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Red Hat puts out Legislation Alert on the SSSCA 277

the_2nd_coming writes "Red Hat has announced a legislation alert for the SSSCA. They are collecting comments to hand to lawmakers. Get those comments in while you can, but make sure you give them some thought."
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Red Hat puts out Legislation Alert on the SSSCA

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  • Get behind this! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sturm ( 914 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:05AM (#2410600) Journal
    We, as a community, really need to get behind this effort. Say what you want about Redhat, but a company is probably going to have louder voice than a few disorganized individuals. Way to go Redhat!
    • People, this really is very Important!
      If you ever really wanted to help make a difference, here is your chance. This bill would change computer technology in such a crippling way we simply can not let this pass. According to this bill the TELNET protocol would be ILLIGAL to use, same with SMTP, any protocol which used plain text transfers would be ILLIGAL under this bill. yes there are easy fixes, such as making encryption wrappers for those protocols, but we should not be FORCED to encrypt our data. thats what SSH and SSL are for.
      So go over to the Redhat site, its been slashdotted, so its not going real fast, but go over there, fill out your first name last name email address country and just write a one or 2 line thing saying why you think this is bad.
      Dont have anything original ? here:

      Dear Senator Fritz Hollings
      It is my informed opinion that this bill should not go through. Yes there are good sides to it, such as stopping an extremely large amount of copyright infringments, but at the same time it would cripple the software industry in a very big way.
      Thankyou for taking the time to read this.

      Yours Truly

      Oh and make sure you select oppose, or strongly oppose, whichever you feel.

      • by NumberSyx ( 130129 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:42AM (#2410845) Journal

        Yes there are good sides to it

        This is a bad statment. Part of Politics is the art compromise and by giving him this much you are telling him he is on the right track. Remember most of these guys have people filter thier mail for them and sum up issues as "Number For and Number Against" and a statment like this one could be taken as a "Number For". When writting your letters, give them no room for compromise, no room to "Fix" the bill. Tell them the current copyright laws are enough, this bill will only gut Fair Use and should be completely thrown away.

      • Re:Get behind this! (Score:4, Informative)

        by tim_maroney ( 239442 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:53AM (#2410901) Homepage
        According to this bill the TELNET protocol would be ILLIGAL to use, same with SMTP, any protocol which used plain text transfers would be ILLIGAL:...

        Not even remotely true. First off, try the very second paragraph:
        Subsection (a) does not apply to the offer for sale or provision of, or other trafficking in, any previously-owned interactive digital device, if such device was legally manufactured or imported, and sold, prior to the effective date of regulations adopted under section 104 and not subsequently modified in violation of (a) or 103(a).

        In addition, this bill only applies when private sector representatives have achieved consensus on a security standard for a particular technology. Can you imagine that the Internet standard bodies would create standards that ban all the previous standards on which the Internet is founded and by which it runs?

        It's not a good bill, but let's not lie about what it actually is. Sheesh. I mean, the first time this bill was mentioned here, some geek at a Linux zine was claiming it banned all open source software.

        • It's not a good bill, but let's not lie about what it actually is. Sheesh. I mean, the first time this bill was mentioned here, some geek at a Linux zine was claiming it banned all open source software.

          yes it will. Open source software can not be controlled the way a closed source programs can be. it will be seen as a circumvention tool and be outlawed implicitly by some crafty federal district attorney who convinces some judge.
        • According to this bill the TELNET protocol would be ILLIGAL to use, same with SMTP, any protocol which used plain text transfers would be ILLIGAL:...
          Not even remotely true. First off, try the very second paragraph:

          Subsection (a) does not apply to the offer for sale or provision of, or other trafficking in, any previously-owned interactive digital device, if such device was legally manufactured or imported, and sold, prior to the effective date of regulations adopted under section 104 and not subsequently modified in violation of (a) or 103(a).

          Protocols are not devices; it's okay to outlaw telnet and smtp on new hardware?

          • Actually, protocol software could be considered a device under the bill.

            It's not impossible that somehow there could be a ban on new implementations of a protocol, even though old implementations would be grandfathered in. What I have yet to see is any plausible scenario for that happening. Neither you nor anyone else here has provided such a scenario. Who has the interest in making that happen and why, and how would they get such a proposal approved through the massive objections?

        • According to this bill the TELNET protocol would be ILLIGAL to use, same with SMTP, any protocol which used plain text transfers would be ILLIGAL:...
          Not even remotely true. First off, try the very second paragraph:
          Subsection (a) does not apply to the offer for sale or provision of, or other trafficking in, any previously-owned interactive digital device, if such device was legally manufactured or imported, and sold, prior to the effective date of regulations adopted under section 104 and not subsequently modified in violation of (a) or 103(a).

          What about upgrades?

          • Software is pattentable in the US because it changes the state of the machine. When you upgrade you have changed the device so it follows that an upgrade has the possibility of changing a device into a new digital interactive device (I haven't found where device is defined as purely a physical object in the law).
            So probably whether it does or not depends on the mood of the prosecuter and or judge at any given point in time or more probably why they are giving you attention.
    • This seems like one of the places that would truly be helped by the resurrection of the ?software as free speech? argument.

      This bill is the equivalent of setting up regulations on software and computer equipment. The only times that products have been regulated is when public safety at-large is in question (i.e., car industry, children?s toys, food suppliers, air travel, etc...). Is there a legitimate reason to think that the public needs protection, M$ jokes aside, from software and hardware developers. There are already regulations in place to make sure computers and their software do their correct job in places where other agencies are already in place. Any company that has to follow FDA regulations has to follow many regulations the make sure that computers used to produce FDA regulated products work correctly. Many other agencies have, or will have, these types of regulations as well. What they end up being is very strict ISO-9000 like documentation systems used to show that a computer works, and here?s the proof.

      Public safety is not what is being protected by this bill. The only benefactors of this bill are going to be media corporations and the companies that are going to manufacture the new, much more expensive, computer hardware.

      The software side will be no better. In order to compete in a world where development times are artificially longer and testing periods overly regulated a company is going to have to sell this software at sky-high prices. But wait, software giants aren't going to feel this as much as start-ups or other smaller competitors. These larger companies will be able to under cut the competitor?s prices without having to improve anything of real consequence in their software. In fact this will only be validation by congress that M$ tactics are reasonable tactic, and the whole country will have to take a few progress steps backwards.

      To think, at the beginning of this century, congress is trying to undo the affirmation of rights (and further even, they are taking them away) given to us at the beginning of last century by the anti-trust laws. In light of this and what has been happening the country and the world, I hope that we will still have our rights. The bill of rights is unchangeable and are copied in the constitution as the first 10 amendments. To change any of the first 10 amendments you would have to change the bill of rights. This is why there are two documents and why one can?t be changed. The rights are in the constitution to make them law but are in the bill of rights to make sure that no one can blur them.

  • Stupid rhetorics (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Goddamn that guy.

    "We're going to shine the light of justice..."

    "...draw the line in the sand against the evil ones..."

    "Our work is against Evil"

    Who's he talking to? The IQ 85 population?

  • by Red Aardvark House ( 523181 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:08AM (#2410620)
    From the Redhat article:

    Essentially, all devices and software that fall into this vague definition of digital interactive technology will have to include encryption so it can't be copied. This could include VCR tapes, compact discs, and the devices that run them, as well as computers and open source software.

    Surprises me. This is one of the most heavy-handed pieces of legislation I've seen. I can understand the digital aspect of it, but even encrypting videotapes, the last bastion of small-scale piracy? I'm really not for piracy, but I thought the videotape issue fell under "don't sweat the small stuff".

