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Son of the DMCA

By iGrrrl in Technology
Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 02:13:48 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

There's been a lot of squawk about the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act" (CBDTPA). One interesting criticism of the CBDTPA by Jeremy Bowers uses sarcasm and ad absurdam examples to point out the obvious flaws in the bill. He also contends that the lawmakers are so completely ignorant of computer technology - and the true meaning of fair use - that no argument against the law will have weight. Bowers says our arguments will be rejected out of hand because we are considered to be whackos out on the fringe. He proposes that we not only take the typical tack of speaking out and trying to educate citizens, but perhaps even try to strengthen the act to the point that even the legislators can see how absurd it is.

But he's probably wrong. They probably know that it's an impossible law. They may have wanted to see whether we'd jump, and how high.

There's good reason to believe that the bill was a stalking horse, as noted by Builder. A fuller expansion of the stalking horse idea was written by Ed Foster on infoworld.com. Foster reminded us that the bill did not make it to last month's scheduled hearing. Why?

If you don't know much about the CBDTPA, you can check out Wired Magazine's primer. There is also a history of the act at Declan McCullagh's Politech, and Cryptome.org has the complete text of Senator Holling's Bill. As Wired's primer puts it:

Anyone selling -- or creating and distributing -- "digital media devices" may not do so unless they include government-approved security standards. Digital media devices are defined as any hardware or software that can reproduce or display copyrighted works.
And that's just the beginning.

As with the DMCA, the Usual Suspects mobilized to fight the legislation. The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) organized a letter-writing campaign. Digital Consumer also has a Help Stop the CBDTPA page. It may be futile, but it might, just might, be helpful to alert our elected representatives that there are still quite a few people who wish to retain their fair use rights.

But does it work to protest? K5's own Jetifi aregued that The Internet is inherently self-destructive. In some ways this supports Bowers notion that the voice of the technology-conscious voter is muffled by the perception that we're merely out on the fringe. Worse, we're seen as theives and pirates with our Napsters and Gnutellas. On the other hand, Johnny's conversation with Hemos seems to support the idea that we don't even bother to speak at all - at least not to the people who actually make the laws.

But what's the point if the legislation was never intended to become law? What if, as Foster points out, the industry simply uses the threat of the law to institute their own (unregulated and draconian) standards?

So far we failed to have any affect on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Will we fail again with the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act? Or will we succeed because it is red herring meant to distract us from the DMCA and from other industry practices that violate the spirit and letter of fair use? Like any bad movie sequel, was it meant to go straight to video?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o criticism of the CBDTPA by Jeremy Bowers
o stalking horse
o Builder
o Ed Foster on infoworld.com
o Wired Magazine's primer
o Declan McCullagh's Politech
o the complete text of Senator Holling's Bill
o letter-wri ting campaign
o Help Stop the CBDTPA
o The Internet is inherently self-destructive
o Johnny's conversation with Hemos
o Also by iGrrrl

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Son of the DMCA | 23 comments (13 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Honestly! I'm not a bad person! (1.00 / 4) (#3)
by Talez on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 09:37:55 AM EST

It's the Internet! It made me do it!

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est
Wasn't this here yesterday? (3.40 / 5) (#6)
by hulver on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 09:50:51 AM EST

Why the repost, has anything changed?

Gack! (2.00 / 1) (#7)
by hulver on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 09:51:21 AM EST

Should be editorial. My bad.

[ Parent ]
just the focus of the article (n/t) (2.00 / 1) (#9)
by iGrrrl on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 09:57:53 AM EST

You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

small observation.... (4.80 / 5) (#8)
by jeffy124 on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 09:52:25 AM EST

Among the purposes of the DMCA was to promote multimedia on the Internet, spurring it's growth.  But the entertainment industry has made minimal attempt at putting entertainment on the Internet, holding back it's growth (and probably that of the current economy to a degree) and the growth of broadband networking.  It should be clear that the DMCA has failed in promoting Internet-based multimedia.

