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More Unintended Consequences of the DMCA 205

Posted by Zonk
from the some-light-reading dept.
BrianWCarver writes "In the seven years since Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), examples of the law's impact on legitimate consumers, scientists, and competitors continue to mount. A new report released today from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 'Unintended Consequences: Seven Years Under the DMCA,' (pdf) collects reports of the misuses of the DMCA -- chilling free expression and scientific research, jeopardizing fair use, impeding competition and innovation, and interfering with other laws on the books. The report updates a previous version issued by EFF in 2003, which Slashdot also covered."
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More Unintended Consequences of the DMCA

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  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:21PM (#15124999) Homepage
    The problems is (a) if you're a media or software company, you view these as "good" consequence (b) if you're a member of congress, you're routinely told America's financial health is dependant on the strong protection of IP, so you don't see any problem with this (c) hardly anybody has any direct consequence because of DMCA, so they don't see the problem.

    So in the face of all that intertia, no one really cares about the extreme cases. I'm guessing the cutover to HDTV in the U.S. (a.k.a. "The Disaster") will generate a lot of problems and make cause a backlash, but right now, it's hard to see anyone in charge or in authority speaking out against the law, and there is almost zero groudswell against it.
    • The HDCP situation could go either way, depending on how it's handled. If they get modern, slick, smooth digital cable boxes with DVRs into the hands of the congresspersons, and everything just works, they won't think about reasons to block legislation.

      However, if any of these congresspeople were early adopters of HDTVs that didn't buy the current version of HDCP, and they find out that their $10,000 plasma TVs are worthless for modern HDCP / HD-DVD / BLU-RAY, they're going to be pretty pissed off, and t

      • Yeah .... but guess who's going to be given free converter boxes, with free tech support. And no waits on hold for tech support.
      • if any of these congresspeople were early adopters of HDTVs that didn't buy the current version of HDCP, and they find out that their $10,000 plasma TVs are worthless for modern HDCP / HD-DVD / BLU-RAY, they're going to be pretty pissed off

        It is amusing to watch how arguments play out here.

        Half the posters to Slashdot will say that DVD resolution is "good enough." The other half will predict a mass rebellion against downsampling HD to (Gasp! Choke! Wheeze!) 960x540 and ignore the 20 GB or so of other goo

    • I want to agree with the assessment but this "study" isn't from a neutral third party so it must be taken with a grain of salt.
      • ... this "study" isn't from a neutral third party ...

        How could there be any neutral parties in this issue? The DMCA is a potential threat to anyone who does anything with digital media, and we're going to be forced to go all digital rather soon.

        Just this morning I read through yet another discussion in yet another newsgroup started by a fellow who was trying to copy his own hand-made 8mm video tapes to DVDs, but was being blocked by equipment that declared that a copy would be a copyright violation. This
    • I'm guessing the cutover to HDTV in the U.S. (a.k.a. "The Disaster") will generate a lot of problems and make cause a backlash, but right now, it's hard to see anyone in charge or in authority speaking out against the law, and there is almost zero groudswell against it.

      That could be in part beause the cutoff only means analog goes away, not everything is in HD. I had digital cable for a while (standard defintion) and aside from the increase in cost for two hundred more channels that I'll never watch, the

  • schadenfreude (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kisrael (134664) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:26PM (#15125037) Homepage
    BoingBoing linked to the sorrowful tale [techliberation.com] of a guy who's a big pro-lockdown guy on the web who got screwed when his portless DVR ate all the carefully recorded Spanish lessons he had saved for his children. He would've been within his rights to do an external backup, but those rights got trampeled by the fear of casual piracy. Whoops, too bad! I mean.... !no es bueno senor!
  • Fair Use (Score:5, Informative)

    by CGP314 (672613) <CGP@ColinGregory ... net minus author> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:26PM (#15125038) Homepage
    Fair Use Under Siege "Fair use" is a crucial element in American copyright law-the principle that the public is entitled, without having to ask permission, to use copyrighted works in ways that do not unduly interfere with the copyright owner's market for a work. Fair uses include personal, noncommercial uses, such as using a VCR to record a television program for later viewing. Fair use also includes activities undertaken for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research. Unfortunately, the DMCA throws out the baby of fair use with the bathwater of digital piracy. By employing technical protection measures to control access to and use of copyrighted works, and using the DMCA against anyone who tampers with those measures, copyright owners can unilaterally eliminate fair use, re-writing the copyright bargain developed by Congress and the courts over more than a century.

    What bothers me is that things like this cause people to think that there is no such thing as fair use. I work as a teacher and I make a bunch of presentations [colingregorypalmer.net] for my classes. It's school policy that we can't use copyrighted images for any purposes -- even this clear cut case of non-comercial, educational use. This policy is just one of the many in place to eliminate even the possibility that someone may sue for any reason, no matter how in the right we may be. I'd use creative commons images anyway, but this is very frustrating.

    -CGP
    • Years ago, in high school band, our teacher used to photocopy all of the instrument parts to each song and lock the originals in a cabinet so they wouldn't get damaged. Each band arrangement had enough original parts for everyone to read from, give or take a few depending on that year's enrollment.

      When I went back as a substitute teacher a few years later, the band teachers still did that for rehearsals, but had to pull out the originals for performances, especially for the annual music festival, where t

      • Here it's the British-inherited tradition of "fair dealing". Which I suppose usually amounts to the same thing, but it's important to know the true name if you're going to look it up (like looking up fair dealing in Canada on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], for example).

        Since all this talk is about "fair use" and the American situation, it's often hard to quite know where Canada stands. To be honest, the answer is probably "dragging along behind the States", but as far as Canada has any self-determination over its own laws
    • Re:Fair Use (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's school policy that we can't use copyrighted images for any purposes

      If that's the policy, you can't use any images except some that are so trivial that they cannot be copyrighted, and the few the copyright of which expired (but make sure that the digital version you downloaded off the internet isn't covered by a new copyright). Even images you produce yourself are automatically protected by copyright.
      • creative commons pictures are copyrighted. so quit using them if it's against your school's policy.

        You might consider going into the board and saying "point me to an image I can use". It'd be fun to see them try.

    • Re:Fair Use (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ConceptJunkie (24823)
      Interesting quote, the DCMA does indeed harm those legitimate examples of Fair Use, except ultimately, the DCMA _doesn't_ stop piracy. It is my impression that the real net effect is that it only harms the law-abiding. Hence my sig...

    • Re:Fair Use (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hador_nyc (903322)

      - even this clear cut case of non-comercial, educational use.

      The most ironic part of that is the fact that real pirates will not be inhibited by this. They'll have the means to do what they are already doing. You almost can't walk down a street in Manhattan, or sit in the subway often enough, without seeing someone sell pirated copies of movies; some of which aren't in theaters yet. Sure they run away when the cops come by, but the fact is that they don't get too many of them.

      You know, this sounds

      • I wouldn't see so many of those pirated movies on the street if folks weren't buying them.

        If it's a choice between the pirated copy and not being able to see the movie it's hardly a suprise if people are buying them.
    • It's school policy that we can't use copyrighted images for any purposes ... I'd use creative commons images anyway, but this is very frustrating.

      Creative commons images are still copyrighted.
  • by DesertWolf0132 (718296) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:26PM (#15125043) Homepage

    As much as we write and complain about the idiots in government creating legislation that is bad for technology and innovation we have yet to solve the problem. I think given the power of /. we could unite a movement to elect someone with an IQ higher than 3 and not in the back pockets of those abusing the DMCA. Viva la Revolution! Think about it. We could form a new political party where rank comes from ability, not tenure. We could take over the world!

    ...well, after I blog about it...

    then there is my L.U.G. meeting...

    and the sites I need to code...

    • You know, I keep wishing such a political movement would happen, but like you, I'm too busy to actually do much to start it. That's why I'm setting my sights on long-term establishment of such a movement through the use of signature advertising.

      --------------------
      Vote for me for
      President in
      2012

  • by I_am_Rambi (536614) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:27PM (#15125049) Homepage
    Use a firewall, go to jail [theregister.co.uk]
    • That article is over 3 years old, despite recently being on the digg front page, and is a journalist's sensationalist mis-interpretation of proposed legislation.

      The actual text of the bill draft reads:

      "A person commits an offense if, with the intent to harm or defraud a communication service, the
      person tampers with, modifies, or maintains a modification to a communication device provided by or installed by the provider"
  • Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wellington Grey (942717) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:30PM (#15125078) Homepage Journal
    From the article: HP's Region-Coded, Expiring Printer Cartridges: Hewlett-Packard, one of the world's leading printer manufacturers, has embedded software in its printers and accompanying toner cartridges to enforce "region coding" restrictions that prevent cartridges purchased in one region from operating with printers purchased in another. This "feature" presumably is intended to support regional market segmentation and price discrimination.

    The software embedded in HP printer cartridges also apparently causes them to "expire" after a set amount of time, forcing consumers to purchase new ink, even if the cartridge has not run dry.


    Now that's damn evil. After I moved to England, I discovered the that my DVDs no longer worked. But I never knew that this was now in printers as well. How long before some jackass decides to regin-encode my whole laptop?

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
    • Only partly true (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shirotae (44882)

      The region coding is an issue that deserves to be held up to scrutiny but the part about expiry is rather misleading. Very few of HP's ink cartridges have an expiry mechanism but the article seems to suggest that they all do.

      Just because someone sued it does not automatically mean that the claim has any merit. I am very disappointed that EFF has used such a weak example here, and to make it worse, they go on to say that DMCA has not been used in this case.

      There are plenty of good examples to show the bad

    • The software embedded in HP printer cartridges also apparently causes them to "expire" after a set amount of time, forcing consumers to purchase new ink, even if the cartridge has not run dry.

      Now that's damn evil. After I moved to England, I discovered the that my DVDs no longer worked.

      Well, it just means you need to order DVD's from wherever you came from. Seriously, if I wanted to only pay $1 per Chinese DVD (shipped in bulk to oblivate shipping costs) I'd pay $20 for that Chinese DVD player (and get i

      • Well, it just means you need to order DVD's from wherever you came from.

        The problem comes when the DVD you want is only released in a different region.
    • Now that's damn evil. After I moved to England, I discovered the that my DVDs no longer worked.
      You didn't take your old DVD player with you?
  • by sakusha (441986) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:31PM (#15125083)
    I thought I'd pop in a quick comment to beat the rush.. I've barely scanned through the document, but I've already noticed obvious and glaring errors.

    For example, they cite the case of Adobe's claim that Nikon prevented them from decrypting their RAW format files. The facts as the EFF documents explains them, are just plain wrong. There was a brief outcry from some overwrought programmers at Adobe over this issue, but it turned out Nikon was always willing to license their proprietary code to developers like Adobe, even before this little dust-up. Nothing to see here, move along, it was just another testy outburst from a programmer who had too much coffee and didn't want to wait for his managers to finish negotiations with Nikon.

    I'll go through the document in more detail, and I'm sure I'll find more deliberate misstatements of facts. The EFF always trumps up charges to inflate its case. Perhaps someday they will learn that this tactic undermines their efforts.
    • Why should developers have to license Nikon's proprietary code in order to process images from Nikon cameras? The images don't belong to Nikon - they belong to the person who took the picture. It shouldn't be necessary to have Nikon's permission to do this nor should it be necessary to pay Nikon for it. This is exactly the kind of situation in which people should be free to reverse engineer.

    • by Angstroem (692547) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:55PM (#15125317)
      Frankly, you're not getting to the core of that.

      Of course Nikon will happily license out those decryption routines so one has access to the RAW format; but there's no need to introduce encryption in the first place, or keep the file format non-disclosed, for that matter.

      Assume, you're a pro photographer and therefore store your pictures in that very RAW format for maximum resolution. The pictures are *your* creative work, not Nikon's. Who says that they will still support that format in 5 years? Who guarantees you that their software will work with your PC of choice in 5 years?

      You buy a camera for making pictures, and you probably want to use that very camera for a period which is usually way longer than what's currently supported by any software manufacturer. There are people who still use old Leicas or Rollei cameras... No pro photographer wants to change their equipment with every new OS generation.

      With that licensing model -- Nikon creating an encrypted format which *they* own all rights to and *they* have the power to give and revoke licenses as they want -- they directly affect the photographer in accessing his own creative work.

      It's like bringing out an analog camera where the photos are taken scrambled and you can view the photos only using a camera-manufacturer provided lens. Which is provided for a limited time only.

      An outburst by a programmer who had too much coffee? Maybe you didn't have enough to see the implications of such artificial crippling of file formats...

      • I have no sympathy for photographers. After all, they're the same people who are always harping for copyright laws right along with Viacom, Disney, Microsoft, Sony, and all the others. [sarcasm] Oh god forbid someone should make copies of their wedding photos. The world would stop spinning if that happened. [/sarcasm]

        That they are getting bitten actually makes me feel good in a primitive sense.
        • The problem here is that there are many more amateur photographers than professional photographers (defined as those who actually sell their images). The amateur photographers got just as bitten as the pros in this case by Nikon.

          One very tiny reason I don't mind having Canon gear.

          Regards,
          Ross
          • Most amateur photographers are quite in favor of copyright (with the exception of copyrights on architecture ... now I wonder why that might be). They also seem to get very indignant when their stuff is copied. Most ordinary people don't care much if they're work is copied, just as long as it's not plagiarized or used for profit.
        • I just want to point out that a photographer preventing you from copying the wedding photos they took is within the bounds of the original short-term copyright enshrined in the constitution. If you want to buy the negatives, buy the negatives, but if you agree to buy prints, don't sit there and bitch about it.
          • Likewise, if you don't want to be bound by Nikon's terms, build your own camera ... and stick to pre-1989 tech to avoid any patent infringement. It's just as fair for Nikon to dictate what you do with your bits as it is for a photographer to dictate what you do with your picture.
            • Except that it's the photographer's picture, not yours.

              One is an obvious application of established copyright law, and the other is a gross distortion of its intent and scope.

              • I'm talking morality here, not law. Law is not related to morality. In my book, copyright is immoral (and thus asserting it is immoral and violating it is moral ... kind of a damned if you do damned if you don't scenario since the cops still will come for you), and encrypting the photos is immoral. Both acts are equally immoral.

                Your analogy is like relating the Nazis using gas chambers (established law under the Third Reich) and setting up gas chambers in the US (not established law in the US). Last I check
        • Oh god forbid someone should make copies of their wedding photos.

          Make sure you read the contract before you sign it. If the photographer doesn't give you the copyright to the images from the wedding, find a different one. Just realize that weddings are big money for photographers and some like to control the distribution as much as possible to make the most buck.

          Speaking as a photographer now, I don't think I would ever stoop that low. When I shoot a few weddings for my friends, they will have the
      • I am not in the USA and therefore do not know the minute details of the DMCA, but from what I have seen it states that it is an offence to circumvent protection without the permission of the copyright owner. In the case of the photographer, the photographer him or her self is the owner of the copyright of the protected work (the photograph) so any circumvention of the protection implemented by the camera manufacturer is by definition being done with the consent and permission of the copyright owner. As I ha
        • Actually, it's even an offense to develop tools that it could be claimed are for the purpose of circumventing the copy protection. The DMCA is a thoroughly evil law. The only redeeming feature that it has, is that it could have been worse.
      • This is just the silliest overstatement I have ever seen! Actually, what the Nikon RAW encryption is almost *exactly* like, is if Kodak had patented the formula for the developing solution for their film, and only Kodak, or people who licensed the formula from Kodak, could make the chemicals to develop the film you shot. You know, kind of like the exact situation that has been the case since the introduction of Kodachrome film!

        I get so tired of how people think that something being digital, suddenly means t
        • by Angstroem (692547) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:39PM (#15125742)
          Not at all. If you buy a brand-x camera, you can use whatever film you want to use. You are not bound to Kodakchrome and their holy development formulas.

          However, with the Nikon approach you are either forced to go for a crippled format (and JPEG *is* crippled from a graphical point of view) or use their very own RAW format. It's not like the camera would support a gazillion of (especially competing) lossless formats by default.

          And, sorry, but if Nikon wants their development costs back, then they should raise the price per camera, but not via licensing fees on their oh-so-holy *file format*. While the Kodakchrome process may (or may not) have been superior to other films, it never the less was based on true research. A *file format* for pictures definitely is not. It's a container for pixels and, in the case of digital camera, some color/hue/saturation coefficients derived automatically through a calibration process.

          Btw, I'm no photographer. For this discussion it also shouldn't matter whether I am one or not. Exchange "Nikon RAW" with "Word DOC" or "Eagle SCH/PCB" if photographers are such a red flag for you. Maybe you'll then get the point.

          • That would be great, if it were even remotely true. In fact there have been PLENTY of cameras where you were locked into buying film from one company, because they made the camera. Have you ever heard of a company called Polaroid? For that matter, you are looking at the tail end of the film market, and saying that since now a lot of formats are cross-licensed, it must have always been that way. That just isn't the case. In the early days of photography, each camera had pretty much its own format of film. As
        • Actually, it is almost *nothing* like the analogy of developing solutions you gave. Chemical developing processes are a necessary step in conventional photography. It wasn't an added step put there to restrict the rights of the photographer. What purpose does Kodak's encryption serve other than to prevent "unauthorized" parties from accessing the photos?
          • Well, first off are we talking about Nikon's RAW format, or the Kodak Cineon format? I assume you mean Nikon when you say Kodak in your response. However, it brings up an interesting point since Kodak had been requiring licensing on their Cineon format for many, many years before the DMCA was even written, much less passed into law. If you stop and think about it, if it is your contention that the DMCA somehow forced people to license something from Nikon that it was absolutely unnecessary to license, then
        • by Anonymous Coward
          I agree to a point that companies can employ means to control the use of their product(s), but there are BIG differences between your Kodak example and this. A patent expires, allowing competition to take place - other companies can now offer you those chemicals that only Kodak (or Kodak approved companies) could.

          A digital restriction like this never expires - Nikon can force its way into a monopoly hold on products to manage the images from its cameras FOREVER.

          Despite that, my biggest concern is not the f
  • I like it how the DMCA and other "bad" laws can have unintended consequences, but "good" laws ... nevermind thinking about them for the "good" laws.
    • by belmolis (702863) <billposerNO@SPAMalum.mit.edu> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:15PM (#15125521) Homepage

      That might be in part because good laws are written so as not to have negative unintended consequences. Good laws sometimes do have negative unintended consequences, but they are quickly revised to deal with them. For example, most people agree that laws against speeding are desirable. If such a law is formulated too broadly, it will make it illegal to speed even in emergencies where the risk from speeding is overshadowed by the emergency. The speeding law can be formulated carefully so as to except emergencies, and if it is written too broadly can be revised. The problem with bad laws like the DMCA is that their proponents either haven't formulated them carefully or do not see the negative consequences as negative and so are happy with the overbroad formulation.

      • That might be in part because good laws are written so as not to have negative unintended consequences.

        Unintended consequences happen despite the best intentions. That's why they call them unintended.

        For example, most people agree that laws against speeding are desirable.

        If true, then most people are incorrect.

        The speeding law can be formulated carefully

        "Because we're so much smarter than everyone else, we can tell them how to live their lives. Because we're ever so much smarter, we can prevent anything b
        • You've gone off on a tangent. The point is that even assuming that laws against speeding are basically good, if not carefully formulated they can have negative consequences. The fact that you don't like laws against speeding isn't really relevant.

          In any case, your distaste for laws against speeding is unsupported by fact or argument. That driving too quickly (and that includes faster than other drivers, even if your reflexes are better than average) is well established as a safety problem. People also t

          • You've gone off on a tangent.

            Nope.

            The point is that laws hurt people. Sometimes it's intended. Sometimes not. For this reason and others, there should be very few laws.

            If you disagree, then you've decided you're OK with hurting people. Or you think you have a god-like ability to control the outcome of events so noting bad can happen.

            ---

            Now this is going off on a tangent:

            ...driving too quickly ... is well established as a safety problem.

            Yes. So what? So you should decide how fast everyone drives in ev

      • Show me an example of a state law which exempts speeding in an emergency. People do it, and some officers may ignore it, but it's not legal anywhere that I know of. Law enforcement gets some leeway, but technically they need a valid justification. Even fire/ambulance/EMS drivers aren't supposed to speed, and can be (and have been) ticketed.

        Anyway, speeding laws are primarily just a means of government income with a vague promise of somehow making the streets safer. How often do you see police monitoring
        • Check out the California motor vehicle code exemption of emergency vehicles [ca.gov].

          The claim that speed enforcement is just a money-maker is silly. Speeding kills, and it does it on the highway as well as in residential areas.

          • Also forgot this link in my below post: http://www.investigatemagazine.com/july00speed.ht m [investigatemagazine.com]

            If you consider traffic laws in rational, scientific manner and look at the facts rather than the rhetoric, speed limits are doing nothing for our safety. I'm not saying you should thank the next person who gets pulled over for paying your taxes, but speed limits just create more problems than they solve, such as road rage and the resulting aforementioned (in the below post) traffic-weaving.
            • The linked article doesn't show that excessive speed is not dangerous. Rather, it shows that if you set the speed limit artificially low you may actually cause more deaths, presumably because it increases the disparity in speeds (since some drivers obey the limits and others don't) and perhaps because irritated drivers drive poorly in other ways. It is quite possible that US interestates should generally have speed limits around 65 mph rather than 55mph, but that doesn't mean that speed limits are in and o

        • Here's the Virginia exemption [state.va.us].

          • Ah, well either that's new since '92, or I was taught wrong. I took drivers ed in VA, and they explictly told us that the only exception was for law enforcement in pursuit.

            At any rate, the whole "speeding kills" argument is just fear mongering. There's little to no evidence that traveling at 90MPH on a freeway is more likely to result in an accident, and the only difference between hitting a concrete barrier at 90MPH versus 65MPH is a question of how much of you is left to scrape up. Do I think everybody
    • Can you point to a law that's been passed in the last six years and say, "This is a good law"? I think finding a "good" law that's been recently passed would be difficult at best, but you're more than welcome to prove me wrong.
      • Can you point to a law that's been passed in the last six years and say, "This is a good law"?

        The do-not-call registry comes to mind. Actually, that's all that comes to mind.
    • I like it how the DMCA and other "bad" laws can have unintended consequences, but "good" laws ... nevermind thinking about them for the "good" laws.

      Not quite sure where you were going with this comment, but....

      What on earth makes people think that these consequences are unintended?
  • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:33PM (#15125101) Homepage
    Like nearly everyone else involved the EFF has an agenda and a spin. Once example of EFF FUD'ing may be the reference to scientific research. A while ago I read a *government* summary of the DMCA and I believe there is an *exemption for research*. Scientific research and various other activities are inherently exempt.
    • Silly rabbit, being in the right doesn't grant protection from frivolous lawsuits. Often the mere threat of a lawsuit is enough to make researchers shelve their projects.
      • Sorry Elmer, but you don't need the DMCA to try to bluff with a lawsuit. Even if the bluff went as far as filing you could file a motion that hilights the section of the DMCA that grants the exemption. The judge will probably dismiss the suit on the spot. And there is also the potential for a countersuit over the frivilous suit and harassment.
    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:45PM (#15125214) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, but try calling Adobe (for instance) and asking for a file to decrypt PDFs for educational (as in university) use. Sure there's an exeption in there, but nobody pays attention to it. They just claim it's a DMCA thing and hang up on you.
      • Yeah, but try calling Adobe (for instance) and asking for a file to decrypt PDFs for educational (as in university) use. Sure there's an exeption in there, but nobody pays attention to it. They just claim it's a DMCA thing and hang up on you.

        That's a red herring. They don't need the DMCA to hang up on your request, they always had the right to ignore you.
    • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:07PM (#15125436) Homepage Journal
      Like nearly everyone else involved the EFF has an agenda and a spin.

      You'd have an agenda if you had the Secret Service come to your place of business back in the day and take virtually every top-of-the-line computer you had sunk all your cash into, and then a few years later return those very same computers crushed into small tiny bits.

      Does noone remember History? I remember Steve Jackson helping out the WorldCon in New Orleans by loaning us his computers so we could rewrite the dBase III code that their author/artist registration ran on, so we could actually hold the convention with panels.

      A year later, he couldn't do that, because the Secret Service took his computers since he was writing a game about Hackers.

      Maybe you like living in Soviet Russia, but I don't.
      • It does not matter why they have the agenda and spin, the important point is to recognize that they have one and to take that into consideration as you formulate your own opinion. The truth is the truth, and spin is spin regardless of whether or not you believe the spin is well meaning, helpful, etc.
        • For instance, the spin of pointing out that everyone has spin is that you want to denigrate what you are commenting on without appearing to do so outright. Obviously you have a beef with the EFF and you want to show them as being the same, morally, as everyone else. By extension, if they have no moral high ground they should not be preaching to others about what's right. Therefore, they shouldn't be listened to about anything.

          Something like that, right?
          • For instance, the spin of pointing out that everyone has spin is that you want to denigrate what you are commenting on without appearing to do so outright. Obviously you have a beef with the EFF and you want to show them as being the same, morally, as everyone else. By extension, if they have no moral high ground they should not be preaching to others about what's right. Therefore, they shouldn't be listened to about anything. Something like that, right?

            No, the above seems like spin attempting to disco
            • My point is that you had a reason for pointing out that everything is spin. That's your spin on spin. You had a reason for pointing it out in regards to the EFF. What is your reason? Are we all so simple that we don't understand that everyone makes mistakes? Are we so dim that we can't comprehend that whenever anyone says anything they may actually have a reason for saying it, usually involving influencing someone else? It just seems so trite to say that everything is spin that I felt you had to have some d
              • Are we so dim that we can't comprehend that whenever anyone says anything they may actually have a reason for saying it, usually involving influencing someone else?

                Around here, yes, it seems many fit that category. Many here seem to take info from friendly organization as a gospel from on high. Then when they turn to advocate that position they become counterproductive. For example some of the faithful have used biased info to advocate Linux to their boss and actually made things worse. Tossing out a fe
      • Wow, that was a fun WorldCon!

        Sure SJ Games got royally screwed, and I really felt bad for Steve in particular. However, what does that really have to do with how accurate the claims of the EFF are in this particular instance.

        I personally think it is a real problem that the EFF has been somewhat derailed, and instead of working to protect citizens digital rights (NSA data mining, Echelon, privacy rights) is instead spending all their time evangelizing OSS and demonizing DRM, as though they were some digital
  • Not unintended (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigg_nate (769185) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:38PM (#15125157)
    Jeopardizing fair use and impeding competition and innovation are not unintended consequences. They're major reasons some DMCA supporters wanted it passed.
  • by Toby The Economist (811138) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @05:46PM (#15125226)
    Every law passed by the State with the honest and sincere intention of being for the public good turns out *in practise* to be to the (sometimes enourmous) public harm, while hugely benefitting a very small number of people.

  • An interesting consequence of increased entertainment media costs has been more piracy an poorer sales, an even more interesting one is that in the top 100 hundred (music and video) lists, the big studios and their formula products have failed to knock off the independents, who due to increased airplay have never had it so good. Even better real artists have real fans who prefer genuine products rather than pirated copies. Make you wonder who been stealing from who all these years.
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:23PM (#15125598)
    It is definitly true that the DMCA has a whole bunch of really terrible unintended consequences. What is sad is that people don't understand that the same applies to any law. Every single law that the government makes, has similiar unintended consequences - because human behavior and society is so complex we can never truly predict how these things are going to work out.

    Geeks tend to understand the terrible effects the DMCA, because that is what Geeks are knowledgable in. If you are an expert in this kind of thing (or at least knowledgable, as most Slashdot people are), you are going to be able to look at it with a more critical eye than the average American. This is our shit, so we know exactly what the deal is.

    But remember, the same thing happens when the government makes a law about terrorism, or illegal drugs, or health care, or the enviornment, or anything else. You might not hear about the same effects the way you hear about the DMCA, but it happens. You support the anti-Terrorism bill, and you don't understand the effect it has on imigrants and their families, or the potential racial-profiling and discrimination it causes. You don't hear about the small family buisnesses that get shut down because they simply don't have the money to comply with some new enviornmental regulation you support. You don't hear about the guy who picks up a hitchhiker, and when they get pulled over by the police, the driver goes to jail for 20 years because the hitchhiker happens to be carrying drugs... you think that tough drug laws are only harming criminals. Or you don't hear about the people who dieing of cancer who can't get a potentially life saving treatment, because the government determines it is "too risky".

    Laws are about a subtle as a sledgehammer. With maybe the exception of small local government, society is just too diverse and too complex to make a law that doesn't have serious side effects. A law is a like a prescription drug, we know it is going to have some negative side effect, but we think the problem is worse than the potential side effect. The DMCA isn't a bad law - it is a typical law. It has the same type of negative effects than any law has.

    The next time you support some new law, remember the DMCA, and remember the same thing is going to happen with that law. That doesn't mean you won't support the law anyway, but it means that like a drug, you need to know what negative effects it might have in order to evaluate the risks.

    But if you think you can make a law that doesn't have significant negative effects on society, you are totally fooling yourself.
    • The DMCA isn't a bad law - it is a typical law. It has the same type of negative effects than any law has.
      I have to disagree with this argument. Before the DMCA, there was a better law on the books. It said, in a nutshell, "if you get caught selling pirated copies of copyrighted materials, you go to jail and pay a hefty fine".

      That was a good law. Not many unintended side effects, if any at all. Compared to the prior law, the DMCA is a bad law.
  • unintended? (Score:2, Funny)

    by wardk (3037)
    seems this obomination of an act is doing exactly what it was meant to do.

    stifle speech -check
    ensure massive litigation -check
    confuse everyone -check
    bad for consumers -check

    so what's the problem?
  • In soviet russia... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 13, 2006 @10:07PM (#15126811) Homepage Journal
    they're laughing at YOU!
  • D-M-C-A It's fun to get stuck with some D-M-C-A....
  • by alizard (107678) <<alizard> <at> <ecis.com>> on Friday April 14, 2006 @12:27AM (#15127369) Homepage
    that any of the consequences described in their web page were unintended?

    At least by the corporate legal staffers who presumably actually wrote the bill.

    The real problem here is that organizations like the EFF that are supposed to represent our interests are tax-exempt non-profits.

    If we want the political power to do something about this, we need our own PAC, our equivalent of the NRA or AARP.

    What's going on with telecomm legislation (you heard that the net neutrality bill got killed in committee?) is another example of why we've got to organize to buy our own politicians, not put up with what happens when major corporate interests who don't want real innovation and who don't want the public to find out what's really wrong with their products are the only ones with cash in hand.

    We have the best politicians that money can buy, if we want to be represented, we have to ante up.

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