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Analysis: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act 285

Note: This is part one of a two-part series.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed by Congress and signed into law more than a year ago, but its true impact is only beginning to be felt. Corporatism squared off brazenly against the geeks, and handily won Round One. If you're wondering where your Napster really went, read more below.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is an especially devious title for one of the most significant pieces of Internet legislation yet passed. If you're looking for insight into how corporatism and politics work together to control software and technology -- and to potentially stifle free speech and individual choice -- you can't do better. Nor will you find a more textbook-perfect example of dubious, perhaps even unconstitutional, Internet law.

This is how the struggle over who owns ideas, software and intellectual property on the Internet will be waged; Round One in the battle that is pitting corporatism against the geeks. They won.

The DMCA -- largely the fruit of massive lobbying by the entertainment industry, including companies like Time Warner, Disney and other giants of recording and movie industry -- was passed quietly 16 months ago by a normally acrimonious Congress, and immediately signed by the President. Despite the law's profound and far-reaching implications, Clinton's signing of the measure drew little media attention, online or off, and only in the last few months has its impact begun to be felt.

Central to the law is a clause making it illegal to thwart copyright protection methods through the use of software or hardware. Without that power, argued the lobbyists for record labels, traditional publishers and film studios, their industries would be run out of business by the newly empowered Net generation. This is a generation, mostly young, who've discovered that they could create their own culture on the Net, and get the music they wanted rather than pick only from the choices preselected for them by the music industry. And for free, no less. Thousands of artists who wouldn't have gotten through the record industry's artist-selection machine suddenly had channels to distribute their work and find new audiences. Music software is a powerful example of how the Net gave individuals -- especially ones far removed from corporate models of culture and creativity -- a chance to be seen and heard. And it gave music lovers a chance to hear them as well.

And although the law passed more than a year ago (despite opposition to DMCA by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other online free-speech activists, the Act's proponents and their lawyers took their time strategizing about exactly how to enforce and implement it.

This year, the gloves came off -- and suddenly people at colleges all over the country are wondering what happened to their Napster sites. Despite what many schools are telling their students -- often that downloading music simply takes up too much bandwidth -- the real reason for their actions is the DCMA.

Pointedly high-profile lawsuits have been filed recently, as the entertainment industry takes the lead in the war against free culture and the spread of forums for artists to disseminate their work -- at least artists the industry doesn't control. The industry has obviously done its homework, studying how software really works and how information moves, and is using the Digital Millennial Copyright Act as its primary weapon against infringement by people using the Net and the Web.

As a result, with little political opposition or discussion, the DMCA is already beginning to redefine entertainment on the Net, and regain control of popular culture, as corporatists move against free music and movie users. As someone who's been writing about First Amendment issues for years, it's hard to imagine a piece of legislation with greater implications for free speech as well as corporate control of intellectual content. This legislation seems to have anti-trust implications as well: how could any law more actively discourage creativity and competition?

If there is a silver lining in the use of the DMCA to dominate entertainment, it's that day by day, the political issues become clearer. Even though many open source advocates see themselves as technologically centered, rather than politically, the DMCA pits the free software movement, squarely against the commercialist threat to the free nature of the Internet. The corporatists grasp what many young programmers don't: Open source is a powerful political idea, and it's antithetical to the way many modern corporations have always worked.

"The anti-circumvention clauses fundamentally change the balance of copyright," Alex Fowlier of the EFF told USA Today's Bruce Haring earlier this week. "Now we're not just talking about rights to the work, but about tying it to the system it is displayed on, or plays on, or is distributed by. That's one level deeper into control than copyright has been associated with." Tying the distribution, display or performance of a work to a system "affects the users in ways we can't even imagine," says Fowler. "It really hampers the future growth of the Internet." It doesn't do much for the present either.

One reason free music sources proliferated so rapidly was that they often piggy-backed on educational and other sites where music seekers congregated. College students could download music on their schools' sites, in part because the schools believed they were simply neutral, non-liable carriers of content. Since there was no Internet law governing content on Web sites, nobody knew if that was true or not. But it certainly isn't true anymore.

The music industry and its lawyers understood that colleges and universities are powerful channels for commercial music, places where artists, bands and even musical genres are discovered and become popular. They realized they didn't have to shut down every free music site on the Net -- those on instant messaging services like ICQ or AIM, for example -- in order to sharply curb the spread of free music. They could use the DMCA as a way to focus on a smaller number of sites, and on universities and colleges. For an industry that garnered $15 billion in revenues last year, the cost of that focused effort is chump change.

Rather than targeting music distributors or downloaders, they lobbied successfully to get a law passed that made it illegal to thwart copyright protection methods in software and hardware. Music industry lawyers then began notifying colleges and universities that they might be in violation of federal copyright protection laws if they tolerated the existence of Napster and other means of music dissemination. Free music users, accustomed for years to downloading what they wanted, were caught unawares.

The DMCA went a step further, in a legally ingenious way. The law decrees that Internet service providers won't be liable for copyright infringement by their users if the providers remove offending material once they're made aware of it. It's that provision that gains entertainment companies so many powerful new allies in their war against "pirates" -- recruiting, in effect, all the institutions and sites that allow content redistribution, and turning them into culture cops. If they block free music, they're off the hook legally. If they don't, they're liable.

Some colleges seem to think they have a far greater stake in avoiding lawsuits than they do in confronting the real issues involved -- like promoting free expression and diversity in culture. And college students are selective in political issues. There is, for example, a broad-based anti-sweatshop movement on many U.S. campuses, but no equivalently passionate and nationally-organized movement to keep culture free.

(Personal note: As an author who writes online and on paper, I am well aware of the complexity of intellectual content and copyright issues. Writing online, especially for this Web site, means relinquishing reprint, royalty and subsidiary rights that used to provide revenue to writers and artists. The work of me and other writers here and elsewhere on the Web is widely distributed, linked and even printed in paper form without permission or payment. But I've also come to believe that the free (open source, if you like) distribution of content -- even opinions -- offers creators new opportunities: broader audiences, greater impact, road-tested ideas, thus eventually, perhaps even more income.)

While the sweatshop issue (students accuse colleges as well as fashion retailers of buying merchandise produced by sweatshop labor) is perfectly valid, one could argue that the effort by corporatism to attack information software and control entertainment is ultimately of equal importance.

Before the DMCA, for example, a university -- or even a commercial Web site -- could look the other way as people presented, distributed and downloaded music. The legal issue was left between the record company and the so-called "pirates." But in recent months the DMCA has sparked legal actions like these:

  • Jon Johansen, a 16-year-old Norwegian student who allegedly wrote software allowing DVDs to be played on Linux-based computers, was arrested at the behest of the Motion Picture Association of America. The MPAA claimed the code illegally circumvented DVD copy protection, and sent cease-and-desist orders to hundreds, perhaps thousands of Web sites, including this one, that had allegedly posted the source code or linked to it. The MPAA filed lawsuits against several sites, as well as charges against Johansen and other software developers, and announced it would pursue other offenders.

  • RealNetworks obtained an injunction against a portion of software created by Streambox, designed to allow users to capture or record streaming media sent via Real's copy-protected format.

  • The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed suit against Napster, which allows music seekers to trade song files directly from machine to machine without having to post them on the Net. Following the suit, Napster was removed from scores of college and other Web sites.

Tomorrow: The political issue is as simple as it is significant. Do individuals have the right to define their own cultural and entertainment experiences? Or must they depend on content and products sold by a handful of corporations?

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Analysis: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

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  • Satellite BROADCASTERS (key word here) are sending you and me their signal right now.

    Did they send you the DECRYPTION KEYS (key words here), or did you misappropriate them? Satellite vendors are doing the physical equivalent of mailing out locked boxes to everyone under their satellite. Millions of locked boxes all locked with the same key (in the old days) to millions of people. Of course, I do not have the key to open the box, but is it illegal to break the lock on something sent directly to me without my asking? Is it illegal for me to show others how I broke the lock so they can break their lock too and look inside the box? If you don't want me looking at your stuff, keep it away from me. Don't send it to me, locked up in a box and pass laws that require me to ignore what your're flooding me with. Otherwise accept the risk that your mass mailed locked package will be opened by people not paying you for a key, *and* that it is legal for them to do so.

  • People should have a right to privacy. However, they give up that right in situations where they broadcast their conversations in a way that anyone can listen in. If they want a private conversation, they should use a landline phone or an encrypted cellular/digital phone. If you broadcast in the clear, expect to be heard.
  • Why not just throw the brick at your assailant?
  • This is a generation, mostly young, who've discovered that they could create their own culture on the Net, and get the music they wanted rather than pick only from the choices preselected for them by the music industry.

    This snippet from Katz's article lays it out clearly. People can create their own culture. So, that means there should be microphones all over the place right? And musicians are cropping up all over the world and their original content is what's occupying all that bandwidth, right?

    Therefore, those few scofflaws who are using the new technology merely to copy the work of others, rather than creating their own, should be cast out of 'the community,' because really we're all supposed to roll our own.

    What percentage of Napster bandwidth is being used for this purpose? Surely the majority of the bandwidth isn't just being used to shuttle previously released work all over the net...

    How many of you own a high quality microphone? You're the only ones qualified to originate MP3's. (well, okay, you can use a MIDI keyboard or guitar and amp instead)

    Everybody else can make personal copies of their CD's under "Fair Use" but you are in violation of copyright law (and stealing from the artists you supposedly admire) if you distribute the MP3 files to your friends. And further, it would be immoral to tie up all the bandwidth that's supposed to be used for exciting new orignal work.

    I'm glad Katz made it clear in the statement quoted above where the line should be drawn. I wonder if he even has a clue what he said, however.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    1. Are you sure of that? How familiar with the DMCA are you? It basically gives companies the right to sell us medium with data on it without our having access to it by our own means. If we find some DeCSS-like way of getting at the data, we will be commiting a crime.

    Does this mean if someone publishes a book with the letters in reversed order and provides a set of lens and mirrors (or whatever) to make it normally readable that it then is illegal under DMCA to learn reading backwards?? How ridiculous!
    Perhaps this example could be used in court ...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    As an employee of the IT units of a major university, I have a much more likely explanation as to why universities are shutting down Napster. It's the cost, stupid.

    We pay by the gigabyte for our traffic, and Napster was costing us tens of thousands of dollars - and that was just since last August. So, we slapped on Quality of Service (QoS) controls on the router for the student network and bam, that was the end of the Napster problem. People can still use it, provided their combined usage doesn't exceed 50 Kb/s. And in case they try changing the default ports, we rate-limited the connections to the control servers to 1 Kb/s. Now, if we could just figure out the iMesh protocol....

    DMCA, copyright issues - that's one hell of a mess we don't want to get involved in. We know there were people running warez ftp sites and trading MP3's long before Napster was born, but we decided early on we weren't going to go on MP3/warez search and destroy missions and would only act if a) someone actually complained or b) the illegal traffic (and yes, it is illegal, Jon) started affecting other people's network connectivity. We never received anything from the MPAA, RIAA, SPA or any other music/software industry hit squad. For us, it was all about cost and ensuring the campus network was usable for people doing real work and real research.

    Now, that's one school's response to the Napster problem. Others schools have responded in different ways and may have responded because of threatening letters from the MPAA's legal goons. However, I'm willing to bet that for most universities shutting down Napster, the reason is the cost. So, you come off looking pretty stupid when you start spinning conspiracy theories about the DMCA, Napster and universities. Go back to Wired, Jon - you've got no credibility in the real tech community.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, here's one thing we could do. Drop out of society, form our own. I admit, this is a little far-fetched right now, but it's something to work towards.

    As someone else previously pointed out, there's an old William Gibson story that mentions offshore data havens on old oil rigs. Further, there's a group ("Nutopia", I think - check a search engine for more info) building their own island. And, of course, at least one corporation is now selling inflatable islands.

    So what's my point? If you get more than 7 miles (or 200, depending on whose interpretation of international law you read) offshore, you are not in any jurisdiction. With a satellite feed, solar power, etc. you could have a self-sufficient geek colony. The DMCA is a US act - it's not internationally enforceable AFAIK.

    You could create your own country, and then the whole software license thing is kinda moot.

    Of course, you'd have to keep watch for pirates or invaders...

    Just think about it - geek colonies dot the planet, using hydroponic and solar technology for food and power, accepting programming contracts via the internet to bring hard currency into the "geek commune"...

    Come to think of it, wasn't there a thread a couple of days back about rich geeks wanting to put money back into OpenSource? Certainly, forming our own country is a way to help O/S...

  • People should have a right to privacy.

    But cellular never promised this! The lying cellular radio companies implied it by calling their product a "phone", when in actuality it was cellular switched CB radio with 666 channls (really! Later 832 then 2412 channels), only the celluar compamy controlled the channel use and switching. WHEN DID ANY PROMISE OF PRIVACY OCCUR? I MUST HAVE MISSED IT. It's cellular radio, RADIO, as in broadcast. When you talk on a radio, you must be careful of what you say, not go lobby congress to make other people using their ears illegal.

