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Doctorow on the Demise of the Digital Hub 312

natpoor writes "Cory Doctorow writes an excellent piece in this week's TidBITS about how Hollywood is out to destroy the digital hub and what it means for citizens and open source. "In Hollywood's paranoid fantasy, digital television plus Internet equals total and immediate 'Napsterization' of every movie shown on TV." Slashdotters will know some of it, but this is the best write-up I've seen, and it is well-linked. Far more important than AOL on OSX!"
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Doctorow on the Demise of the Digital Hub

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  • The paranoid delusions of some coked up producers and show bitzy laywers are way more important than the very real stuff thats going on in "Reality land"
  • film at 11 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by passthecrackpipe ( 598773 ) <> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:18AM (#4061639)
    Of course Hollywood is out to destroy the digital hub. We know that, we see that, we hear that and we read that. Every day. The question is, what are we going to do about it?
    • Re:film at 11 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dattaway ( 3088 )
      Televisions and canned broadcasts are obsoleted by the internet anyway. Make plans to purchase wireless and other broadband equipment with new video hardware.
    • I'm giving up. It is too clear to me that the world at large is going to do what it very well pleases. If the world wants to be controlled, it will. If it wishes to live free and happy and tra-la-la, it will. I am but a human on this pathetic balll of rock. I can do nothing but contribute, no matter what my status. You can philosophize the rest of your life, but it won't change a damn thing. Nothing you or anyone can do, minus being the force of power(read money) will ever make a difference.
    • <flame>
      Fire Michael Powell?

      Seriously, whenever a story this comes along, who is the guy that seems to be hell bent on screwing the little guy? Powell.
  • by JojoCoco ( 413962 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:20AM (#4061664) Homepage Journal
    We will Napsterize everything given the chance, its just our nature.
    • yeah...

      Look at libraries! how dare we napsterize the publishing industry like that.

      • "Look at libraries! how dare we napsterize the publishing industry like that."

        Nice straw man. With a library, the number of overall copies of a given work never varies from what was purchased. If people don't want to wait for a popular item to be available or if people want to hold on to the work, they have to purchase their own copies. With Napster, a single purchased CD can be converted into files that're concurrently possessed and used by hundreds or thousands of people.

        • That's a pretty weak counterargument. You're saying that if you want to get a copy of something from the library, you will have to wait for it and you're more likely to just go and buy it? In the vast majority of cases, the library has 1 copy of the book, and you're the only one interested in it (at least that month). Sometimes you can't even find a song on Napster/Kazaa/whatever, and you have to go out and track it down at a used music store.

          The honest truth is that it is hard to reconcile our modern interpretation of IP with the concept of a Library. In fact, if we didn't have libraries and someone tried to start one today, they'd be sued in a heartbeat by the publishing industry, especially since early libraries were frequently for-pay.
          • "In the vast majority of cases, the library has 1 copy of the book, and you're the only one interested in it (at least that month)."

            It depends on the book. If the demand for a book is great, either the library has to buy more copies, people have to buy their own copies, or people have to wait. Because the library is ineffective when it comes to popular books, people tend to use them only for older, less popular works. These also tend to be works that're "past their prime" from a money-making standpoint, as well.

            In the Napster-like cases, EVERYTHING is up for grabs. Furthermore, the more popular a song is, the easier it'll be to find it. Hot new single topping the charts? You'll be able to download it from a dozen or more users.

      1. Who's we?
      2. Maybe you wanna get sued for copyright infringement. I don't. I have better uses for my money than paying lawyers and ??AA.
      All that is needed is copyright enforcement (good old' fashioned copyright, no DMCA stuff). If they just did this, then there wouldn't be any justification for these weirdo laws.

      You don't outlaw getaway cars to stop bank robberies. You go after the bank robbers, instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:21AM (#4061668)
    here is the text.

    Can the Digital Hub Survive Hollywood?

    by Cory Doctorow
    This article refers back to:
    Video Details of Apple iTiVo Revealed
    Also in TidBITS 642:
    iPod 1.2 Supports iTunes 3, Jaguar
    CMS ABSplus Adds Mac OS X Restores
    AOL for Mac OS X
    The Branding of Apple: Brands Embody Values

    The Most Important Rule: Build Products People Want.

    iMovie, iPod, iPhoto, iTunes, television tuner-cards, composite video out, CD burners on laptops, flat-screen iMacs, Cinema displays, and QuickTime... seemingly every quarter, Apple ships another drool-worthy technology that further erodes the tenuous division between "entertainment devices" and computers.

    Since 1979, Apple has broken every rule in business. It shipped a personal computer at a time when computers were million-dollar playthings of universities, insurance companies, and defense contractors. It introduced a commercial graphical interface to a market filled with power-nerds who sneered at the ridiculous idea of "friendly" computers. It brought video to the desktop, wireless to the home, and the biggest, sexiest titanium notebook ever made to laps everywhere. It put freaking open-source Unix underneath its legendarily easy-to-use operating system!

    Apple has broken every rule except the most important one: build what your customers want to buy. Since 1979, Apple has achieved its every success by selling the stuff that people like you and I want to buy. Since 1979, Apple's failures (Remember the Apple III? The Newton? The Cube?) have been products that simply didn't sell well enough.

    Today, Apple - and every other technology company - is in danger of losing its right to make any device that it thinks it can sell. Hollywood, panicked at the thought of unauthorized distribution of movies captured from digital television sets, is calling for a new law that would give it ultimate control over the design of every device capable of handling digital television signals.

    This is bad news for any company that wants to collapse the distinction between entertainment devices and computers. Digital hub projects are exciting, but they're also squarely in Hollywood's cross-hairs. The more your Mac acts like a television device (think of TidBITS's April Fools spoof iTiVo coming true, or El Gato's new EyeTV) the more your Mac will be subject to regulations that are meant to control "only" digital television (DTV) devices.

    We've seen some coarse attempts to reign in technical innovation from the likes of Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC), whose Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA) is also known as the "Consume, But Don't Try Programming Anything" bill. There's a far more insidious threat to your rights to buy a Mac that does what you want it to do: regulations intended to speed the adoption of digital television are in the offing, regulations that will have a disastrous effect on Apple and every other computer manufacturer.

    Digital Television and Hollywood -- Here comes digital television. Digital television uses a lot less radio spectrum than the analog TV system we use today. If all broadcasters were to switch to digital, the U.S. government could auction off the freed-up spectrum for billions of dollars. Understandably, the FCC is big on getting America switched over to digital, so much so that they've ordered all analog broadcasts to cease in 2006, provided that 85 percent of Americans have bought digital sets.

    Hollywood says that digital television will make it too easy to make digital copies of its broadcast movies and redistribute them over the Internet. Never mind that digital TV signals eat up to a whopping 19.4 megabits of data per second, well beyond the ability of any current Internet user to redistribute without compressing the video to the point where it's indistinguishable from analog shows captured with a TV card. Never mind that you can always hook up a capture card to the analog output of a digital set and make a near-perfect copy.

    Never mind reality. In Hollywood's paranoid fantasy, digital television plus Internet equals total and immediate "Napsterization" of every movie shown on TV. So the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has threatened to withhold its movies from digital television unless Something Is Done.

    This has given the feds The Fear. If there aren't any movies on digital television (the argument goes), no one will buy a digital TV set, and if no one buys a digital TV, the feds won't be able to sell off all that freed-up spectrum and turn into budget-time heroes. So Something Will Be Done.

    Perfect Control Makes Imperfect Devices -- In November of 2001, at the request of Representative Billy Tauzin (R-LA), the MPAA's Copy Protection Technical Working Group spun off a sub-group, called the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group (BPDG). It's an inter-industry group with representatives from the movie studios, consumer electronics companies, computer companies, broadcasters, and cable and satellite operators. The BPDG's job was to consult with all these industries and draft a proposal that would set out what kinds of technologies would be legal for use in conjunction with digital television.

    The BPDG started off by ratifying two principles:


    All digital TV technologies must be "tamper resistant." That means that they need to be engineered to frustrate end-users' attempts to modify them. Under this rule, open-source digital television components will be illegal, since open-source software (like Darwin, the system that underpins Mac OS X) is designed to be modified by end-users.

    To be legal, a digital television device must incorporate only approved recording and output technologies. Some system will be devised to green-light technologies that won't "compromise" the programming that they interact with, and if you want to build a digital TV device, you'll need to draw its recording and output components exclusively from the list of approved technologies.

    Hollywood Never Gets Technology -- The entertainment industry has a rotten track record when it comes to assessing the impact of new technologies on its bottom line. Every new media technology that's come down the pipe has been the subject of entertainment industry lawsuits over its right to exist: from player pianos to the radio to the VCR to the MP3 format and the digital video recorder, the industry has attempted to convince the courts to ban or neuter every new entertainment technology.

    In 1984, Hollywood lost its suit to keep Sony's Betamax VCR off the market. The Betamax, Hollywood argued, would kill the movie industry. In the words of MPAA president Jack Valenti, the VCR was to the American film industry "as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone." The most important thing to emerge from that case was the "Betamax doctrine," the legal principle that a media technology is legal, even if it can be used to infringe copyright, provided that it has substantial non-infringing uses.

    That means that even though a VCR can be used to duplicate and resell commercial video cassettes illegally, it's still legal to manufacture VCRs, because you can also use them to time-shift your favorite programs, a use that is legal. That's why the iPod exists: You can create MP3s legally by ripping your lawfully acquired CDs with iTunes. That you can also illegally download MP3s from file-sharing networks is irrelevant: the iPod has a substantial, non-infringing use.

    The BPDG proposal compromises the Betamax Doctrine. Under Betamax, Apple can make any device it wants to, without having to design it so that it can never be used to infringe - it is enough that some of the uses for the device are non-infringing. Crowbar manufacturers aren't required to design their tools so that they can never be used to break into houses - it's enough that crowbars have some lawful uses. It's impossible to make really good, general-purpose tools that can't ever be used illegally - Betamax lets manufacturers off that impossible hook.

    A Veto Over New Technology -- Consumer electronics and IT companies were willing to go along with the idea that devices should be tamper-resistant, and that there should be some criteria for deciding which outputs and recording methods would be permitted. Each company had its own reasons for participating.

    Two groups now have proprietary copy-prevention technology they want to build a market for: Hitachi, Intel, Matsushita, Sony, and Toshiba are members of the "5C" group, and Intel, IBM, Matsushita (Panasonic), and Toshiba are members of the "4C" group. Since the 4C and 5C technologies have been blessed by Hollywood's representatives to the BPDG, a mandated BPDG standard will make it illegal to sell less-restrictive competing products, and so by participating in BPDG, the 4C and 5C companies could shut out the competition, guaranteeing a royalty on every DTV device sold.

    Other companies, like Philips and Microsoft, have their own copy-prevention technologies and were anxious that if they didn't play ball with the BPDG, it would be illegal for them to sell DTV devices that incorporate their technology.

    Finally, the computer companies became involved because they saw the BPDG as a way of setting out an objective standard that they could follow, and in so doing, be sure that they wouldn't be sued into bankruptcy if their customers figured out how to use their technology in ways that Hollywood disapproved of. But then Hollywood dropped its bomb. When it came time to setting out the actual criteria for DTV technology, Hollywood announced that it would consider only one proposal: new DTV technology would be legal only if three major movie studios approved it.

    The tech companies at the BPDG had been there with the understanding that the BPDG's job was to establish a set of objective criteria for new technology. Those criteria might be restrictive, but at the very least, tech companies would know where they stood when they were planning new gizmos.

    Hollywood suckered the tech companies in with this promise and then sprang the trap. No, you won't get a set of objective criteria out of us. From now on, every technology company with a new product will have to come to us on its knees and beg for our approval. We can't tell you what technology we're looking for, but we'll know it when we see it. That's the "standard" we're writing here: we'll know it when we see it.

    The Endgame -- The BPDG co-chairs submitted their final report to Rep. Tauzin, the Congressman who had asked for the BPDG to be formed at the beginning. The report was short and sweet, but attached to it was a half-inch thick collection of dissenting opinions from the likes of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, and Digital Consumer, as well as commercial interests like Philips, Sharp, Zenith, Thomson, and Microsoft.

    Missing from the report were objections from any computer manufacturer. The information technology industry took its lead from Intel, which has an interest in the 5C and 4C technologies, and is quite pleased at the idea of a BPDG mandate becoming law. Apple, which has previously been outspoken on the subject of a free technology market, was silent, as were IBM, HP, Dell, Gateway, and all the other general-purpose computing companies who have the most to lose from a BPDG mandate.

    The Future -- It's bleak. On 08-Aug-02, FCC Chairman Michael Powell announced that the FCC would open proceedings to mandate the BPDG proposal, turning this "standard" into the law of the land. Without any computer companies willing to carry the banner for the freedom to innovate, to make Betamax-legal technology without oversight from the film industry, the BPDG mandate will almost certainly come to pass.

    The BPDG world will be extremely hostile to the digital hub concept. Think about a high-definition digital video suite of iMovie tools. These tools will exist to capture, store, and manipulate high-definition video streams - streams from camcorders, TV sources, and removable media like DVDs. They might support cable-in or a DTV antenna so that your digital hub doesn't require a stand-alone TV. And they'll need a DVD burner/reader and drivers.

    Incorporating a tuner and a DVD player/burner into a Mac is just the kind of thing that scares the daylights out of the BPDG. If you expect to be able to play your existing DVDs on your Mac, let alone record shows that you get off cable or an antenna and play them on your TV set, think again.

    Hollywood wants to be sure that you can't do anything with video from TV or cable without the film studios' permission. So while you may want to be able to stick a DVD full of home movies into your Mac and edit a five minute short for your distant relatives to download from your iDisk, Hollywood wants to be sure you won't be able to do the same with that episode of Buffy you recorded from the TV. When your distant relatives download your home movies to their computers and burn them to DVD, Hollywood wants to be sure that what they're burning is really a home movie and not a Law & Order episode that slipped through the cracks and made it onto a Web site.

    How can this be accomplished? Once the video is on a DVD, a Web site, or your hard disk, neither your Mac nor your TV can tell the difference between Buffy and your holiday videos. There's no easy answer, and lucky for us, the Betamax doctrine says that just because someone might do something illegal with El Gato's EyeTV or a real iTiVo, it doesn't mean you can't have one. It's enough that there are legal things that can be done with the technology.

    But absent any way to achieve Hollywood-grade perfect control over the technology's use, the BPDG simply won't let it come into being. It will be illegal to manufacture this device.

    Hollywood's approval of an iTiVo will be contingent on its "tamper resistance" (so long, Mac OS X, hello again, Mac OS 9!) and its operating system will have to include a facility for marking files that can't be streamed over an AirPort card or Ethernet port (forget sitting in your bedroom watching video stored on a server in your living room!). The entire operating system and box will have to be redesigned to prevent unauthorized copying of Hollywood movies, even if that means your own digital video data can't be backed up, sent to a friend, or accessed remotely.

    If the entertainment industry had gotten its way, we wouldn't have radios, TVs, VCRs, MP3s, or DVRs. Business Week called Hollywood "some of the most change-resistant companies in the world." No one should be in charge of what innovation is permitted, especially not the technophobes of the silver screen.

    A Glimmer of Hope -- For all the likelihood of a BPDG mandate becoming law, it's by no means inevitable.

    One technology company - Apple, IBM, AMD, Gateway, Dell, HP - could stall the process. All it would take is a public statement of opposition to the BPDG, a breaking of ranks with Intel and the other companies who are seeking to secure a market for their copy-prevention technologies, and the FCC would be confronted with infinitely more uncertainty about a BPDG mandate than it currently faces.

    There are already a couple million DTV devices in the market that will be nearly impossible to accommodate under the BPDG mandate; another 12 months and there will be 10 million or more, and it will be too late to try to lock down DTV without permanently alienating DTV's most important customers.

    Apple has been a strong champion of its customers' right to buy and use innovative technologies in innovative ways. If any company has the rule-breaking courage to stand up to Hollywood's bullying, it's Apple. If we're very lucky, Apple will agree. One press conference where Steve Jobs gives the MPAA what-for would likely derail the FCC's consideration of the BPDG process - maybe forever.

    Mac users are fiercely loyal to the Macintosh, and Apple has always responded with new Macs with innovative features. Let's hope that they won't forget us now that there's pending legislation that could hamstring both Apple's entire digital hub strategy and the ways we already use our Macs with tools like iMovie, iDVD, and the SuperDrive.

    (For further reading, I encourage you to read the following Web sites and articles: the EFF's BPDG weblog, "Consensus at Lawyerpoint"; Rep. Tauzin's memo to the BPDG representatives; the EFF's letter to Rep. Tauzin; the New York Times on the BPDG's final report; the EFF's comments on the BPDG's final report; a summary of the EFF's comments on the BPDG's final report; and the BPDG final report.)

    [Cory Doctorow is Outreach Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He's been using Apple computers since 1979 and has a 27-pixel-by-27-pixel tattoo of a Sad Mac on his right bicep. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer at the 2000 Hugo Awards, and his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, will be published by Tor Books next Christmas. He is the co-editor of the weblogs Boing Boing and Forwarding Address: OS X and is a frequent contributor to Wired.]

    • The computer is going to replace the TV/Stereo/DVD/VCR in living rooms.
      Whether 'Hollywood' is ready for it or not.
      Reminds me of the dialogue between the American and Viet Namese General. The American turned to the Viet Namese and said, "You know, you never beat us on an open field of battle."
      The Viet Namese General replied, "That is true. It is also irrelevant."
      It seems like 'Hollywood' will win in court, but what that means, I don't know.
    • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @12:19PM (#4062117) Journal
      If Apple was the 'last one standing' in a battle with the AAAA (All A$$holes Association of America), I would be in line for a new Mac. The way I see it, the x86 architecture could be first to fall from the pressure of the AAAA. The motherboard makers have has long experience being M$'s bitch, what's a new pimp to them? They'll just kneel and take it. For the most part, Apple is a company that creates trends, rather than jumping on the bandwagon, or bowing to industry pressures. (I wish they'd jump on the processor speed bandwagon tho.. :P)

      WAKE UP! This whole 'Battle' can be summed up as follows: The AAAA wants you to Subscribe to everything. TV, Radio, MP3, CDs, Software, Books,(add anything else you can think of) and own ALL avenues of content creation/distribution. This will give ol' Hillary and Jack the stranglehold they crave.

      Fair use? Gone. Independent distribution? Gone. Any scenario where YOU control 'content'? GONE.

      Senators are being paid off left and right (pun intended), the only way to fight this is to educate people who vote. Vote their asses out of office!

      Call or write your Senators and Represenatives and let them know where you stand, and where they will be standing if this trend continues. Stop being the bitch of the AAAA!

      • "Senators are being paid off left and right (pun intended), the only way to fight this is to educate people who vote. Vote their asses out of office!"

        Don't think there's much chance of that. Both parties are about equally friendly to RIAA/MPAA interests regarding copyright control (they have a bigger fight with censorship opponents; dirty lyrics and R-rated movies make baby Jesus cry ya know). Any elected official bold enough to defy them will likely find themselves at the receiving end of a smear job on 60 Minutes/Dateline/2020 (all owned by MPAA members). Rick Boucher must be under their radar for now being a lone voice in the wilderness and all.
  • by FrostedWheat ( 172733 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:23AM (#4061688)
    TidBITS hub in particular.

    RIP .. *router in peace*
    • RIP .. *router in peace*

      I prefer *router in pieces*
    • We're working on it - we can normally handle up to 45 simultaneous connections on our database server, but it's behind a slow line and, to paraphrase Monty Python, "No one ever expects the Spanish Slashdot!"

      We're moving that particular article to our main server, which can handle more simultaneous connections and has way more bandwidth thanks to digital.forest's huge pipes. Should be up soon.

      cheers... -Adam
  • It's Pretty Simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:23AM (#4061691)
    For years the industry has promised video on demand, but not delivered. They want to have a good firm grasp on it and be able to charge per search/view.

    Now that people can already do that, their vaporware is no longer profitable.
  • by orac2 ( 88688 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:28AM (#4061729)
    IEEE Spectrum [] had two related features on this last month about the struggles in the Entertainment and consumer electronics industries to control the Digital hub.


    Digital Hubub: Companies vie to create a single device to handle all your home entertainment needs []

    The Largest Players rule the Media Playground [] (which shows the spaghetti like relationship between all the big players and the current crop of set top contenders).

  • by Bob(TM) ( 104510 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:30AM (#4061741)
    Have you seen what's on TV? I've got better uses for the hardware.
  • Why (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why doesn't Hollywood just buy up all the companies that make things it fears?

    They got the cash thanks to brain dead Americans who wouldn't know a good movie if it hit them in the head.

    Could someone please send me a scale small enough to measure the American attention span, please.


    • Why doesn't Hollywood just buy up all the companies that make things it fears?

      Because it can't afford them. The computer industry's revenues are bigger than the entertainment industry's revenues by about a factor of ten. {dammit, why can't I find a citation for this when I really need one? I've seen it any number of places on the web...} Suffice it to say crippling the US computer industry to protect the US media industry will be a net loss for the US.
  • by gclef ( 96311 )
    If you read the article, he mentions that the FCC is apparently preparing to mandate the BPDG recommendations. This removes the pesky Congress from the picture entirely. I have a couple questions about this: 1) Can they do this constitutinally? 2) who do I bitch-slap at the FCC for this insanity?

    anyone know?
    • by gclef ( 96311 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:50AM (#4061888)
      Okay, the FCC filing (here: FCC-02-231A1.pdf ) isn't a preperation to enact the rules. It's a request for comment from the public on whether or not they should implement the rules.

      So, what we have here is yet another person to flood with negative responses to industry insanity.

      To quote the pdf file:
      To get filing instructions for e-mail comments,
      commenters should send an e-mail to, and should include the following words in the body
      of the message, "get form <your e-mail address>."
  • Taoist saying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:42AM (#4061836) Homepage
    "When the leaders become oppressive, it means their time is drawing to a close"

    This holds true for governments as well as corporations.

    It's only a matter of time.
    • Re:Taoist saying (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pfhor ( 40220 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:57AM (#4061931) Homepage
      Well, I wouldn't sit back and wait for them to fall.

      When they become oppressive, it makes it a lot easier to mobilize a movement against them. More oppression means more people realizing that the said government or corporation really needs an ass whooping. (not as elegant as the taoist saying, but most things hardly are).
    • That sure hasn't held true (historically speaking) in China...
  • ....than the responses.

    Far more important than AOL on OSX!

    Maybe the mods should be able to mod down the /. authors and their stories.
  • Movies dont even come to TV until after they've been out on VHS/DVD for quite some time, which (of course) doesnt happen till after it has been in the theater for quite some time.
    So my question is, after audiences have had a chance to see (and potentially record) the film at the theater, then see (and more-than-potentially copy) from blockbuster video (or any rental place) or even buy the film, what else is there for hollywood to worry about? pay-per-view? honestly, who orders something from pay-per-view and doesnt record it already? is the fact that its not a *digital* copy keeping hollywood in business?
  • Greed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Che Geuvarra ( 596863 ) <bkmottu AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:46AM (#4061860)
    Greed they say is good, it makes us strive for more than what we have. In this case excessive greed is disgusting, this has more to do with control than money, how long untill you are force fed the "good fact" instead of the truth? *sorry off topic* *on Topic* Witht he advent of sony's new plan to report the number of times any given media is played or recorded this seems like the next step in the process. The real problem is by the time that nay show/movie has reached television it has earned 97% of it's revenue. What more can they hope to gain. Anything i record off of television has already been paid for by my subscription to Cable or network tv I either pay for one or put up with advertisement for another they have my money already. THIS MY FRIENDS IS IMPERIALISM RUN RAMPANT!!!! We must do something, I don't know what but something. Any suggestions? Che
  • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 ) <> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:49AM (#4061877)
    Far more important than AOL on OSX!"

    Yes, but will it be as important when it's accidentally reposted to slashdot in about 6-9 months?

  • Is the poster DESPERATE to get his story posted or what? Obviously he/she is clueless...that story was about the adoption of a Gecko browser by the world's largest ISP. That's great news for the open source movement and the Mozilla project. Don't get me wrong, this story is important and well done, too...but that little bit at the end just screamed "Look at me! Look at me!". Have a little class...
  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:55AM (#4061923) Homepage Journal
    Hollywood's fears are based on "Napsterization" of exact, perfect copies of digital content... they've seen digital music turn into easily copied MP3s. However, they do not realize that if the industry didn't push CDs, and were still selling tapes and vinyl to the masses, people would take that content and compress it and pirate it instead.

    At least immediately, digital content probably will not be the first choice for video pirates. Video capture cards and RCA jacks makes napstering "The Simpsons" and VCR tapes easy. There's no encoding hoops too jump through, and no reason to bother with maintaining integrity of digital content.

    In my view, digital video-based content and piracy of digitally-compressed video are two completely different subjects.
    • by debest ( 471937 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @12:45PM (#4062337)
      Of course they are different subjects! But that's not what Hollywood really wants.

      The "perfect copy" argument is only a way of trying to win the same battle that they *already lost* in the 80's in the Betamax case. They know that this precident will shoot down any attempts to legislate anti-copying measures of analog recordings, but they're trying again with digital files on this perfect copy BS. They never mention that most illegal MP3s probably sound about the same whether ripped from CD or input from cassette, because that would lessen their case for a need for new laws. Wow, can you imaging the space required for a "perfect copy" of a digitally-broadcast movie?

      The arguments being put forward by Hollywood for this legislation are hogwash, they know it and so do we. However, they sound a lot better to their argument than "we need new laws because technology is making it too easy for consumers to avoid our attempts at controlling what they see and hear."
      • Most people don't care about a perfect copy of a digitally-broadcast movie.

        You're thinking of things wrong. People don't trade WAV files of cd audio data (a "perfect copy" of cd audio). They trade MP3s of cd audio data. They aren't trading a perfect copy, they are trading a good enough copy that can then be copied infinitely perfectly.

        The same thing with video is the concern here. dvd ripping software takes a 5gb mpeg-2 movie (720x480 @ 29.97fps) and converts it into a 700MB DIVX avi file (720x480 @29.97fps), conveniently sized to fit on a 80-min cd-r. And that's a size that people can and do trade on the net.

        They aren't worried about people trading perfect copies. They are concerned about people trading "good enough" copies that don't degrade with each copy generation.

        That is a serious concern. I don't think they are trying to fix it the right way, but it is still a serious concern.
    • Broadcasters just need to change their business models and "theft" will be reduced.

      Starting next week I will be looking for "Napsterized" copies of Enterprise because we lost UPN in our area. Now if the networks offered programming on demand through cable and satellite where I could just go to UPN, CBS, FOX, etc and select the show I want to watch when I want to watch it I would pay for that service. It beats waiting for hours to get a full copy (that works) off Kazaa or IRC.

      You'll still have some piracy. You always will. But I think there are a lot of people like me who download programming because it is more convenient than the current alternatives.

      Evidently it is just more economical for the entertainment industry to pay politicians for some bills than it is to adapt their business models to work with the new technologies and mindsets of the people. Our choice is a simple one. We can either fight the industry by telling them we don't like their strategy and we will refuse to consume what they have to offer. Or we can fight the policians by not electing those who support these industries over the people. Unfortunatly in the last case, the average voter probably doesn't understand what is going on here or it just isn't that important to them.
      • Starting next week I will be looking for "Napsterized" copies of Enterprise because we lost UPN in our area. Now if the networks offered programming on demand through cable and satellite where I could just go to UPN, CBS, FOX, etc and select the show I want to watch when I want to watch it I would pay for that service. It beats waiting for hours to get a full copy (that works) off Kazaa or IRC.

        EXACTLY. I had the same experience trying to locate 3 episodes of last season's Buffy that I missed. It was a PITA to find a server, download the episodes in 10 meg pieces (with several retries), and assemble and convert them into something vlc could handle. I would have gladly paid $5 per episode to avoid that hassle, but I didn't have that option. It appears that the entertainment industry will once again have to be dragged kicking and screaming to a market where they can make billions, just as they were with VCRs.

    • The people at the MPAA know "perfect digital copies" is not really an issue, just like they know the actions they are asking for won't really help commercial copyright infringement (ala "piracy") that much.

      But this phrase has turned out to be very effective in getting votes in congress. It was used to get copy protection put into DAT in 1992, and "solving the digital copy problem" was the basic philosophy behind the DMCA.

      Count on both the MPAA and the RIAA to milk this term as long as it remains effective, even though it is really nonsense. Basically, they are both going to continue demanding government hand-outs as long as they can. They don't care about the damage to society damage, so long as they can steal power and money.

    • No, no, no, no, no.

      Piracy is being used as a smoke-screen. For starters, since day one the **AA has complained that Napster/MP3/DivX/etc. are new and horrible type of piracy because they make perfect copies that are indistinguishable from originals.

      Except they're not. MP3 and DivX are lossless, lo-fidelity media. The quality of the copies is closer to cassette tapes than CDs, and the videos are only marginally if not worse than the VHS tapes you can buy from some street vender. Nevertheless they continue to use this argument. The media companies don't like piracy, but they've adjusted their business plan to account for it.

      The reason they continue to argue against piracy is to deflect the argument away from the real issue. What they are afraid of and what they are fighting so hard to prevent is not that the people who will make unauthorized copies of content that they own. But that people will be making content that the media companies DON'T own.

      And that is what is so insiduous about the legislation being considered and passed. And that is why the public is being lied to by the media companies, using congress as their mouthpiece. And when the public does find out that they've been bamboozled, the fall-guys will be the congressmen while the Valenti and Rosen, who are accountable to nobody, walk off with the whole world in their pockets.
  • How about we just stop watching their shit...analog or digital?

    Jack Valenti: Here's a deal for ya! If I agree to stop watching your shit will you leave me and my computer alone? Think before you answer that one! I didn't think so you bastard...
    • Well, the problem is that before long this stuff will possibly make it difficult, at best, to do things like record your own stuff (kid's recitals, plays, races, ball games, etc).

      Not a very nice thing to think of, where I don't have the right to record my own history.

      • Actually, if people cared enough to stop using the material, then their supply of money and politicians would dry up, and this would never happen. (Of course, most people find it easier to complain than to do something, no matter how simple.)
        • No, because then they'd go running to Congress saying, "See the Evil Content Pirates(tm) are eating into our profits!"
          • If piracy wasn't so rampant, then they would have a much tougher time trying to convince people of that. Right now it's common knowledge that large amounts of piracy goes on; the only question is the effect is has on sales. By refusing to use their products, I mean refraining from getting them via illegal means as well -- otherwise it's not a boycott, it's just hypocrisy and greediness.
  • by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @12:01PM (#4061956) Homepage
    See, this is why it's such a bloody good thing that Apple moved over to Open Source. Instead of being a bunch of weirdos with proprietary everything, the fortunes of a large constituency are now tied in with the fortunes of free software. Unlike the masses of clueless Windows users, the masses of clueless Mac users will be affected, will be restricted.

    *poof*, we have a lobby! Declan what's-his-face was wrong, there are plenty of people directly affected by this who aren't coders, aren't geeks.

    Someone wrote about creating a library of canonical "this is why the DMCA-etc is bad" examples, so that Joe Average can understand the issue. That's exactly what this columnist is doing---reaching out to the average Mac user and explaining that usage restrictions are evil.

    Mmm, I've got a warm fuzzy now.

    --grendel drago
  • According to the article : If any company has the rule-breaking courage to stand up to Hollywood's bullying, it's Apple. If we're very lucky, Apple will agree. One press conference where Steve Jobs gives the MPAA what-for would likely derail the FCC's consideration of the BPDG process - maybe forever.

    Well, Steve Job is also Chairman & CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, which has an exclusive Feature Film Agreement and Co-Production Agreement with Disney for at least its next three motion pictures. And Disney is a major member of the MPAA. So ...
  • Does anyone have the link to the article (or the text of the article) by Jaron Lanier where he said eventually every entertainment device would have to pass a certificate to every other one before you could hear anything? "Keep your analog speakers," he said, or something like that. I know his website is at but I can't find the article on it.
  • by Tyrone Slothrop ( 522703 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @12:25PM (#4062179) a Major Media Company back in the very early 80's, I asked for a meeting with the vp of my division. We had lunch.

    I explained that the brand new technology of compact disk was a far more flexible medium than we knew, that it could hold any kind of information whatsoever, not only music, but computer data, movies, etc.

    I spent a very long lunch trying to get this concept across. It was simply impossible for this vice president to wrap his mind around the notion that a CD could do a lot more than just deliver music.

    The article is absolutely correct but doesn't go far enough. Entertainment execs not only just don't get it. They are not capable of getting it.

    Not that they're dumb. They just are not capable of thinking about technology in terms of abstract possibilities. They think of gadgets only in terms of already available functions.

    Therefore, in order to prevent the demise of the digital hub (because, after all, senators/congressmen have much the same skill set as entertainment execs,which includes an excessive will to power), no argument except a financial one will work.

    I would suggest the following:

    1. Hold a No CD Buying Day. The day after,

    2. Hold a No Movies/Video Day. Next, of course

    3. No TV Day >P> Use the time to hug a tree, talk to your loved one, surf the net, read a book, listen to your iPod, etc.

    Repeat steps 1 to 3 every month with enough people and anti-Hub legislation will stop cold.

    Nothing else will work.

    • I remember seeing some time ago the text of a graduation address made by Guy Kawasaki that (in part) addressed this very issue. (Karma whore solicitation: go find this speech -- I'm feeling too lazy at the moment to hit Google myself.)

      In his speech, he analyzed the home refrigeration industry, going back to ice harvesting for ice boxes. Some bright person invented ice makers, but instead of adopting ice makers, the ice harvesters struggled to compete with the manufacturers of ice makers. Down they went. Then someone invented the refrigerator, and the same thing happened to the ice maker manufacturers. They saw themselves as purveyors of ice, not of food preservation systems.

      And that's what we've got today with the entertainment industry. The MPAA/RIAA are so fixated on selling CDs and DVDs and movie tickets that they've completely lost sight of the fact that what they're selling is entertainment (if you can call it that), not the distribution media.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @12:27PM (#4062195) Homepage
    Yes, I know that even under pre-DMCA law this wasn't true. I read all the fine print. But I think this is the rallying cry under which the public can be engaged. Most people BELIEVE that it is true in some very fundamental sense--and that if the laws say it's not true, the laws are wrong.

    Most people think that it IS "theft" if you fiddle with the wires and cable box and watch programs that you've haven't paid for.

    But most people think that once you PAY for that television signal, you have a perfect right to invite friends to watch it with you, or watch it on two TV's at the same time, or record it on your VCR.

    Property rights go deep into human history, society, and psyche. Congress can pass all the laws they like, and the RIAA can hire all the lawyers they like, and they can get people put in jail and so forth. And they can conduct all the "educational" campaigns they like. People are STILL going to believe:

    "I bought it. I own it. It's MINE, and I'll use it as I darn well please."
    • And that is why the Entertainment industry is trying to stop the manufacture of anything that you could use to do anything they don't want you to do. If NOBODY can manufacture and distribute a DTV tuner that can interface with a computer, then it doesn't matter if people belive "I bought it, I own it" because they won't have the means.

      It is not inevitable that freedom will win, it must be fought for.
  • All I want is.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by delld ( 29350 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @12:36PM (#4062267)
    I do not care what anyone says. I do not want to p2p TV, I do not want to steal TV, I do not want digital TV, I do not really want TV in its current state at all. I do not want to organize my free time around someone else's schedual. And, I do not want to pay monthly fees for that privelage. I do not want to own a TiVo or more hardware in my house.

    All I want is on demand television. I want to sit down when I want, and watch what ever I want on my TV without restrictions. I want to pay a small fee per show, but I do not want to pay more that I would for cable today[1]. I want freedom of entertainment.

    I know this is possible, and not to much to ask. So why can't I have it?

    [1] A monthly cap, much like Bell Canada has on my long distance charges would be great.

    • Amen, brother.

      Here's the problem...The American film industry is extremely resistant to any kind of change, and VoD is a HUGE change.

      Its hard to forget about the stink that the MPAA made about the DVDCCA -- but the point was that studios wouldn't release digital copies of their IP unless they had some kind of (cryptographic) assurance that their IP was safe. They took it a step further and asked the federal gov to add a legal assurance on top of the crpyto assurance that said that nobody could legally fuck with their bad crypto (DMCA).

      Point is, that the industry is extremely conservative. They need assurances on top of assurances that their revenue stream will never be threatened...and VoD is a threat -- to the status quo.

      The other point I want to make is why change anything when they have a perfectly viable revenue stream? The technology for VoD certianly exists, and it seems to have reached enough homes where it has attained the critical mass where it could become profitable. Problem is that in order to make it successful, the copyright holders to all of the shit that people want to watch don't want to give up their cash cow. Why throw out one perfectly good revenue stream and roll the dice on a completely new one?

      The American film industry won't change a damn thing until they have to...

  • by lythander ( 21981 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @12:37PM (#4062276)
    These people rely for a big chunk of their income on ad revenue that they incorporate in programming they then GIVE AWAY (broadcast). Why not offer a service, either for PVR users, or all computer users with a fast connection, a download by subscription service?

    Let's say I miss program "A." Right now my choices are 1) Remember to tape ahead of time (yeah, that might happen), 2) Find someone I know that might have taped it themselves, 3) If it has a following on usenet or on the net, watch for a post of the ep I missed (great for scifi, not so much for, say, Good Eats!), 4) Wait for rerun (soon if its cable, maybe 3 months if it's network).

    Those choices mostly suck.

    Why shouldn't the networks take their content and encode it themselves, commercials and all (or new, different commercials!), and let me download it to my pvr or pc and watch it when I want? Use reasonable DRM if you must. Be cross-platform compatible (DivX or raw MPEGs), turn off my commercial skipper if you must (if I'm watching network TV, I can't skip anyway -- and you can add the numbers to the ad figures). But for $15 /month I'd happily pay for a service like this. I'd prefer to obey the rules if they make sense.
  • Why would I want a copy of a movie that has been "formatted to fit your screen and censored to be as bland as a mormon's bachelor party"?
    I mean, so what if we can make perfect digital copies of pan-and-scan movies with half an hour of stuff cut out for commercials, stripped of all strippers and with all the good fights punched out of it?

    Sometimes I think there's a lot of lead in hollywood's drinking water.

  • by uberdave ( 526529 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @12:45PM (#4062338) Homepage
    We have several industries that are unfair: Those industries built on selling information. Authors, entertainors, software producers, musicians, etc. have been raking in the dough by dealing in information. They have a create once, sell many times scam going. All other industries are create once, sell once. An automobile manufacturer cannot build a car and sell it many times. A bricklayer cannot lay one brick and complete a subdivision.

    In the past these information sellers were protected by three things: the expense of producing a copy of their information, the fact that the information was not easily transferrable from one media to another, and by (to use a term from Star Trek) replicative fading (A copy is never as good as the master). Sure, people could photocopy books, but that is more expensive than buying the book in the first place. Sure, people can plug the output of their turntable into the input of their tape deck and record songs off of an LP, but the quality will drop. And if you copy that copy, the quality drops even more.

    Enter the digital age. The media is unimportant. Audio, video, software, text are all just bits of information. They can be burned onto a CD. They can be sent over the internet. They can even be written to floppy disks. It no longer expensive to copy something. There is no longer any degradation. A seventeenth generation copy is as crisp and clear as the master. The three pillars holding up this scam are gone.

    The software industry has tried various things to stem the flood. Activation codes, dongles, special floppy formats, read only distribution media. All have failed, and for the most part software companies have given up trying to copy protect stuff. They have decided to sell their software for a fair price, trusting that enough people will be honest and buy their product rather than obtaining a copy from somewhere else. Open source software vendors have realized that the write once sell many model is dead. They don't sell the software. They sell ready to use installation media. They sell professionally printed manuals. They sell help desk service and support. In short, they sell convenience.

    The entertainment industry is slowly realizing that their create once, sell many business model is mortally wounded. They are trying to keep it alive with the DMCA, with various broadcast bits, etc. They will try with encryption, and other copy-proofing systems. They are even trying to control everything digital. Eventually, they will realize that it is too expensive, and too much of a hassle. People will crack any technology they try to implement. They need to reach the same solution that the software vendors reached: Either they sell the entertainment at its true market value, or they will go under. Either sell convenience, or sell nothing. The cash cow is dead.

    • I disagree... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bigmouth_strikes ( 224629 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @01:47PM (#4062903) Journal
      ...with the notion that there's something inherently wrong with making money selling licenses or similar.

      Authors, entertainors, software producers, musicians, etc. have been raking in the dough by dealing in information. They have a create once, sell many times scam going. All other industries are create once, sell once. An automobile manufacturer cannot build a car and sell it many times.

      It is not a scam to write once, charge many times. Just like any product, the buyer and seller have to agree upon a reasonable prifce for the product. It is up to the buyer to estimate the value. The actual cost of developing said product is irrelevant. When selling goods, you charge so that you not only make up for the production of the goods, but also for the development thereof.

      If you are a doctor, you charge your patients not only for the costs associated with having a clinic, but also for the costs of acquiring a M.D. degree. No different if you manufacture cars, music, software or knowledge.

      • Every innovation over time becomes commoditised. The knowledge of how to exploit the innovation spreads wide and far and is no longer scarce. Prices come down.

        Every company has limited window of opportunity to profit from the scarcity value of its product or service. Initially they will want to charge on the basis of the benefit to the user but ultimately they can only charge based on the cost of production.

        Vendors of software that is effectively a commodity are trying to extend their window of control using dubious scamming techniques.

        Vendors of software that is still a scarce item eg a fully integrated dynamic supply chain control system are having few problems.

        Performance artists who are skilled and entertaining are in demand. How many good recordings are there of Wagner's Ring cycle? and how many fresh productions are there every year?
      • It is not a scam to write once, charge many times. Just like any product, the buyer and seller have to agree upon a reasonable prifce for the product. It is up to the buyer to estimate the value. The actual cost of developing said product is irrelevant. When selling goods, you charge so that you not only make up for the production of the goods, but also for the development thereof.

        In a perfect market system, the surplus (the difference between what you are willing to pay, and what it cost to produce) go to the consumer.

        In a monopoly (like copyright), the surplus goes to the producer.

        This dichotomy is unfair and ineffecient.


  • by the bluebrain ( 443451 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @12:49PM (#4062368)
    I see three main areas of use for computers nowadays:
    a) old-style number crunching: weather, nuclear warheads and whatnot
    b) work: shuffling documents around, making the odd powerPoint presentation
    c) play: from iTunes to pac-man

    Most /.-ers use their comps for all three. However
    Number crunching -- considering that today's desktop is probably more powerful than a comp used for global weather forecast as of ten years ago, there's not much of this going on. Or if there is, 90% of the cycles are probably going into a pretty GUI with translucent whatsits.
    Work -- companies are flexible towards legal mandates. There is no specific desire for a general-purpose comp in most work places - it just has to do what it is supposed to, and there has to be a vendor to blame when it doesn't.
    Play -- this is where the general population is. Stuff like iTunes is really nice and easy to use, as are xboxes / PSs etc. right out of the box. Very few people look even at all the configuration possibilities, much less anything that has a hex number in it somewhere.

    So actually very few "play around" with this stuff. This goes from replacing the sound card & feeling like a 1337 h4X0r about it, to cracking the encryption of the xbox bootup sequence (which I *do* consider to be pretty 1337). And these things are done for the same reason as mountain climbing: because they can be done, and it's fun. So it doesn't get the chicks & studs juiced up, because a byte is something *they* take out of a burger, but it does pass time (and/or get you a degree).

    Now to my point: this isn't about the digital hub, but I see the issue as a broader one: it's about the demise of the general-purpose computer. So-called general-purpose comps nowadays are pretty closed-system anyway. How many have any clue what the schematics of their 3/5/7/~ layer moBo looks like? How many have actually de- and/or re-soldered an SMD? You're getting everything from some shop or other. The best you can do is to hack a board with a DSP / Z80 / HC11 whatever for some arcane highly specialised use. And the shops that build even those things are highly specialised in turn. The general-purpose comp of today is already an illusion. Even overclocking is just setting some jumpers and tweaking the BIOS - it's all within the parameters set by the manufacturers. The jobs computers are used for is cut out already. To recap:

    - Crunching: use big iron. Not affected by CBDTPA / BPDG /etc.
    - Office: don't care. Would use an "xbox office edition" if it increased productivity. Would even welcome P2P-inhibiting features
    - Play: a large majority neither care, nor are capable of grasping the issues anyway

    Which means that the 1337 are left with closed-shop systems which are likely about to become just a little more closed-shop. OGG will die, and no-one (who matters) will care.

    If you read this and are thinking to yourself "but I want my general-purpose computer" (with only a smidgen of "this guy's full of shit" and "his rhetoric stinks" - both of which I am aware of and take pride in, not necessarily respectively ;) - ask yourself what exactly for.
    The most positive answer I can think of "I don't know - yet" (to which Hollywood's response will be "great, we're going to tell you").
    Any other answer will evoke a response from Hollywood of either "you can still do that" or "that's exactly what we want to stop, because it is / is going to be illegal.". No big deal either way.


    - the Devil's advocate
    • I think you left out one little thing. CREATE. Remember that bit in the article about home movies? Those would be affected as well. Same with building you're own OS/game/player/whatever not because we need to but because we want to.

      Perhaps even a greater use I want is to be free. Free as I am free to hotrod my car, free as I am to cut up my jeans, free as I am to die of alcohol abuse, just free to do my own thing when I am not hurting other people. Or would all that be illegal as well?

  • So, mea culpa, I wrote the bit about the FCC before Aug 8, which meant that what the FCC ended up accouncing differed slightly from what I suggested there.

    Chairman Powell is has opened rulemaking proceedings on a Broadcast Flag mandate, but he's said that he's not taking the BPDG proposal as his starting point. During the announcement, the FCC invited the BPDG co-chairs to submit their proposal for the record, but said that it wouldn't be considered ahead of any other comments or proposals.

    You can read lots more about the Broadcast Flag on "Consensus at Lawyerpoint," the EFF's BPDG blog,

    Likewise, you can sign up to get information on what you can do to submit *informed* objections (i.e., not "Hot Grits!") to the FCC by visiting

    Cory Doctorow
  • by Yo Grark ( 465041 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @01:10PM (#4062592)
    I am currently getting REALLY hooked on Farscape. Problem is, I can never catch it when it's on. I fireup KazaaLite and download each and every episode in order so that I can catch up on it.

    So, while I'm helping the creators brand their show into my mind so that I can buy the video game and watch more episodes, I'm hurting them because I don't watch it through the distributed channels complete with commercials.

    Sorry folks, I LIKE catching missed episodes cause I had to work late, I LIKE showing them to my brother so he can enjoy the show as well.

    Illegal? Probably, but my mentality is the same as everyone else. It was aired, why can't I watch it on demand?

    Family Guy realized this, and have their eposides downloadable off their website. BRAVO I say. Wait here's a money making opportunity, SELL the episodes for a couple of bucks each off your site, LET ME have the episodes I missed, but charge me a convenience fee. Like everything else, I'd pay a little a lot of times, rather than a lot once.

    So wake up **AA, give us what we want, when we want, charge us a small amount for it and make a lot. /end rant.

    - Yo Grark

    Canadian Bred with American Buttering.
    • Like everything else, I'd pay a little a lot of times, rather than a lot once.

      Speak for yourself! That's exactly what they want you to do. They want you to pay LOTS of times! I don't want to pay lots of times, I want to pay once. I am not going to participate in anything that does not have a predictible bottom line. If traditional entertainment becomes Pay-per-use, then they will stop getting ANY of my money. I'll put in the extra effort to create my own entertainment.

      I want to know how much something is going to cost up front. If I want to be entertained, I don't want to pay for the same passive entertainment multiple times. Put a price on your service/product/content/whatever, and let me decide wether I want to pay it or not. If there's no SINGLE price tag, then I'm not buying.

      Having small prices per unit of entertainment that you don't get to keep is a way of jacking up the price without you noticing.
  • Okay, folks. Direct from the FCC, they are looking for comments until the end of October. The FCC document is here: /2002/db0809/FCC-02-231A1.pdf

    I strongly suggest reading it beforehand. It outlines acceptable file formats, among other things.

    Documents can be sent to:

  • The media companies that produce conventional content are working hard to ensure that our high bandwidth pipes favor the consumption rather than the production of digital media.

    Why does that matter? Because it limits the ability of independent voices to be heard. I make software for streaming audio and video [] and there's nothing better than seeing independent music coming from independent sites, but because bandwidth is typically lousy upstream, those sorts of sites are much less common than they should be.

    We've got all this great tech (audio software, digital video, a common network, etc.) but without decent upstream you can't effectivly get your work out.

    It seems like we're never going to have reasonably priced upstream bandwidth, and that pisses me off.

  • This brings up an interesting question, that actually makes me somewhta ashamed to an american. But anyway...can anyone introduce a Bill in congress or just or legistators....If I wanted to write and introduce a bill which would act to put into law the concept that "Hollywood" can't ask for laws mandating the control they would I have to go about it...? can i write such a thing, and then request an audience per se with Congress and say hey I had this idea that the land of the free, should stay free....or do I need to get a congressman in my pocket, to make such a thing happen....?
  • by M-2 ( 41459 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:02PM (#4063040) Homepage
    (From an actual conversation with my mother.)

    Mom: "I don't understand why this is bad. Copying this stuff is bad, right?"
    Me: "OK. What they want to do is lock this into a specific player."
    Mom: "Okay..."
    Me: "So, you have all your Abba and Barry Manilow CDs that you listen to while driving in the car."
    Mom: "Okay...."
    Me: "They want to make it so that when you sell the car, you have to buy all new CDs."

    Mom understood it right away.

    We need to make it SIMPLE for people to understand. The phrase, "If this happens, you'll need to buy a copy of everything for every player you own, ever" explains it.
  • by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:02PM (#4063045) Homepage Journal
    I have been pirating music digitally since 1992.

    The first thing I ever did with my Thunderboard 8 bit mono sound card was buy a stereo to mono step down cable and rip a Weird Al song to VOC format. It took up roughly a quarter of my hard drive. The card was $100.

    In 1997, when the first mp3s hit IRC, I pulled them down to my Cyrix-based win95 box with its 1.1 gig hard drive as fast as I could -- 19.2kbit. The line cost me $15 per month and the new and huge 3.5 gig drive around $300.

    And when napster came out, I bought new headphones (Sennheisers, $170) so I wouldn't wake up my roommate trading Jiker tracks with Germans.

    When I bought my burner ($240, plus the SCSI card), I turned it into a $30 per month CD habit. Mp3s, porno, whatever. Movie clips.

    Then, suddenly, whole episodes. Vivo, then RM, then MPG when I got DSL ($50 per month). I got a new video disc array to rip my own hong kong films from the chinese place down the road( 2 40 gig drives, $500, raid card $170, videos $1 each plus $3.99 late fees).

    Eventually, I started burning everything as VCD. To reencode I needed more ram and a dual processor machine ($800 plus cooling devices when I o/cd). VCDs played like shit on my player so i bought a new comb filter ($75) and a pioneer elite series dvd player ($500 plus 4 year service contract) to go with my AV setup (mostly McIntosh and Sherwood tube stuff, around $5000 in all).

    Did I mention that I also bought everything I burnt to VCD the minute it came out on DVD? That I burn songs to CDs, then like the albums so much I head to borders and buy the originals (I call it "voting for good music")? That I have budgetted over $700 per month for CDs, books, movies, new hardware and internet lines?

    If computer hardware companies think they're going to make MORE money when piracy dries up, they're fools. They should be fighting the CBDTPA tooth and nail.
  • I propose the (DFCA)Digital Freedom Continuence Act.

    "1. Congress Shall Pass no law restricting your ability to do anything digitally that you can do through handwritten, and or other Analog means.

    2. Congress shall not allow the granting of a patent for any device that would knowingly impinge upon your ability to do anything digitally that you could do via handwritten or Analog means.

    3. It shall be unlawful to distribute technology which would knowingly violate the Free Speech and Fair use intentions of the Constitution of the United states of America.

    4. It shall hence forth be understood that once "content" is purchased, it is the purchaser's right to do what ever they choose with that content, and shall have the right to do as they have always been able to do via handwritten, or analog means.

    5. Congress Shall repeal the DMCA it does not serve the people of United States in any fair way shape or form. It abridges the freedoms that are set forth in the constitution.

    6. Congress shall pass no law which prevents fair use of media, nor shall it support any initive which would do the same.

    6a. It shall be illegal to develop technology or any other means which would prevent fair use of media.

    7. It shall be illegal to attempt by means of contracts take away the rights of the author of a work. That is, copyright can not be transferred, and the creative person or group thereof behind a work _always_ holds the copyright.

    8. There shall be established reasonable copyright limits on created works, that are equivalent to a period not to exceed the reasonable financial lifetime of the work. 8a. Each major version of software (ie. v1 v2, etc) shall have a copyright period not to exceed 6 years past the time that version is not longer available for sale. In this time the software publisher will have most likely published a newer version, ceased to exist(how can a company which doesn't exist reasonablely hold a copyright anyway), or abandoned that line of software.

    8b. Films and audio recordings shall hold a copyright for no more than 20 years from their original theater/video(for direct to video releases only) release date. New editions and releases of the film which change the content of the film through adding or deleting of material shall be covered by their own copyright period, and shall not extend the copyright period of the original work.

    9. If there does not exist a method of using media for a particular harware/software platform, and the publisher of said media does not make a reasonable effort to provide a viewing or conversion method then I shall be legal for a third pary to create a method, by whatever means required to do so, and distribute/profit by it.

    9a. In the case of new distrobution/storage/playback/viewing methods which become available in the market(hardware or software) the original publisher shall enjoy a 2 year grace period during which to make their works available via this medium."

  • Hollywood is in deep trouble, and they know it. The only thing that could save them is the one thing they don't know how to do: face reality. They are so caught up in their own fantasy that they don't see the method of their salvation. All they need to do to survive is produce something that has value worthy of the money they want for it. They simply need to engage in honest trade, like anyone else who wants to make a living in America.

    Unfortunately, they know that they can produce crap like MIB 2 and people will drool all over themselves to pay $10 to see it, because people in this country have given up using their minds. But what they keep ignoring, what they try so hard not to see, is the fact that there are more of us than them, and we choose to think. And what we think, rightly, is that they are stifling innovation with their laws and their lobbiests. They are fighting against progress, the virtue that made our country great in the first place.

    The fact they don't want to face is that they are evil, and that their success means the complete and utter conversion of this country to babbling zombies. They are fighting to destroy our minds with their meaningless explosions and crass commercialization.

    What am I going to do about it? The same thing I've done for the past 10 years: not see their movies. Or buy their CDs. I refuse to let my hard-earned dollars purchase the downfall of America. My advice to you is to make up your own mind, and do what you feel is right. Be an individual, the one thing they don't want you to be. But if you are looking for a specific action you can take, here it is: don't ever accept employ within the entertainment industry. If you have a job there now, quit. Deny them the use of your mind. That is the worst damage you could inflict. Without talented people, their industry, ANY industry, is doomed.

  • Always remember folks, Hollywood's goal is not to stop piracy - that's technologically impossible. They just want to ensure that every aspect of using their products is controlled and paid for.

    Want to see Snow White once on your TV? That'll be $2.50. Want to watch the making-of documentary? $2.00 more. Listen to the soundtrack for up to one month? $3.50. Send a 30-second clip to five friends? $1.50. Download the movie for use in one portable player device? $5.75...

    In economic terms, it's perfect price discrimination - by nickle-and-diming consumers on every use of media, the industry will reduce the consumer surplus to zero, transferring it to their producer surplus. In other words, be prepared to pay more for the media you're getting now, or plan on reducing your consumption...

    And what about independent non-major studios? They'll sure have a hard time producing content when low-cost digital editing systems become illegal. And of course the encryption keys that make this whole system work will only be available to studio distributors...

That's the thing about people who think they hate computers. What they really hate is lousy programmers. - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle in "Oath of Fealty"