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foobar104's Journal: I've just about had it 59

Journal by foobar104

I've about had it with Slashdot's political bent. In the past year. Slashdot has gone from an site full of links to interesting and fun things to a mess of misinformation about the DMCA, DRM technology, patents, copyrights, and other issues that-- for reasons that escape me-- are fundamentally offensive to a good chunk of the Slashdot audience.

I believe that reasoned political debate is a wonderful thing. I love talking politics with my friends, whether we agree or disagree. Those sorts of conversations always leave be with the sense that I've learned something new, or heard an opinion that I haven't heard before.

But Slashdot is not the place for reasoned political debate. More often than not, the people who post to Slashdot seem to lack even the most basic information about the topic at hand. Instead of reading and listening and learning about significant issues, the Slashdot readership prefers instead to just repeat the same old litanies: DMCA bad, RIAA bad, MPAA bad, DRM bad, MS bad, Linux good, EFF good, RMS good, capitalism = greed, government = corruption, et cetera, et cetera.

A year ago, the solution was easy: I just chose not to see any articles from the "Your Rights Online" section on the front page. Poof. Done.

Now, half the articles, more or less, make reference to one of the collection of alphabet soup I listed above.

I'm tired of this. I've been an active participant on Slashdot for a long time-- I don't remember precisely how long, but I've posted some 1,200 comments, and I maxed out my karma a long time ago-- but I'm just about ready to give it up. I'm just not finding that much on Slashdot that's worth reading any more.

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I've just about had it

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  • If even a fraction of this DRM copy-protecto-flibberdyfuck comes about there won't be ANYTHING to talk about. Intel, Fritz, Disney and MS will own everything and everybody else can either get out or go to pound-me-in-the-butt Federal prison. So yeah, I'm sorry the noise from this drowns out the pure tech news you hanker for; there won't BE any pure news worth talking about once they're through. As long as the ??AAs and other assorted scumbags conspire to destroy our professions then that is what we'll talk about.
    • But don't you understand that that's specious reasoning in the extreme? I mean no offense, but your comment is exactly the sort of thing I'm complaining about. Do you have any facts about DRM at all? Have you had years-long business relationships with InterTrust and Sealed? Do you really know what you're talking about?

      Again, I mean no offense. I mean the question literally: do you have the necessary knowledge to make critical judgments about these sorts of statements? I believe that I do, and I believe that what you said sounds more like "sky is falling" rubbish than it does like legitimate concern over a real situation.
      • Well, I think I would consider myself one of your majority. I'm well aware of the fact that I don't have all of the information to make well-informed decisions about what is going on with a lot of this stuff. For that reason I tend to avoid participating in the conversation, and if I do, I make an attempt to be honest about my knowledge of what's going on. Usually I just try and get an answer for a question and take it with a grain of impartiallity-laden salt.

        However, I do enjoy hearing about these things. A good example is today's article about the ISP blocking the RIAA. I thought it was kinda interesting. I do agree that there's an excess of articles of the YRO type and a lack of more fun/geeky-interesting articles (I realize I haven't been participating here long, but I have lurked for quite a while). My question is: What exactly is bothering you? The people? The editors choice in articles? The content? The quantity?
        • Yup. ;-)

          Seriously, though, what sparked this is this [slashdot.org] article, posted today. It begins, "With all the talk of DRM lately, it occurs to me that the entire concept depends on limiting the choice for computer hardware." Which, if one accepts the standard definition of DRM and not a home-grown one, makes no sense at all. DRM-- digital rights management-- is all about keeping track of which activities are permitted with respect to a piece of media, and possibly enforcing those restrictions through encryption. For example, InterTrust proposes the idea of an encrypted package containing a media file and some business logic that determines who can and can't open the package, when they can do it, and what they can do with the items in it.

          In other words, DRM-- as the industry defines it, not as some random schmoe on Slashdot defines it-- has nothing whatsoever to do with hardware.

          That's the sort of thing that pisses me off. A random user will submit a story talking about something that might, by itself, be interesting, but he chooses to link it to something like DRM or the DMCA-- if he wants to give a negative impression-- or the EFF or Stallman's group-- if he wants to give a positive impression-- instead of just presenting it for what it is and letting readers draw their own conclusions.

          It's immensely frustrating.
          • Ah. That I can understand.