  • If the record companies don't offer you the business model you want, does that give you the right to break the law?

    I sympathise - I'm into techno as well and have found dozens of artists through MP3s - but that doesn't give me the right to do what I do. I do it knowing that it's against the law. And I go out and ACTUALLY BUY the CD if I like the artist to sort of make amends (yes, even if it's a $40 import).

    The "it's too expensive, but I'll steal it anyway" argument is inconsisent: you're hurting not just the record companies, but the artists who make this music too. Yes their portion of revenue is comparatively small, but that is irrelevant - they still deserve that portion.

    To me, this is just impatience with entrepreneurs to find a workable (legal) and innovative solution to this problem.

    It *will* happen. That's what the corporations are afraid of - their power will be eroded by entrepreneurs because they're too big to move quickly & innovate. They WILL be held hostage to the small frys who figure out how to properly use electronic music distribution while making money.

    Intellectual property law is not destroyed by the internet - to believe so is to be dangerously naive. The current implementation of IP law *may* be unsuited to this new technology, but throwing out the whole notion of intangible property will be dangerous in a world of scarce skill & talent.

  • Baron Thompsonov you naive little man.

    How do you figure the DCMA is not a conspiracy? The MPAA, RIAA, software companies, ASP's, ISV's, VAR's, and a host of other TLA's want nothing more than to turn us into a herd of corn-fed consumers who happily suck down anything they put before us, then do it again in six months to three years. The MPAA and especially RIAA are more than willing to bitch slap their own golden geese to keep their eggs flowing. Restricting us to a narrow list of things we can do with "their" property is exactly what they want, and whether or not there was direct communication between them (I believe there was), they have conspired to strip us bare, all the while telling us we like it.

    As for Napster being a bandwidth hog, many of us will only accept first-hand accounts from real university admins who have lived through this, not second/third/fourth hand recollections, half-truths, and rumors! I am willing to acknowledge that it is a big bandwidth hog, but then again so is your netgame of Quake, or listening to an internet radio station, making a voice-over-IP call, or browsing a graphic-heavy webpage.

    Banning is not the answer. It is an arms race which can only end in tears, mutual distruction. Banning is a cheap-shot, cop-out, circle-jerk answer. The only real answer is bandwidth limiting and restrictions, not outright denial. But they won't do that. Another conspiracy?

  • Several folks have posted about MP3s being important or justified because they provide an alternative to the ridiculous mark-ups that record companies add to CDs.

    Others have responded, citing high production costs encountered by DIY bands as evidence that CDs are actually expensive to produce.

    Well here's a real-world example [southern.com] of a small label pressing and selling CDs at well below the prices that major labels are charging, and they've been doing it for more than ten years. (Note also that their price of US$10 for a CD includes shipping and handling!)


    Why do the major labels, pressing discs at thousands of times the volume of a small label like Dischord [southern.com], charge so much more?

    The DMCA wouldn't have anything to do with their desire to preserve these huge margins, would it?

  • But it will never change policy in your favor, and would more than likely get you branded as a kook with nothing of importance to say.

    That's exactly what the system wants you to think, that radical forms of protest don't work. That's ridiculous. Some people may think you're a kook (although they're not usually open-minded to begin with) but even they know *why* you did it. And next time, before you make an assertion like that, be sure you've done your homework. The recent occupations at UW-Madison, UMich-Ann Arbor, and UPenn were successful in forcing their universities to drop out of the corporate sham that is the Fair Labor Association and provisionally join the Workers Rights Committee. And what about the 10,000 person occupation in Ecuador? That succeeded in forcing the president to step down.

    Hell, this is just what I can remember off the top of my head from the last few months.

    No, these aren't 100% wins, but they're steps in directions that wouldn't even occur if these sit-ins never taken place. Don't be so quick to dismiss such an incredibly effective form of protest.

    Michael Chisari

  • Come to think of it, wasn't there a thread a couple of days back about rich geeks wanting to put money back into OpenSource? Certainly, forming our own country is a way to help O/S...

    As far as funding open source programmers goes, I don't think creating a whole *country* on an island is necessary (if it is, why not just revolt against our government? it's worked in chiapas, mexico [ezln.org] so far), instead why not solicit donations from rich geeks with the intent of starting housing cooperatives? Take a small, old house, pack it full of geeks who are willing to live on a budget, along with all the computer equipment and internet access necessary to create really cool stuff, and see what happens.

    If costs are shared properly, and donations are sizable enough, it could alleviate the necessity for a fulltime job. And as any geek knows, it's a lot easier to write free software when you're working 25 hours a week as opposed to 50-60 hours.


    Michael Chisari
  • Very simple.....

    I was getting annoyed at his posts and then suddenly remembered the options in my users wassname..........

    So I told people what they could do and then did it myself.

    This reply has come about because I just had a look at tmy user information to see how things are set-up and noticed I'd been moderated as flamebait for an article that was actually written to be informative

    Hohum

    Troc
  • I'd just like to clarify that this post was not meant as flamebait (and dosn't read as such to me) It was an honest attempt to explain to people how to stop getting articles they aren't interested in.

    I'm not sure why I bother sometimes ;)

    Troc
  • For the love of God, don't mention Napster in the same sentence as DeCSS, otherwise we'll never be watching DVDs in Linux. Napster is intended for theft, I don't care what retarded excuses people come up with.

    Mankind has always dreamed of destroying the sun.

  • (Note: I am not a lawyer, and any claims I make here here are solely based on my personal interpretation of the DCMA. Please contact a real lawyer if you believe that the DCMA directly affects you. Thanks)

    Mr. Katz makes a significant claim that colleges and universities around the country are banning Napster on their campuses because of rampant copyright violations involving the software. Nothing could be further from the truth. Napster is being banned because is uses exceessive amounts of common bandwidth. Schools which have banned Napster have reported usages from 40% to as high as 90% of all commodity internet traffic is Napster based traffic. This is why institutions across the country are banning the use of napster on their networks, not copyright concerns.

    Mr. Katz claims that copyright infringement is main reason that Napster has been banned. Yet there has not been a single verifiable case of an institution being sued or threatened with a suit by copyright holders under the DCMA. The content providers I've discussed this with have assured me that the reason that they are banning Napster is the bandwidth issue, and has little to nothing to do with copyright conerns. In fact, the DCMA specifically forbids blanket suits against access providers such as ISPs and universities. If a copyright holder becomes aware of any number of copyright violations, they must contact the access provider with specific locations of the infringing materials and give the provider adequate time to remove the infringing materials. This provision was instituted to prevent copyright holders from forcing access providers to be their policeman, constantly monitoring their networks for infringing material. The DCMA puts all the onus on the copyright holder, not the access provider.

    The RIAA and other copyright holders are currently engaged in a suit again the producers of Napster under the accusation that the program was expressly designed to violate copyright. The suit is largely spurious and will probably be dismissed in court. (It is not a crime to own a tool that could theoretically be used to break the law but also has legal uses. Only the use or intent to use the tool illegally is a crime)

    Mr. Katz's implication that Universities, Colleges and ISPs are banning the use of Napster because of copyright concerns is patently false and every currently available piece of evidence supports this. If he can come up with evidence that show this is not the case, I would appreciate his presenting it, as it would important in case of a possible suit against copyright holders for violation of the policing provision of the DCMA.
  • FWIW: I agree. Not all Jon Katz's posts are worth while but this one is, I would say. Anyway, whining about his articles never makes sense.
  • I think you've missed Mr. Katz's point: actually publishing online and allowing citations and links really does mean relinquishing income from reprint, royalty and subsidiary rights. You're not limiting the viewer to just viewing your work: you're encouraging them to use it as part of a wider discussion, not all of which you own.

    Allowing citations and links are important in order to get widespread public discussion, but destructive of one's hopes to republish your "collected works" later for additional income.

    If you want to make money and have your work available on the net, grant only limited rights to the networked entity. O'Reilly did this with the Samba [oreilly.com] book, and therefor preserved my income from the dead-tree edition.

    --dave

  • by prok ( 8502 )
    many universities state very clearly that they will periodically monitor traffic on their networks. By using the network, it is assumed that you are aware of this.
  • In this regard, it's perhaps worth pointing out that some of the greatest works of classical music would be considered "stolen" by today's definition of intellectual property, borrowing themes, ideas, and whole passages from previous works. The same is true of many great works of literature.

    Ha! Look at Walt Disney who made most of it's wealth on ripping-off old fairy tales (Cinderella... Snow White... Mulan).

    Or listen to the (excellent) cartoon music penned by Carl Stalling (Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodies); an encyclopedic well-timed patchwork of old European classical music.

    Now, just TRY to fairly use either of those abovementionned products, and see the robed hordes divebomb you with subpoenas...


    --

  • Horse pucky.

    ..., if such means are necessary to achieve such interoperability, to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title.
    ...
    (4) For purposes of this subsection, the term `interoperability' means the ability of computer programs to exchange information, and of such programs mutually to use the information which has been exchanged.
    ...

    The explict clause allowing reverse engineering 'for compatability' holds no teeth.

    DeCSS is reverse engineering 'for compatibility'. At least according to one Judge if the enforcement mechanism is there to prevent you from creating your own competing product then you can't reverse engineer the product.

    Fair Use *is* clear. A law is vague until interpreted by the courts. The purpose of DMCA is to nullify Fair Use.

    Thanks for playing. Now go FUD someplace else.
  • I have no doubt that most bands end up losing $$ burning semi-pro/pro quality CDs but let's atleast break down the cost so you're $10 doesn't look absurd:

    Min purchase stamped CD's 1000 @ $2 per
    Est. Min printing of cover art [w/Band Member doing artwork gratis] $2 per
    Est. Studio time $2000
    Est. Production $1000

    I est about $7 per disk, ($7000 investment).
    Now you have to sell 700 disks to break even.
    Do you even have 700 hard-core fans? You're whole distribution channel is the venues you play.

    What do you save with MP3's ?
    Well first you don't have to do a whole album just a few of your best songs so:
    Min: 0
    Art: Gratis
    Est. Studio time $400 per song
    Est. Production $200 per song
    Now you've got $600 invested and you have a distribution channel that relies on word of mouth and people with 'net access.

    Now why would RIAA fear losing control of the Artists?
    Why would DVD-CCA fear losing DVD Player 'market'?
    Why is DMCA a very bad thing?
  • for the First, Last and Only Time, a JJJon Katz Double headerrrrr -- let'ss get rrrready to rrrrummbleeee!

    In this corner, wearing the blue shorts with a green stripe, from Freedom, USA, Jon 'Wordy' Katz!!!!

    In the other corner, wearing red and white shorts, with the blue band, from Order, D.C... the one and only Wealthy 'Administrator' Powers!

  • Is the big old mean DMCA limiting the distributing of MP3's by poor starving independent musicans that are looking to use the Internet to gain popularity? Or are devious computer users using MP3's to swap millions of copies of pirated music, deprivating poor starving artists (and agents and studio executives) from their cut of the profits?

    Is the big old mean MPAA preventing DeCSS from being distributed to keep Linux users from being able to play DVDs on their computers, or are the evil 3L1T3 Linux Hackers trying to pirate DVDs, deprivating poor starving producers (and studio executives) from their cut of the profits?

    It's all about framing the issue, folks.

    Funny how the entertainment industry is hiding behind copyright laws as much as entertainment lovers are hiding behind the First Admendment. Seems to me neither side is knowledging the rights of the other, and, unfortunately, in the end, I bet the industry wins.

    Dr. Johnson and Mr. Ambrose both had it wrong. "Free Speech" *and* "Copyright Law" are the first resort of scoundrels.


    George Lee

  • Well said.

    Bowie J. Poag
    Project Founder, PROPAGANDA For Linux (http://propaganda.themes.org [themes.org])
  • Record companies don't offer me the business model I want. Namely, downloadable cd's that cost under 5 dollars. This can be done. Actually, it can be done when the record companies, i.e. the middlemen, are out of the picture. While marketing is needed for sales today, I'd like to see an environment where the average citizen is a lot more proactive about what they listen to.

    I think that's only half true. Remove the record company middleman, but insert an internet middleman like MP3.com instead. (Okay, perhaps you won't bother with these services, but I believe a majority of consumers want a service that categorizes the music, profiles their tastes and interests, and "personalizes" the shopping experience.) MP3.com will make some money on those customer profiles and targeted online advertising, but more importantly they will profit by becoming the de facto channel for new artists to distribute digital music.

    And then, like Amazon did with their "1-click shopping" and "affiliates" patent filings, MP3.com will have to defend their digital turf with whatever legal tools they have. Remember how cool Amazon used to be? Now they're the establishment. Funny how that works, huh?

  • It's what Bill Murray would say...

    <pedantic>You've mispelled "Dan Akroyd".</pedantic>

    HTH! HAND.
    Kind Regards,

  • As a guy involved in the DVD issue, I've found out the hard way that the DMCA is of direct relavance to me and everyone else who is interested in opensource / reverse engineering/ free speech.

