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30 Days of DRM 170

sonofollson writes "Michael Geist, a Canadian law professor, in the middle of a 30 Days of DRM project, which is targeting the planned introduction of the DMCA in Canada. Each day, the project identifies an exception or limitation that is needed to address the danger of anti-circumvention legislation. Issues covered so far include interoperability, privacy, region coding, and reverse engineering. The project is also supporting a wiki version for broader participation."
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30 Days of DRM

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  • Cool movie (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 27, 2006 @06:58PM (#15991228)
    The guy tried to live one month on nothing but copy protection systems but choked on a dongle after 9 days.
  • Great idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by magictiger ( 952241 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @07:04PM (#15991242)
    This is a great idea. Unfortunately, the only people likely to find this are those that already know the need for exceptions to DRM laws. I hope the Canadians pass this along to their legislators and that someone actually bothers to read the blog.

    Maybe if we'd had something like this before the DMCA, we could have made it a little less restrictive. (No way in hell the **AAs would have let it die)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kimvette ( 919543 )
      FWIW, I'm not Canadian, just pointing this out so Canadians here know to contact their reps:

      OK, if DRM and the equivalent of the DMCA is introduced in Canada, effectively eliminating their equivalent of Fair Use, will the levies on blank media be repealed?
      • Re:Great idea (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Safiire Arrowny ( 596720 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @08:05PM (#15991416) Homepage
        I would prefer to have the blank media tax, and to just be left alone in peace to do what I want with my media.
        • Uhm, you do realize that the blank media tax would eseentially fund organizations that spend every waking moment finding ways to keep you from being left alone to do what you want with your media, don't you?
        • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
          I would prefer to have the blank media tax, and to just be left alone in peace to do what I want with my media.

          Right now they get both of those. Why step down?
        • I would prefer to have the blank media tax, and to just be left alone in peace to do what I want with my media.

          And let me subsidize your music and movies? Tempting, but no thank you...

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
        As a Canadian, I can tell you that there are no such levies on CDs or DVDs, because they are argued as being used for computer data. This is why you can go to Walmart and get 100 DVD+/-Rs for $30. There was at one time, or maybe still is, some CD-Audio CDs, which are the same as regular CDRs except that they cost about $5 each an do contain the levy. I think they only cost so much because they are so wildly unpopular, due to the fact that they cost more than the regular CDRs, and do not offer any extra fe
        • Re:Great idea (Score:5, Informative)

          by djmurdoch ( 306849 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @08:32PM (#15991486)
          As a Canadian, I can tell you that there are no such levies on CDs or DVDs, because they are argued as being used for computer data.

          This is wrong. There are levies on blank CDs, because they are commonly used to record music, whether they are "CD-audio" or not.

          See the current rates here. [cpcc.ca]
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
            They can be used, does not they must be used. There are so many other uses of CDs that it's pretty much impossible to charge a levy. When you look at audio cassettes, there are very few uses apart from recording audio, so it's easy to argue that a levy should be charged. If there is a levy in Canada, how much is it? Because I can go to the local discount computer store and get 50 CDs for $12. That works out to $0.24 for each CD. The Canadian copyright board [cb-cda.gc.ca] states that they levy on CDRs is supposed to
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Jardine ( 398197 )
              Because I can go to the local discount computer store and get 50 CDs for $12. That works out to $0.24 for each CD. The Canadian copyright board states that they levy on CDRs is supposed to be $0.21 per CD ($0.77 for CDR-Audio). I find it highly unlikely that the levy is being charged, and that I'm only paying $0.03 per CD including retail markup, transportation, manufacturing, and all the other costs of delivering CDRs to the end user.

              That store is doing one of two things. They're not paying the levy or the
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I don't know about Canada, but in the US, I can buy CD-Rs dirt cheap (i.e., at similar prices to those you mention), but I can only buy *CD-R Music* discs at a significantly higher price. Only the latter will work in my rack CD recorder (made by Yamaha). The difference in price goes mostly to the RIAA.

              The only difference between the discs is a simple flag specifying the type. It is allegedly illegal to sell an audio CD recorder (non-computer peripheral) here that allows recording onto a non-taxed disc.

