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China and the MPA 223

Posted by JonKatz
from the arrogance-and-stupidity dept.
This week, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) joined China and the music industry, all simultaneously making doomed efforts to stick their fingers in the digital dike. The Net has destroyed the very idea of censorship, but it looks like there are going to be some casualties before that reality sets in.

A riddle: What do China and the Motion Picture Association have in common? The answer this week: arrogance. Plus stupidity.

Both are about to learn the hard way what American educators, religious leaders, law enforcement officials - even politicians - are just beginning to figure out: The Net isn't censorable. Neither is the software that runs programs, links Web sites, plays, movies and music, stores or transmits information and ideas.

The Net is an unyielding trade-off. If you want to do business or sell things on it, you sacrifice monopoly and control, and use technology to offer choice and options. If you don't, you're heading backwards.

Both the Chinese government and the MPA have learned little from recent technological history, following in the bovine steps of the music industry, which alienated a generation of liberated music lovers by huffing and puffing but failing to slow or stop the spread of digital music technology.

Institutions both governmental and corporate that feel threatened by the Net and the Web, are developing a pattern. Rather than embrace innovative and empowering new technologies to offer consumers and citizens choice and freedom, they seek out a handful of targets to use as warnings, examples of the nasty fate that will befall transgressors.

If any approach is doomed to fail in this era, it's that one. Too bad some people will have to pay along the way, sacrifices on the altar of corporate or governmental obliviousness.

For all the media hype about technology, pornography and e-commerce, one of the most striking but still largely unrecognized legacies of the Net has been the death blow it's dealt to the very idea of censorship. One industry and institution after another - music, the law, medicine, Wall Street, academe, the media- is coming to terms with this new reality, voluntarily or otherwise.

For hundreds of years, censorship has been the primary tool by which government, monarchies, educational and religious institutions and, lately, powerful corporations, have asserted political, cultural and economic dominance. They're going to have to learn to live without it.

This week, police in Norway raided the home of Jon Johansen, a teenager, at the request of the Motion Picture Association, which has joined in the global effort to suppress certain software - in this case DVD viewing code -- deemed responsible for copyright violations and intellectual property theft (last week, the recording industry went after Mp3.com). Last month, the DVD Copyright Control Association sued 72 hackers and Web site authors for posting - or even linking to software (DeCSS) that unlocks the system for preventing illegal copying of video discs.

Johansen's arrest got widespread media coverage in America, unusual for a foreign-based copyright case. Perhaps one reason is that companies like Disney, owner of ABC News, which covered the story yesterday on television and radio, have a decidedly vested interested in publicizing the notion that music, movies and culture in general belong to private corporations, not code-writing geeks and nerds. Hackers (usually crackers) have often been singled out in this way - paraded before hordes of reporters and hauled off dramatically to jail. The authorities know they haven't got a prayer of rounding up all the alleged wrongdoers, but they can make so much noise they might fool people into thinking otherwise.

The arrest came at almost the same moment China announced restrictions on its burgeoning Net chat rooms and e-mail accounts. Ocurring continents apart, the two incidents seemed oddly connected.

The MPA - along with the music industry, one of the world's largest cartels outside of Columbia -- has claimed in several legal actions that the kind of DVD-viewing software Johansen allegedly used was developed outside of the industry's monopoly, and is thus illegal. The organization particularly wants to suppress so-called reverse engineering and the public posting and sharing of DVD codes.

Governments like China are attempting a different kind of information control, an equally doomed effort to stick their fingers in the digital dike.

On Wednesday, the agency that oversees China's Internet users [http://slashdot.org/article.pl'sid=00/01/26/1254221&mode=thread] issued severe new regulations intended to control the release of "state secrets" and other unauthorized information over the Internet, one of the broadest efforts yet by a government to do what is inherently impossible: control online speech.

The Chinese government is in a classic technological quagmire, almost the same one facing the movie industry. Does it want to grow and prosper in a techno-driven, linked global economy or not? Embracing and deploying innovative new technology is essential to investment and development in the 21st Century. That puts increasing pressure on undemocratic governments, who quite correctly dread the spread of computing, e-mail and chat rooms, and on corporations, who fear the loss of profitable monopolies.

China has nearly nine million Internet users, significantly up from two million a year ago, according to a survey by the government's China Internet Information Center. But many Chinese believe the figure is dramatically higher. One computer analyst working from Hong Kong wrote earlier this year that China may actually have more than 35 million e-mail accounts. As for the world's code-sharing DVD nerds, nobody knows how many there are - but it's believed to number in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

Despite Johansen's show arrest, and the imprisonment of a handful of Chinese political dissidents speaking out online, both groups are beyond conventional policing. But that doesn't mean a lot of people won't pay by being persecuted, jailed or worse before the futility of the censorship effort becomes clear.

This week's regulations in China were announced by the aptly-named State Secrecy Bureau, a murky agency which seems to be taking over efforts to control the Net and to identify and arrest users who post "illegal" information on the Web.

Does this seem vastly different from the way corporate interests around the world (for more on the issues surrounding the Johansen incident, see http://www.eff.org/ ) are seeking to curb the dissemination of software and intellectual property online? Maybe it isn't. Both corporations and government, since they can't monitor all of the many millions of offenders online, are singling out targets of opportunity. They believe they're sending miscreants a message, but instead, they appear to be alienating and enraging the next generation of consumers as well as prodding geeks and nerds to continue to develop software as a political and cultural tool.

The powerful reality is that there aren't enough cops and lawyers on the planet, not even in China, to monitor all the chat rooms and the millions of e-mail accounts. There sure aren't enough to police the distribution of open source and other code like the one that runs DVD's.

Ultimately, such regulations are utterly doomed, as are efforts to restrict source codes for DVD players or the transmission of music and information online.

But before China and the MPA learn this inevitable lesson, an indeterminate number of victims will be snared and made examples of. As futile and sometimes tragic as these persecutions are, these people will pay the price for the growing freedom everyone else is enjoying.

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China and the MPA

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  • by finkployd (12902) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:31AM (#1318641) Homepage
    I disagree, it seems (given recent examples) that the attempt to censor has the reverse effect. It causes even more of the "questionable" material to pop up everywhere. I have a copy of the DeCSS code that I otherwise could have cared less about on my server simply for this reason.

    DeCSS has become more widespread than most code fragments not because people are using it, but because people are taking a stand against those trying to censor them.

    More effective censorship in this example would have been to not do anything about, then it would have been a midly importent project in the open source world, but would never have become as popular as it is now.

    Finkployd

    1. The Chinese Government has NOT finalised any rules, and there is NO evidence (so far) that they are planning any censorship. That is speculation, until they've actually done something!
    2. The MPA and RIAA seem to be betting on the fact that they're both rich, and that they can focus on ONE thing, whereas the Open Source community now has to focus on TWO. That gives them an immediate added advantage.
    3. It doesn't matter to these people if they win or lose, just so long as they ge a lot of publicity and newspaper inches in their favour. The knock-on effect will be that they'll increase sales and stifle competition through PERCEPTION. The actual verdict is just a bonus, if they win.
    4. The long-term strategy is FAR AND AWAY more important than any short term results. We can win a battle, but unless it's the RIGHT battle, we'll lose the war. And the REAL battle is taking place, not in the courtroom, but in people's minds. If people equate freedom with theft, then we can win court battles from now until doomsday, but only thieves will want to use free systems.
    5. Remember 1984? It didn't matter who was fighting who, what the status was, etc. Nobody really cared. That was a side-show, used to manipulate everyone else. Control is the name of the game, and it's a game these people play well. To win, we must oppose that. Like Frodo and The Ring, not to replace Sauron, but to destroy him and the foundation on which his power rests.

    If Open Source is to win, REALLY win, it must defeat not the armies of the Sauron (the MPA) or the Orcs and Trolls of Sauruman (the RIAA) but the One Ring (Power Over Others). Yes, that means -fighting- those armies, but as in Tolkein's depiction, those battles can be won or lost by either side, and it doesn't matter. It really doesn't. All that matters is whether The Ring is destroyed or handed over.

  • A full-featured (at least professional looking) application that any luser can install and play DVDs out of the box would really get the point of this lawsuit across to the various journalists and shapers of public opinion.

    IANAL yet, I think Stiletto has an excellent point here. As long as the DeCSS code stays in its current mystic form, it'll be easy for the MPAA's layers to manipulate a technologically-challenged judge into any sort of demented rulings. Yet, it we were to have a product to show to the judge and argue "See, we couldn't do this without DeCSS", I think the MPAA's case would be much harder to sell.
  • Once, that was true. I was at Stanford during the famous failure to censor USENET's "rec.humor.funny" for politically incorrect jokes. As long as there was one news link that the central computer organization didn't control, censorship failed, because USENET's propagation algorithm uses flooding with duplicate removal. So the censorship attempt was abandoned. This led to my remark "The network interprets censorship as failure and routes around it", which has since been applied to the Internet by others.

    But while that was really true of USENET, it was less true of the Internet. The situation became worse as the technology progressed. Early routers were very simple, looked at each packet independently, and never examined content. Very little control of the network was available. Serious sites tried to have multiple routes, and packets from the same session might take different routes. So there was no good place to insert censorship.

    Now we have firewalls, proxies, more rigid network structure, and much smarter routers. Blocking based on IP address is routine. Blocking based on content is available as off-the-shelf technology. So is user-monitoring software. All of this scales up enough that all of China is being firewalled.

    So, unfortunately, the net is now censorable. Not perfectly, but enough so that we can't just laugh at censorship threats.

  • I'd heartily agree that government censorship doesn't work when the people are against such censorship. However, if the people do not mind the censorship, than one would expect the Chinese government's censoring to work.

