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Tech Heavyweights and the SSSCA 225

Keith Russell writes: "Looks like Sen. Hollings' uphill climb just got a little bit steeper. The Computer Systems Policy Project, a trade group which includes IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Compaq, Dell, and Motorola, has officially stated their opposition to the SSSCA, calling it "an unwarranted intrusion by the government." The ZDNet article also indicates that Big Media isn't quite behind it themselves. Disney's support is well-documented, and Fox seems to like it, but AOL Time Warner and the MPAA, while keen to the idea, don't like this bill in particular." Read the entire article - not supporting this proposal "in its current form" is not very strong opposition.
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Tech Heavyweights and the SSSCA

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  • they can honestly expect to be able to force people using only Free software (like the Debian distro) to run/not run certain software. Surely this will require a change in several laws (including the First Amendment)? Can anyone please explain how this bill will affect Free software users?
  • At last there is some real opposition to SSSCA, us simple geeks can't fight this war alone...
  • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:38AM (#2465824) Journal
    If you're a USA citizen, you might try emailing your congressional representatives with your opinions. Snail mail used to be considered more valuable, but recently Congress [] staff members have been encouraging email use.
    • by xmedar ( 55856 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @12:10PM (#2466051)
      Or email your CEO with a nice prepared bit on how it's going to hurt your corporation including how much money it will take from the bottomline or some approximate guess, all he has to do is forward that to your congressman that would do far moregood,if they add up it will cost the country $XXX BN then that is more effective that you telling them how bad it is to live in a totalitarian state.
    • Send it via Fax, too. Make sure you have your return fax phone number and your address on the header so they know that you are from their district.
    • Last time I wrote my Senator (Stevens BTW), regarding the SSSCA, I got a nice letter in return thanking me, expressing his concern about the events of September 11th, and that he pledged not to let those events affect our civil liberties too much. Either his staff is just scanning for keywords, or I forgot to include a check.
    • If you're a USA citizen, you might try emailing your congressional representatives with your opinions.

      No! Please don't do this. Congressional representatives get enough opinions as it is. Send your reprentatives facts which support your opinion. We can only hope that she or he will ignore the opinions of the uninformed public (which would probably support the SSSCA) and instead get the facts from those who know them, and then make his or her own opinion as to what is best for the country as a whole.

      Exercise your opinion at the polls. Your opinion as to which candidate is going to do the best for this country (or for you if you're the selfish type). Between elections let your representative do the job he or she was elected to do. If your representative wants opinions, your representative will seek them out, either through polls or through special panels.

      The exception of course is for the lower level officials who you can get to know on a person to person basis. But anonymous letters from some anonymous concerned citizen likely go straight into the trash (after some poor worker checks it for anthrax).

  • Wow, Slashdot opposes it, And now Microsoft does too?

    The two Probably oppose it for entirely different reasons, but Politics sure do make for strange bedfellows....
    • Actually, my reading of the article is that Microsoft and ./ oppose this for the same reasons:

      1) it interferes with the first amendment; there are court precedents which define source code as protected speech, and others which say that it is not. Guess which definition most of ./ likes?

      2) best case: it would force the industry to design all of their technology to meet a certain standard, without any compelling, clear and present danger to public safety or the economy, or else,

      3) the government would step to design the technology, and thereby interfere with the free market.

      Basically, it is another in a long line of corporate protection/welfare measures which our economic and political system is said to oppose.
    • In this case, I think we and Microsoft oppose it for pretty much the same reasons. We both want to be able to do whatever we want with our own shit.

      Granted, MS certainly tends to try to force others to do what they (ms) want as well, but the only reason that's wrong is that they (like the government) are in the position to succeed in forcing others to comply (or, at least, make it quite painful not to comply).

  • Our Rights (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tradez ( 413137 )
    This is definately an important issue for all slashdotters. If the federal government can step in an enforce this kind of ruling, the domino's will fall my friends. These types of steps are simply Uncle Sam dangling his feet in the waters of intrusive actions, and if allowed to go forth, he will dive right in.
  • I wouldn't put it past Hollings to try to slip this through as an amendment to antiterror legislation. RIAA has already tried this.
    • I wouldn't put it past Hollings to try to slip this through as an amendment to antiterror legislation. RIAA has already tried this.

      It's rather humorous to read the RIAA's take on this []. Of course considering the source, I tend to believe the "trying to add an amendement" side of things.


  • From the article:

    This legislation would be an unwarranted intrusion by the government into the commercial marketplace," said Ken Kay, executive director of the Computer Systems Policy Project, a trade group that includes IBM, Intel, Dell Computer, Motorola and others as members. "This would freeze technology...(and) force government to pick winners and losers".

    As much as big corporations like to protect their IP, corporations also resent the government telling them what to do. So this puts up an interesting question: What do big corporatons want more, IP protection, or free market enterprise and development?

    Whether this bill passes or not will likely show which is the winner.
    • I think that it is one set of corporations, the media content producers, who want to introduce restrictions and others, the technology producers, who do not want it.
      • How about Microsoft? They seem to be a little bit of both, advancing technology as well as producing content.

        MS seems to belong in both categories, but chose to be against it. Interesting.
        • Think about it. If Linux were outlawed by this act, wouldn't that be GREAT for Microsoft? Yes, but there are far worse elements in store for software vendors.

          The problem is that the act forbids selling, offering to the public, importing, etc. any software device which does not include government certified security systems. A device is defined as something which processes, transmits, or displays information or data...

          So hello.c would be illegal as would all the sample programs in computer science textbooks. In fact teaching computer science would be impossible because one would have to start on chapter 11 (pun intended). I can only assume that this would only be resolved by importing foreign programmers because it would be impossible to teach people in this country.

          This has substantial ramafications for Microsoft and all other technology firms. I wonder if Disney is scared enough to try to deliberately kill the tech industry...
    • These are not mutually exclusive goals especially in this case. The backers of this proposed bill want to protect their copyrights while the industries opposing this bill don't want to be forced into using a technology that they haven't patented, made into a trade secret or what have you.

      There is *no* way the industry could agree upon a DRM technology in 18 months and I think they know it. Then it comes down to the government mandating a solution with the very real possibility that nobody gets the brass ring and makes a ton of money selling a proprietary solution.

    • In this case, the supporting companies would not have government interfere with
      them. If I develop some kind of "intellectual property" and ask the government to intrude into OTHERS' rights, the government is not interfering with my rights.
      Similar example: Democrats don't want government intrusion in abortion and reproductive rights, but they are fine with government dictating what parents teach their kids. They oppose government road blocks that search for illegal drugs, they support mandated smog testing.

      My point: 99% of politics is not fundamental principal, it's a matter of convenience.
    • What do big corporatons want more, IP protection, or free market enterprise and development?
      You can't have your cake and eat it at the same time...
    • All those listed are hardware companies, and as such the bulk of their IP is covered by patents. The SSSCA is designed to protect copyright, which is a completely different animal.

      However, that doesn't mean big corporations want a free market either. The ultimate goal of any true capitalist is to eliminate the competition and thus establish a monopoly. I'm not advocating communism, because communism sucks even more than capitalism. I really like the idea of the free market, it's really good for me as a consumer. But I think people need to realize that it is the free market that allows capitalism, not the other way around, and the free market is what we really need to protect. Totally unrestricted capitalism will destroy the free market just as surely as communism will.

  • For How Long? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lysander Luddite ( 64349 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:40AM (#2465845)
    Once a standard is reached how long would it be before the manufacturers start supporting the proposition, especially in a bad economy with a sales slump for traditional "luxury" items?

    Doesn't standards decrease cost over the long term? I get the impression hardware manufacturer's main gripes boil down to:
    1. Additional cost to implement SSSCA into their products.
    2. SSSCA provisions limiting future product design.

    Make no mistake, I am against SSSCA, but if Sony can make money from CD and DVD players, why not be able to make money from these hypothetical devices?

    Copy protected devices (DVD/ e-nbook readers, MiniDisc) seem to be the trend anyway. Especially as the content creators become content distributors.

    • well, the scary thing is that they want that sort of environment, one where there are multiple protection sceams with a device built for each. all that information is then covered by the DMCA. of cource it is also a good thing then because it will give the apearence of being open and free but since you have to buy the reader/displayer, you have no options on how to manipulate the information, unabtrusive copy restrictions. that way it will not interfear with Linux so we just ned to either not buy the product or accept the fact that we just use the media on one device and one device only until we defeate the DMCA.
  • Negotiation? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:42AM (#2465854) Journal
    I wonder how much negiotiation is going on behind the scenes, given that the bill has not even been introduced? Word of the bill first surfaced back in the summer, but I cannot be surprised that the sponsors of the bill would want to try to push it through in these times, when bills are going through congress with a LOT less scrutiny than before.

    At least the media companies are being told that they are NOT the only game in town.

  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:42AM (#2465857) Homepage
    when /. and Msft are both against it!!

    • when /. and Msft are both against it!!

      The same thing actually happened with the CDA (Communications Decency Act). It was refreshing to see Microsoft on the side of good for once. Another case that comes to mind that Slashdot and Microsoft agreed on was the case where Ticketmaster sued Microsoft for linking to the Ticketmaster site (whatever happened to that case anyway?). It just goes to show that Microsoft isn't 100% pure evil (probably closer to 99.44%).

    • when /. and Msft are both against it!!

      You sure about that?

      Although the article starts with "technology companies including Intel, IBM, Microsoft and Compaq Computer held a coming-out press conference Monday to oppose a broad copyright protection proposal," it later lists some of the members of the trade group, the Computer Systems Policy Project: "IBM, Intel, Dell Computer, Motorola and others."

      No Microsoft.

