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The Almighty Buck

MPAA Wants Copy-Controlled PCs 773

phil reed writes: "According to our favorite media mogul, Jack Valenti (as stated in this letter in the Washington Post, all PCs need to have strong copy protection built in. 'Computer and video-device companies need to sit at the table with the movie industry. Together, in good-faith talks, they must agree on the ingredients for creating strong protection for copyrighted films and then swiftly implement that agreement to make it an Internet reality.' Way to go, guy."
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MPAA Wants Copy-Controlled PCs

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  • by edrugtrader ( 442064 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @02:55PM (#3071882) Homepage
    come on kernel hackers, you heard the MPAA, i refuse to run linux anymore until the 2.4 tree includes strong copy protection
    • by daniel_isaacs ( 249732 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:03PM (#3071980) Homepage
      I'd like to know who will be representing Linux at these meetings. I think I'm busy that week, so someone else will have to go.

      • by curunir ( 98273 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:22PM (#3072184) Homepage Journal
        I'm sure Mr. Valenti will be happy to represent the needs and interests of the Linux community.

        After all, he can really identify with the needs of your average linux user...namely, to be able to easily and cost-effectively create Linux rendering farms. He realizes that the average linux user has no need to actually watch DVD's on linux, that's something only pirates do. He realized that reverse engineering Microsoft's protocols was taking up too much effort of the linux community, so he had anti-circumvention provisions built into the DMCA. So now, the linux community doesn't waste nearly as much time doing that.

        So, when you think about, what better representative could Linux have?
    • It's hard for me (a practiced paranoid) not to be really worried when this type of stuff bubbles up to the surface. Imagine a world where it's *illegal* to have full control over your computer. Imagine a world where running a non-copy-protection-compliant operating system (like anything not made by microsoft) is illegal.

  • by spectral ( 158121 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @02:57PM (#3071896)
    I'm sure i'm not the only one who realizes it won't work without legislation. What incentive could companies posisbly have to add this to their products? ("Hey, let's screw over our customers and take it up the a** for the MPAA by adding expensive copy controls and limiting their use!") All it takes is one hardware manufacturer to tell the MPAA to go f*ck itself, and this whole thing falls apart. They might get pre-built companies like dell, gateway, sony (Since part of it is in the MPAA board), but.. what about build your own?

    Are the people at the MPAA really so stupid as to think that they can actually allow us to listen/watch stuff, but not copy it? It has to get decrypted somewhere..
    • by Monte ( 48723 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:10PM (#3072079)
      What incentive could companies posisbly have to add this to their products?

      What incentive is there to put region coding in a DVD player?

      Oh, that's right - it's part of the spec. If you want to license the DVD technology you have to agree that you'll honor region coding.

      There's your answer - the copy protection will be part and parcel of whatever new nifty whiz-bang thing that you can't continue living without (say, HDTV maybe) and the manufacturers won't have a choice.

      And rest assured anything that ain't Wintel or Mac will surely get screwed.

      • by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @04:11PM (#3072585) Homepage Journal
        ...part and parcel of whatever new nifty whiz-bang thing that you can't continue living without...

        You'd be surprised at how many whiz-bang things you can continue living without.

        If you don't download movies or share songs, you don't really need broadband. And that's what the MPAA/RIAA are really afraid of. Not that the Internet will destroy them, but that the Internet will never materialize as a market they can control.

        If you convince yourself that you don't need broadband:

        you can browse the internet using a text-based web browser and avoid the pop-up windows, the banner ads, and the 1x1 pixel web bugs.

        you can network over telephone voiceband channels, which by law cannot be port-blocked, sniffed*, bandwidth-hogged by your neighbor, or QOS'ed into the ground by your provider.

        you can completely avoid DOS attacks, script kiddees, etc, because you know exactly which computer you connected to

        I've had enough of this wonderful Internet. Bring back FidoNet!

    • by xyzzy ( 10685 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:14PM (#3072120) Homepage
      Won't work *without* legislation???!? Won't work *WITH* legislation!

      I really really wish that the Movie and Record industry would lose their image of self-importance in our society that's largely propped up by the Hollywood star machine. It's already well-known that the VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY grosses more money than the film industry (and hey, probably nets more too -- put that in your "2 out of 10" pipe and smoke it, Mr. Valenti!).

      And more to the point, IBM alone grosses more than the film, TV, and music industry put together! If I were Valenti, I'm not sure I'd be making such a ruckus. What if IBM, Sony, Dell, Microsoft, you-name-it got together and said "these movie people are a pain in the ass -- rather than build copy protection into our hardware/software for THEM, we'll just BUY THEM OUT and give away loads of free movies to our customers!"???
      • What if IBM, Sony, Dell, Microsoft, you-name-it got together and said "these movie people are a pain in the ass -- rather than build copy protection into our hardware/software for THEM, we'll just BUY THEM OUT and give away loads of free movies to our customers!"???

        The problem with your theory is that many movie companies are owned by larger companies- companies like Time-Warner (Warner Brothers, New Line), Viacom (I think they own Fox, but I could be wrong) and, yes, Sony does own movie studios(Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures and I believe Revolution pictures), so it's unlikely they'd be a part of your plan. There is also Disney (who own Disney Pictures, Buena Vista, Miramax and maybe others), who may be partnered with another large company as well, I forget.

        I find it unlikely any company could mount a hostile takeover of any of these studios. And if they did, they wouldn't be giving away any free movies- they'd be squeezing consumers for profits to offset the huge aquisition costs.
      • by Wraithlyn ( 133796 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @05:40PM (#3073414)
        "put that in your "2 out of 10" pipe and smoke it, Mr. Valenti"

        Fuckin A. This kind of argument really pisses me off. They claim their have to be controls in place to guarantee that they rake in more money, because what they do is really expensive, and only 2 out of 10 of their products turn a profit.

        Guess what?

        NOT MY FUCKING PROBLEM. Not the consumer's problem. Supply and demand, bubba. It makes the world turn. If movies aren't making as much money as it costs to produce them, then make them cheaper, or go find another line of work. Less ambitious projects, pay the stars less, work more efficiently, cut corners, whatever. The Constitution makes no guarantee that you will be able to continue profitting as you always have, otherwise scribes would have a monopoly on book producing, and printing presses (not to mention laser printers) would be illegal. If you gamble by spending 9 digit sums making a movie, YOU'RE GAMBLING. Don't come crying to us when you can't get people to pay you hundreds of millions of dollars to expose themselves to some nicely arranged photons and sound waves. I can't either.

        It's the same old spiel with the recording industry... "well most music albums don't turn a profit, which is why we have to pass that cost-of-failure price onto you, the consumer". What a load of monopolistic doubleplusgoodspeak.

        "in order to transport movies as agreed to by the consumer on a rent, buy or pay-per-view basis with heightened security"

        Mr. Valenti, please define a public library, and explain how making everything rental or pay per use will benefit the general public.

        "what the critics mean by "innovation" is legalizing the breaking of protection codes, without which there is no protection"

        Copyright law already protects these works. You're not talking about protection, you're talking about corporate mandated enforcement.

        The future is independent content producers, who use the internet as their distribution medium, instead of short sighted, money grubbing, creatively vacant middlemen. The trick will be figuring out how to ensure creators get paid adequately.
        • by msobkow ( 48369 )
          Software development, business processing, video gaming, home video editing, garage band audio recording and editing, internet surfing, and email are just a small handful of legal uses for general purpose PCs. Despite my small social circle, I personally know people who use their machines for each and every one of these purposes -- dozens of them. If you include people I know through work from the "business processing" category, I've known hundreds. How many do I know that "pirate" videos?


          How many do I know that publish pirated videos for people to download?

          None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.


          Because despite what Valenti and co. think, even most so-called "pirates" have morals. The two people I know who "pirate" videos make copies to share with each other because too many of their DVDs were damaged by mailing them back and forth. If a couple CDs with a DiVX gets trashed by the post office, it's only some effort and $1.20 worth of CDRs that are lost.