    Now, I am not saying that the Chinese people want to be censored, but I think they don't view the Chinese government as censoring the Internet. Rather, they view it as the government protecting the people from a Western lifestyle that is full of greed and shy of morals.

    In fact, I think the greatest piece of evidence to show that censorship in China will indeed work is the fact that ordinary Chinese citizens are helping censor the Internet! See:
    http://abc news.go.com/sections/tech/DailyNews/china_webpolic e000125.html [go.com]

    I had a friend who was a diplomat in Russia. A couple years ago, he came home, and we discussed Russia's future. He thought Russia would revert to Communism before year 2000. His argument was that the Russian populace liked the Communist system, and had come to expect a big government, big brother type of authority in charge. Granted, it's past 2000, and Russia isn't Communist... yet. Who knows what Putin has up his sleeves, though. :)

    In summary... while we Westerners might find any restriction of free speech as unforgiving, other cultures see protection from outside thoughts and ideals as comforting.

  • by re-geeked (113937) on Monday January 31, 2000 @08:31AM (#1318647)
    This well-intentioned post makes the same wrong assumption that has allowed so much oppression:

    It's the same assumption made by those who think voters should have to register.

    It's the same assumption made by those who thought that women shouldn't vote, or that the poor shouldn't vote, or that no one should vote.

    It's the same assumption made by those who apathetically allow others to make decisions for them.

    The assumption is that people are not capable of running their own lives, and making their own decisions.

    I would ask the poster: what measures do you recommend for stopping these examples of hysteria? It sounds to me like the best recipe is creating a society where people are encouraged to think for themselves. How exactly does a society become mature enough to respond correctly to misinformation? By being exposed to it, and simultaneously being allowed to look at all the information, and decide the facts themselves. What caused the harms that were corrected by the laws you mention? Lack of access to the truth.

    Maybe people don't always act like adults. Maybe we do make horrible mistakes due to ignorance, fear, and gullibility. But the lesson of liberty is that we must be allowed to act like adults, educate ourselves, and make the important decisions. Because the alternative is tyranny.
  • Nothing wrong with GPLing software, after all, it's your code. However, I believe your aims and the GPL are not consistent. Your project wants to become massively distributed over the world, in effect, a standard. For this type of distribution, I believe that history has shown a more liberal license such as BSD for the TCP/IP stack or X works better. I don't think the stated aims of this project care whether the software is hosted on a commercial or noncommercial system. Wouldn't it be wonderful if commercial systems, even Windows (doubtful) were to do the work of distributing this software for you?

    IANAL, but I question whether for most systems it is legal to link your GPLed code with anything but something such as the GPLed Kaffe. (Well for you since it's your code anything is legal, but I'm talking about others to whom it is distributed.) A Java VM is not a systems component for most systems so it doesn't fall under that exception to the GPL. This sort of technicality is what got KDE excluded from being distributed with Debian.
  • (sniff) True! It's all TRUE!!! (sob)

    Every single one of your points is dead on, I am a pathetic rutabaga-loving, New Yorker-snubbing, American Anthem-listening, passwordless sham and I haven't the courage to face another day (BLAM!)

    Thank you.
  • Yep, that's exacty how I accidentally found it. I was pointed to trolltalk and mistyped the sid and found that I could create my own thread trolltlak. I don't agree that Rob should do anything about this. Why rap the hornet's nest?

    The Don Knot's guy might become angered and release a plauge of locusts upon the land, or something.

  • That sounds excellent. Thanks.
  • Of course, Boyle's treatise is fairly useless to anyone who takes a position other than the extreme of "the State is too stupid to regulate technology effectively." Actually, it affirms Katz' original thesis. That is, the State *can* exert some power, and it can do so in non-obvious ways. However, Boyle does definitely concede that such control is not likely to be effective. I mean, has any of the controlling technologies mentioned in that essay have a meaningful impact on the Net as we know it today? Do you hear the Solid Oaks and Mayberry USA's of the world announcing multi-billion dollar IPOs? No? What about the V-chip manufacturers? Big business, right? The Huxley-esque "world controllers" can try, but ultimately, they won't get very far. Why? It literally becomes too expensive, both in terms of dollars and manpower.
  • "If he's going to submit it to a mainstream media source he should at least fix all of the technical innacuracies . . . "

    . . . and his grammatical ones. Sorry, but people judge you by the words you use and the grammar you do or do not know. I'm not a very hard-core grammar or spelling kind of guy, especially with these informal posts, however, some of these longer articles should be at least checked by one copy-editor. Katz's words are the words, like it or not, that will most likely see in a mainstream medium. While many of these people won't care one way or another, some will, and those are educated people in other fields. We need support from end-users of products, especially against the MPAA and DVD consortium (sp). Nerds alone can't do it.

    I'll offer to do it (the copy-editing), but I'm only human, and still learning.

  • Don Knots! That guy rulez!
  • > The MPA - along with the music industry, one of the world's
    > largest cartels outside of Columbia ...

    Hee hee. Didn't know Columbia [missouri.edu] was such a dangerous place. By chance did you mean Colombia?

    Earl Higgins

  • While I do agree with your point, I do not like the comparison between prohibition and DeCSS, because theres simply nothing wrong with DeCSS at all. Breaking DVD encryption was done to access rights we really should have had from day one. Now, I think prohibition is pretty stupid, too, but it is more controversial. Comparing fair use to alcohol would give many people the wrong idea.
  • American University law professor James Boyle [american.edu] has a nice article addressing this point ("Foucault in Cyberspace: Surveillance, Sovereignty, and Hard-Wired Censors" [american.edu]), in which he argues that proponents of the idea that the web is uncensorable underestimate the ability of the government to regulate the net, and to enroll private agents (e.g. ISPs) to enforce policy.

    I argue that the conceptual structure and jurisprudential assumptions of digital libertarianism lead its practitioners to ignore the ways in which the state can often use privatized enforcement and state-backed technologies to evade some of the supposed practical (and constitutional) restraints on the exercise of legal power over the Net.

    Warning: Be prepared for somewhat dense prose, if you're not used to reading this kind of article. It's well worth the effort, though; he certainly changed the way I thought about net censorship. I also recommend the rest of his site [american.edu] to anyone interested intellectual property issues. (If only he'd get rid of that one <blink> tag, arggghh.)

  • The other encouraging thing is that some people can discern the truth by comparing what they're being told to what they experience. Of course, they need to view things with an open mind.

    I wonder if zealots are strident because they're insecure: they see evidence all around them that their cherished beliefs are wrong.
  • 1. Comparing the MPA and the music industry to China is nauseous. I think the MPA and RIAA are stupid and misunderstand the Internet, but comparing them to the totalitarian Chinese state is a bit of a stretch.

    2. The net is very censorsable -- at least as censorable as r/l. Katz is mistaken when he thinks that in order for the net to be censored that someone has to monitor *every* chat room. Not even close. All that is needed is to monitor a significant minority of chat rooms and make several high profile examples of offenders in order to deter the sort of things China doesn't want (this is, after all, exactly the role fulfilled by other criminal prosecutions -- no crime can be punished perfectly, but by publicly punishing a broad sample of cirminals, others are deterred from committing the same crime, though again, not perfectly).

    In China, for example, state censorship of the Internet works surprisingly well. I've talked to people in Chia via email who refuse to talk about certain topics because they know people have been thrown in jail for such activities.

    Fear is rather easy to generate for an authoritarian state.
  • I didn't see the phrase that annoyed you, but I'll give my take on it.

    Grow up.

    In a political discussion it is perfectly acceptable to say, "America screwed up royally" when referring to the American government screwing up royally. It is equally acceptable to say "China has no clue about what the Internet really is," when you're referring to China's stupid attempt to regulate online speech.

    Now if he said "Chinese suck", then I'd agree with you. But to say "China sucks" is quite acceptable. You cannot be racist about a LAND, you can be racist about a PEOPLE.


    ---
  • Those of you concerned by this article might like to take a look at a project I, and a dedicated band of Java coders, have been working on for almost a year now, which is nearing its first release. It is called Freenet , and aims to make the kind of censorship Katz talks about almost impossible (if not totally impossible). We will be releasing in the next few weeks (under the GPL), when we hope to make quite a bit of noise (Katz has expressed an interest in providing some coverage), but if you would like a sneak-preview, take a look at our project's homepage .

    --

  • Yeah, that's exactly what Andrew was complaining about. People say "China" and don't specify whether they mean the Chinese government, people, hackers, whores, or some other group.

    Imagine if everyone said that Unix was made by "America" ...
  • What the MPAA and other 'official' organizations are doing is the same thing the US tried when it outlawed Alcohol. Driving the perpetrators underground and increasing their profit margins. Organized crime won't be stopped, just the occasional unlucky hacker.

    The MPAA and others are guilty of underestimating peoples' curiosity. They are also guilty of stupidity for encouraging the use of such an easily broken code scheme. Now they want blame every one else for their mistakes.

    I'm surprised production houses and artists haven't sued the MPAA, the RIAA and others for endorsing sloppy encryption techniques.

    What a bunch of arrogant, self important idiots, all of them.

    At the high prices Record companies and movie distributors charge, it's just too temptimg for criminals to resist getting in on the action.

  • by Bitscape (7378) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:35AM (#1318667) Homepage
    How many of us are going to discontinue, or at least decrease our movie viewing because of these actions. If we are, perhaps it would be a good idea to tell somebody about it.

    I normally post a movielog on my web page, detailing every theatrical release I see. After these recent events, I've decided to start an Anti-Movielog, in which I will record all the movies I don't see, but otherwise would have if these outrages had not occured.

    I just got to thinking, why not implement it on a massive scale? How many people who normally go to movies are actually planning to boycott? If there's an appreciable number, wouldn't it be cool to have a web page where people could go and tell everyone exactly which movies they're not seeing on what dates. Then we could keep a running total to show the movie industry exactly how much money they're costing themselves.

