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Industry Divided Over SSSCA 368

CBravo writes: "The EE Times has a story that talks about the SSSCA and how it divides the industry. Short part:'If approved, the law would be enforceable under federal regulations and could dramatically alter the way system OEMs design and develop PCs, TVs, set-tops or other digital appliances with embedded microprocessors, according to industry sources familiar with the Hollings proposal. The motion-picture industry, with the Disney and Fox studios in the lead, backs the legislation.'" If you thought the DMCA was bad, look out -- the SSSCA would inject far more control into a wide range of electronic devices.
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Industry Divided Over SSSCA

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  • Linux Illegal? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Would this make Linux, et al, illegal, too?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:43AM (#2373603)

      This legislation would make:

      a) Building your own computer from commodity parts illegal.
      b) Building your own OS illegal.
      c) Programming your computer/hardware illegal unless: you only use the officially accepted libraries and agree not to even attempt reverse engineering any of them.

      Welcome to your nightmare. This is what the Sony executive said a couple of years ago when he said that they'll be taking the battle for their IP rights to every home and every computer.

    • Re:Linux Illegal? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by corebreech ( 469871 )
      Perhaps not but it may require computer manufacturers to authenticate that the OS being run is one recognized as having digital rights management built in.

      Linux wouldn't qualify, and hacking it to get it to run on modern hardware would no doubt fall under SSSCA, if not DMCA or even the ATA.

      Then comes TCP-MS. Anyone running a different network stack gets a knock on the door.

      So my guess is yes, Linux will remain legal, but you won't be able to install it on new computers and you won't be able to run it when connecting to the Internet.

      Unless of course you live in a free country.
      • Re:Linux Illegal? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jcast ( 461910 )
        Unless of course you live in a free country.

        Got any suggestions?

  • by frleong ( 241095 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:40AM (#2373591)
    OEMs of PCs will be forced to install Windows because Windows Media Player will be one of the few players with support from motion-picture industry due to its built-in "copy-protection" mechanisms. Linux will be BANNED from OEMs or face lawsuits for circumventing copyright. Or did I miss the real implications of this bill?
    • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:54AM (#2373660) Homepage Journal
      Not only Linux. Any operating system or any electronic device that does not confirm to the set of new proposed regulations will be against the law. You wonder if someone will go to jail for selling his old VCR. But in the brand new world, information will be encoded in Hollywood, passed to your audio/video receiver, decoded there, and this receiver will handshake with any devices connected to it, will detect if the device is complient and only then will communicate with it. If your new DVD player detects a home cut DVD without a watermark in it, it will use your receiver to call police to your house. Your new electronic house security system will automatically engage, to not let you out of the house and a new antiburglar system will put you to sleep instantly with some sleep gas, just to make sure you don't destroy the evidence. If you use an unlawful DVD, CD, tape in your car, it will lock up and will use the car phone to call police while filling up the salon with carbon monoxide from your exhaust, just enough to put you to sleep.

      PS.: Your brainwashed relatives will rat you out 'for your own good, just to make sure you are not a terrorist'.
      • "selling old VCR's..."

        shouldn't that read "trafficking media copyright circumvention devices" ?

        • "selling old VCR's..."

          shouldn't that read "trafficking media copyright circumvention devices" ?


          It's funny now. At the rate we're going, in 5 years it'll be a felony.
        • You wonder if someone will go to jail for selling his old VCR

        The DMCA already has provision for mandatory copy control on video devices, and has special allowances for selling used older devices. The idea is to hide the fact that you're fucked until all of your devices are compliant.

    • Unlike the DMCA, there actually seems to be alot of opposition this time.

      We may have a decent chance of winning this one...

  • If this passes, we can all kiss Linux goodbye. I have already written all my Reps in Congress, the Senate and Fritz Hollings who is the writer of this bill, expressing my displeasure at this new assault on my Fair Use Rights. I don't think it will do any good, considering the Justice Dept now catagorizes Hackers as a Terrorist Threat.

    • Or use it anyway, in willing violation of an unjust law. If this passes I'll get a Linux box, just because.
    • I've said this before, but I thought it was worth bringing up again here...

      You can send a fax to all of your congressmen via even easier than you can send an email. If you go to, at the bottom of the page you will see an option to fax your congressmen. It will figure out who they are based on your physical address and fax them whatever content you enter into the web form.

      I don't want to repost the whole thing here, but I posted [] the letter that I wrote to my congressmen regarding the SSSCA and the other recent oppressive IP legislation. If you're writing a letter to your congressmen, you might use it for fodder.
  • by tester13 ( 186772 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:43AM (#2373605) Homepage
    I understand the issues of building copy controls into hardware. Unfortunately my friends and family do not. Is it possible to explain this to someone in a non alarmist manner (not the MS/the Govt will control all your data)? The only way I can think to explain it is by giving an overview of low level languages, current copy protection schemes, etc.

    How do you explain this to your Mom?
    • by Tim Doran ( 910 ) <timmydoran&rogers,com> on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:54AM (#2373666)
      Explain it to your mom the same way you explained the chilling implications of the DMCA.

      And unfortunately, you can expect to be just as effective in getting her excited about stopping the bill.

      This is scary as hell - because these initiatives are difficult to explain to consumers, it may be impossible to stop them. Voter apathy has never had such potential to rot the country from the inside out. Soon, any business big enough to afford a good lobbyist can expect to have their business plan protected by law.
    • Easy (Score:4, Informative)

      by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:16PM (#2373768) Homepage Journal
      How do you explain this to your Mom?

      Hi, mom.
      Congress is considering a law that will make copying anything illegal. Taping shows from TV, copying songs to your Sony Minidisc, burning CDs, making backups of software, moving eBooks from your PC to your PDA, and a whole lot more won't be illegal but will be impossible because all computers and devices that will be made once the law is passed will explicitly ban it. Welcome to my nightmare.
      • If we can spin this to Joe Citizen as
        "Congress is looking at a new bill that will make it illegal to tape TV shows",
        we could create enough of an uproar that at least Joe C will be aware of this bill.

        Even if your mom hears "The bill doesn't make it illegal to tape TV shows, it will just make it more difficult", Mom's not gonna be happy to see it pass.

        No need for the media companies to be the only capable PR flacks; I'll let the end justify the means here :)
    • You could show people RMS's story The Right to Read []. It doesn't specifically relate to hardware-controlling laws though.
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:22PM (#2373789) Homepage
      • How do you explain this to your Mom?

      I don't see how you can put this without it sounding a little alarmist. Disney wants you to purchase a new TV, DVD, VCR/TiVo and cable decoder... that they will then control.

      Every time you place a DVD or VCR that you own or have rented in the devices that you bought, Disney will decide whether you are allowed to watch it, and how many times. Disney will decide whether you may tape shows to watch later, and how many times you can watch them, or when they will become unwatchable, or even if you can watch them at all.