          I'm sure there are plenty of people interested in downloading free movies, but I think it's safe to assume those are people who would rent or borrow the movie rather than buy a copy.

          It's the same as the Napster demographic -- most Napster hoarders I know didn't spend a lot of money on CDs before Napster, they didn't spend a lot after Napster was shut down, and they never will. Back in the pre-digital days, they were the people who taped songs with a cassette deck from FM radio, while the industry cried that they would be ruined.

          It's time Hollywood got off their monopolistic high horse and accepted that their industry is losing money because it's churning out crap, not because of piracy. I haven't been to a theatre in four years because there hasn't been anything worth paying theatre-ticket prices.

          Most of my DVDs are of movies produced years ago, less than 10% are "new" releases from the past couple years. A huge chunk of that collection is B-movies and anime, neither of which are produced on a tenth of the budget wasted on the advertising budget for the typical Hollywood flop.

        • "what the critics mean by "innovation" is legalizing the breaking of protection codes, without which there is no protection"

          Copyright law already protects these works. You're not talking about protection, you're talking about corporate mandated enforcement.

          You are absolutely right. What is really busting their collective humps is that all these nifty new individually empowering technologies (PCs, Internet, Digital Recorders, etc.) make it impossible to ABSOLUTELY control distribution. That control is the core of their past and current revenue streams. They can't use conventional Copyright control (e.g. legal carpet bombing) on the new "threat". Even though record companies and movie studios are making record sales and profits and show all signs of INCREASING, they FEEL they are being cheated by a stinging swarm of evil copyright pirates.

          A big component of this obsessive control freak paranoia is a variant of Lottery Dreamer Syndrom: "If we could get all those dirty rotten pirates to buy AND we could charge everybody per use on all our properties, THEN we would REALLY see some mula!!! Muahhahaha!!!"

          Couple all of the above with the sheer boom-town greed that all these guys feel about the prospect of a Brand New Distribution Frontier (the Internet) and the frustration of not being able to control it, they then turn to the only means they have left to control the situation: lawmaking. Hence, we have the WTO, DMCA, and so on, and more to follow. They have money, which gives them influence. That lawmaking influence is the only weapon they have against we rapacious pirates, er loyal customers.

          I agree with you that their loud complaints about guarenteeing their traditional revenue falls on very deaf ears with me. What kind of unmitigated sleezy amoral GALL do they have to sweepingly call their customers thieves and lobby governments to force us to buy their product?

          Do these media moguls have a point? Yes. Are they accepting that we who are many, but have faint voices, have a point? No. New technology, as it always does, is disturbing and changing the commercial and rights balance in the world. They are simultaneously panicing and power-grabbing. In fairness, many individuals are pirating and immorally profiting off of the work of others too.

          The bottom line is that all this brouhaha will settle out eventually. However, unless individuals fight for their Fair Use rights and for a fair, open, and TRULY competative market then we consumers are going to find ourselves with unreasonble and unnecessary restrictions and unwanted mandates about how we live our lives.


  • by Bobzibub ( 20561 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @02:57PM (#3071901)
    Dear Editor;

    I'm entertained by Jack Valenti's assertion in his Feb 25th letter that
    "According to the Boston-based consulting firm Viant, some 350,000-plus films
    are being downloaded illegally every day."

    If this is actually the case, then 350 000 * 6 Gbytes per movie (compressed
    DivX at about 400x300 pixels) = 2 100 000 000 000 000 bytes per day.

    That is 16 800 000 000 000 000 bits per day (8 bits per byte) or 16 800 Terra bits per day.

    According to CyberAtlas (please see link below) the entire bandwidth of the
    US internet is only 20 000 Terra bits per day.

    So Mr. Valenti is using figures to advance his argument which imply that
    (world) 'netizens downloading pirate movies would utilize 84% of *all* US
    internet bandwidth. There must be a very 'fat pipe' to River-City.



    http://cyberatlas.internet.com/big_picture/hardw ar e/article/0,,5921_900241,00.html
    • 6 Gbytes per movie (compressed DivX at about 400x300 pixels)
      Hum, 6 gigs per DivX movie? I'm sure you meant 600megs, or 0,6 gb ... that's the most common size, because they want to burn them on cd's :)
    • by asparagus ( 29121 ) <koonceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:02PM (#3071972) Homepage Journal
      But, if a divx movie is only 600MB, rather than 6GB, then we get to drop everything by a factor of 10.

      8.4% of US bandwidth is movies?

      Seems plausible.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't disagree that Mr. Valenti is drastically overstating the amout of bandwidth used, but your math is wrong - DiVX ;-) movies are only about 600-700MB each, not 6GB. So take off a zero on your calculations, and that puts movie traffic at 8.4%, which is still a lot, but not nearly as much.
    • Keep in mind that the US is NOT the ONLY country in the world with internet access. I don't have any figure but I would not at all be surprised if a substancial amount of that traffic originated outside of the US to servers outside of the US. Also so keep in mind that the large proportion of data comprising isn't surprising cosidering the fact that movies are the largest files being downloaded on a regular basis, It would only take a few movies compared to hundreds of regular downloads to take up a substancial majority of the bandwidth.
  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason.nash@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @02:57PM (#3071903)
    The problem with this idea is that there is no incentive for PC makers to put in copy protection for movies. Unless it helps PC makers earn money, they won't bother. Margins are too thin as it is.

    Not everyone cares about the movie/audio industry and they need to figure that out.
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

      "The problem with this idea is that there is no incentive for PC makers to put in copy protection for movies."

      Sure there is -- PC sales are in the toliet and the OEMs are desparate for any applicaiton which moves machines. Machine X which can connect to might have more percieved value than Machine Y which can not.

      Furthermore, as you note, margins are tiny and a MPAA subsidy of $100/box could make a huge difference in the profitability. (This would be like the ISP subsidies which are common.)

      But I suspect that the greater aim of the MPAA is to generate an alternative to programmable PCs and replace them with closed media terminals (such as settop boxes). Due to economies of scale, these terminals will be based on standard PC hardware, and therefore the DRM hardware standards are required if the PC companies want to play ball in that market. After all Gateway could care less if you buy a $500 PC or a $500 Media Consumption Terminal.
  • Does anyone see this happening anytime soon?
    Half the reason they sell some many computers (whether they admit it or not) is so people can listen to music and watch videos and such.. Getting involved with the mpaa at this kind of scale would probably just drag the pc market further into repression making it even harder for college graduates to get jobs.
  • They can't even get a decent copy-protection scheme to work! Everything seems to be cracked almost immediately after the general public hears about it. Either that, or it breaks playback on too many devices. Never mind that as long as the physical properties of wire remain the same, I can always reproduce a movie or a song.


  • Big Table? (Score:5, Funny)

    by dthable ( 163749 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @02:59PM (#3071917) Journal
    He wants to sit down with everyone who develops Linux, FreeBSD and other open source PC products for some good faith talks? That's one big table.
  • I agree, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbessey ( 304651 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @02:59PM (#3071919) Homepage Journal
    Together, in good-faith talks, they must agree on the ingredients for creating strong protection for copyrighted films and then swiftly implement that agreement to make it an Internet reality.

    I agree, as long as that "protection" includes protecting consumer's rights under the Fair Use doctrine of the original Copyright act.

    What's that you say? MPAA doesn't believe in Fair Use? Well, in that case, screw them.


  • Sure, MPAA wants this. But who else would? We've seen this over and over. They put encryption on the discs, but it got broken, cause its decrypted the THE PLAYER. So if the PC is the player, it has to be decrypted IN THE PC. So they know it will get broken, so they effectively want to remove your ability to control your own PC. Not f***ing likely. Get a clue, or die like the conventional music industry is...
  • by TechnoLust ( 528463 ) <kai DOT technolust AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:00PM (#3071937) Homepage Journal
    Because nobody builds there own PCs. All geeks buy their PCs prefab. Are these guys smoking crack?