    The more interesting parts (for me, at least) of the DMCA are those dealing with the legality of access control measures. This part of the DMCA basically makes it illegal to distribute any software or hardware device which overides some access control measure designed to protect copyrighted works. This type of law does nothing to prevent piracy, bits can be copyed just as easily. What it does do is limit poeple's ability to use *legal* copyrighted works in any way they choose (such as in OS Linux players).

    Katz kind of dropped in the DeCSS example at the end with out explaining the legal foundation for it. The DMCA is so broad, however, that it would be difficult to cover it all.

    -John
    I eat dog. Free DVDs [opendvd.org]. Horray!
  • While I do agree that naptster was banned form universities becuase it hugs bandwidth, the fact is that the DMCA is a way for an organized and well funded group to get what they want from consumers (See CSS and the way it keeps UK DVD Drives pricey).

    The creation of and subsequent prosecution of the poeple involved with DeCSS has *nothing* todo with copy protection. It has to do with control. Control over distribution, creation, and use of various media. It may not be a conspiracy. I mean we all know what the MPAA really wants ($$) but it leads to the limitation of our music, video, and written choices.

    -John
    I eat dog. Free DVDs [opendvd.org]. Horray!
  • I believe they are truly evil. They're giving capitalism a bad name, and I hate that.

    No, you're idealising capitalism. They have no need to care about my needs whatsoever. They simply care about my purchasing practices. Capitalism is about numbers and money - nothing else. They are not giving capitalism a bad name by being unscrupulous... That's part of the game.

    But what has to be admitted is that to a large degree and for a long time, it has *worked*. I would contend that the biggest reason all those artists can only distribute via MP3 (ie: they can't get a contract) is that they're music SUCKS.

    I guess it depends on your understanding of what "works". I regard the music that most RIAA affiiated labels put out as manufactured crap, so no, it doesn't work for me.

    Labels are not there to provide you with listening pleasure. They are there to manufacture music and "artists" which will suit your demographic, influence your purchasing choices and make sure you do business with them. They don't do that by producing "good music", they do it by producing "listenable and marketable" (what I would call) tripe.

    Not everyone can get a contract nor needs one. Labels will only fund so much, and only if it's in their monetary interest. By getting out on your own and making some noise, you can get yourself some fans, and some leverage for a record deal. This is the ideal situation, where labels are used primarily for their distribution power.

    Check out an Australia band called The Whitlams, who stayed very independent for a long time, built up a loyal fan base, and then went label shopping. It's an interesting story because they couldn't be bought out by the labels... THEY had the power in their dealings, and the labels were afraid of that. Most cases, labels simly use artists, in this case, it was the artists using the label.

    If you're happy with the target marketed crap you're being dished out, by all means believe what you do. If you want artists to be able to get out from under the suffocating lump that record labels have put on the industry, support OTHER MEANS OF HEARING THESE ARTISTS AND LETTING THEM BE HEARD.
  • > Those frequencies are reserved for Cellular phone calls, and the law is there to protect
    > people's privacy.

    Nope, the law actually undermines your privacy. It's a stupid and unenforceable law (you can't detect whether or not someone is listening), and, of course, it does not apply to government and police agencies.

    The worst effect is that cell phone companies say to their users "see, it's illegal for someone to listen to your conversations, so you now have privacy!" Of course, all it really does is give free reign to monitoring by the government and by anyone else with suitable motivation.

    It provides a disincentive for the cell phone companies to actually use good encryption, not that they would want to do so anyway.

    > You can't just tell everyone with a Cell phone that they have to throw that one away and buy a
    > new one that works with encrypted communications.

    Yes but you shouldn't lie to people and tell them they are having private conversations when they use cell phones, either.

    > Laws making it illegal to listen into someone else's phone calls can't prevent people from doing
    > it any more than laws prohibiting theft and murder prevent roberies and murder.

    Actually this law is even more ineffectual, because you can't detect when someone is listening, while presumably you can detect if you have been robbed or murdered.

    > However, I think that people do have a right to privacy, and that people who invade that privacy
    > by intercepting their private conversations should be punished.

    See above. You'll never know who the culprits are.

    So, your only option is to use a good defense like strong encryption.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Mr. Katz: if you keep thinking of freedom as "the freedom to steal copies of trendy Marc Anthony songs", then you deserve to lose. Napster is just a Warez d00d toy.

    How about covering some realFree Culture? Get on mp3.com, download a dozen or two legal mp3's, play them, and let us know what you think. And be specific. Name the bands, name the tracks, tell us your reaction. Let us know how many (if any) of the new artists you actually pony up some $$$ to support.

  • Thank you. I'm glad someone finally said it. Napster is nothing but a great big sack of shit that bogs down any network it's run on. It has zero educational value and I'm damn glad my university blocks it. If I want to steal mp3s I'll do it with my own bandwidth. There's no reason the university should be expected to allow shit like that. The DMCA, evil and disturbing though it is, has not one damn thing to do with it. I seriously wonder whether Katz has ever actually tried using the net at a university. And not Harvard or UIUC, but a normal dirt-poor state university. Here's a free clue, Jon: WE DON'T EVEN HAVE ENOUGH BANDWIDTH FOR RESEARCH, MUCH LESS IDIOTIC BRAINDEAD PUKE MONKEYS WHO THINK THEY'RE FUCKING "LEET" AS HELL BECAUSE THEY HAVE W4R3Z AND CAN STEAL MUSIC AND RUN N4PS73R!!@!@$$!$%!@#!!!!! Jesus, people, get a fucking clue before you open your big mouths. Just because the evil corporatists would love to scare everybody into banning this stuff from their networks doesn't mean that they're actually responsible for doing so.
  • If you want to see a patent free-audio codec that should end up getting twice the compression of MPEG 1-2.5 Layer 3, check out the OGG Vorbis codec at http://www.xiph.org [xiph.org].
  • It's not quite that bad. You can learn to read backwards, and probably can tell people that they can read backwards, but you'd be on shaky ground if you taught people to read backwards and you almost certainly can't sell other devices to replace the lensing device or a device to modify the book.
    --
  • G27 Radio, do you *honestly believe* that the "primary use" of MP3 is legitimate distribution by unsigned artists? Because I sure don't.

    One thing we can only really speculate about is what MP3's actual *purpose* is. If I recall, the format was developed by the Fraunhofer institute, who patented it. I doubt they were interested in facilitating either piracy or independent distribution.

    Now, given that we do not know what MP3 was intended to be used for, what we DO know is what it IS used for. My question to you is, for each song by an independent unsigned artist that is downloaded in MP3 format, how many copyrighted songs by signed artists are downloaded? 1,000? 1,000,000? More? Go to www.oth.net, to mp3.palaquest.com, to any MP3 search engine, and search for copyrighted songs. Now search for indy music. Repeat with Napster. Napster, MP3 search engines, and irc channels like #mp3/dalnet exist as tools of piracy.

    Note that this is reflected in the RIAA's actions. Why is the RIAA suing MP3.com? Is it for their hosting of indy music? No, it's for Beam-It, which, as far as I can tell (I know little about it), is a tool for piracy to some degree. Is there an RIAA lawsuit pending against Riffage.com? Not as far as I know. Why? Because they distribute only indy music. The RIAA may not like that, but they (currently) have no authority to quash it.

    That said, I hate the RIAA as much as the next person. I believe they are truly evil. They're giving capitalism a bad name, and I hate that. If you believed all their rhetoric and propaganda, you'd think there was something inherently horrible about MP3 itself. This is obviously not true. Personally, my primary use of MP3 is to put my music collection on my computer so I don't have to deal with CD's. For every song on my playlist that I downloaded, there are a dozen that I ripped from my own discs. But I do not deny that I have downloaded MP3's "illegitimately".

    [flamebait]
    You contend that MP3 is facilitating some kind of music revolution. Ha ha funny. Even ignoring piracy: if the only MP3's people downloaded were by indy artists trying to be heard, there would /still/ be no "revolution". I am staunchly opposed to the RIAA-centric monopolistic system of music distribution, I really am. It really screws a lot of the artists. But what has to be admitted is that to a large degree and for a long time, it has *worked*. I would contend that the biggest reason all those artists can only distribute via MP3 (ie: they can't get a contract) is that they're music SUCKS. I don't claim to have heard every indy track on the 'net, or that /all/ of it is bad, but a lot of it sure is. Sure, some of it is better than some acts that do have contracts (eg: Zebrahead, Bush, &c), but there's no accounting for taste, right? Anyway, my flame-bastic point is that MP3 is not about a musical revolution where all the indy artists come out of the woodwork and purvey their wondrous works of art, it's about an easy and nearly unstoppable way of stealing music. Whether it's stealing from the artists or the labels or whatever is another question. That the bulk of MP3 exchange is directed at piracy, however, is an undeniable fact.
    [/flamebait]

    MoNsTeR
  • That said, there are *good* clauses, like specifically allowing reverse engineering for compatibility. BRAVO!.

    Yes the DMCA does permit reverse engineering for content delivery, but if you need to bypass some copyright protection to RE the content delivery than that is flatly illegal.

    I think it says for interoperability, which I interpret as, for example, if I were writing some software that interfaced with your software, I could RE your software in order to make mine work with it. So, if I were working on WINE, I could RE the Xing player to get it to run under WINE on a Linux box. Giving away the secrets that I discovered while REing it is not what the interoperability clause is about, neither is writing a whole new program to run on Linux that does what the Xing player for Windows does. Sorry, I agree with many of the DeCSS arguements, and think the MPAA is out of order, but the interoperability clause isn't one we can use.

  • MP3 and similar digital media allow cultural content to be created and exchanged at very low cost compared to traditional media. That allows people (musicians, amateurs, etc.) who previously couldn't afford to publish to finally publish and participate in our cultural life. No more are we dependent on recording companies to make the decisions for us.

    I don't know whether the widespread existence of MP3 and similar media is a long term threat to recording companies or not. It may be a threat. The recording companies sure seem to see it that way. And that's why they have been systematically trying to attack and dismantle a free and open media infrastructure. For example, they intend to replace CDs with DVDs with copyright protection. They go aggressively after consumer devices capable of playing MP3 (they lost the first round, but not try to limit capabilities and supporting infrastructure).

    Furthermore, the alternatives they propose not only enforce their copyrights, they also limit the ability of others who are not part of their consortia to participate. In fact, without special cryptographic hardware, you can't have an open format that enforces play restrictions.

    If there are free, open digital media, people will be able to use them for redistributing copyrighted works. As a society, we have to choose whether we want a world in which only recording companies get to control what gets published or whether we want to give everybody the ability to publish.

    The answer is pretty clear to me: the narrow commercial interests of recording companies are secondary to the societal interests in a democracy to allow the free sharing of non-proprietary information, even if the mechanisms for such sharing limit the potential profits of the recording companies by not letting them impose play restrictions. If recording companies want to impose additional restrictions, the burden ought to be on them to figure out how to do that; they already wield enough commercial and market power and don't need the legal system to support their escapades.

  • With ECP, cellular carriers simply say "our channels are secure because nobody can legally listen in to them". And people believe them because, after all, they can't just go out and buy a scanner that picks up cellular phone conversations.

    Of course, in practice, it's trivial for anybody who wants to to listen in on the cell phone bands anyway. All ECP did is remove the responsibilty for cell phone carriers to worry about security.

    ECP has made cellular phone security a lot worse because it removed any incentive for cellular carriers to make the investments necessary to make their systems actually secure.

    As for the cost of implementing encryption and deciding on keylengths, those are pretty trivial. Cellular phone companies roll out new protocols and phones with steady regularity; adding encryption with a reasonably secure key length would not be a big deal. Furthermore, key lengths that are reasonably secure by today's standards would be sufficient because cell phone streams are real-time, not recorded (and it would be impractical to do so for an adversary in a properly designed system).

    I don't condone people listening in on private conversations, but the ECP has made the situation worse, not better.

  • Something I don't often see pointed out is our culture's view of the whole situation. Pirating has been around as long as intellectual property, but keep in mind that "stealing" intellectual property is considered bad in our society.

    In this regard, it's perhaps worth pointing out that some of the greatest works of classical music would be considered "stolen" by today's definition of intellectual property, borrowing themes, ideas, and whole passages from previous works. The same is true of many great works of literature.

    The notions of "intellectual property" and "piracy" in today's US society are being shaped by commercial and corporate interests. They may, in some areas, overlap with societal interests, but in other areas, they clearly do not.

  • Sure it does: the RIAA is using the DCMA to the capabilities and availability of devices for distributing free music. MP3 narrowly made it out, but most MP3 players have functional limitations to discourage copying of music, whether it be free or not.

    So, the whole point of this furor over Napster and DeCSS is that, if their legal challenges are succesful, the RIAA/MPAA get more control over content than they should according to copyright law.