    Of course, keeping it honest could be a potential problem. We wouldn't want the hypothetical database to be Slashdotted and the polls stuffed by repeat voters, or people who wouldn't have seen the movies anyway. Still, it's an idea to think about. I'd like to know anyone else has ideas about this. If there's enough interest, I'd be willing to help out on such a project.

  • This battle is far from won.

    Wether we like it or not, this is going to be settled in court and this is not finished yet. If DeCSS is outlawed, this will give the MPA an instrument against everyone (in the US at last) that distributes it and considering who owns the media - what do you think will the average american think about those who get arrested?


    There is a chance that you are right, but that is all it is. A chance. Moveable type, radio, television were similar chances and look what happened.



    Ciao, Peter
  • by DavidTC (10147)
    Huh? Does anyone understand this comment? The name of the country is China. It's been that, or some variation of that, for thousands of years. And they really don't mind that's their name, promise. If they did, they'd change it.

    Yes, that's not the full name, but most people do call it China, just like people call France 'France' and the United Kingdom the 'United Kingdom', both of which have longer real names.

    Or are you upset he attributed the actions of the government to the country?

    I'm really confused here.

    -David T. C.

  • I think this hits on an important point that
    crosses several types of things that governments
    do.

    Whenever governments try to legislate and curb
    act which are not violent, and have no victem
    (in the case of software copying, you could argue
    that the software company is a "victem" however
    they don't even know its going on) then they
    create a big problem.

    With "real" crimes, there is a victem. Either
    a body on the ground with some evidence as to
    how it happend ot identiy of the killer through
    fingerprints, or a person who was robbed etc.

    ie. the victem brings the attention of the police
    to the crime. If Joe's store is robbed, surely he
    isn't going to sit back and hope the police decide
    to come by and ask him if he has been robbed
    lately.

    Whats my point?

    The point is, that with all this "intellectual
    property" (what a silly term) the crime that
    is being searched for is almost impossible to
    identify. Any TCP/IP connection can be one...it
    can be happening in the privacy of someones
    bedroom and noone will ever goto the police and
    complain.

    There will NEVER be enopugh manpower to hunt
    down consensual "crimes". Whether it is stopping
    "Unauthorized copying", protitution, drugs,
    or sex with foodstuffs (which is illegal in some
    states).

    The real danger is that things like this will be
    used as an excuse to give the police more and more
    powers. It will end up being used (not necissarily
    intentionally) to erode privacy.
  • Jon, I've never replied to one of your articles before; I didn't have anything to say in responce to them. However, I have something to say to you: glad to see you :-)

    I'm glad you learned that in a place like Slashdot, as opposed to "traditional media," the six degrees of separation are actually one degree of separation. That degree being the will to speak. If you have it, you'll be seen and heard by many others :-)

    "I don't know why they don't show up."
    -- your Karma is likely low, and people aren't seeing you because of thresholds (or it could be you don't post as much as some). I suggest you preview a few times before hitting submit, and then make sure the comment is posted via your user page [slashdot.org]. It's also good for tracking replies to your posts, and keeping on top of interesting threads.

    Have fun..
    ---
  • (Caveat: this comment is based on reading the project overview - please correct me if I missed something)

    I have also pondered such a technology-based solution to censorship. Although the idea is attractive, a huge obstacle to implementation, which as far as I can tell Freenet does not address, is the spam problem. If such a system allowing anonymous posting ever becomes widely used (which is the goal, after all), I would predict that spammers would quickly clog it to the point of making it unusable (cite Usenet as precedent).

    This problem rules out most straightforward implementations. My idea to solve this is not fully developed, but would be a network that anyone could access, but that only those who "payed" could post on. Payment would consist of operating a server, and via an untracable digital cash scheme, operation of the server would give you the right to post (minus system overhead).

    For example, if you run a server that can store 20 MB of content from the network and the overhead tax is 50%, you would get digital cash that let you post 10 MB of material on the network. This would prevent spam, since the spammers couldn't get a free ride: they would have to pony up storage space.

    The big problem (obviously) is devising an authentication system that creates the digital cash that is both 1) secure and 2) does not constitute a point of attack for a goverment trying to bring down the system.

    I'd be interested in hearing whatever ideas people might have as to how to accomplish this.

  • I really don't have much else to say beyond that. If you start criticizing an article without reading it, you are no better than those who label deCSS as a program for copying DVDs...I know it's not the best analogy, but it's just about as stupid and wrongheaded. -Loki
  • Those of you concerned by this article might like to take a look at a project I, and a dedicated band of Java coders, have been working on for almost a year now, which is nearing its first release. It is called Freenet

    Excellent stuff. This is the closest thing I've seen to this [slashdot.org]. We cannot have a stable physical location for storing material which someone may object to (a "data haven") because of the lack of suitable places (Cryptonomicon notwithstanding). Your paper [sourceforge.net] provides a virtual alternative (or at least, part of it).

    I'd urge everyone with coding time and a concern about this to get behind this project.

    How far has development progressed? Are you building in the trapdoor function and signed update facilities mentioned in section 9 of the paper? I think updates would be necessary for developers to use the system as a means of publishing code.

  • Sure it's a Communist country, and it's done some shitty things, but it's not as stupidly backwards as you seem to believe it is. I don't know what the "AIDS baths" are that you're talking about, but if you'll remember, our own country hasn't exactly been all that advanced on stopping aids itself until very recently. Give 'em a break, their country is five times the size of ours, of course they have bureaucracy problems. You're right, it does sound racist. -Loki
  • Funny. Don't recall making any of those assertions. However, your post does point out hat I didn't clarify a few things.

    I would ask the poster: what measures do you recommend for stopping these examples of hysteria? It sounds to me like the best recipe is creating a society where people are encouraged to think for themselves.

    I would recommend education. Ultimately, I would want a society where everyone HAS to learn, has to grow, has to think. I'm a strong believer in sinking resources into education and encouraging critical thinking.

    However, such development takes time, decades even. A population that has not yet reached that level of maturity is vulnerable throughout that entire time. That is why I feel that censorship is sometimes a necessary evil, a stopgap measure until the population has reached the maturity required. I do not advocate permanent censorship :)

    As an analogy, think of raising a child. Yes, you sink huge amounts of time and effort educating the child. However, neither do you allow the little tyke unrestricted freedom and access, because he might go walk on a freeway, stick his finger in an electric outlet or something of the sort. Are you not taking away his freedom? Are you not taking away his rights? Yes. But only for as long as necessary.

    Freedom is fantastic. Human rights are awesome. However, blindly asserting that it is appropriate at any stage, any time, any person ... is irresponsible. Wisdom is knowing when to apply the right concepts at the right time. For a final thought - look at the development of countries in Asia. Compare the development of "true democracies" in the American sense vs. the "democratic dictatorships". You will find that on average, it was the "less free" nations that developed the best. There are notable exceptions of course.

    In summary: To each when they are truly ready for it, and only then. Full democracy and freedom are appropriate for societies that have matured enough to support it.
  • I am actually glad that the MPA is going to such extremes, and the chinese government as well. Such actions are sealing their fate, and ensuring that their demise will only accelerate.

    The net is the great equalizer. Empowering the individual. So use that power for good. Do not let the big corporate greedy monopolistic bastards scare you with thier strong arm tactics, for then they have won.

    a big FUCK YOU to government and corporate scare tactics used to silence freedom.

    (and a DeCSS mirror: http://cubicmetercrystal.com/decss/ [cubicmetercrystal.com] )
  • Truth is, in any country where education isn't sufficiently high and skepticism isn't strongly in place, the free flow of information can hurt much more than it can help.

    So, you're saying that freedom is the American imperialist tool of oppression? ;)
  • Even "modern" Western societies fall prey to scaremongering. Come on, Y2K! It's the end of the world as we know it! Thousands of programmers on the internet repeated this trash, as they imagined a scenario where the worst happened (power, telephone, gas, nuclear, etc all going kaput at once. Nothing could be fixed because of all infrastructure being paralyzed. Back to to the stone age, with riots, and all that.)




    Just look at Europe and the insane paranoia over beef and Mad Cow Disease. There's never been any proof of the link between MCD and CJD. Hell, there's not even any info on whether or not the incidence of CJD is higher than its historical or natural level.

    Then there are the green pressure group scare tactics over genetically modified foods, pharmaceuticals, or pretty much any new technology. A US ad by Turning Point shows a mouse with a human ear growing on its back (transplanted cells into a plastic-matrix merely being fed by the mouse's circulatory system, e.g. incubated), and the green ad uses the picture as an example of the HORRIFIC abuse that genetic engineering poses on nature (even tho the actual mouse wasn't GM'ed)


    The whole precautionary principle debate is ridiculous. If it was truly applied to all new technologies, we wouldn't be able to eat any new recipes. Can you prove that those new Smoothy drninks that blend together lots of veggies won't result in a chemical side-effect? Better run government tests on that! Does anyone actually realize that cooking *is* chemistry? That's not to say that there should be no regulation, since regular *breeding* as described above is also regulated (many "natural" plants have lots of toxins in them) What's needed is rational discourse however, not bohemian granola hippies teaming up with labor unions and dancing wild in the streets of Seattle, or green pressure groups opening spreading false propaganda to encourage fear.

    (see http://www.junkscience.com/dec99/earie.htm )



    Some hack farmer blindly crosses different plant species, with huge bits of genes being swapped back and forth (some infact is "genetic junk" being accidently reactivated), and people think it is perfectly natural, and "safer" Meanwhile, a scientist transfers a single gene between two species instead of cut-and-pasting huge segments, and it is somehow "dangerous" (while at the same time, being more precise and careful), because it's not "natural"


    There is a total lack of education about RISK in this society, and the pressure groups are praticing a scare compaign to take advantage of that.