      They will assume that you are a thief, and they will stop you from watching anything that you cannot absolutely prove that you have paid for. If there is any doubt, your screen will go blank, and you will have no right of reply, or opportunity to prove your innocence.

      And the best part is that they will make you pay for the new hardware that will enable this.

    • Here's a pithy way of expressing it:
      If this bill passes, in the future you will have to ask permission to read a book or listen to a song.
      But I think it's important to point out that the consquences of this attempt to steal the future are so dire, that it's impossible to actually BE an alarmist about this topic, simply because the coup They are trying to pull with this bill is so completely alarming.
  • is just one.

  • by atrowe ( 209484 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:43AM (#2373608)
    There's no reason to freak out about all this. Take off the foil hat and think reasonable-like for a minute. The SSSCA is *not* a law. It is a proposal put forth by a single (miguided) lawmaker. Literally *thousands* of worthless/unconstitutional legislation are proposed by congress every year. The vast majority of the time, the checks-n-balances system of our government keeps these proposals from getting put into the books. The system does work, and this piece of crap will end up getting thrown out just like all the other junk legislation.

    If you don't like the proposal, write your representative. Tell them how stupid and unconstitutional this is. Don't complain about how "The Man" is out to strip you of your rights. That won't accomplish anything.
    • by Verteiron ( 224042 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:50AM (#2373634) Homepage
      Funny. It didn't work on the DMCA. Maybe this isn't worth "freaking out" over, but to dismiss it as a piece of junk legislation that will be thrown out immediately is insane. The SSSCA does have a chance of passing, and unless there is a sizable outcry from the people, big corps like Disney, etc. can and will push this thing through.
      • Exactly. Remember, the politicians who wrote the DMCA could collect their kudos from the industry by getting it passed, not by making it stick.

        Congress is not afraid of passing an unconstitutional law, since there's always the Supreme Court to strike it down if necessary. Scary thought, isn't it? Especially when you consider that most sitting members of the Supremes were appointed by Reagan and Bush Sr. and at least two will retire in time for Dubya to replace them with new hand-picked right-wingers. This is your last defense against unconstitutional laws and it even costs *me* sleep, up here in Canada...
        • Republicans are funded by industry (Coke, oil companies, Ford, etc.), the Democrats are funded by lawyers and media companies. So, in the case of this law, Republicans would be more likely to appoint Supreme Court justices that will strike the SSSCA down than the Democrats.

          Furthermore, conservative judges tend to be strict constitutionalists (they've been striking down laws right and left not because they're bad laws, but because they are not permitted by the constitution. A recent example is a law against spousal abuse. Because it does not affect interstate commerce, they decreed that it was under state, rather than federal, jurisdiction). Liberal judges, otoh, tend to do more moral wrangling. Roe vs. Wade is a classic example of a liberal Supreme Court decision. Most of us are very happy with the outcome, but I think it's pretty obvious that the decision was was on exceedingly thin legal ground.

    • Really? Maybe you should get your head out of your ... never mind.

      The system of "checks and balances" originally envisioned hasn't worked for many many years. People are too stupid and too greedy. The "system" failed for the DMCA. The "system" has had no effect on the recent anti-terrorism laws -- passing in HOURS. And it will fail with this bullshit as well.

      This will be one more law people break with abandon. Of course, this one will be a lot harder to break with all the hardware manufacturers playing along.

      Short of a cue, none of this is ever going to change.
      • The "system" has had no effect on the recent anti-terrorism laws -- passing in HOURS.

        Huh? Ashcroft is still bitching that his laws haven't been passed yet. (Which don't mention encryption at all, BTW, though that's a frequent bugaboo of the /. crowd, myself included.)

  • by Styx ( 15057 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:45AM (#2373615) Homepage
    This battle might actually be interesting. Which industry has the best most influence on .us politicians?
    It looks like [] Hollywood contributes more to the coffers of the political parties.
    Let's just hope the Electronics Industry and Comsumers win this one.
  • by Rev.LoveJoy ( 136856 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:49AM (#2373631) Homepage Journal
    I love this quote.

    "This is the best way to protect America's valuable creative works, which in turn will expand broadband access and Internet use,"

    That's funny. Now, I could have sworn that the internet came to be the world-altering sucess it is today due to open standards and a lack of control. But hey, who knows, maybe I just need to go take my soma and follow the MPAA/RIAA party line? yeah.

    - Cheers,
    - RLJ

    • Translation: "This is the best way to protect my paycheck."
      • by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:30PM (#2373820)
        And because it is his paycheck on the line, I suggest that we geeks need to take a good look at what we've done so far in this matter. After all, every time we've gone to the movies, bought a DVD or VHS new, watched TV, bought a major-label-(or-minor-label-affiliate)-produced CD new, or purchased merchandise which was co-branded or licensed, we have helped fund the very corporations that are working to destroy a free America and turn it into privately owned fiefdoms. It's not just a question of which representative do we write to, but how do we change our lives (and our culture) so that these corporations become unprofitable?

        I found it amusing as I've listened to Governor Bush's Sept. 20th address before Congress, that he describes Afghanis as the first victims of Al-Qaida and the Taliban. He even mentions that in Afghanistan you can be jailed for owning a television. Welcome to the next USA, where you can own a television, but will be jailed if the television you own is not State Approved.
      • This is the best way to protect America's valuable creative works

      Yup. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I actually like to pay for quality content - even though I no longer have to. Also I like to leech, watch and discard bad content, because I know that deep down, it bothers some weasel in an expensive suit who's actually convinced himself that if my only choice was to have paid for it I would have done so.

      Perhaps the biggest mistake we make is to watch, rent and buy appalingly shoddy and cynical movies and albums. If we only supported good content, maybe we'd get our message across. At the moment, all we're saying is that we're big dumb walking wallets who will spend a fixed amount of money on the least-bad content offered to us.

      So, the next time you go to the movies and there's nothing good on, consider seeing nothing. It'll cleanse your soul.

  • United we stand... (Score:2, Informative)

    by bacontaco ( 126431 )
    If there's one thing we've learned this past month, it's that we must stick together. As computer users, we must stand together on this issue. This includes writing your state representatives in the U.S. Congress and Senate, since they will ultimately be deciding the fate of this bill.

    Write Your Representative []
    Write Your Senator []

    Keep our rights alive!
  • by alecto ( 42429 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:51AM (#2373645) Homepage
    1. Buy lots of upper mid-end PC's with CD burners right now.

    2. Support this legislation and await its passage.

    3. Rake in the money selling "r@r3 pre-ban computers with CD-R drives" on eBay based on the grandfathering in section 101.

    4. (optional) Spend the money you made to vacation somewhere and reminisce about the day when information wanted to be free.

  • "This is the best way to protect America's valuable creative works, which in turn will expand broadband access and Internet use," said Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

    Such as 'Driven,' 'Spy Kids,' or any of the other facile, intellectually insulting drivel these people put out on a predictable basis? Seeing this constant stream of unadulterated crap described as "valuable creative work" makes me almost as nauseous as watching the stuff in the first place!

