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Congress Plans DMCA Sequel: The SSSCA 935

Posted by michael
from the no-turing-devices-for-you dept.
Declan McCullagh writes: "If you thought the DMCA was a nightmare, wait 'til you find out what Congress is planning this fall. The sequel is called the "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act," and it requires PCs and consumer electronic devices to support "certified security technologies" to be approved by the Commerce Department. Backers of the SSSCA include Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), who heads the powerful Senate Commerce committee, and, reportedly, Disney. Wired News has a report, and I've placed the SSSCA draft text (new! more criminal penalties!) online here. D'ya think that maybe Congress doesn't like OSS very much?" This is only a draft, not even introduced as a bill yet, but it sends chills down my spine - this is the big one. If passed, it would require all personal computers to have digital rights management built in, under penalty of law.
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Congress Plans DMCA Sequel: The SSSCA

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  • 7215 Fernview
    San Antonio, TX 78250
    September 8, 2001


    The Honorable Representative Charlie A. Gonzalez
    327 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Dear Honorable Representative Charlie A. Gonzalez,

    It has come to my attention that Rep. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) will introduce a bill titled the The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act which will make it impossible for me to use the Linux computer operating system on equipment covered by the Act. I regard my right to use Linux to be as inviolate as my right to write you this letter. Indeed, I am using Linux for that purpose right now. I'm a Democrat, but if you do not vote against this bill I will vote for your opponent when your term is up.

    Sincerely,

    Thomas M. Bruns
    • Your letter is a bit draconian, but writing your government official is a very good idea. Check out this EFF page to find out who to write to. [eff.org] We can't just sit buy and let another DCMA type nightmare pass. Be VOCAL!
    • by reverius (471142) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @02:26PM (#2268484) Homepage Journal
      Here is an e-mail I just wrote to one of my Senators (who almost won the Republican primaries this last presidential election... note that I'm not a Republican...) :)

      Dear Mr. McCain,

      I am a resident of Arizona, and a computer user. I recently read about an act scheduled to be introduced to the Senate entitled the "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act" [216.110.42.179], sponsored by Senator Fritz Hollings (D-South Carolina) and Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Under this act, it would be a civil offense to create or sell any kind of computer equipment that "does not include and utilize certified security technologies" approved by the federal government. I politely request, as a citizen of Arizona, that you vote against this Act for the reasons in this letter.

      I see this as a violation of a basic freedom to create, use, or sell anything I want to (including, of course, computer equipment) without government interference.

      It is of course necessary to deny the right to create and sell certain things, such as drugs; these things can be harmful and should not be sold.

      That however, does not apply to computer equipment; there is no way I can harm anyone with my own computer equipment. But this Act denies me the right to create and sell computer equipment without federally approved security technologies.

      The primary purpose for this regulation is the protection of content provided by large media corporations that have lobbied for this Act. Lobbyists from the music and record industry have, and will continue to lobby congress in the hopes of further regulation for consumers and corporations to protect their content.

      In a computer system certified by the federal government, their content would be protected from misuse by consumers. It is an ideal situation for the music and record industry, then, that all computers in legal use would be certified.

      This helps that particular industry, but hurts another. In the computer industry, if this Act is passed, it would be illegal to create and sell anything not certified by the federal government to specifically protect the content of these corporations.

      I would like to create and sell computer equipment that does not "utilize certified security technologies", and I should have the legal right to. I do have that right under the current laws.

      The products of the recording industry should not be protected by laws that regulate other industries, and deny my right to sell my own computer equipment without federal approval.

      I implore you, Senator McCain, to vote against the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act when it comes before the Senate.

      Thank you.

      Sincerely,
      (my name here)

      • I applaud your well written letter. Unforunately, it's going to John McCain-McCain, who is probably more in the pockets of the media (IP cartels) than anyone in the Senate.

        I hope it makes a difference, but his main platform is in supporing laws that allow employees of Time-Warner/Fox/Disney/Viacom to have the "last say" in the mass media, 60 days prior to any election.

        He is actively the MOST hostile member of the Senate, to the 1st Amendment.

        But, it's good that you do this. After all, the sinners are the one who MOST need education.
  • It might be worthwhile for people from other contries to try and get diplomatic pressure put onto the US to get rid of this while it is gestating. I don't think an abortion of this travesty would be out of line! Also, I wonder what that will do for free trade: computers could be made in Canada or Mexico and shipped into the US. Personally, I'm glad I don't live in the US. You have a facist government!
    • And through the magic of UN, we can share our fascism all over the world!

      If there are any South Carolina Slashdotters, organizing a movement to get Hollings removed in the next election (Or a recall vote if the state allows it) would be a good thing. Not that I've ever met anyone on the Internet who has claimed to be from South Carolina. The state seems to be one of those Internet black holes like Mississippi...

    • Computers could be made in Canada or Mexico and shipped into the US.

      I wonder however, if the same thing could happen as it did with dimity. You make some computers in canade, ship'm to the US, and get arrested as soon as you set foot on US soil??

      Think of what this would do to open source! I make a little program, and the first version doesnt have all the stipulated security measures, go to the US on holiday, and get arrested?!

      Though you fraze it a bit strongly, i do agree, a facist goverment... *sigh*
      • >You make some computers in canade, ship'm to the US, and get arrested as soon as you set foot on US soil??

        The bill covers importing them into the US. Exporting them for Canada probably would just result in harrisment, unless Canada co-operated.

        But how about Canada or Mexico as an "onshore" data haven. If your company has inductrial secrets the US gov't might want, would you like to forced to using an NSA approved crypt?

        Why not stay inside the trade zone and outside the data zone? Of cource Canada got rather wimpy about stading up to the US these days,and Mexico won't, so it will probably go North America wide - what about Argentina - NAFTA grows.
    • by Canis (9360) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:51AM (#2267475)
      Except that it covers the sale of such devices, not just their manufacture; so yes, they could be made in Canada (although I'd recommend somewhere further afield; Canada is frequently not far-enough away to escape US law...) and shipped into the US, but they'd have to be smuggled in as contraband and sold on the black market.

      Just what everyone wants, I'm sure: Demand remains high, supply is cut dramatically, prices soar, youths mug people or hold up liquor stores to raise the cash, all the jackals move in to the black-market cash-opportunity they see gathering, and pretty soon gangs are slaughtering each other on the streets over non-Compliant hard drives. Customs officials sieze 400 gigs of Class A disk space (est. street value: $500,000).

      The Government then runs Public Service announcements: "PIRACY KILLS" "MP3: JUST SAY NO" "WINNERS DON'T USE NONCOMPLIANT HARDWARE DEVICES" "FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS COPY MOVIES". They also offer tax rebates and other cash benefits [salon.com] to television shows and movies who include significantly pro-Digital Rights Management plotlines in their work.

      In the summer movie, "Gone at 60kb/s", Nick Cage has to pirate an unprecedented number of other summer movies in one night in order to save his brother's life; in the more thoughtful "TCP/IP Traffic", Michael Douglas finds himself sucked into the seedy world of P2P after his teenage daughter is involved in a DVD-related incident, the story expertly interwoven with that of Open Source programmers working across the border, trying to stay true to their goals despite their lack of Compliance, trying to maintain their idealism in the face of a lead programmer who secretly is working for a reverse-engineering cartel.

      New search-and-seizure laws are drafted to fight the War On Piracy, in order to Clean Up Our Streets And Save Our Children From Evil. All laptop computers are spot-checked at airports and potential employees are asked to undergo a hard-drive scan to ensure they are not "using".

      Caffiene mints, copyleft t-shirts, and any item bearing a penguin logo are banned [emdef.org] from COMDEX and any other gathering of software developers under Cracking House laws [aclu.org]. These things are sure signs [usdoj.gov] of illegal activity.

      Far-fetched? Facetious? A little of both. But the general principles have been shown to hold true in the past, repeatedly.

      Whee!

    • It's not a case of "the US is not the world."

      I think it's rather more a case of globalization: the US is becoming worldly. There are many examples in Europe and Asia where personal privacy takes a back seat to police/government "needs."

      And the further aspect is that globalization is being driven by multinational corporations. Trade barriers, government policies, cultural norms: these aren't being knocked about because the common citizen wants to see them destroyed -- they're being abused because it benefits big business.

      I hate to come off sounding like a paranoid, but most businesses aren't out there to help you or me. They're there to make a buck, and they'll do that by whatever means possible.

      Which, apparently, includes trampling your constitutional rights.

      Shame the government sees fit to go along with it. Guess that's what happens when politicians are bought, not elected...
  • by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:12AM (#2267280)
    Think abut it for a second. Why wouldn't you want digital rights management built into your computer equipment? What? Oh - you want to play your DVD's one Linux. Get a decent operating system, one where you have to PAY for your right to use the stuff you buy.

    What? You think, you should be allowed to do what you want, with the stuff that you own? Get real - this is the 21st century - you can't just do stuff, because you want to. What's next? You don't want to pay for using your computer? What are you? Some kind of communist?

    (Yes - that was sarcasm)
  • what's happening? The US government is obviously being terribly corrupted by various organizations with lots of money. The fact that this bill is even being contemplated says a lot about what corporations will do. Libertarians seem to think that by reducing gov't influence in daily life that things will somehow work out for the better. Hmm. Stupid! Sorry, but the fact is that corporations would have even more control and we would live in a capitalist dictatorship! Right now, the balance is sliding ever so slowly towards more power for corporations. It is only slow because they are somewhat restricted in their methods by regulations of the gov't. And the gov't is the only organization which has the power to respond appropriately to pressure from the citizens. Boycotts only work with massive support, and I don't think American consumers have the balls to do that anymore. On the other hand, only relatively large numbers of citizens are required to raise enough stink to get legislation trashed. Good luck USA - you are gonna need it. I'm scared living in Canada just because of proximity.
    • Libertarians seem to think that by reducing gov't influence in daily life that things will somehow work out for the better. Hmm. Stupid! Sorry, but the fact is that corporations would have even more control and we would live in a capitalist dictatorship!

      Corporations are creatures of the State. If government didn't explicitly permit limited liability, it couldn't exist (who's going to agree that they don't have the right to sue the owners, just because the 'corporation' went bankrupt? ...but that's how it is now, because the State backs it up). Without government, businesses would actually have to serve customers to stay in business, instead of using government force (paid for by taxes stolen in part from those same customers) to extort money, as many do now.

    • by billh (85947) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:25AM (#2267356)
      I think you miss some of the points of libertarianism. Let me just rebutt your argument for now.

      One of the basic precepts of the libertarian philosphy is adherance to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is all there, in plain English, for anyone to read. The tenth amendment is the trump card here, it basically tells the federal government to go screw itself; it isn't allowed to do much of anything.

      So if the federal government can't do anything, this is left as in issue for the states. Pushing one bill through Congress is one thing, pushing the same bill through 50 states is something else entirely. For instance - if South Carolina decides that all computers must have some sort of digital rights system built in, OSS people, computer manufacturers, etc. will not work in South Carolina. They will lose the revenue of those industries. Due to free trade within the states, they can relocate to another state, and still sell their product. South Carolia loses those industries, another state picks them up. Competition is the key here.

      Let the states fight it out, and we all win. It is easier for individuals and small interests to act at a state level, and the effects of crazy laws such as this one would be minimized. Many state constitutions are very restrictive, also, and that is yet another benefit. When it becomes more difficult for the government to enact arbitrary laws such as this, there will be less arbitrary laws.
      • > Pushing one bill through Congress is one thing,
        > pushing the same bill through 50 states is
        > something else entirely.

        > It is easier for individuals and small interests
        > to act at a state level, and the effects of
        > crazy laws such as this one would be minimized.

        With all the Libertarians that seem to have infiltrated Slashdot recently (along with the Microsoft supporters -- what, are they bussing them in these days?), I suspect I will get modded down, but ...

        You're right about the conceptual differences between pushing a law at the Federal level vs. at the State level, but that's an argument for a strong Federal government (and some good campaign finance laws). It's usually the crazy (or one-issue fanatical) individuals who try to get something passed. It is easier to get a state law passed over some crazy thing than it is to get a Federal law passed. For example, laws requiring biblical creation, Jim Crowe laws, laws trying to legislate pi, etc. -- I think there's a web site on this. Of course, it doesn't preclude crazy laws happening on the Federal level; it's just not as frequent.

        There's probably a complicated reason why this is, but it's probably because average person isn't really concerned about the government at all. They generally care more about the sports scores than they do about who's running the country. When they do care, it's in a "sports-type" mentality: who won the game, who won the Oscar for best actor, who's now president? That's probably why most people can name 10 sports figures, but would be hard pressed to name their state senators or representatives.

        So I disagree that a weaker Federal government in favor of state governments is the answer. A stronger Federal government (along with some new campaign finance laws) is a safer bet that leaving things up to the dubious judgement of the states.

        P.S., Atlas Shrugged sucked! :-)

        • This is an argument that goes back to around 1776 or so, but the fact is that the federal government does not have the right to be passing these laws. Due to the interstate commerce clause, and lax federal judges, they have been getting away with things for far too long. No matter what you think of federal vs. state, the US government violates our own Constitution on a daily basis.

          Food for thought - gun control laws. If the federal government had as many restrictions on the first amendment as they do the second, we would have had a revolution by now. The fourth is disappearing, as is the fifth. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, whatever, all people in the US should be able to see that we don't even follow our own laws.

          But you're right. People do care more about sports scores. I avoid local TV news, because the top story generally has something to do with the home sports team. Followed by a teaser about which food or drug will now kill you, or save you. Anyone else want to leave this planet?
  • Armchair Bitching (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mind21_98 (18647) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:14AM (#2267290) Homepage Journal
    This just seems like another opportunity for Slashdotter to bitch and moan, without actually doing anything to help. If this happens again the law would actually pass, and we'd all be screwed.

    Is Hollings going to be reelected in November? For those living in South Carolina, write him, saying that you will not reelect him if the law passes. A delegation should also go to Congress and show them how digital rights management, especially SDMI, is a pain in the ass (even if you're using Windows and approved software).

    I'm just sick and tired of everyone here being complacent and not doing anything useful to put a stop to stuff like this.
    • umm....
      making us aware of it would help out alot.
      i mean, anyone here of this before it was posted?
    • So what can someone outside of the US do about this? Playing Microsoft (sending fake letters ;) ) is probably not the right thing to do. ;)
      • Unfortunately, American coders/readers will have to fight this on their own. I'm American, and happen to care and willing to help however I can, but if all the other American Slashdot readers can't or won't take the time to actually do something about it, then it's not worth fighting at all. Feel free to laugh at us if it gets passed :(
      • by mrogers (85392) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:04AM (#2267534)
        Stop buying Disney products. Tell your friends to stop buying Disney products, and tell them why:

        Disney is supporting a law in the US that would give the government unprecedented powers to interfere with the way we use our personal computers.

        If Disney gets its way, you will not be able to buy a computer in the US unless its software has been approved by the government, and it will be a crime to connect a computer to the internet if it is running unapproved software. The definition of 'approved software' will be determined by companies with a commercial interest in restricting the usefulness of home computers for education and entertainment.

        It is likely that if the US adopts this law, it will begin to put pressure on other countries to do the same (as has happened with patents, copyright extension and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). The best way to prevent this intrusion by the US government into our lives is to let Disney know that it is losing customers because of its support for this law.

        • Stop buying Disney products


          Write Disnay and say you will boycott all their products. Also write them and say that if this law passes, you will dedicate your time to undermine Disney profits.


          You will set up picket lines at the local movie theatre.


          You will call your cable provider and unsubscribe to all Disney channels.


          You will submit reader letters and articles to the print press.


          You will call the IRS as a whistleblower, claiming that Disney is committing tax fraud.


          You will harrass Disney executuves by starting fake rumors about sex scandals, tax fraud, securities fraud.


          Keep it up, and they may admit that the constitution has some merits after all.

      • I'd start with... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:15AM (#2267574) Homepage Journal
        I'd start (In fact, I WILL start) by sending the South Carolina branch of the Republican party a bit 'o money. The Republicans tend to be just as bad (The DMCA is Orrin Hatch's baby after all) but they're the only ones with a chance of winning against the Democrats. Your best bet is to change politicians the way you change diapers. If no one stays in power too long, no one can ever get to the point of doing a whole lot of damage. Just always vote against whoever's in office at any given point. And while it may make you sick to vote for a republican (or a democrat) they're your best bet for getting the current guys kicked out. Better that then wasting your vote on some guy from the nipplebiter party who will only get 3 votes in the election.
    • by garcia (6573) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:44AM (#2267439)
      umm, if you live in GA you need to worry about the god damn woman who thinks she can [usatoday.com]
      hear dead people talking to her.
      I am sick and tired of idiots being elected to office and deciding that there is this need for extremely harsh legislation.

      I am very very frightened about the fact that whatever that group of software giants is called (the one w/MS and Adobe, etc) has such influence over government.

      We elected these idiots to protect *us* not them!
      • by DickBreath (207180) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @12:28PM (#2267988) Homepage
        I am very very frightened about the fact that whatever that group of software giants is called (the one w/MS and Adobe, etc) has such influence over government.

        We elected these idiots to protect *us* not them!


        I beg to diff. That group of software giants paid millions of perfectly good dollars to buy legislation to protect them!
    • I was lazy and didn't snag refrences, so perhaps others can add to this:

      I'm sure the SSSCA sounds like it only defends against rampant pirating of movies and other copyrighted material--but the slope is a very, very slippery one. The recording and movie industries are very paranoid about how their products are being used (without regard to their increasing--*not* decreasing--profits). Do you have the right to listen to your music however you'd like? Fair use tenets say yes (and you can even make a backup copy), but already technology is on the shelves that doesn't allow you to play the CD on your computer or high-end stereo systems and modern car CD players.

      The question you should be asking yourself is whether you are on the Hill for your constituents--the consumers, whose rights are being infringed, or the corporations on this issue. Fair Use doctrines are being ignored by laws such as the DMCA and this draft of the SSSCA, and thought this will first impact the digerati who copy all their music to their computer for easy access, it will rapidly effect the average American who can no longer watch a movie with calling in to get permission from the studio (This happened with DivX, which failed miserably on the open market), or play their CDs at all in their car stereos.

      If this is riding in after the recent "Code Red" attack as a solution against future problems, perhaps the answer lies in better regulation of security testing by developers (such as Microsoft, whose servers were the only ones effected by Code Red), rather than the consumer's home system, which didn't even participate in this attack.
  • I'm taking bets on how prohibitive the "Digital Rights Management" software will be to include in open source software, forget for a minute that we don't want it. I'm willing to bet that the source code will be under NDA, and/or require a per-instance fee to use... Any other ideas about potential evilness? Possible "Death of Open Source" showstoppers?
  • Emigration (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Glytch (4881)

    If I were American, I'd be thinking about emigration at this point.

    Traditionally we Canadians love needling Americans like a younger sibling needles their big sibling, but in all honesty, anyone who wants to settle down north of the 49th will be welcomed with open arms.

    After all, it's not the first time [library.ubc.ca].

    • I have been wondering if we could use this for leverage... if the IT/Software professional class started emigrating to other countries... vocally... in such a way that the US Media and Congress would *have* to notice the brain drain... perhaps that would get the general public's attention.

      What would it take to organize such a movement? I'm not really the "organizing" type so I havent a clue.

      :Michael
      • Perhaps a hundred thousand techies meeting on Capitol Hill with portable paper shredders, simultaneously running their various pieces of citizenship documentation through the shredders, lighting the piles of paper on fire and pissing on the ashes? ;)
        • Re:Emigration (Score:3, Interesting)

          by 1010011010 (53039)
          Too funny! But I actually mentioned to my wife this evening the very real possibility that we could be moving out of the country before too many years pass.

          • DMCA
          • SSSCA
          • Alteration of bankruptcy laws in favor of businesses, particularly banks (I read an interesting book once noting how the Federal Reserve System is a tool of authoritarianism)
          • New very easy criteria for a "reasonable search" [yahoo.com]
          • Microsoft obviously getting nothing more than a minor wrist-slap at this point, which amounts to government endorsement of their sleazeball business practices.
          • Increase in the usage of automated surveillance technologies.
          • Increase in the number of criminals being manufactured by bad laws, and an accompanying increase in the incarceration rate
          • Increasing number of treaties binding us to other nations' hardly-enlightend laws; these same treaties also have the effect of reducing the control of Americans over their own government, as they are the "supreme law of the land" alongside the increasingly-mythical Constitution
          • Poor and descending quality of the U.S. Media. Look at any local news broadcast, or CNN.
          • Rise in "reality tv" and other gladiator-type specticle entertainment, like those crazy Romans liked so much


          Hell. Handbasket.
    • Well, well, well. I'm having flashbacks to draft protesters heading up north in the sixties. (And I wrote this sentence before checking the link in your .sig file - how ironic)

      The balance is shifting and you, our fine neighbors to the north, seem to be more protective of personal liberties than the much touted US of A. You even have a rational universal medical plan.

      I'm afraid that it's becoming (to put it in standardized test form) freedom is to America as innovation is to Microsoft. It's a sad and frightening prospect.

      My country (US) is no longer representative of the *peoples* interests. Is this what generations of Americans have fought and died for, so that corporate profit-making interests could be placed above the interests of the people? (Actually, considering the Viet Nam and Gulf wars, I guess that is true... *sigh*.)

      If this continues, I will have to consider moving somewhere else and officially giving up my citizenship. I may one day have to say: "As a result of the non-representative nature of my former government (US), I'm proud to be a Canadian."

      On a practical note, could someone fill me (us) in on the immigration requirements for Canada? I just want to be prepared. It's time to start looking around for a new home.

      Maybe we should do an ask Slashdot for people to make an argument for the desirablity of their country in terms of freedom, living conditions, etc.

      Hey Bob, could I stay at your place for a month or two while I get established and learn to say 'aboot'? I don't take up much room, I'm quiet, and I clean up after myself. I could even chip in for bandwidth. :)

      America, love it or leave it? Bu-bye.
      (Although this should say: 'Corporate States of America, love them or leave them.)

    • We certainly would. Americans are great. There's a catch though. IT professionals in Canada are paid significantly less than their US counterparts. (That's not including the fact that we have significantly higher taxes than the US). Our economy simply isn't as productive as the US. (National Post [nationalpost.com]).

      Chances are that things won't get hard enough in the US to prompt people into moving up here.

      Don't despair though, things are looking up for our economy. As long as our current federal government and the west coast provincial ones keep moving to the economic right we should be in better shape in about a decade. Just make sure that Brian Tobin doesn't become the next PM. (Seriously, I'd rather we had Chretien for the next decade).

  • by perdida (251676) <thethreatproject&yahoo,com> on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:16AM (#2267300) Homepage Journal
    The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), scheduled to be introduced by Hollings, backs up this requirement with teeth: It would be a civil offense to create or sell any kind of computer equipment that "does not include and utilize certified security technologies" approved by the federal government.

    It also creates new federal felonies, punishable by five years in prison and fines of up to $500,000. Anyone who distributes copyrighted material with "security measures" disabled or has a network-attached computer that disables copy protection is covered.

    Hollings' draft bill, which Wired News obtained on Friday, represents the next round of the ongoing legal tussle between content holders and their opponents, including librarians, programmers and open-source advocates.


    I guess that the time has come where the computer world will divide into above ground and an underground groupings.

    If you can't sell a computer that's not security equipped, we who want to control our own technology will be like the people in a cyberpunk novel or in the Matrix, who have to cobble together their own technology apart from the mainstream.

    Open Source and Free Spftware communities may come together on this too; I can't see a small group of developers providing the same glossy presentations to Congress describing their security that Windows and its associated companies would.

    It's not a law yet, but it shows the way the law is going.

    And if the law is going this way we have to consider the question reform or revolution; [adequacy.org] are we going to allow the vrey concept of computing to be taken over by a small corporate elite if it will allow computing and the Internet to extend to places where it hasn't reached before?

    Or, do we have to act as free people do under repression - keeping our very names and acts truly secret, building computers and writing in basements instead of at bright stores?

    • by mind21_98 (18647) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:22AM (#2267344) Homepage Journal
      Does the bill have any provisions for letting you uninstall the digital rights management software? Or will it be embedded in hardware, making it impossible to bypass? It depends on how it's implemented, if it was actually written correctly it could be something we don't have to really worry about.

      But seriously, I bet 90% of people out there would not care if they heard of this bill. They'd go "I'm not a music pirate; I can go through a little extra hassle if I get to pay less for my music CD" or something similar. We need to give them something that'll make them care, maybe some piece of software that refuses to work if digital rights management is being used on their systems. In any case, something must be done, and now.
      • You cannot remove the digital rights management code (not just software)

        Sec. 103: Prohibited Acts

        (a) Removal or Alteration of Security -- No person may --

        (1) remove or alter any certified security technology in an interactive digital device; or


        ...so basically, if you hack your own box, you're breaking the law.

        Screw that! Its my box, and no one is going to say how I can use it. I'll have to import all my components from Hong Kong, which means more trips to Canada and Mexico.

        (sigh) Maybe I should just move to the Cayman.

      • "Does the bill have any provisions for letting you uninstall the digital rights management software? Or will it be embedded in hardware, making it impossible to bypass?"

        To answer your question....NO! The way I read the Wired article, the act will require businesses to "embed" the copy-protection devices in their products. Also, if you own a "networked computer" that has the copy-protection disabled, then you are committing a felony....punishable by 5 years in prison and a half million in fines. As was stated earlier about the vagueness of this bill, their wording of "networked computer" means even if you don't have the machine hooked to the internet, but have it networked to a second computer, you're still liable.

        Plus, an "interactive digital device is defined as any hardware or software capable of "storing, retrieving, processing, performing, transmitting, receiving or copying information in digital form." This bill will completely eliminate the ability to enjoy your fair use rights granted under previous laws! My friends, even Russia doesn't limit their citizens' freedoms like this....

        Rant and Rave about this at Enigmous [enigmous.com]
    • If you can't sell a computer that's not security equipped, we who want to control our own technology will be like the people in a cyberpunk novel or in the Matrix, who have to cobble together their own technology apart from the mainstream.
      I remember there being a rather brisk trade in hi-capacity pistol magazines after they said you couldn't sell any new ones to the general public... does this mean my li'l ole AMD K6-2/400 is going to be worth its weight in gold-pressed latinum next year? Hmmm....

      Yeah, I forsee a rather large Internet underground if that happens... and things could get pretty ugly.

      A wise man once said that the Tree of Liberty is watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants alike. Somehow I get the feeling that Tree is feeling pretty parched about now.... and the tall, redheaded Virginian who said those words two-plus centuries ago would say it needs watering. Perhaps this time we only have to kill careers, not the induhviduals that carry them on...

      The choice, I think, is up to those who would be tyrants. They had best realize what they are choosing.

      --
      The trouble with a political joke is
      that he or she will often get elected.
      -- James E. Buell

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:16AM (#2267308)
    ...when Linux is outlawed, only outlaws will run Linux.
  • by theCoder (23772) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:18AM (#2267315) Homepage Journal
    "As far as I know there have been very few complaints from intellectual property holders," [Rep. Howard] Coble, the chief sponsor of the DMCA, said in an interview Tuesday.

    That's like saying there were very few complaints from whites in the south about Jim Crow laws...
  • by phantumstranger (310589) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:19AM (#2267326) Homepage
    i read, "In General -- It is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies that adhere to the security system standards adopted under section 104." (Emphasis added)

    Isn't this the exact problem with the DMCA, this idea that laws should be more like an umbrella that can cover a great many things than a law that in concise and easily distinguishable from one another?

    I am all for laws that protect people and /or companies from any sort of theft but I do not support the DMCA because of how general it is.

    Of courseI haven't read the rest of the draft as of yet, flame if need be in re: to things stated later, but those two little words raised my ire something fierce.

  • Closing up the hardware and software and requiring certification for both is corporations' only effective way to attack unauthorized access to IP.

    Remember what the Sony executive once said about taking the "battle for IP rights" to each users home and computer.

  • by Roundeye (16278) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:21AM (#2267335) Homepage
    The draft as it reads in the version posted outlines a ludicrous piece of law. It's not hard to see how this puts a burden on industry, further restricts Fair Use (especially in conjunction with the DMCA) and strengthens the rights of the copyright holders (especially in conjunction with the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- aka "Mickey Mouse Copyright" -- Act) at the expense of the public domain. It's easy to see how vague the bill will be and how perilous the law: consider the definition of "interactive digital device" ... "any ... technology ... that is ... used for the primary purpose of storing ..." -- an HP calculator with 2K RAM would qualify; have fun with the myriad valid ways to read that overly-broad definition.

    While that's obvious to us that doesn't mean that the bill won't be ram-rodded through now that the most recent batch of MPAA/RIAA checks have cleared the Senators' banks. The only way to stop this is to raise such a howl that they dare not go forward. If we act now (when the bill is just a draft) we can make it clear to them that we can't even allow them to get past that stage.

    I am going to be writing letters to Senators and will be sending letters and emails to press outlets (using the list of a few hundred addresses scraped from "Mr. Smith Writes ..."). This is regardless of what other /.-ers do.

    The reason I'm posting this is that I'd like to get a little feedback (some ideas, which is what an open forum like this is great at) concerning the people to whom I should send letters to make the biggest impact. Of course the Senators directly involved, and my own Senators/Reps. Who else?

    • Would Congressmen listen to teenagers who aren't registered to vote yet? Or do they listen to adults? If they do in fact listen it'll go a long way. At this moment I'm preparing to write a letter to my senators, but unsure if they'll actually listen to me, a 16 year old male from CA.
    • As someone experienced with writing letters to Congressmen, I'm afraid I don't have much hope in making a change that way. But I am also with an organization - starting at least 3 years later than it should have, but hopefully it isn't too late - with the aim of changing American Consumers into American Citizens who have a stake in the laws governing them. With the entire nation (or even a significant portion) standing against these laws, no congressman who even contemplates another term would offer their vote.

      The only way to get this thing ended it to arouse public opinion against it - to get Americans angry enough to override their apathy.

      http://www.amfcc.org
      Americans for Constitutional Copyright

      The Constitution was written to protect us against government AND monopolies. Our legislators need to know that they ARE accountable to the Constitution and the American Citizenry will NOT allow those protections to be ignored - especially not for the sake of Entertainment Companies. Sorry, but I WON'T give up my liberties for the privilege of paying Disney for different uses of the Mouse (who should have been Public Domain in the 1980's.)

      EFF is another good group to join.
    • strengthens the rights of the copyright holders

      This is not true. If you (I am not a US citizen) keep fighting laws this way, you'll lose. Because the politicians can easily reply "and what's wrong with that?" And, in the eyes of the public, they'll be right.

      Suchs laws do not strengthen the position of copyright holders. They enlarge the power of mass media publishers exclusively.

      The law will clearly not strengthen the position of computer scientists. Applied strictly (note that I've not read the bill, English is not my native language and I find English legal texts very hard to understand), it would outlaw any OS kernel that does not include usage control in the filesystem layer. This will make innovation in file systems much harder, because if you develop a new system, you cannot legally distribute it to other computer scientists before usage control is implemented.

      It will also not strengthen the position of small media publishers, because they won't have any control about which usage control technologies are approved and which are not. This will be controlled by the most influencial companies exclusively, putting smaller publishers into a position where they can either use the available technology (for which they might have to pay license fees), or not protect their works at all.

      The law does also not strengthen the position of individuals who publish material, for the same reasons. Individuals who wish to create works of art and science will also have to use technology that will make it harder for them to built upon the works of others, something that has been accepted in scientific publishing for decades.

  • While the RIAA, MPAA, Disney etc are big and powerful, relitive to the computer industry they are mere bugs on the windshield.

    While the DMCA was an annoyance to them, this would be a major pain for it. Surely they could and would buy enough votes to kill this bill?
  • by ortholattice (175065) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:22AM (#2267342)
    Canadians are reminded that September 15 is the deadline for comments on the DCMA-equivalent law [eff.org] proposed for Canada. That is, if they are even aware of it: the request for comments went up September 7, allowing a generous :( one-week window for comments from the public.
    • Here is a draft of what I'll be submitting to them:

      Regarding copy control technologies


      The current state of the law provides for a civil relationship between the parties of a transaction involving copyrighted material. [...]

      The content-providing industry is but a small part of the Economy in general; as time went, computers have become pratically indispensable to the conduct of other economic activity. However, we're witnessing unprecedented efforts from the content industry trying to take over the computer industry by imposing it's conditions to the use of computer equipment: first, they tried to introduce into storage equipment specifications functions designed to control whether what the device does is legitimate, and right now, a bill of law is being studied in the USA which would make such control devices compulsory.

      Letting the content industry dictate it's terms of use regarding computer equipment not only to flagrantly violate their customer's fair use rights, but also to dictate to the whole of society the way it should use it's own computers is a gross subvertion, which should imperatively be rejected with the utmost energy, as it would give a minuscule sector of the economy a totally unwarranted and unmerited influence on the circulation of data, ideas and concepts.

      Canada shall therefore not legiferate in any way whatsoever against the use of software and/or devices which would allow data users to exert their legal fair use rights. Acting otherwise would surrender totally the freedom of circulation of ideas, a fundamental concept of our society.

  • by crazney (194622)
    I recently read the Communist Manifesto [anu.edu.au] by Karl Marx.. Basicallt, he predicted that the workers would eventually become sick of the dictatoring rich and powerful, and would overthrow them by force.

    Now, obviosuly this didnt happen. With the introduction of a descent democratic society in the world, their really wasnt any need for such a thing.

    But, WHAT NOW? I dont know about you my friends, but THIS is NOT a democracy. If I was a United States Citizen, and this thing does get through, I would GET THE FUCK out of there.
    Or, alternativly.. REVOLT.. If this thing does get through, dont stop with measly protest people.. GET OUT THERE AND FIGHT.. seriously, can you really live in a sociaty based on facism, one which the rich companies CONTROL the government? I KNOW I COULDNT!

    THE GEEKS HAVE NOTHING TO LOOSE BUT THEIR CHAINS. THEY HAVE A WORLD TO WIN

    GEEKS OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!
  • We need a PAC! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NickV (30252) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:24AM (#2267351)
    Goddamn it, we need a Political Action Committee in support of digital rights. We have no voice on the hill right now, and until we get one we are SCREWED with these laws!

    I know this is just bitching and moaning on my part, but someone needs to start forming one. We're soo good at forming development teams, but where are the people who can form a PAC?

    We need to put our money where our mouths are. Anyone have any suggestions on how to start a PAC?
    • by supabeast! (84658) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @04:26PM (#2268885)
      We have one. Slashdot mentions it over and over again. It is the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It may not be a true PAC, but it beats the hell out of having nothing. And perhaps if the EFF were to recieve more funding, it would be able to start a PAC branch - something we truly need.

      For those of you looking for a way to oppose laws like this one and the DMCA, do something intelligent with your tax refund - mail it to the EFF. You can do so at http://www.eff.org [eff.org].

  • by JeremyYoung (226040) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:30AM (#2267376) Homepage
    ... in convincing everyone of this concept of "intellectual property" and it's supposed sovereign position over free speech. They seem to have even convinced our representatives in congress, which is most terrifying.

    Why is everyone suddenly so blind to the FACT that without free speech in the first place, there would be no "intellectual property", that "intellectual property" does in fact take a BACK SEAT to free speech and the free flow of information? Why do people suddenly treat the business model based on selling "intellectual property" as if it were as important as national defense by protecting it with laws that erode personal freedom?

    Copyright law, from which this concept of IP sprang was a set of laws GRANTED TO ARTISTS by the people of the United States to allow them to earn a living off their creation and encourage them to continue working. Now capitalists have formed business models based on buying and selling those copyrights and suddenly the copyright is more important than the first amendment?? Why is it suddenly more important that we protect the business model of distributors of copyrighted material than it is to protect the freedom that allows the creators of our country to build upon prior knowledge?
  • by rhadamanthus (200665) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:32AM (#2267390)
    But instead I am going to try to remain rational and point out some obvious consequences to this "legislation" (read-obvious show of who really runs US government). Disregarding the obvious foreshadowment of true corporate-government, I feel that the foremost problem with this law will be strictly in science communities. I expect a great deal of the better educated and "frontline" scienticts to leave the country. Most notably, expect cryptographers and computer programmers in "high-risk" jobs to exit quickly--thus degrading the quality of these critical applications. I think Russia said it best when they discouraged their tech-heads travelling to the US for fear of litigation. We are a corporate entity now, and the rights or actions of a single man jeapordize this mentality, and therefore incur the wrath of a legal system designed for only two parties: lawyers and businesses. How amazing this is. That a country like ours can only 20-30 years ago (and today i guess) be such a leader (perhaps the leader) in tech advances and science, only to regress backwards because new technology and research cuts into corporate profits on lousy, old-fashioned products and business models. Imagine if the encryption is weak on US nuclear weapons codes, but no is *allowed* to alert the government that terrorists can break the code...

    Tell the conference organizers to meet in Russia from now on as they harbor a more "free" and innovative environment. irony of ironies...


    -------------rhad, a poor US college student destined to either leave the fucked up US or go to jail for wanting to be anonymous, speaking out and protesting corporations hellbent on a "fuck the individual" policy, and dreaming of a government that actually cares about the people who made it possible, rather then a plethora of corporate whores who can add money to their demands, as opposed to just a signature.


    PS: It distresses me personally as to who is to be found accountable. Apathy is so rampant. No one cares. We have the power, but just dont give a damn... Its terribly depressing.

  • by Johnny5000 (451029) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:33AM (#2267395) Homepage Journal
    Nip this in the bud. Here's what to do:

    Get in touch with other people from Slashdot in South Carolina. Come up with a good day when most of you will be availible.

    Go to a local university's website, and look up student groups- look for libertarian, socialist, and computer clubs, email them ome info and say you'd be interested in helping organize a public protest. Ask them to contact people they know would be interested. Tell them the day you want to have the protest.

    The protest should be at a government building- courthouse, city hall, it doesnt matter.

    Set it to be at noon, so people will be out on the streets, for their lunch hour.

    Make signs, prepare a statement for the press, etc.

    Call local TV stations and newspapers, telling them you're going to have a protest, and they should come. Trust me, they'll jump at the chance.

    Show up and make a big scene, but make sure the message isnt lost.

    -J5K

  • Banning Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:45AM (#2267443) Journal
    Should this bill be introduced, passed, and signed, it might have serious effects on the ability to run Linux in the U.S. The bill explicitly refers to software--including, I presume Linux, but even if it applied only to hardware, drivers to use the new "secure" videocards, "soundcards", and other mandated hardware components would most likely not be open source, due to licensing/certification requirements.

    Should it apply also to software, the failure of coders to implement "secure media pathways" in the kernel could mean that Linux could not be manufactured in and/or imported into the U.S. .

    Theoretically, even if the kernel did contain such protection, any hacker could adjust certain lines of sourcecode to ensure that plaintext versions of copyrighted material could be accessed without much effort-- a loophole that could be plugged by a zealous Commerce Secretary banning "source code" versions.

    Although certain grandfathering provisions exist in the bill, we all know that the kernel is not set in stone-- and new versions are released regularly to deal with new hardware, fix bugs, and improve performance. Ten years from now, kernel-2.4.x will likely not run on the latest and greatest hardware...

    So, don't think of this as just another DMCA. Think of the bill as a "closed source subsidy act". Think of Jack Valenti and his ilk rooting your box...
    • by kaltan (133872) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @01:39PM (#2268329) Homepage
      In that case, shouldn't companies like RedHat etc. inform your government and protest against this result of the law ?

      Another remark, this law (and the DMCA too in lesser extent) reminds me of what happened when alcohol was banned in America : the maffia jumped on it and sold suddenly 'illegal' goods to the masses.

      As an European, i'll probably violate half of the American IP laws within the next 5 years. I don't think i'll ever go back for a holiday. You guys frighten me. The way companies influence your government through election money is like alowing the worst part of kapitalism to determine the law : the interest of the shareholder supercedes the freedom of the individual.
      Like in europe (well at least in Belgium, but in most other countries too), companies funding in elections is limited by law, thus restricting such dangerous evolution.

      I don't think you can ever win by fighting the DMCA, the SSSCA and so on ad infinitum.

      You have to fight company involvement in government by restricting the funding. That's the only way out, or you'll only loose more and more freedom.

      Don't try to stop each bullet, that's impossible, stop the shooter, you'll feel much safer.

      PS : Here, elections are paid by the taxpayer. The amount of money involved is many orders of magnitude lower than in America.

  • by ReelOddeeo (115880) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:45AM (#2267445)
    I thought that in one of the MS trials, the judge had rejected the Govt's case on the basis of the Govt shouldn't be in the business of designing software.

    Now it sounds like the Govt wants to create security standards, and all software must be certified to meet this standard.
  • I live @ 20 miles from the 49th parallel. I'm thinking the preliminary post SSSCA price for an unwelded hard drive should be...um...two thousand bucks? Any takers?
    Seriously, if I lived in the states, I'd be stocking up right now. Or considering a move...
  • The first time I used Java, I was thinking "Middleware. Someone is trying to lock down the core OS." (the core OS being where the rights management layer exists).

    Now MS is going to VM's running C#.

    All I can say is, it's all so transparent, it's ludicrous. Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.
  • So while the U.S. is taking steps to ensure that the last few remnants of personal freedom in that country is being taken away, I can happily sit back satisfied with knowing that the beer is also better in europe anyway ;)

    Would anyone know the status of getting the DMCA to europe ? There was some talk about it, but I haven't heard anything lately. That can mean two things... Which is it ?
  • Hopefully, this is too draconian for even the 'New Improved' U.S. government to pass. Of course, I hoped the same about DMCA.

    IF it should pass, consider standing down. Go to work as usual, turn off every machine you're responsable for, and GO HOME. Stay home for a week (you probably need a vacation anyway). Then go back to work and resume operations. If SSSCA still exists in 30 days, shut it all off again and go to Mexico. I'm sure the government there would appreciate a large influx of capital and knowledge. Learning Spanish is a small price to pay for freedom.

    • A damn fine idea. I already know a little spanish. This is how the labor movement started decades ago. We control the means of production... and now even infrastructure. We are much more powerful than we realize.

      Of course, if this doesn't work, I'll have to look at whether I want to move to Mexico or Canada. Or is there some place better?

      With Vincente Fox buddying up to Dubya, he may be willing to make all kinds of concessions to open the border and get amnesty for the illegals now in the US, including passing some of his own draconian laws at the request of American corporations (the request via thier toadies, the government).

      It might be better to move to a country that is somewhat at odds philosophically with the US. Or at least has a streak of independence. Canada seems to have exhibited this.

      • With Vincente Fox buddying up to Dubya, he may be willing to make all kinds of concessions to open the border and get amnesty for the illegals now in the US, including passing some of his
        own draconian laws at the request of American corporations (the request via thier toadies, the government).



        That's a good point. It all comes down to who can provide the most benefit to Mexico and it's government. If enough geeks stand down, the choice is between a country and corporations who USED to be a world power vs. a group of people who might help Mexico become a power in it's own right.



        If that fails, there's Canada or Europe. The more adventurous might consider parts of the former Soviet Union.


  • by DzugZug (52149) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:56AM (#2267495) Journal
    Just to clarify:

    The criminal penalties only apply if the person who modified the devices did so for personal financial gain. Unless you are selling your OSS, developing FREE software isn't subject to criminal penalites.
  • get your network sorted quick,

    business wanted Internet2 well it's probably about time WE made it.

    Get your 802.11b kit quick while you still can and let's get it going.

    Spread that 11mb around and with some aggregating we should be able to make a newtwork where ANYONE can connect, not just 'approved' equipment.

    Once we wean ourselves away from their network we'll be back in BBS 37337 utopia again and it will be like 'the September that Never Happened'.
  • by kinnunen (197981) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:02AM (#2267518)
    1. Create a copyprotetion technology (it doens't even have to work because braking it is illegal).
    2. Patent said technology.
    3. Make said technology the only copyright protection for next generation CD/DVDs.
    4. Gather patent licensing fees for every PC that comes with a CD/DVD drive. They can set the license fee as high as they want because a computer without this tech is illegal.
  • The funniest thing (as in, I almost hope it passes so I can be the person to personally kick your sorry ass back into the dark ages) is the stiff fine for any "computer" that can be connected to the internet that doesn't provide for DRM.

    Let's see, that's your office telephone/PBX, your office hub, your cable/DSL modem, your ISP's routers, the POP, etc. It includes almost every mainframe and large server for years - the law may require all new computer hardware to include DRM, but how often are million-dollar-plus systems replaced? For that matter, what about all of the legacy mainframes which aren't manufactured today?

    Even if the Senator harrumps and says that I should stop being dense because I should know that "computer" refers to "PC-class computer" (even though countless other recent laws have repeatedly driven home the axiom that you should ignore the stated intent of the law and focus on the wording in the law itself), it will criminalize those projects to build beowulf clusters out of discarded PCs, amateur scientist projects which hook up instruments to the net with old PCs, etc.
  • by OnanTheBarbarian (245959) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:04AM (#2267530)
    I thought we'd seen the high-water mark for these kind of encroachments before the Skylarov case. This fresh enormity, and Abobe's little "push for prosecution, then wash their hands of it" have convinced me that fair-minded, above-board activity to oppose these idiots doesn't go far enough. Given the incredible degree to which the MPAA/RIAA and all the other corporate whores are willing to go to corrupt our basic rights, I say we're thoroughly justified in pirating their music/software.

    This is a big step for me. I'm against piracy on principle, and prefer the convenience of just going out and buying the product rather than futzing around with Napster or it's sucessors. However, with every music CD I buy, or DVD I rent, some portion of the money I'm spending is being used to erode my liberties. To hell with that. I probably should boycott, but I don't feel particularly inclined to make my life uncomfortable and principles are clearly getting thrown out the window on the other side, so what the hell.

    Maybe a less profitable music/movie industry would have less money to hire lawyers and congressmen.
  • by scruffy (29773) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:10AM (#2267552)
    Copying is a fundamental operation of computers. Most of what a computer does is to make a copy from one place and move it to another place (e.g., between floppies, disks, tapes, memory, cache, registers, CD, and so on). How the hell are you going to enforce a copy control scheme on every piece of hardware and software (down to every instruction)?
  • Since Disney and Hollywood so obviously and fervently want us all to drop dead, why is Slashdot still hyping 'Tron' and publishing Jon Katz's reviews of Holly wood movies?

    Proteus7
  • The political bullies are pushing too hard.


    Suddenly "revenge of the nerds" is not a teen comedy anymore, but a social realistic drama.


    They are forcing geeks and nerds, what used to be the most peaceful and passive citizens, to become outlaws. We are talking about people who are so loyal to authority that they'd report their own kin to the FBI for removing mattress tags.


    It is nothing less than a declaration of war. The result is that a large population will change sides. From being fair use advocates, we will turn into rabid pirates, just for the principle.

  • Of course, the flaws don't have to do with the trampling of "fair use", or perhaps even the saddling of public domain data with usage restrictions.
    Under the DMCA, the models of access control could be based on a simple bitflip (Real Networks), ROT13 (some of the more incompetent Adobe Acrobat extension writers), or a 40 bit cipher that, because of design idiocy, was the equivalent of 25 bits of decently designed software (DVD/CSS).
    Since these methods will go through the Commerce Department, it may be that the stupider algorithms will be filtered out, and any standardized system will rely on stronger methods.

    Although this will mean that stupidity will longer be subsidized, tryranny still will be.
  • Okay the summarized text is a little more than 1 page to reflect a bill that is quoted as being 19 pages long in the draft copy. By comparision DMCA was 94 pages, and attempted to account for the few legitimate concerns that were raised at the time. What degree of success it actually had in that respect is a matter of judgement.

    The essential idea I'm getting from this is that this congressman wants to make it very difficult to do certain things with computers and other electronic devices in order to ensure that copyrights are protected. Somehow I don't think this one will quietly get through congress, and all things considered I bet the final draft at least attempts to address many concerns that clearly haven't been. Were it to pass today, the excessive brevity might well be its undoing. Wide sweeping impostions on individual rights without clear justification have never faired very well before the Supreme Court.

    As an interesting side note, it occurs to me that this neatly sidesteps one of the issues of DMCA. If all computer equipment are required to implement standard protections then one can no longer argue that having protections present limits a technology to a particular platform. I doubt however that this is the point that Disney is so gung ho in support of.

    Rather than get upset with the summary of the draft copy, I'm going to way to a real bill is submitted for consideration. Once it is available to read both by us and other Congressmen, then we can figure out what's wrong with it and how to salvage it to address legitimate copyright holder concerns, if any. After all how much do you think your representatives are going to listen to people ranting about a bil that doesn't yet exist, or blatantly against the copyright protections they obviously favor.

    It's good to be aware and want to act, but wait till you know a little more about your enemy before you rush into battle.
  • Turnabout (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @01:24PM (#2268265) Homepage
    I'd suggest writing the appropriate Congresscritters and suggesting that you'll support passage of that law only if it requires hardware to completely comply with copyright law, including USC Title 17 Sections 106 through 122 and Section 1201(c), and all relevant case law. The corps would drop this like a hot potato if the hardware was legally required to enforce those portions of copyright law, because most of their copy-protection schemes would be illegal.
  • by TWR (16835) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @01:36PM (#2268309)
    There are laws which require chemicals be added to things like fuel oil, so they don't work as well in bombs or so the bomb can be traced after it explodes (you can figure out who sold it). They don't much impact the non-bomb use of fuel oil, so it isn't seen as a big deal by the manufacturers. After all, it fights terrorism and defends America and such.


    In the paid-off minds of dolts like Fritz Hollings, this bill is no different. He has been told that this will make it impossible to do "bad" things with a computer while still making it possible to do "good" things with a computer. Since he doesn't understand computers, and doesn't much care, it sounds reasonable. Besides, the checks he's getting from Disney must be freaking enormous.


    Unfortunately, Congress-critters have long been proposing and passing laws which control things they don't understand. What they will understand is that laws like this are going to kill the American computer (hardware and software) industry. The foreign workers who make up a large portion of the tech workforce (because most Americans are too stupid and lazy to bother with the necessary math) aren't going to come to this country. The relatively few natives who can handle the math and science are going to leave.


    If there's a third-world country out there that would like to become a tech powerhouse within 5 years, all they need to do is build a stable power grid, pass strong privacy and sane copyright and patent laws, and allow automatic citizenship to the immediate families of programmers and engineers. Prosperity will follow quickly.


    As of right now, I think I'd be on the first boat.


    -jon

    • While not trying to burst your bubble, nor am I disagreeing with your points, I do want to point out that Hollings got only US$2,000.00 from Disney. See: this [opensecrets.org] at OpenSecrets.org [opensecrets.org] for a break down of Hollings contributors.


      A more interesting page is who did MPAA and RIAA give tons of money to. For that info, click here MPAA [opensecrets.org] or here for RIAA [opensecrets.org].


      Personally, I find it hard to beleive that someone would sell out for just US$2,000.00. Perhaps Hollings just needs a rap on the forehead to get him to stop being stupid.

  • Some thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rocketboy (32971) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @12:05AM (#2269928)
    Some good comments and potentially useful courses of action have been posted here; that's good, it demonstrates the utility and power of open communication to clarify and help to solve difficult issues. Alas, that's a nice sentiment completely lost on the US Congress. I don't think anyone yet realizes the scope of this draft legislation. Let me point out some of the ramifications which have occurred to me.

    1. It effectively outlaws open source operating systems and some applications. Look at it this way: the DMCA says that the *potential* for copyright evasion is against the law. This new idea does the same only in broader scope. It won't matter whether anyone actually writes code that allows Linux users to evade digital security: the mere potential that something along those lines could be written will be sufficient. Ditto for any application that interacts with media streams covered by this new, Draconian copyright 'protection'.

    2. The DMCA to some extent and this new proposal to a larger extent means business: boys and girls, let's get one thing straight. Breaking these laws will NOT mean 30 days in the county jail and a fine of a month's wages. These crimes are defined as felonies, which means serious time in the big house and a fine big enough to ensure that the perpetrator never owns a new car or their own home ever again, short of winning a lottery. Also, as a convicted felon there are other, additional penalties which apply after the time has been served. Examples will be made, big time. Trembling in your boots yet?

    3. This new law will be of concern to... (calculating) precisely 0.15% of the population, tops. My neighbors are not going to write their congressman; hell, most of them don't even write their mothers. They aren't going to picket, donate, or anything else. They don't care: they will still be able to rent the latest Hollywood blockbuster any time they want to. There just isn't going to be any 'popular groundswell' of support in opposition to this law. Heck, half the time I can't get my boss to agree to make a decision, let alone do it now. How are your powers of persuasion? If you ever wondered how Hitler could have come into power in a democratic pre-WWII Germany, just watch the news. It happened like this. Want an example? One proposal here on Slashdot suggested that we all boycot Disney products. A fine idea, if I weren't already boycotting them for past misdeeds. Nevertheless, let Mr. Eisner put out ONE 'cool' film, say about a plucky chap named Linus who single-handedly and completely innocently takes on a mighty corporation, gets the girl and saves the day for Freedom, Justice, and the American Way, and I will be quite happy to bet next week's paycheck that AT LEAST 90% of the people reading this will sneak at least one plush penguin doll into their collection within a week.

    4. Write your congressmen all you like: your letter represents an investment of $0.33 and they just don't give a rat's ass comparing that to $20,000 campaign contributions. To get the attention of Congress you need millions. Do you have millions? I don't. Those that do are the same ones who dictated this BS to the congressmen in the first place. How many of you have written your congressmen related to the DMCA, or about Dmitry. I wrote to all three of mine and got two replies: one said 'thanks for the letter', one said 'sorry -- I don't get involved in specific criminal cases,' and the other one never bothered to even send an automated reply. Like most congressmen, they don't seriously consider themselves threatened to lose office at the next election, so they don't care whether I vote for them or not.

    5. Picket, donate to the opposition, boycott Disney -- all good ideas, I suggest that we all do that. Despite the fact that techies are notoriously apolitical and that on a good day you can get maybe a dozen activists onto a picket or demonstration. Ladies and gentlemen, it isn't going to happen in this lifetime, most of us aren't that kind of people. (On the whole, we're 'way too nice.) On the other hand, it doesn't really have to: history records precious few revolutions which were actively or even passively supported by a majority of the population. Did I say 'revolution'? Sorry - I didn't mean it in the 'let's blow things up' sort of way. I meant it as a dramatic change in course, in the manner of people taking back their government. Peace is good. So is love. So is justice. The fact that I have precious few ideas how to do that without blowing things up is (or should be) irrelevant.

    6. It would be nice to say, 'who's going to write the code to implement all this -- we should just refuse!' but that's a non-starter, let's not even go there.

    7. I'd like to thing that my natural paranoia combined with having drank a liter and a half of Diet Pepsi is just making me all bummed out right now, but it will not surprise me in the least if this thing becomes law this year or next. The immediate effect will be to turn me into a criminal: I will NOT use a closed-source operating system such as Windows, especially if I am told that I must do so. I'm just too cranky for that and I've never been good at following orders (just ask my wife!) I expect that an encrypted underground will spring up and those who want the code will get it, most of everyone else will continue to contribute to Bill's retirement fund. Se la vie.

    The real question in my mind is, what's next? I suspect that communications is going to be a hot target before too long: GPS transmitter/receivers in every cell phone, every vehical, etc. so that you can't possibly get lost (even if you should want to.) Money has to be on the list: cash really is untraceable and once computers and communications are regulated and 'secure' there's no real reason to keep it around. A few tech-savvie crooks will get very very rich by ripping transactions one way or another but in terms of a national economy it'll be cheaper than the existing cash economy, so they'll go for it. You and I will pay, repeatedly if possible, for every bit on information we consume and patent and copyrights going the way they are, it won't be long before everything is patented or copyrighted by someone: we'll end up having the fee for "Good morning, dear," taken out of our bank accounts automatically. Well, I guess it beats writing a check.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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