    If you try to make it a hardware device, I won't buy it, or people that buy preassembled PCs will pay a geek to remove it.

    If you make it software, I won't install it. If you build it into Windows, that's OK, I'll just boot into Linux. Want to include it in Linux? Fine, I have the source code and the knowledge to remove it.

    • by R@Bastard ( 91524 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:52PM (#3072416)

      If you try to make it a hardware device, I won't buy it, or people that buy preassembled PCs will pay a geek to remove it.

      This is the EXACT reason why big corps are so threatened by Free Software. It removes the possibility of "Technological Solution" to their troubles... whatever they can do, we can do better, or we can simply remove.

      That leaves them only with legal, socio-coercive (don't drink and drive type of things) and legislative.

      Legislative is tough because there aren't laws that apply well to the whole globe (but they're sure trying!)...

      Socio-coercive is a pretty tough sell: they've tried to make my Mom feel like a criminal for using Napster, but she clearly know's that she's not.

      Legal: Aha. Now we see why they're doing stupid things like suing Fenton and putting Skylarov in jail. It's their only workable option.

      And even that is looking fishy.

      It's the desperation of a final-stage empire, clearly.

  • "They must"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:00PM (#3071938) Homepage Journal
    Jack, you should know that some companies in the computer industry make more than the entire membership of the MPAA combined. You won't have much luck twisting their arm...

    - A.P.
  • freedom? (Score:3, Flamebait)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:00PM (#3071941)
    I was just having a discussion w/someone last night about how unfree we are.

    who the fuck are they to control PC's? If a vendor wants to force copy protection it is up to them. Tough fucking shit if we decide to boycott, destroy, crack, etc.

    I am sorry but I would rather suckass w/the latest technology of today than suffer through copy-protected PCs of the future.

    Fuck you MPAA.
    • Re:freedom? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:20PM (#3072172) Homepage
      Q: Who the fuck are they?

      A: They're the king-makers. They're the rule-breakers. They're the ones who buy and sell the souls of Congress and the Senate. They're the ones who have the power.

      Q: Who the fuck are you?

      A: You're no one. You're to keep quiet, go to work, and spend as much money as possible on immediate material gratification. Shut up, sit down, be good, give them the money, do what they say, and you better damn well like it.
    • We should consider ourselves normal, because as every other generation has shown, freedom is gained through risk, fight, and struggle and no other way (not even voteing sometimes). However, today our risks are a lot less thanks to others who have got us this far.

      Here, I think the best solution is defiance and civil disobedience of copyrights alltogether. It is only when we get to the root of the problem that we will "free up our children" to go onto the "next generation of fighting".
  • Asking PC makers to copy-control PC storage is like asking paper-makers to copy-control their paper.
  • "[W]hen social policy is created in smoke-filled back rooms, between movie/record company executives and computer company executives [..] [i]s it unexpected that such back-room policies end up favoring the parties who were in the room, at the expense of consumers and the public?" - John Gilmore [toad.com].
  • by joshv ( 13017 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:02PM (#3071961)
    Hang on to those old PCs folks. Sooner than you think might be illegal to use them under the DCMA.

    They'll pry my TI99/4A from my cold, dead fingers.
  • Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by Starship Trooper ( 523907 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:02PM (#3071966) Homepage Journal
    Of course Jack Valenti wants this. This is the same guy who once said "The VCR is to the Movie Industry what the Boston Strangler is to the woman alone". He's not exactly a visionary.

    The question the semi-intelligent people who listen to Jack have to solve now is this: how can we force consumers to buy something they don't want?

    The proven formula for this is legislation. Government mandated airbags have killed more children than school shootings [troynovant.com] - and more importantly, they've created a precedent for how a corporation can incorporate non-features into consumer products.

    Do you think consumers really wanted to buy DVD players with region coding and Macrovision? Was that a feature? The total ownership of the DVD standard presents a second way to force unwanted hardware down the customer's throats: patent a standard, license keys, and use the DMCA to enforce the keyring.

    The infamous SSSCA is their attempt at bring approach #1, and they may also (in parallel) try approach #2. If there's any word I can use to describe the actions of the Movie Industry right now, it's "desperate". They know that the precedents set right now will last for hundreds of years, and they are fighting for what they believe is their very survival.

    The question is, will consumers keep buying Dell and ignore the EFF? And if so, what's the most effective way to raise awareness...
  • Human rights. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Drakula ( 222725 )
    Talk about taking away your basic rights as a human. It's like the government saying, "We can't trust the common person to not commit murder. Therefore, we must place everyone in prison. That is the only way to protect the innocent."

    How does that make sense?

    It is basically takign away everyone's right to make moral decisions about how to conduct their lives. You can't tell me that doesn't violate the constitution/bill of rights somehow.

  • I believe in the phrase, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely". If this insane idea ever gets close to fruition, then he will be one step closer to having that. Copy protection built into PCs and PC like devices will only serve to alienate an already tech weary population. Not to mention Jack's idea of what the people think about 'the net' is a statistical fantasy. From the article: " A recent survey revealed that 68 percent of all home computer users say they're satisfied with their normal 56K computer modem." Does that count the 50% that can't get broadband?!? If broadband were available to everyone, it goes without saying that 90% of people would have it. Just like most people want the faster car or bigger boat.

    Even if it is technically feasible to implement a copy protection scheme on PCs it would next to impposible to ensure they were working and enforced (unless we revert to a police state). Then he claims that this will "benefit consumers by giving them another choice for movie viewing." Hello? Did I miss something. How will removing the ability to make legal copies with my PC give me more choices? Get a clue Jack.
  • by McSpew ( 316871 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:03PM (#3071986)

    What Mr. Valenti fails to understand, and what Bruce Schneier explains so eloquently in Secrets and Lies, is that it's impossible to create a protection technology that cannot be circumvented when the device used for playback is not physically secure from prying, hacking or reverse-engineering. In other words, if you put the equipment and/or software necessary to decrypt the material into the hands of end-users, the protection scheme will eventually be successfully broken.

    Valenti's real enemy isn't the high-school kid who's downloading The Matrix or the college kid who's downloading Star Wars Episode I. It's the guys in Shanghai or Saigon who're pressing thousands of copies of Hollywood movies and selling them for mere pittances. Nothing Valenti has suggested will put a dent in the business conducted by those guys. Until the media companies figure out that their customers are not their enemies, we'll get more of this kind of nonsense.

  • This is from the guy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sulli ( 195030 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:03PM (#3071987) Journal
    who said he slept a little better every night knowing LBJ was president? I find it amazing that people take this jackass seriously.

    If this happens, I will gladly violate the law. Period.

    • by kenthorvath ( 225950 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @04:34PM (#3072776)
      That the idea... you will violate the law.

      "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." -- Ayn Rand

  • They'll probably be able to get Microsoft to include copy-protection in Windows. MS is already doing their best to do that, anyway. Of course, that strategy could cut both ways. If Microsoft keeps adding heinous misfeatures like copy protection and product activation to their OS, it will drive more and more people to install alternative OS software.

    Anyway, Valenti seems to be saying that copy-protection needs to be built into the hardware. I think it's fairly safe to say that if such a thing were to happen, we'd all need umbrellas to protect ourselves from falling pig droppings. Number one, you'd have to have legislation to do it, and such legislation wouldn't be very popular. Number two, can you imagine the outcry from the public? And number three, the technical details for implementing such a scheme are not trivial. I may be a hopeless optimist, but I really don't see this happening any time soon.

  • Dear Jack-- (Score:4, Funny)

    by banuaba ( 308937 ) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `krobrd'> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:04PM (#3071999)
    Eat me.

  • by keithmoore ( 106078 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:04PM (#3072005) Homepage
    So, let's see... the MPAA wants to bug your computer to make sure you don't copy movies,
    the RIAA wants to bug your computer to make sure you don't copy sound recordings, Microsoft wants to bug your computer to make sure you're not running copies of their software (and that you've paid your license fees for this week), and the FBI wants to bug your computer to make sure you're not threatening national security or communicating with terrorists. (And the ISPs want to tell you exactly how you can communicate with others)

    If all of these organizations have their way, there won't be any general-purpose programmable computers anymore - just appliances that can do what Microsoft/MPAA/RIAA and the government think you can be trusted to do without taking away some potential money or power from them.

    • Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TFloore ( 27278 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @04:15PM (#3072625)
      Yep, you just described the perfect setup for the American consumer. No, there are no more American citizens, just consumers.

      Now go out and spend some money to help get us out of our recession. It's your duty as an American.

      My, but I hate getting cynical.

      (Yes, this comment is obviously not meant for the sizeable number of non-American Slashdot readers... but don't worry, our government doesn't have a problem passing laws it thinks applies to you anyway.)
  • by Rayonic ( 462789 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:05PM (#3072006) Homepage Journal
    "MPAA wants a pony for Christmas"
    Some things just ain't gonna happen.
  • by syzxys ( 557810 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:05PM (#3072012)

    When are the RIAA and MPAA going to get it into their skulls that they are not the main source of artistic creativity in the world?

    I always hear these protectionist arguments along the lines of, "well, if you don't protect the RIAA/MPAA, society will decay because there won't be any music or art." Hogwash. These organizations didn't even exist a hundred and fifty years ago, and somehow we still had art and music. In fact, I seem to recall art and music going back to the dawn of human history? What, are they going to give out licenses to take piano lessons next? That'll be the day.

    Jack Valenti is just a middleman, he has no talent on his own. I doubt he even knows that people build their own computers. What, is he going to lobby for that to be illegal next? I wouldn't doubt it. How schizophrenic can society get, people hating Microsoft, but being all right with the crap these control freak organizations put out? It really scares me most times I think of it.

    </rant mode>

    Windows 2000/XP stable? safe? secure? 5 lines of simple C code say otherwise! [zappadoodle.com]
  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:05PM (#3072015) Homepage Journal
    'Trying to make bits uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet. The sooner people accept this, and build business models that take this into account, the sooner people will start making money again.' -- Bruce Schneier
  • by snowlick ( 536497 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:06PM (#3072021) Homepage
    Guns that won't shoot innocent people,
    Microphones that won't record copyrighted soundwaves,
    Pencils that won't write copyrighted strings,
    Speakers that won't vibrate to reproduce copyrighted current patterns,
    Film that won't change when exposed to copyrighted rays of light,
    Oh yeah, and brains that won't remember copyrighted material of any sort.

  • Oh great...then what happens when EMachines goes bankrupt and sells the source code on Ebay for $12?
  • I think what a lot of people don't understand is that when you allow any copyrights at all, you set up a system and situations that inevitably lead to the endless extensions, the DMCA, copy controls on every PC, and eventually the removal of the freedom of speech all together. Sadly, too many people think that idea solution is some type of compromise or reduction, it is not - that will only eventually lead us back to where we are today. It is only when we are willing to fight copyrights altogether with defiance and civil disobedience and make a stand that wee will cut the vine off at the root. I wish people would understand this.

  • by BenSnyder ( 253224 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:07PM (#3072041) Homepage
    I have decided that I want Kraft Macaroni & Cheese to be even cheesier...
  • Shit pretty soon Analog recording will be on the MPAA list of CIRCUMVENTION devices. If its not digital they cannot control it, even if it is digital protecting is questionable.

    I say we all tape our favorite films to 16mm kodachrome and tell the MPAA to go fuck themselves, I miss the days of that click click and splicing my own films :)
  • AFAIC, Jack Valenti is Public Enemy #1. He is the sterotypical grey-haired old man, trying to hold on to his power and empire in fits and spurts before he dies.

    I hate this man.
  • Ummm... licensing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GMontag ( 42283 ) <gmontag AT guymontag DOT com> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:08PM (#3072058) Homepage Journal

    The DVD players are "licensed" already. That did not stop this?

    The DVDs are already encrypted (if they wish to be protected) and that didn't stop this?

    There are already laws "preventing" "illegal" copying and that didn't stop this?

    What the hell is up with Jackie V? His only solutions are to make things more complicated and more expensive!

    Here is a clue: prosecute movie pirates instead of magazines owners and DeCSS programmers!!! Get the cops to arrest people selling pirated movies RIGHT IN FRONT OF MPAA HEADQUARTERS for starters!


    Yes, I do expect a royalty if the above idea is actually ever used.
    • by mskfisher ( 22425 )
      This is precisely the tactic anti-gun forces use, (and which was so prevalent during the Clinton administration)... instead of encouraging the Justice Department to enforce the (quite sufficient and strict) laws currently the books, they try to add more on top.

      It smells like it's building to the day when *surprise!* all of the laws will be enforced.
  • How the hell are they going to make me buy their copy-controlled hardware? Oh, and what's stopping me (or others) to reverse engineer their efforts and release a workaround?

    It seems impossible to me. Maybe they can trick the unsuspecting punter, but not me.

  • by Lictor ( 535015 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:09PM (#3072065)
    Let me get this straight... he wants hardware that will detect all possible programs that will copy digital media...

    So, from a theoretical computer science point of view, he wants a Turing machine that will recognize all Turing machines that compute a fixed function f. That sounds remarkably like a problem that is equivalent (by reduction) to the halting problem for Turing machines... Oh, did we mention that the halting problem is unsolvable??

    But hey, if *Mr. Valenti* says so, it *must* be possible. After all, everyone knows that you can simply legislate away fundamental laws of mathematics...

    Whats next? Valenti proposing that we set Pi equal to 3.0 to simplify calculations?
  • Nice letter. Now, go away. Let me talk directly to Mr. Spielberg, please.

    Thank you.

    Kindest regards,

  • Legislation Imminent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BuckMulligan ( 255942 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:10PM (#3072072)
    That editorial written by Valenti was placed because Congress will be holding a hearing on content protection and broadband on Thursday morning. Even the Washington Post's editoral page can be hijacked by the MPAA's powerful lobbyists... The legislation to be considered will probably be Hollings' SSSCA.
    SSSCA Working Draft [cryptome.org]. (via Cryptome)
  • >>computers and video devices must be prepared to react to instructions embedded in the film....
    >>The movie industry is, however, consulting with the finest brains in the digital world to try to find the answer.

    Well Pinky, by secretly embedding messages in innocent looking downloadable movies we're going to take over the world!
  • These guys still don't get it. Now they want other industries to bend over backwards to suit their interests? I think it's clear these guys have way too much money already. Hey, Jack, you want to recoup your investments? Then how about not paying a star upwards of 20 millions for a single movie? I mean, I know they have talent and all, but that's just plain decadent. Nobody should be making that much money anyway.

    I've said it before, I'll say it again: the music and movie industry need to rethink their business model: give away the media, make money of the showing (movie theatres, live venues) and merchadising (i.e. artifacts you want to own, because they are nice objects to have). Musicians should also consider the "shareware" business model. They could offer some free songs, saying: if you really like this song, send us a buck directly (not to any record exec).

    So, some useless millionnaires and industry leeches (hi, Mr. Valenti) will lose their livelihoods...really, who gives a rat's ass?
  • Less Than Zero (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LISNews ( 150412 )
    from the article "Because making movies is so expensive, only two in 10 films ever retrieve their production and marketing investment from domestic theatrical exhibition."

    That is not true, check out Studio Accounting Practices in Hollywood [hollywoodnetwork.com] By Joseph F. Hart, Esq. and Philip J. Hacker, C.P.A. if you want to see how they do their accounting.
    It seems like many more than 20% are making money, they just use "funny" accounting, ala enron.
  • by Dino ( 9081 ) <john.holmes.dean ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:24PM (#3072190) Homepage
    The movie industry is under siege from a small community of professors who argue (1) that broadband access to the Internet will never gain consumer acceptance without movies legitimately being made available on the Net and (2) that producers deliberately are holding back the exhibition of movies on the Net because of -- in the words of Lawrence Lessig ["Who's Holding Back Broadband," op-ed, Jan. 8] -- "the threat the Net presents to their relatively comfortable way of doing business." Add to this (3) the accusation that copyright owners are stifling innovation in the digital world.

    The first claim is true: The great omission in digital downloads is the lack of legitimate movie availability. Text is mainly what the Net offers. A recent survey revealed that 68 percent of all home computer users say they're satisfied with their normal 56K computer modem. It can download pretty much all that's on the Net, as not much (legal) material is out there that's chock full of graphics and in a consumer-friendly format to create the need for a cable modem or a digital subscriber line (DSL).
    Ooou, 68 percent of people who HAVE 56K modems are satisified with them....well that's probably why they have them! If they weren't satisified, they would get broadband. The remaining 32pecent probably live where they can't get broadband. And has claim that only illegal material is large is pure fabrication and opinion.

    The second professorial indictment is palpable nonsense. It is a charge issued only by those who have a blurred knowledge of the financial fragility of the film industry. Because making movies is so expensive, only two in 10 films ever retrieve their production and marketing investment from domestic theatrical exhibition. Distributors have to use other venues -- delivery systems such as cable, satellite, TV stations, videocassettes, DVDs, international markets. Every producer yearns to use the Internet as a new delivery system to speed movies to consumers' homes for rent or sale, at fair, reasonable prices. Any producer who chooses to reject Internet exhibition is a fiscal lunatic.
    Interesting. It's nonsense that producers wouldn't want to be online...yet they're not online? Explain that one to me...oh yes, because we don't legislation forcing all computer and manufacturers to the whim of Jack Valenti. Your arguument is spurious. You fail to address the fact that movie companies are keeping their movies offline. Guilty as charged.

    According to the Boston-based consulting firm Viant, some 350,000-plus films are being downloaded illegally every day. Some are still in theatrical exhibition when they are illegitimately recorded, mostly by those who use state-of-the-art university broadband systems. Those who don't have broadband but find it beguiling to download movies free simply start their computers whirring at bedtime, and when they wake in the morning they have a movie. Free -- and illegally.
    As time moves forward, information will be replicated into infinity. Deal with it.

    The reason pitifully few films are legitimately available on the Internet is not producer hoarding. It is that those valuable creative works can't be adequately protected from theft. The analog format (videocassettes) and the digital format (DVDs) are different. Videocassette piracy costs the movie industry worldwide more than $3.5 billion, even though the sixth or seventh copy of analog becomes unwatchable. But the thousandth copy of digital is as pure as the original. Moreover, digital movies on the Internet can be pilfered and hurled at the speed of light to any spot on the planet. This is what gives movie producers so many Maalox moments.
    Poppycock. I'm sure your "we're losing 3.5 billion dollars to VHS piracy!!!" rests on the SPA assumption that everytime sone one pirates, they would have paid for it. As far as digital copies remaining the same, apparently no one has told Jack that DIVX is a far, far, far cry from MPEG2 DVD (they only way I copy & store my DVDs).

    What's keeping the movie industry from making its creativity theft-proof? Simply put, in order to transport movies as agreed to by the consumer on a rent, buy or pay-per-view basis with heightened security, computers and video devices must be prepared to react to instructions embedded in the film. Other ingredients are necessary to protect digital content, but it gets too complex to explain in a few sentences. At this moment, that kind of interaction is nowhere to be found in any computer or set-top box. Some security is available, but it is porous. The movie industry is, however, consulting with the finest brains in the digital world to try to find the answer.
    Boo hoo hoo, it's all Congress and the PC industry fault! Nothing to see here, move along. Can't blame the movie industry, nope. Not their fault movies aren't online. Uh-huh. Sure.

    As for the third charge -- that copyrighted movies are destroying digital innovation -- what the critics mean by "innovation" is legalizing the breaking of protection codes, without which there is no protection.
    Silly strar-man arguement. I'm sure that when scientists claim the movie industry is holding back inovation, they were ONLY talking about cracking codes. Perhaps they were talking about the movie industries harrassing of competing P2P, distribution, pay-per-view, compression and related "digital movie" technologies, all of which Jack and co have no interest in because they can't controll it 100%. And they'll sue you over it too. Jerk.

    Movie producers are eager to populate the Net with movies in a
    consumer-friendly format(emphasis added). There is a way to achieve adequate security for high-value movies on the Net. Computer and video-device companies need to sit at the table with the movie industry. Together, in good-faith talks, they must agree on the ingredients for creating strong protection for copyrighted films and then swiftly implement that agreement to make it an Internet reality. Without concord, one option is left: Congress must step in to protect valuable creative works on the Net and thereby benefit consumers by giving them another choice for movie viewing.

    Since when is restricting fair-use, first-sale doctrine and free-speech "consumer friendly." I think you meant "consumer limiting." The rest of this paragraph is you and your pipe dream.

    What's on USENET TV these days?
    • Big George is shooting the next Star Wars on a special 24progressive High Definition, which costs, on average, $90 for about 50 minutes of tape, compared to about $90 a minute for good filmstock. The reason why he is upset about the lack of digital screens? He wanted to save money on prints... and the fact that flashing video to film looks like poo-poo.

      It is hilarious that they start making that argument about the costs that they need to recoup for their films... in well under a decade, the costs of studio quality cameras are going to be in the consumer price range. It is going to be hilarious when the first person says to Hollywood about their beautifully videotaped, independent, non-spaceship, non-effects heavy production, "I don't need you anymore. Buzz off. And I don't need your distribution. So double buzz off."

      That is going to be a funny day. The days of the $20 million dollar stars are coming to an end. So are the griping Ally McBeals out there, and their perks. The market will be flooded with independent producers of television and movies (which will look the same in quality... totally) selling their wares for cheap with cheap actors, until they get more money to develop their shows. Actors that are good will have ways around the system, and not have to play games with some sex-driven producer. It will be much more equalizing.

      By the way, I have never, ever bought the idea that some movies never make a buck out there. That sounds like crap to me.

      I live in Nashville and have seen country lackeys that live like kings with zero name recognition for 20 years or more off of one b-side on a bad album. So to say that someone is not making a dollar off of the movies that I have heard of or seen in the national media, then they're lying or tricking for the tax man. After all, these are the same people who told you that Forrest Gump lost money.
      • Riiiiiiight.
      I don't care what your spreadsheet or your accountant said, Forrest Gump did not lose money. Whoever said that needs to be slapped vigorously.

      They (the MPAA) are getting desperate. They know what is coming. They're dead in ten years, unless they set up a state controlled monopoly.

      Guess what? It ain't going to happen.
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:28PM (#3072235) Homepage Journal
    I won't buy a PC with copy restriction 'features'. Hear that, industry? I refuse to support freedoms being taken away. This world will be a sad, sad place if content is so tightly controlled.

    I am a 3D Artist. Most of the learning I did was at home. I started with replicating scenes from Star Trek. Now let me explain something about myself, I'm not a foley artist, nor am I a musician. So I had to find some sound effects to accompany my animations, along with a sound track. This means I had to go purchase both a soundtrack from one of the ST movies, and an ST game with sound files in the appropriate format. (in otherwords, they were paid.) If the Music Industry or the MPAA decided to target me, they could still harass me with the DMCA. The only thing protecting me is the huge PR issue that'd ensue.

    Today I'm moving into Character Animation. But in order to solidify my skills, I need reference footage. One of the ideas I had was to rip a Jackie Chan DVD and convert clips of it into an .AVI. Then I'd have it in the background as I'm manipulating a character I created to get a feel for how Mr. Chan moves. In other words, I have educational reasons for wanting to use a DVD rip.

    When I finally assemble a demo reel to get a job with, I'm likely going to add a song for the sound track. Now I respect the artists out there making music, but I'm not paying a license fee for a limited use Demo Reel intended to get me a job. Just as I wouldn't expect them to pay me if they used their music with my artwork to get a record deal.

    If I were to purchase a 'Copy Restricted PC', then the hardware would fight with me over the content I'm trying to use. This is *not* good. This would be a serious blow in my ability to learn how to work for the same industry that's responsible for that 'feature' going in. I have a feeling that if this idiot has his way, one of the casualties would be the talent pool that suddenly has nothing to start with. How about guys that do remixes of songs we listen to today? I've heard some incredible remixes out there. I really think there are people who have done some of these remixes who really should get hired by a music company somewhere, becuase man they are talented.

    They didn't make the song, somebody else did, but they spun it in a new way that's really cool. I didn't like that song 'Torn' by Natalie Imbruglia (sp?), but I stumbled across a remix of it that really made me enjoy it. Whoever did that mix is seriously an awesomely talented person. If they were prevented from using that song, then what would they sharpen their skills on? You can't go learn how to remix in college. You can't learn how to be a talented effects animator for a movie studio from college.

    So if you take my fair use rights away just because you think you're losing money to piracy, then you're also drying up your talent pool and you'll have a drought on content.

    I wonder if they're expecting to suddenly gain 3 billion a year if this goes into place. They're basing sales losses on Napster without even thinking about the other conditions going on out there. The content sucked this year, the economy stinks (altho I suppose Intel and AMD having slow quarters could be linked to piracy of processors on Napster...), and the Sept 11th attacks have made people happier to stay home then go out. Perhaps the real problem is that the RIAA isn't making their content available to purchase online.
  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:29PM (#3072238)
    The reason pitifully few films are legitimately available on the Internet is not producer hoarding. It is that those valuable creative works can't be adequately protected from theft.

    He's right, you know. That's also the reason Napster got shut down and KazAA is trying to be: the movie and music industries will not put out their own copies of their media. I want freely-downloadable media for pennies a copy as much as anyone, but I can't get it because the owners won't put it out without copy protection.

    What am I stuck with instead? P2P software that gets me assorted copies of pirated media, some of which is at an unusable quality, all of which is subject to interruptions and highly variable download speeds. I've been saying for years that I would gladly pay a single site $10 a month if it meant I could download my heart's content of music (or movies) of reliable quality, at reliable speeds over a reliable connection, with a useable search engine giving me complete results.

    If having MS install copy-protection at the OS level means the media companies will finally make this available, then I can stomach it. They don't have to eliminate MP3s or AVIs, they just have to include something that will play files that are copy-protected enough to satisfy the media owners. If they don't want me copying it to recordable media, then it should be free or pennies apiece. If they don't mind me making copies for myself, then I'll pay more. And they can quote me on that.
    • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @04:09PM (#3072562)
      I want freely-downloadable media for pennies a copy as much as anyone, but I can't get it because the owners won't put it out without copy protection.

      The fact is that if the owners were legitimately interested in exploring Net-based business models, they could have simply done it without new laws or new technological constraints. Just apply a digitally-signed watermark to each download, and if it shows up in illegal circulation trace it and invoke traditional copyright laws.

      Nope, this isn't really the issue for the xxAA, any more than failure to present the evidence of Osama's guilt was really the issue for the Taliban.

  • by electroniceric ( 468976 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:36PM (#3072308)
    As we all know, the MPAA & RIAA are pushing to have the much needed rewrite of copyright law be engineered to support their business model. There's no philosophical underpinning for this, as the educated /.er is doubtless aware.

    As poorly rewritten as this editorial is, it hammers on Lessig on three points:

    • People don't want to pay taxes, and they don't want the economy slowed down by "overregulation". So we adopt the passive compromise. Passively regulate by letting things like copyright law govern the market rather than active oversight. When industries realize this, they push to rewrite the law that shapes the market (there is no "free market", just different kinds of legal control) to give themselves plums. The current case in point is Enron, but let's not forget the previous Bush-deregulation debacle: Michael Keating and the S&L crisis.
    • People don't want to lose their jobs either. This means when a big business or a whole set of them encounters rough financial straits - maybe they did something stupid, like Enron, maybe the world changed, as in the case of steel producers (who now use subsidies and tariff regulations to stay afloat), or maybe both as for the MPAA and RIAA, there's a lot of pressure on the government not to let them fail. But subsidies and payouts make good targets for "government waste" exposees, and arcane legal restrictions do not. This is why
    • Anyone with the wherewithall and the disposition to realize the above two points is probably and intellectual and possibly also and academic. By naming a small community of professors Valenti's ghostwriters put in the only piece effective writing in this whole sham of an editorial. In short, if you're a cardigan-wearing, pipe-smoking, hoity-toity professor, you hate people who work hard and make money.
      One the other hand, iff you're a hard-working, truck-driving, music-loving regular guy, you're with us and our good ole way of doing business, and you'll tell you government to support us supporting you. And those charges are damn hard to shake off.
    Wish I knew how to counter those, but that's where government's relationship with business seems to be headed these days.
  • by karb ( 66692 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:39PM (#3072342)
    Although jack valenti is often disparaged by the slashdot community, he doesn't stoop to our level of insult. Look how he describes hordes of slashdot readers and other copyright activists :

    The movie industry is under siege from a small community of professors.

    I'm blushing, jack. No, we're not all professors.

  • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:48PM (#3072404) Homepage
    'Computer and video-device companies need to sit at the table with the movie industry. Together, in good-faith talks,

    The problem for the MPAA is that they cannot understand that as far as the economy goes they are not all that important. The computer industry is an order of magnitude larger. The not very hard to spot plan here is to bribe enough congressmen to push through their scheme. that is a pretty hopeless approach if the computer industry has more money.

    I have done the DRM bit. I have even gone to an SDMI conference. My conclusion is that the MPAA and RIAA are Cheap, Greedy and Stupid.

    First off, as every vendor that has attempted to get into the DRM space knows, the content owners want all the work done for free, or as near to it as makes no difference. One leading content provider had the idea that a complete DRM system should cost no more than $0.50 per device with the option of buying it out for $100K, this for a bespoke product that would cost several million to develop and would save the customer several hundred million a year.

    Secondly the content 'owners' are greedy. Look at the little scheme they had in the DMCA (now repealed) to steal the 'returned rights' of artists by retrospectively designating them 'works for hire'. The scheme that is planned for insertion into the Hollings bill at the last minute will redefine publication through the Web to be a 'mechanical right' and not a 'Performance right'. This will allow them to steal the copyrights currently controlled by the composers.

    Thirdly the content owners are stupid. They seize upon every piece of cryptographic snakeoil that comes to the market. The demands that the computer industry save their ass for them sound remarkably like the demands made by the likes of Louis Freeh over key escrow 'we do not believe that it cannot be done, your denial clearly means you must be lying'.

    what we need to do is make congress aware of the abuses these people are already engaged in. The DVD zone system has one purpose, to allow the price of DVDs to be set by the amount individual markets will bear. This is illegal under EU law and they will get their just deserts in the end. But why should people like this have the benefit of niche laws to protect their interests if they don't obey the law themselves?

  • by Faramir ( 61801 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:56PM (#3072439) Homepage Journal

    Remember Microsoft's Digital Rights Management (DRM) OS patent [cryptome.org]? If Congress were to enact legislation requiring this kind of copy protection at the OS level, then I imagine MS would be quite intent on making sure everyone pays them royalties, whether they're actually due or not. And that's assuming they'd place "nice" and even "allow" other OS's to contain copy protection. A few years ago, I would have thought the feds wouldn't let them get away without freely sharing a legislated key technology like this, but now I'm not so sure... . Not to sound too pessimist, but royalties like this could be a big pain in the arse for struggling Linux vendors.

    Course, if it did happen, I could just start using a European-based Linux distribution, since they don't treat software patents the same. For now, anyway...

    this has been another episode of pure speculation and meaningless FUD...

  • by Mr. Neutron ( 3115 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @03:59PM (#3072470) Homepage Journal
    Ok, Jack does have a point:

    The ability for millions of Internet users to zap perfect copies of movies around the Net destroys the current business model of the movie industry. And I find very little reason to deny that claim.

    That leaves the movie industry with two options (logically). Either prevent millions of Internet users from being able to zap perfect copies of movies around the Net, or change the business model of the industry. Both are fraught with problems.

    Let's take on the topic of copy prevention. Essentially, it's not possible, as long as the PC in its current incarnation persists. You can encrypt media to the gills, but somewhere, somehow, in a PC, that media needs to be converted to a cleartext stream in order to be played. And anyone with a bit of technical know-how can capture that cleartext stream. The only way to prevent such copying is to embed copy prevention into the very lowest levels of hardware. Which will render the PC useless for doing anything useful. Besides, it precludes fair-use.

    Next option: transmission prevention. Slightly more feasible. And with more of the broadband "biomass" being rounded up by a small number of media companies and telcos, this is probably the first avenue the MPAA is going to take in this battle. In six months to a year, most Morpheus users (for instance) will be forced by their ISPs to shut down their clients or lose their accounts. It's probably happening already. Sure, there will be a few maverick ISPs that don't play by the rules, but P2P filesharing systems become useless without a critical mass of users. Now, the MPAA will win the battle on this front, but at the cost of killing the biggest "killer app" to hit the Net since the browser. And at the cost of depriving Internet users from sharing perfectly legit files: stifling what could prove to be a huge revolution in human communication. Oh, well.

    Of course, the other logical option would be for the movie industry to change its business model to something like TV: free and advert-driven. I don't know if this is possible, because I don't know much about business. But, I'll tell you this: destroying the PC or destroying the free exchange of ideas in a new an exciting medium, so that a few companies can keep their bottom line, is wrong.

  • by jcoleman ( 139158 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @04:02PM (#3072497)
    OK Jack, what about the millions of PCs already out there that don't have copy protection? How about the VCRs with record buttons? Video cameras? Film-based cameras?

    What's next? Do you plan to require that my friends each purchase the DVD as well when I have them over to enjoy my home theater?

  • No, Mr. Valenti... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Misch ( 158807 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @04:20PM (#3072672) Homepage

    As for the third charge -- that copyrighted movies are destroying digital innovation -- what the critics mean by "innovation" is legalizing the breaking of protection codes, without which there is no protection.

    No, Mr. Valenti, what we mean when we say "innovation", are things that give the consumer, the end user of your products, the choice of what we want. Surely, as head of the MPAA, you must be aware of your own members outstanding lawsuits against the truly innovative device makers Replay TV and TiVo [latimes.com]. Perhaps it is time for you to stop treating your customers like criminals and thieves.

    Times are a changin'. Those who choose to go forward will reap the rewards of satisfying consumers needs. Those who choose to drag their heels will fall by the wayside.

  • NOTE TO JACK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gnovos ( 447128 ) <(gnovos) (at) (chipped.net)> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @04:29PM (#3072743) Homepage Journal
    People will base thier moral perogative on YOURS. What does this mean? It means if you are morally right 99% of the time in your own business dealing, you will find that 99% of your customers will play fair with you.

    People, unlike corporations, don't steal from the weak just because they can. If that were the case, *every* church collection plate would come back empty. But they don't, ever. Becuase a church is morally just, and so the people who contribute feel that they need to live in the same moral framework.

    If you are worried about piracy, take the moral high road. If you take the low road, all the legislation, copy protection and strongarming in the world won't save you, but if you are morally justified in everything taht you do, you could give you music away for 100% free and find people donating money to you out of thier own good will.
  • by Ivan the Terrible ( 115742 ) <vladimir@a c m .org> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @04:38PM (#3072801) Homepage
    1. Movies are not necessarily expensive to produce. Hollywood movies are hugely expensive to produce, but counterexamples of inexpensive movies abound. I don't see why Hollywood's business model needs to be supported by legislation.

      Whenever a person or an industry asks for legislation, one should always ask two questions:

      1. How is this going to benefit the people of XXXX in the long term?
      2. What are the consequences of applying the principle embodied in this legislation to other industries?

      I understand very clearly how what Valenti wants is going to benefit the movie industry, but I do not understand how this is going to benefit the people of the United States of America in the long term.

      Which is better for the people of the United States in the long term? A movie industry dominated by a few very large oligopolistic Hollywood producers that make movies that cater to the common denominator, or a movie industry with hundreds of small, vibrant, innovative but independent movie producers that cater to a wide variety of styles and tastes, in other words, that offer consumers a choice?

      Do we want to support with legislation all current business models? or should we let the MPAA adapt their business model to the times or go out of business?

    2. The figure of $3.5 billion in losses to the movie industry due to videocasstte "piracy" is pure fiction. These kinds of figures are derived by estimating the number of "pirated" objects and then multiplying by the average retail cost of the object, e.g. the movie, DVD, CD-ROM, software package, etc.

      Firstly, the real cost is only the sales foregone. Many, probably the huge majority, of these "pirates" would simply not buy, and so their "piracy" doesn't represent any real loss.

      Secondly, the loss is hugely inflated by using the full retail value instead of something more realistic like the either the wholesale value or better yet, the lost profits.

    What Valenti wants to legislate is a permanent revenue stream, a tax, if you will, on visual entertainment, with the MPAA as the sole beneficiary.

    I, for one, object to Valenti's proposed tax on visual entertainment.

  • by mttlg ( 174815 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @04:56PM (#3072998) Homepage Journal
    1. Which has the biggest impact on profits?

    A - Exact bit-for-bit duplication of products from legally obtained originals, with the resulting copies sold on streetcorners and eBay.
    B - Production of products that rely on stupidity to make money and are of little or no value to the consumer.
    C - Evil naughty hackers.

    2. What should you do to ensure that "piracy" does as little damage as possible?

    A - Produce products with enough value that people would prefer to purchase a legitimate copy rather than deal with quality and legality issues of questionable copies.
    B - Encourage harsh prosecution of those who profit from the sale of "pirated" content and launch a PR campaign explaining your side of the case.
    C - Punish all consumers for not giving you enough money and argue that you should have complete control over everything you sell for all eternity, followed by evil laughter.

    3. When your product can no longer provide adequate profit in your market, you should:

    A - Change your product to better fit the market.
    B - Move to a different market.
    C - Grab market by the legs, spread them wide, and shove your product up the most convenient orifice.
  • by thumbtack ( 445103 ) <thumbtack AT juno DOT com> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @05:26PM (#3073264)
    I find it interesting that Jack Valenti doesn't mention stream in anyway shape or form, but places the entire focus on downloading. Before Movie 88 was shut down, they were doing streaming via realvideo which at best was fair. At a $1.00 per 5 day rental it had gr4eat potential. If you remember last year Madonna did a webcast of a mini concert in London that was streamed. 26 million people tuned in. Imagine $1 each. Even if half decided they didn't want to pay, that would leave 13 million. More than any single concert has ever grossed, by far. Imagine Harry Potter opening on the web, or Lord of the Rings. You think your numbers for a weekend opening are good now?

    Remember this is the same guy that said that the VCR is to the movie industry what the Boston Strangler was to women, in testimony before congress, and lived in the White House as an aide to President Johnson.
  • by powerlinekid ( 442532 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @05:38PM (#3073385)
    It would have to be in the hardware level or this won't work. Yeah I'm sure Microsoft would do this and maybe even Apple. But whos gonna tell the free community that they need to limit what they can do?

    RIAA: "Hi Mr. Torvalds, we need you to enforce the DMCA in your kernel"
    RIAA: "Hi Redhat, we need you to enforce the DMCA more and Mr. Torvalds told us to contact you."

    RedHat: "Umm... we don't actually do the coding for those media projects, you'll have to contact Gnome, KDE, and all the other little developers"

    RIAA: "Oh... thank you, you wouldn't happen to the phone number for 1337hac0rz34 would you?"

    RedHat: "Haha... click".

    Actually this would be funny, I'd like to see them do something like this, because in linux the dmca,etc will never be software. So unless they're hacking firmware which would be a whore, this won't work.
  • by Scratch-O-Matic ( 245992 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @05:40PM (#3073417)
    but this guy is on crack.

    Computer and video-device companies need to agree on the ingredients for creating strong protection for copyrighted films...

    I guess he thinks all computers are sealed-case, off-the-shelf pieces of crap that can be built to keep an eye on the contents of your files, and what you do with those files.

    Because making movies is so expensive, only two in 10 films ever retrieve their production and marketing investment from domestic theatrical exhibition...Videocassette piracy costs the movie industry worldwide more than $3.5 billion

    Hey, I'm all for copyrights and piracy prevention, but let's get real. Just because clever bookkeeping makes most of your movies "losers" doesn't mean that you aren't swimming in cash from the few successful ones. Just walk across Wilshire Blvd up into the hills, knock on some doors, and ask people what they do for a living. Not a lot of insurance salesmen up there.

    ...a charge issued only by those who have a blurred knowledge of the financial fragility of the film industry.

    I think Mr. Valenti has a blurred knowledge of technology. As I said, I'm all for copyrights and piracy prevention, but depending on an entire industry of manufacturers, programmers, and users to base their standards and protocols on your security needs is ridiculous. Might as well ask car makers to build their cars so you can't fit a duffle bag full of pot in the trunk.

    And, an unrelated aside:

    A recent survey revealed that 68 percent of all home computer users say they're satisfied with their normal 56K computer modem.

    Hey! Isn't that equal to the number of users on AOL/MSN?
  • Bad Arguement! No! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wboatman ( 126052 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:04PM (#3073633)
    The problem with his entire premise is that they, the studios are losing money. Lets see, a bunch of college students with no jobs, would rather download FREE (as in no cost to them) movies and spend their money on beer and getting laid instead of spending their money on renting or buying movies.

    If the students weren't able to download movies, they would still spend their money on beer and getting laid, and just not watch movies, or make VHS copies.

    I don't see where the studios are losing money.

    Only people with jobs can afford to buy a movie on VHS and then again on DVD.

  • by namespan ( 225296 ) <namespan@elitemail.MOSCOWorg minus city> on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:05PM (#3073642) Journal
    What I've been thinking lately is that this actually needs to happen. A reasonably secure, widely implemented SOFTWARE spec for DRM needs to happen. And it's in our best interest not to fight it.

    Hardware security, if it happens, will be draconian and will limit any kind of open development platform. And it's what Media industry biggies will push for -- are pushing for -- because they can't see a succesful software alternative.

    Of course, there can't be a totally secure software solution. There can't be totally secure solution of any kind. But assuming we stopped fighting soft security -- or at least didn't distribute tools for doing it -- we'd soon see media biggies start to release their holdings. Slowly. Expensively. And a total rip off. And 90% of folks would be herded through the DRM scheme.

    And I think, over time, in that market, it would fail. Eventually, someone would release suffeciently compelling media at a competetive price and they'd win.

    I think the media biggies know this, and so they're pushing for a platform that not only allows copy protection but also utter control. They do it under the auspices of copy protection. If we give them copy protection, they lose their weapon.
  • Simple Solution: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by psxndc ( 105904 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:07PM (#3073669) Journal
    2 out of 10? Make less crap. That should bring the price down. If the movies cost less, more people would go to them. I know I've cut back my movie going (at one point a few years ago I had seen every movie at the local Loews 10) when I realized it costs 10 friggin dollars to go see a movie.

    People are pissed about stifling innovation not because you don't want them to pirate movies, but because Alen Cox and others won't give lectures in the US because they are afraid of being arrested for violating the DMCA, the worst piece of corporate interest legislation in recent history.

    The people that don't want the government to influence business are the same ones trying to use business to influence government.


  • Dear Jack, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:54PM (#3074155)

    Just a few comments...

    ``A recent survey revealed that 68 percent of all home computer users say they're satisfied with their normal 56K computer modem.''

    They're satisfied with 56Kbps because that's all they can get. BTW, who did this survey and where were the results published?

    ``not much (legal) material is out there that's chock full of graphics and in a consumer-friendly format to create the need for a cable modem or a digital subscriber line (DSL)''

    Way to go. When I get my DSL line will my name be enshrined in a manilla folder at the MPAA as a potential copyright infringer?

    ``Because making movies is so expensive, only two in 10 films ever retrieve their production and marketing investment from domestic theatrical exhibition.''

    Two solutions, in my mind: Don't make the other eight if they're money losers. Or, perhaps, make decent movies without all the multi-million dollar special effects. If you're looking for reasons why noone's going to the movies, it's because most of them assume that their audience has the intelligence of a cabbage. We're looking for a good plot, believable characters, and other things that, frankly, you'll never be able to get by adding more and more expensive CGI. Not everyone is distracted by the fancy computer generated effects to the point that they can't tell that the movie, as a whole, stinks.

    ``use the Internet as a new delivery system to speed movies to consumers' homes for rent or sale''

    But you'll probably push for a prohibition of the consumer's ability to store this purchased movie onto anything more permanent than a hard disk. When that dies then I'll have to buy another copy won't I? Ah... I see the plan for the studios' future revenue stream.

    ``Other ingredients are necessary to protect digital content, but it gets too complex to explain in a few sentences.''

    I, personally, suspect that it's difficult to explain briefly because it'll take a new 200-page law which will trample the rights of most every computer user. And you don't really want the general public actually knowing what's being planned until it's too late anyway.

    ``...that copyrighted movies are destroying digital innovation -- what the critics mean by "innovation" is legalizing the breaking of protection codes, without which there is no protection''

    Nice try. Lessig doesn't (in anything that I've read anyway; I'm still reading his latest book) say that ``copyrighted movies are destroying digital innovation''. It's the new copyright extensions that you and the rest of the MPAA have lobbied for and gotten enacted into law that threaten to kill off innovation. Particularly when they're being applied to things other than your precious movies.

    ``Movie producers are eager to populate the Net with movies in a consumer-friendly format.''

    Just my opinion, mind you, but anything that obsoletes existing computer equipment will never be considered ``consumer-friendly''.

    ``Congress must step in to protect valuable creative works on the Net and thereby benefit consumers by giving them another choice for movie viewing.''

    Here's a clue (free of charge): The internet does not exist to provide the movie industry with a convenient conduit to pipe their crummy movies to the public. And, since the vast majority of the people using the Internet seem to be happy with slow, slow, 56Kbps connections (your assertion), they're not going to be lining up to replace their modems with DSL routers any time soon. Besides, if you haven't noticed, most of the U.S. cannot even get broadband. Consider those who have cable access: why haven't more signed up in large numbers to receive pay-per-view movies? It's a dud. If it were popular, wouldn't you think more people would have demanded that their cable providers include it (or more of it)? BTW, most of the people that I have heard of even having a PPV service cancel it after a short time. Are you and your cohorts banking on the public paying for movies that they'll watch at home because it'll be more convenient to see a bad movie at home as opposed to having to get in the car and drive to see the same bad movie? I'm pretty sure that the movie-going public isn't that gullible.

    You need to get over this fantasy that we're all clamoring for Hollywood's product and that the MPAA members are performing some sort of noble service by churning out the drek that passes for a Hollywood movie.

    Have a nice day!

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