      Wondering if maybe Microsoft was one of the "others," I checked the web site [] for this group. Down the left side of the page are its members: Compaq, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, NCR, Unisys, and Motorola.

      Still no Microsoft.

      Now, that's not to say that Microsoft definately isn't opposed to the SSSCA, just that the story gives us no actual reason to believe that it is.

      Have they already made some kind of statement, either on their own or as part of another organization? If not, perhaps we should still consider them silent on the issue?

  • Who read the article and saw " protection proposal being backed by Walt Disney and Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S. C.
    " and parsed it as "Disney-South Carolina"?
  • by Private Essayist ( 230922 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:43AM (#2465865)
    "The movie, music and technology industries have been trying for years, with only limited success, to agree on a standard way of protecting content from Internet and other digital piracy. A high-profile effort dubbed the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), intended to be a private sector version of the kind of technology effort Hollings' plan outlines, collapsed largely because of disagreements between technology and content companies. "

    ...and because it turned out to be so easy to crack SDMI, despite their claims to the contrary. Oops...

    "Hollings' plan would restart this process, this time with the force of law behind it, and apply it to all digital devices. "

    Can't do it with technology? Buy a law instead. That's how the DMCA happened. You can't stop people by adding more pickable locks, so they chose to make it illegal to pick a lock, to own picks in the first place, and even to discuss how to pick locks with your buddies. Overkill, but that's how government works.

    "The early draft bill would require the technology industry to come to its own decision on a copy-protection standard within 18 months, or else have the government step in to mandate a solution. "

    There's a scary thought: When the private sector fails to come up with an uncrackable system, the government will step in and have a go.

    "The bill would bar the sale of any "interactive digital device" that did not have the anti-piracy technology built in. It would also be illegal to remove or disable the security technology as well as to remove the piracy protections from a song, movie or other piece of content. "

    And the government's solution, as I said, is to ignore the fact that they can't make it uncrackable from a technology point-of-view, and to just say, "Illegal!" every time someone tries to crack it. The idea of working with consumers to come up with a balance that can work for everyone, as with traditional "fair use" provisions, never seems to occur to them.
    • >There's a scary thought: When the private sector
      >fails to come up with an uncrackable system, the
      >government will step in and have a go.

      Hm...even if the private sector succeeds in coming up with an uncrackable, the government, specifically the NSA, will STILL step in and have a cracking it.
  • The tech industry is (finally) taking on the entertainment industry head on, in the halls of Congress. This is just the first shot fired. There will be more. Will Congress decide that tech is more economically important, or entertainment? Who will give the most money? Who employs the most people?

    Interesting to see AOL/TW siding, sort of, with tech. Apparently that's where most of the profits are.

      • Will Congress decide that tech is more economically important, or entertainment? Who will give the most money? Who employs the most people?

      Who provides the bigger campaign contributions, and who provides them in small unmarked non-sequential notes?

  • Surprising.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by forsaken33 ( 468293 ) <> on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:44AM (#2465884)
    After weeks of conference calls and quiet rallying of the troops, technology companies including
    Intel, IBM, Microsoft and Compaq Computer held a coming-out press conference Monday to oppose
    a broad copyright protection proposal being backed by Walt Disney and Sen. Ernest Hollings
    Wow, maybe they realize this'll be bad for business? I mean to the average consumer, nobody will really care, they'll see it as being just another development or something. But most /. readers (me included) would avoid anyone who does back this bill. Good move, however, why don't we see more companies like AMD and some of the linux distributors backing this? If i were them, i'd be listening to my market and tearing this apart!

    The bill would bar the sale of any "interactive digital device" that did not have the anti-piracy
    technology built in
    I don't think most people realize what that means, and i think that's what these companies need to do. They have the money, now start advertising. Make sure people know how restrictive this is. I know somebody said this in a discussion yesterday, but oh well. Show a cartoon of a kid trying to print a picture for school and being taken to prison and being abused there. Finally, there's some compainies opposing this, at least a little bit!

  • by gorilla ( 36491 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:44AM (#2465889)
    MPAA President Jack Valenti said in a statement. "When an agreement is reached by the private parties, we will all then together support appropriate legislation regarding copyright protection in digital devices."

    All the parties except for the consumers, right?

    • Of course it will be the media companies that make the decision in regards to copy-protection. Were any consumers asked when they implemented CSS protection for DVD's?

      Or how about the CD replacements DataPlay [] Think any "focus groups" met for this wonderful product?

      The more copy protection capabilities they can put into a device or the more laws that they can push that will provide for copy protection, the better. And if they can get it through without consumers knowing, at least at first, all the better.
      • Or how about the CD replacements DataPlay. Think any "focus groups" met for this wonderful product?

        Yeah, I bet they did. Remember, all they'd tell Joe Sixpack is "look at this new CD thingie! It's the size of a quarter, and cool looking too!"

