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What's Wrong With Content Protection

By Kyrrin in MLP
Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:19:20 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

John Gilmore, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has written a rant about What's Wrong With Content Protection. It gives a wonderful summary of everything that's wrong with allowing corporations to place technical controls on copying.

Most people here probably know the details of this argument already, but this is a good link to provide to people who want to know more about the issue. I know I'm going to be saving it to toss at people when they ask why I'm boycotting major motion pictures.


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What's Wrong With Content Protection | 8 comments (6 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Perhaps you misread it... (2.45 / 11) (#1)
by trhurler on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 07:24:39 PM EST

This is a rant on why laws prohibiting free trade and and companies using false advertising are bad. Things like not telling the consumer his DVD drive has restrictions built in, or making it illegal to sell recording devices. That's a far cry from it being bad to "allow" companies to market copy protection, and in fact, the article expressly starts off by saying that companies have every right to do this.

In short, do not pretend that the EFF shares your radical "copyright is evil" agenda. It doesn't.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

he didnt say that.. (3.00 / 3) (#2)
by rebelcool on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 08:02:02 PM EST

No where in that post did I read anything about how copyrights are bad...

I think its a good article. DVD players for instance dont tell you that you cant use it with a VCR, or with a television that doesnt accept A/V inputs... even the manual doesnt say anything about it.

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[ Parent ]

I don't think he misread anything (3.00 / 3) (#3)
by kaemaril on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 08:07:45 PM EST

Sorry, what? He didn't misread anything. Where does he say that "copyright is evil" exactly? He doesn't, that I can see. He DOES say that "It gives a wonderful summary of everything that's wrong with allowing corporations to place technical controls on copying"

Is that what you're objecting to? Because the way I read it, Gilmore's article does EXACTLY that. A brief snippet by means of example is given below.

Instead, consumers will have to pay movie/TV companies over and over for the privilege of time-shifting or space-shifting. Even if they have purchased the movie, and it's stored at home on their own eqiupment, and they have high bandwidth access to it from wherever they are. This concept is called "pay per use". It can't compete with "You have the right to record a copy of what you have the right to see". These companies can't eliminate that right legally, because it would violate too many of the fundamentals of our society, so they are restricting the technology so you can't EXERCISE that right.

Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?

[ Parent ]
Reading is hard. (3.50 / 2) (#5)
by elenchos on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:12:56 PM EST

Kyrrin wrote:
    It gives a wonderful summary of everything that's wrong with allowing corporations to place technical controls on copying.
Gilmore wrote:
    What is wrong is when people who would like products that simply record bits, or audio, or video, without any copy protection, can't find any, because they have been driven off the market. By restrictive laws like...
And then Gilmore then gives a long list of existing and proposed laws that change the way copyright law works. He also lists several technical controls he is against, as we were told to expect he would. It is pretty clear that he doesn't generally object to the way copyright has been applied in the past, with an exception being that nothing has entered the public domain since 1910. Really this is another complaint about changing copyright law, as in extending the length of copyright. He decries the new laws that are coming along and the non-public way those laws are being created. He has a slew of other things he's against too, none of them contradicting what Kyrrin said.

So who is pretending that the EFF shares someone's "copyright is evil agenda?" Did Kyrrin say that during some other discussion, and you are posting a reply to her here, instead of there? Why would you do that? Or is your adomnition directed towards someone else entirely? Or did you just suddenly feel moved to warn the entire world against the mistake of pretending that the EFF shares their "copyright is evil agenda?" Maybe so. I don't think I was actually going to make that mistake, but thanks for the heads up anyway. It is good to have kind people such as yourself around who are willing to help us read hard things.

[ Parent ]

I don't believe that copyright is evil. (4.00 / 2) (#6)
by Kyrrin on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:18:07 PM EST

...and please don't place words in my mouth. I believe that technical restrictions to control copyright, when those restrictions are the default and there is no non-restricted option, are evil. It is a subtle but important distinction.

And that's what this article is saying, too. Yes, Gilmore acknowledges that companies have every right to market products with copy protection. Companies have every right to market, or to try and market, just about anything they want.

The problem is that consumers have rights; rights that the corporations don't always want to acknowledge, because those rights interfere with the sacred quest to make a buck. In order to remove those rights without rewriting full sections of US Law, corporations restrict those rights by technical means, not by legal means. And because people don't know what's going on, or haven't been informed that they do have these rights, those restricted means become the default and there is no way to exercise those rights, because every other alternate technical solution has been crushed by those sacred forces of "market pressure".

That, sir, is what I believe is evil, and if you will read the article again yourself, you will see that Gilmore agrees.

"I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
[ Parent ]
A Summation of His Argument (4.50 / 2) (#8)
by gauntlet on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:18:54 AM EST

I read the entire thing (eventually), and decided that it was too long to be understood readily. So I took some more time to prune it down to what I feel are the author's basic arguments.

Please feel free to disagree with me. I've made some assumptions about the reasons he says the things he does, but once I brought it down to a few points, they seemed to be indicative of his point.

  • Content distributors are using technology under the guise of copyright protection to promote an artificial scarcity of their product.
  • Copyright was not intended for this purpose.
  • Consumers lose otherwise legal functionality as a result of this use of technology.
  • The government does not prevent and in some cases promotes the continuing expansion of copyright laws.
  • When copyright is expanded, freedom of speech is reduced.

Based on those points, here's where I think the solution is: The problem is that an entire industry can (successfully) get together and decide to follow a self-preserving standard, and sue those that don't comply. Firstly, that should be illegal - or if it already is - it should be prosecuted. Second, the government should have some sort of vision as to the intent of copyright laws, and use that vision to change them.

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What's Wrong With Content Protection | 8 comments (6 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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