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SSSCA Hearing 779

larsoncc writes: "According to this article on CNET, a Senate Bill will likely force the issue of adding copy protection to hardware. They are giving the industry 12 to 18 months to come up with a voluntary solution to the "problem" of copies, and if not... Well, you just have to read the article. Insane." Wired also has a story. The IP list published two interesting documents: an account of the hearing by an attendee, and a letter from Intel published immediately after the hearing. Read the letter carefully - note that the disagreement between the tech industry and Hollywood is not over whether or not copy protection will be implemented into every electronic device, but only whether or not this should be written into law. If the SSSCA isn't passed, Intel (and others) get a lot of leverage over Hollywood. If it is, Intel's leverage disappears. But since both sides want to build copy protection into everything, they only differ over the process, we're in trouble either way.
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SSSCA Hearing

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  • Now we'll have to reflash our Ipods []!
  • Bought and Paid For (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scoove ( 71173 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:39AM (#3089823)
    I think we need to remind our congresscritters that in light of the Enron and Global Crossing special interest fiascos, the last thing that would be appropriate for them to do now (especially after their activity on campaign finance reform) would be to pass a bill that should be renamed the "AOL/Time Warner and Friends Racket Act."

    As much as I like some of my representatives, I've put them on notice that I'll vote in someone else if they dare pass this scam.

    Congress: Quit telling me how to run my business, or I'll tell you how to run yours!

    • I've put them on notice that I'll vote in someone else if they dare pass this scam.

      That's Right! Now all I have to do is convince everyone else in my voting district to do what I want and I'll be able to carry through with my threat.
      Let me see... How could I do that? I know, I'll buy a lot of advertising time, push my agenda, sling mud at my enemy, buy votes,... Basically I'll do all the things I hate the corporations for doing.....


      If oly it could work.

    • I think we need to remind our congresscritters

      Unfortunately, they aren't my congresscritters. I'm not a US citizen and don't live in the US either.

      Unfortunately (and more and more unfortunate it is as time goes on) the US technology industry has a large effect on the technology industry worldwide and this sort of stupidity in the States will have at least some spill-over effect in other countries. Don't think for a second that the MPAA and so on won't be pushing everyone's local politicians in name-your-country to do the same thing because "it's good for the US, so it's good for you too."

      And there doesn't seem to be any obvious way for a non-US citizen to get a voice in this until long after the fact and until it starts to "bite" at home.

      Truly tragic.
    • If a lack of government regulation allowed Enron to engage in large-scale criminal acts - which it did, the favors that politicians did for them consisted entirely of removing regulations - then the Enron argument is backwards.

      Unless you take the stance that corporations should be well-regulated and individuals should be free. But even then, government could come to the wrong conclusion and regulate the hardware manufacturers rather than regulate to restrict the legal claims of the content pimps.

      Now if you say, "Corporations should be well-regulated to protect the freedom of the individuals," that's getting closer, except what about the freedom of individuals to invest in pyramid schemes like Enron?

      How about, "Corporations should be regulated to assure the transparent and abundant flow of information in every sphere"? - That would both require Enron-like scammers to open their books fully, and require content pimps to let their artists get off the street and into the loving arms of their admirers.

      • by Noel ( 1451 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:11PM (#3091364)

        How about this?

        • Congress shall make no law supporting the consolidation of control over valuable resources, whether material or immaterial, into the hands of any single entity, whether individual, corporate, or governmental.
        • Congress shall ensure the equitable availability of all resources to all citizens through oversight of any entity which has consolidated control over any valuable resource.

        The first rule covers the establishment of monopolies through legal means. The second rule covers monopolies that develop without legal support (i.e., natural monopolies).

    • by emil ( 695 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:16PM (#3091417)
      Gentlemen, I am writing you today to voice grave objections to Senator Fritz Hollings and his stance on digital rights management via his SSSCA legislation.

      The U.S. economy is in the midst of an amazing ascent from recession, having endured more than any of us might have imagined that it could survive.

      The digital information infrastructure is in no small part responsible for our recovery. The ability of businesses to easily and quickly exchange large amounts of information is key to our ever-increasing productivity.

      This infrastructure is made possible by a number of software applications that are made available for free, and these applications are maintained by organizations that derive their profits by charging for support.

      Let us take, for example, the "sendmail" application supported by:

      It is both unfair and unreasonable to require this company, who gives their product away for free, and plays no direct role in piracy on the Internet, to shoulder the overhead of implementing digital rights management.

      Furthermore, "sendmail" is such a widespread product that E-Mail on the Internet would effectively end if all copies of "sendmail" were
      simultaneously disabled.

      The SSSCA will take broad sectors of the IT market into violation of the law with the stroke of a pen. These sectors will include the entire free software movement, including one of my favorite companies, Red Hat Software (one of the most successful IPOs of 1999).

      The damage to our information information infrastructure will be incalcuable should this legislation be enacted.

      This legislation is a result of the lobbying efforts of the MPAA and the RIIA, who rightly desire some control over the perfusion of their digital content. Such content controls could easily be made voluntary by including a small message in an MP3 asking the user to purchase a legitimate copy of the work if a license key was not found in a local encyption key cache.

      Instead, these media organizations wish to trample our constitutional protections on freedom of speech and fair use, and take the economy along with it.

      Let there be no mistake; this legislation is a disaster. I urge you to vote against it.
      • by pnuema ( 523776 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @02:45PM (#3092476)
        Here is mine. Credit to all whose post I have ripped off. :)

        Senator Kit Bond
        274 Russel Senate Office Building
        Washington, DC. 20510

        Senator Bond:

        I am writing to express my deep concerns over recent trends I see in new intellectual property law, specifically the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA). From what I understand, this law will make it illegal to manufacture and/or sell an interactive digital device that does not have built in "content protection", where 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.
        Frankly, I am shocked and deeply alarmed that such a bill is even being considered on the floor of the US Senate. Intellectual Property was created by the framers of our constitution not to ensure that corporations can make money for the span of many human lifetimes, but to ensure that said property would eventually fall into the public domain by providing a (small) window of revenue for content creators. This act would violate both the spirit and the letter of past intellectual property law. Consider, under the SSSCA:

        1. Fair use rights have been virtually eliminated. I can no longer make copies of media that I legally bought and own, and am legally entitled to copy.
        2. Media that I created (home videos, pictures, etc.) will no longer be viewable on SSSCA compliant hardware. You will lose the home movies of an entire generation.
        3. Some greeting cards, credit cards, calculators, picture frames, children's toys, answering machines, cell phones, etc. will now be illegal. (Anything that can store data digitally will have to be manufactured to this standard.)

        Perhaps most insidious, however, is the ramifications for who can publish and who cannot. This "content protection" works by the content providers agreeing on a standard for "watermarking" their products, and the hardware manufacturers interpreting said watermark. The watermarking method will have to remain secret; otherwise illegal copies could be watermarked and distributed. Thus, only people with access to this watermarking method will be able to produce media viewable by the American public. In other words, only approved media will be viewable by the American public. As a private citizen, I can no longer distribute digital copies of a video I created with my current camera, because it does not hold an MPAA watermark, and thus all SSSCA compliant hardware will treat it as a pirated copy.

        I sincerely doubt that such a law would survive a constitutional test. I urge you to demonstrate that you really do work for us, and not for Hollywood. Vote down this legislation.


        Missouri Citizen
      • Here's my letter (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2002 @03:20PM (#3092817)
        Senator Hollings's office,
        This letter is being addressed to your office for your capacity as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-sponsor of the proposed legislation the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA). The legislation that you are proposing will have a definite, immediate, and chilling effect on the economic growth of the technology and entertainment industries for the foreseeable future.