    Gotta give credit for the thoroughness of the proposed legislation, though.
    • Essentially, all devices and software that fall into this vague definition of digital interactive technology will have to include encryption so it can't be copied. This could include VCR tapes, compact discs, and the devices that run them, as well as computers and open source software.

      The thing that really bugs me is that the bill specifically prescribes Macrovision as the protection.

      Doesn't it seem wrong that the government would take a free standard like VHS and mandate that a licensed solution needs to be used with it?

    • I think that they let VCR tapes out of this legislation. Please note Section 103(b) Prohibited Acts:

      (b) PERSONAL TIME-SHIFTING COPIES CANNOT BE BLOCKED. -- No person may apply a security measure that uses a certified security technology to prevent a lawful recipient from making a personal copy for time-shifting purposes of programming at the time it is lawfully performed, on an over-the-air broadcast, non-premium cable channel, or non-premium satellite channel, by a television broadcast station (as defined in section 122(j)(5)(A) of title 17, United States Code), a cable system (as defined in section 111(f) of such title), or a satellite carrier (as defined in section 119(d)(6) of such title.)

      I think (someone correct me if I've interpreted the above wrong) that this clause coupled with Section 101(b), which disallows the law affecting pre-law technology (ie: stuff before this bill gets inacted), would allow people to still record legally via VCR.

      However, after all the VCR's break down, all we will be left with are DVD's and anything else pretty much under their heavy-handed control.

      - A non-productive mind is with absolutely zero balance.

      - AC
  • by debest ( 471937 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:12AM (#2410645)
    I seem to recall that the DMCA was "justified" because it was written to be compliant with the WIPO / WTO treaties that the U.S. signed.

    Does anyone know if these international treaties proposed anything like the restrictions called for in the SSSCA?
    • I seem to recall that the DMCA was "justified" because it was written to be compliant with the WIPO / WTO treaties that the U.S. signed.

      I've never heard of anything like the DMCA at the other 170 WIPO/WTO members. So it seems unlikely that the WIPO/WTO pushed this stuff on the US. The same goes for the SSSCA. Anyhow, who drives the rules making process at the WIPO/WTO...the Republic of Benin?

  • by Spootnik ( 518145 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:13AM (#2410653)
    But there is absolutely no way the "industry committee" will approve as "secure" any operating system where you could just reconfigure the kernel to remove the DRM feature. They would never, ever do such a thing--because they're the "industry committee."

    The amazing thing to me is that Senate will be openly considering legislation to put a committee of corporations in charge of deciding which hardware and OS configurations will be legal and illegal. Even if the committee somehow miraculously doesn't ban Open Source operating systems, the thought that they might be handed the power of life and death over operating systems is startling.

    I think it's wildly unrealistic to assume SSSCA won't pass just because it's obviously crazy legislation. There are a lot of crazy laws on the books, and most geeks didn't take DMCA very seriously either until Dmitry got busted. Don't be complacent.
    • Senate will be openly considering legislation to put a committee of corporations in charge of deciding which hardware and OS configurations will be legal and illegal

      This, if it happens, will be a step FAR too far. While we can't trust the legislators to get this right because they simply dont understand it, we sure as hell can't trust companies with it.

      Every Company Rule #1 Exploit each and every opportunity presented to you to make money.
      Every Company Rule #2 see Rule 1

      Of course, if it was left to /.ers to handle computer laws would we be any better off? Seriously! Would we??
    • by SanLouBlues ( 245548 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:37AM (#2410820) Journal
      I can see it now. In the code:

      #include RIAA_Headers.h)

      And in the documentation:
      b) Please do not define INANE_COPY_PROTECTION. It is very bad.
  • by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:18AM (#2410694) Homepage
    I have contemplated for a time.. trying to figure out what the implications of laws like this would have for non-US citizens. Currently lot's of software/code stems from US based people.

    Can someone please enlighten me as to what this law and others like it would mean for me in the Netherlands?

    I would be happy to join your (and mine btw) cause but since i am not represented in the US in any way i can't do alot of things i'm afraid.

  • if this bill succeeds. I'm a Canadian so my comments to the senetor would mean less then zero. But consider all the new development that happens in the US. Then consider what the bill would force as an additional development that must happen for the software/hardware to be released. This alone would cause the cost of development to increase, (and thus reduce the amount of development done). Not to mention the obvious First Ammendment abuse.
    • "I'm a Canadian so my comments to the senetor would mean less then zero"

      Maybe not....

      Dear Senator Fritz Hollings

      I request that you please, please sign the SSSCA in it's current form so Canada can become the new tech capital of the world.

      I will only be happy when Santa Clara is a landfill and comes up in French. The level of cushy tech jobs the US has simply isn't fair and there is no logical reason that South Carolinans would do anything to support the interweb underground porn thingy.

      I'm sure many South Carolinans feel the same as I do about those NY consultant dweebs with their fancy laptop thingies. Why is the Interweb and three thousand dollar cup holders such a big deal anyway. We want fifty thousand dollar secratary jobs and Italian sports cars for our wonderful non-hoser computer specialists.

      Thank you you for giving us our chance, and give our thanks to Hollywood to.

      A thankful Canadan.

  • by dave-fu ( 86011 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:24AM (#2410729) Homepage Journal
    Don't write a bit player in the software world (no offense to RedHat, but they're far from what I think of when I hear the term "multinational" bandied about), write your goddamned representatives and senators letters. Make sure your home address is on it, and make sure that you make the disdain for how the bill will treat you obvious without resorting to f bombs and the like.
    • Don't write a bit player in the software world (no offense to RedHat, but they're far from what I think of when I hear the term "multinational" bandied about), write your goddamned representatives and senators letters

      While I agree that Red Hat may not have the clout to sway the Senate... they do have the name recognition to get other players involved.

      Think about it... How many people have you heard say they just installed Linux (current Redhat version number). There are plenty of people who don't know much about opensource, but Redhat == Linux to them... And other news agencies pay attention to Redhat because of that.

      I'll agree though that simply contributing to the Redhat effort isn't enough...but having Redhat on board for this will certainly help the casue. And you can always write your Senator in addition to this!


    • I wrote (actually e-mailed through here []) my senators and representatives when this was first posted on /.

      I got personal replies from all of them! It took about 2 weeks to get replies back from all of them but they all did. One of them said that he was vaguely aware of the situation and that he was glad to hear from his constituents on the issue.

      It does work people! Do it! It will make a difference!

      Here is what I wrote:

      Senator Bond,

      Being one of your constituents (I live in Sometown, MO) - I felt it my duty to inform you that we are not happy about the new Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) that is currently in draft form and is being spearheaded by Senator Fritz Hollings from South Carolina.

      I know that in the wake of last week's tragedy - a more secure computing model sounds like a good idea. But let me assure you that this bill is not the way to go about implementing it. This bill has the potential to ruin computing as we know it. It will squash innovation and many freedoms.

      You can check this address for one of the many news stories about this bill: 047211

      Please do not endorse this bill - as someone who is in your voting district I will be watching very carefully to see who is supporting this bill, and let me assure you that my next vote will be influenced by what I see.