        Did you think the focus group people would say, "and oh, we won't let you make MP3s off it"?
    • Of course consumers have a say in this. The problem arises in the fact that the corporations decide what the consumers' opinion is.
  • don't get me wrong, I'm all against this sort of standardization and regulation, but at least this way there'll be a standard copy protection to break that won't(shouldn't) be lossy as compared to macrovision encodings which can cause picture(and now sound) quality to suffer on some hardware.

  • Apparently Sen. Hollings was to have a hearing this week on the bill. Well Internet Daily reports that due to all the "general confusion" and some of this opposition, he will delay the hearing and won't introduce until he has "dialog" with affected industries. I have heard from second hand sources that even the BSA (not Boy Scouts) are not keen with this bill. Seems like it could DOA, or even pre arrival. But as always, keep vigilant!
  • by CaptainAlbert ( 162776 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:47AM (#2465907) Homepage
    Even big companies know this bill is stupid.

    I'm sitting at my desk, doing my job (being a productive engineer) to the benefit of my company and my country's economy. Society benefits greatly through technological progress made by the thousands of people like me all around the world. Let's have a look at what "Interactive Digital Devices" I'm using, which I might soon be unable to use.

    1. My PC, on which I'm writing this. It has a variety of uses which we're all familiar with. It runs a variety of software -- free, proprietary, open source, closed course, stuff I've written myself too. Without it, my job would be impossible.

    2. My telephone. This is quite high-tech for a phone. I interact with it, and it's full of digital circuitry.

    3. The development platform which I'm working on. This contains digital signal processors, FPGAs, CPLDs, PROMS, RAM, glue logic, and various buttons, switches, LED readouts and so on. It's really a cut-down version of a product which my company ships. Interacting with one of these is the only way to get any work done round here. It connects to my PC via a JTAG in-circuit emulation box, which is also mildly interactive.

    4. A small "performance monitor" board, which I've been developing and testing. This connects to my development platform, and produces analogue outputs based on digital inputs. (I'm trying not to give too much away here. :-))

    5. A digital oscilloscope. This is displaying traces from the hardware on my desk. Often, I screen-grab these traces onto a disk (in a standard graphics format).

    6. A data transmission analyser. This box outputs digital test patterns, and monitors its inputs for the purposes of bit error rate measurement. I can set it up to do a variety of things, to verify the design of the hardware I'm helping to create.

    If the UK were to pass a law like the SSSCA, it would put my company out of business for two reasons - the engineers would be unable to work because their tools would be illegal, and in any case the product we create (wireless telecoms equipment, UMTS Node-B) would also be illegal until the 3GPP mandated spread-spectrum radio standards were updated to include this copy protection/DRM/PITA standard.

    I rest my case. Passing the SSSCA would, I think, bring the digital revolution to an ugly and unceremonious end.
      • My telephone. This is quite high-tech for a phone. I interact with it, and it's full of digital circuitry.

      I hear you. I'm developing an IP phone right now. The one in front of me has 2 x RJ-45 and 2 x RJ-11 ports, and a text web browser on it. It also has blanks for USB and PS-2 ports in future versions, plus another couple of blanks for ports that I don't even know about yet. It's perfectly capable of sending and receiving copyrighted audio and text (eBooks?)

      I'm having a hard time thinking how I could argue that it's exempt from SSSCA. There's a pretty thought for you; we'll have to tag any voice traffic originating on the RJ-11 as being owned by "public domain", or whatever scheme the SSSCA comes up with.

      SSSCA is a nasty, dumb, horrid bill, and I hope it dies a huge death and is buried very deep, in a very dark place and never surfaces again. Ever.

    • Actually, you'd probably be ok, because what you own would just be sold as "professional" level equipment. Just like how any studio can buy a DAT deck but a consumer can't just get one at Circuit City. They will just price everything you use for "professionals" so that the regular consumers won't mess with it and will stick with their super copy protected stuff.
    • I'm sitting at my desk, doing my job (being a productive engineer) to the benefit of my company and my country's economy.

      ... while posting to Slashdot? Riiiiiight. ;)
  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:47AM (#2465908)
    Odds are that there is another bill lurking around somewhere which has 83.67% of the provisions of the original. The "bad bill" will be killed publicly, then the 2nd bill will be slipped through in a stealth mode.

    • Correct. At least this coalition has been formed, though, and perhaps with a little leadership it can be used to defeat other dumbass bills like SSSCA.
      • oh no, the good bill will have all the bad stuff, but it will just say, as each device gains copy protection hardware, that new device will be covered by the penalties in the SSSCA. it will juat put an as come to market basis, no time line. that sort of bill will indeed get support from all or most since it is not a mandate, it says "as you bring it, we will cover it" letting the industry come up with a sceam when they want to.
    • However, I think we're on our guard and there's going to be many watching out for that one- this was being ran in stealth mode for a while before we caught wind of it. Hell, Hollings isn't talking to anyone about it other than the backers of the proposed bill.
  • It's good to know that their memories aren't so short that they've forgotten the furor over the CPRM [].
    Thankfully, this bill isn't masquerading as an anti-terrorism/anti-pedophile bill but rather being seen for the anti-consumer bill that it really is.
  • by Zo0ok ( 209803 )
    Computers are cool because they can be programmed to do anything. The devices are supposed to provide basic services.

    If shit like this is put in computers, will the computer still feel like a universal tool? There is of course a limit when a computer is to restricted to feel like a computer. Most geeks here appreciate computers because they are so flexible.

    Hopefully, there will always be a quite large demand for computers like they are today. And even though most people might buy "computers" that are more like a Nintendo with WWW/email/DVD/office, for scientific uses and in the industry, truly flexible and programmable computers will be needed.

      • for scientific uses and in the industry, truly flexible and programmable computers will be needed

      I'm sure the final SSSCA (or Son of SSSCA) will contain a provision to allow limited numbers of licensed unrestricted devices.

      Compare with gun control. Bring in restrictions, little by little, arguing that there's no valid / legal / non-special interest use of unrestricted devices. Transfer responsibility from the users to the manufacturers. Assume that people are guilty, and make them people prove their innocence and good intent through registration. Get them used to the idea that their rights are now priveledges that they have to ask nicely for.

      SSSCA actually leapfrogs gun control, but this is a first draft. Expect to see it watered down to something that doesn't look too bad - at first.

  • Or whatever beings or forces of nature you want to thank that the self-interests of major companies and industries are seldom in line with each other. For as long as there's a solid business reason for one industry or company to oppose the actions or legal efforts of another industry or company, those of us who always get caught in the middle will have a chance to survive and maybe even prosper, however we individually understand prospering.

    Maybe we'll get really lucky and have Sony Entertainment and Sony Electronics on the opposite sides of another lawsuit. That's always fun.

  • Go Microsoft go!!!
  • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:55AM (#2465957) Homepage
    Given the current threat of recession, I can imagine how Congress would feel about adopting something like SSSCA if there was a credible threat to boycott SSSCA-compatible products. Many in Congress remember the "Luxury Tax", and how it nearly bankrupted the recreational boating and civil aviation manufacturers. That was not a boycott per se, but the effect was the same.

    In this case, a boycott would surely impact the hardware manufacturers and Microsoft. Even without SSSCA, Q4 2001 is not going to be all that good for these companies.

    Businesses will continue to buy computers and software, but the Dells and Gateways of the world will scream loudly if Congress makes a mess of the home market.
  • the big media corporations are all on unfamiliar ground, and they've had several years to catch up with the current state of technology. well, they haven't. they haven't because the state of technology has rendered them obsolete, and thus they must try to hang on as best they can.

    they tried to restrict media distribution via encryption, and it failed as it was destined to do; it's theoretically impossible to devise a truly secure media distribution format. if YOU can read it, the guy sitting NEXT to you can, too. since that failed, their only option is legislation.

    i don't condone it. it's evil. but the media companies are trying to survive the paradigm shift in content distribution that the internet has started. corporations are considered people under the law; like people, they're just trying to survive as best they can, and they'll do whatever it takes. thus, if they can get legislation passed that lets them live, they'll do anything they can to ensure it gets passed.

    everyone keeps suggesting that media companies "revise their traditional methods of distribution". how are they supposed to do that? either you give the media away for free, or you restrict distribution any way you can. there's no room in Scott McCloud's pass-the-hat paradise for media companies.

    so, the big question is: if YOU were a major media corporation's CEO, and YOUR family's livelihood depended on keeping your corporation afloat in the face of underground distribution channels, what would YOU do?

    i'll bet your answers, if you're truthful, aren't that far from what's happening now.
    • I feel obligated to point out that the CEO of any major, industry-leading company could leave work this second and never work again and still be quite wealthy. You've got a valid point, lets not dilute it with obvious hyperbole.
    • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @12:27PM (#2466149)
      so, the big question is: if YOU were a major media corporation's CEO, and YOUR family's livelihood depended on keeping your corporation afloat in the face of underground distribution channels, what would YOU do?

      That's the trick, though, isn't it? It's not their welfare that's being hurt by underground distribution channels. BSA companies in particular are some of the wealthiest companies in the world despite rampant piracy of their products. Truthfully, it's not even their pocketbook.

      As has been said many, many times before, you *cannot* assume that a sale of your product through piracy would have resulted in a sale for you had the pirate copy not existed.

      Case in point:,1283,47617,00 .html [] '"It's not that people would just buy legitimate software if they can't get pirated copies," Cheng Yi, a self-described "alternative software dealer" from the Guangdong province said through a translator. "Many people here can't afford the legitimate software, and it is capitalist to say that only the rich should have the advantages."'

      Do you think that every 15 yeal old webmaster who uses a warezed copy of Photoshop could get mommy or daddy to drop the $600 for a real copy? Does *anyone* think that less affluent people who build their own computer but don't really know linux can really afford a $300 Windows 2000 license?