        I would like to point out that your legislation intends on preventing free market forces from being allowed to shape the economic growth of these industries by creating artificial barriers intended to maintain the current balance of power/wealth held by the copyright holders. This is very similar to the competition felt by the railroad industry from the automobile, in that both the railroad and record/movie labels depended upon their absolute control over all major distribution channels for their sources of revenue (the record industry receives 94% of total revenue from CD sales). The PC/internet is like the automobile/highway system in that it frees the masses from having to rely on a bulky, inefficient, and tightly controlled distribution channel that allows for illegal price fixing, for which the record industry has been found guilty of in the past. I am not an advocate of any form of piracy because if the government were to allow the markets to naturally rebalance themselves, they could now do so in such a way that piracy would no longer be an attractive option for consumers, unless you feel that every citizen is a thief at heart. This would be do to the volume of scale involved with the internet distribution of data including songs and movies.

        To illustrate this point the average cost per song on a CD is ~$2 for the consumer. This $2 includes certain privileges like owning the physical media, protective case, label and lyrics, the ability to create copies for personal use within the fair use doctrine, unlimited listening, portability, and then the right to sell the CD provided that you don't keep any copies. Under the current overpriced CD distribution scheme, very few successful CDs will sell a million or more copies. By contrast is the reported popularity of some pirated songs on the Internet which regularly exceeded ten million downloads. If the record companies were to offer their songs for sale on the internet with the legal right to download the songs, giving the buyers full fair-use privileges, the ability to create playable audio CDs, unlimited listening ability, and portability for a cost that reflects the volume of scale, lack of overhead, and fair profit margins they would see immediate, dramatic, and profitable sales.

        Instead these companies are moving their businesses online in a way that allows them to continue to maintain the same near absolute control over the online music industry that was had by their control over the traditional distribution channels. Should the railroads been given control over all highways? If allowed to continue, your proposed legislation will allow these industries to continue their abuses on the consumers by way of forcing consumers to pay every time they listen to a song/see a movie/read a book, without regard to any legal fair use. As proof of their true intensions the record industries current online ventures have proposed an insulting royalty payments from online sales to the artists they claim to represent/protect. Some of these songs being sold online by the record companies don't even have a legal right to sell online, and the artists' who own the online rights are threatening them with lawsuits and sending cease and desist orders, which the record industry has chooses to ignore.

        To end I would like to include a quote from Robert Heinlein's "Life-Line"
        "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

        All opinions expressed within are mine alone and by no means represent those of my employer.
      • I posted mine on my website after I dropped it in the mailbox last night (here []), but since it's short and sweet I'll re-post the text here:

        Senator Hollings,

        You are a shill.

        You do this nation and the office of U.S. Senator a grave injustice by lining your pockets with the filthy dollars of Jack Valenti, Michael Eisner, and their greedy ilk.

        In case you've forgotten your constituency, let me remind you that it doesn't reside in California. Drop the SSSCA nonsense or We, The People will run your sorry ass out of Washington on a rail.

        ..etc. Enclosed was a copy of his contribution record [] with the donations from the entertainment industry circled with a red marker.

        Fuck that dumbass cracker [] sellout.

      • My letter to Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Texas):

        Dear Senator Hutchinson,

        I will keep this short as I know you are a busy woman and have limited time. I need to know where you stand on Sen. Fritz Hollings' proposed Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA).

        This is a very important legislation to me, and I feel that voting for it could very well send our economy into another recession as we sell out the trillion dollar tech industry (which everyone seems to think is the future of our economy) to the billion dollar entertainment industry.

        I'll put it in a sound bite for you: "Today I was watching CNN and everyone was concerned that an energy company named Enron had been responsible for legislation pertaining to the energy industry. What you have here is the copyright industry writing the very laws that pertain to the copyright industry. It was bad in the case of Enron, and it's no better here."

        I will tell you that if this law does pass, and you do vote for it, I will make it a point to vote against you in the next election -- regardless of who is running against you, and I will make every attempt to convince friends and family to do the same.

        K. Jack McCauley
        [contact info removed]

  • We need a law that says there CANNOT be anything built into hardware to prevent copying.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:59AM (#3089968)
      One of the quote of a content provider from the article says:
      "The truth is, if you cannot protect what you own, you don't own anything."

      Unfortunately for the consumer:
      "The truth is, if you cannot do whatever to things you own, you don't own anything."
  • wont work (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:41AM (#3089835) Homepage Journal
    The laws have been in place. And every law has a loophole. It is illegal to murder, illegal to steal. nobody stops. This law will only make life of ordinary people hard, who wont be able to make copies even for personal use. The thieves will find a way.
    IF the media thinks it can use laws to curb such things it is mistaken. In a democracy you cant always have what you want, compromises are necessary.
    • It is illegal to murder, illegal to steal. nobody stops.

      True, but the SSSCA has harsher punishments than murder, and you can't plead temporary insanity for breaking it either.
  • by firewort ( 180062 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:42AM (#3089840)
    It appears that Hollywood and Congress in their ignorance are demanding solutions in the name of copy protection.

    It also appears that they are shouting down anyone who objects as enabling criminal activities.

    Tech Industry players don't want to be seen as supporting criminals, and don't have the guts to stand up for enabling the user (Other than Intel, who got beaten up for it)

    So, in the name of not looking bad, and not getting more bad law, it is a foregone conclusion that we will have copy-protection- it's just a question of whether it will have force of industry, or force of law, behind it.

    As much as I hate bought legislation, why didn't the Tech Industry buy off their own Congressmen to compete with this foolishness?

    I know MS only started contributing to campaigns in the last presidential election, and they've already patented the DRM OS, and IBM stands on moral and ethical ground of not getting involved- Compaq and HP are too busy fighting to merge to get involved-

    By the time they realize what they've lost it will be too late to turn the tide. At least Intel tried.
    • by ( 63340 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:57AM (#3089948)
      >As much as I hate bought legislation, why didn't the Tech Industry buy off their own Congressmen to >compete with this foolishness?

      Because the Tech Industry doesn't care about us. They care about making money. They will still be able to make money post-"enforced copy-protection".

      If there's anything that Cisco's "Wall Of Oppression" firewall proved is that these tech companies that people on Slashdot adore and identify with as being the corporate embodiment of themselves are anything but. They are simply corporations in pursuit of money. People have ideals and ethics. Companies do not.

      We all thought the tech companies were different from the other megacorps because they were started by people like us. They aren't different.
      • I disagree that the "tech industry" can make just as much money with Hollywood-enforced crippleware on their hardware, as without.

        People won't run out to buy the newest, fastest, $$-est CD or DVD-burning drive (or the newest, fastest, $$-est "rip, mix and burn"ing, IPod-loading G4 for you wholistic Mac folks)if it is no longer possible to use them for that purpose. People won't surf the net so much anymore, because everytime their mouse brushes over some link that isn't encrypted with the Hollywood seal of approval, their computers will be hardwired to lock up and submit their email address to the FBI. In fact, people won't spend nearly as much time staring at their monitors because of all they won't be able to do on them, so they won't go out and buy flat panels for their vert-sync-shot eyes.

        And ultimately, the more control Hollywood is able to assert, the computer itself ceases to be perceived as the omnifunctional entertainment platform the "tech industry" has gotten rich selling to the general public. That is exactly what Hollywood does want and the "tech industry" does not want: the public shutting off their computers and flocking back to their insipid radio and TV fare in droves. Make no mistake: the interests of the tech industry are diametrically opposed to Big Movie and Big Music. The internet is the worst thing that ever happened to these industries, which (prior to the internet) made endless money selling you 100 flavors and colors of crap because they control all the distribution channels and you won't know any better. Big Movie and Big Music don't really want to offer their content "securely" on the internet - that's just a temporary measure until they figure out how to kill the computer/internet phenomenon entirely. It's their biggest competitor.

        So regardless of whether the entire "tech industry" is motivated by corporate greed (OK, it probably is), I have reason to think that its greed will motivate it to undermine DRM. Yes, they're asking for "self policed" DRM, but that is just a PR thing, like Microsoft asking for a "self policed" penalty (which would be no penalty at all).

    • by Gopher971 ( 219910 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:22AM (#3090120) Journal
      Here's a story from The Register [] about Hollings grilling Intel executive VP Leslie Vadasz.

      Full story below.

      Senator brutalizes Intel rep for resisting CPRM
      By Thomas C Greene in Washington
      Posted: 01/03/2002 at 14:41 GMT

      Entertainment industry lapdog Senator Fritz Hollings (Democrat, South Carolina) lashed out at Intel executive VP Leslie Vadasz who warned that the copy-protected PCs Hollings is obediantly promoting on behalf of his MPAA and RIAA handlers would stifle growth in the marketplace.

      "We do not need to neuter the personal computer to be nothing more than a videocassette recorder," Vadasz said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Thursday.

      An obedient Hollings tore into the witness, calling his testimony "nonsense".

      "Now where do you get all this nonsense about how we're going to have irreparable damage?" Hollings demanded. "We don't want to legislate. We want to give you time to develop technology."

      The "we" he mentions, it's quite obvious, refers to the entertainment industry flacks and lobbyists who wrote Hollings' pet bill, the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), which would require hard drives to fail to load 'insecure' applications, and perhaps even operating systems at some point in future. Tinkering with one's own personal property to defeat this Orwellian innovation would be criminally punishable.

      This is of course the entertainment industry's dream, as it seeks to hobble all equipment so that it can determine when, where and how its content can be enjoyed by consumers. Copying any content from one medium to another could be blocked on the pretext of piracy prevention, so it's entirely possible that one would have to purchase two CDs with the same content -- one for the computer and one for the stereo, say. It's this sort of extortion the industry has relentlessly lobbied Congress to enshrine in law.

      Defeating piracy is the pretext; but obliterating the consumer's right to fair use is the true goal. But because Congress can't quite bring itself to eliminate fair use directly and up-front, a series of laws like the DMCA and SSSCA have been devised to eliminate it practically, or 'incidentally'.

      Naturally, the hardware industry is going to resist any law which forces it to break its products. It understands that consumers will be disappointed by equipment which fails to let them enjoy content which they've purchased. They see a slump in sales in the SSSCA. And they're probably right.

      The hearing was a typical Congressional dog-and-pony show designed to stroke Hollywood fat cats like Michael Eisner and Jack Valenti pursuing the Holy Grail of pay-per-use technology. No critics were invited to speak, and no harsh criticism was expected.

      So when Intel's Vadasz showed the spine to blast the entertainment industry's pet scheme, he had to be beaten down, and Hollings was of course eager to please his masters.

      Eisner and Valenti also testified, exhibiting their profound ignorance of technology and their sneering contempt for the rights of consumers, under Hollings' admiring gaze. Hollings, clearly, is an honest politician according to Brendan Behan's formula: when he's bought, he stays bought.

      Hollings has also adopted the industry's basic stance, that copying is primarily about piracy, and only rarely about honest fair use. But the best expression of this comes from Recording Industry Ass. of America President Hillary Rosen, who wrote yesterday that, "surely, no one can expect copyright owners to ignore what is happening in the marketplace and fail to protect their creative works because some people engage in copying just for their personal use."

      The 'some people' says it all. Most people are criminals, and only a tiny minority are honest and decent, Rosen assumes. This is the also official perspective of Hollywood -- of Eisner, and Valenti, and Hollings. It is a perspective natural to a certain class of person. Consider that we all imagine others to be more or less like ourselves. Decent people expect others to be decent, just like themselves. Criminals expect others to be criminals, just like themselves. When Eisner and Rosen and Valenti and Hollings see a world populated by cheats and frauds and freeloading scum, what does that say about them? ®
    • by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:23AM (#3090125)
      Actually as some of the other articles on the issue have pointed out, the Tech industry PAC that represents Intel has been in Washington far longer than the "Content Industry" people they just have not hed the need or the inclination (given their stated opposition to oversight) to buy politicians. See here [] for donations by Computer/Internet companies, and here [] for dontaitions by the (non-book) entertainment industries.

      As to Microsofts donations as you can see here [] Microsoft was in the top 20 industry donators to congress back in 1992. You can do a more detailed search for All Microsoft soft-money, donations by Microsoft Employees, and other groups here []

      If you want to go Here [] you can look up everybody's two favorite Senators.

  • Not too serious... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kenthorvath ( 225950 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:42AM (#3089842)
    I'd expect that PC manufacturers will make this protection easy to disable, either by bypassing a chip or removing it, etc... A little solder and or ingenuity and PRESTO! we'll all be modding our PC's! "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." - Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless, 1992 -- The same thing applies to hackers and pirates. They will find a way.
    • This may be true, but if protection becomes law, then it will be illegal to make such modifications.
      • Yes, but when you have a high enough percentage of people disobeying the law, you have (1) a bad law, and (2) a lost cause. Back in ancient times, the US foolishly adopted a national 55 mph speed limit. Did ANYONE slow down because the idiots put up new signs? The law was somewhere between a nuisance and a non-issue.
        • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

          The law was somewhere between a nuisance and a non-issue.

          When you get a speeding ticket, how is it a non-issue?

          Bad laws are not just a nuisance; they are a serious threat. It's even worse when a bad law is not usually enforced, because then you have to break it if you want to be competitive and "keep up with the Joneses" -- but then if The Man ever decides you're a trouble-maker or otherwise undesirable, they can just selectively enforce it against you.

    • Good grief.. I think there's really 2 possible outcomes here. We can continue to wage the IP seller vs. consumer war or...

      Pirates only pirate things when it's perceived as less convenient to purchase them. Today, it is more convenient for those so inclined to pirate something that costs $25 a copy and face the possible consequences than it is to pay the $25.

      Now, if the same IP didn't come with 4 pounds of land-fillable packaging and permanently scribed onto its own read-only media and was made available online for say $5... then it might be more convenient for those same individuals to just chuck out the $5 and download the thing. Seems like a pretty simple solution to me.

      Of course, you could fiddle with the other side and make the penalty for violating SSSCA (or any other copy prevention law) be instant death.. and what with the micro chip implants and all, that would be easily enforcable.

      and for what it's worth: My "car" analogy on the SSSCA... Imagine what it would be like if it were illegal to build a car that could go more than 65 MPH? Good bye F1, Indy, CART, etc.

      Vortran out
    • Otherwise the hardware companies would face a potential boycott. The mere threat of such a thing would force the manufacturers to have some kind of "exit strategy" that would not involve depositing billions of dollars of hardware in a landfill (right next to the Circuit City DIVX players). Total cost of disabling copy protection has to be kept under $1; they have no choice.
    • Just because you can get around it does not mean we should not stop the law at all or work to get it repealed. A lot of tech people think like you. if they can figure a way around it it does not matter....well think about the average joe user...who is going to fight for him? think about your grand kids....what if they are not tech heads...they will not be able to by pass the problem...and may infact be indoctrinated to think it is you want the next generation to think that it is normal to not be able to time shift a show or make a copy of music for their car?
  • Anyone live in the Texas Panhandle?

    I sent my representative a angry letter about the SSSCA and got told how important it was to protect the nation's intellectual property against evil theives like Napster and P2P

    Translation: Hollywood has been very good to me, so I'm going to continue bending you over to get play from them.
    • how did you put it? if you said that you should be able to use napster and P2P then duh.....but if you put it to him in a way that lit the suffering of the normal joe and how the betamax decision is being violated by the SSSCA then he would not have said what he did....unless he is a total idiot.
  • by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:42AM (#3089846)

    Is that copyright is NOT there to guarantee that people make lots of money, copyright is there to guarantee that society has literature, art, and music, by making sure artists can earn money through creation.

    Huge corporations stopping fair use and extending copyright limits for the length of several human lifetimes is unAmerican.

    I'm all for REAL copyright that still provides for fair use. I don't trust these goddamn people to do it for me. If it was a legitimate matter of wanting to protect themselves, i'd be more sympathetic, but its not secret that they want to find more ways to fuck you out of your money.
    • by renehollan ( 138013 ) <> on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:17AM (#3090082) Homepage Journal
      I'm all for REAL copyright that still provides for fair use.

      Yes, and the problem with most technological "solutions" is that they either seriously impede fair use by design, or make it cumbersome to excercise one's fair use rights. Horror stories of content being tied to particular hardware abound. What happens when the hardware breaks?

      However, I think the hour is not as dark as it seams, and there may be a silver lining to this particular cloud. As Lawrence Lessig points out [], code is becoming a proxy for law enforcement. By itself, this is ominous only because laws can be repealed, but code can't. But, what if every law had sunset clauses, and code to enforce it had to honour them? A copyright law enforced by code could also enforce release into the public domain at the appropriate time. No "Sonny Bono" act could change that, though, I suppose the act of benefitting from this "earlier law" enforcement could be made illegal. Still, I'd question the constitutionality of a law that made existing equipment functionality retroactively illegal.

      I think, sadly, it's a given that we'll have hardware copy protection. Given public key cryptography, and an escrow mechanism for user-specific secret private keys within the equipment you own, it is technologically feasable. The challenge is for the public to standardize and control the depoloyment of same to ensure that the law it enforces reflects balance in copyright of digital content, as the constitution broadly intends.

      I see a great potential here for crypto-hackers to ally with hardware manufacturers to produce a system with which we can live, and not one that enforces Hollywood's idea of maniacal control. While the best proportion of SSSCA-mandated hardware in a system is none at all, I'd settle for 1%, in playback or transcoding interfaces, espescially if I can leverage it to protect my own private content, and not in storage devices.

    • My Copyright Plan (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JohnDenver ( 246743 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:37AM (#3090255) Homepage
      1. Circumvention devices are illegal, IF they have the exclusive purpose of being a circumvention device. (Providers can't use an amateur DRM system)
      2. ALL copyrights expire after 20 years. (Not this 95-150 years BS when original copyrights were 14 years)
      3. When a copyright expires, it must be released without DRM (Digital Rights Management) software.

      Personally, I think this is a perfect balance. While I would deam circumvention devices illegal, I would also release TONS of MODERN works in the public domain. You're probably thinking, "Big deal, you're realing everything prior to 1980 into the public domain. I'll get to watch old movies."

      We don't even have a dictionary in the public domain that is clear enough to scan in with OCR software. (I'm not sure of the current status.)

      We have nothing, as far as modern works is concerned, in the public domain. Imagine the wealth of information published prior to 1980, now imagine it's all free. Now imagine you're free to plaigerize from all those works to create an uber-encyclopedia of data structures, gardening, renewable energy guide, home medical guide, medical diagnosis software, etc.

      It would create a whole new landscape for a whole new type of aggrigate content. You would be free to mix the best of two books or entire volumes and magazines, and put it on a CD or DVD. The amount of knowledge that could be compiled would be insane.

      You might as well give new works the ability to protect themselves for a limited amount of time.

      It's time to educate the people with the free information they are entitled to. The US Constitution acknoweldges that information is inherantly free, because they had to make a provision for limited copyrights and patents.

      The only reason they would make such a provision is because it was self-evident that information, specific works or vague abstractions, belong to the public and no individual.

      In other words, copyrights and patents are privledges, not rights.
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:43AM (#3090305) Homepage
      • Huge corporations stopping fair use and extending copyright limits for the length of several human lifetimes is unAmerican

      Before anyone misinterprets this, the SSSCA is about indefinite copyright. Or rather, about de facto indefinite copy-control. Because even when the copyright on the content runs out (if it ever does), it will still be illegal to obtain the tools to extract, use and distribute the content. It's like putting copyrighted material in a locked safe with a tiny window in it, and saying "In 70 years, you can open the safe and put the contents into the public domain. Only we're not telling you the combination, and if you so much as enquire about safe-cracking kits, we'll assume in a very real and legally binding fashion that you actually want to crack open other safes, and have you prosecuted." Append a maniacal laugh, if you like.

  • Let's face it. If Intel and others integrate copyprotection on the hardware level, then that processor or chipset will loose market share.
    We'll all be running some Open Design homebrew
    box if this happens. What is the governement going to do,.. outlaw electronics as a hobby?

    I think it's time we all boycott the MPAA and RIAA.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think it's time we all boycott the MPAA and RIAA.

      Congratulations, sir! You now have a very tight grip on the obvious! Now let's see you do it.

      This is Slashdot, home of the "Evil company X is threatening to restrict our rights! Let's all get together to stop--OOOH! SHINEY!!!"
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:30AM (#3090186)
      > We'll all be running some Open Design homebrew box if this happens. What is the government going to do,.. outlaw electronics as a hobby?

      When electronics are outlawed, only outlaws will develop electronics.

      I think we're on the verge of self-destructing our $1T technology industry goodbye for the $50M Hollyweird industry.

      Right now, there's some geeky Chinese kid tinkering with a soldering iron. When he's in high school, he'll be playing around with FPGAs. When he goes to university, he'll meet another kid from India (he spent his childhood salvaging parts from our junked computers), and together, they'll develop a way to mass-produce quantum transistors.

      Your kids, by government edict, won't have such advantages. Valenti, Eisner and Hollings would rather have the nation's kids watch The Lion King so Disney can make a 5-year profit projection.

      25 years from now, your kids will be working in sweatshops assembling quantum computers. Because that Chinese kid and that Indian kid will form the next AT&T Labs. Your kid could have done the same in America, but his government destroyed his economic future for the sake of a fucking cartoon mouse.

      On the other hand, the education budget can be cut - if SSSCA passes, all you'll need to prepare your kids for the future is a mop and a spatula. There'll still be some money for the gifted and talented ones -- they'll get squeegees.

  • ..multimedia? Give me a DVD drive that only stores data then. I don't watch movies on my PC! What, because our processors are fast enough to decode movies you think we should?

    Here's a hint: I don't give a fuck about movies. I don't want to watch them. I don't care whether or not they encode them. But I do NOT want to deal with more fucking hassle and incompatibilities when it comes to my hardware - it's a big enough issue at the moment. And this type of bullshit will cause just that - more harassment and problems. I can see tech support now: "We're sorry sir but that blue screen only comes up when you try and circumvent the protection and we won't help you fix that." Yea, right. Fsck off!

    Like it'll help anyway. If Microsoft, who designs the operating system, can't make their security system safe, what makes you think that THIS will be safe?
  • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:46AM (#3089872) Homepage
    I'm entirely willing to accept copy protection, DRM, whatever, with one single condition.

    All media has a lifetime guarantee against anything I do to it.

    Basically, I want to back things up for my personal use. But, if the media companies wish to stop me doing that myself then I feel that they ought to provide me, for free (or the cost of production), with as many replacements of the original media as I want. If they are unwilling to accpet this financial undertaking (it'd be big, I'm a clumsy/forgetful/stupid person) then they ought not be able to stop me protecting my initial investment.

  • we're in trouble either way.

    I don't agree with this conclusion. Providing digital copyright protection in future devices that provide access to media makes sense.

    It is specifically what is proposed in the SSSCA which does *not* make sense. It is "retroactive" (for lack of a better term) and it has stiff penalties for offenders.

    Implying that we are in some sort of trouble is absurd, and does nothing but further the notion that everyone on the internet is knowingly stealing copyrighted material left and right, enjoy breaking the law, and do it frequently enough to worry about enforcement.
    • Providing digital copyright protection in future devices that provide access to media makes sense.

      What kind of device might we be talking about here? My PC provides access to media, so it qualifies. But I put my PC together myself from available components, and I run software I that can be modified at will. This law implies that in the future, the audio/video hardware will have to include tamper-resistant features to protect a cryptographic engine. That engine will be what is used by media players to realize the content. This applies not only to the video card, but also to my monitor and loudspeakers, which will also have to be tamper-resistant digital devices.

      Doesn't that sound a little far-fetched?
  • overseas.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Raleel ( 30913 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:47AM (#3089877)
    I think I'll start buying my hardware overseas now. Oh, what? Mr. Tech Industry? You don't like that? Put down this silly business. Guess I'll have to start attending more live performances.
    • The EU will copy the SSSCA the instant the US tells us to do so. There will be no place to by non-SSSCA compliant equipment I bet.
  • Porn companies? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Silver222 ( 452093 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:48AM (#3089881)
    "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."

    Jesus H. Christ. So any pocket calculator with a M+ key on it is going to be illegal? What a bunch of assholes.

    On another note, where do the porn companies stand in this? I think I'm going to start writing the big porn video companies and let them know that movies they make are being shared online. That could be the one thing that could kill this bill. Imagine telling Mary soccer mom that the reason her computer is hobbled is to protect the profits of pornographers. She'll get into her Suburban and drive right over to her Congressman's office with a letter.

    • Re:Porn companies? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Your_Mom ( 94238 )
      Imagine telling Mary soccer mom that the reason her computer is hobbled is to protect the profits of pornographers

      Holy shit thats a good idea! I am just going to tell people this if the bill starts being talked about.

      "You know that SSSCA? Well /I/ heard that its being pushed by a bunch of porno giants to protect their movies from being distributed online" I think there could be a major backlash from that. That is not a bad idea.

    • Re:Porn companies? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aiken_d ( 127097 )

      I am part owner and work for a porn company, [] of sorts.

      As usual, porn is way ahead of mainstream business. Browse the gnutella network for porn (god knows there's enough of it). Look at what percentage of it is really more of an ad for a site. Or, more unpleasantly, what percentage opens 8 million browser windows when you go to view a movie.

      Many porn companies intentionally release a portion of their catalogue, with ads embedded. It's the classic "free sample" gambit; we're betting that if you like these 10 pics, or these 2 videos, that you'll consider paying for more (I use "we" in a loose sense; my company doesn't engage in this practice becasue there's no way to limit minors' access).

      So porn has adapted and found a way to make money from technological innovation, while the mainstreamers are still trying to use legislation to turn back the clock and make last century's business models work today. It's not the first time; it won't be the last time.

      (When I tire of my career in the adult internet, I'm going to get rich being a consultant who follows the adult industry and then goes and tells everyone else what to do next. I'll be considered a visionary.)


  • Stupid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:48AM (#3089886) Journal
    As everyone knows, this is just the application of Hollywood $$$ to the gov. And actually, this law if put in place may get overturned- too far reaching and such. But IANAL.

    Interesting how they point out that the Alaskan Senator is a Republican, yet never point out what party Hollings is from....
  • My feelings (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Satai ( 111172 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:48AM (#3089888)
    Honestly, I don't particularly care if Windows gets built in DRM - unless somebody can convince me otherwise - because I don't use it.

    But, see, the thing is, this mandates DRM - to Hollywood's specs - not only in Windows, but in Linux, *BSD, MacOS, PalmOS, and every single device I own. That's unreasonable.

    If I'm told that I'm not allowed to use FreeBSD anymore because the TCP stack doesn't check incoming packets for copyrighted material, and because FFS lets me store mp3's, then I'm going to be really pissed. If I'm told that there are going to be some components that can no longer be 'open source' - or, more importantly, Free Software - I'm going to be really pissed. If every hard drive that I see in the store has built in DRM, I'm going to be even more pissed.

    Well, guess what? That's what this bill says. My rights are getting pissed on by this bill, and it pisses me off. I'm calling my reps and telling them that if they vote for it I will not vote for them.

    • But, see, the thing is, this mandates DRM - to Hollywood's specs - not only in Windows, but in Linux, *BSD, MacOS, PalmOS, and every single device I own. That's unreasonable.

      It's not just unreasonable. It's impossible to enforce. It'll be like prohibition or the war against drugs all over again with the police and federal authorities getting their arses kicked very publically while pretending that they are acually making a difference.

      I think it'll be quite fun to watch actually.

  • to the bill at all at the congress website []. What is the deal, do they really not want us to know about what is going on? I'd love to jump on the phone with my state reps and chew their ear about why this is bad, but I'd like to have some legs to stand on with them. They really don't care to hear about 'some bill called the SSSCA' which I can't even give a bill number for.
  • by TheGreenLantern ( 537864 ) <> on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:52AM (#3089915) Homepage Journal
    I have 12-18 months to buy as much non-protected digital media/hardware as I can? I guess this is one way to stimulate the economy.
  • Write them today. For $4.95 you can have a letter HAND-DELIVERED to your representative or senator. rs/ []

    Luckily, one of my Senators is on the Commerce committee. I urge you to write now.

  • by cje ( 33931 )
    You know, how hard would it be for the MPAA to make an example out of somebody who really is offering pirated copies of the latest movies? How difficult would it be to get on Morpheus or Gnutella, look up something like "The Fast and the Furious (DivX)", and trace the offender through his or her IP address? Has anybody heard of the MPAA actually doing anything like this? Aren't these the people that the MPAA should really go after? How many questions can I squeeze into one paragraph?

    With legislation like the SSSCA, the movie and music industries are seeking to impose draconian (some might say dictatorial) on everybody as a result of the actions of a small percentage of the users. If these people had any interest in protecting their profits, they would actually go after the pirates who are swapping ripped movies on the Internet and selling bootleg copies on street corners. The fact that they are (apparently) unwilling to do so speaks volumes about their true intentions.

    Brave men have died to protect the fundamental freedoms that the MPAA/RIAA and their corporate thugs are now bribing Congress to take away. What's most sad is that (apparently) nobody in Congress recognizes or cares about this, as long as their "charitable funds" are being properly supplied by the movie industry. Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao, and Jack Valenti. In future history books, all of these names will appear in the same paragraph.
  • Let's assume for the moment that somehow, some way, some kind of copy protection will eventually be built into everything. The two questions now are: What kind of "copy protection" do you want to live with? and Who do you want deciding what kind of "copy protection" is good enough?

    I like the kind of copy protection that's implemented with sticker on the product package saying "Don't steal music." (Implemented by a computer company -- Apple, on their iPod.) I can also live with simple checks and locks that are easily bypassed, like the iPod/iTunes integration that puts the music in a "hidden folder" on the iPod, but still uses the standard MP3 file format for music.

    I suspect that if the computer companies get to decide what protection is "good enough", we'll retain a lot more flexibility and control than if Hollywood, Inc. gets to decide.

    I think "copy protection" is coming, one way or another. Rather than saying "Hell no! We won't accept any copy protection!" maybe we should be lobbying good and hard to put the control of copy protection in the computer company's hands, and help them keep Hollywood, Inc. at bay.

  • by thesolo ( 131008 ) <> on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:57AM (#3089949) Homepage
    There is one important thing to remember here in this situation: Republicans are not a fan of Hollings. And that especially includes the President, who Hollings has been publically criticizing heavily for his involvement with Enron.

    Sure, our government is largely corrupt, and IMHO, neither Hollings or Bush should be in office. But if Hollings does introduce this bill, and it passes through Congress, there would be a good chance of Bush vetoing it. Of course, since the Senate is so closely split with Republicans & Democrats, I'm hoping that with the right pressure placed by us geeks, this bill won't pass in the first place.
  • by scruffy ( 29773 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @10:57AM (#3089955)
    I agree with the Mike Godwin letter that politicians and media moguls simply do not understand computer technology. Copying is simply a fundamental operation of computers. Any algorithm that does squat has to move information around, even "Hello world". Every read and print makes a copy. Every assignment statement makes a copy. Every packet is a copy. Everything on your disk drive is a copy. This effort to somehow mark a bit as copy-protected or not is just going to throw a huge wrench in the works. And how are they going to mark a bit as copy-protected or not except by using more bits?

    This whole effort is somewhat like trying to outlaw the laws of physics. If they could, these guys would try to slow down the speed of light because it allows copying to happen too fast.

    Copying is how computers work. Would somebody with some influence and a clue please tell them this?

  • Do Something! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lunenburg ( 37393 )
    For the love of Pete, the situation is not going to change until we, all of us, remind Congress that they work for us, not Disney, and that we will remove them from office if they do stuff like this. There are plenty of sheep out there who will just believe the corporate line, but I'd like to think that the readers here have a little more sense.

    Call your representatives, especially if you have one on the Senate committee considering this. I called John Edwards office on Wednesday. It took all of 30 seconds. Did my call make a difference? Probably not. Would 500-1000 calls that day have made a difference? Possibly.

    We, the technologically inclined, need to get off of our comfortable, Quake-playing asses and realize that there's a world out there. We're so caught up in ourselves that if an issue doesn't affect us personally this very day, we ignore it, aside from some grumbling on slashdot. Well, Congress doesn't read slashdot, so we need to get our message out.

    Rise up, geeks. Organize. I find it hard to believe that a group that can build Mozilla can't get itself together enough to organize efforts against laws that affect our very livelihood. The only way we can even have a chance of stopping this is if we all work together.

    Can we?
  • According to the Wired article, Mickey Mouse turned into a Badger (and I don't mean he'r from Wisconsin) --

    At one point, Eisner badgered Vadasz, asking him, "Can you protect open content on the Internet that's been stolen and now (is) sitting on a file. Is there a technological way?" After several half-answers, Vadasz eventually replied: "No."
    That exchange led to a letter that Intel sent to Hollings late Thursday. It accused Eisner and Chernin of injecting "a point of confusion" into the hearing.
    Vadasz wrote in the letter: "It is important for the committee to understand that content, once captured in 'unprotected' form, can never be put back in the 'bottle' and protected against copying on the Internet. This is because this unprotected media looks no different to digital devices than a home movie that you would send to a relative or friend."

    This is the Fair Use point we should be talking about -- not that we should have the right to copy other people's work willy-nilly, but that if legislation like this gets passed, we won't have the right ot view our own home movies on our device (which was bought to play back that content) because our movies don't have Disney's blessing, and their device can't tell the difference between video of your kids and a bootleg copy of Snow Dogs, and will refuse to play either!

    The Intel guy basically admitted that digital devices can't tell the difference between these types of legal and illegal content, so the Entertainment industry wants to ban both! Now, that has to be against the spirit of the Copyright law, and I plan on explaining this to my senators, although I doubt Hillary or Chuck will listen.

  • basicaly shooting itself in the foot. And not just the tech industry, but also the entertainment and everything else along with it. Honestly, is Intel expecting me to buy their products when their processors for instance won't decode a movie which is not digitally signed to their liking? Or does IBM think I'll use their hdds when they won't allow me to store said movie (or software, or music, etc)?

    I live in Canada, and over here we don't have those insane issues, such as this one. At least not yet. But even if we did, there would always be options to bypass the crippled hardware.

    I honestly won't care how fast my computer will be if it doesn't do what I expect it to do. And I'll look for other options.

    The new Pentium Hollywood edition has copyright protection? Well, VIA is making their Samuel. Slow as hell, but it works. Maxtor, IBM, Seagate hdds don't let me store "illegal" stuff? Fujitsu makes hdds too. nVidia's cards won't display my info? Well, Ati is a pretty good alternative. And if not Ati, well, others.

    I could go on and on, but you get the picture. The harder the US is trying to control the use of computers, the less likely are people like myself to buy said computers. Our friends in Asia will definitely have uncrippled hardware, and I have plenty of ways to acquire it. And if not Asia, then Europe. So unless the entire world decides to make it unlawfull to use uncrippled hardware (or software), there's always going to be a way around it.

  • Listen, I know many of us are cynical, and we believe that most people in Washington are owned by corporate dollars. However, I still have a glimmer of hope for our country. Visit the U.S. House of Representatives website [] and the U.S. Senate website [], find your representatives' e-mail addresses, and give them your opinion. Voice your concerns! If you sit idly by, and these laws get passed, then you have only yourself to blame. We sent 15,000 letters to the DOJ regarding the Microsoft antitrust settlement, and people noticed. Numbers speak to these people.

    Instead of posting to slashdot, write to your representatives. We can make a difference if we all do it this weekend. You have nothing better to do.
  • If we look at the financial contributions listed on [] here [], we see that the top three contributors to his 1998 Senate campaign were:

    Lawyers/Law Firms $1,197,317

    TV/Movies/Music $282,984

    Lobbyists $185,762

    This nonsense in Congress is nothing but the logical conclusion of his campaign payola.
  • by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:12AM (#3090036)

    I don't understand how it would be possible to differentiate between content that was once DRM-controlled but no longer is, and content that was never DRM-controlled.

    What if I write a story and distribute it? Of course it isn't going to have an appropriate digital signature on it. What am I supposed to do, go to some kind of appropriate authority and somehow publish it through them? What if I can't afford whatever fees they charge? Heck, paying for the right to publish? Talk about a prior restraint on free speech.

    But then again, I forget, I'm not supposed to want to publish anything, and even if I do I'm not supposed to be able to do it. After all, the Internet is supposed to be just like television, right?

  • How long after this passes will the technology be deveolped to make great analog recordings? Albums will defnitly make a comback, and I wonder how long before someone makes a turntable that uses a laser instead of a needle so that nothing actually touches the record.
  • New law (Score:5, Funny)

    by stinkydog ( 191778 ) <sd.strangedog@net> on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:16AM (#3090073) Homepage
    Congress is considering a law to mandate that all digital content be rendered on puch cards with "Do Not Copy" printed on them.

    The MPAA applauded them move. "Now that digital movies weigh 300lbs casual piracy will be elimiated and we can safely distribute films without concern of terrorists." Blockbuster announed that all new members will receive a free pallet jack.

    Chinese peasents who have been hoarding illegal CDR technology in their villages were gleefull. "Perhaps Lik-Sang will buy this @#$%% for paper to cdr converters for hackers". The I-Pod Mafia could not be reach for comment.

  • Stop freaking about this. Whatever copy protection is put into hardware and/or software, it will be broken.

    It will never be cost effective to put really strong protection measure in hardware. They will have to compromise at some point. This will make the scheme weaker.

    And for digital media, who cares... As long a we can copy via an analog link, event if we loose a bit of quality (which current compression method, for audio and video, do anyway) the copied content can still be distrubuted in a digital form without any other generation loss. It may make the process a little bit more difficult, but not enough to prevent large scale infrigment.

    On the software side, the data will be in an unprotected state somewhere along the pipe. So with some hacking, it will be possible to make perfect copy.

    To make copy protection scheme hard to defeat would requires the protected content to be moved in a protected fashion from the persistent support (hard disk or whatever) to the display device. I doubt that all the industry players that need to be involved will be able to agree on a common scheme.

  • Well, I for one support the industry's ability to come up with their own scheme.... why? Because, if the federal government legislates it, it makes it a lot harder to get the Intel and the Entertainment Industry in trouble for violating fair use. Not to mention it adds frivolous civil crimes to the books that will make many innocuous things illegal and restrict our freedom to implement our own programs since EVERY piece of software must be compliant with the SSSCA.

    I am sorry, but I think it is simpler to deal with an Industry stepping on us than it is to deal with the government.
  • by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:20AM (#3090095) Homepage
    Industry: We can't make anything to prevent copying of media.
    Politicians: Well then, we'll just make a law that says you have to make something to prevent copying. That will solve the problem.

    Later on...

    NASA: We can't make a spaceship that travels faster than the speed of light, it's against the laws of physics!
    Politicians: Well then, we'll just make a law that says you have to make a spaceship that travels faster than the speed of light. That will fix the laws of physics.
  • Your civilization has built the Internet... (+2 per city on science.)

    This obsoletes the Hollywood Wonder. ( you lose +1 per city happiness.)

    (we are here)

    You have 10 cities rioting.. you have decended into anarchy.

    You government type has changed from a republic to fascisim.

    Lets hope to it dosn't come down to "Are you sure you want to break that treaty with the Chinese?" This could have been prevented if our leaders had acknoledged the negitive effects of the Internet on Hollywood from the start. I still don't think they realize. Silly 10 year old playing civ...

  • Sen. Fritz Hollings told universities, schools and colleges, Thursday that they can no longer teach students digital electronics, if it involves practical projects. Universities celebrated, after realising that they could sell all their expensive electronics labs, test equipment and computers and buy more carpets.

    "This is GREAT!!" said one student. "My final project was a digital audio player, it was due in next week and i was far behind. But now the government has declared it illegal, and my professor is forced to pass me wayhaaay!" he continued: "The only down side, is that the feds raided my home and found a 100-page report (my project) with detaild schematics. I now face upto 5 years in prision under both the DMCA _and_ the SSSCA!"

    Hobbyists were outraged however, "I don't want to live in a country where if i go to radio-shack to buy some components, i can expect FBI agents waiting on my doorstep for an inspection when i get home."

    But this law doesn't only affect engineers. Second-hand electronics dealers today announced that they were concerned about the consequences of the law. When passed, it could mean the entire stock, of some dealers would instantly become as illegal as 100Kg of cocaine. "Does that mean i can sell this old Apple IIe for its weight in coke?" asked one seller.
  • Disturbing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bibos ( 116554 )
    1. The thing that makes me think is - will they
    be building machines without copy protection outside
    of the US ? I _bet_ they won't.
    So we Europeans will be affected and can't do _anything_
    about it. THAT'S my problem.

    2. What will this new hardware do to Linux and will
    Open Source still be possible and legal after this
    law passed ?

    The US government is taking away consumer rights
    one after the other. After following these things
    here on Slashdot I'm _really_ happy to live in Europe,
    but that won't help me in the long-term since
    nowadays US laws can be enforced everywhere it seems.
  • Lets condence the entire problem into two sentences.

    "Lets pass a law that makes it illegal to copy digital information. That way, we never have to worry about the effect of technological progress on our profit margins."

    The problem is not that people are using computers to easily copy and distribute digital information. The problem is that the current business models are in complete and total ignorance of reality. The old business models no longer hold up. Rather then protecting the defunct and now retarded practices with laws, we should be creating new business models.

    These laws are about as inteligent as passing a law that the value of Pi shall henceforth be three.

  • The porblem I have with implementing copyrights in hardware is that it will probably be an indefinite lock on the content whereas copyrights do, eventually, expire.

    Some copyrights expire relative to the authors death. How would the hardware/content know when the author has died? Will it be connected to ssome central copyright database?

    Of course, no one in the government can think that far into the future. Who cares if content is locked down for eternity because it secures it authors a monopoly on the content for a meager 70 years.
  • Personal Copyrights (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ( 134147 )
    As I understand the law, if I record myself singing in the shower, I have the copyright on that work. If this law passes, how would the following scenario play out?

    Assume I do record myself and, for whatever reason, someone else wants to hear this. So I make an mp3 without any copyright info watermarked/whatevered into it, and give it to this person. Now their mp3 player has DRM built in and sees no copyright info - and thus won't play this recording.

    As the copyright holder, I'm well withing my rights to distribute the recording (that is, after all, one of the main reasons for copyright), yet I can't because I don't have access to any watermarking technology (don't think for a minute there won't be license fees for this technology).

    Does anyone see problems here???

  • by psxndc ( 105904 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:51AM (#3090368) Journal
    How messed up is it that rather than feed the homeless, or develop medical programs to help people in need, or REAL PROBLEMS, the Movie and Record Industry want congress to prevent kids from making copies of mp3s and trading them? This isn't flamebait. I think people here are complaining that their freedoms are being taken away and I agree (see my other posts), but the "problem" that the record and movie industries cry about is sooooo insignifact in comparison to the problems we have as a nation and a world leader. Valenti, stfu and let congressional leaders get back to doing what they are supposed to be doing: making this a great nation and helping other nations.


    • by andaru ( 535590 ) <> on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:46PM (#3091020) Homepage
      Michael Greene, President/CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences at the 44th Annual GRAMMY Awards:
      • "No question the most insidious virus in our midst is the illegal downloading of music on the Net."

      This is obviously a bigger problem than cancer, AIDS, world hunger, or the state-sanctioned violence going on all over the world.

      They say the SSSCA will "boost hardware sales." That is because you will have to dump the system you just bought and get a new one if you want to take advanage of all of the 'great new online content.'

      I think the only solution is to boycott this crap when it comes out. Refuse to buy the new DRM 64GHz system. Waive your right to watch Madonna or Jurassic Park 47 online. Point out to these corrupt politicians that you are not stupid enough to let them obsolete a system that you bought last month.

      It is annoying that we (taxpayers) and the hardware industry end up spending the time and money involved in implementing these systems for the entertainment industry, while they sit back and do nothing basking in the glow of the inconvenience that they have caused everyone.

      On top of that, after we go through the expenditure and wast of accomodating these paranoid jerks, we inevitably find that it has basically zero effect (except the waste of time and money). How much time and effort was spent on the copy flags implemented on every CD you buy? Has it ever prevented you from doing anything you wanted to the contents of a CD? Have you ever seen a pirated copy of a CD on DAT tape? I haven't.

      But still, this is the most pressing issue for human society to solve today.

  • Non US Citizens (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @11:52AM (#3090382) Homepage Journal
    I live in the UK. I don't feel I have anything I can directly do to help here, but can anyone think of what us non-us people can do? For example, what might be the best way to help reduce the chance of this sort of misguided nonsense happening over here?

    God I hate problems that I am powerless to help solve.
  • by Brian Knotts ( 855 ) <bknotts&cascadeaccess,com> on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:17PM (#3090565)
    You have to tell them that we will defeat them, and then actually do it.

    Hollings isn't up until 2004, though, and I imagine he'll retire then.

  • by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:26PM (#3090715) Homepage Journal

    I just want to write free software and give it to the world. I want the thrill of producing something with my peers that is as good or better as what the commercial world offers.

    We're not interested in breaking copyrights; I don't even listen to any music from the last 30 years, and the only movies I watch are Star Wars. (Well, almost.)

    The net effect of this is to reserve the privilege of publishing software to the elite few that can be certified as providing DRM. The Internet brought publishing to the masses -- now the big guys want to shut that off with trademark domain name rackets, etc. The free software revolution brought the art of producing software, the high art of hackery, to the masses. Now that's going to be shut off, too.

    Fundamentally there's no difference between a gigantic big-city newspaper and a tiny neighborhood newsletter. Both should be accorded the same rights and protections. Well, fundamentally there's no difference between Microsoft and me, except Microsoft is big enough to be able to survive this DRM stuff. If it goes through, I won't be able to write software any more. Children won't be able to legally learn to program in the 4th grade like I did. Software will only come from crufty companies, and you can forget about free software (as in speech or as in beer, either one). There will be NO innovation anymore, and society will get what it justly deserves for passing such laws. I guess at that point only a revolution will bring back liberty.

    Richard Stallman once wrote an essay [] dipicting a future of software controls and unreasonable DRM. In the story, debuggers had been declared illegal because their primary purpose was to subvert copyright protections. I laughed the first time I read it, thinking that was ludicrous.

  • by Mnemia ( 218659 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:32PM (#3090812)

    One of the things that has really bothered me during the whole SSSCA debate is the media coverage, or lack thereof. I live in South Carolina, and I've never even ONCE heard any mention of this issue from any SC-based media outlet. A quick search of some newspaper archives (Columbia's The State [] and Charleston's Post and Courier []) confirms this. It seems that most of the state adores Hollings and most news stories present him in glowing fashion. I just find it sad that very few of the people actually responsible for putting and keeping this guy in office even hear about major policy he is spearheading. If that's not a breakdown of democracy, I don't know what is.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:33PM (#3090813) Homepage

    Even assuming that copyright isn't extended indefinitely, which is a pretty big assumption, the SSSCA will effectively kill the public domain, and here's why.

    Even when content comes out of copyright, how are you going to get access to it to use, modify and distribute it? Work through it with me. What you will have is (e.g.) a SSSCA-compliant DVD-2 disk containing an AV stream with a watermark that says "I belong to Disney" weaved in.

    But it's out of copyright (let's ignore trademarks, although god knows that's a huge assumption), so now you can quite legally give a copy to your friends, or make your own edit of it, right?

    Er, how?

    You need to strip the watermark, or it will keep screaming that it belongs to Disney, and I very, very much doubt if any watermarks will have dates on them. No problem, you've got a quantum computer that can crack the pathetic 70 (90, 110, 130 or whatever it is by then) year old protection and remove it, right?

    Not legally, you don't. You're allowed to do it, but you're not allowed the tools to do it. This is already the case under the DMCA. But the SSSCA just makes it worse because now you don't have (legal) access to any devices that will play any copied or modified versions unless you strip the watermark. Now you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

    (Apologies for the re-use of the analogy, but it's a good one). The content is in a safe with a tiny window that means only you can view it. The clock has run out, and you're now legally allowed to open the safe and get access to the content. Only you don't know the combination. And you're not allowed to buy safe cracking tools, because the assumption is that you'll use them to crack open safes holding still copyrighted material.

    One way or another, you have to break the law to create a copy or a modified version or to use such a copy, even though the act of making the copy is entirely legal. It's as simple as that.

    Now consider that this also applies to fair use before the copyright expires. Bye bye using clips or images for parody, comment or review. Oh, you can copy the clip, it's just that owning anything that enables you to do so, or to view the copied clip, is illegal.

    I do believe that the DMCA and the SSSCA are primarily about stopping piracy. There's no sinister long term motive to stop all fair use dead, or to extend copyright (or copy-prevention) indefinitely. No, those are just nice side effects that polarise society into two groups: licensed content creators, and consumers. Nothing in the middle. No independent multimedia artists or satirists, no amateur editors, no Project Guttenberg, no public domain libraries... no public domain. Just corporate producers, good little consumers... and criminals.

    That's not a world I relish living in.

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:41PM (#3090938) Homepage
    Just replace the IT industry with Dilbert, the MPAA folks with marketing weasels, and the congressmen with Pointy-Haired Bosses. To sum up the hearings, this is how it went:

    Marketing Weasels: "This online piracy is hurting sales. The solution is obvious: Make all computers unable to copy anything."

    PHB: "Yup. That sounds right, take care of it Dilbert."

    Dilbert: "That's impossible. All computers copy. It's part of their basic operation. You might as well tell me to design a perpetual motion machine."

    PHB: "I don't understand what you're saying. Logically, anything I don't understand isn't important. You have 12 to 18 months to make all the computers in the world unable to copy. Oh, and the marketing weasels get to decide on the specs. Don't worry, they rarely change their minds more than twice a day."
  • by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @12:43PM (#3090960)

    I'm no techno guru, so I can't say I understand all the issues involved in building 'secure' systems, but I dunno how they can stop the "laws of physics" (as some posters have put it), and prevent bits from being copied.

    They can only make it harder to copy stuff, but then it only takes one person to crack it. They can make it illegal to distribute copies, but then we have huge illegal distribution networks in place. They can put people in jail for posession, but then they can't examine the contents of a CD found on your person without taking it to the lab. They can make a device report every single file you open to some central database or whatnot, but who the hell is going to track billions of needles in terabytes of haystacks?

    Just what do they expect to be able to do? Frighten people? Make 'em think, "gee, this is illegal... I'd better not do it?" -- but music and films appeal to young people, the ones most likely to have less need of "respectability".

    Is Dirty Data is going to become a new rhetoric, a sort of new morality, making people believe that data can be "filthy" and "rotten". Listen to a Bach copy and you'll be corrupted by those dirty nasty un-authenticated bits??

    Is that all they hope to achieve? Get the tech industry to admit that it might be sort of maybe possible, (thus creating pretense that the law is enforceable), and then use the existence of the law to create a cultural notion that copying is bad and can damage your health and well being?

    Silly, but I do wonder. Or perhaps they already realise that the game is up. Digital technology is to data what mass cheap produced energy available through a socket in your home is to the local cart and coal merchant. They know the game is up. Their distribution model is dead. And they're just buying themselves some time.

    So long as they can maintain the illusion that they still have something to own and distribute (see, we prevent copies with DRM, and we sell online to new markets), then their credibility as a business will continue... just a little while longer. Maybe until they figure out what to really do, maybe just to milk the market until they retire.

    Either way, when an empty shell of an industry only has it's image of power and worth left, then "The show must go on...."

  • by donglekey ( 124433 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @01:42PM (#3091730) Homepage
    With that shirt came a copy of DeCCS. I think that making a copy, sending it to a representative, and letting him know that he is now a criminal should be a good way to get the point across. Then explaining how the SSSCA is 10 times worse should let him know how justified it is that many people hate this.

A sheet of paper is an ink-lined plane. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"