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DRM More Important Than Life or Security? 427

An anonymous reader writes "Ed Felten of Freedom to Tinker has an interesting writeup regarding how copyright holders are still having serious objections to the built in exceptions of the DMCA even when it might threaten lives or national security. From the article: 'One would have thought they'd make awfully sure that a DRM measure didn't threaten critical infrastructure or endanger lives, before they deployed that measure. But apparently they want to keep open the option of deploying DRM even when there are severe doubts about whether it threatens critical infrastructure and potentially endangers lives.'"
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DRM More Important Than Life or Security?

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  • by Indy Media Watch ( 823624 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:40AM (#14970568) Homepage
    Systems which are considered mission critical or whose loss/damage/downtime could endanger human life fall into a category of their own. This category tends to have failsafe design safeguards built from the ground up.

    There is a reason air traffic control systems don't run Windows XP.

    For the same reason, I expect such systems would have a large sign hanging off the front of them saying "Do NOT use this system for playing your new Britney CD".

    I accept the argument he is making, however I believe the scenario is unlikely.
  • Liability (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Petskull ( 650178 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:06AM (#14970646)
    If this gets voted in their favor, wouldn't they then be liable for damages incurred from their disruptive technology? Let's say that a new The Cure CD brings down a machine at a telco and then someone wasn't able to call 911. We have already seen that, if you 'Crunch Box' a whole area code, then you are responsible for losses incurred on account of the downed lines.

    Wouldn't this open the makers up for litigation given that this was the intended use of their product?
  • by khakipuce ( 625944 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:06AM (#14970648) Homepage Journal
    If you every created anything, you too are a copyright holder. I believe that's the whole point of "copy-left" type licenses - i.e. they make it ok for you to copy my work, otherwise it would not be ok. And if you are a creative person there is nothing wrong with trying to make a living from your cretions. I do agree with your sentiment though, the big publishers never create anything themselves and yet seek to protect copyrights so that they get their large slice of someone else's talent
  • by khakipuce ( 625944 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:21AM (#14970690) Homepage Journal
    One of the big issues with infrastructure kit is obsolescence. Twenty or thirty years down the line there are no spares available for the hardware, and the company that made it may have folded (and it is expected to go for this long and no it isn't PCs).

    So one solution is to write an emulator for the equipment that needs replacing and possibly run this on a rack mount "industial" PC. What's inside the PC? pretty much standard stuff, and in a few years I guess this may be forced to include DRM chips. Which either means ruling out this as an option, or doing extra validation to prove that the DRM hardware does not lead to unexpected results.

    I've seen this done with PC's to replace teletypes, PCs to replace tape drives, PCs to replace hardware montiors ...

  • There is a reason air traffic control systems don't run Windows XP.

    Yes, because they run Windows 2000 [].
  • It's fairly simple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by petrus4 ( 213815 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:41AM (#14970765) Homepage Journal
    Some of the people who want this technology (most of them in fact, I'd guess) are people who do literally value money more than life itself. They're the type who haven't learned what Cal Hockley did when he tried to buy a place on one of the lifeboats during the sinking of the Titanic; namely, that money isn't some kind of miraculous cure-all that can make them completely impervious to problems.

    So yeah...Money to them is more important than anything else. More important than longevity, more important than having edible food or breathable air, more important than people. (Including, if they were honest, their own loved ones)

    Reminds me of a businessman I heard about once who was interviewed about the cancer risk from mobile phone use. He said that even if there was a risk of brain cancer from using a mobile phone, he still would, because it was too important for, you guessed it, making money.

    That's the type of mentality we're dealing with here...the type that thinks that having money is literally more important than being alive to spend it.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:54AM (#14970813)
    if you are a creative person there is nothing wrong with trying to make a living from your cretions.

    Of course there is.
    It would be obviously wrong to point a gun at someone and make them pay for a copy, "or else."

    My point is that there is nothing wrong up to a point and then there is wrong.

    The debate is about where that point is when it goes from right to wrong. Some people believe that point is just short of pointing the gun, and some people believe that the point is all the way back at simply publishing the creation. A lot of people don't really know where they think the point is, just somewhere in between those two extremes and thus you get the constant debate, rehashing the same ideas over and over again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @08:59AM (#14970830)
    Stop living off others.

    "No man is an island."

    Besides, isn't that basically what all the -ism's are? Ways of taking from others what you want? Socialism is taking it through force, and capitalism is selling the crappiest, cheapest thing for as much money as you can through marketing and lies?
  • Freedom vs. security (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmv ( 93421 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:18AM (#14970910) Homepage
    They say that those you will trade freedom for security deserve neither... Wonder what happens to those who will give up freedom and security at the same time?
  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:52AM (#14971070)

    The most "successful" diseases are those that merely inconvenience their host, such as for instance, the common cold.

    Actually, the most succesfull parasites are those that figure out how to not only do no harm to their host, but to actually benefit it. Your stomach bacteria are a good example: a human will try to get rid of flu (by resting), while a human will try to keep his stomach bacteria healthy - since if he doesn't, his body will work worse than it does with them.

    The most succesfull parasites are those who stop being parasites and become symbiotes. Especially when we are talking about an intelligent host species, which might figure out how to get rid of inconvenient freeriders, but won't bother with things that won't bother them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @09:52AM (#14971071)
    What on earth would a hospital be doing have movie or audio software installed on their computers?

    Well, I can think of all sorts of videos of surgeries or diagnostic procedures (fMRI?). Plenty of doctors do voice transcription as well. Hospitals would probably think DRM was a neat idea as well, it would solve the issues with those cheap transcribers in the middle east threatening to post everyone's records when you "forget" to pay them.

    Yet, all it would take is a Sony-level "oops" to wipe it all out.
  • Shorter Ayn Rand (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Von Rex ( 114907 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @05:40PM (#14975760)
    Be the biggest asshole you can possibly be to everyone around you at all times. Helping people hurts them. Hurting people helps them. Never feel shame. And always wrap yourself in a cloak of smug self-righteous virtue, even while you're kicking some poor helpless slob in the teeth.

    It's a really good philosophy for sociopaths.
  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) * <> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @06:58PM (#14976460)
    A comment from a Doctor I visit (in the US). This is a paraphrase, so I'm not using quotes:
    Most doctors in this area are over 50, and few new doctors are coming in. The doctors who are here are retiring faster than new ones are showing up. The insurance companies are less and less willing to cover expenses. I'm not sure how much longer I'll be willing to put up with the increasingly worse conditions.

    Canada made a better choice. Possibly at the moment the systems are in a state of rough equality, but the Canadian system is relatively stable, and the US system is in the process of collapsing. More quickly, of course, in the poorer areas, but EVERYWHERE, because conditions are becoming so bad that doctors don't want their kids to be doctors.

    Then there's the problems that nurses are facing. No rational decision would cause one to become a nurse. Their situation is worse than that of the doctors, and they don't even get the "high status" part of the reward. They are also increasingly denied any opportunity to be aware that they are helping people, which is the main emotional energy that causes people to choose nursing rather than, say, real estate in the first place.

    Canada made the better choice. With a smaller investment they have arrived at a superior system. There may have been the cost of an initial period of lesser efficiency, but that period is ending, or, possibly, has ended.
  • by gd23ka ( 324741 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @07:12PM (#14976553) Homepage
    Right on! Actually some of the most successful parasites ever, your Mitochondria have made themselves so indispensable like you wouldn't believe. Changing ordinary sugars into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) which is the standardized chemical fuel all your body's cell run on from muscle cells to those in your brain - without Mitochondria and the ATP they produce you would shutdown in seconds. Nowadays considered cellular organelles (functional subsystem of a cell) they have their own very own DNA (which is always inherited from the mother).

    "Copyright Holders", "RIAA/MPAA" and other evolutionary dead alleys will find themselves lacking symbiotic value and instead of having a vast and complex system built around them like Mitochondria they will find themselves despised by both of their hosts: the artists who create content as well as the consumers of the that content.
  • by zenhkim ( 962487 ) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @12:56AM (#14978524) Journal
    Uh ...*right*. Ayn Rand was a genius. Check out her fan sites. Read her books. Adopt her philosophy.

    Didn't one of her books, The Fountainhead, have a main character named Rourke? Wasn't he the architect who designed a building, had it built, then went and *blew it up* -- because someone had tampered with his design?? Object lesson: it's okay to destroy a building with high explosives AS LONG AS YOU'RE REALLY PISSED OFF???

    Ayn Rand was a political refugee from Russia's communist revolution; she took her natural anger against what happened to her and went *way* beyond all reason. Her school of "Objectivism" is nothing but Social Darwinism under a different label -- the rich and powerful have what they have because of their natural superiority, and they are completely justified in what they do, if you buy her ideas. That's not a philosophy, that's a surrender to the worst in humanity -- unthinking, self-serving opportunistic exploitation of your fellow human beings, all for the sake of worshipping at the golden monied altar in the Church of The Dollar Sign. And the hymn they sing is a rewrite of the theme from "Billy Jack":

    Go ahead and rob your neighbor
    Go ahead and scam a friend
    Do it in the name of profit
    You're justified in the end

    It's people like you who pull stunts like the S&L crisis, Enron, and *the Sony DRM rootkit* -- all under the pretense that it's business as usual. What's amazing is that any intelligent person actually believes in this crap and will go through any amount of rhetorical contortionism to rationalize it. Just last year I saw a major newspaper (an infamously neo-con/libertarian publication) print a tribute to the life of Ayn Rand on the anniversary of her birthday, trying to paint her as some groundbreaking figure in American philosophy -- never mind the blowing up of buildings. On the other hand, I was amused at a small dig printed by one of the columnists:

    "Happy birthday, Ayn Rand. I would have gotten you something, but I'm too selfish."

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?