      My Name

  • SSSCA Loophole (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:24AM (#2410733) Homepage Journal
    Just as with the DMCA DCSS loopholes of turning the code into a prime number, and making songs out of the source code, there is a loophole in the SSSCA as well. If you previously owned non-secure electronic equipment then it's ok. Oh, look plextor has to re-design all of their plexwriters, I wonder what will happen to the old ones? ^_^
    The big problem with the SSSCA is that newer faster computers will have to have built in security against copyright infringement, and it is illegal to break that security. It is also illegal to remove security stuffs from a copyrighted file, like one of those secure windows ones. What do we do about this? We write a java program that goes into your system and cracks all the security. Then we have it run off an obscure web server in another country. Visit website, java runs. You didn't do it. You thought the site was something else. It doesn't say anything about files that originally had no security. The SSSCA is all about making new stuff illegal, not already existing stuff. So you change the dates on all your files.

    The real reason the government gets away with stuff like this is because we /.ers are the only people who understand what's going on, and pay attention to it. We have to bring this to the attention of the general public. Tell people that mp3s wont play correctly on a new computer with windowsxp. And that if this law is passed it will be illegal to download winamp. See what happens.

    Yeah so buy up a bunch of hardware and download software now, that way it wont be illegal.
    • We write a java program that goes into your system and cracks all the security.

      If the security is built into the hardware rom code, the odds of any software overcoming it are not good. The odds of java - with it's 'sandbox' execution and security model - being able to do this are probably zero.

      (note to moderators: for somethig to be insightful, it should at least be possible.)
  • The last time the federal government got seriously involved in software development, it tried to write an air-traffic control system.

    The project was written off as a dead loss after spending something like 5 years and $9B (Maybe someone can supply the exact figures; too many zeros makes me dizzy...)

    Do they think that they can do any better designing OS APIs and security systems?

    - SWM

  • Will the hottest T-shirt at [] in 2003 be "Legalize Linux" ?

  • by Rosonowski ( 250492 ) <> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:38AM (#2410822)
    The truth is, here, as I've been preaching to those at my school, this law will have many impacts that will be quickly felt. Aside from the obvious intent of making it illegal to burn a CD, and other such things, which do fall under fair use I might add, It will have a great deal of financial impact.

    Open source software is run on a great deal of the smaller and even the larger buisnesses in this nation. It is generally more stable, and easier to apply. Larger companys favor the *nix frame, as they are often familar with it, so no further training is needed in many cases. For smaller company, the thousand dollar plus (per machine) liscencing fees for other software can be overwhelming.

    Many buisnesses will die, if unable to use this free or low cost software.

    And there are other implications to this LAW.

    Implications that, when I gave copys of the law to my sociolgy class, bursts of laughter were heard to erupt.

    And the basis of the laws....

    Section 109, Definitions, defines an 'Interactive Computer Service' Under a law passed in 1934!

    And section 104 is laughable as well. 'Antitrust Exemption?'

    Although there is minor solace, even if this law was passed. It's unconsititutional.

    The fourth Ammendment protects against Search And Seizure without reasonable cause. To enact the use of software which would monitor my activitys is illegal, according to rulings which deem that any method of surveillance (such as thermal imaging) that could find information that could not be otherwise obtained warrantless, is invalid.

    You could not otherwise find this information without physichal acsess to my computer.

    Therefore, it is in violation of the fourth ammendment.

    • Therefore, it is in violation of the fourth ammendment.

      And your point is?

      Seriously, laws passed in the so-called "war on drugs" allow seizure of assets without due process and the judges in this country uphold them time and time again. Don't think they won't uphold this law as well. We don't have a "justice" system in the US, we have a "legal" system. A justice system implies that at some point justice is done, a legal system only implies that the laws are enforced.
    • What's to prevent an allout assault on what we consider "warrants"?

      <sarcasm>We all know that technology faces us with greater challenges to law enforcement, so we must come up with better, more intrusive, errr, more focused laws to combat these new forms of "terrorism". In fact, if you violate a clause of a software license, you are comitting economic terrorism against its owners and can face life in prison!</sarcasm>

      What if the FBI decides that "pervasive surveillance warrants" are a necessity and each and every Compaq that hits the shelves has a warrant attached to it? Sheesh.

      The scary thing is I can see Hollings, et. al making political hay off such statements
  • Let Freedom Ring (Score:2, Interesting)

    by W.B. Yeats ( 236617 )
    I am against anything that will reduce my ability to use Open Source software. I can't afford to buy Microsoft products -- and I won't pirate them. I hope my government can understand that there are lots of people like me -- I mean, I don't go to movies, I don't rent movies -- I don't want and can't afford that culture. All I want to be able to do is participate in a community of software users and developers who share their work -- I don't want to topple Microsoft or upset the movie and recording industries or anything like that.

    Think about the original New England Colonists -- they didn't want to destroy England or infringe on England's ability to do business or impose any beliefs or behaviors on England. The result of their cooperation and independence is the greatest country on the face of the Earth -- and the most vital democracy in the history of human civilization. Just think -- maybe Open Source software can be a new chapter in the continuation of the unfolding story of democracy that is the United States of America.

    • I am against anything that will reduce my ability to use Open Source software.

      What makes you think this will do that? I have yet to see any plausible scenario for a broad ban on open source, which would be a prima facie violation of the First Amendment.

      You might wind up having to use a closed-source program for multimedia playback at worst. Maybe that's bad, but if so, focus on that, not on grandiose fantasies about shadowy agencies making it illegal to write and give away any and all software. Absurd claims about standards bodies making all open source software illegal are not worth the unsecured bits they're magnetized on.

      I think people have a hard time acknowledging that what they're really having a problem with is laws against software specifically designed to crack security (e.g., DeCSS, Sklyarov) or violate copyright (e.g., Napster). That's not as sexy a cause as grand and ambiguous claims about freedom in the abstract. It may be a just cause, but let's call it what it is.

    • I mean, I don't go to movies, I don't rent movies -- I don't want and can't afford that culture

      you can't afford the what, 3 bucks to rent a movie? all talk of the SSSCA aside, that's pretty sad dude (or pretty exagerated)
  • by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <ted@f[ ] ['c.r' in gap]> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:45AM (#2410860) Homepage
    By taking this initiative, RedHat has brought some corporate muscle behind the fight of the SSSCA. Before now, it is all private citizens writing letters to their representatives, but now that there is a major corporate backer, the anti-SSSCA movement will go further, and more representatives will pay attention to it. As a corporation, RedHat can also provide some solid technical reference, details that a Congressman or Congresswoman would be able to better understand, and be more likely to pay attention to than what Joe Linux User says about copyright protection technology.
  • Looks like Linux and Windows are threatened by the government. Soon enough we won't be able to use any of those OS's freely. Anyway that'll teach you to have double standards. Linux users are happy when MS get slapped by the government and Windows users are happy when Linux get slapped by the government. You digged your own graves. Instead of coming together and fighting the crazy laws, nah.
    • Microsoft forged evidence, got caught, didn't even make a good appology.
      Microsoft spat on the judge.
      The judge got mad enough to be a slight bit injudicious. But even so, his proposed penalties wouldn't have harmed Microsoft significantly. But that he dared at all was annoying, so Microsoft appealed. Still no penalty in sight, and Microsoft is certain enough of how it will come out to totally ignore the whole thing in its OS releases and license agreements.

      I don't think Microsoft feels threatened.

      This new legislation effectively gives Microsoft a legal monopoly. I.e., competition will be effectively prohibited. In fact if not in law. (Apple may get a waiver. Probably, not certainly, it will. But the Darwin layer might be sealed off.)

      Any guesses as to what this will do to the license agreements and license fees?
  • by Outlyer ( 1767 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:50AM (#2410887) Homepage
    I wasn't going to comment, but I just loved this one line:

    • The bill is being motivated by motion picture and television studios that seek to end piracy of their movies and other forms of entertainment. Curiously, these studios also happen to be among Hollings' top campaign contributors, as noted by Newsforge reporter Dan Berkes.

    (Emphasis mine)

    "Curiously" is an understatement. Apparently in America you can buy anything.

    On a related note, does anyone find it strange the commiting a crime against a corporation is worse that a crime against another individual?

    Violate the DMCA - 25 Years w/o parole

    Kill someone - 20 Years, parole after 6-8

  • of the phrase fair use anywhere in this legislation. One mention of *time-shifting* which apparently covers all conceivable aspects of fair use of digitized data. The idiocy of this bill beggars description.

    This is the flavor we get from the small-government, get-the-Fed-out conservatives. A boycott of any devices/systems implementing any aspect of such a system is a moral imperative.
    • This is the flavor we get from the small-government, get-the-Fed-out conservatives.

      Huh? The SSSCA is diametrically opposed to the conservative philosophy of limited and constitutional government. Note that the leading proponent is a Democrat. I'm sure several misguided Republicans will support it too, but blaming this on conservatives doesn't make much sense.

  • If SMTP will go away (as we know it) they just tell the American people "E-Mail will go away" and you better believe that this thing won't get approved. Done Deal.
  • I agree that it is important for all of us in the Slashdot/Open Source/Free Software etc. communities to oppose wrong-headed bills like this one and the DMCA. It is imperative that we continually develop our collective power by lobbying individually (ie letters, phone calls, etc) and collectively (via various professional associations, companies and organizations) to put an end to Bad legislation and promote Good legislation at the same time. But, as we have been learning, our power in Washington so far does not come close to matching the power of the entertainment and other industries because they have more of one thing that we can never match: money.

    I propose that if that this law passes and legal/legislative actions continue to be fruitless in challenging the DMCA and other Bad legislation we learn from past social movements -- from our own countries' revolution to very recent history. Let's not forget the power of civil disobedience. If Congress passes a law that is so clearly wrong, let's ignore it -- refuse to cooperate. They can't arrest all of us -- and if they did, who would be the stewards of the information economy? There are seeds of this in the creative distribution of DeCSS code.

    If Open Source software is outlawed, only outlaws will have Open Source software.


    Direct action gets the goods. -- Mother Jones

  • by mttlg ( 174815 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @11:55AM (#2410913) Homepage Journal
    Okay, so the idea here is to make every possible data storage device and the associated software play nice with copyright. The benefits are:
    • Copyright infringement in the original digital form is theoretically impossible.
    • Content providers, software manufacturers, etc. can sleep well knowing that their profits are secure, as long as people keep buying their products.

    And some of the problems are:

    • Copyright "theoretically" expires, but protection methods don't.
    • Fair Use will be outlawed through technology.
    • Infringement will just require an analog capture method or good old reverse engineering (which of course is already illegal in some cases, even though it isn't...).
    • Hardware and software will be more expensive/less useful and there will be less to choose from, resulting in slower sales of new products and a surge in the used equipment market.
    • Content will be less useful, and therefore will have less value, meaning lower sales if prices do not fall considerably to compensate (take a look at the sales of e-books).
    • Updates must be made mandatory to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited once they are discovered, meaning that the government must have access to your computer for this to work.
    • The feeling of the government trying to regulate or control every aspect of our lives will increase dramatically, adding fuel to the anti-government sentiment that has temporarily faded in the past month.
    • The acronym "SSSCA" doesn't even have the warm and fuzzy feel to it that "DMCA" does.

    So why would someone support this?

    • Ignorance
    • Stupidity
    • Bribes
    • Greed
    • Totalitarianism
    • A general desire to screw people over

    Am I missing something here, or could this show us what our lawmakers really think of the people they represent (assuming that they actually record the votes this time...)? We've seen much of this before, but this time they aren't even trying to make it look good.

    • The issues have been confused beyond recognition by the popular media. Those who have little real use for computers also have little or no interest in them or what makes them go. The publishing industry has a much easier time reaching these folks than we do, and a much easier time convincing them that the people who entertain them have some kind of "right to proffit". By the time you finish describing what source code is, your friend will have lost focus. They think you are a pervert for going to the lenghts you might just to avoid comercial software in the first place. It's not easy. People without a real use for a computer constitute the vast majority of the US population. Sure, they may be forced to look at one at work, but they hate it to death and don't recognize the one in their cell phone or VCR.

      Try to keep the message simple. The Free Software Foundation [] still has the best philosophy pages and it's good to memorize the fundamental software freedoms [], but don't expect most people to really care. This is a free speach issue and people do understand that. Tell them that it is fundamentally UnAmerican to limit what people do with their own property in their own homes, and that such arbitrary extention of copyright franchises will bite them in the ass later.
      Someone pinch me.

      • Tell them that it is fundamentally UnAmerican to limit what people do with their own property in their own homes

        Unfortunately, laws of this type are nothing new. The earliest law limiting the use of electronic equipment in private that I am aware of dates back to 1934. In this case, the law states that "no one may receive, or assist in receiving, any radio communication to which they are not entitled and use that information for their own benefit," and also outlawed "the manufacture, assembly, possession, and sale of any device primarily useful for the surreptitious interception of such radio transmissions." Sound familiar?

        It isn't too big a jump from limiting the private use of radio signals broadcasted in the clear to limiting the private use of locally stored data (any "collateral damage" like the death of free software is just the price for worry-free "copyright protection," or at least that's what the masses will be told). The descrambling of scrambled cable television stations is widely accepted as a criminal act, so that too lends itself to extension to data - you are given the content in a very specific form and are not allowed to do anything that would allow you to gain additional benefit from it.

        The only difference in these cases is that you pay for most of the content that would be limited by the SSSCA (in the other cases, the law limits what people who don't pay for the content can do with it), but with SSSCA "protected" content, you aren't paying for the right to use it, you're paying to have the content providers tell you how to use it. You pay for cable, but only the channels the cable company wants you to see for the amount you pay; you pay for a DVD, but only for the use of it on an authorized player and without the ability to make direct digital audio clips or screen captures. History has shown that people will allow the government to tell them how they can use someone else's content, even in their own homes. The purpose of our representative government is to prevent the uninformed masses from making stupid decisions, so the problem here isn't with the people, but instead with the motivations of elected representatives.

    • by sdo1 ( 213835 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:54PM (#2411660) Journal
      OK, everyone repeat after me...

      "Lawmakers represent those interests which supply the greatest campain funding."

      Sorry, but despite what they would have you think, they DO NOT represent YOU, or ME, or any other member of the "public"... unless of course they have very large wallets.

      Yesterday's "interview" with Jamie Love [], he stated the problem very suscinctly...

      Politics have gone downhill ever since the US Supreme Court decision in Buckley v. Valeo. By making campaign spending a constitutionally protected form of speech, and essentially legalizing bribery, we created a system where the average member of Congress spends most of his waking hours trying to raise money, just to compete with some other person who might do the same thing.

      The draft legislation has is authored by Senator Hollings (D-SC). As this article [] points out...

      ...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), Fox parent 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.

      Sucks, huh? Well whip out the checkbook and fork over a few hundred grand and maybe "our" side of things can be represented too...


      • Sorry, but despite what they would have you think, they DO NOT represent YOU, or ME, or any other member of the "public"... unless of course they have very large wallets.

        Um, I did list bribes on my list of reasons why someone might support this legislation... I am quite aware that "government of the people, by the people, for the people" has indeed perished from the earth, or at least our corner of it, and that is exactly the problem here. Most of the time, there is at least some kind of legitimate reason for a bill, even if that reason is just a minor part of the bill. The SSSCA breaks this tradition and could help expose the true extent of Congressional corruption (not that it isn't rather obvious already). Whether or not the average idiot will understand the significance is still up in the air.

    • The acronym "SSSCA" doesn't even have the warm and fuzzy feel to it that "DMCA" does.

      I guess we'll have to get the Village People to sing "SSSCA"!
  • I took note that some of Hollings biggest contributors are the media giants.

    Curious though, that they choose a South Carolina senator to sponsor it for them.

    Which makes me wonder, is it just that Hollings was an easy buy or cheaper due to the lower standard of living in SC?

    Inquiring minds want to know.
    • by calibanDNS ( 32250 ) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (notats_darb)> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:47PM (#2411614)
      As a South Carolinian, here is my view on this subject:

      According to a poll that a Poli Sci proffessor gave me in college, most South Carolinians cannot name their junior Senator. Strom Thurmond is much more well known, and because of this Fritz Hollings tends to be able to do just about anything he wants without fear of retaliation from the voters. Senator Thurmond is a much more public figure and therefore draws all of the attention away from Senator Hollings. Many organizations target Hollings to support their bills because of this fact, and because of the numerous positions that he holds in the Senate:

      • He is the fifth most senior member of the Senate and the fourth most senior Democrat.
      • Hollings is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the senior member of the Senate Budget Committee.
      • He is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary and serves as the third-ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee

      He is up for re-election in 2004, and if I'm still in this state then he will certainly not have my support.
  • So, record companies and movie studios don't want you to pirate their product. That's fine with me. They have some options. 1) Stop making them: fairly movies, no piracy. 2) Make them affordable: Let's face it...I'd rather pay a few dollars to see a quality movie in a theater than watch a grainy VCD that took me five hours to download. $8 per ticket plus $5 popcorn and a $4 coke doesn't cut it, though. 3) Buy the US Congress: this is our weak point...535 guys who have no clue regarding technology or anything digital can easily be swayed by legal tender. I really can't blame the industry for taking advantage of a system that gives the federal government so much power. It's our own faults for electing these morons. It doesn't make them right, only understandable.
  • Contact your senators []. It's easy, if you don't know what to say, just be polite and paraphrase some lines from the Red Hat press release. Tell him/her how the bill could directly have an effect on your life, and maybe an example of how it could effect the Senator's life too. All the webpages have web forms to send emails, so type something up first, run spell check and then paste it in the form. It couldn't be easier. On more thing, make sure you put your real name and address, if it's coming from a real person, it has a better chance of being heard.

  • So, 'interactive digital devices'....
    ya browser doesn't stop you from right click and save an image (copy righted material) and most likely its not SSL'ed (no encryption), its gonna be illegal!

    I like those smart people, love to study their brain.

  • To:

    From: Ron Sokoloski

    Dear IBM:

    As a leading proponent of Open Source software, I urge you to take a strong stance against the "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act" as it is currenlty proposed by Senator Fritz Hollings (Dem.-S.Carolina), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Background information may be found by following these links: l,1283,46655, 00 .html 21 7&mode=thread

    This bill goes much too far and may actually make Open Source Software such as Linux illegal, since the source code for such software is readily available and easily modifyable. Even though I am Canadian, this bill affects me, since American based firms such as IBM and RedHat will be forced to close parts of thier source code effectievly nullifying the GPL or to cease use and development of the Linux Operating System.
    Please be a leader in opposing the terms of this bill that would threaten our freedom to choose.


    Ron Sokoloski

    I figure soften 'em up with the heavy artilery right away.

  • The number of reports of non-profit organizations, local/city governments and state governments starting to use open-source alternatives was growing--I'd always hear/read about so-and-so agency switching. Now, if the SSSCA was enacted, I don't see an alternative for these organizations to use anything else but commercial software when it comes time for them to upgrade/change. The costly consequences of this are endless.
  • PleasePleasePLEASE take 5 minutes to write down how this will affect you as a consumer and as a technology worker. Emphasize the rights you loose. Be explicit about why this won't stop content piracy. Drop a note to Senator Hollings. Just as importantly, drop a note to your own 2 senators []. Tell your elected representatives who you are and what you do. Tell them you won't vote for them if they support this, and be sure to follow through if necessary.
  • I did some basic searches to see if I could find the campaign contribution record of Fritz Hollings, the bozo that is behind this outrage. I couldn't find anything, but I doubt that matters... but we do need to know who is master is.

    What does matter is that these groups made HUGE soft money contributions to BOTH sides in the last election. These corporate companies (like Microsoft and entrainment companies) are using the soft money system to rule the country. This is the root of these outrageous bills, and they will continue until the corporate rule of America is fixed.

    We don't only need to educate about the moral outrages of this current bill, we have to fight the soft money structure. We need to get soft money banned. People complain this restricts speech, but this structure is actually HINDERING speech because the small guy is getting drowned out; getting rid of soft money actually PROTECTS free speech (and free speech should be based on the individual, not the corp.) We need Campaign finance reform, and we need it BADLY.
  • Excellent. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A_Non_Moose ( 413034 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:22PM (#2411079) Homepage Journal
    Say what you will, but to echo the statement:
    "Thank you, RedHat".

    Think back to a not so far era with MS wielding the DMCA over /.'s posters with the Kerbos fiasco.

    Some of the trade rags were quoted as saying "Slashdot is the only (institution) one so far to have the cajones to say 'Go ahead, sue, we'll defend that suit'".

    Well, RedHat is stepping up to the damn. "We the people" need this because the lawmakers and representatives of the people are not listening to us, but to corporations.

    If I am not mistaken, RedHat is a corporation, and can probably use the "We are the voice of reason" in an insane world (or something like that).

    Really, I'm not joking... Think about all the "innovators, heretics, and *individual* the quintessential Great Minds" of our time.

    The ones that went against the grain, conventions, accepted beliefs, morals of thier peers (and monarchs/rulers) a corporation...this is what RedHat is doing.

    Freakin' A.

  • by jejones ( 115979 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:29PM (#2411133) Journal
    My favorite part of the newsforge article was the bit about Senator Hollings replying to all questions with "I'm not qualified to address that issue." Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I'd try to make something the law of the land if I didn't understand it myself.
  • When I was in college, my campus had an activist group for pretty much everything. Sometimes we worked together on issues, and other times we worked alone. IMO, /.ers that are currently in college should try and make inroads with other groups that would tend to support our goals.

    I realize that there are a lot of barriers to entry, as far as explaining the ramifications of this act to non technical people. However, once some sort of awareness is achieved, I really believe that college students (specifically activists) would at least give some help to this cause. How about a postcard/fax drive, petition, informational meeting etc?

    College is an ideal place to act ideologically!

  • Talking points (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swm ( 171547 ) <> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:48PM (#2411242) Homepage
    The British used to quarter their soldiers in colonists homes, to make sure that the colonists did not do anything that the King of England did not approve of.

    The Soviet Union used to post guards at all copying machines, to make sure that its citizens did not copy anything that the Communisty party did not approve of.

    The U.S. government now proposes to install software in all computers, to make sure that its citizens do not make any copies that large corporations do not approve of.
    • Ouch...damn good analogy that made my hair stand up on end and sent a chill down my spine.

      This deserves to be modded up because it is just beautiful in its simplicity and driving the point home.

      History...condemned...repeat...get it?

      I'd used the Boston Tea party as an example. From my old college history prof (Prof. Berwanger, IIRC.. Civil/Revolutionary war expert, too) drove the point home that not only was "Taxation w/o representation was a factor, but *Corporate Control* over the colonies and the *Government* that controlled those colonies.

      We declared our freedom to be free of a two headed dragon... The Monarchy (sp?) and Corporations that would "take, take, take...and never give".

      (random thought:
      DMCA = Digital Mafia Controlling America?
      /end RT)


      Don't swear...just say "la la laaaa"'ll feel much better.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As I understand this, all literature on the internet (and I use this term widely to include web pages, articles, magazines, and emails) is in a digital format. Therefore if you wish to own a hard copy of it (cd , floppy disk, dvd etc...) it will have to be encrypted.

    I suspect that this encryption mechanism will itself be copyrighted. This will occur for two reasons. The first, that there will be a cost involved in its design, certification, and implementation. The second, partially mentioned in the first is that digital recording equipment producers will have to "buy" into at least one scheme. There will therefore be heavy politics, and encryption mechanisms backed by well funded companies will have the upper hand in "assisting" the implementation.

    Once there is a predominance of encryption mechanisms which require copyrights ( required quite vaguely to be "available for licensing on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms") specific ones will become widely accepted and used making any use of available media locked into monetary gain.

    What we see here is the loss of open exchange of information. The only devices that will be able to access these media, will be again copyright devices, where the copy of information from and to will be limited. This spells the demise of the modern computer, where we can write a document, pop a floppy in, copy it and pass it to a friend. This also forshadows the end of infomation sharing, as it would be too cumbersome to allow others to access files on your computer due to excessive copywritten access mechanisms.

    This will bring the internet to a standstill if implemented as intentioned in this bill.

    At the heart of this controversy is the contradiction in philosophies, of ease of exchange of information which the information revolution is dependent upon, and ease of copyright which has never existed.

    When this writer compares these philosophies it is the former which offers the most obvious gains to humankind, having allowed democracy and representative governments to exist, as well as dispensing with feudalism and an uninformed abused public.
  • by juuri ( 7678 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:07PM (#2411371) Homepage
    I sincerely hope this gets through and happens. No I am not joking. This isn't sarcasm. This should go through, in fact we shouldn't resist it at all.

    Because as others have pointed out this is *too damn* far. This is what we need to get the general populace involved. You try telling finicky Americans that they no longer have any choices. Hell it doesn't matter if that is already true, but once you tell them that to their face things will change. Sometimes things have to go way too far before enough people will stand up to it. The general populace of any nation is much like a spring. You can push it in for a long time but only to a certain point... and after you get tired of pushing they are going to push back hard.

    Let this pass.

    Then I will have no problems convincing friends or family why Microsoft/RIAA and their ilk are bad news in the long run. And then? Then I will be standing there with open arms to all those who want choice and won't take it anymore.

    • Americans won't care or even notice. They don't write operating systems. When napster closed down they were a little upset but forgot all about it a few weeks later.

      THis will only effect only linux/freebsd geeks and even regular ms programers will not notice anything different. Perhaps just higher windows prices after linux is destroyed.

      We must fight it. We are a small minority and the media is in favor of this law so our voices will never be heard to the general public. We must be involved politically then.

  • by vinyl1 ( 121744 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:48PM (#2411626)
    Take your lead from the gun lobby.

    Dear Congressman:

    I am a one issue voter. I don't care about anything else. If you vote for or support this bill in any way, I will (1) vote against you, (2) give $xxx to your opponent, and (3) urge all my friends to vote against you.


    • "Dear Congressman:

      I am a one issue voter. I don't care about anything else. If you vote for or support this bill in any way, I will (1) vote against you, (2) give $xxx to your opponent, and (3) urge all my friends to vote against you."

      Thank you that was the approach I was looking for.

      Spread the word.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:58PM (#2411683) Homepage Journal
    I have several objections to the SSSCA bill:

    1) The bill contains Orwellian Newspeak. It keeps talking about "security"
    when nothing in the bill is even *related* to security. I believe this
    wording exists as an attempt to deceive both
    a) representatives/senators who will be voting on it
    b) the people of the United States

    In the wake of the recent terrorism, mislabelling things as being for
    "security" to play on people's fears, is particular dishonest and

    Even if this bill is passed (which would be bad), the wording should be
    corrected to refer to its actual intent: restricting people's access to
    things they themselves own. Euphemize it if you must, but calling it
    "security" is going way too far.

    2) 104(b), where congress creates a new power and then hands control of
    the details over to "representatives of interactive digital device
    manufacturers and representatives of copyright owners" is totally
    unacceptable. Those so-called representatives (who will likely
    represent only a handful of companies and ignore the remaining 99.9%
    of copyright holders) are not accountable to voters. YOU are. You
    cannot hand over power without responsibility; that leads to tyranny.

    3) More semi-Newspeak: Remove the word "interactive" from the the term
    "interactive digital device", since the term's definition doesn't make
    any reference to interactivity. Casual readers of the bill may get
    the impression that it's less restrictive than it really is, unless they
    scrutize the definitions section.

    4) This bill causes acts that are currently lawful, to become unlawful.
    Don't you have anything better to do than take people who are doing
    nothing wrong, and turn them into criminals? If you are thinking about
    voting for this, ask yourself three questions:
    1) What percentage of my constituents want this to become law?
    2) Am I protecting my consituents from tyranny, crime, etc?
    3) Are there any reasons FOR voting for this?

    Fair Use has been attacked too much already, and this just makes it
    worse. Please work on repealing or otherwise correcting Title 17
    Section 1201 to make the situation better, instead of making things worse.

    5) This bill serves no purpose for anyone, including the people who are
    purchasing it. Ostensibly, the bill's purpose is to protect copyright.
    But copyright law already exists, and copyright holders already have means
    to remedy violations. Thus, they are gaining no additional USEFUL rights
    from this bill. Piling redundant laws upon one another is a Bad Thing.

    6) This bill imposes heavy burdens upon developers, for no gain. That
    is a destructive waste of resources. Please end government-mandated waste
    and government suppression of industry and development.

    7) Certification creates monopolies. This is also anti-industry.
  • The SSSCA grandfathers existing equipment.

    The federal law mandating lo-flow tiolets did the same thing. When it was first passed, no one noticed: their toilets kept flushing.

    But after that, every time someone built a house, our added a bathroom, or just needed to replace a toilet, they discovered that the kind of tiolet that had worked for the last 100 years was no longer available: all they could buy was the lo-flo kind.

    And one by one, all across America, the tiolets stopped flushing, and the people used plungers to unclog them.

    The difference is that under the SSSCA, use of a plunger will be a felony.
  • I thought the SSSCA was a response to the supposed (mostly unsubstantiated) threat of encryption being used by terrorists. Now we find, through the fine reporting of RedHat (?!) that this guy is bought and paid for by the entertainment industry? He uses the tragedy of the bombing and a legitimate need to redress warrants in the digital age to push through fair-use-obliterating content control? What a Machiavellian fuckhead!
  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @03:37PM (#2412305) Homepage Journal

    I'd really appreciate a web site full of reasonable comments and snippets that I could pick from to compose a reasoned letter to my legislators.

    It would help immensely to have short, concise statements of why this is bad in simple terms that even Joe Sixpack can understand in the 40 seconds that it takes him to read a Letter to the Editor in the local newspaper. Such simple expressions that they cannot be dislodged casually by the vested interests that stand to profit at everyone else's expense, should such misguided legislation sneak through because a full review by unbiased experts has not been done.

    I'm thinking here of messages along the lines of alerting citizens that if their digital rights to read are delineated by this legislation, that their future use of technology will in no way resemble that to which they've become accustomed for newspapers, magazines, books, LP records, CDs, etc.

    That is, I can buy a newspaper anonymously and no one will know who I am or what I read. If I choose to sell my or even give away my newspaper to someone else, then that is my perogative and mine alone. Neither is it necessary for the transaction between me and that other person to be the business of anyone else. If I choose to scan in a book I just bought and read it on my laptop computer, then that is my current right. As long as I don't reproduce copyrighted work and sell it, then it should be within my rights. None such rights can be taken for granted in future society in which "Digital Copyright Management" is dictated so that no individual may be exposed to media without intrusive measures to insure that the Rights Owner (not necessarily the Creator) of the Original Digital Media is paid for this and every instance of Use.

    Likewise, ramming down DMCA and related technology restrictions like this SSSCA is morally equivalent to mandating that crowbars, a technology that could be used for breaking into houses, be outlawed and only specially licensed crowbar researchers on a government maintained list may have access to crowbars. Leave the technology open. Force manufacturers to come up with a different system, a voluntary system, one where consumers have a choice and one which does not abridge the rights to fair use that consumers currently enjoy.

    Finally, under no circumstances should burdensome government regulations on technology be used as an excuse to prop up a revenue model for a specific commercial lobby.

    Neither should legitimate concerns for national security be applied with an unthinking broad brush to remove the liberties of expression enjoyed by the citizens of this free nation.

    I'm not as good at formulating compelling arugments as some of you are. Herein I have probably used more lighter fluid than should be put into a letter to my legislator. I want it to have the most impact that it can.

  • The following was my submission:

    The SSSCA is a bill produced and supported out of valid fear; Fear of the volitility of GDP, and more recently, fear of illicit communications.

    The former fear has been historically supported by American policy; to legally segregate markets so as to make local economies profitable. This is most evident in the former banking industry. Such ledgislation can be viewed as a "socially constructing" tax, which sits alongside tarrifs, tobacco taxes and income verse sales taxes. In all cases the ledgislatures balance the need against the cost.

    That is to have a balance that is both "of the will of the people" and more importantly moral. Taxing a fixed sum from all citizens is arguably immoral (as could be seen in the dark ages). Backing a known corrupt monopoly is obviously immoral (which is recognized by semi-recent American ledgislatures through the inactment of anti-trust law).

    The tricky part is to identify the will of the people in such a way that avoids mob-rule. Obviously anything that affects a majority of people negatively is subject to mob-rule. Exclusively taxing the rich, for example pushes too far into the realm of immorality and thus over-rules the opinion of the masses.

    The SSSCA indirectly argues that intellectual property is soverign and should be protected by the government to whatever extent is possible (just as human life is to be protected). Obviously it is difficult to distribute IP and garuntee control, since once out of the protective sphere of it's owner, it can be manipulated, duplicated and redistributed (potentially for profit).

    The DMCA legally protects digital copyright, but does nothing to prevent indirect circumvention (say via converting digital to analog and back again (unprotected)). The SSSCA closes this loop-hole by proposing to "regulate" the digital world such that no hardware or software can exist that "pollutes" the IP soverignty.

    In the above, I have argued the pro point of view. Below I will expose the weaknesses and moral imperatives, and offer compromises.

    First, the role of the government is virtually sacrad; To enforce a regional monopoly on "force". Any abuse of such a monopoly is obviously immoral. Allowing an individual to wrestle control of that monopoly for their own purposes is immoral. Upholding loopholes that allow individuals to "legally" attain control of that monopoly is immoral. An example of such legal perversion is law that can indefinately inprison citizens for non-immoral behavior. Here force is blindly applied to detain individuals that violate written law, thus anyone that calls apon a poorly written law which victimizes a moral citizen is abusing a loop-hole in the system. Such a system MUST not persist, but instead be mended. What's more it is the duty of ledgislatures to preempt such loopholes before they finalize laws.

    While the primary goal of a government involves applying force to constrict a citizens use of force (or similarly to withstand foreign aggression), a physical ramification of this is social engineering via regulation. Due to a sence of "fairness" and or public safety, enforcers (police / military) have been instructed to apply the written regulations of conduct in addition to their force-monopoly. But the bounds to the American limit of efficability of such regulation is the US Constitution. However even this "minimalist" view of moral judgement is fallible (as can be seen with the introduction of failed prohibition or even slavery laws).

    Thus in order to preempt moral imperatives that take supreme-court ruling and eventual lengthy legislation to amend the constitution, it is most arguably best to apply moral scurtiny to the laws before they ever achieve legal status. A ledislature MUST, therefore respect the sacred nature of his office, lest [s]he be shunned in history.

    Regulating banking maintains local economies at the expense of consumers. The cost is moderate and monetary and thus moral. Regulating taxes likewise is monetarily based but runs the risk of starvation of subsets of citizens; the worst case involves death and thus achieves high scrutiny and modern governments tend to fair well in this camp. Public safety regulation prevents producers from trading safety for profit (making an industry more fair by requiring all producers utilize the more expensive safety measures). In the short term, the negatives are higher cost-of-goods to a consumer as well as the abuse of force in telling citizens how to conduct themselves. In the longer run, economies of scale diminish the extra cost of goods, while the "forced conduct" prevents indiscriminant loss of life. Hense the government is "saving us from ourselves", and more importantly reducing an automobile's role as a weapon. Next to public safety are physical property laws; those which "regulate our conduct" such that we do not deprive one another of our physical property. Since food and shelter are life-sustaining forms of property, generalizing governmental enforcement of property ownership is valuable; e.g. a government is justified in protecting the ownership of a CD just as much as protecting the milk that a baby carries.

    At the bottom tear of "moral" laws are the corporate laws. These are "rules of conduct" laws which have nothing to do with maintaing a government, nor saving lives, but instead deal with the secondary effects of economies. An economy is efficient and can flurish when various rules are applied. This is where tax-games can be played to encourage conduct or physical regulation (such as hours of stock-trading, or margin-limits) are applied to avoid economic disasters. In here too is the concept of patent law and copyright, which introduces the concept of intellectual property. The social cost of a patent is to restrict our actions such that we don't act in a manner that mimics one expressly copyrighted or patented. While the intended effects are purely economical (and thus not morally justifiable), the unintended effects are to allow individuals to call apon the force of government to control citizens. Whether the citizen was indeed attempting to profit on the IP-holder is not relavent to the cost. A mother that sings happy birthday to her child is in violation of IP and thus is legally vulnerable to incarseration (if the IP-holder was sufficiently immoral). This is a dire perversion and loophole that allows a single individual to wrestle control of the government's monopoly.

    One possible remidy would be to apply the condition of profitability to all copyrights and patentents. The IP-holder attains legal rights to all revenue based on that IP. This does not stiffle do-gooders who utilize the IP for charity or public-good will. Arguably, even the GPL would be in violation of such IP, since it allows for the distribution charging (which can be a disguised form of profiteering). Such a form of modifiation of existing legislation arguably needs to avoid loop-holes (mostly involving proofiteering, since the original intention was robust GDP).