    Flamer Disclaimer: Yes, yes, yes. I know I don't have to watch it. Easy, cheap date for the wife/kids, though.
  • OK, the bill and all the other hype specifies a "digital device". So why doesn't someone just design some sort of "interface" that connects to the digital source and simply converts the digital signal to some (probably yet-to-be-invented) "high-speed" analog signal. This analog signal then would be input to the DVR or set-top box, and converted back to digital. The conversion would just have to be fast enough to "keep up" with the digital speed.

    That way, the input to PVR or set-top box would be analog thus exempting it from the legislation.

    Whatcha think?
    • would that not be technology designed to circumvate this so called copyright technology?

    • That doesn't protect you for a variety of reasons, some obvious, some requiring research:

      1. Analog devices can perform operations on digital information. Modems use different tones to stand in for different bits, same principle.

      2. The definition from SSSCA 109(3)

      INTERACTIVE DIGITAL DEVICE. -- The term "interactive digital device" means any machine, device, product, software, or technology, whether or not included with or as part of some other machine, device, product, software, or technology, that is designed, marketed or used for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, storing, retrieving, processing, performing, transmitting, receiving, or copying information in digital form.

      Consider a device composed of paper and pencil and a human mind. I personally use this for the primary purpose of "storing, retrieving, processing, performing, transmitting, receiving, or copying information in digital form." The only reason I wouldn't is brain damage. I don't *think* they'd go so far as to admit that their definition covers my Turing Complete mind, because literal thought control is not something they would admit to... but that's a matter of PR, not of clear verbal distinctions which have correspondingly obvious distinctions in the world.

      You can certainly object that neurons are analog, because that's a common view (political reality is mostly based on that sort of thing anyway) but the more time I spend studying neuro-psych the less I tend to agree with that. Neurons are fundamentally on/off devices which simulate analog with firing rates variation.

      Hmmm... I was going to add more, but this probably covers it. I'll leave the rest of the reasons "as an exercise for the reader" :)

      "Memory is theft, memory is impossible, memory is liberty" --My paraphrase of Proudhon

  • by kryzx ( 178628 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:58AM (#2373679) Homepage Journal
    Bruce Schneier [] (of Counterpane []) does a good job of sticking up for our rights on this one. He's really been doing a good job of getting the message out. Most articles on this kind of stuff have some good quotes from him. He's a consistent voice of reason. Kudos, Bruce.
    • For those of you in Minnesota following this stuff, there is a lecture series on copyright law, the DMCA, the SSSCA, and related issues at the University of Minnesota. Bruce Schneier is one of the speakers:
      • October 4: Dan Burk [] , U of M law professors and an expert on intellectual property law (This Thursday!) More info []
      • October 17: John Logie of the University of Minnesota's Department of Rhetoric
      • November 8: Bruce Schneier of Counterpane Internet Security, author of Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World

      We plan to make audio and maybe video of the talks available online for those of you who aren't in MN. Perhaps Slashdot will carry a link when it's available.

      For more info, check out the Minnesotans for Fair Copyright [] mailing list.
  • by mmacdona86 ( 524915 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @11:58AM (#2373680)
    Having the consumer electronics folks against this is good, since they have a well-funded lobby (though it may not be as influential as the MPAA). That's what will slow down this kind of bad legislation. The best way to keep the consumer electronics folks on the right side of this is consumer education: if we geeks can inform the masses about content controls and convince them that they should avoid devices that contain them it could stiffen the consumer electronics manufacturers resistance. DVD enthusiasts made Divx smell like dogsh*t to the masses and prevented it from being widely adopted. But the manufacturers will only resists content controls for as long as they think it will cost them money.
    • Right. But in a wag-the-dog scenario, the entertainment industry (with huge lobbying budgets and relatively modest economic significance) is pushing through laws that will have huge effects on telecom, consumer electronics and high tech (with relatively modest lobbying budgets and massive economic significance).

      The best we can hope for is an upswing in lobbying efforts by high-tech organizations. That *might* counter this bill, but just means more lobbying by groups defending their business.

      What is really required is a massive, permanent lobbying effort by EFF and other civil rights organizations. Too bad it'll never be within their financial reach.
    • Having the consumer electronics folks against this is good, since they have a well-funded lobby (though it may not be as influential as the MPAA). That's what will slow down this kind of bad legislation.

      Unless they cut a deal with the MPAA, getting other concessions for their lack of opposition. Just think, the MPAA could ban all of those BAD foreign components that didn't have the joint CEIA/MPAA seal of approval, which takes many years of verification to receive due to its rigorous nature. Of course, American manufacturers (and their South Asian partners) get first crack at being tested.

      Don't think something like this can happen? This is business. The electronics industry isn't in this for free speech or any other such ideological crap. As long as they can keep making a buck, they're happy.

    • by sterno ( 16320 )
      Divx didn't fail because DVD enthusiasts made it look bad, it failed because ultimately consumers didn't want to watch movies in the way that the Divx backers had envisioned. The miscalculation was that consumers would be okay with the notion of something they buy but don't actually own. This concept was confusing, complex, privacy invading, and pointless.

      The reason I make this point is that I think this is an inappropriate comparison to what we are looking at with this new potential law. Here we see the possibility of a choice being made for consumers by politicians and their lobbyist backers. Trying to explain this stuff to the average consumer is difficult because it is somewhat abstract. They will say that the media producers have the right to make money from what is rightfully theirs and it's okay for the government to support that with legislation. When they have no choice but to pay per view, they'll go with the only choice they have and likely not think twice about it. Perhaps I'm just too ravingly cynical but I don't think an appeal to the people is going to be terribly effective here.
    • Except that some of them [] are on both sides [] themselves - and choose the user-hostile route every time.
    • Divx smelled like dogshit without any help from "DVD activists", who did little more than excite themselves (not that there's anything wrong with that...). Hardly anyone else noticed. But practically everyone noticed that Divx offered them less, for more. That's why it died.
  • > "This is the best way to protect America's valuable creative works, which in turn will expand broadband access and Internet use," said Jack Valenti

    Lemme get this straight - locking down all consumer hardware, banning the PC, and doing it all to prevent people from getting any use out of P2P networks for file-sharing.

    So - in order to "expand broadband access", we not only kill Napster (which was arguably the "killer app" that drove people to demand broadband access at home) - we also now want to kill the PCs on which any application can run.

    Well, I suppose if nobody uses broadband for themselves, that leaves more dark fiber available to Hollyweird.

    But it smacks a little too much of "we had to destroy the village to save it" for my tastes.

    (Of course, we all know this is exactly what Jack wants. To which I say "Fuck you, Jack. Fuck you with a wire brush. You and your partner in oligopoly, Ms. Rosen, are cordially invited to tongue my hot sweaty bag.")

    I was half-joking when I suggested scouring the surplus shops for spare PCs to last us through the coming Dark Ages. I'm no longer joking. If your "new PC" budget is $2000, don't buy a $2000 PC. Buy four $500 PCs - with non-CPRM hard drives, flashable-firmware DVD-ROMs, and CD/RWs. Because the hardware you buy over the next 2 years may very well have to last you the rest of your life.

    Fuck you, Jack.

  • by glebite ( 206150 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:02PM (#2373695)

    Hey kids - you know that stealing and breaking the law is a bad thing? I thought you did. So, here's how you can do the right thing and win a prize. If you tell M*ck*y what movies, music, or game your parents have copied, we'll send you a prize!


  • Actual Information (Score:3, Informative)

    by mosch ( 204 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:06PM (#2373711) Homepage has the full text of the bill here []. Check it out.
  • If this ridiculous piece of legislation is passed, it could being to erode the US's competitiveness on the world market. Here in Britain, we will be able to continue to run Linux and 'non-approved' devices such as (gasp) PCs which we have built ourselves, which will make things much easier for businesses (and consumers) than it would be over there. If such a law was passed here, no one would take much notice anyway. We've got bigger problem at the moment (eg stopping an attack on the Square Mile).

    Haven't your maggots (er, politicians) got bigger things on their plate too?
    • Usually the way this goes is:

      1) US Congress signs unconstitutional law into existance (See DMCA.)

      2) US Pressures other WTO countries into signing treaties making these laws pertain to their own homelands.

      3) US Supreme court declares the law unconstituional.

      4) Other countries are now stuck supporting IP laws which help keep them in the information economy third world.

      So you see, this is actually an evil plan to fuck the rest of the world over and maintain the US technical edge.

    • considering how fast Britain adopts policy created in the US, I wouldn't be so smug.

      you can bet your ass corporation will push this in Britain. I would be surprised if there not doing so right now under some other guise.
  • by mosch ( 204 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:15PM (#2373762) Homepage
    Section 107 provides an Antitrust Exemption, allowing exemption of antitrust laws! (first section of the Clayton Act)

    Don't let free software get destroyed by this clause, which seems obviously bought and paid for by Microsoft!

  • Has it been introduced to the Senate yet? And if so, what's the bill number? Useful information to have when bitching to your Senators.
  • by coats ( 1068 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:18PM (#2373776) Homepage
    I am a mathematician and computer scientist (PH.D., MIT 1978). I am writing to you to express my vehement opposition to the "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act" (SSSCA), a bill drafted by Senators Ernest Hollings (SC) and Ted Stevens (AL). I urge you in the strongest possible terms to oppose this bill. There are four reasons for my opposition:

    1. It represents a serious threat to the national security and the well-being of the United States;
    2. Its provisions are outrageously un-Constitutional;
    3. It represents poor public policy, advancing a narrow corporate interest against the interests of the public at large; and
    4. It is (deliberately) over-broad and unconscionably vague in its provisions, particularly as regards its definition of "digital device".
    These points, as well as changes I think are needed in current copyright law, are more fully discussed below A. Introduction.
    The Constitution requires that copyright term be limited. From this point of view, the current copyright law is no less than a Constitutional outrage. Triply so: From a theoretical point of view, if Congress is free retroactively to extend copyright term at will (as it has repeatedly done in this century), then copyright term fails to fit the definition of "limited". From an operational point of view, a copyright law that has been repeatedly extended so that no works have actually made it or will make it into the public domain during my entire adult lifetime, both past and future, is a copyright law that fails the operational definition of "limited". And finally, in human terms, a copyright term that extends more than a lifetime after the death of the author fails the definition of "limited" on the human scale. It has been argued that this extension of copyright encourages authorship. Such an argument is purely specious: it is impossible that an author already 50 years dead can be encouraged to produce further works by the extension of his copyrights for another twenty years.

    B. Discussion
    1. National Security: First of all, this bill is a serious threat to the national security of the United States. The reason for this is as follows: Both the Internet and digital computers have become critical to the continued security and prosperity of the United States. This bill, by outlawing all digital equipment that does not " include and utilize certified security technologies" would have the de facto effect of outlawing all software and computers except those from a few large corporate sources--particularly, the effect of outlawing so-called "Open Source" software such as the Linux operating system and the Apache web-server, which are distributed in human readable and modifiable form. What would remain is exactly the systems and software which have shown themselves most vulnerable to attack: virtually all of the disruptive "virus" and "worm" attacks of the last five years have been made possible by defects in the inherent design of Microsoft operating system, server, and email and application software. The computer-security situation is so serious that earlier this week the very staid Gartner Group management consulting firm issued a warning recommending that their clients immediately remove Microsoft internet server software and replace it with products from other vendors such as Apache and IPlanet (see 034). A year ago, the US National Security Agency concluded that it was impossible to make Microsoft systems sufficiently secure for sensitive applications, and constructed an especially secure configuration of the Linux operating system for that purpose (see The SSSCA would make Apache and Linux illegal.

    2. Un-Constitutionality: The SSSCA, with its absolutist protection for "security technologies" is an affront to the Constitutional provision for copyright. The Constitution grants Congress the power to establish a LIMITED monopoly,

    To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
    against whose conditions the SSSCA is an outrage. The SSSCA admits no limit on the term of protection it espouses. Nor does it make any provision for fair use. In its original 1823 decision establishing the doctrine of fair use, the Supreme Court stated that Congress may make no copyright law so strict as to deny freedom of speech nor freedom of the Press. The SSSCA violates this Constitutional requirement also.

    3. Poor public Policy: The Founding Fathers did not regard "intellectual property" as a natural right, but rather as a limited legislated monopoly which was of benefit to society as a whole _if managed properly_. They had had relatively recent experiences with both no-copyright situations and with permanent Crown monopolies on publishing (and, sadly, they tended to be better versed in history than many are today.) They knew that copyright was of greatest benefit to society at large if it offered a quid pro quo: in exchange for a temporary monopoly on copying, the authors must pass their works into the public domain--the property of all of us--at the expiration of the limited term. This bargain has already been brought to the breaking point by current copyright law,e specially the DMCA; the SSSCA breaks it completely. It is purely and specifically for the narrow benefit of a few large publishing houses who fear that digital technology will break both their stranglehold on the authors and music-writers and their captivation of the public at large. (Note that the SSSCA's provision for setting "standards" has the effect of freezing out both writers and the general public.)

    4. Over-breadth and Vagueness: Finally, Sen. Hollings himself has admitted in interviews with Wired magazine that the provisions are deliberately vague, in order to get a bill passed with provisions that may be applied far more broadly than Congress intends or believes reasonable. Congress should not permit itself to be so deceived.

    C. Needed Copyright Reforms.
    There are reforms that do need to be made in copyright law; let me suggest that any copyright bill should be amended to include at least the following:

    • Section 105 should be amended so as include not only "any work of the United States Government" but also all laws -- Federal, State, and local -- in the public domain. (Note that some trade associations have had local and state governments adopt their copyrighted codes as public laws, while still maintaining a copyright upon them. As a matter of public policy, the law should not be owned by private interest groups.)
    • Section 107 should be amended so as to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. When a disabled person owns a copy of a copyright work which is by reason of disability inaccessible, it should be fair use to make an enhanced copy for private use, in order to make accomodation for that disability. Commercial publishers who use "technical means of protection" (as under the DMCA) or "certified security technologies" (under the SSSCA or its ilk) should be required to publish enhanced copies for the accomodation of persons with disabilities, at the same price that they sell un-enhanced copies.
    • Fraudulent claim of copyright should be a crime punishable at least as severely as copyright infringement. Fraudulent claim of copyright steals from the patrimony of us all. Such fraudulent claim of copyright is rampant in at least the classical music publishing industry. And since the record of the last decade shows that the Department of Justice cannot be relied upon to prosecute copyright offenses, and since it steals from us all, any member of the public should have standing for civil suit against such fraud.

    D. Conclusion
    You have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Copyright law should be returned to its Constitutional limits.

  • by j7953 ( 457666 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:25PM (#2373796)

    This law, if it passes, will make impossible any real innovation in software development or networking technology. This would harm not only OEMs and other computer companies, it would harm the complete industry.

    I don't even think Microsoft will like it. Sure, it might be a temporary advantage for them, as their Media Player already includes usage control technology. But what about their long-term visions []? I wonder how they'll implement things like seamless distribution or storage- and location-irrelevance while at the same time making sure that the data stays where the RIAA wants it.

    What does IBM think about this bill? They invested a lot of money in Linux, what do they think about Linux becoming illegal?

    Sun's vision -- "The network is the computer" -- will effectively be impossible to realize if you can't store data "on the network" but must control where exactly it is.

    In fact, the SSSCA denies the idea of a networked computer in favor of computers which are reduced to media player devices. The idea of being attached to a network is no longer communication, it is to be able to receive and pay for content. The media industry's vision is to turn computers into televisions, and this law is another step in making that vision a reality. I can imagine the RIAA and MPAA love the idea, but I have no idea why anyone in the computer industry (or any other industry) can support it.

    The article talks about OEMs, does anyone know what the other industries, and big computer corporations like the three mentioned above think about this bill?

    • What does IBM think about this bill? They invested a lot of money in Linux, what do they think about Linux becoming illegal?

      I'm not sure they'd mind terribly. They might figure that the SSSCA would expand the market for their government-approved AIX version. Likewise for Sun and Solaris. And here's a scary thought I just had: bytecode-based languages like Java could become a key tool for enforcement. Try to open an MP3 file, get a NoCopyrightAuthorizationException, and of course any tools which allowed you to directly access the bits on "your" computer would be illegal.

      The one company I would expect to be 100% opposed to this is Apple. Their "digital hub" strategy is based on being able to freely move data between different devices.

    • What does IBM think about this bill?
      Remember CPRM? That's what IBM thinks about this bill.


  • Any Big corporation that acts lame normally is doing so as a last resort.

    Look at ANY company you've seen (ok aside from microsoft :) ) that pissed off it's customers and imposed a shitload of restrictions and played dirty, it's always the same pattern, "we got f*cked because we didn't do any DD nor looked after what's out there simply because we assumed we were the best and had total control over the market..." now that they realize they sat on their success and thought they had the perfect eternal cash cow, they don't accept it and instead of INNOVATING to surpass that (because usually the manager are proud incompetent morons that have no clue about newer technologies), they are simply playing dirty on EVERY level they can.

    The only difference is now they still have a lot of cashflow and influence... If they would be fair, they'd developp a system WITH encryption and an honnor thing like you download the movie, you pay 2$, you watch it, it gets deleted or scrambled 48 hours later... what's bad about that? they generate a pile of money, they could sell that system to places like blockbusters, the technology exists, it's feasible (dvd-rw, cd-rw, whatever media), and people WOULD support it. Heck, I'd even support at 100% arresting someone who hacks these CD for a fraudulent usage because that would be really low, I do accept they have to generate income and protect their content, but not by doublecrossing us and limiting our use of a computer.

    Now shoving a bill and using criminal laws to shove content up our butt is quite insulting, and will get the exact opposed reaction.
  • Keep It Simple (Score:3, Redundant)

    by hysterion ( 231229 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:29PM (#2373815) Homepage
    First: pushing for even more drastic laws is certainly, in part, a tactic to draw pressure away from the DMCA. Let's not fall into this trap.

    Secondly: the problem is that the general public won't care unless they see how this will hurt concretely; for this, the question needs to be strippend down to its essentials, which are nontechnical.

    So let's do ourselves a favor. Forget all the beloved technical jargon we like to wrap these discussions in. Concentrate on something simple like email, which people know about, care for and roughly understand, and which already exhibits all aspects of the problem. Now publically ask Senators Hollings and Stevens and other backers of the proposal elementary questions like this:

    1) Any viewable item on a computer exists as a file -- a sequence of 0's and 1's stored in memory.

    2) e-mail is a popular device which allows to send (as attachment) a copy of any file to, completely independent of whether the copy is "legitimate" or not.


    • Are you opposed to email?
    • If not, then exactly how do you intend to prevent "illegitimate" uses of it, without invading everyone's privacy?

    • If Jack buys a copy of a song via the internet, it will be somehow linked to him or his hardware. If he mails it to Jill, it will not play on her hardware.

      When Jack plays the song, the decrypted version exists briefly in computer hardware. The intent of this law and associated technologies is to stop Jack from intercepting this decrypted information.

      Essentially the computer is divided into two compartments, Red and Black. Black can connect to the internet, and the user has complete control over Black. Red is secured. Black can stick protected material into Red, and delete material in Red. Black can list, play, pause, stop material in Red. Email is a function of Black. It has no effect on the security of Red.
  • (Please guys, hear me through before flaming or modding down.)

    Can someone please explain to me the exact portions of the bill that state that

    a) you will not be allowed to run linux
    b) you will not be allowed to build your own PC from commodity parts


    What I see is "unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies that adhere to the security system standards.". Which is basically saying that "if you want to have something that you can view multimedia on, it has to have built in digital copyright controls on it".

    So what you're saying is: "Hey, hell no we won't put such things into linux! .... Damn! now we can't use linux (to view videos or listen to music)" "Hell, I don't want to build a computer using those parts that have built in copy control ..... damn, now I can't build my own computer!"

    While I am not saying that this is a good thing, don't you think that you all are going just a wee bit over the deep end with the exaggerations on this one?

    Please tell me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that it is nearly as bad as you are claiming it to be. If linux were to implement these technologies (which, of course, the people who make linux would really, really, truly rather not do) then you could still use it. If you bought the hardware that conformed (which, btw, all hardware sold will so I don't see the argument there?) then you can still build your own computer.

    Now, with that aside, this "proposed" legislation is shitty for the customers, but why is it? If you think about it, they are not preventing us from doing anything that the majority of customers don't already do. Now let me qualify that. What you are legally allowed to do is buy something and watch it. What this prevents is piracy, which BTW is illegal anyways. Piracy in this case means viewing it when you're not allowed/making copies/etc. Yep, it sucks. However we always break these laws anyways.

    Oh, can someone please explain to me how the ability to copy a movie or music is a funamentally basic human right?

    In any case, as with all things, if this does get passed and these restrictions are put on, and if you don't like it, nobody is making you buy that movie or listen to that music ... Sure you like to, but it's not a necessity. As has been said before (that seems to fall on deaf ears), vote with your wallet. Don't buy that stuff that has the restrictions that you don't agree with. If people adapt this mentality, then 1 of 2 things will happen:

    1) the purchases of music/videos/etc will fall by the curb and the industries will be left scratching their heads going "wtf happened?"


    2) the majority of people won't care and will still continue to buy the new restricted stuff anyways, and, in the eyes of the corps, they will not have lost.

    Of course, if #2 happens then that means that you, my friends, are indeed in the minority and it's just because you want to illegally copy/pirate your stuff or get stuff for free, because the majority of people won't have seen a difference.

    however if #1 happens, then it will turn out that everything that you are saying is correct, and justice will take care of itself.

    Thus perhaps you should be putting your energies into the right place. If indeed this legislation does pass, (or even before it does), then lean on the same mechanisms that they use to promote this shit. Write your local newspapers. Create situations where this stuff truly is horrible. Tell your friends and neighbours. Put up billboards and posters. And certainly not the entire public are morons, they can see through shit, and if it is truly, absolutely horrible for the gross public then the gross public will respond.

    Is everyone aware here that there are 5,000 children dying every month in iraq from malnutrition? check out [] the list of the top 30 atrocities of the 20th century, some of which are still continuing. And there's more that happens every day, in front of you, that you're too desensitized to look at. There's homeless [] (up to 700,000 each night sleeping on the streets, begging for money during the day), and many others.

    Just a reminder that perhaps you guys with your DVD players and 28" televisions and well paying jobs and 1GHz+ computers might want to step back and take it all in perspective.

    And finally, talk is cheap. If you are seriously angered by this, that's GREAT, seriously, so do something about it. I don't agree with this type of legislation any more than you do, but yelling/overexaggerating about it on /. isn't going to accomplish anything. And I'm not really sure that sending emails/real mail to your congress is going to do anything either. Educate the public at large and you'll find out if either everyone thinks the same way, or if you are indeed just in the minority. If you can't get your mother and your computer illiterate significant other to get the least bit roused by this, the perhaps it isn't that big a deal after all.
    • The magic word is 'certified'. Linux will never be considered certified because it's open source nature will allow trivial disabling of any security which is included. So, even if Linus et al decide to include the required security protocols in Linux, they would be trivial to remove or circumvent. Most likly, general-purpose computing parts would also not be allowed. All of these technologies will be based upon security-by-obscurity because that is the only avenue available. Look at DVD's if you want to see how these technologies are implemented. As a result, public documentation and open source implementations will not be allowed. If they were, the whole thing would simply be a joke. Once again, see DVD's. Once the CSS algorithm became public knowledge, the protection simply falls apart. All such schemes rely upon obscurity. The proof is simple: the computer ultimately has to have access to the raw data for display purposes. If an end user can get unfettered access to the hardware, they can get unfettered access to the raw data and copy it. Such access will be controlled by restricting the API that an OS is allowed to export. As OS which allows unfettered access via a simple 'insmod', as Linux does, is not likely to be certified. In fact, computers as we know them are not likely to be certifed. A computer as we know it is a general-purpose device. Such general-purpose devices allow far too much access to data to ever meet any satisfactory definition of 'secure'. Your Tivo will be allowed. Your PC, which you could easily run unrestricted Tivo-like software on, will not.

      But of course, your point #2 simply reveals you as a simple troll. If the majority accepts the elimination of fair-use, then those of us who complain are criminals? Is that your point? Do you really think that all citizens can be grouped into A) Those who blindly accept any new restrictions place upon them and B) criminals?
      • I disagree.

        All of these technologies will be based upon security-by-obscurity because that is the only avenue available. Look at DVD's if you want to see how these technologies are implemented.

        DVD CSS did not inherently rely on STO. It was broken due to a bad, homemade cipher and the greedy decision to allow software implementations of a DVD player.
        The proof is simple: the computer ultimately has to have access to the raw data for display purposes.

        No it doesn't. The video hardware can do the MPEG decoding. It can do decryption too. The general purpose computer simply feeds data to the trusted subsystem. There is no need for the computer to have access to the decrypted data.

        This law is insanely broad and could well ban Linux. However it is quite possible to have strong, highly restrictive content control that works just fine with Linux. It's based on trusting hardware, not software.
  • Although it is an almost foregone conclusion that most of the U.S. Congress is more for sale than for principles, the larger majority will flee from passing anything that is brought to their attention as being probably unconstitutional or reducing valuable protections for Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, because let's face it: while what is good for Microsoft, Hollywood, etc. is in general good for the politicos in a few states (Washington, California, NY, etc.), folks across the rest of the country have representation as well -- enough to cause trouble with the desired agendas of the big companiers.

    Trouble is, the big players spend a lot of time and money figuring out how to package the lie in FUD and mis-direction so that the only issues brought up for debate favor passage -- which IIRC is exactly how the DCMA was snuck through. I (for one) would love to get my hands on a definitive and complete copy of the legislative history of how often and how in depth "constitutionality" and "freedom" were at issue in the committees and floor debate when the DCMA was slipped through.

    Best opportunity for us: get in touch en-masse with the representative branch of the US Gov'g with lucid, non-inflammatory communications that reference why the SSSCA and DCMA, etc. are in conflict with some of our most cherished rights (which do NOT include copyright theft, music or video piracy, by the way!), and get behind the EFF, etc. so that all of the issues are part of the debate.

    And without declaring allegience to either party, campaign finance reform was defeated by a very narrow margin by politicians who are very closely allied with the big companies. So pushing the campaign finance reform onto your representative's legislative agenda is not a bad idea either.

  • Greed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pslam ( 97660 )
    'If approved, the law would be enforceable under federal regulations and could dramatically alter the way system OEMs design and develop PCs, TVs, set-tops or other digital appliances with embedded microprocessors, according to industry sources familiar with the Hollings proposal. The motion-picture industry, with the Disney and Fox studios in the lead, backs the legislation.


    "greed (grd)

    n. An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth: "Many... attach to competition the stigma of selfish greed" (Henry Fawcett)."

    The industry neither needs nor deserves such a wide sweeping and damaging act. Perhaps we need to remind our respective governments just how little the entertainment industry makes to the GDP of a country. Such small corporations should not be destroying the freedoms of everyone else.

  • Goodbye USA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by palfrey ( 198640 )
    Glad no other country (AFAIK) is doing anything this stupid. If this goes through, then the computer manufacturers (and anyone else who doesn't want to have to put this crap in their systems) will simply have to make the hardware elsewhere. A black market will emerge in America for "non-SSSCA hardware" from the rest of the world.

    Can someone who's in the USA point this out to their senators, as the vote of a UK person doesn't go very far in America.....
  • In my idealistic view of the world, I can't see the harm in something done in private, alone, with material obtained through legal means, and without any impact on anything outside the privacy of your own home. This is what I believe copyright law should focus on - distribution, private use, and redistribution. The content creator/provider controls the distribution of material into your physical/virtual "home," law enforcement prevents unlawful redistribution, and you are left alone when in private and not affecting anyone else. Unfortunately, the push these days is to leave out that last part and jump directly from content control on the distribution link to redistribution prevention. Apparently all of these content creators/providers forgot that people pay for this content because they want to use it, not because they treat the entertainment industry like a charity.

    There is a trade-off here - the content creators are encouraged to produce content and make it public in some form, opening it to the possibility of unlawful distribution, while we can benefit from this content, but are in turn required by law to respect the creator's rights to control first sale distribution and in some cases derivative works. Recent laws seem to be taking away the potential for benefit from produced content while also enacting stricter regulations on and penalties for unlawful redistribution. In other words, creators/providers win on both counts, citizens/consumers lose on both counts.

  • by rjh3 ( 99390 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:44PM (#2373902)
    Just the reminder:
    1. DMCA - 300 letters,
    2. Health care privacy - 40,000
    3. Home Schooling - 500,000+
    Those physical letters count most. See the acm letter [] or the EFF [] for examples.

    Find your congressman and senators, write them letters, and mail them. Mail your own representatives. As a voter in their district you matter most to them. (Email is much less effective. They know about spam just like you do.) Whenever this issue moves into another stage (e.g., draft, committee, floor) write another.

    If you want handbooks, check out Congressional Quarterly. The book Lobbying Congress, How the system works is quite relevant, although perhaps disturbing to some. It was written by lobbyists for lobbyists. You will also get other relevant hits with a "lobbying congress" query on Amazon.

  • In Section 2 of the bill, Findings, there appears "[TO BE SUPPLIED]". In other words, they'll make the law first, then "find" the facts to support the law later.
  • Do you wanna know what's going to happen? Big companies (like HP and IBM) will stop production and research activities in US. The money they spend today in americans university will be spent in other countries universities, like Brazil, India or China. In US there will be only the offices, all the production will be done in foreing countries or foreign countries.

    The high-tech jobs will be discontinued, many will be fired out. All US will have to use Windows or OS/2 or another "new" OS that will probably be supported by the government.

    The technology research will be affected, no company will finance a research, because most of the money will go to the lawyers' hands. Meanwhile in other countries, where is much easier to develop technologies, the big corporations will finance more and more resarches and will help the development of know-how all over the world (all over the world but in US).

    The high geeks will leave US, the gurus will find better jobs in foreign countries, all technology production will leave US. Most of the FreeSoftware comunity will leave, and then, maybe one day, US will ban the internet.

    Much more horrible things might happen, this is just a few reactions. Let's wait to see what will happen.

    Maybe I'm beeing too pessimist, but at least 70% of all I have said will happen.

  • by Ethan Butterfield ( 7481 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:03PM (#2374056)
    The EFF has a large page on the SSSCA, complete with sample letters for your Congresscritters, and information on how to contact them. Check out the EFF Action Alert: Defeat the SSSCA [].

    We can stand around all day and yammer, but the more of us who write *and* call our Congressfolks, the more our voices are heard.
  • by gotan ( 60103 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:24PM (#2374177) Homepage
    Note how this (like the DMCA before) is aimed at the average consumer, and definitly not against criminals. It's aim is to make criminals out of anyone who wants to View/Copy/Transmit any piece of content in ways not approved by the RIAA and MPAA. This includes cutting out advertisement, playing a piece of Music as often, whereever, whenever, and to as large an audience and in as good a quality as you want. Also anyone who wants to create, market or distribute content (that is anyone possibly competing with established industry to make money from content) finds himself at a disadvantage: he has to pay license fees for encoding, probably needs to set up a huge infrastructure or again pay for the use of an infrastructure to distribute his content in the 'right way' (since he can't just distribute an mp3, but needs to provide servers to serve the 'keys' necessary to unlock his content), and generally has to build his business modell around some very rigid legislation and the technology it allows.

    Anyone who is ripping off and selling content in Volume won't be affected anyway. He is already engaged in criminal activity, using unauthorized soft/hardware is the least of his worries, and to believe this hardware/software wouldn't be available because of such legislation is just plain ridiculous. Probably directions how to remove the copyprotection will be available all over the net, like it was with disabling DVD-Region-Codes.

    What is happening is, that the Record- and Movie Industries want their old business protected by laws. But the internet and the digital representation of content have already changed the world, and change always means hard times for established business, but it also means opportunities for new business. Adhering to the old ways means leaving out these opportunities, and if the USA as a country choose not to use these opportunities, they may find, that other countries are not willing to do so for the sake of Disney.

    This is a lot like legislating that every car has to have a horse running in front of it after the event of the Otto motor, just to ensure, that all the industry around horses doesn't go out of business. I think even the USA can't afford to abandon the technological progress the new media will bring, and these laws will only help to establish the old industry for the next 10 years or so, at the cost of halting progress on that sector for about the same time.
  • Moore's Law (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:31PM (#2374219) Homepage
    You know, this new regulation will stop Moore's Law cold. People will no longer want to buy new, restricted computers; instead, those old Pentium 4 2 GHZs will be in hot demand. There'll be no other way to display your content. Demand for new machines will drop, and the funds for research will no longer be there.

    Ever since a Federal law was passed in 1994 banning certain features in new or imported guns, there has been a brisk market in "pre-ban" weapons; expect a similar situation in the computer market.

    This should be really fun when computers get fast enough to run virtual machines that can decode MPEG. How's the hardware going to tell if you're viewing restricted content when the viewing operation isn't even in the same machine code?
    • How's the hardware going to tell if you're viewing restricted content when the viewing operation isn't even in the same machine code?

      The content will be encrypted. Only the trusted hardware (video card) can decrypt it. The virtual machine doesn't help any if the content is encrypted and you don't have the decryption keys.
  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:10PM (#2374482)
    I am currently building up an anti-SSSCA task force in the Washington D.C. area. So far things are just restricted to swapping emails, and planning to meet at the Open Source conference in DC on October 10. Anyone who wants to help and can offer something useful (Political connections, previous experience, legal advice, etc.) feel free to send me an email (supabeastatsupabeastdotorg.). Please no random "I want to help but can't offer anything other than writing letters." emails, as I am a bit short on time right now!
  • ...I'll have a little fun with this and write a letter to each US states' congressman, telling them how delighted I am that the US restricts innovation of its IT industry and freedom of its citizens, using methods that are unconstitutional in my country and thus making sure that my country will gain an advantage over US research & corporations... :-)
    • Re:As a German... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:24PM (#2375018) Homepage
      [In case anybody cares, here's my letter. I'll fact it to the offices of all US senators tonight. May help, may not, let's see.]