              If it
            • Yet I still don't think that the levy is being charged. Almost every store sells CDRs for around $0.30 or less. This would mean that all these stores are losing money on CDRs. Also, the CDRs are the equivalent to what you would pay in the US for blank media, accounting for exchange rates. So, I guess i am wrong, and that there is a levy, yet i fail to see any instance of a consumer actually having to pay a levy. It's impossible for me to believe that they are charging a 21 cent levy on a product that on
              • It is not always being charged, [cpcc.ca], but it is supposed to be. You can find more links about this case here [michaelgeist.ca].
                • That's one case. I can find multiple retailers with the same price, all over my city. So either every retailer in the city isn't paying the levy, (which I find hard to believe), or they are paying the levy for me, which I also find hard to believe. I was very much under the impression that becuase of the low cost of CDRs, that there was no levy. Apparently there is one, yet I can't see how it's being accounted for.
          • Re:Great idea (Score:4, Informative)

            by RealGrouchy ( 943109 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @10:36PM (#15991901)
            There is an exception to having to pay this levy.

            In order to avoid paying this levy, you have to be an eligible organization (e.g. businesses who legitimately don't use it for ripping CDs, churches, NGOs, etc.). You then have to pay a $60/year ($15/year for non-commercial) registration fee with the CPCC, and you can only buy levy-free CDs from CPCC-certified manufacturers and distributors (NOT retailers).

            So essentially, either you pay the levy to the CPCC, or you pay the CPCC other money so that you don't pay them the levy. Either way, you're paying more, and they're getting your money, all because they preemptively convict you of stealing music.

            (Organizations for the perceptually disabled can get a rebate on their levy from the CPCC.)

            Source: www.cpcc.ca [www.cpcc.ca]

            - RG>
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by djmurdoch ( 306849 )
              "So essentially, either you pay the levy to the CPCC, or you pay the CPCC other money so that you don't pay them the levy."

              No, you also have the option of using media with no levy, e.g. DVDs, or the disk in your MP3 player.

              "they're getting your money, all because they preemptively convict you of stealing music"

              No, that's not why you pay. You pay in order to have the right to make private copies. If you do that, you're not stealing, you're making legal copies. If you use the discs for something else, you'
              • "You pay in order to have the right"

                That said it all right there. A Purchased Right is an oxymoron.
        • Re:Great idea (Score:5, Informative)

          by nsayer ( 86181 ) * <nsayer@kfuUUU.com minus threevowels> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @08:47PM (#15991531) Homepage
          In the U.S. the reason there are "music" CD-Rs that cost more than data CD-Rs is because of the American Home Recording Act. This was the grandfather of the DMCA. It requires a levy to be placed on all blank media for standalone digital audio recording devices. It was the AHRA that was used to attempt to bludgeon the Diamond RIO out of existence back in the day (it failed, because the Rio was judged to be a computer peripheral). The AHRA does not apply to computer peripherals, so that's why data CD-Rs are sold that are cheaper, even though you can record Red Book audio track disks with them. The AHRA was what killed the DAT as a consumer audio component back in the day and relegated them to studio audio and computer data applications.
        • Re:Great idea (Score:4, Informative)

          by RareButSeriousSideEf ( 968810 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @08:49PM (#15991540) Homepage Journal
          I have a CD recorder / player (Yamaha) in my component stereo system, and it will only record on the "CDR Music" type discs that carry the extra fee. Of course, there is no way around this fee if I am recording, e.g., a session of my own band's rehearsal from an old cassette tape or whatnot. I've also not yet heard of any way to see the cashflow from the extra fee, in order to verify that it is indeed making it to the artists for which it was levied in the first place.

          Lastly, if the manufacture of these discs ever ceases, I am stuck with a play-only unit in my stereo rack. Nice, eh?

          Sure hope somebody reverse engineers these and starts manufacturing them independently one of these days. I'd actually pay *more* for a product if a portion of its cost supported anti-DRM organizations.
          • That sucks, but CD recorders for a computer are so cheap now that it likely wouldn't kill you to trash the Yamaha and do all your recording with a sound card on a computer. This will save you the extra cost of the levy on the audio discs, and the cost of recording crap, because you can edit that out before committing to media.
            • Very true, and in fact I've set up a media PC with optical & S/PDIF audio IO for just those reasons. Given that, I don't find much use for the Yamaha's recording capability anymore, but that fact pisses me off more than it soothes me. I mean, I naïvely spent several hundred dollars on a piece of equipment on the basis that it was capable of digital recording. Unfortunately, I bought it quite a few years ago, before I had any real awareness of DRM issues, or the wherewithall to grill the salesperson
      • Canada has no equivalent of Fair Use. Our Private Copying right is quite different.

        I'd say there's a good chance that the Private Copying right will go, because the multinationals don't like it any more. I think the Private Copying levy will go at the same time, because it is specifically put in place to reimburse copyright holders for the Private Copying right.

        Personally, I like Private Copying, and think the levy is a reasonable rate to pay for it. However, I don't think it's really sustainable in the
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by crossmr ( 957846 )
      I've written my MP 3 times.
      Though I'm not sure how much of this is FUD. The Conservative government is in a very precarious position. The wrong move and the victory they let the Liberals screw up so badly for is gone.
      Turning everyone into criminals isn't going to benefit them during the next election when they go for a majority government.

      Which I've reminded my MP of in the last 2 letters.
      • I've written my MP 3 times.

        Ha ha ha "MP3" I get it!

      • by saskboy ( 600063 )
        I've written my Conservative MP 3 times too, and have yet to get a reply.
        I've posted it on Slashdot several times, so dig it up here or on my blog. Just search for "Garry B."
  • the most important (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    DRM doesn't expire, so the media never makes it to the public domain
    by design of course
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @07:08PM (#15991251) Journal
    From the article: "Region coding is not about copyright, it is about market controls and a loss of consumer property rights. It should not benefit from additional copyright legal protections that would come from anti-circumention legislation."

    How about the idea that region coding is all about reducing sales and increasing unauthorized duplication of DVDs? I run into so many DVDs that are not sold in any form for my region, and will never be sold for my region. That leaves me the options (a) not buying it at all, or (b) buying it and cracking it or perhaps getting a more usable pre-cracked version (barring the ability to get a DVD player that does all regions).
    • That leaves me the options (a) not buying it at all, or (b) buying it and cracking it or perhaps getting a more usable pre-cracked version (barring the ability to get a DVD player that does all regions).

      (c) DVD players: collect all 6 while supplies last!

    • Many/most DVD players can be made to play any region by accessing a hidden menu. 5 minutes with Google should find you the magic keystrokes.
      • But under the DMCA, isn't that illegal? Isn't this what were arguing against here? Not the fact that it can be done, but rather something as honest as playing a DVD you own, in a player you own should actually be illegal.
    • by Eivind ( 15695 )
      It's not only DVDs. Same for games.

      My wife loved Shadow-Hearts. (the PS2-game). The day after renting the first one to try it out, she was in the shop, and happily paid top-dollar (well, euro, but you get the point) for the game. We had v2 -- covenant -- on release-day and again paid full retail, happily.

      Now there's v3 -- "from the new world". Not sold in europe. Guess what motivated us to get a chipped PS2 ? (that in itself legal in our jurisdiction) Guess how motivated she was this time of paying full

  • I think this is great and all, but I've only heard about Michael Geist here and on BoingBoing. The real trick is getting Joe Sixpack to care.

    How does one get the general public to care? From what I've seen, most computer users are short-sighted, datawise. "This DVD/Song/Program works right now, so it'll work forever, right?" How do we get everyone else to read this?

    CAPTCHA: signify. How appropriate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      Joe Sixpack does care, to the extent that it starts to bother him. My GF recently got an iPod, and despite me telling her not to, still bought a couple tracks off iTunes. She quickly learned that she was unable to burn an "MP3" CD, to listen to them on her stereo. She also got quite a big scare when she deleted all her music and thought she had lost the music (she had just deleted them from the library, and they were still on the computer). She also gets quite annoyed when she plugs her iPod into anothe
    • by Jack Action ( 761544 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @08:18PM (#15991451)

      Michael Geist writes a weekly column [thestar.com] on law and technology for the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper. The Star is a significant venue because its middle brow (not tabloid, but not the New York Times), and always has a populist favour.

      He is also frequently called on as a commentor on CBC radio (the public broadcaster, which by law can be heard by Canadians anywhere in the country). CBC radio recieves no ads and no coporate sponsorship (unlike PBS), so is generaly balanced on controversial issues.

      In Canada at least, someone like Geist has a greater chance of reaching Jaques Six-Pack than he might have elsewhere.

  • by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @07:33PM (#15991330) Homepage Journal

    Different standards exist for reverse engineering. For example, reverse engineering a binary is illegal, while reverse engineering a protocol (for compatibility purposes) isn't.

    But the real question to ask is, a .doc a binary file or a protocol ?

    (and then there are EULAs ... which have started saying "You shall be responsible for anything any user does... to cover shared envs")
  • by w33t ( 978574 ) * on Sunday August 27, 2006 @07:39PM (#15991343) Homepage
    I am glad that Michael Geist is forcing a very close examanation of the limitations a DCMA - but why is a DCMA even needed in the first place?

    In a way it feels like he's discussing ways to make a noose more comfortable and less abrasive to the victims throat.

    The thing is, whenever DRM is discussed I cannot help by attempt to prognosticate into the deep mysterious future. Imagine a future (not too distant perhaps) in which we have direct brain interfaces of some sort. How would it be to have certain thoughts blocked? How would it be to not be able to think something?

    Thoughtcrime - in other words. Oh, it's disgusting to me.

    After all, DRM is basically a way of locking-down information. But information is so close to just thought. It's one step away from a pure idea.

    When I hear DRM I think "Idea Stopping" - and being an idealist as I am, this is deeply disturbing to me.

    DMCAs are so prehistoric to me - they seem to hail from the time in the past when the distribution of information required printing presses and tape-duplication facilities. When information distribution liked physical mediums for distribution.

    In those ancient times of the 20th century only the wealthy could afford these behemoth machines. There was no way a consumer could copy a novel and send it to 20 or 100 of their closest friends.

    Of course nowadays I can find the entire works and easily distribute them without all that mucking about with the physical constraints that plagued the old.

    DRM and DMCAs seem analogous to a cart and buggy and wagon industry forcing automobile owners to not drive faster than the horse-drawn carriages because of their "right" to the road.

    It is old-world philosophy being artificially forced into the modern mindset.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zarxrax ( 652423 )
      Well, it's true that the best solution would be to simply not have a DMCA at all, but often, this simply isn't possible. The people who don't want it are not as powerful or persuasive as the people who DO want it. Completely stopping something like this can be difficult--but lessening the impact that it has can often be more easily obtainable. Compromise sucks. The side that compromises is the side that loses something. But when it comes down to it, its a lot better to lose something than to lose everythin
    • DRM and DMCAs seem analogous to a cart and buggy and wagon industry forcing automobile owners to not drive faster than the horse-drawn carriages because of their "right" to the road.

      It is old-world philosophy being artificially forced into the modern mindset.

      This is more true than you realize. Let's think back to the last time there was such a major shift in our society...

      To the 1860s. In addition to disputes over the morality of slavery, there was a tremendous economical divide between the northern US and

  • From the eschewing of media at soldier repatration ceremonies to the introduction of a Canadian DMCA, I have started to surmise that Harper is one of those fallocrats who is totally out of touch with his citizenry. Now, before you Harper-loving people start saying "But... but... but... the Bern convention requires this sort of thing". I ask you, when was the Bern convention signed. In my mind there is no coincidence that all these "harmonizations" are going on under Mr. Creepy-eyes reign. This is just one
  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Sunday August 27, 2006 @07:53PM (#15991384) Homepage Journal
    There will always be a way to circumvent the DMCA.

    You cannot close the "analog hole" because we are purely analog-sensory beings. We cannot reliably have digital information put into our brain and decoded into a usable form without reliable biological-neurological wiring. With that simple logic, until neural wetware becomes commonplace (scary world that'll be,) the DMCA is absolute bullshit. I can simply circumvent your protection by going to a friend's house to watch a movie they bought but I never paid for. I can store that entire movie in "memory" (if I'm capable of that type of photo-auralgenic storage like other 'geniuses.') and tell others what the whole movie is about, which may/may not discourage them to see the movie, thus resulting in a loss of profit for the movie, or even after-movie DVD/VCR sales. Kiss your "unauthorized" use clause good-bye. We can hurt the **AA cause thru that means alone, and I'll bet with the current shit crop of movies coming out (Like Talladega Nights, compared to The Descent,) the sales are going to drop even further. I can simply watch a movie, tell everyone what it's all about, and they'll decide for themselves whether or not the movie is worth watching, in their opinion. And speaking technically, I didn't pay for it, so by going to a friend's house to watch a movie they paid for, I'm getting a public performance (because they explicitly state with a sign on their property "This is not private property, whatever happens here is public and sent to the police,") without paying for the rights to view the money. Now what are you going to do, RI/MPAA? Sue me for visiting a friend who happens to be showing a movie they paid for? You've tried twice already, let's go for a third strike so we can wipe you out legally.

    I apologize in advance for potential double-ranting (restating the same rant twice in the same post,) but I felt the need to drive this into people's heads. Even if the general Slashdot crowd knows about this stuff, there are many others that join every day, and are rather ignorant, as I once was before I got some extra education from more knowledgable people on Slashdot. We need to keep this type of information flow happening, in my opinion. Let's keep it up so less knowledgable people have more plain-english definitions for the layman to understand, guys.
    • Technically, we're digital as well, as "digital" seems to mean storing or sampling information in discrete units rather than in a continously variable manner. This is most evident by the fact that a light flashing fast enough appears to be steady once it exceeds our internal "sample rate", and by the fact that there exists a threshold above which a "digital" audio signal is also indistinguishable from its analog counterpart. (Arguably it may not be 44.1Khz, but CDs do exceed that threshold for most people
      • by Khyber ( 864651 )
        Well, digital in our current sense isn't so "discrete" because nothign but ones and zeros is hardly anything discrete. We have a known translation system for that binary stream, and go further than that. Our brain doesn't work in ones and zeros, it works in highly differing chemical reactions. We can't call biochemical reactions binary because binary implies digital which implies silicon. Until we get true, flawless neural wetware, we cannot even dare call ourselves "digital"
    • by RPoet ( 20693 )
      We cannot reliably have digital information put into our brain and decoded into a usable form without reliable biological-neurological wiring.

      For christ's sake, don't give them any ideas!
  • How about being free from WMV/WMA 10 & 11 then?

    Well just go for it -> [url]http://www.engadget.com/2006/08/25/fairuse4wm -strips-windows-media-drm/[/url]

    Dodge this Microsoft! ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Working link. [engadget.com]
      They had a few download links for a day or so as well. I do know the program works. I wonder how long it will be until Microsoft fixes it? More importantly, can they make it stop working without making people install an update?
  • Last election (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Sunday August 27, 2006 @11:03PM (#15991962) Homepage Journal
    In the last federal Canadian election, Dr. Geist can take at least partial credit in helping to defeat the Liberal's MP that was pushing a Canadian DMCA through the House. It would be wise of geeks and nerds from around the world to support his effort on educating politicians on the implications of DRM protection in laws.
  • ...who will discuss just about everything about their equipment except its suitability for growing pot.

    I dislike intrusive and prohibitive DRM as much as everybody else, but it's clear to me that if the magic wand were waved tomorrow and DRM disappeared, the immediate effect is that people would be pirating a lot more.

  • Alternatives to DMCA (Score:2, Informative)

    by lucychili ( 987345 )
    This is one of those issues which pokes pretty close to home. Its also an issue which is best understood by people with some technical background who can unpack the difference between content and the DRM or TPM around it. This means its not easy for non tech consumer groups to defend people's rights on these issues without support and explanations from their local geeky community.

    There are plenty of different things we can do - from an email only approach to face to face talking to people.
    Tell people and po
  • I guest I just have 30 days left to laught at you DMCAed Americans, soon the joke's on me to.

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