Now, the entertainment industry wants CBDTPA, wanting the same thing (consumer rights aside, idea of promoting Internet multimedia).  Should Congress allow this law given the track record of another law designed to do the same thing?  (I know one thing, if I were Congress, and someone asked for something, got it, and didnt make use of it, then came back wanting something else to do the same thing, I'd be insulted)

Clearly, this is an issue that I have not seen discussed.  Perhaps some exploration into the above would show that neither law is necessary, and both are providing tons of protest and utter dissarray among consumers and technology companies.  One suggestion I've seen out there is a 'Bill of Rights' of sorts for consumers -- defining once and for all what is fair use, first sale doctrine, etc.
You're the straw that broke the camel's back!

On the fringe (3.60 / 5) (#10)
by jmzero on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 10:49:20 AM EST

In some ways this supports Bowers notion that the voice of the technology-conscious voter is muffled by the perception that we're merely out on the fringe.

If people who use P2P programs to get music are on the fringe, the fringe is getting mighty wide.  The portion of the population that is at least that "tech-savvy" is getting larger.

I think "we" underestimate how many of "us" there are.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife

Numbers... (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by Danse on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 04:14:18 PM EST

At any given time, there are about a million to two-and-a-half million people signed into the Kazaa network alone. I think that these numbers are just going to get larger. Think of it as kind of a backlash against all the copyright extensions and expansions we've seen over the years.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Perception is the key word (none / 0) (#23)
by Jerf on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 07:46:15 PM EST

In some ways this supports Bowers notion that the voice of the technology-conscious voter is muffled by the perception that we're merely out on the fringe.

The sentence is accurate. The people doing the "perceiving" here are the people in Congress. I agree with you jmzero, that the 'fringe' is far, far larger then the Senate would believe right now, but they are also virtually silent as a political group. Is there even the beginnings of a "file traders PAC"? Many interest groups far, far smaller then 2 or 3 million people have PACs and such watching out for them. So politically, just a 'fringe'.

How many of the file traders are more then marginally aware of the issues and debates? Beats me, but the evidence suggests not enough.

[ Parent ]

Not exactly no effect... (3.50 / 4) (#11)
by pwayner on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 10:59:51 AM EST

So far we failed to have any affect on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Will we fail again with the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act?

I wouldn't say that there's been no effect. There wsa plenty of handwringing and protest about the DMCA and they did add a number of clauses to protect "research". That hasn't stopped the content czars from harrassing 2600 or Ed Felten, but the law does have some language they can point to and defend their cause. The language wasn't there before the protests.

i find it interesting (4.00 / 4) (#12)
by VoxLobster on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 11:31:11 AM EST

that software can be classified as a device... I've never really thought of sofware as falling into that category. I guess that would mean that operating systems (including linux) would have to have these "security features" built into them as they can be used to display copyrighted materials...

VoxLobster -- That's when I reach for my Revolver, that's when it all get's blown away -- Mission of Burma, That's when I reach for my Revolver

I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar

Software devices (3.50 / 4) (#13)
by MikeyLikesIt on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 11:36:55 AM EST

That's how they arrived at the absurd notion of patentable software. Software shouldn't be considered as such, but it would take a lot to change it. The patent office has too much to lo$e if people stop filing software patents!

Of course, there is also the idea that academic researchers would not present their new algorithms publically: being unpatentable means that just anyone could use human knowledge to advance society!

*GASP* That just won't do!


[ Parent ]

Yes exactly (none / 0) (#21)
by 0xA on Wed Jun 12, 2002 at 02:34:08 AM EST

That's the problem with this. I aussume that any Linux based solution that could be fixed by downloading a lib from some server in another country wouldn't be "Government Approved" either. Currently available operating systems could be too, as could TVs, VCRs etc. It is very vague.

3 guesses who holds a patent on the DRM OS btw.

DRM == Digital Rights Management

[ Parent ]

mass action (1.66 / 3) (#18)
by turmeric on Tue Jun 11, 2002 at 01:55:57 PM EST

we should like, hold massive protests. a march on washington might be good.

Son of the DMCA | 23 comments (13 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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