      I am a computer scientist and the owner of an IT company.

      It has come to my attention that the United States have recently passed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which - to summarize it broadly - makes it illegal to circumvent copy protection devices such as the DeCSS algorithm, used for DVD video.

      As a result, many previously lawful uses of digital media which used to be considered "fair use" have been seriously restricted for average consumers in the United States. Despite the protests of computer scientists, media professionals and consumer groups within and outside the United States, these horrifying consequences of the DMCA have come in effect today and first arrests have been made against software developers who do research on decryption. Already, non-American computer professionals have begun avoiding visiting US conferences because their perfectly legal work at home is considered illegal in the US and may lead to an arrest there.

      Now, the United States are preparing an even stricter law. The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), proposed by Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina, will require all future "digital devices" to include a content control mechanism certified by the US government. This mechanism will allow the creators of audiovisual digital content to control when, where and how often a consumer may use digital media. As a consequence of SSSCA, un-certified hardware and software will become unlawful.

      The implications of the SSSCA would be incredible. As an example, in a few years, a buyer of a DVD will not "own" the movie he bought, only the right to watch it a limited time. He will not be allowed to watch it outside his country's region (circumventing DVD region encoding is already semi-illegal under the DMCA today). "Fair use" for private, educational or research purposes will not exist anymore. Consumers will not be allowed to make backups of the digital media they own. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

      Building computers from scratch will be illegal. Research on these aspects in Universites and Colleges will be illegal. Open Source Software such as Linux, a primary part in IT education and a major force in the industry, will be illegal.

      As a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany, I should probably care less.

      In fact, as a computer professional, I should even be glad that the US stifles innovation for its IT professionals, because it will help my country's industry to gain an advantage over US corporations. The combination of DMCA and SSSCA will seriously hurt the American IT industry and the American computer science education. The implications of these two laws are unconstitutional and will put lasting restrictions on the liberties of US citizens, who are the consumers of digital audiovisual media.

      The German government has already made clear that it will not allow such restrictions to be imposed unto its citizens. Considering this, I'm glad not to live or work as a computer professional in the United States these days.

      However, as a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, it saddens me to see the United States of America going this path into such a bleak future, taking essential liberties away from its citizens and putting full control into the hands of media corporations.

      I urge you to oppose the SSSCA and I ask you to remove the DMCA, in the interest of US citizens and in the interest of the international community of computer professionals.


      Hanno Müller
  • ...maybe we'll start reading again.

    Naaahhhh. America's been turned into a nation of sheep.
  • I see a Future... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GTRacer ( 234395 ) <gtracer308@[ ] ['yah' in gap]> on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:22PM (#2375001) Homepage Journal
    I don't think this will affect any of us in the next 5 years or so, even if the mere discussion of it is chilling.

    What I see is a future in, say, 25 years, where I'm teaching my grandson how to disable the copy controls in our State-supplied EntBox so we can watch old DVD-format movies I had in the attic. I'm teaching him how to shield the GPS trackers in his car (serviceable ONLY at State centers) so he can go to Bible Study/IP Revolution meetings. I'm teaching him how to run an ancient PC we keep buried and wrapped in lead to prevent its detection.

    Dammit, I should be teaching him how to fish.

    Listen, I'm not a super-paranoid individual, but I honestly see the potential, years down the road, where we've lost our IP freedoms bit by bit until we don't remember what fair use was...

    - I don't remember signing anything...

    • Remember you gotta teach him how to use his non-state sponsored toaster, as well. Using unlisenced toast (patent #1234354325432437432) in a sponsored toaster will be considered a terrorist offense, punishable by beheading.

      And it will probably be illegal to even have a bible.

  • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @04:29PM (#2375443) Homepage
    First off, the bill ain't going to pass this session. That is in nobody's interest, or at least in no senators inerest. Before they allow a bill like that to pass or be defeated they want to squeeze the industries concerned to see how much in the way of campaign contribution bribes they can extort from each side.

    I recomend that slashdot have a counter going showing the amount of the bribes accepted by various senators from the media industry. And yes, they are bribes pure and simple.

    Second point is that the IT industry can't comply with the bill if it wanted to. There are many working groups that have been developing DRM standards - MPEG, IETF-DRM, XACML and others. Lack of interest has not been the problem, the difficulty of converging the technology is very high.

    In particular the incompetence of the USPTO which has granted thousands of spurious patent claims in the area prevents a workable agreement being reached. There are too many overlapping rights to build a workable system without a serious risk of being sued. This despite the fact that there is prior art for paractically all the technologies.

    Legislative fiat will not speed up the technology efforts, in fact they will retard the process. The manufacturers know that if they call the studios bluff and refuse to agree that they can play out the end game in the law courts for decades.

    The best way to derail the effort is by reminding congress of the lies they were fed to pass the DMCA. Even Orin Hatch has realized he was had. In particular the clause introduced by the recording industry that tried to grab the returned rights of recording artists was so eggergious that Congress repealled it without demanding fresh bribes.

    Also the comparison should be continually to the demands made when recording technology first became mass market. The publishers fought to prevent cassette tape and the VCR from being sold - and lost conclusively.

    At the end of the day the recording industry has nowhere near the influence of the computer industry. Quite a few computer companies have revenues greater than those of all the recording companies and film studios combined.

    Congress is not about to severely damage its most successful industry by far in order to protect an industry that is far from struggling.

  • How will industrial factories be affected by this? Will industrial machine control systems be required to contain MPAA/RIAA-approved hardware and software? (Yes; Geeks always use industrial machines to pirate music.)

    How will medical systems be affected by this? Will every computerized medical device contain MPAA/RIAA-approved hardware and software? (Yes; Geeks always use medical devices to pirate music.)

    How will the automotive industry be affected by this? Will emissions control computers be required to contain MPAA/RIAA-approved hardware and software? (Yes; Geeks always use their distance-speed sensor to pirate music.)

    How will NASA be affected by this? Will new satellites be required to contain MPAA/RIAA-approved hardware and software? (Yes; Geeks have always pirated music through Voyager II.)

    How will airlines be affected by this? Will new flight control systems and air traffic control towers be required to contain MPAA/RIAA-approved hardware and software? (Yes; Geeks use box-cutters to pirate music through airline communication systems.)

    How will handheld calculators be affected by this? Will calculators be required to contain MPAA/RIAA-approved hardware and software? (Yes; Real Geeks have always computed the MPEG encoding manually.)

    I have a better solution: Let's just have sensors with satellite-phone transmitters installed directly in our brains. These sensors will contact the gestapo whenever we think about viewing or listening to content without first paying the copyright holder for each instance.

    CONGRESS.SYS corrupt. Reboot Washington DC? (Y/n)

APL hackers do it in the quad.