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Congress Plans DMCA Sequel: The SSSCA 935

Declan McCullagh writes: "If you thought the DMCA was a nightmare, wait 'til you find out what Congress is planning this fall. The sequel is called the "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act," and it requires PCs and consumer electronic devices to support "certified security technologies" to be approved by the Commerce Department. Backers of the SSSCA include Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), who heads the powerful Senate Commerce committee, and, reportedly, Disney. Wired News has a report, and I've placed the SSSCA draft text (new! more criminal penalties!) online here. D'ya think that maybe Congress doesn't like OSS very much?" This is only a draft, not even introduced as a bill yet, but it sends chills down my spine - this is the big one. If passed, it would require all personal computers to have digital rights management built in, under penalty of law.
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Congress Plans DMCA Sequel: The SSSCA

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  • Re:Surely not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:09AM (#2267270)
    So that would make it illegal to sell my current PC, after the law came into place? Oh, that's a *great* idea. Just outlaw millions of computers currently in use. Clever.
  • what's happening? The US government is obviously being terribly corrupted by various organizations with lots of money. The fact that this bill is even being contemplated says a lot about what corporations will do. Libertarians seem to think that by reducing gov't influence in daily life that things will somehow work out for the better. Hmm. Stupid! Sorry, but the fact is that corporations would have even more control and we would live in a capitalist dictatorship! Right now, the balance is sliding ever so slowly towards more power for corporations. It is only slow because they are somewhat restricted in their methods by regulations of the gov't. And the gov't is the only organization which has the power to respond appropriately to pressure from the citizens. Boycotts only work with massive support, and I don't think American consumers have the balls to do that anymore. On the other hand, only relatively large numbers of citizens are required to raise enough stink to get legislation trashed. Good luck USA - you are gonna need it. I'm scared living in Canada just because of proximity.
  • Armchair Bitching (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:14AM (#2267290) Homepage Journal
    This just seems like another opportunity for Slashdotter to bitch and moan, without actually doing anything to help. If this happens again the law would actually pass, and we'd all be screwed.

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

    I'm just sick and tired of everyone here being complacent and not doing anything useful to put a stop to stuff like this.
  • The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), scheduled to be introduced by Hollings, backs up this requirement with teeth: It would be a civil offense to create or sell any kind of computer equipment that "does not include and utilize certified security technologies" approved by the federal government.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by phantumstranger ( 310589 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:19AM (#2267326) Homepage
    i read, "In General -- It is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies that adhere to the security system standards adopted under section 104." (Emphasis added)

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

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

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

  • by Roundeye ( 16278 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:21AM (#2267335) Homepage
    The draft as it reads in the version posted outlines a ludicrous piece of law. It's not hard to see how this puts a burden on industry, further restricts Fair Use (especially in conjunction with the DMCA) and strengthens the rights of the copyright holders (especially in conjunction with the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension -- aka "Mickey Mouse Copyright" -- Act) at the expense of the public domain. It's easy to see how vague the bill will be and how perilous the law: consider the definition of "interactive digital device" ... "any ... technology ... that is ... used for the primary purpose of storing ..." -- an HP calculator with 2K RAM would qualify; have fun with the myriad valid ways to read that overly-broad definition.

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

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

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

  • by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:22AM (#2267344) Homepage Journal
    Does the bill have any provisions for letting you uninstall the digital rights management software? Or will it be embedded in hardware, making it impossible to bypass? It depends on how it's implemented, if it was actually written correctly it could be something we don't have to really worry about.

    But seriously, I bet 90% of people out there would not care if they heard of this bill. They'd go "I'm not a music pirate; I can go through a little extra hassle if I get to pay less for my music CD" or something similar. We need to give them something that'll make them care, maybe some piece of software that refuses to work if digital rights management is being used on their systems. In any case, something must be done, and now.
  • We need a PAC! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NickV ( 30252 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:24AM (#2267351)
    Goddamn it, we need a Political Action Committee in support of digital rights. We have no voice on the hill right now, and until we get one we are SCREWED with these laws!

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

    We need to put our money where our mouths are. Anyone have any suggestions on how to start a PAC?
  • by Wolfkin ( 17910 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:25AM (#2267352) Homepage

    Libertarians seem to think that by reducing gov't influence in daily life that things will somehow work out for the better. Hmm. Stupid! Sorry, but the fact is that corporations would have even more control and we would live in a capitalist dictatorship!