      The same goes for music. I don't buy RIAA CD's any more because of the RIAA's actions, but beforehand, I wouldn't even consider buying a CD without hearing at least some, and preferrably all the music from the disc. Napster was providing this service for millions. Accordingly, CD sales rose. Now that Napster is gone, CD sales have plummeted.

      What is being hurt by underground distribution channels is control. In the case of the software companies, it's the ability to say who and who does not use their software. They lose the ability to lock people into licenses and 'upgrade cycles' if they are illegally using software. Even though they would never profit from those people, the loss of control is unbearable.

      The same goes for the music industry. As has been noted by many research firms, Napster helped CD sales. Long and Short, CD sales rose while Napster was in operation and have now leveled off and even decreased. It was never about money for RIAA labels. It was about the ability to control not only their pet artists, but their listeners as well. Do you think that listener choice controls what is a 'hit' and what is not? Think again. A song may be catch, true, but the labels pour big $$$ into artist, songs, and music videos they want to be popular. This includes paying radio stations to play it, as well as putting together concerts, commercials, and promotional material. Look at 'O-Town' for chrissakes! The band is so fake they made a TV show about how fake it was. They have singles in the top 40 though. You think that wasn't entirely due to the effort of their label?

      The same thing goes for movie studios, newspapers, televison networks, etc... etc.. etc...

      We are living in a time that is analogous to the late middle-ages, just before the emergence of a real middle class. We have an oligarchy of rich, powerful individuals, Corporations and their executives in this case, who know that their continued survival is entirely dependant upon the serf classes. If those classes cannot be controlled, they cannot be trusted to allow the oligarchy to remain in power. Just like the French nobility, however, the aristocracy of money and power in the United States has decided not to try to adapt to the changing world.

      Orv wiv'er heads...
  • it may sound silly, but what about a strike if any of the SSSCA and similar bill will pass?
    Something like "we all tech workers who care about privacy will stop working until such acts are dismissed".
    there will be threats. dangers of being fired. people working anyway. but hey, weren't that the same issues that the factory workers faced since the first industrial revolution?
    and at that time, it was normal to work all day with no days off, with kids working all day doing the same underpaid job of their fathers just to pay for living, while big corporations are enlarging their profits by passing laws to a government that don't care at all about the workers ... hmm this reminds me something...
  • If this law passes they have 2 options, both of them bad:

    1) Make a U.S. version of windows, and make a non U.S. version of windows. With SSSCA stuff in the U.S. version, there will be incompabilities, not to mention the extra cost of making the other version.

    2) Include the SSSCA "enhancements" worldwide, and risk the wrath of the European Union.

    • Option 1 would still be illegal, unless they discussed, wrote, and shipped the non-SSSCA version completely outside the U.S. All the programmers would have to emigrate to another country and could never return to the U.S. for fear of becoming Skylrov's cellmate.
  • What I think is interesting is if you look at the interests. This looks like it will come down to pragmatics. Disney is strictly a media producer, supporting this doesn't hurt their interests in any way. AOL/Time Warner is both a media producer and for lack of a better term equipment maker. So that means they would "get" to go replace millions of cable boxes. Furthermore, they could be made liable for inadequate/outdated copy protection in the future. They might figure that HBO would get less subscriptions if no one could record the movies. So when you look at it this makes sense, those who carry the burden (AOL-TW) versus those who think they have nothing but to gain from it (Disney, News Corp, et al). Divide it cleanly along the lines of those who sell just media and those who have infrastructure/equipment.
  • by Odinson ( 4523 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @12:03PM (#2466008) Homepage Journal
    • We just came out of the roaring twenties.
    • Unlimited campain contributions are legal.
    • Microsoft is the railroad companies.
    • MPAA/RIAA is the oil companies.
    • Economic times are bad (lower than 30% drop in 8 months, never mind how bad it would be without a single day bottom, federal bank insurance, and interest rate adjustments.)
    • War on terrorism ~= war on orginizied crime. (the point is it's a bottomless money pit better fought by vigilance by the people than the government)

    About the only thing missing is prohibition. But we have global taxing and rulemaking without representation to make up for that, or perhaps SSSCA could make computing the underground role by (effectivly) prohibiting computers.

    I wish more people would learn from history, it might save us some pain.

    • About the only thing missing is prohibition.

      Sure, there's no alcohol prohibition - but there's plenty of prohibition of drugs that are arguably less harmful than alcohol.
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @12:18PM (#2466099) Homepage
      • About the only thing missing is prohibition

      Casual recreational drug use is so widespread today that it's not so far from the mass civil disobedience and general contempt for "no victim" laws that we saw during prohibition. And the only material effect is to make a few crime lords very, very rich.

      I do take your point about SSSCA being much like prohibition though. For "speakeasy", read "share-easy". Or for Orwell's conspiratorial whisper of "I have a room without an Eye in it", read "I have a CD-RW without an SSSCA chip in it."