    The DMCA assumes copyright is a fundamental right of IP (as are life and liberty. This is, in my opinion, a perversion of the "right of happiness"). It assumes that copyright is so important that not only can you _prevent_ redistribution profiteering, but you can dictate how and when the IP can be accessed, which is a gross extension of the concept of governmentally enforced social control. It is more than simply restricting when you make your IP available to subsets of the public (which is perfectly acceptible, as a performer could choose when and where they perform), but to say that you can only hear it a certain way, to talk about it a certain way (perverted slander laws that defend corporations, even when they are blame-worthy), or to witness the IP via a monopolized medium. The DVD, the up-and-comming HDTV anti-time-delayed-viewing, the encrypted pdf format and others are examples of such IP who's viewing capability is monopolized. That companies are capable of
    restricting viewership is not, in and of itself, immoral. A theater, for example, can monopolize on refreshments due to it's locality; they can deny admission if need be. But to even suggest that when you watch a home-movie, you can only eat a certain name-brand refreshment is totalitarian plain-and simple. But this is exactly what the DMCA does. It produces an artificial locality, and an artificial scarcity (via fear of governmental retaliation, wielded by the very companies that profit from your patronage). This is a direct conflict of interest; a man may provide a quasi-desirable service while wielding a governmental whip which says that you have to partake from it. So long as there are alternatives, there is the prospect of "choosing not to partake" in the bait that locks you into the negative aspects of a service, but there is a natural effect which brings like businesses into the same immoral tactics due to lack of profitability.

    It is perfectly valid for manufacturers of DVD to force commercials and regional encoding, and restrict viewers to set-top boxes or highly trusted windows machines. But when ALL major IP owners in the media field shift to DVD, a consumer will have the choice of boycotting ALL cinematic/ auditory IP short of live concerts. VHS and casset will be phased out and your living room will be an extension of the controlled theater. Even this isn't a "really" a problem because we still have choice. But what the DMCA allows is the removal of other forms of media. It is illegal to convert a DVD to VHS or even to record the sound-track to cassette, since this would circumvent the encryption. Granted the intent of DMCA is to prevent the perfect replication of data which can then potentially be advantaged by profiteers (or more recently, in the production of a public "library of music" which has the potential for reducing the demand for highly priced official distribution points). But the DMCA is a loaded weapon which can be fired at existing acceptible practices (such as making a cassette for use in the car). The hidden answer is that corporations never wanted us to have the ability to freely utilized purchased licenses of IP; they simply lacked the ability to enforce it.

    The real long-term question is as internet bandwith expands and the quality of compression software approaches that of the original masters, how can a media-based industry survive (and thereby uphold GDP which benifits all citizens indirectly). My answer is that a corporation can and should "squeeze every dollar" it can from an industry, so long as the dirty work is not enforced by the government; such an activity is called extortion, and such an organization is called the mafia. Times change and it is up to business-heads to determine new manners of supply and demand to survive. It is not moral to enforce laws that restrict citizens rights so that aging task-masters can retain their old positions. This century has seen the horrors of worker-layoffs.. It's time that the "task-masters" experience their share of layoffs. If NSync can't retain their multi-million-dollar industry, then let them suffer with more concerts and new forms of high-bandwidth (multi-channel) audio-CDs priced lower to catch the interest of more of the waning support-crowd.

    The main point is that back-door operations, and incogneto sharing of IP will always exist, and times / public interest will most definately change. This is merely a last-ditch effort to safe stock-face in the short-run and punish the most visible; the naieve citizens, or the high-profile educators that teach on the topic of encryption, or the security experts who crack systems to improve apon their security. Those that are actually helping society will be hurt the most. The industry will still slump and illicit profiteering will still proliferate (since one additional law isn't going to make them any more legally vulnerable).

    Lastly, the SSSCA can be shown to be built apon a series poor-ledgislation, which most definately holds to the spirit of it's predecessors, but in a most perverse way misses the whole point. The regulation that places requirements on specifications within hardware limits the diversity of that hardware, first-and foremost. The ancenstral point of the SSSCA is to foster growth, and innovation, but at step one, it grinds innovation to a screetching halt. How can an "embedded device" in your car be required to provide protected encrypted streaming audio? Surely the computers within the cars of the future will have the ability to do some tasks currently performed on laptops or PCs. But at what point will they be held liable? The answer is whenever it is most convinient for the corporate task-masters. Manufacturers will live in fear of backlash so long as they exist on that fine-line. Many will simply forego advancement, and innovation will be halted.

    The government has made several failed attempts to regulate based on flawed information. Regional governments have required gas addatives that were later learned to be harmful to the environment. The best way to avoid such forced lemming rank-and-filing of citizens (doomed to fall over a cliff) is to identify the problem and require "A" solution, but then allow innovation to fullfill that requirement. To suggest that "government knows" best, and that "this is for our own good" is as blind as Hitler. (If the analogy is offensive, then ask yourself why?)

    The analogy of a required built-in security equipment to a catalitic converter works when you consider that both help prevent environmental pollution. In this case, the digital pollution of economicly viable media. Both cars and computers are perfectly competative goods (within their genre) which fulfill very similar purposes and are essentially black-boxes to their users. But note that a car can be electric, and thus forego the need for a catalitic converter out of "common sence". But there is no "common sence" when it comes to computer science research, since it is a fronteer who's tip has barely been identified. This would be like requiring that "all vehicals" contain electrically shielded engine cranks 50 years after the electric starter had already been invented. There exists hardware and software alike that is incompatible with such low-level drivers that provide controlled access to media-devices. This level of information is completely incomprehensible to most ledgislatures (since it's inside the box), but it as the heart of digital science. To provide such a vague law allows individuals to wield the power of the government to stiffle their competition in this cut-throat science. The ability to provide an increasingly out-dated media in a governmentally controlled fashion comes at the cost of intellectuals who will no longer have the ability to freely experiment in the digital world. As competition for innovation comes to a half, so will the desire for innovation, and all that will be left are the greedy hands of software and hardware monopolies which will regularly fly in the face of ledgislatures as an embarrasement of capitalism. Capitalism only works [as a moral entity] in a governmentally minimalistic society.

    IP laws such as copyright, trademarks and patents have values which outweigh most of the costs, so long as the loop-holes described above are eventually mended. The DMCA is completely redudant with laws that physically address profiteering, and only opens a vagueness which allows corporate abuse of governmental force. The SSSCA, if enacted will backfire on both GDP and legislatures and will eventually be repealed. It is best to preempt a human tragedy before letting court appeal delays take it's toll.


  • Fair use is FAIR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @01:15AM (#2414160) Homepage Journal
    The free exchange of ideas in America comes under threat of the SSSCA.

    Intellectual Property owners have fallen into the fallacy that they may control every aspect of their work.
    The doctrine of "first sale" stands in their way, and they feel this deprives them of profit. In fact, it does to an extent, but that extent is the deal they have made with the people of America.

    Let us take an example from real life. Many text books are now only offered on CD-ROM. The publishers, not wanting to pass up any profit, have constructed these CD-ROMS so that a license key is required to access the book. Well and fine, except that these keys only last for a year. If you wish to access these books after that time, you are required to purchase the book again. These CD-ROM books are priced at about the same as the no longer available paper books.

    If I wanted to use a clip of the World Trade Center attack in a report on terrorism, I cannot simply zip over to CNN.COM and down load it. The site doesn't allow me to save a copy of this to my system and reuse it how I wish. Even though this would be fair use, I cannot do so because of the technology used.

    Fair use is in large part intent. Technology cannot read minds. It follows that there is no way to control intellectual property with technology while preserving fair use. Fair use it part of the bargain intellectual property owners have made with the public in exchange for copyright laws.

    Society is in large part it's history. With history locked up, we have no past. A country ignorant of it's past has no future.

    While Osama bin-Laden would like to destroy America, it is my considered opinion that the SSSCA would do far more destroy what makes America what it is than he ever could.

    Destroy a man, you have taken him from his society. Destroy thought, you have killed his society.

    Far from locking up Intellectual Property more than it already is, we should be ensuring that fair use rights are preserved.

    Fair use is FAIR.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter