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Censorship Your Rights Online

SSSCA Squirms Forward Again Thursday 606

An anonymous reader writes: "Here we go! Only temporarily tripped up by Sept. 11th (and of course journalists and webmasters calling his office), Fritz Hollings is starting hearings on embedding copy protection in all digital devices and making the removal or circumvention of these protections a crime. Hurrah for freedom!"
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SSSCA Squirms Forward Again Thursday

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  • Did they consider that other events in 2001 besides increased piracy that might have led to people buying fewer CDs?
    • That statistic means bubkis!

      You can't say the increase is due to piracy until you can verify the increase would not happen on the same timeperiod without piracy. This, of course, is impossible to verify.
      In other words, sure it sounds good for Napster users, but in court/math/logic, it is passed off as a useless statistic.

      Sorry to be a broken record about this, but people love to spout the same stuff. If that's your only argument for Napster/Music&File Sharing, then its time to research a better argument.
    • So, let's get this right:

      • In the year Napster becomes popular, CD sales go up
      • In the year Napster is banned, CD sales go down
      • From this they conclude they need more control over unauthorised copying

      Yeah, right.

  • Did those bozos (as in clown) actually ever consider how bad such a law is for the US economy?

    If they really pull that off, R&D and manufacturing will spread around the rest of the world, while the US is assembling dumbed down AOL-compliant Warner-Brothers approved cable TV boxes with embedded, digitally rights managed entertainment capabilities.

    • Unless, of course, the WIPO succeeds in forcing all of our allies into adopting similar policies. Then it will be the US, Europe, Japan, South Africa, the more-developed parts of Asia and Latin America, and possibly India pitted against China, the Arab world, Southeast Asia, and all other non-participants. One side will have a massive head start but next to no ability to progress, while the other side will have the freedom to innovate.

      How long will it take the nations that don't adopt SSSCA-like laws to overtake those that legislate meaningful research in CS out of existence? If they are able to maintain the current pace of technological progress, it may not be long at all.

      My advice: teach your children Mandarin or Cantonese if you want to ensure their future.
    • Well, manufacturing and alot of development is already leaving the US, Reasearch won't be overly affected, and by the time that it could be, the rest of the world (via the WTO) will be under the same yoke. The tech firms will see the opportunity for new sales, but not be otherwise thrilled. Here is my take on how the how the testimony will play out:
      • Eisner (Disney) : Without adequate protection of our intellectual property we will make so much less money that we will have to make severe cutbacks in our democratic outreach programs (campaign contributions) We would be forced to develop new properties to provide quality entertainment for America and the world (shows example of "Corrupt Congresscritter" - an obvious caricature of Hollings - as the proposed replacement for The Mouse)
      • Chernin (News Corporation): Without adequate protection of our intellectual property, we will be unable to prevent the digital manipulation of news stories by terrorists (plays video clip - subtitled "digitally manipulated" of Ken Lays testimony befre Congress, but rather than taking the fifth, he is passing out money to CongressCritters - including "Corrupt Congresscritter")
      • Vadasz (Intel Corporation): We have the technology to provide this level of protection (and hold the patents on some of it). But it will require national leadership in the form of very strict laws requiring the adoption of this technology.
      • Bechtolsheim (Cisco Systems): We also have developed technology to provide adequate protection for intellectual property and identification of those whgo would steal what is not rightfully theirs, but the existing network infrastructure will need to be replaced before these protections can be implemented. As this will be a very expensive proposition, I beleive that we will need national leadership in the form of financial assistance to all those firms who will need to replace their existing routers with our latest technology that we developed for thespecial problems then faced by the People's Republic of China, but as you can see now face us in America as well.
      • Meyer (Thomson Multimedia) As the recent experiences of the music industry clearly proves, the lack of adequate protection for intellectual property will indeed be the death knell for the entire entertainment industry.
      • Perry (Mitsubishi): As Mr Bechtosheim has already testified, we do indeed have the technolgy, but all the older technolgy must be forcefully removed from circulation and replaced with new equipment which respects the rigtsof creators to profit from their work. But we see no reason for a massive government program to assist those scofflaws who purchased equipment with the obvious intent of pirating copyrighted materials.
      • Valenti (MPAA): Just this week we are now seeing over 350,000 movies being illegally copied over the internet every single day. When broadband is fully available, the number of pirated films will rise to over seven million per day if nothing is done. This threat to the American People will do far more damage than the VCR ever did. ANd further, I have asked some friends at the IRS to prepare a little chart showing just how much tax revenue is escaping the government at that rate of piracy: 7 million movies at 5 people per copy at ten dollars per ticket is 350 million dollars a day in lost ticket sales, and that is also over 35 billion dollars per year in untaxed income. So, not only will this new law keep America entertained with quality movies, but it will help strengthen the government and bring in much needed additional tax revenues in these trying economic times.
  • Hollywood believes that copy protection will spur the use of broadband.

    Why do they think this? With copy protection, downmloading movies would require a purchase, and fee-based online music services are already not doing well.

    I, for one would not base my conversion to broadband on the fact that I could purchase movies.
    • They think it will work because if you want files suddenly you will be required to use one of those fee-based online download services that currently aren't doing so well.
    • There's another name for hollywood's version of "broadband"...

      I believe it's called pay-per-view cable.
    • You, my friend, need a bit of updating here. Perpare to Rev. up to 1.1 of "Hollywoods Broadband Access Plan"

      Hollywood believes that copy protection will spur the use of broadband.

      Incorrect. They know that there will be more content available if Copy Proctecion is unavoidable, since they'll be "guaranteed" thier cut. What they're saying is "No copy protection, No movies on Digital media, including broadband."

      Why do they think this? With copy protection, downmloading movies would require a purchase, and fee-based online music services are already not doing well.

      Some pay services are doing OK, but no where near the level that the RIAA/MPAA need to support thier ludicrace market caps. This is the real reason they are fighting like crazy - a lot of rich people would be reduced to "normal" people in net worth - we can't have that, can we?
      And downloading movies would only require one or two purchases, until someone cracked the copy protection. (I've heard rumours that there are movies filmed in the theatre with a digital mini-cam that were of acceptable quality being passed about KaaZa - even before the theatre has shown it to one paying patron.) As someone else said, "It's easier making water not wet than to stop bits from being copied". They're trying to perpetuate the status quo with old laws and methods - until they have technology to protect thier old business models. They don't seem to think they can try a new business model, or that they can scale back thier market caps to a level that will be in line with the lower revenues of digital content production. It's like we're trying to bury Godzilla alive here.

      I, for one would not base my conversion to broadband on the fact that I could purchase movies.

      Good for you - neither did I. Broadband isn't necessary for most of what the 'net offers. It's just real nice to have - especially for Telecommuting. I say respect the law of the land (for now), but not current copyright ideology. It will change one day.

    • > Hollywood believes that copy protection will spur the use of broadband.
      > Why do they think this? With copy protection, downmloading movies would require a purchase, and fee-based online music services are already not doing well.

      Without copy control, you can just download your music once, or your South Park episodes once, or your Star Wars DivX's once, and keep 'em on your local drive. Everything from USENET to FTP to the Web to Napster supports this model. You download it with some sort of client, perform a File->SaveAs function, and then render the downloaded material in a separate client that plays back the music or movie.

      Ultimately the only way to make sure the user can't "File->SaveAs" is to do away with the file. You pay, a transaction occurs in a database, and a bitstream is served. The thing that's doing the downloading is the same thing that's rendering the bistream into music or video. It's a closed-source application that has no capacity to save files. (It has the capacity to put banner ads up. It has the capacity to track what you read, watch, and listen to. But it'll never have a "File->SaveAs" button. Period. Paragraph.)

      The MPAA and RIAA want you to live in a world of "my copy-controlled music sounds like ass on a 28K bitstream, and my movies are the size of postage stamps, better get broadband so I can have it sound less like ass and look half-decent... and pay to re-download it every time I want to hear/watch it."

      What they fear is that the consumer will say "Fuck this stuff that looks/sounds like ass. I'll download the album overnight and I'll rent a DVD for $1.99 and encode my own DivX."

      The funny thing is that the ISPs themselves are pushing the user to make this choice. Due to bandwidth-capping on DSL and cablemodems, it's gotten to the point that if you live in the US, you can download as much with an "Unlimited" dialup (with unmetered local calls) account as you can with broadband. 6-8 hours of 56k downloading per day is about an hour's worth of high-bitrate MP3s.

      Best of all, you can do it with a clean conscience -- if you do it in off-peak hours (say, cron jobs and USENET from midnight to 8am), you're not even taking more than your share of the ISP's modem bank, because that modem bank is largely idle at those times. And if it's USENET traffic off your ISP's own news server, you're not even imposing a transit cost on your ISP for shovelling all those bits around, because as far as your ISP is concerned, it's all local traffic.

  • the only person who's for this is jack valenti and probably the few congress folks that the MPAA is dishing out $$ to. it's nice to see intel is not on the same page as jack and co. the MPAA has gone too far folks!
  • Its been how long since he proposed this piece of $hit law, and he still has no clue? The fact he is resuming now after the mpaa was it wanted this a few days ago makes me think he is on the MPAA bank roll.
  • by Cinnibar CP ( 551376 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:28PM (#3077960)
    the hearing is meant to discuss whether the government must step in and mandate standards -- which Hollywood believes will allow movies to be distributed safely online, spur high-speed Internet access, and boost hardware sales.

    A Hollywood spokesman was later heard to also profess strong belief in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and honest politicians.
  • Fritz Hollings, as old (and wise as he should be) fails to understand that you pass this legislation and you will make many americans criminals, simply because they won't go for the officially sanctioned electronics. Futher the market for old technology devices, which can't be covered by such a law, will thrive. Way to prop up the used VCR market, Fritz.

    • Futher the market for old technology devices, which can't be covered by such a law, will thrive.

      It's hard to know where to begin to describe just how misbegotten this legislation is.

      But on the same tack - I would expect the market for new technology devices to have a damper put on them if the legislation is passed. If I were a hardware manufacturer, I'd be quite leery of this kind of legislation.

      Imagine Joe Consumer, with an opportunity to buy a post SSSCA music playing device. It has more memory than an old Diamond Rio, but it requires Joe to "synch it up" over the wireless network so that his credit card can be charged each time he listens to a particular song.

      Next thing you know the volume level controls on the devices or the earphone output jacks will be hobbled so that Joe can't play his new song for his friends in a semi-public forum.

      The upshot is that I hate to see such pecuniary interests erode our present freedoms.

      Sheesh, at least let such a 1984-ish development be nominally for something to "protect me from terrorism" and not to protect the revenue stream of a Fritz Holling's big soft money contributors, the MPAA. I would be cautiously willing to consider the former motivation, while the latter has to be dismissed as disgusting.

  • Time to switch my machine BIOS to the Linux BIOS []...
    I may even hack around my future systems in order to get them bug-free :-)
  • Post-Enron (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dedtired ( 93552 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:30PM (#3077975) Homepage
    Something to think about:
    Post Enron, and all the campaign finance issues that it has brought up, might there be a way to defeat this through bringing to light the contributions recieved by the sponsors?
    Or is that even relevant? Should we be looking at the motives of politicians who sponsor bills? IMO, we should when the bills are being passed for the benefit of donors to the pol's campaign. It seems to me that Senators and Congressmen forget who they work for (the people who elect them) and just care about fundraising.
    Okay, rant mode off.
    • Re:Post-Enron (Score:4, Informative)

      by thesolo ( 131008 ) <> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:47PM (#3078112) Homepage
      Should we be looking at the motives of politicians who sponsor bills?

      Yes, we absolutely should. Especially when the politician in question has received almost $300,000 in corporate donations [] from the worlds largest media companies.
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:08PM (#3078274) Homepage Journal
      When contributing to slashdot you should consider including an opensecrets link when talking about anything any specific congressperson is doing. Like so: Ernest F. Hollings. []

      Of most interest on that page? Top Industries and Top contributors on the left hand side. And yes, big media companies are giving him a lot of cash. And yes, I'd say he's probably just returning the favor.

      Hmm. Perhaps it's time to send a couple of hundred dollars to the South Carolina Republican party in the hopes that they can defeat him in the next election cycle.

    • Re:Post-Enron (Score:5, Informative)

      by mr.nicholas ( 219881 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:13PM (#3078309)
      And in that vein, here's some quotes: _99.html

      This past May, Senator Hollings cast a most unusual vote, as the only Democrat to support the Financial Modernization Act (FMA) of 1999, S. 900. Hollings' vote regarding this bill is difficult to explain, given his pro-consumer voting record. But when considered in the context of the over $250,000 the Senator received from industries that would most benefit from the legislation, additional light is shed on his decision.

      The Golden Leash Award is a modern incarnation of former Senator William Proxmire's legendary Golden Fleece, which highlighted government waste and abuse.

      "Senator Hollings' vote is an ideal example of how campaign contributions appear to influence strongly the way a Senator votes. What else would explain his puzzling anti-consumer position on this important bill from a senator who has a long history of pro-consumer stands?" said Ellen Miller, executive director of Public Campaign. .html

      As the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, one of the most important committee chairs on Capitol Hill, Hollings has attracted quite a stable of high-profile donors over the years. According to Federal Election Commission data presented by campaign contribution watchdog Open Secrets, there are five major media and entertainment companies in the top 20 list of Hollings' most generous campaign donors. They include AOL Time Warner ($33,500), the Murdoch-owned News Corporation ($28,224), Viacom's CBS ($16,632), the National Association of Broadcasters ($22,000), and Walt Disney Co. ($18,500).

      The individual donors from those companies include a flock of high-ranking executives from various News Corp/Fox subsidiaries, Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone, and Ted Turner from AOL Time Warner. Since 1995, employees from companies producing television, movies, music, and other media content have sent Hollings $287,534, making the entertainment industry his second most generous supporters. Those individual donations look like small potatoes, especially when you find out that they cover the past five to six years of campaign contributions.

      There are more; just do a google search on "Fritz Hollings campaign contributions" and see what you get.

    • Senator Hollings especially!

      Hollings has received campaign donations from Enron, but that hasn't slowed him from raising a stink over Ashcroft recusing himself from the Enron investigation. Ashcroft did receive donations from Enron, when he ran as a senator, so he recused himself from the criminal investigation, to avoid the appearance that the donation had tainted his objectivity.

      Likewise, as governor of South Carolina, he signed a bill to fly the confederate flag over the state capitol, and recently tried to use that issue in the 2000 Presidential campaign against the Republicans, for them not insisting that it should come down.

      A senator with as much seniority as he has only listens to the highest bidder.

      -- Len

    • This about sums it up for me:

      The Honorable Senator Earnest Hollings, D-Disney

      Fritz just wants to make sweet sweet love to Sonny Bono.

  • Last thing we need (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Drachemorder ( 549870 ) <brandon&christiangaming,org> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:30PM (#3077978) Homepage
    The last thing we need is more government interference, and especially more government interference in favor of copy protection. I almost wish I lived in that idiot's district so I could vote against him.

    I find it interesting, though, that Intel is on our side in this issue: "We don't think government-mandated technology solutions are in the best interests of consumers or anyone else," according to their spokesperson. It's not too often that big business comes down on our side, although I can certainly understand why Intel would on this issue. Being forced to implement copy-protection in their hardware would NOT be compatible with their business interests.

    I also find it interesting that the senator promoting this heinous piece of legislation is a Democrat. Aren't the Democrats supposed be the party that sticks up for the common people as opposed to big media interests like Disney and the MPAA?

    • by Aexia ( 517457 )
      Being forced to implement copy-protection in their hardware would NOT be compatible with their business interests.

      I think it's less
      "We don't think government-mandated technology solutions are in the best interests of consumers or anyone else,"

      and more
      "We think Intel-mandated technology solutions are in the best interests of Intel and anyone else."
    • Aren't the Democrats supposed be the party that sticks up for the common people as opposed to big media interests like Disney and the MPAA?

      Oh you mean like Sonny Bono.

      Come one man, hasn't anyone figured it out yet? Libertarians are the ONLY ones that give a flying fuck about anything buy money and power.
    • Aren't the Democrats supposed be the party that sticks up for the common people as opposed to big media interests like Disney and the MPAA?

      The Democrats are the ones who talk about personal freedoms, equality, and a kinder, gentler government that forces everyone to be kinder, gentler people, while taking money from special interests and being as corrupt as they think they can get away with.

      The Republicans are the ones who talk about war, family, morality, and using government to bring everyone in line with their morality, while taking money from special interests and being as corrupt as they think they can get away with.

      I hope this clears things up for you.

  • "land of the free
    home of the brave"

    copy protection in my Video Camera!
    copy protection in my Game controller!

    cool, all this won't cost much

    copy protection in my modem

    copy protection in my monitor
    copy protection in my watch

    copy protection in my microwave

    one more victory for the lawyers

    If it goes through we should try and prosecute the manufacturers of as many digital devices as possible!

  • Adding this technology will cost money. Every component you buy with this device in it will cost you more money. Why should I pay for somethiing that I am not interested in. The consumers will speak. They will not buy this trash. Well at least as soon as an alternative appears they will stop. I'll gladly buy my technology in Canada if you keep screwing around.

    Arent TVs supposed to have some stupid Vchip in them? Its just material trumped up so someone can campaign on the platform of stopping it, and like sheep everyone will vote for that idiot.

    Sick of it all.
  • MPAA want DRM by law (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cally ( 10873 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:33PM (#3078003) Homepage
    Jack ("The VCR is to the American public as
    the Boston strangler to single women") Valenti of the MPAA wrote a depressing editorial at The Washington Post [], calling for DRM-enabled OSes to be the (presumably, legally mandated) standard, in order to save Hollywood from the same
    terrible fate [] that befell the music industry while Napster was operating. Depressing because, although his case has more holes than Internet Explorer, it smells of a ploy to get more bad laws [] passed. Three guesses what would happen to non-compliant (read: Free) OSes once this terrible law goes through...
    The Register []
    has a good scathing response.

    When Free software is against the law, only outlaws will have Free software...

  • by Aexia ( 517457 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:34PM (#3078008)
    But in September, a Disney lobbyist defended Hollings' draft SSSCA as "an exceedingly moderate and reasonable approach."

    Yikes... if they think SSSCA is merely "moderate", I'd hate to imagine what they *really* want.

    Also this week, the Recording Industry Association of America published data saying that music sales were down 10 percent last year and online piracy and CD burning were a "large factor contributing to the decrease."

    Let's see, CD sales were rising when Napster was in its hey-day so obviously the dismantling of it is a "large factor contributing to the decrease."

    The DMCA sparked controversy after the eight largest movie studios successfully used it to stop 2600 magazine from distributing the DeCSS DVD-descrambling program.

    As I recall, 2600 only linked to sites with DeCSS; it didn't distribute it.

    The entire article reads like a blowjob for the RIAA and MPAA.
  • is a good day to be living in Europe.
    • Until of course, a couple of years later, our politicians are given some free flights and some quality time with Britney and they pass even worse laws.

      Or did you think our politicians were not as corrupt.... It's a tragic shame that we didn't keep the death penalty just for politicians who perform "favours".
  • What's sad is... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Masem ( 1171 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:35PM (#3078015)
    While we need to argue against Hollings on this bill, he's the person we need to cheer on if the T-D bill passes in the House; Hollings has repeated stated he's against the mechanism of that bill to increase broadband, and has his own that he wants to get into Congress that actually forces more competition on the last mile and away from the Bells and increase penalties for not following the Telecom Act provisions, up to a $1mill per incident (up from $120k).

  • by Glith ( 7368 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:35PM (#3078020)
    From the article:

    First, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) created the legal framework that punished people who bypassed copy protection -- and now, the SSSCA would compel Americans to buy only systems with copy protection on by default. Davis says: "I think the DMCA was a first step."
  • Cmdr - I'd suggest making a new category for stories like this, naming it "Your Lack Of Rights Online" and have a picture of a generic Congressman (maybe one that looks like Hollings) sodomizing you with a legal document. That seems more appropriate than the current icon.

    (I say this with a deeply heavy heart. I am honestly scared as to what the world holds for me as a CS major when I graduate.)

  • I don't see what the big deal is. I mean, listen to the article:

    "a Disney lobbyist defended Hollings' draft SSSCA as "an exceedingly moderate and reasonable approach." "

    Well then, I don't see that I have any cause to be concerned... I mean, if DISNEY says it's okay how bad can it be?

  • by vtechpilot ( 468543 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:39PM (#3078051)
    Last October I wrote Senator Hollings a letter asking about the SSSCA. I suppose since I am a South Carolina resident he took the time to reply. In a letter dated November 13, 2001 from the senator:

    Dear Mr. Sattler

    Thank you for your recent communication regarding legislation that address copyright protection on the internet.

    I believe that any proposed legislation must meet consumers' expectations while protecting intellectual property. Ideally, the private sector will work to solve these problems. While I am considering legislation in this area, I am not intoducing a bill at this time.

    You can be certain that if legislation is developed, I will take your concerns into consideration in order to ensure the rights of consumers as well as those of the creators of Internet material.

    With kindest regards, I am


    Ernest F. Hollings

    So basically he denied that the SSSCA existed at the time. What a blatant lie.
    • In all fairness to him, what he said was absolutely true - he wasn't "introducing" a bill at that time. He was just getting ready to.

      I'm no fan of the SSSCA, but he didn't deny its existance. He denied that it was being introduced at that time, which is true. It's hardly a "blatant lie".
    • by youngsd ( 39343 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:07PM (#3078271)

      To me the most infuriating part of this is the mentality, expressed in Hollings' letter, that the world is divided into content "creators" and "consumers".

      If we are not in the business of making money off copyrighted works, then we must be "consumers" of copyrighted works. There appears to be no notion in either government or most major media outlets that some of us might value some of our rights that don't necessarily advance our positions as "consumers".

      Clearly it is too much to expect the public at large to "get" open source, but is there no general sense that our rights ought not be pidgeon-holed like this?


    • by NumberSyx ( 130129 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:16PM (#3078330) Journal
      That is a better response then I got from my suposed Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). After writing a nice polite letter about the dangers of both the DMCA and the SSSCA, I got a response about how she supported digital signatures for EShopping, "Way to go Kay !". I will not be voting for her in the future, unless she (or the Interns who answer her mail) starts showing she has a clue about the issues at hand. I have wriiten back, I included a copy of my original letter and her response, and advised her to be more careful in the future about responding to letters, as my letter and her response where completely unrelated. I further stated, based on this incident, that I doubted her abilty to properly represent me on matters that were important to me. I have as yet to receive a response.
  • ...but it probably won't.

    If implemented correctly, we could have something akin to IPsec -- a virtual, encrypted layer where copy-protected information is transmitted. PGP has had an option for a while for encrypting a text document with a flag set that prevents the recipient from saving it as a file. In theory, something like this could be implemented and actually work.

    In reality, it would probably be nothing of the kind... because of the DMCA, you could have an entire movie encoded ROT-1, and breaking that encryption (or even describing, in an educational setting, how to break that encryption) would be a felony. This strikes me as just absurd.

    If it was set up like net service, though, with a network-wide DES encryption layer, the content creators could retain some degree of control, and the actual implementation code would not reveal the secret. Thus the implementation code could be opensourced under an artistic license of some sort. In that case, I couldn't see any reason why it couldn't be incorporated into Linux, BSD, etc.

    My point is, copy protection would have to be enabled by a techological protection with a degree of cracking difficulty greater than the cost of purchasing the content legally. I am certain that, technically, this can be done.

    Unfortunately, I am nearly certain that, from a political standpoint, this cannot be done.

  • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:40PM (#3078067) Homepage
    Can somebody explain to me what's so amazingly important about broadband. As I understand this, the media companies want to trample on all of our rights so that they can sell us more bandwidth that they can use to transmit to us the movies that they sell. Can somebody please explain to me the compelling societal interest that's being promoted here?

    Bandwidth is a wonderful thing, but it seems like inacting legislation to artificially generate demand for it is an ill conceived idea. Fine, if copyright controls aren't built into every single piece of electronic equipment it might mean never watching Lord of the Rings on-line. WHO CARES? Fine, I'll go to a theater and watch it, and there I can get the experience of being with a large audience, getting the big sound and picture that I can never hope to replicate in my home. What is so almighty important to our society to be able to download this stuff?

    I guess my feeling is that if the big movie studios don't want to put their stuff on-line, fine, don't, I don't really care. What's the worst that happens? Nothing. Nothing at all. They keep making money the way they always have and we keep watching movies the way we always have. The only risk to them is that somebody else is going to come along and make something of that market without any of this copy protection technology built in. So really, in the end, this is all just an effort to further the monopoly of the MPAA over movie production and distribution. Isn't that grand?

    • Yeah sure does sound like the Movie Studios and the Music Industry wants to monopolize broadband for their profits; that's the way it looks to me.

      Also, it seems that they don't want the expense of securing their own product, they want the responsibility on the manufacturers of devices designed to present the Movie Studios and Music Industries content in a secure manner. That hardware security will be cracked so fast it'll make their collective heads spin right off - better to have that security be programmatic/software based.
      Regulation is not the answer.
  • Oh bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lblack ( 124294 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:40PM (#3078068)
    I can rent a movie from a local video store. I can then take it home, place it into my VCR, and record it to a second VCR.

    The total cost to me is between $.99 and $3.99 Canadian Dollars, plus $1.99 for the blank cassette tape.

    I could also record it to my computer, and eliminate the second cost.

    Why do video stores exist? Shouldn't the MPAA be burning them down, or whatever it is that happens to offenders that enable piracy?

    Oh, because they generate revenue. Slipped my mind. The MPAA sure are clever fellas, realizing that.

    Except that they didn't realize that until after-the-fact. They had permitted rentals of BetaMax, and discovered that they could not legitimately restrict rentals on the basis of the VHS medium. They went with it because they had to, not because they wanted to.

    And look at all the money!

    The reason that the Internet is so scary to the MPAA and ol' Jack is because it's so big. They think, "My goodness, 400 million people can download our movie and watch it." What they fail to realize is that if they provided a service to download movies legitimately, with no worries about stripped frames or out-of-sync sound, then perhaps 40 million of those 400 million would pay a $5 service fee. Because, hey, $5 is worth saving me a half an hour of frustration. If I could pay $5 for a movie, and KNOW that it would play correctly, and have it certified to run on all hardware exceeding a specific spec, I'd pay it. My serenity in watching a movie is worth a fiver. Really, it is.

    This has been said and said and said. Not everybody who downloads something off the internet ever would have purchased it. If I download a Britney Spears song because I'm having an argument over whether she's saying "My loneliness is killing me" or "Fuck me now, Tiger!" with my roommate, I'm not stealing their profit, because a stupid argument isn't worth buying a CD. Although it might be worth a micropayment, if that service existed. Of course it doesn't.

    The MPAA and RIAA are both trying to take traditional bricks and mortar businesses online. But, unlike Amazon, they run into a big problem: on-line, for the media formats they're pushing, they run into competition from the illegitimate side of things (Books aren't often pirated). What they have to do is make their service offering more attractive than theft.

    You'd think it wouldn't be hard to do that, except that their service offering is, and has been for about 40 years now, theft. They overcharge, they price in a predatory fashion, they artificially increase demand and artificially decrease supply. They constantly reduce production costs and yet constantly raise price tags.

    Look at the computer industry: The first computer I bought and paid for with my own money was a 386 SX 20. It had a 20 meg hard drive. It cost me a fucking mint -- over $1000, and I was getting it at a discount.

    Now, I can buy a 1 gigahertz computer for that price. Or, I could buy myself a K6 2/300 for $300. An increase in production efficiency coupled with a decrease in production costs resulted in a decrease of the price-to-consumer.

    Well, duh.

    But a CD? I bought a CD 10 years ago. It cost me $18.99 (Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense). I bought a CD yesterday, it cost me $24.99 (Kristin Hersch, Strange Angels). We all know that the price of pressable audio CDs has been decreasing, right? We all know that the methods of pressing tham have grown more efficient, right?

    Q:So why did the price of my CD *increase* instead of *decreasing*?

    A: Because the crooks in this equation are the RIAA.

    Oh bleh. I buy CDs to support the artists I like. The more copies sold, the more important they are to the label. The more important they are, the more exposure they get. The more exposure they get, the more people listen to them. The more people listen to them, the more shows they play. The more shows they play, the better the odds that I'll get to see them -- except, of course, that the tickets will probably cost enough that I'll have to sell a kidney.


    • does, in fact, cost you some money in that the drive cost you money. So if you've got a 60 gigabyte hard drive that costed you $200 and a 6 gigabyte movie on it, the moive is taking up 10% of your drive and effectively costing you $20. Of course, you could delete the movie at any time. Or burn it to a writeable DVD (Dunno what those cost these days.) Or compress it. The cost is hidden but it's still there and it keeps going down.

      As for why the cost of CDs keeps going up, that's because the RIAA's a price-fixing cartel that artificially inflates prices. I bought a few CDs from a while back, at $8 a pop and they were better than most of the crap that the RIAA promotes. You know why they were $8 a pop instead of $16-$25 a pop? Because was outside the RIAA cartel and could therefore set their own prices.

  • by RembrandtX ( 240864 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:44PM (#3078092) Homepage Journal
    "Also this week, the Recording Industry Association of America published data saying that music sales were down 10 percent last year and online piracy and CD burning were a "large factor contributing to the decrease."

    I suppose a Global recession, the conversion to Euro's in Europe, and the resulting chaos from the Sept 11 attack probally didn't concern CD buyers. [or the fact that the red cross had an ad campaign playing on the radio .. something along the lines of 'for the price of one CD, you can give assistance to aiding the victoms of this grevious event.']

    Seems to me that maybe good-ol` America had better things to spend their disposable income on around the holiday seasons last year.

    As for requiring devices to have imbedded encryption devices in them .. lets assume for a second that no one would be able to hack them [regardless of all the results you get if you google 'cable descramblers'] How would this benifit the 'Average' American.

    Just how does protecting Disney's IP [or Warnerbrother-aol-wwf] help the farmers in the midwest who grow the wheat for Eisner's mid afternoon power-bagel. From what I have seen latley (Return to Neverland, and the upcoming Cinderella sequil) Disney IP isn't exactly cutting edge anymore. Walt - the man who wouldnt let Izzy Isbourne recycle cels in their OLD animation must be pacing his cryo-chamber in angst at not only recycling cels .. but WHOLE MOVIES.

    Why corporations like these folks can decide a SECURITY LAW for the rest of america bothers me. Intel hit it right on the nose with their statement. It will not benifit the average consumer .. and to add to that .. WHY ARE COMMUNICATIONS companies deciding what is good for COMPUTER COMPANIES ?? Do they REALLY believe that I use the net (or .. chuckle . the web) to watch movies? Do they think my burning desire is to ignore the big TV box downstairs, or .. god forbid .. the movie theatre, and download a grainy pan&scan that some college kid made with a cam corder ?

    I mean .. Broadband must not be widespread because of this .. it can't have anything to do with cable companies haveing exclusivity in their areas with no-competition clauses .. or the fact that when you combine a $40 Broadband charge with your normal $50-60 TV bill .. that puts it out of the reach of the average income family.

    They want to see broadband in every house ? drop the fees to $20 a month.

    • With me my CD and Movie consumption are WAY down because I'm so sick of paying the industry just to have them constantly trying to fuck over my rights as set by the constitution and court precident. My tolerance for commercials is plummeting too. I now either tune into NPR or play a mix CD I burned from my collection (The RIAA has the nerve to tell me that's illegal.) I watch very little TV, though I must still admit to a weakness for Iron Chef and Junkyard Wars.

      Maybe, just maybe, the substantial number of people they've alienated have decided to stop giving them money.

  • ObConspiracy Theory (Score:2, Interesting)

    by exploder ( 196936 )
    Is all this mess really about protecting a (relatively, when compared to say, the industry being required to bend over backward) small industry's profits, or is it more about creating and/or protecting an end-to-end encrypted, secure channel from the powers-that-be to our ears and eyeballs? What happens if television, the granddaddy of all mass media, is absorbed into the relatively populist and anarchist internet? Imagine the implications of a service like (the now defunct) ThirdVoice, but for the evening news instead of websites. Who would be scared by such a prospect? Makes one go "hmmm".

  • Give me a break (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wind_Walker ( 83965 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:45PM (#3078097) Homepage Journal
    It's a law as old as copy protection itself:

    If you can read it, you can copy it

    Give me an e-book that I can display on a screen, and I'll make screenshots, paste them together using Adobe, and create a non-protected copy of that work for free.

    Oh, you disable screenshots? I'll take a digital camera and photograph it, toss them on my PC, and make a PDF out of them.

    Oh, you don't let me take a digital image of it? I'll copy it down onto a piece of FSCKING paper and scan that in.

    If it can be read, it can be copied

  • by doru ( 541245 )
    The movie industry and the Internet have two different preoccupations : the first is about making money and the second about circulating information.

    I see no reason why every computer should comply with their "standards" just in order to accomodate some business or the other...

    If they cannot adapt to the medium then tough luck ! It's not theirs to change in the first place.

  • Premise one : it is Work to create content, whether it be music, video, the printed word, or computer code. What do I mean by Work? Well, first it requires a portion of the content creator's lifespan to create content. It can be anywhere from 6 months of a book author's life to hundreds of manyears of time to create a major movie. Obviously, the people doing the creating must meet their needs during this time, and more skilled (or at least more popular) content creators must receive proportionally more compensation for their labors. (hence popular content receives more compensation)

    Premise Two : If someone is allowed to enjoy such created content, whatever to media, without paying for it they decrease the incentive the creators of such content have to produce it. If so few people pay for it in some manner that it is more effort to create content than the creators are compensated (measured in subjective terms, of course) then the creator of the content will likely move on to a more productive form of employment. Hence, noone makes a sequel to a movie that fails economically, and when the .coms run out of money they stop producing anything.

    Premise 3 : The digital age allows one to make absolutely perfect copies of content, for almost any form. Many people find they can get content for free with perfect quality. The same incentive rule applies : if you can get media for free, why pay for it? Thus, Something Must Be Done. Especially the major media creators who risk billions in making motion pictures (which is why the MPAA is the most strict about copy protection : a movie takes hundreds of times the money and effort as most other forms of content creation).

    I have not seen any proposals made by /.ers that will work. In reality, it will take very draconian measures for the content creators to ensure they receive fair compensation for their efforts.

    One last thing to note : some of you will allege that content creators do not in fact receive "fair" compensation...that they make obscene amounts of money compared to the cost of producing the media. That is simply false. First, in the case of music the $15 you pay for the cd goes to the ADVERTISING, which is just as big a part of the content you pay for as the music itself. The advertising makes you "feel good" about listening to the music, even if the music actually sucks. (hence the popularity of Miss Spears. Remember, advertising refers to more subtle forms of expression than mere T.V. commercials). For the movie example, much of the profit studios make on successful movies has to go to pay for the films that flop.
    • You talk about making stuff, and covering the cost of mistakes. Allow me to over simplify...

      If I make a hamburger.. the best hamburger in the world... and it costs $200, I'll charge $225 for it, OK?

      Now, after I've gotten my $225 how many more times should I charge for it? Should I charge for each burp the original eater gets later in the day? Should I charge the bacteria that digest the burger? Six months later, should I be collecting royalties from the cows that ate the grass that was fertilized by the hamburger?

      My point is, that once I've done something and gotten paid for it, I need to do something else to get paid more... except when I am a record label or a movie studio.

      What if I make a crappy hamburger? I don't get paid for it.

      How many times over should anyone get paid for creating something?

      Vortran out
  • The money to be made (Score:5, Interesting)

    by richieb ( 3277 ) <richieb&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:49PM (#3078128) Homepage Journal
    This article [] appeared in NYT last weekend. The interesting thing it said that Sony makes about 4 billions per year on music sales, but about 40 billion on electronics sales (i.e. MP3 players, memory sticks, CD burners). How willing do you think would Sony be to reduce the income from consumer eletronics to satisfy their music division?

  • by Wintersmute ( 557244 ) <> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:49PM (#3078132) Homepage
    Once again, the content industry is trying to pass off the costs of securing content. As I said the other day, in relation to Jack Valenti's most recent act of public self-humiliation (er... I guess that's what they call PR)

    "The content industry has been trying to force the costs of secure IP on everyone BUT themselves. First users, then ISPs, now electronics manufacturers. When the hell will they figure out that securing their content is their own damn problem? It's like they can't figure out how to lock their own door, and instead of building a better lock, they'd rather criminalize the act of using a doorknob - er, excuse me, "wall-circumvention device." Obviously, that was a subversive Freudian slip.

    Okay, so maybe recycling comments is bad form, but its even more prescient now than before.

    That being said, feel free to call me hopelessly optimistic here... but I sense the tide turning.

    Okay, I can hear the collective huh? out there, but I'm saying this seriously. I think there's two indicators that may mean the tide is turning away from the property rights hawks and toward the rest of us.

    First, the Senate has gotten into the game. Sen. Boucher has given the RIAA flack recently about copy protection schemes and digital watermarking, and Sen. Hatch has voiced on at least one occasion that the DMCA may not be working. ("Hey, no kidding, Orrin!?")

    Second, the Supreme Court has gotten into the game. Last year's Tasini decision (look it up on Findlaw) was the first subtle blow to content owners, and I think the Eldred appeal, if the Court strikes down the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, may be the next.

    To paraphrase Churchill, I'm not saying this is the end. It's not even the beginning of the end. It may, however, be the end of the beginning.

    Excuse my proselytizing, but where that ends is up to you. Email your Congressperson about the SSSCA. I don't care - tell them you think Hollings is a weenie. Just make yourself heard. If you've got time to peruse Slashdot, you've got time to write the damn email. And that doesn't even have to be in HMTL.

    What are you waiting for?
    • Actually, if you have the time to compose a message, take the trouble to print it out, fold it into an envelope, and stick a stamp on it.

      Email doesn't count for the same reason spam doesn't count. Show them you care enough to spring for an envelope and a stamp. My impression is that legislators take signed postal mail much more seriously than email, and what's more, I think that is a reasonable position for them to take.

  • They say that the law will boost hardware sales. Why? Because all of your current equipment will be incapable of accessing their crappy online content, so all of the morons out their who are brainwashed by Hollywood and the recording industry will have to throw away all of their old equipment (6 months old?) to play Britney Spears' new online-only (so you can't own a copy) single or Jurassic Park 8.

    Think of all of the equipment that will become 'unusable' by the masses and therefore discarded. This will certainly help push California's new computer recycling legislation through.

    Also, notice there is no consumer representation at this hearing (the closest thing being Intel). The consumers are affected by this law just as much as the tech industry, and probably much more than the recording and film industries (they will push the legislation through and then sit back and watch while everyone else suffers through it, but ultimately it probably won't make them any more money).

    The nice thing is that during the transitional phase, they will probably end up alienating the masses who can't afford the equipment required to listen to new music or rent new movies. Then they will complain that piracy has caused their sales to go down. Lather, rinse, repeat...

  • by hrieke ( 126185 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:50PM (#3078146) Homepage
    Folks this is tongue in cheek here -
    I think we need a law that deals with crimes against the Constitution.
    Any person caught proposing a law or voting for a law which is later found to be in violation against the Constitution shall be banned from any government work, either as elected or appointed. If found to be lobbying another elected official after being banned, all those who were lobbied can not vote on the legislation lobbied on behalf of.

    Although H.B. Piper had a few good ideas in his books too... Anyone else up for a law that allows up to shoot elected officals that we feel aren't acting in our best intrests?
    • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @12:54PM (#3078173) Journal
      Actually, I just think that y'all need to remove the concept of being a politician; it wasn't supposed to be a career. Something like, one can spend eight years in public office. Period.
    • I think we need a law that deals with crimes against the Constitution. Any person caught proposing a law or voting for a law which is later found to be in violation against the Constitution shall be banned from any government work, either as elected or appointed.

      Here's a slightly more relaxed variant I came up with some years ago. When Congress spends time debating and passing laws which end up being ruled unconstitutional, it is wasting time, taxpayer money, and its own attention. A law that ends up being ruled null and void, after all, costs just as much in Congressional salary and support costs as a law that is effective. Members of Congress who support and vote for such laws are in effect advocating that Congress throw its time away -- and unnecessarily panic the populace to boot.

      Therefore, members of Congress and the voting public need a proportional incentive to spend time debating and passing only laws which are constitutional. One way to do this would be to penalize every member of Congress a fraction of his or her vote for every unconstitutional law he or she votes for.

      So, for instance, if Sen. Jones voted for the Communications Decency Act and four other unconstitutional laws in one year, he would end up with only 0.95 votes once the Supreme Court had ruled the laws unconstitutional. Thus, to preserve his own power base, he would have every reason to stick closely to the Constitution.

      Moreover, this would be an effective alternative to term limits. Since every member of Congress is likely to vote for a couple of unconstitutional laws every year, challengers would have an automatic advantage over incumbents, since constituents would prefer to be represented by a full vote (which every freshman congressman would bring) rather than just the 90% or 80% of a vote which an incumbent might have left.

      Strom Thurmond would be long gone.

  • "The technology community doesn't want any standards regardless of what form they take. There's an impasse that needs to be bridged if we want to create broadband services and increase consumer demand for those services," Davis said on Tuesday.

    Davis is Hollings' spokesman. So, the government believes it has a duty to increase demand from consumers for certain kinds of commercial services?



  • 'A representative for the Walt Disney Company declined to comment for this article. But in September, a Disney lobbyist defended Hollings' draft SSSCA as "an exceedingly moderate and reasonable approach." '

    With the exception of posting to Slashdot, how can something be 'exceedingly moderated'?

  • It's coming... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rbeattie ( 43187 ) <> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:00PM (#3078230) Homepage
    We can all fight this, but it's coming so we might as well get used to it and get some sleep.

    The fact is that technology is created by giant corporations. Can you manufacture a Pentium in your garage? Nope. Hard drives? Monitors? Network cards? Cable? Infrared mice? Nope, nope, nope. Basically the only thing that we have control of is the software, the rest is made by multinational corporations who have very little of our best interests in mind.

    No one really respected computers before 1995. Only office workers used them and NO one used them for entertainment. The same argument can be made for most digital devices. Now suddenly, everyone gets the clue and realizes what sort thing of thing that Greek chick has let out of the digital box. In the coming years every book, every piece of music, every movie, every television show EVER CREATED will be available digitally. And as it is now every piece of this copyrighted material is free to be transferred between people without cost.

    Everyone gets the idea now. And they're going to do something about it.

    So, multinationals are going to do what they can to protect their own and the government (especially a Republican led government) will let them. Companies like Sony who once pushed for BetaMax openness will now push for DRM on everything. Even little companies like Blizzard get it and pushes for complete control over it's product and how it's used on the Internet. It won't be long before Microsoft does the same for Windows (want to use the net? You have to use the Microsoft Internet Protocol TM - or you go to jail.)

    And what are we, the people, going to do when the corporations do this? Nothing. Because again, we can't create our own fiber-optic cable in our bathroom, we can't create DRAM in our kitchen, etc. We are at the bottom end of the line waiting for whatever digital product these corporations produce.

    Normally we would not buy such horrible products and then we would go to our government for protection from such strongarm tactics, but the government is not on our side (and hasn't been for a while). In FACT, they are ASKING the corporations to COLLUDE! PLEASE restrict choice. PLEASE come to an agreement on how to best restrict digital freedoms. PLEASE make it so the status quo can be maintained. THAT is best for the country.

    The corporations and the government know NOW that the technology user only has as much power as they GIVE them, so they're going to come to an agreement on the best way to restrict this power.

    Get used to it.


    • Re:It's coming... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hooya ( 518216 )
      you are correct in saying that we can't fab chips in our garage. but what we do have is the money that the ones who can fab the chips want so badly. sony wanted the openness in the BetaMax players because they wanted in on it. since they couldn't get in, they went on to create their own 'in'. now that they're in the 'in' they want everyone else that's not in to keep out. much like the BetaMax makers in their day to sony. sure, no consumer could assemble a VCR in their garage but this company that was ousted from the BetaMax 'in' wanted your dollar so bad that they found a way to create a new 'in' so that they'd be ousted no more. Similarly, Sony and the gang can create whatever wall they want around them to keep them in the 'in' while keeping everyone else out. That's when some company (much like what sony during BetaMax) will come along and create it's own 'in' and leave Sony and the gang biting the dust.

      If you bring your ball to the field, but refuse to let anyone else play don't you think sooner or later someone else is going to get another ball and kick you out along with your ball? As long as people want to play, there will be a ball with which everyone can play.

      Time to start scratching your noggin for ideas. That company could be you.

      The way I see it, this (the bill being passed) is actually a good thing. This seems like the only way big mega-corps can be shackled -- and the irony is that they do it themselves by creating that wall around them. (You build a fort with no doors for the sake of security, how do you expect to reach the masses that are outside?) History shows that smaller companies find an opportunity somewhere in there. Too bad they grow big and this whole process repeats itself.

      Anyhow, IMO, it's just a cyclic evolution in the corporate world. nothing new.

  • Loophole? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Last August, Hollings circulated a proposal called the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) that prohibits creating, selling or distributing "any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies."

    So does this mean that only a *complete* PC counts as an "interactive digital device"? A video card or motherboard isn't interactive by itself.

    So, could one could still buy "non-protected" components and build your own clean PC, and thus be guilty of merely /creating/ an "interactive digital device"?
  • Unbelievable. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:01PM (#3078238)
    Sometimes I can't believe this country.

    We trust the people enough to sell lethal firearms to anybody who walks in off of the street.

    We trust the people enough to let a soccer mom drive a 3-ton truck with no special training.

    But we don't trust the people enough to let them have a general-purpose computer.

    It's insane.

  • This would be great if we could apply it to the media itself:
    • Only one TV show about a bunch of pretty 20-somethings living together with lots of free time, trendy clothing & furnishings and a penchant for drinking coffee together

    • Only one TV show about a hard working dedicated bunch of Drs/Lawyers/Teachers who all exhibit a full DSM-Guide of personality disorders and apparently only date or socialize with each other.

    • Only one talk show hosted by a comedian with an endless series of "celebrity" guests shilling their latest project.

    • Only one band fronted by a nasal-voiced Bob-Dillon wannabe singing about teenage angst and lost love.

    • Only one all-girl/all-boy teen band singing out processed harmonies written for them by an ad agency committee.

    • Only one swords & sorcerer novel allowed to be pushed at once all using pretty much Tolkien's plot & milieu, set in three parts but with a twist

    • Only one religion allowed to claim to be the one true one and all of the others prosecuted as Intellectual Property infringers.

    • All books and non-digital media have the same rules applied as proposed for digital media. Photocopiers, scanner, tapes, pens, pencils, carbon paper, all must have copyright-protection devices built in. Oh, mechanical pencils are *very* suspect and will require a license.

    • Cameras are of course geo-shuttered unless one gets a permit for the view desired. California will begin charging 10 cents for a Golden Gate Bridge shot, NY, NJ and the Nat'l Park Service will be in court over rights to the Statue of Liberty, France will angle for a cut too.

    • Every politician who promises to be tough on crime, cut taxes and restore pride to our great nation will be fined for copying.

    • Ownership of saws, screwdriver & T-squares will be regulated to prevent the illicit construction of unlicensed buildings or machines.

    • Web-browsers will come equipped with Digital-Media-Rights-Modules determining for how long a page can be displayed and ensuring no copies are made. Webcams with biometrics will be utilized to ensure the identity of properly authorized readers.

    Write your Congress-Critters. []

  • ...then they should release their products in an analog format! They should have to change, not the rest of the world. They made a decision to go digital, and they could choose to revert to analog. If you don't like the game, you don't get to change the rules for the other players. Your only option is to quit and play a different game.
  • this is where I draw the line.

    DMCA and UCITA need to be repealed. They're bad, and they're blatantly unconstitutional, but let's be honest: they aren't outrageous in the technical sense. They're certainly a quid pro quo for soft money, and potentially worse, and they're certainly only going to last until their first appointment with a high court.

    They are not "let's try to paint the sky red."

    The SSSCA is.

    And this is where I draw the line.

    If this law passes, I will put my current career on hold. I will become a political activist.

    Soft money reform is only the beginning.

    I will vote against every incumbent in the following election, and I will devote every available bit of my energy towards encouraging others to do the same.

    If we, as a nation, can seriously consider bribe-legislation so foul, so odious, so obviously pernicious both to our own economy and our basic civial rights, then it's time for some turnover.
  • According to [], Representative Ernest F. Hollings received $260,034 from the TV/Movie/Music industry from 1997-2001. This was the second highest contributer; the highest was lawyers and law firms. He also received $18,000 in contributions from TV/Movie/Music PACs for 2001-2002. You can read all the details here [].

    So, yes, Hollings is in the entertainment industry's pocket.
  • by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:12PM (#3078306) Homepage
    Let's set aside whether we should have the right to back-up or trade intellectual property. Admittedly it's important, but I have some bigger concerns.

    The universal implementation of digital rights protection would be enormously dangerous to free speech as a whole.

    Let's just say, years in the future, World Net Daily [] publishes an article containing information that is very embarassing to the government. Officials want the story squelched.

    So, just register a signature for the page in the Digital Rights MAnagement system, and call it proprietary. Pooft! No one can access it. No one can email it. It's gone, for all intents and purposes, excepting for those who have broken the protection system on their hardware.
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:13PM (#3078314) Homepage Journal
    I don't think we have to worry too much about this. (Altho don't mistake that comment as 'we don't need to defend ourselves.')

    a.) It's unconstitutional. The Gov't is happy to step in and cap prices, but they rarely go for the idea of regulating behaviour.

    b.) The people heading this up are asking for measures that are too extreme. This is usually an indication that they have something sneaky going down they're trying to create a loophole for.

    c.) Also, the people heading this up are in the position of 'we are a huge corporation who wants to milk more money out of the consumer.'

    d.) I seriously doubt that the people backing this up can show they've suffered any serious damage due to piracy. They can't really. They don't even transmit stuff online.

    e.) The spirit of copyright is to protect people's works so that they are rewarded to keep creating. The problem is that if they take away abilities to create, then they are working against copyright. If the MPAA and RIAA have their ways, I won't be allowed to be 'inspired' by content. I think if a judge understands this, he or she won't allow this particular form of legislation to take place.

    I haven't heard any arguments from these guys that don't sound incredibly extreme. It could be likened to gun control. We all know that guns are primarily used to kill people. (Please please PLEASE don't send me stupid comments about rare circumstances where they can be used for turning off the TV or for shutting up noisy neighbors. I hate when people here nitpick details instead of ideas.) Yet, nobody's been successful at making the acquisition guns illegal. This is probably because the USA refuses to take away one's right to defend themselves. It's for this reason that I don't think this heavy-handed proposal will go through.

    Personally, I think the MPAA should just accept that some people are going to make content available. If somebody seeks that content instead of the legitimate ways of obtaining it (which, btw, is difficult today since the MPAA doesn't make it available..GRRR), then somebody will provide a means for it. Instead of fighting it, provide better service. Making it a challenge for people to obtain pirated copies is going to increase piracy.
  • Write your senator. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joshsisk ( 161347 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:18PM (#3078344)

    Use it to find your Senator's sites and send them an email. Both of my Seantors had form built into their site, so it was very easy for me do do so.

    Below is the letter I wrote. It's not very well written, but I think the more important thing is that they know people don't like this sort of legislation.

    Be sure to write YOUR senators, and include your address. They pay more attention to people in their state. Also, please be civil. I doubt they'll respond well to "tHiS 1Aw suXoRs!!!", or the like. If you don't feel like writing much, just a brief sentence about how you are oppossed to the law will do fine.

    Senator Mikulski,

    I just wanted to write a brief message to let you know that I, as someone who works in the Technology industry, oppose the "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act" (SSSCA), as proposed by Senate Commerce chairman Fritz Hollings.

    This plan is, in my opinion, and MANY others, unworkable. It unfairly places the responsibility of protecting the content of the entertainment industry on the technology industry. It also restricts and unfairly places additional cost on the consumer.

    The fact is, the bootleggers will still be able to make copies. This legislation actually does nothing to prevent them from copying discs or making discs with unreleased movies or audio. They have access to professional-grade or modified equipment that, by design or modification, will be unaffected by these new standards. Many of them operate in countries where these laws would not affect them, using equipment made outside of our zone of influence. (Proof of this is that many Hollywood movies are illegally available on DVD and Video CD in foreign countries within days, and sometimes even before, of their release to theaters in America.)

    Also, the average user will still be able to find these items in digital format. All it takes is one user who is savvy enough to make a copy, then the information is available. Or, if one person is willing to upload an illegally purchased bootleg that does not have the protections encoded on it, then again, the information is available to those who want it.

    This legislation will force excess cost and restriction on both the consumers and the technology industry, as well as stifling innovation. If every technological innovation had to be designed to that it would make piracy impossible, we would not have cassette tapes, VCRS, the internet or even the printing press. Many of these inventions were followed by predictions of doom for copyright holders, but that has yet to come to pass.

    If every company has to consider how a new invention will relate to the intellectual property of another industry before deciding to develop that technology it will, at the least, slow down technological development.

    These rules will also present a significant barrier of entry to new, smaller firms who wish to try and compete in the technological arena. It is difficult and expensive to develop a technological product or piece of software as it is. If companies have to build various artifical safeguards into their products to protect the work of other companies from activities that are already illegal, then it may become to costly for them to compete effectively with the other, larger, companies in their field.

    Beyond these factors is the fact that citizens and consumers should not be faced with these restrictions, as they will not effectively prevent piracy, only fair use.

    Piracy is a bad thing, yes, but the fact is, piracy is already illegal. Please don't force the consumer and the technology industry to pay through the nose AND accept heavy restrictions on their activities and business to fight this impossible fight to stamp out piracy.

    Thank you for your time,
    Joshua A Sisk
  • Solution: Analog (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:21PM (#3078360) Homepage Journal
    IANAL, but it seems any manufacturer who does not have the money or will to comply with this law just needs to incorporate some piece of analog technology into a product, and the need to comply with this law disappears.

    After all, if a device has some dirty old analog technology, it's not *truely* digital, correct?

    Really, this could just fall upon lawyers looking for ways to define how a digital device isn't truely digital. Lots of hair splitting.

    As usual, the only people who win are the lawyers.
  • It's not too late (Score:5, Informative)

    by Oates ( 18921 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:24PM (#3078381) Homepage
    If you are a constiuent and a voter, call today to register your opposition to this proposed bill. Don't wait--the committee is scheduled to meet on this tomorrow.

    You can find this list at

    508 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg
    Washington, DC 20510-6125

    Democrats Phone Number Fax Number
    Ernest F. Hollings, SC (202)224-6121 (202)224-4293
    Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii (202)224-3934 (202)224-3934
    John D. Rockefeller IV, WV (202)224-6472 (202)224-7665
    John F. Kerry, Massachusetts (202)224-2742 (202)224-8525
    John B. Breaux, Louisiana (202)224-4623 (202)228-2577
    Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota (202)224-2551 (202)224-1193
    Ron Wyden, Oregon (202)224-5244 (202)228-2717
    Max Cleland, Georgia (202)224-3521 (202)224-0072
    Barbara Boxer, California (202)224-3553 (202)228-1338
    John Edwards, North Carolina (202)224-3154 (202)224-3154
    Jean Carnahan, Missouri (202)224-6154 (202)224-6154
    Bill Nelson, Florida (202)224-5274 (202)228-2183

    Republicans Phone Number Fax Number
    John McCain, Arizona (202)224-2235 (202)228-2862
    Ted Stevens, Alaska (202)224-3004 (202)224-2354
    Conrad Burns, Montana (202)224-2644 (202)224-2644
    Trent Lott, Mississippi (202)224-6253 (202)224-2262
    Kay Bailey Hutchison,Texas (202)224-5922 (202)224-0776
    Olympia J. Snowe, Maine (202)224-5344 (202)224-1946
    Sam Brownback, Kansas (202)224-6521 (202)228 1265
    Gordon Smith, Oregon (202)224-3753 (202)228-3997
    Peter G. Fitzgerald, Illinois (202)224-2854 (202)228-1372
    John Ensign, Nevada (202)224-6244 (202)228-2193
    George Allen, Virginia (202)224-4024 (202)224-4024
  • Just like your right to swing your fist ends at my nose, one could could argue that your freedom to copy data ends when it's someone else's data. If this is done well, it should not hinder legitimate use, but I bet most people here are more interested in whether or not they will still be able to rip those rented DVDs.
    If you think about it for a moment though, you'll realize that something like this is bound to happen some time. Instead of protesting and hoping it won't, you need to accept that it will, and try to shape and influence it so that it doesn't become a nuissance for legitimate uses, make sure it doesn't become a Windows-only thing, etcetera.
  • Even apart from the donations buy votes theory, just remember -- If Jack Valenti can get a fee from you, Congress can tax that transaction at the same time. $$$.
  • I remember when I was reading 'Atlas Shrugged' (yes, it's a bad novel, but it's interesting too) and thought the whole "moratorium on brains" thing was just too ridiculous and unbelievable. It was like an over-the-top exaggeration badly told, to make a religeous point. Nobody is that crazy, I thought.

    And now stuff on the same scale of stupidity is happening in Real Life. This is one of the most stupifying, amazing things I have ever heard of, which leaves the most imaginative fiction in the dust. And supposedly grown-up people in positions of power are taking this seriously. Even passing a law that outlaws tinfoil hats would make more sense than a law to outlaw general-purpose programmable computers.

    I hope that the people who pass it have to live with the consequences, while the rest of us openly break the law. "Sorry, you cannot print or save the letter that you just typed."

  • by Melantha_Bacchae ( 232402 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @01:41PM (#3078505)
    The first round for SSSCA ended in October of 2001 with it being postponed indefinately. Microsoft actually came out (mildly) against it. On December 11, 2001, Microsoft was granted patent 6,330,670 for the "Digital rights management operating system". (Microsoft also has 19 other patents on the subject of DRM.)

    One of the initial concerns over SSSCA had to do with the fact that Windows XP already had DRM built in, and so the law would give it an unfair advantage. "Unfair advantage" has now become a gross understatement. Microsoft has patented what the SSSCA would require of every OS. This leaves Apple, Linux, etc. with only three options:

    1) Try to license DRMOS from Microsoft, and MS refuses: your OS is history.

    2) Try to license DRMOS from Microsoft, and MS lets you. Be prepared to pay through the nose. Also, realize that MS is going to throw all kinds of things into the agreement, from IE to .Net and everything in between.

    3) Try to break their patent. Good luck.

    I would strongly suggest fighting SSSCA tooth and nail, now while we still can. Give Apple and the various corporate allies of Linux a heads-up, they can help. Raise the alarm in the world outside Slashdot.

    If we don't stop this, Microsoft (and the MPAA and RIAA) will have their Millenium (thousand year rule).

    Come on, Tok Wira, these sharks have got to pay!
    New Kirk calling Mothra: "We need you today!"
    • I like the parent post but most of the stuff I read here does not address the most important issue!

      LINUX CAN NOT RUN on SSCA hardware because everything from the chip to the hard drive incorporates this encryption and trusts one another with handshakes! In other words without a key all data is locked@ IT can't be revesersed engineered thanks to the dmca, it can be broken because its in hardware, and if it incorporates any drm technology, guess who already has a patent on it? Microsoft!

      USe Windows or go to jail. Oh. by the way the license for the upcomming Windows.NET is rumoured to be timebombed so expect to pay a monthly bill to Microsoft or TURN YOUR PC INTO A DOORSTOP!

      If this goes through into law I will be so f*cking angry that It will be beyond words! I may even throw my computer out in protest. If this is the future of computers, then I want not part in it!

  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:09PM (#3079646) Journal
    The "Stupid Hollings Bill," (or TSHB) as we have come to call it, is bad for us and bad for America. It is bad because it is blatant protectionism of a small class of persons (who already have received their Constitutional quota of protection with respect to the underlying rights in a Copyright and Patent) at great cost to the rest of us. It is bad for the same reasons that all economic regulation is bad -- it invites capital to go to places other than America.

    Whatever can be said about intellectual property laws, they are grounded in a fundamental need to balance conflicting interests -- the interest in giving incentives to talent to create, and the interest of giving those who follow and stand on the shoulders of those giants to innovate therefrom. IP, when properly balanced, stimulates growth and innovation. When unbalanced, one way or the other, leads at best, to stagnation.

    But TSHB serves none of these policies. It dumbs down and compromises technologies that are at the very economic core of our modern economy, for no reason at all, but for the litigation convenience of a political constituency that, apparently has more dollars than sense.

    This is the same constituency that years ago whined about its death in the face of the piano rolls, then the radio, then the television, then the audio tape, then the video tape, then the DAT, and now the Internet. In every case, they lost their war to regulate technology and media, and despite themselves, profited immensely. Losing the Betamax case was the single best thing that happened to the movie industry, except for the few dinosaurs who liked too much their old ways.

    And America benefitted from such changes, despite the whinings of the powers that be. Each new technology meaningfully changed our lives in useful ways, created growth and jobs, and most important, made new and greater incentives for people of talent to create.

    Imagine if each and every new medium and technology was subject to regulation and review, subject to vetting by every content provider. Who is going to pay for test-drives of new media? Answer: noone, at least noone in the United States. Capital will be invested elsewhere, and the innovators who brought to us these wonderful technologies will go to medical school, law school or elsewhere.

    This much we know. The "parade of horribles" of the RIAA and MPAA against underregulation never happened. None of these industries were destroyed by any of the aforementioned technologies. We have seen regulation, however, keep novel technologies from prospering. (And, although cause and effect is certainly not evident, I take great pride in noting that RIAA had their best year in history the year before the Napster decision, when they were terrified that Napster would kill it, but virtually contemporaneously with their 9th Circuit victory, found themselves suddenly unable to sell records.)

    TSHB is bad for America because it is unnecessary trade regulation. It is bad for America because it deters creativity from the very sector that has provided the most vital growth (jobs and GNP) to the new economy, in favor of a whining constituency that has ALWAYS argued they were about to die, but has never really needed the protectionism for which they continue to fight.

    TSHB is bad for America because it is, at its heart and sole, unAmerican. We need to foster technology, not regulate it. We need to encourage growth in new media, not to staunch its flow. Hollings would make the Commerce Department the gatekeeper of new media, serving as lapdog to content creators.

    And in so doing, will only deprive them of the very success that new media technologists have provided in the past, and can always provide in the future.

    New technology is driven by natural market forces. Regulation stops these things from working. Content people are the least qualified of all to vet and evaluate new media, except perhaps, for Commerce Department regulators. (And these remarks are coming from a "left of Che" liberal!)

    TSHB will not help anything, for there is no real problem here, but it will cause harm. In my view, grievous harm, to America.

    On the other hand, think of the opportunities this will create for EC economic and content development! (Has anyone checked for foreign contributors to Hollings campaigns?)

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."