    In different words, when taken together with its legal interpretation and fundamental technological principles, the effect of the DCMA is to limit the availability of free music as well. And, frankly, I suspect the RIAA is quite happy about that, too.

  • Jon Katz seems to be implying that the only way to allow "freedom" and "culture" to survive in our society is to all people to exchange illegally copied MP3s with impunity.

    Now he may be right that the fact that all these corporations own all this music is culturally problematic.

    But asserting that the solution is to, well, allow copyright to be bent for all those good souls who don't want to pay for their CDs, is crazy. Maybe we should be able to steal and read his book, too, without paying for it, in the name of "freedom"?

    Copyright is copyright. They own the music. They get to charge what they like, and they get to prosecute the people who break it. Is anyone really arguing these students aren't primarily getting illegal music via Napster?

    Attack this some other way, or you'll be destroying the freedom of authors to own their own works -- if you could in fact break copyright law for good, which you probably can't.
  • The real, fundamental, question around this is what is the most effective method of fighting it?

    Some people take the stance that they will fight it by not buying anything, only copying stuff off of the net. This doesn't do any good though, it just encourages RIAA and the MPAA, and it deprives the artists entirely.

    Can we fight it legally? How do we put together a collective voice that is strong enough to take to washington and take to the courts to have a real impact?

    what about technically. That is, afterall, our forte. MP3.com seems to have made a place for online distribution directly by the artists, but has it been effective? MP3 based online radio is certainly an option ( at least I could listen to the radio at work, which I can't do now because of tempest shielding).

    Ultimately this will be a legal battle, but our best bet is to do an end run around them technically. To find, embrace, and promote a way for artists to get money directly from the people without going through the record companies. Choosing your battleground is one of the most important strategic decisions and there is no question that we control the technical battleground.

    We have already decided that MP3 is the format of choice. we have several great methods of distribution, so now how do we get repay the artists whose music we want without lining the pockets of the record industry.

    Open source and free software does present the parallel to this fight. Five and six years ago we never dreamed that we could get payed for working on Open source software, and now we have Open source companies that are IPO'ing with valuations in the billions of dollars. What did we do, what did we learn, and how can we take those lessons to the artists to open source music without starving them.

  • Oh please, shut your hole. If you have a problem with katz, register and disable him in your profile. nobody is forcing you to read his articles.

    I for one enjoy katz articles, and love his writings here on slashdot. I'm really FED UP with all you AC's shouting every time he writes something. Register yourself, and make yourself a katz-free profile. I'm sick and tired of your stupid rantings.


    --
    "Rune Kristian Viken" - arcade@kvine-nospam.sdal.com - arcade@efnet
  • Attack this some other way, or you'll be destroying the freedom of authors to own their own works -- if you could in fact break copyright law for good, which you probably can't.

    Well you could, theoretically, break copyright laws for good. Just like Robin Hood (according to legend anyway) broke the laws against robbery for good. But in RH's case, it wasn't the laws that were unjust so much as unjust enforcement of the laws. In the case of the DMCA, it sure looks like the law itself is unjust.

    They own the music. They get to charge what they like, and they get to prosecute the people who break it.

    That's exactly the problem. "They" own the music. Not the artists who created it, but the media conglomerates who bought and paid for it. Now they're running scared because they see things like Napster and MP3 making it possible for artists to go directly to the public, bypassing the middlemen.

    Is anyone really arguing these students aren't primarily getting illegal music via Napster?

    If it was primarily musicians protesting Napster, I might be tempted to agree with you. But it's industry bigwigs who are crying foul the loudest. There's a lot more involved here than some teenagers wanting to get their favorite music without paying for it.
  • Yes, radical protests work sometimes. But far more often I see protesters in the hospital after a prolonged hunger strike, or the members start to drift on home after a couple of weeks, or something else equally unproductive.

    Certainly you want to be more than just another form letter in the congressmen's inbox. But there are more productive methods of protests than making a fool of oneself.
  • I have to disagree with your assessment of the Seattle protests. It may have sparked more protests, but that's only success if your goal is just to protest.

    The Seattle protests consisted of extremely diverse viewpoints that effectively cancelled each other out. You had socialists, environmentalists, libertarians, protectionists, and even globalists who were arguing with each other just as much as they were arguing against the WTO.

    In my experience in actually participating in protests, this is all too common. I used to protest every April 15th against the IRS. However the extreme mixed messages that were being sent to the public caused me to stop. I mean, there were people protesting high taxes and others protesting low taxes! It was just pointless!

    During my college days, there was a large and well organized protest to change the name of a library to "Winnie Mandela Library" in protest of apartheid. This coincided with many other anti-aparthied protests around the country. They were unsuccessful in halting apartheid, and may have actually prolonged it, since they drew attention to the person of Winnie Mandela and thus to her campaign of "necklacing" and terror.

    In short, I have never seen any radical protest succeed in anything other than recruitment.
  • Forget emailing or writing your senator. Honestly, when has that ever really worked? Instead, stage a sit-in protest in his office.

    Hah! Honestly, when was the last time that a sit-in protest ever worked? If all you want is to get your name in the paper, then go for it. But it will never change policy in your favor, and would more than likely get you branded as a kook with nothing of importance to say. I mean, Brian Wilson got his name in all the papers and became famous, but NO ONE will ever take him seriously except the fringe.
  • The DMCA is not trying to redefine entertainment on the web. It is trying to reclaim what is legally theirs ... The purpose of the DMCA is to defend against outright copyright infringement, which is what we are all doing.

    This happens to be utter bullshit. Allow me to provide some context for the current mess.

    Originally -- mid-century -- copying information (in particular, copyrighted works) was hard and expensive. Unauthorized use wasn't much of an issue. Then technology such as Xerox copy machines, VCRs, etc. made certain kinds of copying easy and cheap. The result was a re-write of the US copyright laws which created a certain balance that right now most people find "natural". Basically, harsher penalties for copyright infringement were offset by "fair use" exemptions. The law essentially said that noncommercial use of copyrighted works is OK, as long as you don't go bananas with it. Fine and dandy. This is the situation that we are all used to. I would like to point out that as time passed, the penalties for breaking the copyright law were becoming harsher and harsher, thus tilting this balance somewhat.

    Fast-forward to the end of 90s: enter DMCA. What DMCA does -- forget all the bullshit about entertainment on the web -- is outlaw fair use. Any company that bothers to put any kind of a "technological device" to restrict access can now forbid fair use. Yes, Mr.Smith, you can copy that disc for your own private archival purposes, however to do this you will need to access its contents for the copying operation, and *that* happens to be highly illegal.

    So DMCA is not about music, not about entertainment, and not about taking the caviar out of the mouths of recording industry execs. It's about the radical change in the balance of power between information publisher and information user. Guess who loses...


    Kaa
  • The message I got from their abuse department stated I was "distributing copyrighted software". Not pirated, not illegally, just that it was "copyrighted" so they booted me off the network. For the record, I distribute my own GPL'd program mp3db.

    Now let me get this straight. You have written a program. By your authorship, *you* control the copyright. And now you say your ISP has cut off your access because you are distributing your own program? Three words: Restraint of trade.

    What you need is a good lawyer who will write for you a pointed cease-and-desist letter, describing the nasty things that happen to entities who engage in restraint of trade (a felony, IIRC). By being unable to distribute your *own program*, you are now incurring actual damages (in the form of revenue losses) and that's enough for a lawsuit. Also check your Terms of Service; my guess is that they are violating it, not you. Not to mention that the denial of your free speech rights should cause the local ACLU to take an interest in this case. I'd also advise you change ISPs, but that goes without saying, doesn't it?

  • 1. If the ISP's TOS prohibits distribution of copyrighted material, how would enforcing this part of the TOS be any different than enforcing the "thou shalt not spam" part of the TOS?

    It's questionable how legal prohibiting the distribution of copyrighted material is in the first place. Prohibiting someone from distributing THEIR OWN WORK seems absurd. Besides, spam is "push" type, but allowing people to download something from your website is definitely "pull" type.

    2. Does this ISP have a "non-commercial use" clause in their TOS? If the account is for non-commercial use, this by itself should wipe out any restraint of trade claim.

    No information is available about whether the program was being charged for or not. And it seems that IF there was a "non-commercial use" clause in the TOS, that would have been the phrase invoked, as the legal grounds are much firmer.

    3. How does one show that one lost money under a claim of restraint of trade for a GPL'd program?

    It's not about the money, it's about freedom to engage in trade. There is nothing in the GPL that FORBIDS selling GPL'd software; the source just has to come with it, that's all.

  • The SNL opinion-debating piece was in turn a spoof of the "Point-Counterpoint" head-to-head opinions on the "60 Minutes" TV news magazine.
  • . Where it gets worse is in future standards. Probably even the RIAA can't stamp out MP3 at this point - but when the next major audio format (DVD audio maybe? Or those "copy proof" CDs they started running in Europe?) comes out, they'll be able to prevent legitimate archival and other fair use. When the next great codec comes along to replace MP3, they can outlaw it or limit it to proprietary products and enforce inclusion of copy-protection systems. Distribution channels are already under pressure.

    I guess that all depends on who makes the next codec.

    So far, the music biz has been coming up with these formats, and then going through technological and political high hurdles to make them inaccessable, in order to protect their own interests. Would they be able to do the same if the Open Source community created and promulgated their own music standard?

    Remember, this is a culture that created an operating system almost from scratch. Surely an audio compression scheme would not be beyond the abilities of a small musically-inclined cabal of geeks.

    MP3 showed us two things. First, that an audio standard without hardware is marketable. Second, that smaller bands love such electronic standards because it allows them to market themselves for Web costs.

    Create a standard, copyleft it, and publish it to make it unpatentable. Start talking to the indie bands. Show how to make "Rio"-style players--again, post it to the Web and make the plans unpatentable. Create drivers for popular computers--again, copylefted.

    Get that far, and then start talking to the Indies. Show them how to set up a Web page with their tracks plus links to the player software.

  • While it is common to complain that the law has, somehow, fallen way behind technology, modern experience has shown that, even granting the proposition, the Congress has manifest even less understanding as it undertakes to "update the law."

    IP law, at least, is rooted in clearly understood public policy recognizing the conflict between granting a monopoly to provide incentive for authors/inventors and the engines of commerce necessary to provide incentive for the delivery of that technology and further innovation. Adjudication of IP laws in view of those policies leads, according to we Strong IP guys, to a sound foundation for evolution and growth of a technology based economy.

    Common law adjudication, as opposed to passage of new law, works well in this regard. Left to itself, the cases and the law tends to converge to reasonable compromises between these issues. The development of Copyright infringement law regarding software is a glowing tribute to the success of policy-based common-law adjudication.

    However, as Congress adopts its "updates," it seems to have lost track of the carefully negotiated balance of concerns, and is simply allowing power grabs to the most monied and obvious constitutencies. Thus, we have wholly unbalanced revisions of the law: trademark dilution; copyright technology circumvention and worse.

    While I am known to be one of the stronger voices favoring Strong IP in these letters, I fervently oppose the DMCA, which I believe is not "Strong IP," but rather a new kinds of property right. Circumvention law gives unliminted-term de-facto patent protection for unpatentable and un-novel inventions. Dilution gives rights in gross to words stolen from the English language. None of these things has anything to do with the careful balancing of concerns that we Strong IP use as the foundation of our arguments.

    My point is that DMCA doesn't protect IP. It protects some new kind of special interest entitlement, unrelated to the subtle balancings that are the cornerstone of IP.

    Accordingly, notwithstanding my Strong IP stance, I join the voices of despair assailing DMCA and its ilk. It is time to change the trend of mindless power-grabs, and to make the Congress accountable -- before they actually *DO* destroy America's competitiveness.
  • Slightly off-topic, but I'm a bit miffed that people don't realise that the students are not the only ones pissed about the banning of Napster. My school recently added itself to the list of Napster free campuses. A few people that work in the computer center, primarily the poor souls who work the help center, are trying to work around the ban because they want their napster. Additionally, I've spoken with several professors who are all quite irked about the ban These aren't c.sci. professors or engineering, math, physics people: It is the philosophy professors.

    Point? Point is: there are more people pissed than the RIAA realises. There is no stereotypical Napster user and there is no stereotypical "copyrighted MP3 downloader".



    ----
  • But if the RIAA wanted to cut down on the average person's ability to distribute their own music, they'd be targetting mp3.com.

    So, you've conceded the point [mp3.com], then?
    /.

  • Also, contact the EFF for advice. Remember, even though they are busy and being hit from all fronts by RIAA and MPAA, they still will hopefully be able to help you. (Actually, the EFF was originally founded taking on small issues like the one you mention... Steven Jackson games versus the Secret Service springs to mind.)

    Oh! And which ISP was it? I need to know so if I'm doing business with them I can drop the account, and tell them why.

  • The article doesn't seem to mention the DMCA, it refers to the Sonny Bono Amendment prominently and the Berne Convention.

    However, the story is a great example of corporate virtue [anotheruniverse.com] (the link is for people who don't feel like cutting and pasting http://anotheruniverse.com/comics/features/superma nrights.html ).

    I'd like to note this quote:

    While this means legal wrangling for Superman, it doesn't mean that you'll soon see Stan Lee doing the same thing. Along with Jack Kirby, Lee created Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the rest of the Marvel Universe under a work-for-hire contract. By the letter of the law, the company hiring the writer under such a contract is considered the sole author of the work and therefore, the copyright to any character is in the company's name.
    Everybody remember that the next time AOL/Warner says they are looking out for the best interests of their artists..
  • I wasn't advocating doing nothing, I was pointing out a serious problem. What to do about it is open to question.

    But, if you're interested in my $.02:

    1) donate money to groups like EFF and FSF.
    2) attract media attention. Probably needs both a disruptive and a reasoning element. Peaceful disruptive actions to attract the cameras, a reasoning spokesperson to explain it all.
    3) Oh, and you've gotta have a definite agenda - can't be a hodge-podge of ideas.
    4) A plan for the future - I see education as the only way of saving the future. If people don't learn how to reason for themselves, we'll become more and more enslaved to whatever image the media chooses to dominate our minds with. So, in my view, we need private education (100% free vouchers, for example) and as much money as ya'll can bear to spend on it. I would prefer education be supported for all ages, not just teenagers.

  • "john katz, you ignorant slut."

    This is moderated as insightful? If the same article had been written by Linus Torvalds or John Carmack, the sycophantic praises would have been ringing to the heavens. However, because everyone's favorite object of scorn decides to analyze the DMCA, this type of childish castigation is considered okay, and even moderated up.

    I read Jon's article several times, and nowhere did he use the word "conspiracy," grand or otherwise, nor was a conspiracy implied. I am left with a few possibilities to explain your misreading: 1) your tongue is planted firmly tongue in cheek, 2) your tongue is planted firmly in your anus, 3), you are functionally illiterate, or 4) you have listened to far too much Art Bell.

    Either that, or you have such a huge hard-on for Jon Katz that your brain fails to engage properly.
  • Can you please stop putting everything in the same basket.

    While I agree that DCMA is a bad thing, I'm disgusted by this article FUD.

    The DCMA does not prevent you from distributing free music. It prevent you from distributing music that you have to pay to get it.

    If you are an artist and want to make your music freely availlable on the web, nobody and no law can prevent you from doing it.

    If you want to argue against this act, do it in the sense that it remove you the right from faire use that is in the spirit of the people who wrote the first copryright act.

    You can also say that the act protect the distributor and not the artists.

  • You won't have any choice legally. and after a couple years people will be used to the weight of the yoke and the momentum to fight it will have eased.

    Sucks to be someone fighting for what you believe in (common sense and balance, anyone?) only to see that all the time and sweat is like screaming at a storm.
  • ...one wonders if proposed legislation doesn't have to go through some sort of informal review for its legality before being brought to the floor of the house or senate.
    You can stop wondering. There is no such review, as proven by the fact that the so-called Communications Decency Act became law despite its un-Constitutional provisions.
    --
  • I est about $7 per disk, ($7000 investment). Now you have to sell 700 disks to break even. Do you even have 700 hard-core fans? You're whole distribution channel is the venues you play.

    I don't doubt your estimate is accurate. I know US$10 per CD is what all the musicians I've talked to have paid or have been quoted for 1000 units. I don't think that included studio time. However, they may have been going through more traditional channels (ie: studios) to get the CD's pressed.

    As you pointed out, even at $7/CD it's still a huge investment for a local band. I know that Famous Johnson [ourfamily.com] tried burning their own CD's on a home PC. It was impossible for them to keep up with the demand...and their CD-R died from all the use. Burning just 10 CD's a show was too time-consuming, and too much work for the CD-R as well. However, without a huge amount of cash or a label to sponsor production they couldn't afford the bulk required to make pressed CD's an option.

    The barrier to entry that your post demonstrates really protects the recording industry. What becomes of the "recording industry" when anyone can record (and distribute) their own music as easily as the industry can. This threat to the recording industry is by far more obvious to me than the "piracy" threat.

    numb
  • Katz talks about how wonderful the Net is in allowing new artists to make it around the record industries selection procedures. The whopping majority of mp3s being traded, however, are the works of the bigshot celebs who have already made it. Sure the new kids have a chance to distribute their music, but it's not as though they've suddenly found an equal market. The primary purpose of mp3s is (and always has been) to steal the latest best-selling albums so that you don't have to fork out a couple bucks for it.

    While you're mostly right, Katz has a point, and I'll use myself as an example. I am into techno music, which isn't all THAT popular in the US. Without my mp3's and irc channel, I wouldn't have found out about 80% of what I listen to, because it either isn't available in the US or isn't marketed here so I don't know about it anyway. Or, even worse, it might cost 25 - 30 dollars for an import copy. I'm not going to pay that much. Which leads me to a comment on point number 7:

    It all comes down to theft. We want to steal music that other people have spent millions to produce, and they want us to pay for it instead. We're pissed off because they're coming ever closer to preventing us from illegally copying their works. We have no right to be as righteously indignant as Jon Katz has portrayed himself.

    While there is a grain of truth in this argument I'm sick of hearing it, because it turns the issue into a right/wrong black/white with no grey area arguement, which it isn't. Record companies are not pure good, mp3 users are not pure bad.

    I download illegal mp3's because I will not spend 16 dollars on a cd that cost them some absurd amount of money, like 10 cents. Sure, factor in recording/marketing costs and it goes up, but most of what I listen to isn't marketed anyway.

    Record companies don't offer me the business model I want. Namely, downloadable cd's that cost under 5 dollars. This can be done. Actually, it can be done when the record companies, i.e. the middlemen, are out of the picture. While marketing is needed for sales today, I'd like to see an environment where the average citizen is a lot more proactive about what they listen to. I find lots of new music through mp3 sites, I download lots of new songs from artisits I've never heard of and I find out what I like. And (gasp) sometimes I even buy the cd's of these artisits I discovered through mp3's!!!

    The whole idea of intellectual property will have to go through a major overhaul, both in law and how our culture views it from an ethics standpoint. Capitalism needs intellectual property rights in today's information age, but the internet throws it right out the window. Therefore I see the internet as being incompatible with capitalism.

    The issue hasn't come to the breaking point yet, but I think corporations would agree with me, which is why you see bills passed like the DMCA. They must censor the internet to maintain their interests.
  • According to the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act of 1996, no service provider can be held responsible for what people do on their service. The only people who could possibly get busted under the DMCA would be the people using Napster. Even then, is Napster breaking any copyright protection methods? No. There is no security built into audio CDs and there is no security built into MP3s. If Napster stripped information from the audio industries "secure" format, then maybe it'd be relevant. Even then, the issue of the colleges is irrelevant. They cannot be held responsible for what their student do. If the students are using the schools server space to serve them, the school STILL can't be busted.

    But I'm certain they got a couple letters from the RIAA telling them they COULD be implicated under the DMCA. They can't. So much for bastions of knowledge.

    Esperandi
    Since the last time I posted facts like this someone lost his cookies because I didn't include a link and was too stupid to look it up himself and ended up convincing moderators that I was just lying, heres a damn link:
    http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/iclp/hr2265.html

    That's the fulltext of the No Electronic Theft Act. If you've never read it, you might want to.
  • "IANAL so what the hell do we do now?"

    I'm not a lawyer either, but I'd say get a federal judge to suspend the law and take it to the Supreme Court. It only took a couple weeks to get it to the Supreme Court with the CDA (longer to actually get it HEARD of course, but it was suspended until it could be heard) and the Supreme Court seems to have a few good heads on their shoulders voting 9-0.

    BTW, Streambox has released a new beta of StreamboxVCR, the product under injunction... they got a deal and removed all capability to download RealMedia content using the PNM and RTSP protocols. The thing is, if they modify StreamboxVCR to honor the "copyright switch" that RealNetworks puts in, they'd be allowed to include that (though that would mean it couldn't download 99% of the content on the net). The catch? RealNetworks isn't giving Streambox the info it needs about the copyright switch to incorporate it (surpise surprise, it would make RealPlayerPlus completely useless). I wouldn't worry about Streambox even though it is one of my favorite products of all time, they'll most likely win their case arguing Fair Use and using the case againt Sony when VCRs were created.

    Esperandi
  • "It is creating new, special rights for corporations at the expense of consumers' rights of fair use. "

    No, it explicitly and in black and white does NOT do this. It very very specifically says that the DMCA must never be interpreted in such a way that it infringes on fair use. (This is why Streambox will win their court case) You ask whether copying an MP3 to your hard drive is different from making a tape of it. Its not, making the taoe is illegal too, always has been. Fair Use does not cover whole songs, they cover up to 45 seconds of the song. A radio station can play 44 seconds and pay nothing, if they play 45+, they must pay royalties. That really has nothing to do with the DMCA because it does not involve circumventing a copyright protection mechanism (read the bill, they define the mechanism and it has to be something substantial)

    The DMCA goes to great length to preserve Fair Use and to not harm people who are using copyright circumvention to exercise their right to Fair Use. People just need to understand that Fair Use is not a license to steal the work of a thousand people because they're too cheap to go buy a CD. I make MP3s of my CDs and the CD never gets opened again. I do not distribute the MP3s, I listen to them on my RIO. I am doing nothing illegal in this scenario. The second I go on the net to download an MP3 or give my MP3s to someone else, then I'm breaking the law.

    Esperandi
    If Streambox loses their case, *THEN* is the time to be scared.
  • First, kudos in mentioning Rand, a lot of people misunderstand her work and a lot of slashdotters loathe her.

    Approaching this issue from the viewpoint of an Objectivist is an interesting task because it involves a lot of thought, quite unlike the knee-jerk reaction of most people in this day and age that they want it free and they feel entitled to it. Objectivists know that they are entitled only to what they earn. So what to do, eliminate MP3s, Streambox, and DeCSS completely? We have to take into account as you did that someone originally created the work. Those people most definitely deserve just compensation. In the MP3 case, MP3ing your CDs and listening to them on your PC or on a portable device most definitely should be completely legal. Trading or sharing those MP3s most assuredly should not be. Plus, the people who are doing the sharing are the ones who are committing a crime and should be punished. Streambox. Not too difficult. The Fair Use clause is quite nice and they should most definitely be allowed to continue their product, it simply allows time-shifting, enhances the viewing experience, etc. Redistributing these downloaded files is alaughable idea. Would you rather send a 50MB video to a friend or refer them to a central server where they can get it for free and legally? I'm sure both sides would prefer the latter.

    Now, DeCSS. The information gathered and its use to create a DVD player should not be made illegal. Then it comes to the nasty part, the source. Technically speaking, no source is secret, decompilers are a thing of common sense, anyone with a little knowledge of executables and computer architecture can write a simple one. Since the source code would be released, we would see a proliferation of DVD-copying programs based upon it. I believe THOSE authors should be arrested, fined, and jailed, but not the original authors. Their release of the source code was not a criminal action.

    Esperandi
    Open Source is not antithetical to capitalism at all if you understand it. It is also not antithetical to Objectivism, the philosophy of reason and selfishness. There are a lot of Marxist followers of Open Source, but hey, Marxists wrote books, that didn't make books antithetical to capitalism or Objectivism. Explaining the whole concepts behind it is long-winded and this is too long anyways. Just keep in mind that improvement in your software helps you as an author, a perfectly acceptable selfish motivation.
  • Coincidentally, I was just thinking this morning that while JonKatz is a nice enough writer, I would much rather have seen an analysis of the DMCA from an experienced IP lawyer.

    I encourage you to expand your comments into a full-fledged Slashdot article.

  • 1. Katz talks about how wonderful the Net is in allowing new artists to make it around the record industries selection procedures. The whopping majority of mp3s being traded, however, are the works of the bigshot celebs who have already made it. Sure the new kids have a chance to distribute their music, but it's not as though they've suddenly found an equal market. The primary purpose of mp3s is (and always has been) to steal the latest best-selling albums so that you don't have to fork out a couple bucks for it.

    Bullshit. The PURPOSE of MP3 was as a superior music-encoding format; at the quality it gives, 10:1 compression is leagues beyond anything that existed before. MP3 is very (most?) commonly USED for piracy (although I still have a problem equating robbery and murder on the high seas with unauthorized duplication of data), but that is not MP3's PURPOSE. This is an important distinction.

    2. The DMCA is not trying to redefine entertainment on the web. It is trying to reclaim what is legally theirs. Record companies spend millions of dollars signing artists and releasing albums so that they can make a profit -- this is no less noble than any other business. People have found an easy way around this, however, and they're taking advantage of it. The purpose of the DMCA is to defend against outright copyright infringement, which is what we are all doing.

    Yes, they do. Unfortunately the WAY that they do it is greedy and immoral. This by itself is not a problem; business are in business to make money. I don't have to like it, but I don't have the right to stop them. But the RIAA has established an illegal monopoly; they have used antitrust practices time and time again to squash smaller competitors; and with the DMCA, they are again using their power to unfairly restrict trade and competition. THIS is why they are so widely hated.

    3. College students don't have the ability to download mp3s onto college sites simply because the schools think it's harmless; They can do it because the schools generally don't know about it. Most schools will attempt to eliminate any type of non-official server they are aware of.

    This is true. I spent four years at UCLA, three in the dorms; if they found you running an unauthorized server, they'd more likely than not disconnect your Ethernet without telling you, or (as in the case of one friend) BREAK INTO YOUR ROOM and turn off your computer. (They got a lawsuit for that one!)

    4. I hate having to repeat this, but copyright issues are not why schools are concerned. They're primary issue is with *bandwidth*. If napster didn't hog up so much space in the pipes, nobody would give a damn.

    Bullshit. UCLA's official position in these kinds of instances was that they didn't want to get sued for millions of dollars. UCLA has more bandwidth than you can shake a stick at; the usage of every dormie on campus wouldn't dent it.

    5. Free music sites did not proliferate because they piggy-backed off of educational sites where users. They proliferated because they had FREE MUSIC. Sites run off of school servers are nearly impossible to find. Go to the UC Berkeley web page and tell me where you see mp3s.

    Nobody runs them off web pages, they go into #freemp3 and tell everyone they have it. Didn't you ever run an MP3 server in college? I did. That was how I advertised. It worked.

    6. Katz admonishes colleges and universities for worrying more about copyright infringement than about free speech; He absolutely fails to realize that these artists' never intended that their work be given away. Free speech doesn't mean "gratis."

    Katz isn't saying that it's okay for people to steal the new Limp Bizkit CD; he's saying that by restricting students from using services like Napster, they are also being prevented from using them for LEGAL purposes. Would you ban knives because they can be used to kill people?

    7. It all comes down to theft. We want to steal music that other people have spent millions to produce, and they want us to pay for it instead. We're pissed off because they're coming ever closer to preventing us from illegally copying their works. We have no right to be as righteously indignant as Jon Katz has portrayed himself.

    For one thing, it does not cost "millions" to produce music. The majority of the cost of a CD (about 80% of it) comes from distribution costs, as well as artificial price jack-ups imposed by middlemen (and the RIAA). Production cost as a percentage of the CD cost actually falls as more CD's are printed; you only have to pay for production once, but each additional CD costs something extra.

    But if I download a Limp Bizkit MP3 or two, the RIAA has lost nothing. Why? If I listen to the tracks and decide I don't like them, then I don't buy the CD. I haven't wasted my money. If I listen to the tracks and decide I want to be able to listen to them in my car, then I go and buy the CD. And guess what? THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I DID. On Saturday I bought the Limp Bizkit CD SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE I HAD DOWNLOADED THE TRACKS FROM NAPSTER AND I LIKED THEM. If Napster were illegal, and I had never been able to acquire those MP3s in the first place, then the RIAA would not have gotten the money that I spent on the CD. In fact, I have done this three or four times so far (Cake's "Fashion Nugget", Chris Cornell's "Euphoria Morning," and so on) and I intend to keep doing so. (Yes, I know I can often hear them on the radio, but often not. "Euphoria Morning" only had ONE single on the radio ("Can't Change Me"), and that's not enough for me to go on. Only after hearing a second song by Limp Bizkit, "Break Stuff", did I download some other tracks and listen to them. I liked it, and so I bought the CD.)

    The point that Katz is making is that the RIAA is attempting to illegally (further) restrain trade and act as a monopoly. If the government isn't going to break it up, then I guess someone has to. Might as well be those of us who agree with Katz.

  • The DMCA is an important issue, but a better analysis that this one by Katz is needed.

    A big problem with the DMCA is that it goes well beyond copyright. The "anti-circumvention" provisions encourage proprietary content formats. The DMCA has been used against programs that play Playstation content, for example, even though copyright violation was not even alleged. The Streambox Ferret injunction [streambox.com] involves a plug-in that modifies RealPlayer to offer a second search engine. (That injunction is based on a "derivative work" theory, which is wierd, because Streambox isn't distributing a modified RealPlayer, just a plug-in for it. That's a bad precedent; a legal bar to modifying legally obtained software.) And we all know about DeCSS.

    It's going to get much worse before it gets better. Players (even monitors and speakers) that won't play unauthorized content [musicode.com] are the future. The plan is to encode copy-protection information in audio and video in a way that can't be removed, and will survive both compression and conversion to analog. So when protected content hits the final output device (speaker or monitor), Bad Stuff happens. The SDMI crowd originally wanted the first play of protected content on an MP3/SDMI player to cause the MP3 capability to self-destruct, but that's been abandoned for now.

    The clear direction is to eventually obtain the kind of hammerlock on video and audio that Nintendo has now on games for its platform. Keep this in mind.

  • Hi,

    There is almost no way to avoid this topic online, having DMCA, but also (something like) ELITA, the DVD stuff etc. It's all around and it is worrysome.

    Yet, I do not feel like I have the complete picture. You see, I don't live in America. So there's nothing I can do against these laws in the way Americans can do (you know, like going to the Santa Clara courthouse `n' stuff ;). So I can only sit and wait what'll happen.

    You could claim that it is none of my business, then. I answer with this: America has got important relationships with Europe, and they do take care of "internationalizing" some rules. Especially the Copyright laws, which apply "for the world" (and that is because of these international relationships). Also, when it comes to "new" things, European countries have the tendency to say "how was that solved by the others?". So what happens is that when America creates an important law on a "new" topic, this law will sooner or later influence some European laws as well. It is also important that these Big Businesses we're talking about also go beyond country borders*.

    Slashdot is very OK but it doesn't, and cannot, inform people about what's going on in other parts of the world, in such a way that the people of that country will be able to respond quickly. I am also not a politics guy, so I don't follow everything that's going on in my government. And although I write "I" and "Europe" all the time, I know from previous Slashdot postings, that more people in other countries than America are worried.

    In concrete words, I think that there is a need for a "slashdot international" that keeps people up-to-date about the international or country-specific legal topics.

    Cheers.

    __oooO__Footnotes___Oooo__

    * The author lives in Holland. The nearest IBM bunker is in Amsterdam, the nearest Microsoft nest is somewhere in the BeNeLux (Belgie Netherland Luxembourg), and the nearest McDonalds, Shell, etc. are around the corner. Just in case you didn't realize how international Big Businesses behave.

    It's... It's...
  • a side effect of the millenium copyright act was to enable creators to reassert their ownership of creations they were not able to hold onto originally. one example i can think of is that the family of jerry siegel has been able to reassert their rights over the superman character. http://anotheruniverse.com/comics/features/superma nrights.html while we complain about our rights to copy and distribute mp3s, its possible that many creators who were forced by corporations to sign away their rights in the past, can now reassert those rights. this, of course, is not limited to comics, but to movies, music, books, etc.
  • It seems that US copyright law has now made the leap from content (the songs) to format (.mp3 file) to media (digital information) to means of dessimating media (university networks). Every single one of these conceptual leaps broadens the scope and power of the law and, further, increases the degree to which it can be misused or misapplied. A law regulating the distribution of digital information over university networks obviously has greater scope and potential for abuse than one regulating the encoding of .mp3 files.
  • All these recent copyright troubles are only one part of a much larger question -- How can intellectual property make sense in an Information Age?

    The copyright war, which is still but neonatal, is one aspect of that problem. The National Research Council recently studied copyright and came up with no good solution for the problems Katz mentioned. They did conclude their report with an intriguing thought: perhaps we should rethink the notion of basing our intellectual property tradition on something like "copying" (as in "copyright") since information technologies completely change what copying is. (Click here [nationalacademies.org] for their press release.)

    Copyright is just one part of something bigger; trademarks and patents, also ways of protecting intellectual property, are drastically changing too.

    As far as patents go, consider the efforts of Amazon to patent its one-click shopping process (as has been amply discussed here on /.) and the efforts of companies like Celera, Incyte, HGS and Athersys to obtain thousands of patents on the human genome. (Click here [tecsoc.org] for more on that problem, which is only partly related to information technology.) As someone appropriately said, were Columbus around today, he would try to patent America.

    I know less about trademarks, but I understand there are parallel problems in that arena.

    The solution doesn't seem to me to be corporation-bashing. (Indeed, having worked in the lobbying department of The McGraw-Hill Companies, I got to see how earnestly corporations care about keeping information accessible while still turning a profit.) Instead, we should do some real hard thinking about how intellectual property can survive in the Information Age -- and we should keep fighting against ridiculous cases, like the DeCSS case, brought on by people who just don't realize what a period of tremendous change this is.

    A. Keiper [mailto]
    The Center for the Study of Technology and Society [tecsoc.org]

  • Just one more example of greedy multinationals shovelling the entrails of the poor and disenfranchised into the unslakable maw of the corporate fat cats.

    But wait! I thought it was and example of the cryptofascist antianarchosyndicalist lackeys of the hypercapitalist running-dog state grilling helpless citizens over a hot flame in the name of the free market.
    Or was it the governmental ultracorporophiliac pseudodespotic bully-boys herding us into a slough of commercially-driven despondency?
    You know, in all the confusion, I'm not so sure myself...
  • by jellicle ( 29746 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @07:23AM (#1223034) Homepage
    That said, there are *good* clauses, like specifically allowing reverse engineering for compatibility. BRAVO!.

    If a law takes away nine freedoms, and specifically permits you to retain the tenth, "BRAVO!" is hardly the reaction I'd have. Perhaps "This is awful" or "BULLSHIT!", but certainly not "BRAVO!".

    In other news, I've announced that my new law will eliminate your ability to speak, read or communicate, but I'm still allowing you to think subversive thoughts. You also retain the ability to stand on your head and stick your tongue out (in your own home only, of course). Reaction from slashdot posters: BRAVO!

    --
    Michael Sims-michael at slashdot.org
  • by jocknerd ( 29758 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @06:37AM (#1223035)
    I'm fed up with this corporatism that runs America. All you have to do is look at the Bush campaign. Here's a guy that will say whatever you want him to say depending on how much cash you waive in front of him.

    Hollywood is trying to keep us from watching DVD's on Linux. The recording industry is trying to keep us from listening to music on our computers.

    They buy the politicians to pass legislation to do so.

    So how do we fight back? I've heard some people on slashdot say that they won't buy dvd's until the dvd fiasco is straightened out. But is it really making a difference? Folks, I hate to say it, but they don't give a rats ass about you the individual and whether you choose to stop buying dvd's. The way to fight back is to take it to the masses. Stop buying cd's? Once again, they don't care.

    We can complain all we want on slashdot, but how many people actually read slashdot? If we want to be heard, we need to take it to the mass media.

    I live in Virginia. Our local newspaper didn't mention one thing about UCITA until the day after it passed. It wasn't until a week later that someone wrote an article talking about the possible downside to UCITA.

    In order to be heard, we need to come together in an organized effort. Corporatism thrives on the basis that a company has more pull than individuals.

    What would I like to see done?

    1. The Academy Awards are coming up later this month. What better place than this to stage a protest on the Motion Picture Association and DVD than here? Can any linux mag journalists get passes to this to ask some tough questions? Ask actors, directors, and producers as well as executives about the dvd problems.

    2. Hand out literature at movie theaters or video stores about the dvd situation. If they won't let you, stage protests.

    3. When the summer concerts begin, go to the ticket lines and talk about mp3's and how the record companies are trying to prevent you from listening to what music you want. Call up bands on radio call-in shows and ask them about mp3.

    4. Take it to your local paper. Most people still get their information from newspaper or television. Slashdot hasn't gotten that big, yet! Hopefully, in time, it will!

    5. Vote. Not just in the main elections, but in your local elections. They affect you the most.

    6. Support campaign finance reform. Stop letting corporations choose which candidates you will vote for.
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @05:57AM (#1223036)

    Well, with 1.4B growth last year, maybe they're not doomed dispite their very best efforts to the contrary. That testifies to how much people like music, not how much they care for the record industry as a whole (aka "the man").

    Things like the DCMA only are legally binding in the good 'ol US of A. The land of the free, remember? Well, let me tell you - I'm a Canadian, and our commie red pinko way of looking at taxes looks pretty good right now compared to some of the scarey-ass things I see coming out of the politics south of the border.

    The rest of the world has little to fear from the evil MPAA and RIAA, so don't sweat it. They can procecute all they want, but it won't stem the tides that have been launched. Do they have any apprecationf for the sheer VOLUME of bits being passed around? The movie industry is next, and they know it. What do you think is driving the amazing demand for huge hard drives? Excel spreadsheets? No! Porn and Mp3s. Once 100gb drives become common, DVDs next.

    Consumers love freedom, and they're not as stupid as they look. But dispite all the fire blowing in washington, all the people whining about their rights being taken away - your rights in the "real world" are already gone. Has everyone forgotten that it is a FELONY to pirate software?

    Too bad all the people calling for handgun legislation didn't understand the real reason that bit about arms is in the US consitution, and no, it wasn't so the NRA can hunt deer with M16 assault rifles.

    Kudos from North of the border..

  • by ronfar ( 52216 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @12:58PM (#1223037) Journal
    The big question a person who believes in Capitalism with little or no government interference always needs to ask him/herself is "when does a corporation become a government, itself?" I'm a great fan of John Locke and his ideas about the social contract. In other words, people band together and form governments so that the biggest, strongest people don't always knock them down and take their stuff. That's why people are willing to sign away the absolute freedom they had in "the state of nature" to form governments which have the right to take their lives, liberty, and property when they break the law. Because, really, they didn't have real freedom in the state of nature, they had a completely arbitrary system. Under lawful government, people have certain expectations that they can rely on the government to keep its promises to the people. They don't believe the because they are naivé, but because they know their voice can be heard in the government.

    The American system is different than other governments because it never had to deal with feudalism. We hear the phrase "a jury of ones peers" but the origin of that phrase is the fact that there was an aristocracy and peasantry, and the aristocrats could expect to be tried by other aristocrats, NOT peasants. (When Charles I of England was being tried, he refused, all the way up to the point his head was seperated from his body to acknowledge the authority of the court which tried him. This was perfectly valid according to feudalism, he was King, no one in England was his peer, and therefore none could judge him save God alone.)

    In the United States, our government rejected such a system from the first (though, of course, a version of it existed in the south even in the U.S.). People were not landed gentry or aristocrats. To this very day, it is illegal for Americans to accept titles from other nations if they hope to maintain their citizenship.

    Frankly, I see corporations working to create a new kind of feudalism, with these new laws that give them broad powers over society. People associated with certain corporations would have more power, simply by virtue of that association, than ordinary citizens. Remember, a big part of the basis of feudalism was land holding. The lord owned the land and the peasant worked it for him, and it would be almost impossible under the old laws for a peasant to ever truly own land. If a peasant did manage to get land of his own, well, then he wasn't a peasant anymore.

    The new feudalism will be based on intellectual property, for another important way of controlling people is controlling their access to learning. Sometimes the media giants own the rights to things which the creators of those things signed over to them... but sometimes the creators of content are long dead, and possible without families. Besides which, naivé content creators can be duped or cheated out of things. We've all heard stories of disgruntled musicians having troubles with their labels.

    The point is that the DMCA is a new law, it's not some old law protecting corporate rights that already existed. It is creating new, special rights for corporations at the expense of consumers' rights of fair use. It is the same with UCITA. If these were just meant to insure "fairness," wouldn't enforcing existing laws dealing with intellectual property be enough? The excuse behind this new law is new technology, but is it really about new technology? Is copying songs onto a hard drive as an MP3 really that much different than recording them onto tape? Is watching DVDs under Linux really significantly different than running Macintosh or Windows programs under each others operating systems using an emulator? Or is the "threat" of new technology merely a useful boogeyman for large corporations to use to gain sweeping new powers?

    The Digital Millenium Copyright Act needs to be repealed, and the corporations deserve to suffer a backlash because of it. We already have a legally elected government, we don't need to give corporations their own policing powers (as UCITA and DMCA do). When Adam Smith referred to the "wretched spirit of monopoly" in Wealth of Nations, I don't think he only meant one company owning all the rights to something. I think he referred to those monopolies granted by the Crown, in which the government gave special economic rights to certain corporations or individuals. Well, that's what the DMCA and UCITA do. So, I feel justified in saying that free people should oppose the "wretched spirits of the DMCA and UCITA" just as strongly.

  • by speek ( 53416 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @07:37AM (#1223038)
    I feel the need to point out something that really terrifies me.

    What can we, as a group, as a rising political force ...

    I don't think we are a rising political force. Not in comparison to the elderly. Think about it - the demographics of this country are such that the number of people age X is growing faster than the number of people age Y, where X > Y.

    In addition, older people vote more, so an rise in the number of 50 year-olds has greater voting power than an equivalent rise in the number of 30-year-olds.

    We (younger, working people) are losing power, daily, as people live longer and longer, and the birthrate goes down. Power is more and more in the hands of those who no longer work, but instead are dependent for their financial well-being on the performance of the stock market, and thus, on the health of public corporations.

    So, there's no way you're going to convince them that your freedom is more important than their financial security, and I doubt there's any way this balance of power is going to tip back the other way. It's going to get worse and worse, actually.

  • by MillMan ( 85400 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @06:07AM (#1223039)
    Something I don't often see pointed out is our culture's view of the whole situation. Pirating has been around as long as intellectual property, but keep in mind that "stealing" intellectual property is considered bad in our society.

    For better or for worse, many people who share that view become hypocrites when there is something of value you can steal with little chance of being caught or punished.

    However, bills like these pass with ease, and anyone who stands against it is painted as a pirate, similar to any other witchhunt in our history. While our vioce can be heard, and it needs to be, it's going to be very hard to change the environment (culture) that allows these bills to pass.

    Some colleges seem to think they have a far greater stake in avoiding lawsuits than they do in confronting the real issues involved -- like promoting free expression and diversity in culture. And college students are selective in political issues. There is, for example, a broad-based anti-sweatshop movement on many U.S. campuses, but no equivalently passionate and nationally-organized movement to keep culture free.

    Colleges and Universities have ALWAYS been this way. The leaders of change at any of these institutions have always been the students, and the administration and often faculty stand directly in opposion to them. The reason is simple: the people who run these insititutions are wealthy and powerful, and thus they generally stay with the status quo. Lawsuits are bad for PR. Bad PR means less funding. Less funding is less money.

    As far as the students, this isn't a very "sexy" issue as far as what students typically take up. Most college students who are also activists don't understand technology well enough to argue this issue anyway. Frankly its very rare for engineering and computer science students to be involved with the community/civil rights/etc. This is very unfortunate.
  • by Baron Thompsonov ( 93959 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @05:56AM (#1223040) Homepage

    john katz, you ignorant slut.

    i hate the Digital Millenium Copyright Act as much as the next guy, but it's hardly a grand conspiracy, and it has little to nothing to do with the consumers. The threat of MP3s come from artists who use them. If an open medium for distribution is embraced the recording industry is cut out of the picture.

    As for that crap you were talking about universities...please. Napster IS a bandwidth hog, and a number of the universities have publicly stated they'd allow napster, were it to be "leaner."

    John Katz, you talk a good game, but I listen to way to much Art Bell to be taken in by standard conspiracy theories. Provide more evidence, please.

  • by spiralx ( 97066 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @05:51AM (#1223041)

    If you're looking for insight into how corporatism and politics work together to control software and technology -- and to potentially stifle free speech and individual choice -- you can't do better. Nor will you find a more textbook-perfect example of dubious, perhaps even unconstitutional, Internet law.

    Well, apart from UCITA perhaps.

    One reason free music sources proliferated so rapidly was that they often piggy-backed on educational and other sites where music seekers congregated. College students could download music on their schools' sites, in part because the schools believed they were simply neutral, non-liable carriers of content. Since there was no Internet law governing content on Web sites, nobody knew if that was true or not. But it certainly isn't true anymore.

    If this is carried out to its full extent then no-one will have a web page hosted in the US unless its for something really inoffensive, like cooking - check out this [grits.com] site. By forcing sites to be legally responsible for their content this law ensures that content will remain minimal - for small organisations like colleges that would be unable to continually monitor the content of student web pages it will be far easier simply not to have these web pages. It's far easier for them to do this than to face repeated lawsuits.

    The real point of this law is intimidation. It's main target is not professional pirates, most of whom don't live in the US anyway, or the people who download pirate music, most of whom it'd be very difficult and time-consuming to catch, but smaller bodies which can be easily accused and which cannot effectively fight back given such accusations. This law is just another way of the music industry asserting their control over music - one of the oldest parts of human culture and one of the few things which separate us from animals.

  • by guran ( 98325 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @06:08AM (#1223042)
    .. it does not apply to Norway, so the Jon Johanssen example is a bit far fetched.

    That is more a case of the classical pre-DMCA tactic of filing semi-valid (at best) lawsuits hoping to scare someone into submission.

  • by Wraithlyn ( 133796 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @09:47AM (#1223043)

    The recording industry is worried (and rightly so) about becoming redundant in our new information age where any joe blow can set up a worldwide distribution network through the internet, and so they are fighting back with everything they've got.

    The same thing happens whenever technology empowers consumers to manage their own content... just look at the VCR. When they first came out, the movie companies all screamed bloody murder, and kept whining about how this was going to obliterate box office sales. Now 20 years later, box office sales are still soaring, and the production houses are making billions off of rental sales. The invention of the magnetic audio cassette was before my time, but I imagine a similar debate raged then.

    Of course now the boogeyman is "perfect digital copies". One word: BUL^&$T! You ever listened to an MP3 on a hi-fi stereo? Sounds AWFUL compared to the real deal. How is listening to an MP3 from Napster any different from recording a song from the radio onto a cassette tape? They broadcast this stuff freely on the radio all over the planet and then sick the lawyers on us when we use technology to migrate to the internet, which not only makes sense, but is INEVITABLE! If the bloated media giants weren't drowning in red tape and shortsightedness, they'd have been selling music on the net 5 years ago.

    The real solution, IMHO, is to get all of this out in the open, and talk to the people who really matter, the artists whose work is being spread. When exactly did the corporations that simply sell the music become more of a focus than the people who create the music?

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @07:19AM (#1223044) Homepage Journal
    At present, outside of the Geek Community and a few other niche (such as library) players, people just don't care about the DMCA. It doesn't appear to affect them directly, and they really aren't concerned about their Constitutional Rights. We have to take this battle to them.

    If I Understand Correctly, as of next October, more provisions of the DMCA come into force. About that time, again IIUC, it may well become illegal to videotape information off of the air/cable/satellite, particularly if it's off of a scrambled (HBO, etc) channel.

    Next October, someone needs to "illegally tape off of the air/cable/satellite" and force themselves to get charged for the "crime". Then they need to do a reasonably incompetent job in court, and LOSE. Then they need to get the story out - that VCRs are now illegal, except for playing back rental tapes. This involves the rest of the poplulation.

    Obviously, first someone needs to review the DMCA and see if I do understand the DMCA correctly.

    The strategy here is to force the right lawsuit, and show exactly how BAD some provisions of the DMCA really are, and how they hurt EVERYONE's rights. Right now, the general population really doesn't have much sympathy for 'some hacker kid in Norway.' General ignorance about hacker vs cracker doesn't help, either.
  • by dominion ( 3153 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @07:27AM (#1223045) Homepage

    That's the question that needs to be looked at here. What can we, as a group, as a rising political force do to stop this?

    Be careful to remember something: The powers that be ("Power Elite" according to C. Wright Mills, "Ruling Class" according to Marx and Bakunin) like computer geeks right now. They think that we're interesting little beings that do things they don't understand and make them lots of money doing it. But we could very easily fall out of favor with them very quickly. All it takes is some good ol' fashioned free speech to make them revile us more than independant organic farmers.

    Right now, we keep basically silent. We may post to Slashdot or usenet and bitch and complain, but the Power Elite/Ruling Class don't read Slashdot or Usenet, because they can't control it (yet, be cautious, Andover). Once we start to speak out against the decisions they're making about the way we conduct our lives, they will hit us. And the louder we speak out, the harder they will hit us. This is the way it is, and has been for centuries.

    Now, don't let me discourage you or anybody who's interested in making themselves heard. Quite the opposite, I think that's what needs to be done. Here's a few suggestions that I can think of:

    Forget emailing or writing your senator. Honestly, when has that ever really worked? Instead, stage a sit-in protest in his office. Force your way in, and refuse to leave until he hears you out. Notify the press. Bring U-Locks and lockboxes in case they try to drag you out. Contact people from the Ruckus Society [ruckus.org] or Direct Action Network [agitprop.org] to learn more about how to plan such an action, and what your legal options are.

    Print up some honest-to-goodness propaganda. Check out Subvertise [subvertise.org] or (if you're really talented) Adbusters [adbusters.org] for some inspiration. My belief about propaganda is that it should be radical and in people's faces. Don't sugarcoat things, and don't be afraid to challenge people's concept of what's right and wrong. A poster that screams "Copyright Is Theft!" or "Information Wants To Be Free!" is going to intrigue people a lot more than one that says "We think that the DMCA is dangerous to the free software community because of the implications blah blah blah".

    Third, there's going to be a lot going on in Washington, D.C. on April 16th. Remember Seat tle [adbusters.org]? Well, this should be even better [a16.org]. Get your butt out there and make a case against the monopolization of intellectual property. You may want to learn about more of what's going on (it's not just software that IP affects), such as the situation with AIDS drugs in Africa, or the patenting of crops by Monsanto. Also remember that the people protesting are not against globalization (well, unless you count Pat Buchanen as a protester). What we're opposed to, to varying degrees, is corporate rule, greed, and how the Power Elite/Ruling Class are using the idea of "globalization" not to open borders for the prosperity of all, but to create a new form of colonialization. Intellectual property is one major way that they're doing this.

    These are a few of the options. I know you said that we should work from inside the system, and that's fine and dandy, but the truth of the matter is that direct action gets the goods. You have to get in people's faces, make them feel a little squeamish (or sometimes downright terrified if the situation is urgent enough), and force them to deal with the issues on *your* terms, without the benefit of having a speech writer churn out the BS beforehand.

    Michael Chisari
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @06:04AM (#1223046)
    Jon, I'm stuck in DMCA hell right now. My ISP has quasi-revoked access to my account. I have web access, but no e-mail or web storage right now. The message I got from their abuse department stated I was "distributing copyrighted software". Not pirated, not illegally, just that it was "copyrighted" so they booted me off the network. For the record, I distribute my own GPL'd program mp3db. My requests for additional information have gone unanswered.

    The biggest threat the DMCA poses is that corporations are afraid of it. In true CYA (Cover Your Ass) mode these corporations are pre-emptively censoring and removing customers from their networks for things that may be offensive, illegal, or libelous - often with little or no supporting evidence other than an e-mail saying "I don't like so-and-so and will sue if you don't remove him."

    The DMCA has locked us into a form of public-censorship by allowing ISPs to do this legally without regard to the evidence. The DMCA removed accountability controls for dozens of services and acts. This is the threat, this is why it MUST be stopped. Corporations are beginning to realize that they were not thinking when they signed on to this.. they are now realizing it is a sword that cuts two ways... and some of the smaller corporations are realizing they are ill-equipped to defend themselves against this. And how can they? The DMCA has removed the ability to fight unfair denial of resources.

  • by Chris_Pugrud ( 16615 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @06:23AM (#1223047)
    That said, there are *good* clauses, like specifically allowing reverse engineering for compatibility. BRAVO!.

    Yes the DMCA does permit reverse engineering for content delivery, but if you need to bypass some copyright protection to RE the content delivery than that is flatly illegal.

    Read the full text of the preliminary injunction in the New York DeCSS case and you will see that this is exactly how the MPAA is going after DeCSS.

    We got duped, now we need to figure out what to do to fight it. although Jon doesn't remember the media coverage around the DMCA going through congress, I do. There was a tremendous amount of lobbying done by the software industries and the EFF. Everybody relaxed and celibrated when the Reverse Engineering clause went in, without even relizing that it was taken away immediatly in the 'Copyright Protection Mechanisms" clause.

    That is where we died. That is the battlefield that we must fight on now. They thought they could beat us technically with poorly implemented encryption and we trounced them. But now the battle has moved to their battlefield, the legal system.

    IANAL so what the hell do we do now?

  • Go to the Library of Congress page:

    Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works [loc.gov] ( http://www.loc.gov/copyright/1201/anticirc.html [loc.gov])

    DO NOT JUST EMAIL! READ THE SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS [loc.gov]

    File a reply comment to the MPAA's or other pro-DMCA submission.

  • I am really beginning to resent the fact that Slashdot feels the need to go out prostelitizing in the name of all "Geek-dom". Quite frankly I am embarrassed for some of the people here on slashdot for holding the views that they hold. Furthermore, it gives people who are geeks but do not share your views a bad reputation. Quite frankly, I don't believe in your communist, "productive-mind raping" views. I think it's great when someone decides to put their work up in the public domain. But I also believe in an individual or organization's right to proprietary ownership of their own work. So please, Mr. Katz, and the rest of you slashdotters, please don't go around screaming "these are geek views", because not all geeks think alike. That's what makes the geek community so great; the wild variation and depth of views and intellectual pursuits. If I wanted to participate in a clone culture I'd go where the real action is: MSDN.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2000 @06:16AM (#1223050)
    Did you know that in 1986, it became illegal to listen to certain types of receive only radios in the US? And that the manufacture or import of these types of radios became illegal in 1994? This, of course, refers to the Electronic Communications Protections Act, the law which makes it illegal to listen to cellular radio calls (I refuse to call it "phone") that were being TRANSMITTED OVER THE AIR AND IN THE CLEAR (not encrypted). This was the first time in the history of the US that listening to a radio of any kind became illegal. This is just a shocking, mind bending event. It went unnoticed by the public. Instead of the right solution of cell companies encrypting their transmissions (expensive to them), they just lobbied congress to make listening in illegal (cheaper for them). Now cell companies could tell customers that their calls were "safe" because it's illegal for anyone to listen. In 1994, the cell phone move was brought to conclusion by banning production or import of radios that could receive cellular (824-851 uplink,869-694MHz downlink). Now maybe you think listening to cell calls is wrong and "so what"? Well, it's the slippery slope. It sets the stage for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to have his segment of the RF spectrum made "illegal" to listen to also. Cordless phone frequencies are now on the list, though receivers are not yet banned. Maybe cops will want to be next so "evil pedophile criminals can't use a scanner from radio shack to evade the law". There is also no digital modulation scheme that is defined as "in the clear" by the ECPA. So as companies moce RF emmissions to digital schemes, a massive false sense of security will be created. US digital cellular is *not* encrypted, just digitally modulated and receivable by *any* digital cell phone when put into the secret "test modes". Accountability of public services (police, fire, FBI, etc.) will quietly disappear as they buy new digital two-way radios. Do you think quality of police service will get better if they think the public cannot listen to them anymore? And to think, Americans used to scoff at the Soviet Union for prohibiting all but state approved radios. Truly we have become the evil.

    Now the software industry is doing the same thing. Constitutional rights be damned.

  • by M-2 ( 41459 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @05:56AM (#1223051) Homepage

    ('we' being 'the citizens of the United States of America' for all the foreign slashdotters.)

    That's the question that needs to be looked at here. What can we, as a group, as a rising political force do to stop this? They ('they' being 'the forces of big business who want to control our minds in a way that Orwell may have not imagined at all') have managed to run this through the Congress using tremendous amounts of money that your average geek doesn't have. (The only one that DOES would be Gates, and we can be pretty sure he doesn't care either.)

    Some ideas:

    • It may be time for a geek-out. Every techie in America calls in protesting, and we get together in state capitols to protest. Set up booths to actually sign petitions to present to the state legislatures and to our Congressmen.
    • Let's take it one step further, maybe. A Million Geek March. A firm show of what we are willing to do, to say to these people, "Not just this far and no further, but you have gone TOO FAR and we want you to step back!".
    • Remember that spamming Washington is NOT a good idea - it says nothing to them. We need to seize the moral high ground and KEEP it. Maybe it's crazy, but if we can present our side of things to Congress AND the public, AND we can keep ourselves from looking like maniacs, we can take that high ground. This means, unfortunately, we may not want to let some of our more vocal friends out of the box. This is going to take a skill that many in the Open Source community do not have: Tact.

    Anyone else have ideas as to how we can turn things around within the system? I'd prefer to start inside than try to break it from outside.

  • by LordTherem ( 42375 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @07:03AM (#1223052)
    Colleges are not ISPs, and bandwidth isn't free. They have very limited bandwidth for their userbase, often doubly hampered by halfassed attempts at upstream providers. If ANY application starts pegging their outgoing traffic at 100% 24/7, they're going to ban it or shut it down.

    I spoke with the admin of a large university in upstate New York, who told me that the actual content of the traffic doesn't concern him unless someone complains about it - but if any one person or application starts using huge amounts of bandwidth, irrespective of what they're doing, he'll move to shut them down.

    So long as bandwidth isn't free, Napster cannot exist in the high-speed environment of a university LAN. While I personally don't like the DMCA and would like nothing better than to see it repealed, this particular issue has nothing to do with it.
  • by G27 Radio ( 78394 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @07:10AM (#1223053)
    1.Katz talks about how wonderful the Net is in allowing new artists to make it around the record industries selection procedures. The whopping majority of mp3s being traded, however, are the works of the bigshot celebs who have already made it. Sure the new kids have a chance to distribute their music, but it's not as though they've suddenly found an equal market. The primary purpose of mp3s is (and always has been) to steal the latest best-selling albums so that you don't have to fork out a couple bucks for it.

    Oh puh-lease. The primary purpose of MP3's is and always has been to steal the latest best-selling albums? Wake the fuck up! The primary purpose of MP3's has been to make it easier to widely distribute audio--something that big companies have had a stranglehold for a long time now.

    It's no suprise that the MP3 format gets used for piracy--it's made for distributing audio! You say that "the whopping majority of mp3s being traded, however, are the works of the bigshot celebs who have already made it." I know this is probably obvious to most people but I'll take some time to explain this to you:

    Local musicians commonly spent US$10 PER CD to have CD's manufactured so they'd have something to give to their fans, AT A LOSS. The big studios, OTOH manufacture billions of CD's at a fraction of the cost, then sell them in thousands of stores across the world. Now, does it really seem like much of a suprise that most of MP3's available happen to be the same music that has been the most widely available?

    7.It all comes down to theft. We want to steal music that other people have spent millions to produce, and they want us to pay for it instead. We're pissed off because they're coming ever closer to preventing us from illegally copying their works. We have no right to be as righteously indignant as Jon Katz has portrayed himself

    It does NOT all come down to theft. The fact is that MP3's are gaining popularity with local musicians who want a method to distribute their music without getting bent over by a major record label in the process. Stopping the distribution of MP3's is the only way for the big labels to insure their dominance. In case you haven't been paying attention, piracy by MP3 has not hurt them. The threat is music that is distributed by MP3 that is NOT pirated.

    There is no music revolution. We're just trying to find better ways to steal.

    God this is such a troll...you keep using the word "We" a lot, and I know that should have been an indicator early on... If you're speaking as a member of the RIAA then I apologize, you're not a troll and I applaud your honesty on this point.

    Well "we", as in my group of friends, are very excited about the opportunity to use the MP3 format to distribute music globally. The fact that the MP3's we will produce in the coming month will face hurdles getting onto college campuses due to the efforts of the RIAA helps no one but the members of the RIAA.

    No, without the ability for everyday people to distribute digital audio without the RIAA as middle-men, there will be no music revolution.

    numb
  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @06:07AM (#1223054) Homepage
    Some miscellaneous comments:
    1. Katz talks about how wonderful the Net is in allowing new artists to make it around the record industries selection procedures. The whopping majority of mp3s being traded, however, are the works of the bigshot celebs who have already made it. Sure the new kids have a chance to distribute their music, but it's not as though they've suddenly found an equal market. The primary purpose of mp3s is (and always has been) to steal the latest best-selling albums so that you don't have to fork out a couple bucks for it.
    2. The DMCA is not trying to redefine entertainment on the web. It is trying to reclaim what is legally theirs. Record companies spend millions of dollars signing artists and releasing albums so that they can make a profit -- this is no less noble than any other business. People have found an easy way around this, however, and they're taking advantage of it. The purpose of the DMCA is to defend against outright copyright infringement, which is what we are all doing.
    3. College students don't have the ability to download mp3s onto college sites simply because the schools think it's harmless; They can do it because the schools generally don't know about it. Most schools will attempt to eliminate any type of non-official server they are aware of.
    4. I hate having to repeat this, but copyright issues are not why schools are concerned. They're primary issue is with *bandwidth*. If napster didn't hog up so much space in the pipes, nobody would give a damn.
    5. Free music sites did not proliferate because they piggy-backed off of educational sites where users. They proliferated because they had FREE MUSIC. Sites run off of school servers are nearly impossible to find. Go to the UC Berkeley web page and tell me where you see mp3s.
    6. Katz admonishes colleges and universities for worrying more about copyright infringement than about free speech; He absolutely fails to realize that these artists' never intended that their work be given away. Free speech doesn't mean "gratis."
    7. It all comes down to theft. We want to steal music that other people have spent millions to produce, and they want us to pay for it instead. We're pissed off because they're coming ever closer to preventing us from illegally copying their works. We have no right to be as righteously indignant as Jon Katz has portrayed himself.
    There is no music revolution. We're just trying to find better ways to steal.

    ICQ: 49636524
    snowphoton@mindspring.com
  • by nullity ( 115966 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @05:52AM (#1223055) Homepage
    The digital millenium copyright act certainely posses distinct dangers to existing leeway under copyright laws. But it also forces the law to "smarten up" about the digital world. That said, there are *good* clauses, like specifically allowing reverse engineering for compatibility. BRAVO!.

    Before people snipe at it based on the above (which is certainely a valid perspective), I would highly encourage people to peruse the bill for themselves. Its long, yes, but very clear and direct as these things go. The complete text [gpo.gov] can be found online, but there are also many good abridged versions! Give it a shot....this is a very accessible and important document for all of us (even non-americans).

    Sometimes I think its better to institute a clear law I agree with less...than to continue using a decrepit and unreliable set of rulings. AT least now I have some idea of the "official" stance on things. :-)

    -nullity-

    I am nothing

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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