            I think I understand the concepts of DRM and everything that it entails, but I think that it's been irrevocably linked (on slashdot at least) to the whole Palladium/Microsoft thing (which links it to the MP/RIAA and hardware manufacturers including hardware controls blah blah blah blah). The problem as I see it is this uncontrolable urge for some people to push their beliefs/opinions on people. Not necessarily in the hopes of converting someone to their way of thinking, but just to be right (and in this case I suppose it's some sort of 'cool' factor on slashdot to publically hate these things and bring them up whenever possible). Not everything needs personal commentary. *sigh* But what do I know. I'll shut up now.
            • But what do I know. I'll shut up now.

              I wish you wouldn't. If people like you shut up, we'll be left with only the "DCMA sux0rs!" idiots.
              • I just got through reading that whole silly thread. I particularily liked this bit:

                I just wish we could have meaningful conversations about the pros and cons of the technology proposal itself, without immediately collapsing into "it's about control" and "it's about freedom." Because, contrary to popular Slashdot opinion, it's not always about freedom. Sometimes it's just about technology. Technology-- specifically, trying to be a Monday-morning quarterback on technology matters-- is interesting and fun. Politics is not. Is it too much to ask that Slashdot be a place where we can have conversations about technology that don't always become conversations about politics?

                Well said. I won't actually shut up, just for tonight. I need to try and do something productive at least for a little while since I'm at work.
          • In other words, DRM-- as the industry defines it, not as some random schmoe on Slashdot defines it-- has nothing whatsoever to do with hardware.

            Could you please explain to me how you are going to get something that isn't easily hackable without special hardware? That was how DE-CSS came about. I have a few gripes about the DMCA, but the main one is that it prevents legitimate public evaluations of systems such as CSS. How can companies feel secure (pun intended) about releasing materials using some DRM system when researchers aren't allowed to critique it?

            I think that eventually a tamper-resistant hardware security module will be the way to go. Will this be the end of open computing? I doubt it. The open source community could ignore it or just make use of it for media files. Microsoft would probably use such a module for anti-piracy efforts. If such a module is mandated by the government in the future I would hope that the law would be sensible enough to also mandate that the interface to it is an open standard.

            Would this or any other effort stop all digital piracy? No. If people can read/see/hear it then it can be copied. Even if some sort of watermark allows the original pirate to be found once the cate is out of the bag you are out of luck.

            In the end DRM (as I understand it) has to make use of secure/specialized hardware. The prospect that such hardware will be mandated has /.ers up in arms. As long as they have access to the interface to the hardware (NOT the keys inside) there doesn't seem to be much to worry about.

            • Could you please explain to me how you are going to get something that isn't easily hackable without special hardware?

              Same way you secure anything else in software: through strong crypto.

              I have a few gripes about the DMCA, but the main one is that it prevents legitimate public evaluations of systems such as CSS.

              Except that isn't true at all. DMCA prohibits the distribution of devices or software for the purpose of circumventing copy protection mechanisms. In other words, it's in violation of the DMCA to distribute copies of DeCSS. It's a more serious violation if you do it for profit, which is how Skylarov (sorry if I misspelled that) was liable. DMCA doesn't restrict anybody's ability to talk about copy protection technology in general, or even in the specific sense. If you're not talking about specific code, the chance that you're in violation of the DMCA rapidly falls to zero.
              • Same way you secure anything else in software: through strong crypto.

                Where do you store the key and where do you do the decryption?

                In other words, it's in violation of the DMCA to distribute copies of DeCSS.

                I think that we might have to agree to disagree on the "code as speech" issue here. The most effective way to demonstrate the weakness of a system is to publish a crack of it. Second to that would be a description of the attack that is detailed enough so that writing the code to accomplish it is trivial. We all knew CSS was crap but DeCSS proved it. In fact, it turned out that CSS was so poorly designed that it was even weaker than had been supposed. DeCSS brought these weakenesses to light. So are content providers really served by the DMCA? I don't think so.

                • Where do you store the key and where do you do the decryption?

                  Well, obviously you do the decryption on the recipient's computer or computer-like device. (Set-top box, whatever.)

                  Naturally you want the DRM system to be as secure and robust as possible, but it's not intended to be perfect. It's meant mostly to prevent accidental violation of license. For example, when you buy a stock photograph from a studio, you get certain rights to use that photo. You might, to save money, choose to buy a license that only allows you to use the photo for a certain period of time. DRM will protect the customer from liability by making it hard (or, if necessary, impossible) for them to accidentally use the photo outside the term of the license. This is extremely important in the business world; IP liability is a very real concern if you work for an ad agency or something.

                  As for piracy, DRM isn't exactly intended to prevent that completely either. If somebody wanted to, they could throw so much effort at breaking a given DRM system that they could probably pull it off. But they'd have to sell N pirated copies of the media element to recoup their costs. DRM in general, and consumer media copy protection in particular, is designed to make it so hard to break even in a piracy racket that most people don't even bother.
                  • It's meant mostly to prevent accidental violation of license.

                    Then why even bother with strong encryption? You could settle for something that could be cracked trivially but would have to be done intentionally. Do you think that this is what proponents of DRM really want? A reminder to keep the honest honest? I would think they want a system that is as secure as possible in order to be in on as many transactions as possible.

                  • Well, obviously you do the decryption on the recipient's computer or computer-like device. (Set-top box, whatever.)

                    If you do it on their general-purpose processor on their general-purpose operating system, then the protection can be easily broken. The user can either use a debugger to access the program that's doing the decryption, or simulate the computer and access the decrypted data that way.

                    And once someone writes a program to do that and posts it to the internet, then everyone can do that.

                    • If you do it on their general-purpose processor on their general-purpose operating system, then the protection can be easily broken. The user can either use a debugger to access the program that's doing the decryption, or simulate the computer and access the decrypted data that way.

                      But, again, in order to do that, you're going to have to be able to access the recipient's private key. To do that, you'll need some sort of password, like a biometric or a pass phrase or something similar. If you have that, then you can decrypt the content to your heart's content, because you already paid for it. (That's how you got the private key, you see.) If you don't have that, then you could spend upteen bazillion CPU-years factoring prime numbers if you want, but by that time you've gone way the hell off the cost-benefit curve. At that point, it's like photocopying paperbacks. It cost so much more to copy the book than to just buy your own that nobody bothers to do it.

                      And once someone writes a program to do that and posts it to the internet, then everyone can do that.

                      Sure, it's an arms race. But the way you win an arms race is not to wipe out the enemy entirely; that's too much work, and the consequences are significant. Instead, you just get so far ahead of your enemy that he doesn't even bother trying to keep up. That's the situation we're in here.

                      Odds are fair, if you're in America, that there are a few digital cinemas within a 500-mile radius of your home. The movies playing there are-- possibly, depending on the D-cinema system in use-- delivered by DVD-ROMs. The pizza-faced teen at the theater loads the DVD-ROMs one-by-one into the machine, and the movie gets copied in pieces to a collection of hard drives. What's stopping that pizza-faced teen from going home, firing up his DVD burning, and handing out copies of that feature film-- in full theatrical resolution with digital sound-- to his friends at school? Crypto. That's all. Just crypto. But it's crypto that's so strong-- or, more truthfully, that's believed to be so strong-- that it's not worth the kid's effort to break it.
                    • But, again, in order to do that, you're going to have to be able to access the recipient's private key. To do that, you'll need some sort of password, like a biometric or a pass phrase or something similar. If you have that, then you can decrypt the content to your heart's content, because you already paid for it.

                      You seem to be making my points for me. :)

                      If you are using a biometric (and I don't see how that is relevant actually) you need specialized hardware.

                      Once they have sent you a key and you can decrypt, then all these "rules" about how the content can be used are thrown out the window. You can make a non-encrypted, rule-free copy to use/distribute as you like. So it isn't a question of xeroxing paperbacks. It is much more similar to this: I have a CD and I have ripped the whole thing to mp3 and now I can store it on various devices, some of which the CD maker might not like and if I am a bit evil I will put it on Napster/gnutella/Kazaa/whatever.

                      What's stopping that pizza-faced teen from going home, firing up his DVD burning, and handing out copies of that feature film-- in full theatrical resolution with digital sound-- to his friends at school? Crypto.

                      This is a strawman. The situation with CSS and DeCSS is a better example. I would guess that the digital cinema systems have a hardware crypto device. I they have any brains it would be something like a 4758 that has some certifications and is tamper resistant.