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

  • by billh ( 85947 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:25AM (#2267356)
    I think you miss some of the points of libertarianism. Let me just rebutt your argument for now.

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

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

    Let the states fight it out, and we all win. It is easier for individuals and small interests to act at a state level, and the effects of crazy laws such as this one would be minimized. Many state constitutions are very restrictive, also, and that is yet another benefit. When it becomes more difficult for the government to enact arbitrary laws such as this, there will be less arbitrary laws.
  • by JeremyYoung ( 226040 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:30AM (#2267376) Homepage
    ... in convincing everyone of this concept of "intellectual property" and it's supposed sovereign position over free speech. They seem to have even convinced our representatives in congress, which is most terrifying.

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

    Copyright law, from which this concept of IP sprang was a set of laws GRANTED TO ARTISTS by the people of the United States to allow them to earn a living off their creation and encourage them to continue working. Now capitalists have formed business models based on buying and selling those copyrights and suddenly the copyright is more important than the first amendment?? Why is it suddenly more important that we protect the business model of distributors of copyrighted material than it is to protect the freedom that allows the creators of our country to build upon prior knowledge?
  • by rhadamanthus ( 200665 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:32AM (#2267390)
    But instead I am going to try to remain rational and point out some obvious consequences to this "legislation" (read-obvious show of who really runs US government). Disregarding the obvious foreshadowment of true corporate-government, I feel that the foremost problem with this law will be strictly in science communities. I expect a great deal of the better educated and "frontline" scienticts to leave the country. Most notably, expect cryptographers and computer programmers in "high-risk" jobs to exit quickly--thus degrading the quality of these critical applications. I think Russia said it best when they discouraged their tech-heads travelling to the US for fear of litigation. We are a corporate entity now, and the rights or actions of a single man jeapordize this mentality, and therefore incur the wrath of a legal system designed for only two parties: lawyers and businesses. How amazing this is. That a country like ours can only 20-30 years ago (and today i guess) be such a leader (perhaps the leader) in tech advances and science, only to regress backwards because new technology and research cuts into corporate profits on lousy, old-fashioned products and business models. Imagine if the encryption is weak on US nuclear weapons codes, but no is *allowed* to alert the government that terrorists can break the code...

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

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

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

  • by jjn1056 ( 85209 ) <jjn1056@yahoo.cTIGERom minus cat> on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:42AM (#2267430) Homepage Journal
    I don't think it wise to rely on the hardware manufacturers to stop this type of law. We have to remember, they are also big companies which have only one overiding goal: profit. All that it would take to win their undying support is for some way of offsetting the costs to them be created. Maybe the music/video industry would arrange some sort of profit sharing mechanism for computer vendors that sell cd or dvd players?

    We also have to remember that most of the costs for developing the software and changing the production lines to incorporate them are upfront. The costs would certainly decrease over time. Look at the V-chip for an example.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:44AM (#2267439)
    umm, if you live in GA you need to worry about the god damn woman who thinks she can [usatoday.com]
    hear dead people talking to her.
    I am sick and tired of idiots being elected to office and deciding that there is this need for extremely harsh legislation.

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

    We elected these idiots to protect *us* not them!
  • Banning Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:45AM (#2267443) Journal
    Should this bill be introduced, passed, and signed, it might have serious effects on the ability to run Linux in the U.S. The bill explicitly refers to software--including, I presume Linux, but even if it applied only to hardware, drivers to use the new "secure" videocards, "soundcards", and other mandated hardware components would most likely not be open source, due to licensing/certification requirements.

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

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

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

    So, don't think of this as just another DMCA. Think of the bill as a "closed source subsidy act". Think of Jack Valenti and his ilk rooting your box...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2001 @12:02PM (#2267515)
    Most electronics are manufactured in Asia,
    where they probably will not adopt this legislation.. So, IF this law was passed,
    they'd probably start manufacturing 'US models'
    in compliance with the law, and ordinary computers
    for the rest of the world. That's not going to
    help the copyright holders much. Most people don't
    live in the USA (Belive it or not-Congressmen!)

    I see an interesting scenario ahead with hackers
    smuggling contraband electronics over the US-Mexican border.. :-)
  • by AIndividual ( 467778 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @12:02PM (#2267521) Homepage
    "Does the bill have any provisions for letting you uninstall the digital rights management software? Or will it be embedded in hardware, making it impossible to bypass?"

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

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

    Rant and Rave about this at Enigmous [enigmous.com]
  • by mrogers ( 85392 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @12:04PM (#2267534)
    Stop buying Disney products. Tell your friends to stop buying Disney products, and tell them why:

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

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

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

  • by scruffy ( 29773 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @12:10PM (#2267552)
    Copying is a fundamental operation of computers. Most of what a computer does is to make a copy from one place and move it to another place (e.g., between floppies, disks, tapes, memory, cache, registers, CD, and so on). How the hell are you going to enforce a copy control scheme on every piece of hardware and software (down to every instruction)?
  • by GemFire ( 192853 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @12:25PM (#2267637) Homepage
    As someone experienced with writing letters to Congressmen, I'm afraid I don't have much hope in making a change that way. But I am also with an organization - starting at least 3 years later than it should have, but hopefully it isn't too late - with the aim of changing American Consumers into American Citizens who have a stake in the laws governing them. With the entire nation (or even a significant portion) standing against these laws, no congressman who even contemplates another term would offer their vote.

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

    Americans for Constitutional Copyright

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

    EFF is another good group to join.
  • by Proteus7 ( 468513 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @12:48PM (#2267778)
    The 'computer industry' does not serve your interests, only a set of narrow corporate interests. Most manufacturers are already in bed with Hollywood (ie Apple via Pixar, IBM is always trying to cook up some security scheme to curry favor with the glitterati, Microsoft via X-Box and Hollywood game developers etc).

    The basic issue is that corporate money has buried the interests of ordinary people. Until we have campaign finance reform (unlikley), we are going to see an unending tide of outrageous legislation pass that serves narrow corporate interests and binds you, as an individual, into a tighter and tighter web of control.

    The U.S. government has spun out of the control of its people. Americans are now living in the world's first rogue corporate state. This new state has only one aim:


    Ask any CEO how to maximize profit and they will tell you to find a way to keep your customers "captive".

    You can expect the government to now do everyrthing to assure that you remain a "captive", consumer. Even if you are boiling with rage you'll have nowhere to turn but back to the couch.

    So back to the couch, assholes! There you may await instructions as to exactly what you want and what you may lawfully do with your day.

    Good night, America!

  • by jchristopher ( 198929 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @12:57PM (#2267833)
    Clearly you didn't read the article. This bill, if passed, would make it a crime to use Linux, since it does not (and probably won't) incorporate the copy protection standards set by the government.

    If you are thinking WHAT THE FUCK after you read the article, then yes, I think you are reading it correctly.

    So one of two things will happen. Let's use Red Hat as an example:

    1. Red Hat will refuse to incorporate this copy protection code, will be sued, and will be branded in the media as existing solely for the purpose of copyright infringment; and end users will suffer the same fate - your ISP will be required by law to report the location of anyone downloading a Linux distribution or accessing their network using a computer running Linux.

    2. The other possiblity is that Red Hat will be bullied into compliance, incorporating this code and these standards into their OS whether they like it or not.

    It WILL happen. The first "Linux is a circumvention device" trial is coming - within 2 years, I bet, and the way they are going to play it will be "why don't the hackers just add our copyright protection code to their OS? Because they only use that OS for PIRACY. Otherwise they would just use Windows" (Copyright Code Compliant, of course.)

  • by j7953 ( 457666 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @01:38PM (#2268044)
    strengthens the rights of the copyright holders

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

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

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

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

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

  • by hysterion ( 231229 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @02:03PM (#2268176) Homepage
    My first remark is that pushing for even more drastic laws is certainly, in part, a tactic to draw pressure away from the DMCA. Let's not fall into this trap.

    The second is that as usual, the general public cannot be made to care about this unless we strip the question down to its (nontechnical) essentials.

    Let's do ourselves a favor. Forget all our beloved jargon (TCP/IP, p2p, FTP, usenet, freenet, etc.), concentrate on something like simply email -- which people know about, care for and roughly understand --, and publically ask Senators Hollings and Stevens elementary questions like this:

    1) Any viewable item on a computer exists as a file, that is, a sequence of 0's and 1's stored in memory.

    2) e-mail is a popular device which allows jack@university.edu to send a copy of any file to jill@provider.net, completely independent of whether the copy is "legitimate" or not.

    Are you opposed to email? If not, then exactly how do you intend to prevent "illegitimate" uses of it, without invading everyone's privacy?

  • by pyramid termite ( 458232 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @02:16PM (#2268232)
    Boycott popular, corporate-owned culture. If the price of having the ocean of swill we call a culture is to have our hardware and software crippled, then it's time to turn our backs on it. Support free and open software, music, books and entertainment. Turn the TV and the radio off. Dare to start a culture where free individuals share their art with one another instead of having some mass media entity bastardize it into mush so it can be shoved down people's throats. If you have to buy something produced by these clowns, buy it used. Are bread and circuses worth our freedom? I suppose they can stop us from "pirating" their goods - but they can't make us watch or listen to them and they can't stop us from creating things on our own and sharing them with each other. If you can't support this boycott totally, do as much as you can and most importantly, support the lone, independant artists who are on the web, giving their work to anyone who is willing to try it out. Every time we do this, we are encouraging the development of art outside the mass media.

    We do not have to consume.
  • Turnabout (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @02:24PM (#2268265) Homepage
    I'd suggest writing the appropriate Congresscritters and suggesting that you'll support passage of that law only if it requires hardware to completely comply with copyright law, including USC Title 17 Sections 106 through 122 and Section 1201(c), and all relevant case law. The corps would drop this like a hot potato if the hardware was legally required to enforce those portions of copyright law, because most of their copy-protection schemes would be illegal.
  • by TWR ( 16835 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @02:36PM (#2268309)
    There are laws which require chemicals be added to things like fuel oil, so they don't work as well in bombs or so the bomb can be traced after it explodes (you can figure out who sold it). They don't much impact the non-bomb use of fuel oil, so it isn't seen as a big deal by the manufacturers. After all, it fights terrorism and defends America and such.

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

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

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

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


  • by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @02:36PM (#2268314)
    I never could have imagined that one day, there would be such a thing as an illegal pocket calculator. I mean, according to these laws, if Texas Instruments continued to make its TI-8x series of calculators without modifying them to take into consideration the USA's bizaar intellectual property laws, they would be breaking the law by selling a non-compliant pocket calculator.

    I can just see it now. Its early Friday afternoon after a long day at high-school. A group of students just wrap up their math club and exit the school, when they are confronted by the FBI - hearing screams of "Freeze Poindexter! Drop that contraband! Drop your calculators! Now, dammit or we will shoot!"
  • Statuatory damages (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. ( 142215 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @02:48PM (#2268361) Homepage
    And the civil penalties include statuatory damages. I.E. you are required to pay money even if it can't be proved any profits or damages occurred, or even if you can prove there were no profits or damages.

    Statuatory damages can be assessed no matter what.

    $200-$2500 in damages per offense can get very expensive for individuals.
  • by mikethegeek ( 257172 ) <blair@NOwcmifm.c ... M minus language> on Saturday September 08, 2001 @03:56PM (#2268577) Homepage
    I applaud your well written letter. Unforunately, it's going to John McCain-McCain, who is probably more in the pockets of the media (IP cartels) than anyone in the Senate.

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

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

    But, it's good that you do this. After all, the sinners are the one who MOST need education.
  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @05:26PM (#2268885)
    We have one. Slashdot mentions it over and over again. It is the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It may not be a true PAC, but it beats the hell out of having nothing. And perhaps if the EFF were to recieve more funding, it would be able to start a PAC branch - something we truly need.

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

  • by AIndividual ( 467778 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @05:59PM (#2268972) Homepage
    I'll answer your question with another question.... "Didn't the DMCA pass?" And yes, there ARE attempts to do many things like this in European countries.....the DMCA was passed because countries signed a WIPO treaty (World Intellectual Property Organization). That treaty's purpose was to push laws like the DMCA and the SSSCA through. The DMCA was passed because congress didn't think they were in accordance with that treaty..... Denmark is a country I know of that was forced to change their laws to allow copyright enforcers to perform search and seizure without telling the companies or individuals first....
  • by jtdubs ( 61885 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:05PM (#2269593)
    Advertising is NOT pointless. Without advertising no one would know about half the products that exist. I've SEEN my brother watch a commercial for Domino's and say "Hey, mom! Can we get a pizza?"

    No, Advertising doesn't affect everyone, but it doesn't need to. It helps create product awareness though. Damned right it does. That is COMPLETELY different than a boycott.

    Boycotts, unless done in mass, are COMPLETELY ineffective. I think you are entirely wrong that "[changing] a few people's minds [will] start hurting a company's profits."


    "Hey Daddy, I wanna go see the new Disney movie!!"
    "I'm sorry honey we are boycotting Disney"
    "What's that?"
    "That means Disney is bad, and to punish them we aren't going to see their movie."
    "Oh, okay, well in that case nevermind. I completely understand your reasons and am willing to sacrafice something I enjoy to make them pay."

    Just TRY convincing the average consumer and their kids that they should have to abstain from something they enjoy to punish Disney. Go ahead, try it. Cause, guess what, if they don't do it, NO ONE IN THE WORLD WILL NOTICE. And I guarantee that the average consumer doesn't give a fuck about your boycott. You think Disney is really worried about the geeks boycotting their films? Hah!


    Even more hilarious is thus:

    Everytime ANYONE does anything bad all you geeks cry out "boycott!". But none of you ever actually do it. Statistically, I'm guessing 0.5% of you actually boycott. Maybe less. And I'm betting only 1% of people are "geeks", maybe less. Well, that's about 50,000 people in an international market of billions boycotting. Even if I'm off by two powers of ten, it's still only a few million people (a few tenths of a percent of a billion). Run scared Disney, we've got you by the balls now.

    Justin Dubs
  • by segfault_0 ( 181690 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:09PM (#2269602)

    If you read the entire submission the document states that it is only illegal to transmit,circumvent, etc... digital information that is first protected by this standard..

    Therefore if linux users do not adopt the standard and do not transmit,etc.. materials already protected then there is no infraction. This is directly aimed for digital commerce of music and the like, for intellectual property holders who want to use it..

    Please clarify what this has to do with Linux/*nix who's intellectual property belongs to the public under the GNU Licensing etc...We don't have to use this if we dont want to...we just cant mess with the stuff of people who do adopt it.
  • by IronChef ( 164482 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @10:47PM (#2269686)

    I think the spirit of your letter is good, especially the last paragraph. But, IMHO, talking about Finnish students and that lye-nux thing is just going to confuse the fat old guy and whoever he has opening his mail. I think the major arguments boil down to this. (not in order)

    1. This legislation would give a cartel of companies unprecedented control over our personal computers. No other consumer goods would be subject to such restrictions.

    2. This law presumes that a computer owner is up to no good. It is anti-freedom and anti-American in every sense of the words. Many machines have illegal uses, but the legal uses outweigh them, so they remain available in an unmodified form. Computers should be no different.

    3. If all computer hardware and software must conform to these new content control standards, it will severely curtain the availability of free software and low-cost hardware. Some freely-available computer software is used by some of our very largest corporations. Yahoo, for example, extensively uses computer software called "FreeBSD" that was developed collectively by a group of generous hobbyist programmers. [a gross oversimplification, but required I think. -IronChef] Such free software projects will become endangered unless the content control measures are freely available to implement.

    4. Related to the above, there will surely be a cost to becoming compliant with these provisions. This cost will be a barrier for new companies who want to get involved in the computer hardware or software market. This will curtail our economic growth. No longer will a genius in a garage be able to write the next great piece of software -- instead, expensive legal issues will tie the innovator's hands. Again, this is anti-American.

    5. Lastly and most importantly, the American people will rightly see this as Big Brother nosing into their homes and offices. Years from now, the passing of this law will be seen as a serious blow to our freedom, and those who supported it will be remembered as corporate lackeys rather than representatives of the people of the people. Talk to your constituents, not the companies, and you will understand.

    Now I gotta go put all that into a proper letter myself.

    This stuff makes me spittin' mad.

  • by mr_monkey56k ( 520167 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:57PM (#2269814)
    This SSSCA insanity reminds me of a quote from Cid Meier's awsome game, Alpha Centauri:

    "As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master." Couldn't have said it better myself...=)

  • Some thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rocketboy ( 32971 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @01:05AM (#2269928)
    Some good comments and potentially useful courses of action have been posted here; that's good, it demonstrates the utility and power of open communication to clarify and help to solve difficult issues. Alas, that's a nice sentiment completely lost on the US Congress. I don't think anyone yet realizes the scope of this draft legislation. Let me point out some of the ramifications which have occurred to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 09, 2001 @04:03AM (#2270177)
    <sarcasm> Killing their careers isn't enough. These people are üntermenschen; they are no more than dog-dirt on society's heels. What they need are .45" holes in their heads. &lt/sarcasm>

    All kidding and exaggeration aside, these folks are insulated from the reality of their actions. They need to be made accountable for the evil (and evil it is) which they are spreading. I'm not certain what mechanism may be adopted to do this while at the same time preserving our liberty, but something must be done.

    Me, I refuse to knowingly pay for anything from Disney ever again. I might steal it, if I want it badly enough, but they will not get a penny if I have any control over matters. Note the fact that the Disney channel is now part of the standard cable install--note also that AFAIK one cannot have it turned off, and the equivalent sum credited on one's bill. One of the reasons I do not subscribe to a cable service.

    Note also that this is coming from a Democrat. Democrats and Republicans alike share no concern for our liberties. They are both parties of the State in exactly the same way as the Communists were the Party in the Soviet Union. Sure, Democrats are a stupid, and Republicans are priggish--but underneath it all, they're the same thing. They stand for the same thing: State power. They care nothing for the essential liberties which seperate the free man from the slave.

    Note again that Europe is no better off. In Europe, freedom is something for the corporation and for society--not for the individual. In Germany one cannot even choose a name for one's child freely. What makes Europeans believe that these measures are that far off in their own states? We are, after all, talking about the same states which already restrict innumerable rights of their citizens.

    These corporations, their mouthpieces and their stockholders are effectively unaccountable for their crimes. We must find some way to prevent their heinous activities. Copyright is essentially a good thing. It has been perverted such that it lasts an eternity (anything which lasts longer than oneself is effectively eternity). It has been abused to justify such nonsense as digital rights management. And now this disgusting bill is on the verge of being considered by our Congress.

    This Must Stop!

  • by warpeightbot ( 19472 ) on Sunday September 09, 2001 @01:31PM (#2270972) Homepage
    Somebody mod this up, for once the AC has a point...

    I refrained from saying this before, but it's early on a Sunday morning, and I'm just uninhibited enough...

    Aside from a few enlightened souls in the judiciary, The American System has proven it does not listen to us (==geeks) when we work within it. It may well be time to consider working outside the system. This does not require bloodshed, or violence of any kind other than the variety committed with a keyboard. But I know one thing for sure. If all the important geeks banded together and said "Monday at noon EDT the Internet goes DOWN for one hour" and followed thru, it would get a whole bunch of people's undivided attention.

    Would the jack-booted thugs come out and round us all up? Maybe, I don't know. But if we got enough involvement (see also whichever Scandinavian king it was wearing a yellow arm band during the German occupation) they couldn't just hold us, because the Internet would be down and we'd have them by the balls.

    Power no longer proceeds forth from the barrel of a gun, Chairman Mao. Power proceeds forth from the RJ-45 on the end of a piece of CAT-5. Information is it, and us geeks control it. We have the power. We need to set about using it.

    Maybe in a few years, the word "geek" will inspire respect in the hearts of the just, and stark terror in the eyes of those who would keep us from being free.

    It is interesting to note the progression of what has commonly been carried in some sort of holster on one's belt... until the 1800's, it was the sword. Then it was the gun. In the 50's, it was the slide rule. Then the beeper. Now it is the cell phone and the handheld computer.

    Power, folks. Think carefully. Use wisely. But do NOT, under any circumstances, allow the bastards to get us down. Repeal of the DMCA should be the very first tiny step.

    And if anyone should think otherwise, no, I do NOT advocate overthrow of the American government.... I advocate its restoration. It has been overthrown by the twin tyrranies of Big Business (the GOP) and Victimhood (the DNC). The old framework is still there, in the Constitution. It's just being ignored.

    "Never start a fight.... but always finish it."
    -- John Sheridan, quoting his father (Babylon 5 "Severed Dreams", #310)

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson