hasn't expired; because it was copyrighted on or after January 1, 1923, it's under perpetual copyright [8m.com] in the US and WIPO states.

    Like Tetris? Like drugs? Ever try combining them? [pineight.com]
  • Real sued some company that made a product that could copy and save streamed audio and video, won, and it was only protected by a single bit.
  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @10:54AM (#491156) Homepage Journal

    [[Ordinarily, I don't feed the mentally-handicapped trolls, as it rewards the wrong kind of behavior, but there are certain misconceptions being thrown around that, alas, are mistakenly taken as axiomatic by far too many people, and need correction just on general principles.]]

    Your homework is as follows. Answer the following questions. Be specific; give examples. Points are not given for bombast or ad hominem attacks.

    1. Economics: Explain the fundamental difference between transfer of a resource and duplication of a resource.
    2. Ethics: In a world where it is physically possible to copy anything, what is wrong with copying anything? (You may assume the existence of either Star Trek-like (energy-based) or nanotechnologically-based matter replicators.)
    3. Mathematics: Since, by law, it is the responsibility of a publisher to ensure their work does not infringe against any other copyrighted work, the new work must be searched and tested against every existing work to assure non-infringement. Assume, either by law or by technological operation, copyrights never expire. Plot the curve of the search/test time as the number of already-copyrighted works increases. At what point does the curve exceed the physical ability to conduct the test?
    4. Social Studies: In a world where a creator's artifacts can be duplicated by anyone anywhere, what intangible property or concept will still be crucial to reward jobs well done?
    5. Politics: A dozen or so entities tried to provide input to the drafting of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but only two actually had any meaningful effect. Name them.
    6. Computer Science: You attempt to write a block of data to a hard disk, but the operation fails. Describe the steps that can be taken to determine with 100% certainty if the failure is due to a flaw in the drive (necessitating replacement), or due to properly operating copy control measures.

    Answers (ROT-13):

    1. Genafsre bs n erfbhepr vf gur onfvf bs gursg, naq vf n pevzr jura cresbezrq vaibyhagnevyl. Qhcyvpngvba bs n erfbhepr vf gur onfvf bs qvyhgvba, juvpu vf abg n pevzr (gubhtu terrql, guvpx-urnqrq crbcyr tehzoyr nobhg vg).
    2. Abguvat. Fvapr rirelbar jvyy unir npprff gb gur fnzr novyvgl gb pbcl, gurer jvyy or ab fbpvny arrq gb pbafgenva pbclvat, fvapr gur "nttevrirq cnegl" pna fvzcyl znxr gurve bja pbcvrf bs jungrire gurl arrq.
    3. Vg nyernql unf.
    4. Gur pbaprcg bs erchgngvba jvyy or prageny gb gur shgher vapragvir fgehpgher. Juvyr pbcvrf bs negvsnpgf jvyy syl nebhaq yrsg naq evtug, gur perngbe'f erchgngvba jvyy or jryy-cebgrpgrq ol ynj naq fbpvny pbairagvba.
    5. Gur pbagrag cebivqref (ZCNN, EVNN, FVNN, rgp.) naq Vagrearg Freivpr Cebivqref. Gur pbagrag cebivqref jrer gelvat gb pbafgenva nyy "hanhgubevmrq" hfr rireljurer, sberire; gur VFCf bayl jnagrq rkprcgvbaf gb rkpyhqr gurz sebz pbagevohgbel vasevatrzrag fhvgf. (Npnqrzvp naq pbafhzre evtugf yboolvat jnf vtaberq.)
    6. Lbh pna'g; vg'f vzcbffvoyr. Guhf, pbcl pbageby reebef ner, shaqnzragnyyl, vaqvfgvathvfunoyr sebz yrtvgvzngr uneqjner snvyherf.

    [[Concerning his pooh-poohing of DeCSS's legitimate uses, it would be nice to mention that I'd rather like to write an OpenGL screen blanker that takes whatever DVD is in the drive, maps the movie on to a sphere, and bounces it around. It would be nice to point out that such use of a DVD is perfectly legal -- even cool -- but utterly impossible without DeCSS or something like it. But somehow I doubt he'd be able to grasp the concept.]]


  • by RalphSlate ( 128202 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @11:31AM (#491165) Homepage
    John Gilmore lumps too many things into one rant. What he is calling for will never be implemented, but his criticism is definitely justified.

    People who use the "information wants to be free, create a utopia of information" argument won't win. People deserve to be paid for their creative works, and anything that contributes to the mass dissemination of content without the consent of the copyright holder should rightfully be stopped.

    However, access to digital content shouldn't be completely controlled by the copyright holders just because they can do it, and the circumvention of these controls shouldn't be illegal.

    That's where Fair Use comes in. Fair Use protects someone from time-shifting a TV program or video. It protects someone from quoting a passage of a book to make a point or to write a review. It allows you to make a tape of a CD and give it to your friend (but not to your 100,000 other Napster friends). Basically, it allows us to do petty things with the content that won't hinder the sale of the content.

    John Gilmore is right on some things though -- there are plenty of copyright holders out there whose mentality is "if you read my book twice, you should pay me twice". Those people are the antithesis of the Napster crowd, and should likewise rightfully be stopped too.

    I think that this copyright control may be happening in response to the Napster crowd. In order to stop their content from being distributed everywhere for free, they lock it down so no one can get to it, and they make laws making the cracking of their restrictions a crime.

    Can there be a happy medium? I don't know. If the material is available for digital copying, then Napsters will pop up and everyone will be breaking copyright. To stop that from happening the publishers break fair use. How can you balance the two? I don't know.


  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Monday January 22, 2001 @11:39AM (#491168) Journal
    Justify anything to deprive someone of payment for their work? I guess that explains the more than $2,000 I spent last year on entertainment. Going to the movies and the theater. Buying books. Buying music. (Not DVDs, however.)

    The point isn't that I want to steal media. I, and most other people here (not you though) are aware that if someone is doing something to make money, and they don't make money, they will eventually stop doing it. IT IS NOT TO MY BENEFIT TO DEPRIVE THE CONTENT CREATORS OF PAYMENT FOR THEIR WORK.

    Sure, some people don't realize this, and it would be nice to educate them. I feel perfectly fine with paying for most media, most of the time.

    But when the big media companies decide that in order to squeeze every conceivable penny out of the people that they can, by buying laws that restrict our freedoms and conspiring to introduce hardware that restricts our abilities to do WHAT WE PLEASE with THINGS WE PAID FOR, THEN I get upset and angry.

    You would have us all lie down and do whatever the media companies say, because you believe they have some God- or law-given right to make money!

    And we *HAVE ALREADY MADE OUR OWN MEDIA FORMATS* you troll! Vorbis! DivX (the video codec one, not the stupid Circuit City scheme)! It's not about making new media formats, it's about these companies trying to VIOLATE OUR LEGAL RIGHTS. Because of the media companies, Minidiscs are fairly useless, when they could have been an awesomely cool technology. Because of the media companies, it's possible to legally buy a DVD, and legally buy a DVD player, and they won't work, not because they're incompatible, BUT BECAUSE SOFTWARE IN THE PLAYER SPECIFICALLY PREVENTS YOU FROM PLAYING DVDs BOUGHT IN OTHER REGIONS!

    Perhaps you could bother to educate me on why, exactly, there's no difference between me stealing a Chrysler, and me copying a CD (yet leaving the original CD with its original owner, undamaged and intact). You keep acting like it's a foregone conclusion, yet you refuse to provide any reasoning why (people who say, "If you don't know, I'm not going to deign to tell you" are just being assholes by refusing to shed any light on something they know is indefensible. Usually. Why don't you prove me wrong?).

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court