    In fact, there is a general lack of tolerance in general. Everything is seen as black and white. Corporations? Evil. Government? Evil? Socialism? Evil. Capitalism? Evil. GM? Evil. Microsoft? Evil. Closed Source? Evil. No one bothers to consider or weigh specific cases or situations any more. Everything is simple categorized and dismissed.

    On slashdot, I see nine gazillion comments on every new story to the effect "what's so new about this? big deal." Before people even read a story, they hit the reply button and start dismissing it. And while there are generally a few thoughtful essays posted, the vast majority of responses are 1-3 line dismissals or "dittos"

    Can someone please teleport me to Vulcan or some planet where there is more thoughful discussion?


  • but really, it's just inappropriate to refer to the Chinese government as "China", especially if you're going to say something like "China is stupid". I know this wasn't Katz's intention, I'm sure he's not a racist, but he should still be more careful with the words he uses.
  • by DjReagan (143826) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:11AM (#1318687)
    Australia too has started actively attempting to censor the internet this month. The Online Services Amendment to the Broadcast Services Act came into efect on Jan 1.

    So far, the Australian Broadcasting Authority [aba.gov.au] has issue a couple of "Takedown Notices" to certain websites hosting prohibited content. Each of those sites was back up again running from an offshore host server within hours.

    Electronic Frontiers Australia [efa.org.au] has more details..
    --

  • Althought I generally agree with Jon Katz's writings, I have to disagree here. Yes, in an intelligent world, corporations would change their business models to remain competitive. But that is not the world we live in. Corporations would rather change the law than change the way they do business. That is why movie studios fought videotape and why they are fighting OpenDVD. True, they may not be able to stop reverse engineering completely, but they can create (if the courts and congress let them) a very strong chilling effect. It may not be perfect censorship, but it is effective censorship nonetheless.
  • by arivanov (12034) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:43AM (#1318700) Homepage
    Both are about to learn the hard way what American educators, religious leaders, law enforcement officials - even politicians - are just beginning to figure out: The Net isn't censorable. Neither is the software that runs programs, links Web sites, plays, movies and music, stores or transmits information and ideas.

    I wish you to be right. But I think you are wrong. Neither the politicians, nor the leaders had the resources behind them MPAA has. They had to push questionable laws and usually they failed (Australia being a noteable exemption). The difference in this case is:

    The law (MCPA) has already been pushed and quite a few previous laws exist.

    These people do not need to finance a media campaign to promote their cause. And they can promote it at no extra expense. As I said in one of the previous threads on the topic they can lie as much as they wish and there is nobody to oppose them with an equivalent amount of firepower. Quoting myself from a previous thread:

    • A LIE REPEATED ONE HUNDRED TIMES BECOMES THE ULTIMATE TRUTH.

      Gobels

      Repeat after me: "encrypted DVD cannot be copied" - exempt from the presentation of MPAA for the preliminary injuction in New York. The transcript is at:2600.com - one of the sites hit with injunction. The quote is located in the very beginning.

      Presenting it here once again for sake of paranoia (who knows what will they try to injunct next time, the truth maybe):

      MR. GOLD: Now, before plaintiffs were willing to make DVDs available, they decided that they had to have an encryption technology so that the content and their copyright interest in the content could be protected, something that would scramble the picture and scramble the sound. And that system was created, and it is called CSS, which stands for content scrambling system. And you can't watch a movie unless you have an authorized DVD player, and the authorized DVD player has the computer key to the program. So with a DVD and an authorized player, the authorized player will unscramble the picture and the sound and you can watch your movie. But you can't copy it. The CSS technology prevents that.

    Yeah, right, not like I can copy the entire DVD bit by bit encrypted, make a 100000 copies and sell them...

    And as you see the judge accepted this argument wholehartedly and put the entire weight of the US law system behind it. Though the argument is a lie. One that has been repeated 100 times so far and shall be repeated until Gobels holds true.

    There has not been a single case when such firepower and finances have been used to make the net silent. And the chances of bringing the Net silent in this case are too high.

    You also miscalculate for the fact that all those who failed before are likely to join the crusade seeing MPAA to score points aginst the net as a whole. The Net against all who want to put it under control... Well, I will make no guesses here. I doubt that the net will win so we can all go to O'Raily and by ourselfs a coopy of DataBase Nation to educate ourselves on how shall we live further on. Or a copy of 1984 for that matter.

    P.S. I hope I am wrong as well... But...

  • One of the strongest things in Katz's piece is the almost throwaway phrase "DVD viewing software" when referring to DeCSS.

    It's important that we refer to it in that way to make the point that it is control over their viewing monopoly that the MPAA are in fact trying to enforce, and not what they actually claim in court.

    Perhaps a few might defend the morality of their primary directive "make film once, suck the public dry forever", but nobody sane would argue in favor of their control of DVD viewing software on computers --- that just smells too much of multi-sector monopoly. No doubt this is why the MPAA lawyers never mention any reason beyond the ficticious "piracy" and equally imaginary "keys to the store" -- they know that if they made the MPAA's real goal explicit then they wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

    The papers and other media need to be made aware of the MPAA's real target, and the term "DVD viewing software" should be used whenever possible to drive the real issue home, repeatedly.
  • Copyright is owned by Tolkien Enterprises.
    Write to:
    Director of Licensing,
    TOLKIEN ENTERPRISES,
    2600 Tenth Street
    Berkeley CA 94710.

    They are a division of the Saul Zaentz Company, but I believe that the Tolkien Estate (Christopher and the others) are the copyright holders, and the above is a licensee

    dave
  • Take a look at public (K-12) education in America today. It's not education, it's indoctrination into a particular worldview.
    And a religious education, or a military academy, are somehow worldview neutral? Or home schooling, which often (not always, by any means, but often) serves primarily to see that children are not exposed to any worldview other than that of their parents?

    Education without some form of indoctrination is a myth. The best we can do is to minimize the indoctrination component by exposing the student to a variety of views, while at the same time giving them the tools to compare, contrast, and realize the full implications of each one.

    In summary, it is my opinion that an education that isn't based on an objective standard is worse than useless, encouraging intellectual laziness and relativism.
    In many areas of human endeavor, there is no objective standard. Is the "Ode to Joy" a better piece of music than "Axis: Bold as Love"? (I'm not touching that question with a ten-foot pole, thanks.) Science is not immune: we have to deal with questions like what makes a theory more "elegant" than another, or what does the collapse of the quantum wave function really "mean"?

    Even mathematics is built of a heap of axioms, which in themselves are not objective. The only thing that sets the axioms apart from some other set of declarations is that they are useful to us - they help us deal with the universe in such as way as to meet our wants and needs and enjoy our lives. Which is, at its heart, a very subjective recommendation.

    So what's the standard? I can't see a sound argument for anything other than, "Does this improve the quality of my life?"

  • There is nothing whatsoever in the GPL which prevents use of Freenet's code in a commercial system, in fact, it is encouraged. What is prevented is incorporating the code into a commercial system and then distributing it as a closed-source piece of software, which I don't think is in Freenet's interests. If a company wishes to implement a closed-source Freenet client, the protocol specs will be freely available and they will be free to do so, but I don't like the idea that anyone will profit from my hard work by restricting its distribution (which is what placing it under a non-open source license would entail).

    --

  • Sorry, I'm donating it to the Smithsonian. I tried to donate my body to science but they wouldn't return repeated phone calls. :-)
  • May I be pained again now?

    Sure. Though, in fairness, the MPAA? (regex) really needs to decide what its name is; furthermore, all of the lawsuits have been filed by the "MPAA". Now, the "MPA" may have had the kid arrested. All I know is that "industry stooge Jack Valenti" (tm) is involved with both. And I have $100 that says Katz got this right by accident (in the same way that the late Gene Siskel was only right about movies when he agreed with Roger Ebert).

    This is starting to make my head hurt.

    (Incidentally, the DVD fiasco made Reason Express this week; see here [reason.com] for details.)
  • they're taught not to judge, not to compare, but to accept other viewpoints as equally valid.
    This is a favorite claim among those who think that only ideas that originated from white guys who've been dead at least a hundred years can be valuable, but it's pretty questionable. If students were being taught this - at least, if they were learning it - there would be at least one large positive effect: sexism, racism, and homophobia would be extinct amoung our youth. Doesn't seem to be happening.

    Bloom's just another cultural supremicist who equates "different (i.e., non-DWEM) ideas may be valid" with "all ideas are equally valid".

    (For the record, I should point out that about 50% of my ancestors are DWEMs, and I bear them no ill will. I'm a fan of many DWEMs, but there are also people who aren't dead, white, European, or male, who I highly respect.)

    That tends to reinforce the other idea taught by movies, music, peers, and television -- that authority is, intrinsically, something to be distrusted.
    And if this were being learned, school uniforms and student drug tests would never be accepted. We'd have students standing up in the middle of DARE lectures asking about prohibition-fueled violence, or history students demanding to be taught about the labor movement of the late 1800s. At the very least we'd have more 18-year-old voters registering as something other than Demopublican or Repubicrat. I don't see this happening, do you?
  • decidedly vested interested in publicizing the notion that music, movies and culture in general belong to private corporations, not code-writing geeks and nerds.

    Culture in general belongs to society at large. It is in the best interest of the corporation to to make you forget that 'The Little Mermaid' existed before Disney's version. Thus elements of the culture end up belonging to the corporation. Btw-> thanks to the Canadian Government for selling the image of the Mountie (Royal Canadian Mounted Police- you know, red jacket, funny black pants) to Disney. But I can't fault corporations for that, they're just trying to make a buck like everybody else (and before I get flamed to oblivion for that last, a man's gota eat, so hold your torches). I can fault them for thier tactics in trying to do so.

    And now the blindingly obvious...
    Individual works of art such as movies, and music do in fact belong to individual people, or corporations. They have for ages, and people do and have in fact earned a living making works of art that become part of a culture. (Depending upon how you look at it code can be a piece of art. But I digress.)

    Culture in and of itself cannot be completely owned by one person/entity. There is a culture that is shared by code-writing geeks and nerds[sic] and in some sense it does belong to them as a group, but it also belongs to the individuals who have contributed it. A case in point, slashdot. It belongs to the comunity that uses it, and at the same time it belongs to Andover. Would you fault Andover for owning it?

    The presumption that something that makes up part of your culture belongs to you is exactly what got people so angry when the interface to freshmeat changed a while back (remeber?). The culture doesn't belong to code-writing geeks and nerds any more than it does to the corporations. (And now my bias comes through.)Its just that invoking code-writing geeks and nerds is the only way that Katz attempts to write for, and connect with, this audience.

    --locust

  • Apologies to any current HOWTO maintainer...

    1. Read Slashdot story X.
    2. Read Slashdot story Y.
    3. Read Slashdot story Z.
    4. Read into Slashdot story X. Let this affect you personally.
    5. Read into Slashdot story Y. Let this affect you personally.
    6. Read into Slashdot story Z. Find (usually contrive) a common plot.
    7. Reread Slashdot stories X and Y. Use contrived plot to aid in providing desired results.
    8. Create new words to aid in describing plot.
    9. Write story.
    10. Liberally use the word 'Net' in rewrite.
    11. Post story.
    12. Wait for comments to pour in.
    13. Remember comments are useful in next article, so select a choice few.
    14. Repeat process.

  • by StoryMan (130421) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:47AM (#1318726)
    Can someone explain to me why all of Katz's so-called "media critques" sound as though they've been authored by a college freshman?

    In *every single essay* Katz has a sentence that reads remarkably similar to this:

    "For hundreds of years, censorship has been the primary tool by which government, monarchies, educational and religious institutions and, lately, powerful corporations, have asserted political, cultural and economic dominance. "

    Or, how about this:

    "Institutions both governmental and corporate that feel threatened by the Net and the Web, are developing a pattern. Rather than embrace innovative and empowering new technologies to offer consumers and citizens choice and freedom, they seek out a handful of targets to use as warnings, examples of the nasty fate that will befall transgressors."

    Does anyone edit Katz's writings? These lines are the typical "throwaway lines" used to link paragraphs in five-paragraph essays. They don't say anything specific and are always rooted in nifty generalizations that have no basis in fact. "For hundreds of years..." For chrissake, Katz: do some fucking research and get us a number. Use a fucking incident -- an actual event to make your writing more persusaive.

    I read all of Katz's essays, and I'm amazed: he's a remarkably lightweight critique who never offers any specfic "insights." What Katz offers is generalized FUD: he picks up on an issue, decides to fit it in with his "project", and, damn the facts or specifics, writes around the issue until he drills home a point that could have been "drilled home" in the first sentence.

    Does Katz just write these things willy-nilly and send them off to Slashdot to be "published?" Does anyone actually offer Katz some constructive criticism about his pieces?

    Jon, really: you need an editor. You shouldn't fire these pieces off for public consumption until you do some real research. They're not persuasive texts: they're ramblings.

    It's the typical sort of Slashdot mentality: well, if I can't think of a comparison, well, I'll use Hitler -- or, better yet, I'll use the typical "communism bad, capitalism good" sort of comparison -- or, wait! -- how about "open source good, non open source bad" -- yeah! that's it.

    Katz, go ahead and respond to this. I never see any responses to your so-called "pieces". Why do you write like a college freshman? Why don't you do better research? Why don't you use an editor?

  • Last month, the DVD Copyright Control Association sued 72 hackers and Web site authors for posting - or even linking to software (DeCSS) that unlocks the system for preventing illegal copying of video discs.
    This is not what CSS does...

    You're right. I assume (hope) Mr. Katz knows the difference as well. But... The DVD CCA sued claiming that that is what DeCSS was for. They claimed that DeCSS was solely to illegally copy DVDs. Yes, this is wrong, and that is part of the problem with their case. No DeCSS is needed to duplicate DVDs. DeCSS is just needed to view them.

  • The MUSIC PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION of the United States is what Jon was speaking of and he was very clear about it. As much as it pains me to side with Jon on ANYTHING, I must in this case.

    From the beginning of Katz's article:

    This week, the Motion Picture Association (MPA)...

    I guess you can de-pain yourself ;-)

  • A LIE REPEATED ONE HUNDRED TIMES BECOMES THE ULTIMATE TRUTH.
    Gobels


    Actually, what you are saying is a lie, but so much people have said it, now everybody believes it is true ;)
  • I'm fairly certain Katz sees himself as a "facilitator." He could care less what the Slashdot community thinks; what matters is that he's offering his wisdom up for us to contemplate -- but, as far as he's concerned, that's all that matters.

    The last thing he wants to do is to get bogged down in details: he's short on time, so he can't respond to each comment. Likewise, I'm sure he'll say publicly that he reads all the responses to his articles but that -- and, of course, we understand -- he can't possibly respond to each posting.

    Katz is really no better than Berst or Dvorak. They assume that they're plugged into current trends because they're good observers. But what all three of them fail to realize is that you need to respond to the trends and not just observe them.

    It's odd that Katz refuses to respond on this forum. It's disconcerting, too: he obviously can submit a story whenever he wishes. He doesn't go through the same "editorial board" that the rest of do. So he posts his stories and in nearly every single piece that he posts, he gets something wrong: he misunderstands the fundamentals or, worse yet, doesn't take the time to check his facts.

    The end result is that Katz is using Slashdot to further his own "project" at the expense of all Slashdot's readership. If he considers himself a critic -- and thinks he's "in tune" with the pulse of his readership -- then he oughta get off his high horse and start doing the hard work of defending his views.

    Slashdot is an interesting community: but by taking advantage of Slashdot's readership (and apparently circumventing the editorial constraints that keep this readership in "check") Katz is merely using the community as a sounding board for his own agenda.

    It's goes against the sprit of the community and should be examined (and discussed) further.
  • Hyperbolize much?

    The net has not destroyed the idea of censorship. The net has not even made it especially hard to censor. Harder, yes, but the fact is, people with guns can still make you stop talking about their government.

    Jon, your understanding of the issue does not surpass that shown by the MPAA press statements. You happen to be right, but not through understanding, just through knowing people who do.

    Go away. Stop preaching at us. Stop pretending you're part of "us". You've got wayyy too much political agenda to be a hacker. ;)
  • Doh! For some reason W3M insists on removing hyperlinks when you preview a comment - the Freenet project homepage is at http://freenet.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net].

    --

  • Good article, JonKatz. A well-stated, fully-supported article. Slashdot readers probably realize this for the most part, but a good read all the same.
    You should also consider submitting this article to a somewhat more "mainstream media" site. Whether or not it would be accepted, this article would make an interesting read for non-technical people as well. Especially the totalitarian types.





    If he's going to submit it to a mainstream media source he should at least fix all of the technical innacuracies, the most of glaring of which is his assertion that CSS prevents copying of DVDs.


    Kintanon
  • MPA stands for "Music Publishers' Association." JonKatz is talking about the "Motion Picture Association of America." These are not the same thing.

    That's like saying something is posted on Freshmeat, when it's really on Slashdot, and then trying to CYA because they're both owned by Andover.

  • efforts to stick their fingers in the digital dike

    Sorry, a phrase like that deserves repeating. :)


    I agree. Perhaps we've found the right niche for Jon. Let's have a Slashdot political action committee to draw attention to tech issues in the presidential elections. Put Rob in suit and have Jon write inflamatory/attention getting speeches for him.

    Hey, if we're going to sit around bitching and moaning over the latest censorship, encryption, whatever, outrage, we might as well get some press coverage out of it. Who knows? We might even change a few peoples minds on the subject.
  • So if the MPAA makes it illegal (via winning this battle) to reverse engineer software and protocols, well what is this going to do for the US as far as competetivness?

    Non US companies can reverse engineer, US ones can't, hmm guess this will have some implications.
  • Truth is, in any country where education isn't sufficiently high and skepticism isn't strongly in place, the free flow of information can hurt much more than it can help.

    Good point, but I think that the quickest way for people to learn skepticism is by repeated exposure. Hopefully, after getting their 11,000th chain email / doomsday prediction, they'll come to realize that it's all just noise and advertising. I say this with some trepidation, though, having just recieved a 'good-luck' chain-letter forwarded by a fellow white, middle-class friend. I'll 'return' the favour with 50 or so replies w/history ; ) That usually helps to get the point across.

    These people need American TV, beer and video games.
  • by turb (5673) on Monday January 31, 2000 @07:26AM (#1318763) Homepage
    Not so many years ago there was separate but equal, until one person... just one decided that they weren't going to sit in the back of the bus.

    The more things change the more they stay the same. We've been sitting in back of the OS bus for years. Since the media has discovered that Linux is "cool" and companies realize they can turn a buck on the hard work of the Open Source revolution, it is this revolution that is in a position of power and importance. It's time to
    change the world.

    Katz is right. This is a fight we can and will win. We have to. We have no choice otherwise it's over. This is our Waterloo. Or rather I should say, this is their Waterloo. This is where we stand up and say, no we are in charge of our destiny and we're not going to tolerate the behavior of jackbooted thugs like the MPAA.

    I wanna play DVDs on my Linux box. It's a simple yet tragic hard fought freedom. And if we all don't earn this freedom, what's the next one to fall?

    I hope that come LinuxWorld this week that there are plenty of folks that take some time out of the convention and protest. Let the media know, blast the message, we're not going to sit in the back of the bus. We don't back down, and we're not going to tolerate some mega corperation dictating terms of what we can or can not do with our computers.

    If the petigree of DeCSS is in doubt, time to make an alternative implementation and post it on the net.

    Regards...
  • Yes, they can create a chilling atmosphere. Yes, they can make you scared... and Yes, those of us on the net will continue to easily and effortlessly sidestep whatever regulations they try to put in place.

    If they try to stop reverse engineering, it will go underground.. heck, tha's where us hacker/geeks have been our whole lives anyway, isn't it? They bust FTP? They bust HTML? Use something else. It's easy to do...

    In the end, the technology and those who embrace it *will* win.
  • This reminds me of an older (80's?) scifi book, "Cyberbooks" by Ben Bova IIRC. It predated the whole WWW and all the little handheld computers.

    An approximate quote from the book:

    (naive inventor-type character): "So, with my new invention, we can get and read books without having to go to a store, find them, and buy them! We don't need to print them, truck them across the country, stock them in warehouses, track them in inventory, put them on store shelves, or any of those hassles! It will be great! You'll just buy one cyber-pad, and then adding books to it will be cheap and easy!"

    (older, worldly-wise character looks around nervously) "Shhh, keep it down, kid. You're going to get us killed! Don't you see how many jobs you could eliminate with this thing? Don't you realize how big and powerful the publishing and bookstore companies are?"

    Once again, science fiction predicted the future. I'll have to dig that book out and read it again.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)


  • Universities are *PRIVATE* networks, they are free to run their network any way they see fit.

    If the government enstates controls, we sidestep them.
    If they block a port, we pick a new one.
    If they block a protocol, we tunnel inside another one.
    If they make the whole network innefficient, we build a new one.
    That's how it works. That's how we got what we have today.

    It's one thing to say they can use technical solutions.. but those solutions have to exist! And they DON'T! And many companies, you can bet, have spent ENORMOUS amounts of money to find them, only to come up blank.

    Remember.. .and this is the important part.. the Internet is a network of networks, a collection of public & private networks.. it's power comes from the common use of protocols and cooperation.

    The government cannot tell me what to do with my network. They cannot tell you what to do with yours, and they cannot tell us both what to do when we hook them together.
  • Yes. And Censorship would not have stopped this. Those who started it should be held responsible.
    And people, the public, have to learn to decide for themselves whether information is good or not.

    ONe problem with technical support email is that it gets SWAMPED. IT is *SO* easy to send mail, people send mail all the time without thinking. If they actually had to write a letter, or talk coherently on the phone, they would work a bit harder to solve their own problems first.

    A similar effect happens with the public.. they get email, and don't think about how easy it coul dhave been for it to be a hoax.. they assume some kind of 'effort' was needed to inform them about a riot.

    The Truth in Advertising and the FDA regulations are not censorship. They do not prevent you from saying your bit. They simply state that if you *lie* or *misrepresent* what you are advertising/claiming, you can be held legally responsible. This is not censorship, this is how soceity shoudl function. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences of that speech.


  • First, I totally support DeCSS and the like.
    ON that note.. I must point something out.

    Who ever said we couldn't write a player for linux? Who is the 'they' that didn't write one? *ANY* developer can apply and get appropriate keys. Yes, it probably costs money.. but how much? Certainly, this puts it outside the realm of true open source....
    but to say that 'they' won't allow a player for linux, or to insinuate it, is wrong. there is no 'they'.

  • One opinion that seems to be widespread both on slashdot and among the "cyber-liberterian" community is that the Net isn't censorable or history is on or side. Sentiments along the lines of, "everything will work out, so I don't need to do anything except mirror DeCSS until I get a letter from the MPAA."

    The Net not censorable? This is not the case!

    Consider two stories recently from slashdot: universities around the country banning the use of Napster [napster.com], and one university banning access to the webpage dialpad.com. It is only a matter of time before governments and others start seriously toying with the idea of various technical solutions to prohibit access to pornography, copyrighted materials, source code deemed illegal, whatever. [dialpad.com]

    The most dangerous way to approach this threat is to assume everything will be okay. Every one who reads slashdot that lives in Norway should be writing dead-tree mail to complain about the treatment of Jon Johansen, everyone in the US should be writing congress and the press to point out that the MPAA is using the DMCA to usurp fair use rights in spite of the intent of Congress. If you live in Australia you should be writing letters every month ccomplaining about the net censorship law, if you live in Arizona you need to write your representative to complain about the propsed legislation to prohibit students from using their net access for non-educational activites.

    The net hasn't "destroyed the very idea of censorship." The last thing we can afford to do is assume this. Those who value the current freedom of the net and the current freedom to code should be writing one letter at least every month to a politican or newspaper.
  • by helarno (34086) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:57AM (#1318775) Homepage

    Disclaimer: Deals more with the govt censorship issue than the MPAA. I happen to hold the personal opinion that the MPAA is just trying to find a way to gouge the average consumer more :)

    Summary: Not all censorship is bad. Take a chill pill

    That felt like a highly inflammatory article, which painted everything with a huge, broad brush. Ok, so we know that Jon Katz feels that censorship, big government and big organizations of any kind are bad. But is that always true? The average American judges based on what they see around them, which is not necessarily true around the world. Education levels, gullibility, etc, vary. Are there places where SOME controls might not be bad? A couple of examples:

    • In Malaysia, a couple of years ago, someone started circulating on the Internet that some Indonesians were going to run riot in the streets, were stocking up on knives, weapons, etc. Everyone was advised to go home and hide. This email circulated through mass forwardings in less than a day. The net result - the capital city of Kuala Lumpur suffered immense productivity losses as people panicked, the more gullible went home and hours were spent forwarding mail, calling people, etc. The rumors were later found to be totally unfounded and just a lunch break joke
    • On 9-9-99 in Indonesia, some doomsday rumors started getting spread, just because the date was a fun date. It resulted in the streets of Jakarta being almost totally deserted as people stayed home in fear. Same productivity losses as above.

    These are anecdotes which I know through personal experience or through friends who were actually there. I'm very sure that most non-first world country people have heard these and could contribute some even funnier/sadder stories. Or even people in developed countries.

    Truth is, in any country where education isn't sufficiently high and skepticism isn't strongly in place, the free flow of information can hurt much more than it can help. Censorship to most governments is less about keeping total control over their citizens than it is about keeping out false information, information that can lead to totally irrational and damaging actions. For instance, a funny facet of politics in M'sia are the "poison pen" campaigns, when unsigned letters are circulated about a particular political candidate. These letters contain some absolutely unbelievable accusations. It doesn't matter that the average, well-educated voter would dismiss this out of hand. It just needs to hit the more gullible ones who will believe it and the candidate's reputation is ruined ... for no reason.

    The US has plenty of such safeguards too. It's just not called censorship here, even though it is the control of information. Think "Truth in Advertising", or FDA approval for health claims.

    Personally, I think that as a population matures, people get more skeptical and you can trust the general population to decide for themselves what is right and what isn't. However, in a developing world, a little more control and protection may be a better idea. Something along the lines of Plato's Philosopher King ideals ... only when you are truly "educated" can you make better decisions. Also akin to the parent/child relationship, where the parent must guide the child until he's ready to make his own decisions.

  • by Robert Wilde (78174) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:57AM (#1318776)
    One opinion that seems to be widespread both on slashdot and among the "cyber-liberterian" community is that the Net isn't censorable or history is on or side. Sentiments along the lines of, "everything will work out, so I don't need to do anything except mirror DeCSS until I get a letter from the MPAA."

    The Net not censorable? This is not the case!

    Consider two stories recently from slashdot: universities around the country banning the use of Napster [napster.com], and one university banning access to the webpage dialpad.com [dialpad.com]. It is only a matter of time before governments and others start seriously toying with the idea of various technical solutions to prohibit access to pornography, copyrighted materials, source code deemed illegal, whatever.

    The most dangerous way to approach this threat is to assume everything will be okay. Every one who reads slashdot that lives in Norway should be writing dead-tree mail to complain about the treatment of Jon Johansen, everyone in the US should be writing congress and the press to point out that the MPAA is using the DMCA to usurp fair use rights in spite of the intent of Congress. If you live in Australia you should be writing letters every month ccomplaining about the net censorship law, if you live in Arizona you need to write your representative to complain about the propsed legislation to prohibit students from using their net access for non-educational activites.

    The net hasn't "destroyed the very idea of censorship." The last thing we can afford to do is assume this. Those who value the current freedom of the net and the current freedom to code should be writing one letter at least every month to a politican or newspaper.
  • If Open Source is to win, REALLY win, it must defeat not the armies of the Sauron (the MPA) or the Orcs and Trolls of Sauruman (the RIAA) but the One Ring (Power Over Others). Yes, that means -fighting- those armies, but as in Tolkein's depiction, those battles can be won or lost by either side, and it doesn't matter. It really doesn't. All that matters is whether The Ring is destroyed or handed over.

    Ordinarily I don't like facile literary analogies when trying to analyze complex issues involving lots of parties. There is too much of a tendency to assign to each of these parties one of the roles from the book. You avoided that error while bring the point straight home. The true heroes of Lord of the Rings were Frodo, of course, and Sam. Frodo is obvious, a reluctant hero, an ordinary person who takes on a tremendous burden because the task must be done...

    Sam is less obvious, but I suspect that Tolkien wanted to emphasize the heroic aspects of his personality as highly as anyone else in the story. Sam wanted happiness, comfort and friendship. The few times he thought about uses for The One Ring, he sould have turned his corner of the Shire into a garden and a breadbasket. The only control he ever wanted was what he needed to make himself and his own comfortable. The world would have been a better place with Sam in charge simply because he would have done nothing to anyone. The desire for power over anyone else had no hold on him.

    Now, what does this have to do with open source? Well, why would anyone spend countless hours of his own time working on software for his own use and for the possible accolades of his peers when he could pay much less than that time is worth and get a shrink-wrapped package that did the job? Control over his own life, his own data, his own computer. We want to make tools to make our own lives easier or more fulfilling. As Eric Raymond said in The Cathedral and the Bazaar [tuxedo.org]:

    Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch.

    And we not only do we not object when other people benefit from it, we have realized that the collaboration that the open source model makes possible can provide us with useful enhancements in return. The guarantee of control over the software on our systems, the source code and the right to modify it, and distribute those modifications is control over our own lives.
  • Uh, I think you mean "Free Tibet".

    Mongolia is an independent country, Tibet was invaded in 1954 and the Chinese government is practising a systematic cultural and ethnic genocide through imigration of ethnic chinese and suppression of Tibetan culture.

    It is currently illegal to posses a picture of the dalai lama in Tibet so most tibetans keep an empty
    yellow picture frame in their home as a symbolic gesture.

    see www.tibet.org and www.tibet.com for info
  • Well, we have made sure that Freenet is compatible with Kaffe and other similar Open Source Java efforts, and we will always ensure that it remains compatible with Open Source Java implementations. Freenet is not language specific, a server can be implemented in any language, but we decided to create a reference implementation in Java because it is cross-platform, because it is not a speed-critical application, and because Java has great support for TCP/IP networking. Others have already implemented clients in languages such as Perl, and there has been talk of a C++ server, but at present all efforts are dedicated to getting the Java implementation off the ground.

    --

  • I think you have underestimated the sophistication of Freenet - it is much more than just a firewall/anonymizer - take a look at the homepage [sourceforge.net].

    --

  • ...not to mention everyone who opposes censorship might be to actually complete a Linux-based DVD player based on the DeCSS code.

    Then 'we' could point to that innocuous software and say 'Look... *this* was the point of cracking CSS". Might really help the public to understand the hammerlock that the DVD people have on the entire format too...
  • I can understand for it to be illegal to duplicate hardware, but the point of software is to take advantage of hardware and use it. Its simple, if you dont want anyone duplicating DVD's dont make DVD-R's. If they do refuse to make a recordable media type for a certain technology. That technology will simply become obsolete. As for hard drive copies, is it now illegal to have a mental pictures? The most important way to handle this would be for the Artist's to form their own distribution companies and take the Media giants out of the picture. Sell your song, movie or picture. Forget worrying about what its released on, because that just limits your market.
  • I realize this is the digital frontier, but if you're going to write an article about the arrogance and stupidity of the Motion Picture Association of America, the least you could do is get the name right.

    Also, use of the phrase "industry stooge (or shill) Jack Valenti" is de rigeur in any discussion of the MPAA. Please use it in any future articles on this topic; it would warm my heart.
  • by blackrazor (97782) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:23AM (#1318801)
    John Katz wrote:

    software (DeCSS) that unlocks the system for preventing illegal copying of video discs.
    Of all places, an article on Slashdot should get it right. This is not about copying of works, but about playing them. We have to make sure as a community that we make this perfectly clear to the lay public. We are going to have to fight against a very well-funded and media-savy organization, one that has already proven that they are willing to do whatever it takes to obfusicate the truth, and obscure the facts in the case...

  • by JonKatz (7654) on Monday January 31, 2000 @11:44AM (#1318802) Homepage
    It's not true that I don't post replies to articles on Threads. I do. I don't know why they don't show up. But I have to survive in a practical way as well. I get hundreds of e-mails a day, write several columns a week, plus books and articles. I can't also go online all day and respond to every single post on Threads. I can't do it.But I do go on as often as I can, and that is regularly.
    • Last month, the DVD Copyright Control Association sued 72 hackers and Web site authors for posting - or even linking to software (DeCSS) that unlocks the system for preventing illegal copying of video discs.

    I've seen a lot of criticism directed to John Katz here in Slashdot. Not that I like his style, but I've always felt that people went a bit overboard with that. Now, is it true that the DVD encryption prevents copying? Or should I finally understand the reason for all that criticism?

  • by Stiletto (12066) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:25AM (#1318804)
    As far as the Chinese government goes, it doesn't seem like there is much anyone can do about it if they don't live in China (and little anyone who lives there can really do abou it).

    But the RIAA, MPAA, and other various "cartels" in the USA can be fought.

    As it stands, the Linux DVD project is just a bunch of viewing tools, and filesystem and hardware drivers--not something the average Linux luser is going to be able to put together yet.

    What will finally put the nail in the MPAA's coffin is a graphical, userland program that is simple to install, and comparible to the various Windows players out there. Get it into RedHat or one of the other distributions.

    Think of it from the journalists' point of view: sure, we can mirror the source all over the place but face it, a bunch of source files is meaningless to a clueless reporter, or worse, to them it means hacker. A full-featured (at least professional looking) application that any luser can install and play DVDs out of the box would really get the point of this lawsuit across to the various journalists and shapers of public opinion.

    If you are a bored coder looking for a project, please consider helping the Linux Video [linuxvideo.org] project!
    ________________________________
  • > and it has nothing to do with the availability
    > of information. How many Americans would ever
    > read the Communist Manifesto?

    I read it in High School and thought that was
    a normal thing. I have since realized it isn't.
    The ideas most people have about "communism" are
    really laughable. (like the idea that it is even
    any 1 single ideology).

    > Some, I admit, but the fact of the matter is
    > that if you teach them young enough and
    > from all angles that one view is right and the
    > other is absurd, fringe, radical, or evil, the
    > vast majority will reject that view outright,
    > regardless of whether the information is readily
    > available

    Definitly true. Its very interesting the things
    that we are told and believe. We are told that
    its important that we can vote and choose good
    leaders...thats what makes us "free".

    Even after we grow up and see that the system
    encourages our leaders to essentially take bribes
    and become corrupt and work towards their own self
    interest...we still believe that the ability to
    vote makes us free and that we need these leaders.

    Ask any american what the "most free country in
    the world is" and they will tell you that its
    this one. We are "free". Most will continue to
    say it long past the time that they have monitors
    installed in their walls (figurativly speaking
    of course).

    However...it is about availability of information.
    The world does change, it just happens slowly.
    The people in power want to keep things rolling.
    Those people on the fringe are a threat. Ideas
    can operate alot like viruses. They spread. Once
    the idea is out there...it can spread from
    individual to individual.

    While I agree with you that early childhood
    programming which is re-enforced by popular
    culture, *IS* powerful, It is not the be all
    and end all. New ideas still have power.

    The thing that truly scares the people in power
    is not that these ideas are out there...it is
    that with the internet, they are now readily
    available. If you want to read the communist
    manifesto...you can do it very easily. Its
    just a few clicks away (as you demonstrated).
  • This whole problem of copyrights is about relative value. Producers are eager to wring every penny's worth of their films, but exactly how much does the public get for that?

    Every couple of years or so we get to see a new "superproduction" which must be necessarily more costly to produce than the former one.

    The stars must always get higher salaries, just to pretend they are better. People like Jim Carrey and Sandra Bullock get over $10 million per film. Are they so much better than the extras who almost pay to appear in films?

    The public doesn't seem to think so. They will do anything to get a free copy of a film or music. After all, when I buy a book, it's mine as long as I keep it. There is no "pay per read" for books, why should I pay every time I want to see an old film?

    Eventually, producers will have to come to the conclusion that it's useless to try to impose value by marketing alone. If they want to be paid for their work, it must be for real work, with real value to the buyer.

    Most people are not thieves, they will not steal a work of art if they are convinced that it's morally wrong to do so. But people aren't suckers either. They do not agree kindly to the idea of rich magnates getting richer by deceiving the masses.

  • The tendency of groups in power to fight change is not even remotely a new patter as Katz implies. Power holders have been doing this since the dawn of civilization. Change, by its very nature, changes how things work, which inevitably threatens the rule of those in power. Therefore, anyone in power must do one of two things in order to stay in power.

    The first option, chosen by most power mongers, is to try to suppress all change. Any invention, change, or technological advance is branded heresy, traitorous, or in these digital days, as piracy.

    The second option, which is almost never chosen by anyone who has power over any large chunk of anything, is to try and keep pace with the change. This, of course, is immensely difficult.

    The catch is that those who try to suppress all change invariably end up getting toppled, because of the simple fact that you can't stop progress. You can't put the genie back in the bottle. You can't close Pandora's box.

    The second catch is that it is almost impossible to keep up with all the change that goes on in the world. Those who try to keep up with it either end up becoming innefectual power holders, or they fail to keep up with it and revert to supression.

    The stable system is the one where change is allowed, and power is transfered smoothly to those who have grown up around the newer systems (systems in the most general sense). Instead of a palace coup, the power is handed down to someone new, and the previous holder frequently hangs around to advise the new leadership on the <cliche>timeless truths of leadership</cliche>. This system always is a bit behind the current front edge of technology and whatnot, but is never so far behind that people say 'fsck these a-holes, we'll take control now thank you.'

    If the MPAA, DVD/CA, etc. would embrace this, they would stand a chance of not losing it completely. However, organizations such as these almost never take the stable approach. They are concentrated on maximum gain, and maximum gain, in the short term, is had by suppression and extortion. They don't really care if the systems they are a part of topple five years after they drop dead. They are interested in becoming very rich now.
    -Matt

  • You're right. I assume (hope) Mr. Katz knows the difference as well. But... The DVD CCA sued claiming that that is what DeCSS was for. They claimed that DeCSS was solely to illegally copy DVDs.
    Yes, this is wrong, and that is part of the problem with their case. No DeCSS is needed to duplicate DVDs. DeCSS is just needed to view them.

    I think what Munky was referring to was that the DVD CCA used selected, out of context posts from slashdot to boost their own case. Given that they seem to assume every /. poster (especially the anonymous ones) are defacto spokespersons for the internet users as a whole, having a misspeak like that in the main story header is just playing into their hands.
    --
  • DeCSS does not prevent illegal copying. Encryption can never prevent copying; in fact encryption only has a purpose when copying is easy. Encryption is just supposed to keep the content hidden from "unauthorised" parties; but that depends on the uniqueness and secrecy of the keys and the quality of the algorithm. DVD keys are obviously not especially unique or secret, or each enduser would have to buy one, and then be careful to buy a disc with his key on it. And it appears the deciphering algorithm was easy to figure out or bypass. So whatever the intent of CSS was, what it accomplishes from a technical standpoint is emphatically not copy protection.

    It's an entirely different feature that's tries to prevent copying; a specially-mangled block on the disk, or something.

  • by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Monday January 31, 2000 @07:52AM (#1318825) Homepage
    You're right. I assume (hope) Mr. Katz knows the difference as well. But... The DVD CCA sued claiming that that is what DeCSS was for. They claimed that DeCSS was solely to illegally copy DVDs. Yes, this is wrong, and that is part of the problem with their case. No DeCSS is needed to duplicate DVDs. DeCSS is just needed to view them.


    This is kinda off-topic, but since Katz's brings it up, and everyone seems to be talking about it, I'll talk about it too. I'm not taking sides on the whole DeCSS thing, because I think it has legitimate uses, but can also see how it opens things wide up for pirating of DVDs, but I have a feeling the MPA will easily win this case if the OSS doesn't figure out what exactly it's argueing. There are so many confusing points the OSS is trying to make that the may very well lose through disorganization.


    One thing that they really need to figure out is the issue of copying. I have read that you can already make bit for bit copies of DVDs. But I have also read that these copies can't play on any standard DVD since the "copy protection" part of the disk is not burned correctly on these copiers. Also, the major point the OSS is making is that the MPA is keeping them from making backup copies of their DVDs, which they are legally entitled to. The problem being they have already argued that copies can be made. They then continue to argue that DeCSS doesn't help pirates make copies of movies, which defeats the whole point of argueing that they are using DeCSS for making legal backup copies. There are only 2 options, either DeCSS helps people make copies (whether they are legal copies or not) or it doesn't have anything to do with making copies, in which case their arguement about making legal backups in null and void. Everyone needs to get their ducks in a row if they plan on having any chance to win this case, because at the rate it's going, it looks like a lost cause...

  • This could be very interesting, but not if it stays exclusively within the world of Java. Could Sanity or one of the other developers perhaps comment on the issue of opening this up to the larger non-Java world?

    This isn't intended as an anti-Java comment (quite the opposite), but merely a reflection on the fact that we'll be needing C, C++, Perl, Tcl and Python language bindings if this is to take the world by storm and fulfil its promise. Many top-class developers in languages other than Java would like to contibute to the effort I'm sure, but they can't do that unless they are given either existing bindings or an interoperability API in the lingua franca of C so that they can create them themselves.
  • The Net isn't censorable.


    I want to think you're right, Jon. I really do. But if these corporations get their way, as they seem to have done for at least the last 100 years, they might figure out a way to MAKE it censorable. Or just plain kill it. These are legitimate things to worry about.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Okay, this article begs for a link to Cluetrain [cluetrain.com]. Some points from that site that the MPAA should heed:

    20. Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.

    26. Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.

    69. Maybe you're impressing your investors. Maybe you're impressing Wall Street. You're not impressing us.

    70. If you don't impress us, your investors are going to take a bath. Don't they understand this? If they did, they wouldn't let you talk that way.

    72. We like this new marketplace much better. In fact, we are creating it.

  • It seems in every single thread thread regarding injustice there is one American who thinks that the right way to get something done is to cut down a few trees and send them to Washington where they can be at best filed and most probably thrown away. If anything, the dangerous sentiment here is the idea that writing to your leaders will accomplish anything what so ever.

    This is not complaining about about the speed limit in your state, or even about some company killing spotted owls. This is the real thing, true revolution that is going to change the entire way our world and economy works, and democracy will not serve us here.

    Our side of this argument basically amounts to removing copyright laws. This would be the biggest, most radical, and most painful political desition made since Lincoln abolished slavery in America or maybe since the allies went to war over Poland. We are not up against a million, or even a billion dollars of interests, we are up against trillions and trillions.

    No, talk and Slashdot discussion will not help much. But nor will writing a bunch of useless letters to corrupt and snug polititions.

    But fact is that civil disobedience might. For every program they ban, we up the ant and make them ban something else. It's progress by pain, but we do still live in democracies, so if we can drive the government to the point where the violations start to hurt the general populace, only then we can suddenly turn and face the idiots in power.

    -
    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • It is our hope that once the Java version of the Freenet Server is released that others will implement servers in other languages. Provided that a server complies to the (rather flexible!) Freenet Protocol. The protocol is documented on the homepage, although is still in a state of flux - and will be until the first release of the Java server.

    Freenet's philosophy is to allow people to basically run their nodes according to how they see fit. Provided they conform to the Freenet message format, and follow the protocol's reccomendations as to how different message types should be handled, it is irrelevant what language they are written in.

    Additionally, to demonstrate Freenet's cross-platform nature, we have already created a Perl client (which allows a user to Interact with the Freenet network).

    So, to conclude, while all of our development effort is currently going into the Java version of the server, we intend to make it easy for others to implement the server in other languages (although this would be premature at this stage as there may be minor modifications to the protocol before the first release).

    --

  • What more can one say?
  • I agree, I don't see the need to pay a distributor for anything (and that includes their promotion budget). I can go get the media myself, thank you very much. Unfortunately, a number of businesses have spent a long time and a lump of cash to control those (very-profitable) distribution chains and don't want this whole Internet thing stepping on their toes. Roll with the market or get rolled by it, that's my HO.
  • by drivers (45076) on Monday January 31, 2000 @08:22AM (#1318850)
    Katz cannot listen to criticism. He recently wrote a three part series called "Please Die" about it. Much earlier than that, he wrote about "shut up software" in response to the feature added to slashdot to ignore articles posted by selected posters. He was by far the most often selected against. I have yet to see him reply on slashdot to any questions brought up about his stories. I have yet to see him adapt his writing to the audience based on even the most obvious complaints that are posted on slashdot.
  • You are wrong.

    He has replied at least to me. If you tell him constructively why the fsck he is off the mark he usually replies. Same stands for cases when you catch him that he has gone only half the way or was scared to write what he actually thinks in order to be politically correct (actually Katz is usually politically correct and does not touch too deep very controvercial topics). But this means that you should explain in your comment why he is off the mark, why do you think that he is not telling what he thinks, etc.

    If you just pull a flamethrower... Oh well... I would not answer in his place either ;-)
  • I think part of the idea might be to make money on the players, and not worry so much about the data itself.

    Yes, that's exactly the idea. An "association" like DVDCCA, is really no different than a corporation, IMO. Anyone could theoretically make a DVD player, but only members of the DVDCCA will have their keys printed on the discs. Result? DVDCCA members have a collective monopolistic control over the DVD player market. Do any lawyers out there know if there is any precedent about such "collective monopolies" as I call them?

  • by Munky_v2 (124274) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:28AM (#1318858)
    Last month, the DVD Copyright Control Association sued 72 hackers and Web site authors for posting - or even linking to software (DeCSS) that unlocks the system for preventing illegal copying of video discs.

    This is not what CSS does, it scrambles the content from being viewed by anything but a registered player capable of returning authentication tokens back to the hardware. The wording Jon uses here implies that Jon Johansen is a Cracker that wanted to start a piracy business selling ripped DVDs. This is not the case, Mr. Johansens thoughts were somerthing like this: "I like Linux...I like DVDs...too bad I can't watch DVDs on Linux...OH! Wait. I will just reverse engineer the CSS system and make a player for Linux. HEY I DID IT. I had better tell the world." That had not intention of ripping DVDs. Please remember that the courts are going to be listening to what we say, and if we stray off and say that de_css is for ripping DVDs, were going to lose this case.


    Munky_v2
    "Warning: you are logged into reality as root..."

  • The MPAA and other anti-piracy organizations are really choosing the wrong targets. All over Asia, and especially in China, you can find massive industrial-sized factories putting out pirated software / movies / music and yet the MPAA decides to harass a Norweigan coder and let the Chinese government continue it's support of pirated media.
  • Since I've seen articles here on how China is embracing Linux...

    In order to illustrate how impossible it is to control the web, I would encourage some developer to include a simple comment "Free Mongolia" somewhere in the source code.

    Just for the warm feeling it'll give everyone knowing that it'll be on each Chinese Govenrment computer.

  • by Jim Tyre (100017) on Monday January 31, 2000 @06:31AM (#1318863) Homepage

    Katz writes:
    one of the most striking but still largely unrecognized legacies of the Net has been the death blow it's dealt to the very idea of censorship.

    Comments like that have been made for hundreds of years, each time a new means of publishing has enabled more to published wider and cheaper, but have any been the death blow? If they had, Jon wouldn't be writing that sentence, would he?
    Among many, the urge to censor runs strong and deep. It always has, it always will. Many with that urge are just now beginning to pay attention to the Internet. The battle lines have been drawm, but the war is not remotely close to over.
    I will dance in the streets if and when the day comes when the Internet has dealt a death blow to the very idea of censorship. But to argue that the day is already upon us is fatuous at best

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