                      Also, if the stream is decrypted outside of the display device and goes through main memory then it could be grabbed there. This might not be the case. If it isn't, then we are back to specialized hardware again.

                      So once again we are back to either the system uses specialized hardware end-to-end or the system can be hacked in software without any factoring.

                      While we're on the subject, what upsets most /.ers about all this is that companies want to charge more while giving them less access to the product. I don't think that it is a "everything should be free-as-in-beer" mentality. I think it is more of a "I paid for this CD and I should be able to listen to it on my mp3 player". Perhaps I am wrong and /ers just want to rip off the media corporations. /ers don't want to rip off the artists, the media corps already do that well enough.

                      Sure, it's an arms race.

                      At a recent conference I spoke with the designer of a next-generation DRM system. Yes, it uses specialized hardware. I asked about fair use rights. He said that none are built into the system. I asked if the companies expected people to want to be able to make backups. He said that in a few years the system would be cracked and then a new one would be deployed. So you can see where this arms race leads. A constant stream of new formats simply to combat piracy. Who does that benefit? And this isn't a traditional USA v USSR type arms race where budgets matter. The hackers have the advantage in that their weapons, once invented, can be distributed without addtional cost.

                      I don't know what the best solution is but I can certainly see flaws with the current approach.

                    • But, again, in order to do that, you're going to have to be able to access the recipient's private key.



                      I am the recipient. I bought the DVD. I want to fast-forward over the FBI warning at the start of the film. I want to watch Region 1 DVDs in Region 2 (because they come out earlier and can be cheaper). What's wrong with that? This system is stupid, why can't I build a more user-friendly one?


                      What's stopping that pizza-faced teen from going home, firing up his DVD burning, and handing out copies of that feature film?



                      Existing copyright law. Why do we need new laws?

                    • I want to fast-forward over the FBI warning at the start of the film. I want to watch Region 1 DVDs in Region 2 (because they come out earlier and can be cheaper). What's wrong with that? This system is stupid, why can't I build a more user-friendly one?

                      I'll use your own words here: copyright law. You can't fast-forward over the FBI warning and you can't watch Region 1 DVDs in a Region 2 player because the owners of the discs say that you can't, and the law recognizes their absolute right to say so.

                      You can't have it both ways, you know. You can't say, on the one hand, "Existing laws are sufficient, we don't need DRM technology," and on the other hand, "I'm prevented from doing something that the copyright holder doesn't allow, and this frustrates me because it's stupid." It just doesn't add up. Either the law works-- i.e., you're not interested in doing things that are prohibited-- or it doesn't.

                      Damn it! I've been sucked into another politico-philosophical discussion!
                    • But I'm not making infringing copies by fast-forwarding something! What does this have to do with copyright law?

                      You criticised people earlier on for speaking about things which they knew nothing about. Please cite the law (statute or case, US or UK) under which fast-forwarding through the FBI warning is prohibited.
                    • I'll use your own words here: copyright law. You can't fast-forward over the FBI warning and you can't watch Region 1 DVDs in a Region 2 player because the owners of the discs say that you can't, and the law recognizes their absolute right to say so.

                      What part of copyright law determines how I consume media? This isn't an issue of law, this is an issue of a company dictating a policy that they want to enforce through technological means. Those means happen to be broken broken for two reasons:

                      1. Manufacturers see an advantage to releasing the "cheat codes" to remove region restrictions from their players. If the DVD playermakers aren't willing to player strictly by the rules the content providers are screwed. These makers see that consumers want a player that has the flexibility that matches the last generation of technology, in this case VCRs.

                      2. You can't hide a key in a software player. You can't hide a key in a software player. You can't hide a key in a software player. You can't hide a key in a software player. You can't hide a key in a software player. You can't hide a key in a software player. REALLY. This is true! You can't hide a key in a software player.

                      The DMCA is an attempt to bandaid solution, trying to pre-emptively patch bad tech. This doesn't give anybody what they want. Content providers get stuck with bad tech, researchers get threatened for trying to publish their results, and consumers have less flexibility than the technology has the potential to provide.

                    • REALLY. This is true! You can't hide a key in a software player.

                      That's funny. Every piece of software my company has ever released has included a secret decryption key in it for licensing purposes. We've subjected our system to tiger-team analysis on two occasions, and we've never been able to break it.

                      I think you're wrong, John. I think you're not thinking creatively, and therefore assuming that nobody else is either.
                    • You can obfuscate the key and the algorithm but the information is still there and someone clever enough will get it. Just because your team is unable to break it doesn't mean someone else can't. If you are depending on this sort of scheme then you are relying on security through obsurity and not on keeping the key truely secret.

                      It is possible that I am wrong. I have actually thought about this quite a bit though and I currently don't think that I am. There are all sorts of clever tricks and diversions you could use, but in the end the key is there, even if it is spread all over the place and never used all at once.

                      Here is a question for you: Could the person that invented/coded the key hiding method break the software without knowing the key beforehand? You hand them the executable and let them go at it with a debugger and a hex editor.

                    • What you're assuming is that your tiger teams are at least as smart and at least as persistent and at least as lucky as anyone who will every try to break your scheme.

                      I've broken such schemes on occasion (when they got in the way of my legitimate use), and it's generally not that difficult for someone with the right background and the right tools. The *most* you can do (without secure hardware) is make recovering your keys tedious and time-consuming.

                      Even with special hardware, good crypto and smart security designers, systems are *still* broken. Frequently.

                      If your software protection has never been broken it's only because no one has cared enough to break it. If your company would like to see how it can be broken, I recommend that they hire me ;-)

              • CSS is not a copy control system. CSS is an access control system.

                This is an entirely new area of copyright, the "right" to restrict how a work may be viewed. It has potentially disturbing implications, such as DVDs with EULAs that prohibit criticism. It's a serious attack on the free market, where competing but non-licensed products (e.g. LiViD) suddenly become criminal.
                • It's a serious attack on the free market, where competing but non-licensed products (e.g. LiViD) suddenly become criminal.

                  See, this is what I'm complaining about. Instead of being an interesting footnote on the technology page, suddenly it's an "attack on the free market." That's just hyperbole, and I think you know it. Are you really so desperate to be up-in-arms about something? This is tilting at windmills, plain and simple.

                  The free market is in no danger at all. If somebody offers a product for sale that customers don't like, that somebody goes out of business. Remember DiVX? It failed because people preferred DVDs. Sure, there were some people who got all "it's about freedom!" and such, but the vast majority of people who chose DVD over DiVX did so for their own personal reasons. Maybe price, maybe convenience, maybe they preferred the brand of the DVD player to the brand of the DiVX player. Point is, DiVX failed as a product not because some upper-middle-class white men from the left coast got all up-in-arms about it. It failed because the free market is much stronger than you give it credit for being.
                  • Yes, it's not in the same league as mass murder. Yes, I don't have very many specific examples which we will be able to agree are bad.

                    Yes, the free market is pretty self-adjusting. But the one thing it is not capable of adjusting against is regulatory involvement; there it can only offer a hidden black market of prohibited items.

                    There are two things that offend me about the content control efforts. One is that they interfere with things which are good and useful such as PVRs' ad-removing features and LiViD, and the other is that it points towards an effort to take control over all systems that are capable of distributing multimedia content. I feel that the music industry have parked their tanks on my lawn by demanding that I give up the ability to choose how to access information, what kind of programs I may write, and what I can share with my friends.

      • I'll start with what I personally know and point out your using the Argument from Authority. Just because you think "Intertrust and Sealed" are great guys doesn't mean I should. Make a case.

        A few weeks ago Piers Anthony had this to say in his monthly newsletter:

        "I wonder about those who express outrage about copy-protection devices; they are angry because it stops them from stealing? Since when did theft become the American Way?"

        I had a fairly lengthy email exchange with him explaining what most us of here (inside industry expert or not) know:

        1. Any form of DRM WILL be hacked. Count on it. I illustrated this with what happened to 80's game publishers. It's stupid on the face of it. Use encryption to let someone view but not copy information. Riiiiiighhhhht. Camera pointed at the screen anybody? Even a non hacker can figure that one out. If it can be viewed or heard it can be copied, PERIOD. If you believe "Intertrust and Sealed" can make content uncopyable I have some prime Florida real estate to sell you.

        2. It pisses off paying customers. I pointed out that the contents of my private MP3 server were generated from media I paid for. Effective copy protection would make legitimate use a PITA (again not impossible).

        3. It is an enabling technology for many potential abuses. A frequent bitch of Anthony is this author or that author being blacklisted by publishers. Super strict mandatory DRM would be a basis for a hellava blacklist. Basically DRM means one is no longer in complete charge of his own property.

        Anthony presents himself as a Liberal who is deeply concerned with justice. He believes that DRM will force people to pay rather than steal his works. Even someone like you who affects to know more about this than most people should know better. It won't get him paid (since a small amount of labor will unprotect any specific work...don't forget about that camera pointed at the screen....) but it probably will be used to forward causes he has railed against. Be that as it may, the possiblitity that it could get him paid was all he cared about. He was completely insensible to the possible abuses of DRM technololgy. Now this is not a slobbering fool like Jack Valenti (The VCR Boston Strangler comment alone qualifies him as a slobbering fool).
        This is a fairly enlightened fairly reasonable content owner. I think he'll be sorry later when it becomes apparant what DRM is really good for but he's all for it now. If someone like that is that badly miseducated then it doesn't bode well. It plausibly means most content creators think this is cool technology that will get them paid. He's a recent Linux convert too. Maybe he'll begin to understand when that Linux desktop of his is practically illegal and if not illegal then unable read anyone else's TCPA documents.

        The one thing DRM is actually useless for is protecting any particular piece of content. There is always a way around it. It IS useful for harrassing Open Source developers and independent media creators since it can serve to make the formats open to them unmarketable (or even illegal).

        Okay, so I well into that la-la land you're complaining about. I'm that la-la land for this reason: DRM is USELESS unless it is MANDATORY. Why do you think Valenti was bitching about the "analog hole"? Every possible means to make a copy must be strictly controlled or they've bought Congressmen for nothing. Okay, fine, I'm still a Slashdot slobbermouth as they don't have this control. But there are three facts that mean the sky is in fact falling like a ton of bricks.

        1. Fritzie boy pushes for his Fritz chip every chance he gets. These fuckers don't give up and the DMCA proves that Hollywood can ask for draconian shit like this and get it.

        2. Microsoft has 21 patents on "integrating DRM into an OS". That means if CBDTPA passes then Microsoft will be in the ironic position of having a government granted monopoly over any computer legally capable of decoding DRM media. They don't even have to charge much to use it..or even charge at all. They have these lovely weaselly anti-GPL licences. It is also beyond dispute that Microsoft will use any possible illegal unethical means to squash a competitor. They've been convicted in an actual court of law, quite beyond dispute. Microsoft WILL abuse these patents. It's practically in their DNA.

        3. Intel is falling all over themselves to put a Fritz on every motherboard.

        Now, I'm thourougly aware that Microsoft says they won't abuse Palladium. I've even read an interview with their chief Palladium developer where he says that sort of abuses I'm worried about are impossible and are not what they intend. Since you claim to have superior knowledge, why should I believe him?

        You say we're all Chicken Littles. Fine. Drop the world weariness and explain why we're wrong when Fritz, Valenti, and Rosen say we're right.

        Here's the fairly dry Palladium faq:
        http://216.239.51.100/search?q=cache:IWyJzbKW75MC: www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/tcpa-faq.html+Palladium+FA Q&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

        It seems plausible to me. You say no? Then why not? "I worked for them and they're good guys!" is not an answer. You're pooh-poohing what seems to be a drastic threat to general purpose computing. DRM isn't then? "This is just the sort of thing I'm complaining about!" isn't an answer either. I have highly credible reasons to believe my profession and my hobbies are under dire threat. Convince me that they aren't.

        While you're trying to answer that riddle me this as well. How is any form of DRM supposed to tell the difference between cracked content and say a home movie of my kid? If an error is made, who will the error be in favor of. It's not a dumb question. Fritzie has complained about "Analog Hole" too:

        http://wallyswisdomwarehouse.weblogs.com/stories /s toryReader$250

        The second problem is commonly referred to as the "Analog hole." As protected digital programming (usually delivered over satellite or cable, but also available on the Internet) is decrypted for viewing by consumers on legacy analog devices - most frequently on television sets - the programming is temporarily "in the clear." At this point, pirates have the opportunity to take advantage of an "Analog hole" by copying the content into a digital format (i.e. re-digitizing it) and then illegally copying and/or retransmitting the content. The technology to solve this problem either exists today, or will be available shortly. Regardless, the solution is technologically feasible. As with the "broadcast flag" the solution to the "Analog hole" will require a government mandate to ensure its ubiquitous adoption across consumer devices.

        This man is either stupid, obtuse, or just owned by Eisner. I tend toward the latter. The slightest error in a mandated "Analog Plug" could very well lock me out my own data. We aren't just bitching here. We have good reason to be scared.

  • If you turn off Your Rights Online then there isn't much to read.

    And every article talks about how the sky is falling because of the "alphabet soup" as you put it. I wonder how many people who add to the discussion of how our freedoms are being taken away, bother to A: vote and B: write to those in office?
    • I wonder how many people who add to the discussion of how our freedoms are being taken away, bother to A: vote and B: write to those in office?

      Or C: get any information at all about the thing that so upsets them from unbiased (or at least less biased) news sources than Slashdot, the EFF, or Richard Stallman. If you want to complain but not act, that's your prerogative and I'll respect it. But if you want to complain but not get informed, you try my patience.
  • by Em Emalb (452530)
    I read pretty much two things on /., the humor stories and the journals.

    The journals are the only reason I am still here.

    Excellent points, preaching to the choir in my case :)
    • Just delving into journals for the first time this week. Got any suggestions on whose to visit?
      • take a look at the friends/fans page for a specific person and go from there. After you check a few interesting posts out, check that person's journal (assuming they have one) and see where it leads.
  • In fact instead of "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters" it could be "Stuff that Taco wants to see." On occasion Taco will say that openly, though he seems to participate less than he did in the past.

    Articles are rarely posted that contain a contrarian view in the article itself. This article [slashdot.org] seems to be an exception. The ratio in comments is a little better.

    However I think that your complaint is more that the participants are generally ignorant. While I think that people sometimes posters feel that anyone that disagree with them is ignorant, I think that you are more a victim of this than a perpetrator. Many people post ignorant comments here, I certainly have been guilty of that. Can you be more specific about how you feel that people here are ignorant of say, DRM technologies?

    • However I think that your complaint is more that the participants are generally ignorant.

      While I agree that that's true-- the loudest voices are also the least informed, it seems-- that's not really my chief complaint. I'm sick of seeing tenuous links to political topics in the articles themselves.

      Can you be more specific about how you feel that people here are ignorant of say, DRM technologies?

      In the interest of not repeating myself, and 'cause I'm tired and I wanna go home, I'm going to respectfully refer you to this post [slashdot.org]. I think it explains my position on DRM specifically pretty well.
    • "In fact instead of "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters" it could be "Stuff that Taco wants to see." On occasion Taco will say that openly, though he seems to participate less than he did in the past."

      Big Brother is making the move into the shadows, and it's all his world... I just wonder who the Emmanuel Goldstein of /. will be? It has to be someone who puts crap on the front, not one of us readers -- many of us are proles, the rest are the party, including the radical and heretical elements.
  • I used to like slashdot political discussions because they contained points of view that I wasn't aware of. But now people's opinions are homogenizing (a lot Libretarian groupthink at work) so its a lot of preaching to choir now.

    But I've recognized what you are saying a while ago and changed my .sig accordingly.

    Lately, I've been trying to get my political insight from the philosopher's themselves. I'm amazed at how many intellectual works are available on the world wide web, for free distribution.

    If you find a better forum, let me know.
    • If you find a better forum, let me know.

      And likewise, I hope. I like your characterization: "libertarian groupthink" is a great description of what's happening here.
  • I'm calling this white noise because it's not going to be worth much once it's read, and may only count as a bit of white noise. Several things I want to say.

    1. That first thread up there, the bigass post by dmaxwell - I agree with that. And I'd like to see his points debated in open forums such as this one.

    2. Thank God moderators rarely moderate journals. This one's so politically charged it'd turn into a pointfest.

    3. Now I realize that nope, I didn't mistake you for someone else in my journal [slashdot.org]. I can understand if you just don't want to debate the whole topic, but at the same time, I'm disappointed. Oh well. Would have been interesting.

    4. It's one thing to be tired of discussing a topic. It's a completely different thing to hold a point of view in spite of the proof that said point of view is wrong. That's called 'hidebound' or 'traditional', to put a nicer face on obstinacy. I encourage you not to take this path - no good ever came from refusing to even consider an opposing view to one's opinions, to my knowledge. I will grant that RL is more important; deal with that stuff first. But don't let the topic drop by the wayside. It doesn't put a good face on you, and you may actually have something to contribute that the rest of us could learn from. That's why I'm one of your fans, after all - in the hope that you'll teach me something new.

    5. Finally, another apt reason for the title of this post - Slashdot, by its very nature, is full of white noise, defined as things that appeal to other people and not ourselves. A majority of Slashdot has been educated to dislike DRM and filled up on facts that are incorrect on the matter, by your statements. Competing statements are sometimes pushed down because of idiot moderators, whom I metamod voraciously. I want to make the following point: I am not one of those moderators. Make an informative, intelligent statement about DRM, in any public forum I see, I will mod you up. I see you at 4 points higher than your normal posting level because you're both a friend and a fan, and I guarantee I'll see your post. It's not much, but maybe that will help. Guess what, you get to be other people's white noise! ;)

    In any case, good luck with getting over the general malaise with Slashdot. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
  • I too have been posting to Slashdot for years, and you are absolutely right that resoned debate is pretty much no longer possible here.

    Any opposition to "the party line" is modded down into obscurity regardless of its merits as an expression of clear and logical thinking. This is not terribly surprising, though: It's not at all coincidental that this has happened at the same time as a leftward lurch of the Slashdot population in general. The brilliant and insightful Ann Coulter recently put it this way:

    Liberals are like the monkeys in Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" who explain: "We all say so, and so it must be true." Republicans are responsible for Clinton's pal Martha Stewart because liberals say so. Again, I note: If hysterical partisan insinuation constitutes proof, then we need to reopen the Vince Foster files.


    Liberals have no real arguments - none that the American people would find palatable, anyway. So in lieu of actual argument, they accuse conservatives of every vice that pops into their heads, including their own mind-boggling elitism.

    [She goes on a bit later...]

    But this is standard political debate for the left. It is simply not possible to disagree with liberals about constitutional interpretation, guns, abortion, immigration, racial quotas - or really, anything. Serious political dialogue becomes the exception when political discourse is littered with ad hominem land mines.

    By contrast, when Republicans directly quote their opponents, all hell breaks loose. A Republican actually quoting a Democrat verbatim constitutes a McCarthyite witch hunt.

    Thus, for example, in 1988, George Bush (41) pulled the old quote-your-opponent trick on Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. During the primaries, Dukakis had said: "I am a strong liberal Democrat. I am a card-carrying member of ACLU." Those were Dukakis' precise words. Bush quoted him during one of the debates.

    Ten years later, liberals were still fuming about Bush's dirty rat trick of quoting Dukakis. On July 4, 1999, CNN reporter Bruce Morton cited Bush's low blow, saying it was an "echo of the late Joseph McCarthy's card-carrying member of the Communist Party, but it seemed to help Bush." They'll stoop to anything to win, those Republicans, even quote their opponents.

    Ann Coulter, column entitled "More Slander", July 10,2002 [wnd.com]

    A simple string substitution to change "Liberals" to "GPL/DRM/anti-patent/anti-copyright bigots" shows that it's still just as true. The institutionalized intolerance and the "politically correct" double standard so prevalent now in schools seems to be spilling over into both Slashdot and society at large.

    Unfortunately, these people refuse to acknowledge reason and the validity of logical thinking. They are instead driven by their selfish desires and the sure and certain belief that their cause cannot be wrong, regardless of that ugly concept called objective truth.

    I recently had quite a flame war on the Austin LUG list with Linuxworld columnist Joe Barr, who made an absolute ass of himself for the second time this summer by a completely irrational adherence to the FSF party line. In both cases, the GPL faction quickly resorted to obscenities and name-calling, and refused to engage in substantive dialog.

    I've come to the conclusion that GPL adherence is quite similar to cultic brainwashing - those that have been "converted" lose the ability to think and reason objectively. There is more than a little evidence to support such a statement.

    (To head off flames from the GPL bigots, I suggest you read Bezroukov [softpanorama.org] , Watson [slacker.com], and Glass [userland.com] to get an idea why the GPL is a bad thing.)
    • Thanks very much for posting such a complete comment. You've given me a lot to read, so I'll respond in greater depth later. For now, I just wanted to say "Thanks."

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.

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