    • About the only thing missing is prohibition.

      It's new name is "The war on (some) drugs". Same product, new packaging.
    • About the only thing missing is prohibition

      Well, in some states (Kansas) masturbation is illegal.

      Or maybe I should compare this to mandatory filtering. We must protect the public morality.

      Or perhaps a "war on masturbation".
    • Prohibition == War on Drugs

      Why is left as an exercise to the reader.
      • Osama bin Laden sailing up as the next Hitler. Even if he isn't I'm sure the US will make him look like it... I just hope he won't be able to make this into a western world - islamic war.
    • There are a number of economists, sociologists, and dynamic systems modelers that have observed 50- to 60-year cycles in economic output, political attitudes, birth rates, tecnological adaptation, and other indicators. The work dates back to the 1920s, when Russian economist Nikolai Kondratieff predicted the Great Depression a decade in advance. (He wasn't popular with his communist colleagues, because he also predicted that the capitalist economies would rebound.)

      Here's an article [] [] from 1998 that gives a good overview of Kondratieff's work as well as more recent studies, and a website [] [] with links to several others.

      If these people are right, the good news is that things should go uphill over the next few decades.

    • Yeah, I pointed some of this out in the DMCA discussions and the SSSCA discussions prior to this...the phrase I used was "Digital Prohibition".

      In addition I took the phrase "Digital Crowbar" used by the MPAA lawyer and gave it a more apropos meaning: DMCA = Digital Millineum Crowbar Assault, because that is what it is, an assault on our rights, bludgeoning us just as a crowbar would be used other than its intended purpose.

      Ironically, I was being facetous in a way, but it was considered insightful. Heh, I just appreciated that my penchant for esoteric thought processes was figured out.

      Oh, and let me just say "Bravo" you put out a few historical relations/connections I did not see. I am surprised you did not pull a mention of Sept 11 ~= Dec 7.
      An attack on "American Soil" (Hawaii, at the time is debatable...close enough, I think).

      Very interesting post.
  • The SSSCA says that it is illegal to create, sell or distribute "any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies" that are approved by the U.S. Commerce Department. An interactive digital device is defined as any hardware or software capable of "storing, retrieving, processing, performing, transmitting, receiving or copying information in digital form."
    Since the human brain stores information digitally by using protein chains, then everybody will have to have a brain implant.
    Resistance is futile
  • by tenzig_112 ( 213387 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @12:15PM (#2466079) Homepage

    To further spread the word about SSSCA, RIAA representatives have begun traveling from high school to grade school speaking on the evils of file sharing. After a recent speech at St. Bernard's Grade School in Peoria, Illinois, RIAA lawyer Russel Frackman found himself challenged by one of the students:

    Eight-year old Zack Beasley tapped on Frackman's leg until he had gained his full attention. "I'm learning to share," he said. "I don't like to share. But they say have to learn how."

    "That's nice," said Frackman dismissively.

    "But you said sharing is bad."

    Seeing the encounter as an opportunity to reinforce the points of his speech, Frackman leaned down to explain the RIAA position on the issue. "Sharing what is yours is okay. Sharing what is mine is not. That's stealing."

    "Stealing? I don't get it. You don't want to share?"

    "It's not that. I just shouldn't be forced to share if I don't want to."

    Beasley shuffled over to his teacher, tugging on her skirt.

    "The guy in the suit says I don't have to share if I don't want to," he said. She explained that it didn't matter. Zack was going to have to learn to share, no matter what the man said.

    "She says you have to learn to share, too," said the boy.

    More here: 11023 []
  • Many of these companies in Hollywood use Linux and other free tools to produce their works of art. Could we, just as a sly move use the evils of the DMCA, etc, make it illegal for anyone to use Open Source software to create any works of art for the Music, Movie, Television, etc. industries with out having a notice running for the first five minutes on the evils of said DMCA, etc. laws?
    And since the DMCA allows us to change the EULA without notice, we can force them to retro-actively make these changes in their products.
    • Re:An Odd Idea (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 )

      This isn't such a whacked out idea - Microsoft want to change from EULA (End User License Agreements) to a kind of EUUA (End User Usage Agreements), to prohibit people from using (e.g.) Frontpage to create anti-Microsoft content.

      Using that precedent, if you can find an OS license that doesn't prohibit adding this kind of licensing restriction, then feel free to go for it. It should be an interesting experiment.

    • No, but the funny thing is, if this is passed, many of their favorite tools will disappear.

      Let's examine the bill for a minute.
      The bill would bar the sale of any "interactive digital device" that did not have the anti-piracy technology built in.

      If you notice, they mean any hardware or software capable of storing, retrieving, processing, performing, transmitting, receiving or copying information in digital form. This pretty much means every piece of software you or I write. Even a very simple program that takes any form of input at least temporarily stores, processes and copies information in a digital form. So, if you write a program, even something very simple like an ftp client, you've got to put this special copy protection in there -- not copy protection against your software, but copy protection against copying other stuff. What do you want to bet this stuff isn't going to be free? What do you want to bet it's not going to be easy to obtain either, because if you hold the keys and the locks, cracking becomes a very trivial matter.

      Basically, this kills all free software, all small software shops, all independent developers, all students of computer science -- bascially brings the tech sector to a hault, except for a few very large and very rich companies.

      We won't have to worry about stopping them from using Open Source, they won't be able to use it at all -- especially if the new computers won't allow you to run any software that doesn't have the SSSCA stuff in it.

      This is a bad, bad law, and will force components to carry the copying protection where it's absolutely not nessessary -- like in the OBD (emissions) computer in your car, as it stores, processes and transmits digital data. Somehow, I don't think anyone's going to be putting their MP3s or Divx's there.

  • Luddite legislation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @12:36PM (#2466190)
    During the 18th century, thousands of weavers were put out of business when machines came along that could do their jobs faster, cheaper, more reliably and with better quality.

    The weavers were obviously distraught and there were riots with the Luddites as they were known attempting to destroy the machines that put them out of business.

    Over the last 200 years, technology has made many people redundant, from riveters to bank clerks. It's the media businesses turn now. It's just progress.

    Anybody can replicate information, large media corporations with top heavy management structures and CD/DVD pressing factories are no longer required. They are doomed, redundant, as were the Luddites. All the legislation in the world won't change that.

    The survivors will be small fast media companies who can take advantage of the digital media such as MPEGs and MP3s.
    • I am just waiting for the first all MP3 Record lable to you realise how much money they will get? I know it sounds like napster's recent reconfiguration, but when it comes from a record lable and it is untouched by copy restriction crap, and will be willing to take orders for custom CDs of MP3 that you pick from the lable, and it all costs about 6-9 bucks, then I will have no problem giving them my business. it would be realy cool if I couls just make a play list of MP3s and they could make an ISO that I can DL and burn my self so I don't have to worry about shipping. think of all the cool deals you could 3 MP3s get 2 free, 1 MP3 = 60 cents, get 10 for $5, etc.
  • I think hat a lot of people don't understand one thing about the SSSCA. I agree it would be a very bad thing if it were to become law. And yes there is a lot of bad stuff in it. However it only applies to things in the future. So the plexwriter that I've already bought is completely legal. However the plexwriter that is being designed by plextor right now, is not legal. They will have to cease manufacture of all non-secure hardwares and softwares.
    • However it only applies to things in the future. ...They will have to cease manufacture of all non-secure hardwares and softwares.

      Like, say, the next release of Linux? So linux 2.4.12-ac3 is grandfathered in. But nobody can release any security patched versions without putting in SSSCA controls. This is not a very wide loophole you mention here.

      Even Linux aside, look at the computer industry. How much hardware and software which was released even a few years ago is still relevant? This is a fast moving industry. Start right now requiring that everything have copy controls, and in less than a decade, it will be impossible to find or use a computer anywhere that doesn't have it. If the law at all resembles the SSSCA, it will also be impossible to find or use any open source software in this country, at least legally.

  • It funny sometimes I get unfocused for a moment(Really need to get my eye exam done), and read anti-piracy as anti-privicy...but then again, maybe its not misreading, so much as reading between the lines.
  • Because if they agreed to this law, then they probably would have to agree that the government could be justified in stepping in at any time to tell them how to design their hardware and software products. Wouldn't do to appear two-faced now would it.

    Of, course, the MPAA doesn't like the proposed law because it doesn't go far enough.

  • The RIAA have posted a statment claiming that they have been villified [] over the changes they requested to the anti-terrorism laws.

    The only problem I see is what they claim not to have done is pretty close to what they agree that they did do.

    Be careful out there - it's a villifying world these days.


    • Awww. Poor babies! Well, at least they know nobody loves them.

      I read somewhere that RIAA staffers won't wear logo t-shirts in DC because they get harassed on the streets - good! They deserve everything they get.

  • How about we find the "Copy Proof" Cd's that can not be played in a computer and send one to each of our respective senators and congresspersons [].

    Also Include a DVD from a region other than the United States(US is region 1, correct?).

    Included In the envelope, fedex package or hand delivery a "voucher" from their district for a $50K "contribution" with the stipulation they only get said contribution provided the do not run afowl of the law by playing both disks on a computer of their choosing.

    And if you really wanted to be cruel, provide the documentation electronically as an "e-book" that only allows *one* viewing and no printing.

    It has been stated here on /. repeatedly that most of the people representing (I use the term loosely in some cases) us do not understand the implications of the laws the are passing.

    This can only help, I think, to make it perfectly clear the kind of frustrating, draconian, unconstitutional and consumer unfriendly path we are headed down with this kind of nonsense.

    If you really think about it, how long *before* the corporations buying this legislation start doing something similar?
    Vendor lock-in is one thing, "legislative career lock-in to a corporation" is another.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban