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MPAA to Senate: Plug the Analog Hole! 734

A month ago, the MPAA filed its report [PDF] with the Senate Judiciary Committee on the terrors of analog copying. I quote: "in order to help plug the hole, watermark detectors would be required in" -- are you sitting down? -- "all devices that perform analog to digital conversions." At their page Protecting Creative Works in a Digital Age, the Senate lays out the issues they'll be looking at, including briefs from corporate groups, and provides a comment form so your opinion can be heard as well. As Cory Doctorow writes: "this is a much more sweeping (and less visible) power-grab than the Hollings Bill, and it's going forward virtually unopposed. ...the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group is bare weeks away from turning over a veto on new technologies to Hollywood." Doctorow's article on the "analog hole" for the EFF does a great job of explaining the issues to non-electrical-engineers, and has many thought-provoking examples of how requiring such technology would be a giant step backwards.
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MPAA to Senate: Plug the Analog Hole!

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  • They just don't stop, they just don't listen, and they NEVER LEARN. I contact my congressman over this stuff every time, and I will continue to do so.
    • If you're eligible to vote and in thier districit/state, vote against them.
      If you breathe and are in the appropriate location, volunteer for the campaigns against them.

      That will stop them, or at least give them pause
    • by why-is-it ( 318134 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:06AM (#3578670) Homepage Journal
      They just don't stop, they just don't listen, and they NEVER LEARN

      You are right that the MPAA (et. al.) do not stop. But they DO learn. In fact, they have learned all to well. They have learned that sufficiently large donations to politicians result in legislation that protects their interests at the expense of the puble, and past legal precedants be damned. The MPAA does not have to listen to the likes of us, and the politicians will politely listen, but will not bite the hand that pays to re-elect them.

      I contact my congressman over this stuff every time, and I will continue to do so.

      And I would encourage you, and anyone else who finds this sort of legislation offensive. Unfortunately, until the campaign financing laws are changed in our supposedly superior western democracies to prevent corporations or lobby groups from buying politicians (and legislation), we should not expect the politicians to act on our concerns.

      The problem is of course that the people who benefit the most from the present system will almost certainly fight the hardest to maintain the status quo.
      • by Beliskner ( 566513 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @12:10PM (#3579631) Homepage
        You are right that the MPAA (et. al.) do not stop. But they DO learn. In fact, they have learned all to well. They have learned that sufficiently large donations to politicians result in legislation that protects their interests at the expense of the puble, and past legal precedants be damned
        They don't expect it to pass, same as CDPBBTA didn't pass. They're checking for weaknesses, seeing which senators vote which way, and then they'll pay them off one by one until all important votes have been taken out. This law will pass eventually, maybe after 10 iterations.

        MPAA knows the game plan all too well. One day you'll pick up the phone to your senator one time too many and he'll send you to jail for harrassment. The MPAA knows this and so will keep hammering at the legislators' door with variations on the CDBPPTA until this passes. Same as sysadmins gets pissed when one user calls for tech support 5 times a day. People bitch about that guy that has trouble inserting a floppy disk so calls tech support all the time, that's exactly how all our congressmen will look at us IT people and EFF if we constantly bug them.

        We've already got a taste of MPAA tactics with how they treat Kazaa, only unorthodox and semi-legal tactics succeed (like selling a system under litigation for the purpose of evading this litigation).

      • by danro ( 544913 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @12:56PM (#3579927) Homepage
        Unfortunately, until the campaign financing laws are changed in our supposedly superior western democracies to prevent corporations or lobby groups from buying politicians (and legislation), we should not expect the politicians to act on our concerns.

        Despite what you might think other western democracies doesn't share the US campaign finance system. Many european countries have have wildly different systems, as well as some cultural election differences.
        For example, in my country most of the parties expenses are paid with taxes. Now, don't scream: "Communists, I knew it!" just jet (we are not).
        The law guaranties the parties a pretty handsome budget if they get more than 4% of the votes. The more votes, the more cash. I'd argue that this is good because it reduces the need for the parties to whore for company money. Getting votes has a direct monetary reward attached to it!
        IMHO that is worth the extra taxes if it pays for a government that is more responsive to the people.

        Of course this isn't an ideal system either. Of course, we still have our share of trouble and corrupt (or more commonly just plain incompetent) politicians.

        However, it would be interesting to see what this kind of system would do to the US political system.
        ...though i realise this would probably be a hard sell in the US. What? Pay the darn politicians MORE money? Hell no!

        I wonder what kind of effect it would have though...
  • Plug what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:33AM (#3578463)
    MPAA to Senate: Plug the Analog Hole!

    You know, I've made a similar comment to the MPAA before. Come to think of it, some Senators too. :P
  • by purpledinoz ( 573045 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:36AM (#3578476)
    There's no way the MPAA can succeed in this. All analog-to-digital conversion equipement?? I remember using a really simple A to D converter in one of my courses in University. I bet that chip costed a buck or two. Putting anti-piracy measures in it will increase the cost significantly, and for a really simple A to D converter? That's just ridiculous! Who are these morons coming up with this crap? This won't fly... no matter how dysfunctional these law-makers are.
    • by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:39AM (#3578497) Homepage
      Hmm, a lot of telephone equipment does analog-to-digital and vice-versa conversions. Looks like the baby bells are all in big trouble now! Hahaha.
      • Hmm, a lot of telephone equipment does analog-to-digital and vice-versa conversions. Looks like the baby bells are all in big trouble now! Hahaha.

        They'll just get an exception.

        Of course the exception won't cover the converters in your computer's sound card or any add-on VoIP adapters you could use as the hardware component of a network telephone. So your alternative to their service will cost more, and will flake out if someone is playing a watermarked recording or radio program in the background.
    • by CynicTheHedgehog ( 261139 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:46AM (#3578542) Homepage
      And they can't outlaw equipment that is already in use, and TV capture technology hasn't really changed much. So anyone with an existing card is free to encode to his heart's delight.

      This reminds me of cable descrambling. Yes, it's illegal. Yes, I can get a descrambler from some guy on the street for $50.00 cash, and no one is the wiser. This will just create a black market for encoding hardware...a simple inline analog watermark stripper that can then be fed into a capture device.
    • by pmz ( 462998 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:06AM (#3578668) Homepage
      Add to this whether A to D conversion passes the Radio Shack test. How hard can it be to simply build a decent converter from scratch? Or, is this an unusually difficult task?
      • by yasth ( 203461 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:15AM (#3578717) Homepage Journal
        Well here is a pdf [unc.edu] (google html []) lab experiment that looks to be fairly simple. It certainly isn't that hard.
      • Legislators often won't consider exactly how basic the technology they're banning is; if you want an example, look at firearms. Do you know how complicated zip guns are? Not very, and though they aren't useful at a distance, inside a few feet they're deadly.

        Do you have any faucet washers in your tool drawer? Beware; they could be called "silencer parts", and people have been prosecuted for it. The same is true of auto muffler parts.
    • by Darth Paul ( 447243 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:17AM (#3578726)
      ... watermark detectors would be required in all devices that perform analog to digital conversions. In such devices (e.g., PC video capture cards), the role of the watermark detector would be to

      When people like us say A-D converter, we think of devices that convert a continuous signal into discrete levels.

      However, when the **AA says A-D converter, they're thinking about content stored on analog media being moved onto digital media.

      I'm sure the MPAA ain't thinking of digital thermometers or such lower level devices (though if a black marker can be a circumvention device, why not a digitherm?). They're thinking of analog content, in the form of audio cassettes, VCRs, TV, the like. Same 2 words, but their interpretation is completely different to the technical interpretation we're used to. Almost, a storm in a teacup. The MPAA doesn't care about your wristwatch, your alarm clock! (I suppose they're not smart enough to realize the potential circumvention uses of such harmless devices *grin*)

      What would be an absolute tragedy though, is if this misunderstanding of a technical term became enshrined in law. Then, one day some idle lawyer could pounce on the idle wording and start issuing C&D's to, say, alarm clock manufacturers.

    • by rudedog ( 7339 ) <dave@ru[ ]og.org ['ded' in gap]> on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:47AM (#3578996) Homepage
      Even more extreme is the ADC's in digital hearing adis. I would be really pissed if my digital hearing aid kept turning off every time I tried to listen to copyrighted material.
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @11:02AM (#3579100) Homepage
      • There's no way the MPAA can succeed in this. All analog-to-digital conversion equipement?

      More likely all equipment that a few select (patriotic) industry representatives point the Finger of Doom at. Hey, wanna bet that'll be mostly imported goods? I'm not being frivilous, the DMCA is being used to target imported goods right now (e.g. Dreamcast dev kit serial cables, Elcomsoft).

      I'm wondering if anyone in the press will pick up on this and spot this situation. You're at a (smallish) presidential rally, where His Highness is speaking on record. Suddenly a (performance) copyrighted recording of "Hail to the Chief" starts playing... and every recorder in the room shuts down. In fact, you could have great fun at any press conference by playing a CD of the Star Spangled Banner and watching them scream in frustration, or just use a white noise generator that broadcasts a watermark at the limit of audibility. Actually, that might sell like hot cakes to all paranoid businesses (i.e. all of them).

      I know all of this is so ridiculous as to make it seem beyond the pale, but we said that about the DMCA as well, remember? And I don't notice our elected representatives acknowledging that they pooched that law and moving to strike it. Do you?

    • by cje ( 33931 )
      My software team develops and maintains a very complex system that generates user products from Level 0 data obtained from a certain Earth-orbiting spacecraft [usgs.gov]. Part of this spacecraft's main instrument is an ADC that converts reflected radiances in several spectral bands to digital values that are then either transmitted back to Earth-based receiving stations via X-band or satellite relay systems, or stored in a solid state recorder for later retrieval.

      If Mr. Valenti believes that the ETM+ instrument's ADC needs watermark detection capabilities, then I suggest that we send him into low Earth orbit to do the installation personally. (Preferably, this would be a one-way ticket, of course.)
    • by pedro ( 1613 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @02:57PM (#3580660)
      Another reason that this will never fly is that the aggregate costs of implementation will far exceed any losses recovered. In fact, it will cost more to implement this moronic idea than all of the revenue these companies make *combined*!
      It's an unfunded mandate, folks.
      If these assholes want this so bad, let *them* pay for each and every instance of the hardware/software required to conform.
      The *AA's would be bankrupt overnight.
      Morons. Furrfu!
    • by JohnDenver ( 246743 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @03:02PM (#3580683) Homepage
      Talking about A to D converters is pointless...

      1. They will obvious make exceptions if they want this law to pass.
      2. As long as you're debating about A to D converters, no average person is going to care what you're saying.

      Make this situation relate to people

      If you tell people this bill aims to outlaw thier Tivo's, and copying from VHS to DVD, they will wonder why.

      THEN you can talk about A to D converters

      There will be more laws

      Even if the MPAA doesn't pass this bill, they will submit another. I'm sure they've gone through a number of ideas for bills and scenerios for getting them through.

      One will get passed

      As soon as this issue reaches a critical mass the MPAA/RIAA is BOUND to pass another law, as the general sentiment from the public will be, "they had to do something, we can't let mass piracy go rampant."

      How can we detour mass piracy while preserving fair use?

      Unless you don't believe in copyrights, you should be talking about this question, because it's the question the public wants an answer to. You're trying to convince the average person we need to preserve fair use, right? Isn't P2P piracy an abuse of fair use? People want to preserve fair use, but not at the expense of the copyright. How can we return the system to what it was before Napster?
  • by Retron ( 577778 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:36AM (#3578477)
    ....as I can't see the el-cheapo manufacturers in Taiwan wanting to comply with this. What's the betting that equipment from the Far East will come with DVD player style hacks to turn off watermarking?
  • Ridiculous! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheNecromancer ( 179644 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:38AM (#3578486)
    Do these idiots realize that this proposed 'policing' of ADC(analog-to-digital converters) would include things like microphones and portable tape players? I'm sure they use these devices during their board meetings and hearings, and probably discuss confidential and/or copyrighted issues. Who's gonna police these?? Also, they will have to stop using their portable tape players to dictate notes for their executive assistants to scribe, since the information they want scribed could also be considered copyright material!

    Bah, I'm getting my old VCR to plug up someone's 'analog' hole!
    • Re:Ridiculous! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:49AM (#3578562) Homepage
      This also includes a lot of other things.

      I will give just one example:

      Digital thermometers. And just one example of where they are used - car ignition. All ignition systems have a feedback from engine (and some from air) temperature. Can you imagine your car ignition computer verifying itself not to be involved in copyright contravention activities every time it has to adjust the ignition timings.

      Under other circumstances it would have been funny.

      • by aralin ( 107264 )
        Just imagine someone in the parking lot playing loud music. No car will start, since these will detect watermarks all the time :)
    • Re:Ridiculous! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mikeee ( 137160 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:50AM (#3578569)
      And camcorders! Can't have anybody ripping DVDs by filming a TV.

      That is some serious crack they get out in Hollywood.
  • Of course they do! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 00_NOP ( 559413 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:38AM (#3578487) Homepage
    What else would you expect them to say?

    But please, people, when figfhting back concentrate on the practicalities of this - rather than abstract arguments about freedom.

    The practical arguments are about freedom too - but they express it in a way that matters to people, rather than to philosophers.
    • by jgerman ( 106518 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:45AM (#3578537)
      The problem with that approach is that is (may) imply that these things would be ok if they were practical, which they most certainly are not. Concentrating first on the practical aspects of it, and only secondly on the abstract values takes away from the fact that these types of laws ARE infringing freedom.
    • What practicalities?

      This is the most stupid proposal I have ever heard in all my life.

      Wow, I'm ever so glad I don't live in America! And if they pass the same kind of stupid laws here in Europe... well, I can always think of moving to Morocco, or India, where the rest of the computer engineers will be, because it will be the only place where their profession is still legal...

  • by donnacha ( 161610 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:39AM (#3578495) Homepage

    "...all devices that perform analog to digital conversions."

    They'll have to prise my 1964 reel-to-reel tape recorder from my cold, dead hands.

  • by Quazi ( 3460 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:40AM (#3578498) Journal
    I think we need to tag all elected officials with either an "intelligent" or a "moron" tag, and we need watermark detectors at the ballot box.
  • by yogi ( 3827 )
    I am really intrigued to see how they plan to stop me putting a camcorder in front of my TV set, and record ing movies on it. I might even edit the adverts out.

    I bet they won't be able to. It has been shown time and time again that TPM's do not work. Only this week we've had the fun and games with the key2audio/postIt crack.

  • by Levine ( 22596 ) <[xc.estaog] [ta] [enivel]> on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:40AM (#3578501) Homepage
    Show this article to your friends and co-workers. Hollywood's perverse obsession with plugging the analog hole must be brought to light, as must the likely outcome of its agenda.
    I don't know about you guys, but I've been dutifully showing every article and legislative mis-step that Slashdot mentions to my friends and co-workers, trying to convince them of the evils inherent in not writing their Congressperson and expressing their extreme disgust. And you know what, I'm losing friends and coworkers left and right.

    I just want them to be informed, but they seem so apathetic! Maybe the next step is sky writing above their homes...

    • by CaffeineAddict2001 ( 518485 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:54AM (#3578590)
      Yeah, I work with this guy. He's really annoying.

      I'm thinking about downloading some patriotic music and every time he goes into one of his rants cranking the volume up real loud.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If cold-war fearmongering is the only way to get through to your fellow USians, then use it to your advantage:

      Point out to them that these draconian measures are exactly what the Communist Soviet Union imposed on its citizenry until the fall of the Soviet Bloc. Armed guards at every photocopier, every typewriter registered with the government -- it's simply the pre-computing-era equivalent of a watermark in every device; an unambiguous way to associate individual devices with the media created on those devices. A great tool for totalitarianism.

      Think twice about writing your new political manifesto on that shiny new PC... the watermark imposed by the RIAA/MPAA will ensure the government can track down who wrote such heretical, dissident material. I wouldn't be surprised if the politicians know of this side-effect, and are gleefully going along with the MPAA/RIAA's lobbying as a convenient cover for their own agenda.

  • Are they crazy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CaffeineAddict2001 ( 518485 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:40AM (#3578503)
    So say i'm using a digital camcorder in the mall and britney's new single starts playing from the loud-speakers does my camcorder shut down because it detects the watermark?

    Total BS, this would ruin consumer electronics if ever implemented.

    • So say i'm using a digital camcorder in the mall...

      Hold on, have you paid the mall their location fee?

    • Re:Are they crazy? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MasterKayne ( 234060 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:58AM (#3578613)
      I think that these sort of laws will eventually pass. Not only because they are perceived to be in the best interest of the MPAA but because they give more power to the government. A statement by Ayn Rand comes to mind.
      There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.
    • That's exactly what Doctorow's article on the "analog hole" describes. They give a couple example, one is where someone is video taping their child playing in the living room but the camcorder shutsoff because some watermarked cartoon comes on TV. Sick.

      I have enough bad experiences with Macrovision. I use a Marvel G400 video capture card to capture my own camcorder recordings (simple home movies). Often the recording software shuts down at points where I paused recording because it somehow thinks Macrovision is active. It's really annoying.
  • to the midle age.
  • FFS, after reading so much about VCRs, the MPAA, ADCs, the BPDG, the CBDTPA, p2p, the FCC and CDs, I wish these guys would just STFU.
  • "...Watermark detectors would be required in all devices that perform analog to digital conversions..."

    Mary and Her Lamb Want Back Royalty Too, You Thief! [pbs.org]
  • Wrong hole (Score:2, Funny)

    by Chainsaw ( 2302 )
    What they really ment was that there are some A-holes in the MPAA that is in desperate need of plugging.
  • So does this mean that every decent Electronics course or manual would be outlawd under the DMCA? After all, an ADC without the fingerprinting layer would be a circumvention device!
  • So...... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:43AM (#3578520) Homepage
    I guess the supreme court ruling is irrelivent huh.

    this is the problem in america today. Industry has TO MUCH DAMN POWER. they think they can just ignore rulings that the court places on society. THEY CAN'T, and for the Senate to even consider the issue leads me to believe that those people do not belong where they are.

    the House Majority whip said yesterday, "In a time of war, we can not concern ourselfs about the constitutional problems when passing laws"

    these are the idiots we have working for us. on the one side, we have warhawk who support big Industry, on the other, we have psudo-wanabe-whatever-is-popular-at-the-time-and-n ot-republican idiots who are in the pockets of Big media.

    yes there are a few with redeaming qualities and are not part of the larger crowd, but for the most part, we have a corupt, inept, retarded set of leaders who pass legislation based on the cash they get rather than what their constituents would want, or what there best intrests would be.
  • Um, yeah. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jridley ( 9305 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:43AM (#3578523)
    That'd be interesting, considering:
    1. They can't get a watermarking system in place that stays the same for more than 6 months. What're they going to do, make law-abiding users buy a new sound card every time their watermarking system gets cracked?
    2. It costs about $10 to build a 16 bit stereo A-D converter that would plug into a parallel port and can be controlled from a driver that would take all of an hour to write. They're thinking in terms of markets they can control such as CD players (it's pretty hard to make your own CD player). This is not such a market and they don't realize that.

    This is getting amusing. The farther they go with this, the more crazy they sound. At this point it's just a question of whether they'll realize they're trying to dig a hole in water and try to make money off the new phenomenon rather than trying to suppress it, or will they just totally flip off the deep end?
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:44AM (#3578528) Homepage
    In a previous ??AA article on CBTPTBPAPAwhatever, I mentioned I felt safer because they were unlikely to use the tactic of asking for something much more ridiculous than what they actually wanted, so they can get what they actually wanted in a compromise. Since having copy controls in all devices is what they want, and what they are asking for, the tactic won't work.

    Welp, looks like I was wrong. Bet a dollar this fails, and they "compromise" by only having DRM (digital rights mangler) tech in digital-only devices.

    How the hell did they get so much lobbying power?
  • by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) <slashdot@digitalsushi.com> on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:44AM (#3578529) Journal
    I'm really glad that someone out there is watching out for me from myself. I had no idea what a horrible person I am! Thanks MPAA! You keep it real!
  • Deception? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psion ( 2244 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:44AM (#3578530)
    Since politics is often the art of compromise, I find myself wondering if this particular proposal is deliberately extreme so that the Hollings Bill suddenly looks more reasonable and has better popular and political support.
  • I always had the notion the copyright is a compromise between content providers and consumers. I do believe that creators should be compensated, but it seems to rein in piracy, our fair use rights should be removed. Why is it that we always lose our rights as a "preventive measure" to protect something that really isn't in much danger, in this case, IP? The movie and music industries continue to rake in the big bucks (suject to economic recessions, of course!) while our fair use right to time shift or format shift is taken away?

  • by esnible ( 36716 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:45AM (#3578538)
    In spy movies it's common to run the shower and muffle the sound to evade listening devices.

    Any analog watermark is going to have to be quiet enough so that listeners can't hear the watermark tones when listening to the radio -- but loud enough that any recorder can hear them.

    Wouldn't it be possible to watermark a recording of silence and play it loud enough to disrupt all recordings for miles?
  • Does this mean that if they had their way, then if I spoke copyrighted lyrics into a speech to text system, it would shut down?
  • by Lonath ( 249354 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:47AM (#3578546)
    Don't see any more movies, don't buy any more CDs, just stop giving them money. Like all of you people who saw Star Wars, you're helping to make useful digital cameras a thing of the past. (I mean digital cameras for the little people since the bigshot movie people won't have to follow this law.)

    Do you understand the implications of this? You can't record a couple's first dance at their wedding because the copyrighted music in the background cannot be allowed to be converted from analog to digital. Plz use this example to explain how sick these people are instead of talking about abstract coding ideas. Not being able to record a wedding reception will hit pretty close to home.

    • by grytpype ( 53367 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:55AM (#3578597) Homepage
      A less extreme plan is buy everything you want used, like on half.com. The Industry doesn't get any of your money that way.

      Did you know the Industry once tried to purchase legislation that would let them tax the sales of used media? The law now (and then) is that once a copy of a medium is sold, it can be resold without any obligation to the copyright holder (because he got paid from the first sale, "exhausting" his rights in that copy). The Industry failed at that, for some reason.
  • So we've got the CBDTPA to (hopefully not) let them "own" all the digital devices, and now they want to go after analog. How long before they claim people are using 802.11 and come up with something to let them steal the airwaves?

    "Hey, good thing they're coming after my 28.8kbps modem...this thing is just like a crazy piratin' machine! I got 2 mp3's this month!"

  • by blueskyred ( 104505 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:49AM (#3578565) Homepage
    Page 2, under "The Broadcast Flag" "Detection and response to the Broadcast Flag does not mean less functionality for video devices, including PCs that receive DTV. Rather it adds to these devices the ability to determine the difference between protected and unprotected works. The MPAA and its member companies have no desire to reduce the functionality of PCs or other devices and in fact want them to be MORE functional, not less. That is, so that they are able to provide a secure environment for digital over-the-air broadcast television content, in addition to everything else they do today." That is right up there with "[insert Spyware of choice] doesn't infringe on your rights as a consumer -- it is giving your PC more functionality by allowing us to market to you in select ways with select business partners."
    • by mcfiddish ( 35360 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:04AM (#3578657)
      Detection and response to the Broadcast Flag does not mean less functionality for video devices, including PCs that receive DTV. Rather it adds to these devices the ability to determine the difference between protected and unprotected works.

      This pair of handcuffs does not mean less functionality for your hands. Rather it adds to your hands the ability to keep them where we can see them.
  • The Big Deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squaretorus ( 459130 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:51AM (#3578572) Homepage Journal
    The big deal here is that they are putting restrictions on devices which have legitimate usage.

    My car does 140mph, legally I can only do half that. No legislator would consider requiring all cars to be blocked from these speeds unless the road told the engine manager that this was a race track.

    This is the same thing. I like knowing I can copy CDs - its nice. Most of the time I'm just copying my own stuff, work, photos, etc... all of which would become a pain in the ass with this type of blocking technology.
  • by Croaker ( 10633 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:52AM (#3578582)
    Congress is spending more and more of its time considering legislation that requires technological enforcement of copyright laws.

    It occurs to me, that if they are keen on using technology to actually enforce laws, rather than relying on the people's own good judgement and respect for the law, then they have much bigger fish to fry.

    Why is it than we've not seen a legislative mandate that requires car manufacutrers to prevent drunk driving? How about limiters that prevent aggressive driving or speeding? Why have we not seen legislative mandates that require gun manufacturers to make guns that can't kill innocent people (or, at the very least, cannot be accidentally fired i.e. by a child)?

    After all, these are issues that *kill* people. And human lives are more important than money, aren't they? Aren't they?

    It's not that the technology in either of those cases is beyond the state of the art. It's that there's no money in it for them. The money in those two cases are in the hands of the automobile and gun manufacturers.

    In the case for building copyright protection into the simplest A to D converters, the money is on the side of the MPAA. The electronics industry's position is unclear for now... they could stand to benefit by this legislation ('oh gosh, Mr & Mrs. Consumer! All of your electronics are now incompatible with the current releases from Hollywood! Tsk. You'll have to buy a totally new set of consumer electronics.'). They can also count on hackers breaking encryption scemes every few years, leading to another change in standards... forcing yet more upgrades.

    I just have an image of all the senators manning a fast food joint "...that's the super legislative combo... would you like fries with that? OK... it'll be $5 Million in campaign donations, please pull up to the window."

    • Why is it than we've not seen a legislative mandate that requires car manufacutrers to prevent drunk driving? How about limiters that prevent aggressive driving or speeding? Why have we not seen legislative mandates that require gun manufacturers to make guns that can't kill innocent people (or, at the very least, cannot be accidentally fired i.e. by a child)?

      The government wants you to speed.

      The government wants drunk drivers on the roads.

      And in any case - The government really can't control either. But to back up my statements; There is an industry of crime in the US. There are too many people making too much money on the status quo to turn back now. When you speed, the government writes tickets; It's kind of like every highway is a toll road, but only for those who utilize it to its fullest. A lot of money is made based on speeding tickets. In fact, Texas eventually had to pass a law saying that a given county could only make a certain percentage of it revenue from writing tickets. The city responsible for this is Johnson CIty, where I - shock amazement - got a ticket.

      As for wanting drunk drivers; That's an important part of the system as well. Remember that the government (like the new RIAA/MPAA wing of the government) exerts control through FUD. The drunk drivers keep people scared. The penalties don't begin to keep people off the street.

      And in any case, people would only defeat them anyway. They'd tamper with the systems and override the speed limiter, or replace the sensor element in the breathalyzer, or something. BMW tried to make cars too complex for a drunk to work with that new car control system, but it turns out that didn't work. :)

      All in all, there are too many people making too much money for any part of the system to change significantly. Marijuana is illegal because of DuPont, more or less, and it stays illegal because of the poverty industry; Selling it puts money into the hands of minorities and the poor, which the government doesn't want because it wants to keep those people in poverty - Again, maintaining the social order from which they profit. Then they get to bust people for selling it (or occasionally for owning it or buying it) and fine those people, or sometimes throw them in jail. Prisons are a multi-billion dollar business in this country, largely as a result of our drug laws, whether directly or no. You can't stop putting people in prison, running them through the judicial system, and so on, because we'll have a bunch of unemployed prison wardens who let's face it, are not the most retrainable people around.

  • OTOH (Score:5, Funny)

    by Darth RadaR ( 221648 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:53AM (#3578589) Journal
    Cory Doctorow writes: your cellphone would refuse to transmit your voice if you wandered too close to the copyrighted music coming from your stereo.

    That would put a pleasant end to all those wankers who use their mobile phone in movie theatres. :)
  • Target your rant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PDHoss ( 141657 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:54AM (#3578591)

    My freedom, blah, blah, blah... out of touch legislators blah blah blah. Wanna even a chance to be heard?

    1. Fill out this form. [senate.gov] Really. Don't just read the comments, and don't just post here. Take a minute and write a thoughtful, well argued comment. Senators don't give a damn what people on Slashdot are saying, but they'll give a damn if it's on their own fancy website.

    2. Vote with your vote. Get the hell out there and support candidates that see through all of this crap. As a community, we rant and rave that the whole system is munged then turn around and skip the vote en masse. Ever wonder why no one wants to mess with Social Security? Talk to this very consistent voting group [aarp.org]. Senators listen to votes, not money. They only listen to money because it helps them buy more votes. Don't vote? Don't complain.

    3. Vote with your dollar. If you rant, then continue to support these businesses, you have no one to blame but yourself. Just as politicians only respond to votes, most businesses only respond to money.

    It's got to be more than talk, guys. If we don't start backing any of this up, we'll just be the cranky tech curmudgeons who desperately hang on to the antiquated notion of "freedom."

    • by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:24AM (#3578770) Homepage
      we need a bill o'reily interview of a great leader for our cause.

      we need some one to organise a march on washington.

      we need someone like Al Sharpton who is outspoken to go around the nation and have mini-protests in the state capatals.

      we need leaders for this movment who can get meetings with Senators and Presidents.

      we need a loud abnoxious voice.

      and most of all, we need some one that can get folks, who are not in the know, to move and take action, to vote for certain people and to boycot certain businesses publicly and loudly.

      until we get that, we will not win.

      I am not black or even a minority, but durring all this legislation crap, I have come to respect sharpton and Jackson for what they are, they are outspoken leaders who get the attention of the public and rally folks around thier causes.

      we need some one like that right now.
  • ADC chips (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:57AM (#3578605)
    As an electrical engineer student, I have built my own A/D converter circuit along with a sample and hold to signal inputs and put them into the computer. They are relatively simple both in overall design and the ADC chips themselves are also very simple: only about 16 pins with a single input and several outputs to represent the input voltage as a binary number. It is both ludicrous and impossible to convert this into something that checks a "digital watermark". Forget the linked article's references to how your cell phone would turn off if it were on near a copyrighted song.

    A huge portion of our technology involves A/D chips. Your car uses one for the speedometer, for the fuel injection, etc. Digital audio amplifiers use it. VCR's use it. Any and all digital sensors use it. Adding in digital watermark checking functionality would increase the complexity of this simple, ubiquitous and cheap chip (prolly less than 10 cents, but that's just a guess) several orders of magnitude. It would be like the difference between your solar powered calculator and your desktop. Expenses in electronics industries would jump to compensate for this added complexity, because unlike the movie industry they operate very close to full efficiency.

    In short, there is absolutely no way to make this request by the MPAA workable. None at all. Their execs wanting to control A/D conversion is just indicative of how far removed from reality they are. Unfortunately, that might not prevent them from convincing congress to allow this idiocy to go through, so i STRONGLY recommend submitting in the feedback form that NO you don't support it, and furthermore there is only one rational viewpoint on it. Feel free adopt my examples or argument.

    Other examples of A/D :
    How the telephone company decodes the tones when you press a button into a number
    How digital cell phones work
    How fax machines work
    Digital medical equipment (measuring blood pressure, heartbeat, etc)
    Literally any digital sensor
    Your themostat in your house
  • Err..

    I am quite sure that unless they develop a Matrix style direct brain interface there will always be an analog hole of some sort..

    Unless of course in the MPAA's world our ears and eyes somehow become digital.
  • by heretic108 ( 454817 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @09:58AM (#3578616)
    Sadly, the third part of the report's summary - 'Controlling the Internet' - is much easier than the EFF report on the BPDG suggests.

    All it would require is a law banning all ISPs from forwarding incoming TCP connections, UDP packets etc on to a subscriber, unless such subscriber has a license to operate as a 'server'.

    Similarly, anyone directly connected to the backbone would need a license to accept incoming connections.

    The US could threaten trade sanctions against any other country that doesn't pass similar laws.

    The licensing regime for 'servers' would be onerous, and include things such as mandatory logs with IP addresses, times etc going back 3 years, also a cache of the last 200GB of data transferred. Anyone trafficking in unauthorised protocols, or using unauthorised cryptography, would lose their license.

    That way, only medium-large sized companies would have the funds and resources to fulfil the administrative requirements of license compliance.

    This is war - no sooner has the internet exploded onto the world stage, than the powers that be are fighting tooth and nail to protect their monopoly.

    The most powerful way to fight - stop going to movies, even 'Star Wars' etc - discourage your friends - boycott Hollywood.
  • More scenarios: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi.yahoo@com> on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:04AM (#3578653) Journal
    From the article: This is meant to work like so: You point your camcorder at a movie screen. The magical, theoretical watermark embedded in the film is picked up by the cop-chip, which disables the camcorder's ADC. Your camcorder records nothing but dead air. The mic, sensing a watermark in the film's soundtrack, also shuts itself down.

    With this as the norm, and advertisers increasingly pushing new and more invasive ways to get their "content" to you, the abillity to record anything would be put in jeopardy. Billboards could prevent a photo of the skyline. Political speeches could be buried by someone playing "Who let the Dogs Out" on a boombox. Homemade Christmas videos would be a thing of the past, with copyrighted logos and packaging preventing recording, not to mention sound effects and music from toys.

    MY question is: Is content really in that much trouble? Are books, movies and music copyrights being violated so much, that oppressive hardware solutions are the only answer?

    I grew up thinking that copyright was to protect ME. If I wrote a song, or a paper, copyright would prevent someone from taking some or all of it and repesenting it as _their own work_. It now seems that that is not the case anymore, and copyright is being used to prevent duplication for ones own use (FAIR USE), and CREATION of content by the individual.

    I urge everyone reading about this on /. to bring the message to people who aren't /.ers. The 'average joes' (w/ apologies to average joe ;) need to hear about these proposals. Too often, these things remain unheard of by the voting public. The media owned by the media protecting the media. Please spread the word.

  • by browser_war_pow ( 100778 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:04AM (#3578656) Homepage

    is the nexus between the logic the MPAA uses and the logic gun control advocates use.

    1. Gun ownership is dangerous, ownership of analog and unprotected digital systems is dangerous
    2. We have to close the gun show/analog loophole (bring both completely under government regulation)
    3. CSS=DVD equivalent of trigger lock

    My dad is very conservative. He originally sided heavily with the content creators until I started to explain their logic from the perspective of gun control. I showed him how Handgun Control Inc uses the exact same logic against the NRA and he was amazed to see that I was right! It is an inherent lack of trust for what citizens will do in a vacuum of federal regulation of individual rights. It is the belief that a group in society will be irreparably harmed by the majority having access to something that a small minority considers dangerous.

    Let's look at a few more basics. Gun control advocates are elitists typically. They aren't John Q. Blue-Collar Citizen. At the "million mom march" only around 100,000 people showed up. The NRA has a membership well over 5,000,000. It's a similar situation only we have 3 Handgun Control Incs (BSA, RIAA, MPAA) and no NRA. That is what we need, our equivalent of the NRA. A large organization that can fund campaigns above and beyond what the small, elitists can.

    We have easy existing issue to relate ourselves to. We are not anarcho hippies wanted, we are the IP equivalent of those opposed to gun control. The RIAA is not a trade organizatin defending industry interests, it is trying to do to IP law what gun control advocates are trying to do to the 2nd amendment. Just a thought on how to get more people to see our angle.

  • by hickmott ( 122356 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:12AM (#3578693) Homepage
    So we're in a world where ADCs have been set up to detect watermarked material and suppress it. Think how much fun you can have with this!

    Envision a small device that emits a fairly low level of white noise with the watermark in it. Perhaps it's just an MP3 player looping a watermarked recording of John Cage's 4'33".

    Bring one of these to a political debate or a religious ...uh... performance. Turn it on. At the very least all the outbound broadcast feeds die; if you're lucky and the hall has a digital sound system all the microphones just stop working.

    Walk into a bank carrying a running DVD player. Say! What happened to all the security cameras?

    The possibilities are endless.

    --Andy Hickmott
  • by jvmatthe ( 116058 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:12AM (#3578697) Homepage
    What are they going to do about the ultimate analog hole? You know the one, you all have it.

    It's the "analog hole" that runs out of the speakers, into the air, across the room, and into your ears.

    Or off the screen, into the air, and smacks into your eyes.

    That's one big fooking hole right there, and I know for a fact that unprotected digital music and video are passing through that hole every day. Just the other day I was in a room where Star Wars: Attack of the Clones was flowing right through the hole, unencrypted, right into the eyes of about 150 other people besides me.

    This hole must be plugged. I hope they're drawing up the legislation and mapping out the new devices right now. In fact, I saw such devices being used just the other day on Star Trek...this advanced race has these cool so-called "borg implants".
  • by eyegor ( 148503 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:14AM (#3578707)
    Memo from Senator Hollings, et al.:
    To Wit:
    Given that there is a tremendous number of devices that can A/D music and video illegally and that once we have banned unmodified A/D devices, illicit A/D devices will soon be smuggled into our beloved country disguised as routine cocaine shipments, we are forced to take the next logical step:

    Congress shall pass a law wherein all persons in the USD (United States of Disney) shall be retrofited with Digital and Analog Watermark devices on their visual and aural receptors. Said persons shall be prohibited by law to remove these devices once implanted and any person found to be without shall on the first offense be sent to a Intelectual Properties Reeducation camp. A second offense shall result in the permanent disabling of their Intellectual property receptors. Any child born in this country after the date of passage shall be impounded until such time they have been properly indoctrinated and fitted with their devices. All alien persons visiting the USD shall be fitted with temporary devices for the duration of their stay.

    Since many people in this country have not been properly indoctrinated (or those who have resisted initial efforts to implant their devices), informational messages shall be fed to the subjects of this great land to inspire them to lead a better more wholesome life.

    The honorable Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General has requested that to ensure that persons capable of excessivly creative thought or possess unfair physical capabilities or attributes, be required to have installed on their person, devices to render their unfair capabilities neutral.

    Thank you.
    Senator Ernest Hollings
    In Walt We Trust.
  • My submission (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr. Fred Smoothie ( 302446 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:21AM (#3578742)
    Note the last paragraph in particular. I think everyone here should take pains to let the Congress know about the direct, measurable economic harm that will befall other industries if this type of legislation passes.
    As a professional programmer, a movie and music afficionado, and a concerned citizen, I urge the committee to take care not to cater to the narrow interests of a single industry at the expense of the public good.

    Most of the arguments put forth by the MPAA and RIAA for extra legislation to protect digital content are either red herrings or self-contradicting. Looking at a single one of their arguments is illustrative of their overall ingenuousness.

    They argue that broadband needs to be promoted, and that the only way people will pay for broadband access is if there are an abundance of copyrighted works. At the same time, they argue that there's already IP theft of movies online on a massive scale, so digital creative works need to be protected.

    So clearly, demand for broadband services is not in anyway tied to lack of availability of digital creative works online, since they are there already (and being illegally copied)

    In fact, anyone who's studied the issue of broadband at all knows that the so-called "last mile" problems in the telecommunications industry (and the associated pricing, choice and quality issues) are much more likely to be stifling the growth of demand for broadband services than the ficticious shortage of quality creative digital content.

    I am already paying a tax on blank CD's because of the RIAA's a priori belief that I'm a criminal; why should they be legally entitled to extra protection?

    How will the congress protect me from abuse in the technological measures that the content industry is asking for? How, for instance, will the Congress assure that the technical measures adopted don't keep me from legally copying content from and to machines in my home? From a home machine to a internet-connected laptop when I'm on the road? What about the times when I want to record or play my own movies? Will I be forced to purchase expensive, professional-quality audio and video hardware and software just to edit my own 5-minute home movie?

    I submit that the only beneficiaries from the type of legislation that the MPAA and RIAA are asking for will be the current powerhouses in the creative content distribution industry. The public as a whole will suffer.

    And one last concrete note: I have spent thousands of dollars of my own personal money in the last several years on computer, audio and other electronic hardware. I've also made hundreds of dollars worth of purchases of CD's. I will not purchase any device or medium which I believe sqelches my own creativity and ability to do what I want with ideas, images, sounds and information which is mine (through lawful aquisition or the fruits of my own creative labor). I am sure I'm not alone. Ask your constituents in the software, computer, and consumer electronics manufacturing and retail industries how they feel about that outcome.

    Dave Neuer

  • by shaldannon ( 752 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:34AM (#3578876) Homepage
    Don't these guys have anyone /technical/ advising them? Let's say I go to a Big Budget Movie with Anti-Piracy Watermark (TM) and take my Anti-Piracy CamCorder (TM) with me to bootleg the movie. (I don't do that sort of thing, but this is an example...)

    We'll ignore for the minute that most of the piracy of movies that goes on is by insiders. We'll also ignore the fact that you can get the movie from less than legal channels without taping it, allowing you to actually enjoy the movie in the theatre rather than taping it.

    Back to my case. If I'm taping this movie, there are two suppositions involved related to watermarking: audio and visual. The technical question is: How on earth do you put watermarking in a visual medium without people seeing it and in an audible medium without people hearing it? On a movie screen, if you put a visual watermark in, even on every Nth frame, it's still going to be apparent that something is going on. Likewise with an audible watermark. If you insert some kind of sound clip, you have to avoid the low frequencies (it'll be drowned in the bass) and the high frequencies (people will take notice).

    I don't frankly see a legitimate technical way to do this. Sure, you can try putting in embedded electronic codes to keep someone from copying something (e.g., CD/DVD to tape), but there will still be enough legacy devices running around that you can't retrofit, and in any case, people will crack the protection-scheme-of-the-month.

    Maybe I've missed something (please let me know what, if I have), but I don't see that these propsed laws are technically feasible. Mind, I'm not inclined toward protectionist laws anyway, which is all this is. There's no difference between trying to get laws passed to prevent people from exercising their right to fair use and trying to get laws passed to increase tariffs on, say, steel. In this regard, unfortunately, the Bush administration is likely to be supportive of the recording industry...after all, we can't let the high-rolling Hollywood execs (who fund political campaigns) suffer in abject poverty because of the thieving consumers.
  • by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:37AM (#3578907) Homepage
    Hollywood says to NASA: All of the ADC's on your future Mars rovers will have to include a cop-chip to make sure that your sensors shut down if they sense any Metallica songs on the Red Planet.

    NASA says to Hollywood: We're going to sue you for every time the "NASA" logo has ever appeared in a Hollywood movie.

    Hollywood: Okay, never mind...
  • by Hiro Antagonist ( 310179 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:38AM (#3578914) Journal
    I'll make this short, but sweet.

    The United States was founded by people who believed in the public good. They set up commissions for public libraries and promotion of the arts, while at the same time granting inventors and authors the ability to profit from their works until they faded into the public domain. Our most hallowed documents, our most cherished music, even our national anthem come from the re-use of work written by authors and musicians a generation before.

    Yet, the MPAA and the RIAA want to tell *me* that this is Unamerican. That my role in society is not as a citizen, or a voter, or a patriot -- but solely one as a consumer. Had this been the prevailing attitude in the late eighteenth century, there would be no Congress, no Senate, no President, no freedom; we would all be loyal subjects of the King, and Benjamin Franklin would be remembered as an eccentric intellectual imprisoned and executed for copyright violations.

    I am not a consumer, or a "content provider", or a market statistic; I am a *citizen*. Please treat me like one.
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:42AM (#3578958) Homepage

    The purpose of copyright law is to promote wide distribution of quality content and information.

    The mechanism of copyright law was designed to protect powerless content producers from powerful content publishers.

    Custom and usage has turned that on its head. The law now primarily protects the powerful publishers, and it does so more each year. Copyright law does not promote quality, nor does it encourage migration into the public domain, the original and quite explicit goal.

    The goal of commercial publishers is now clear. It is to buy laws that - de facto - prevent self publishing by raising the technological and cost bar so high that only established interests will be able to distribute work that can be used by a significant proportion of the people. Instead of protecting talented people from ruthless publishers, copyright laws will soon mandate the effective enslavement of the very people they were meant to protect.

    This is not what copyright law was invented for. And it was an invention. There is no "natural" or "social" law or convention that prevents people from sharing or repeating information. Copyright law was invented, and it was invented with a particular purpose in mind. We have now very nearly inverted that purpose through creeping amendments and fiddling with the original laws.

    If you do write to your elected representatives, I'd suggest that you make it clear that you understand this, that you haven't been brainwashed by Disney into believing that only huge commercial publishers should control all distribution and dissemination of information, that you want a complete cleanout of copyright laws, and a return to the original intent.

    Once more for luck: the original and explicit intent of copyright law is to promote the distribution of information and content from individual producers to individual consumers by ensuring that distributors - those with the money and power - could not dictate terms, steal work, and become even richer and more powerful at the expense of the people at either end of the chain.

    I'd say we're well overdue for a return to that situation, and I'd bet good money that a vast majority of (nameless, faceless, powerless) authors, musicians, scriptwriters, and garage inventors would agree.

  • My Comments (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mansing ( 42708 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:55AM (#3579048)
    "Owners of copyrighted works remain concerned that valuable digital copyrighted works are subject to infringement when distributed in American homes to analog television sets in free over-the-air terrestrial broadcasts, and in peer-to-peer online services."

    I have three comments on the above statement.

    The first is that valuable works are already being transmitted over-the-air via terrestrial broadcasts. And consumers in their homes can record these broadcasts already using a VCR. I cannot understand how one can differentiate between digital content and analog content when displayed by an analog television set. While placing rights management on analog television signals may look like a solution, it places the full cost burden for protecting those copyrights on the owner of that analog television set. If such a law were enacted, every television set currently in use would be unusable and have to be replaced. And anyone who owned and used their current television set would be a criminal.

    In addition, the airwaves are a public resource whose use is governed by the FCC. If a law were enacted to halt free and public use of the frequency spectrum, doesn't that defeat the purpose of having that frequency spectrum be public?

    The second point to be made concerns the aggregation of the public frequency spectrum and peer-to-peer networks in use over the Internet while discussing potential law. These two must be kept separate, as they fall under two very distinct categories of governance. As the frequency spectrum is regulated and licensed on behalf of the public by the FCC, the Internet has no such regulatory rule or licensing. In addition, the FCC can license only those transmitters that reside inside US borders. With the Internet, any regulation cannot be mandated by a single country.

    The third point is to examine, honestly, why the current copyright laws are inadequate. In the case of analog television sets, what has changed since the advent of the VCR? Can't the VCR be used to make unlawful copies of copyrighted material? The fact that the signal is digital or the content is digital is immaterial to the violation of copyright law. Can it honestly be said that other copyrighted works, such as books, are less vunerable to having their copyrights violated? The question for the content providers to answer is why does a digital representation of a work deserve a higher standard to protect it.

    In the end, the costs to the public must outweigh the needs of one industry to protect its business model. America has always been called "the land of opportunity." Rather than squelching opportunity by legislating, the US Government in all its branches should be promoting new ideas and opportunities. I would hope that the public of the US, and the potential opportunities they have, will be a more powerful ideal to uphold.
  • by Ashurbanipal ( 578639 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @10:57AM (#3579066)
    When you make a budget, always include a bogus item (example: .5 million paperclips) for the bean-counters to eliminate. Otherwise, they will cut something real. The beanie boys have to justify their existence by quantifying how much money they saved the company through budget analysis and streamlining.

    When you lobby for something from the government, always extend your request well into the realm of the ludicrous. That gives the lawgivers something to eliminate, thus demonstrating their statesmanship, technical savvy and willingness to compromise.

    So; if you want to pass a law requiring digital copyright protection in all computers, ask for digital copyright protection in toasters and vibrators too. Then weep crocodile tears when your real legislative objective becomes "a reasonable compromise between affected parties".

    "You know, a DEAL deal. Maybe he's a republican!" -Crapgame (Don Rickles) in "Kelly's Heroes"
  • by krist0 ( 313699 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @11:16AM (#3579209) Homepage Journal
    I'm Australian, living in the Netherlands, but anyways,

    I remember as a kid, I wanted to go to America to work, I remember having to wait for months for games to come out on the NES/SMS, yet I would read American games magazines and they where out there....same with movies, we could wait 6-12months for new movies......

    Things still havent changed much, music releases are mostly on par globally, games and movie releases arent (BladeII is coming out in June I think, maybe July....) and I think this is a large source of this piracy (I already saw a dodgy screener of BladeII)....the reason being not for gain or to subvert the system, mearly because of the fact that we have to wait so long to see/play anything over here.

    Which I actually find pretty amusing. I could imagine that alot of this perceived problem is actually caused by us outside of america, so when in america, we see a bill being passed like this, its kinda amusing....its not right, but its still funny.....its almost like in america, they believe the internet is theirs, they own it, they can regulate it....trully arrogant and bound to fail.

    but I appear to have gotten myself sidetracked....as a kid, i wanted to live in america, but after recent events, the government openly telling people "dont question us", the feds with almost absolute power to get any info on anyone without reason, the tracking of H1B visas and now, chips in ADs....I am sure that if they are putting in cpus in them, i'm sure tracking functionality cant be far away, i mean, i could imagine they would mainly target techie gear, soundcards/vidcapture cards.....i think i will stay away from america now, far far away.
  • by ruiner13 ( 527499 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @11:46AM (#3579465) Homepage
    Whatever crack they're smoking, i want in on it. It really seems to make reality look much different.
  • by ninewands ( 105734 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @12:03PM (#3579586)
    Just remember, we may not have the economic muscle to BUY Congressmen and Senators, but WE can do something the MPAA CAN'T do. We can VOTE. Mybe we can't BUY them, but we DAMN sure can REPLACE them.

    As my father always told me ... "If you don't vote, you deserve the government you get."

    If you breathe and are eligible, register and vote. Even if you are NOT eligible, volunteer to help in a campaign. Only by participating can we take back our government.
  • by Dr. Zowie ( 109983 ) <slashdot&deforest,org> on Friday May 24, 2002 @12:39PM (#3579830)
    24 May 2002

    I am particularly concerned about the "Content Protection Status
    Report" filed by the MPAA on 25 April 2002, which speaks of an alleged
    need to ``plug the analog hole'' (their words) in the distribution of
    copyrighted works such as movies and music.

    The MPAA would like to implement universal analog watermarking of
    their music and movies, and would like to encourage legislation that
    requires all A/D converting devices to detect (and, presumably,
    respond to) their watermark signal. This idea is fundamentally
    flawed, because it seeks to solve a global problem with a local
    solution. The MPAA's tract contains at least three hidden assumptions
    that are wrong: (1a) that it is possible to prevent _all_ illicit
    production of digital copies of analog works, or (1b) that reducing
    illicit A/D conversion will also prevent illicit distribution of those
    works; (2) that it is reasonable to require manufacturers of A/D
    converters -- extremely general devices with applications throughout
    society -- to include useless (to most applications) detection
    circuitry; and (3) that it is right to prevent citizens from enjoying
    the fair use of copyrighted audio and video information that they own.
    In short, the MPAA idea is wrong because it cannot work; because the
    restrictions they propose would be overbroad, imposing impossibly
    difficult restrictions on an entire industry; and because the restrictions
    would violate the quid pro quo exchange of rights that is the basis of
    copyright law.

    (1) The MPAA proposal cannot work

    The MPAA hopes to solve a problem -- the allegedly widespread copying
    and illicit distribution of audio and video works -- by attacking a
    slightly different one. The current proposal seeks not to prevent
    digital copying but to prevent the conversion of analog signals to
    digital ones, presumably preventing widespread copying by making it
    more difficult to convert hard-to-distribute analog signals into
    easy-to-distribute digital ones. The problem is that, once a single
    digital copy is made, that digital copy may easily be spread far and
    wide via file sharing or the world wide web. Raising the difficulty
    of the initial conversion will not prevent the production of
    high-quality digital copies.

    A very similar case now exists with ``pirated'' digital movies which
    are often recorded in the theater by people with digital video
    cameras. Considerable effort is required to generate a digital movie
    by copying it in the theater, but (as the recent pirated pre-release
    of the _Star_Wars_ Episode II movie shows) once a single copy is
    available tens or hundreds of thousands of copies may easily be disseminated.

    Even if, as the MPAA suggests, ``analog watermarks'' become universal
    in movies and audio streams, and A/D conversion devices that do not
    recognize those watermarks become illegal, such A/D conversion will
    still continue both within the United States (by scofflaws) and
    outside of the United States (by foreign nationals who are not
    restrained by U.S. law). But because of the power of the digital
    distribution medium, even a tiny number of people can let the digital
    cat out of the analog bag proposed by the MPAA, nullifying the goal
    that they hope to achieve.

    (2) The MPAA proposal unduly restricts an entire industry unrelated to
    the publishing industry

    Analog-to-digital converters are simple, general purpose circuits with
    uses at every level of society. For example, digital still or video
    cameras, nearly all modern automobiles, all cellular telephones, all
    digital telephone answering machines, and most PC computers contain
    A-D converters that are capable of digitizing music content. A-D
    converters have too many specialty applications to mention, both as
    individual modular integrated circuits and as complete appliances.

    Preventing analog to digital conversion of copyrighted material would
    require every such circuit to have a watermark detector and
    corresponding digital signal processing capability. That would impose
    undue burden on the manufacturers of such devices.

    (3) The goals of the MPAA proposal are flawed and contrary to the spirit
    of copyright law

    The MPAA seeks to prevent certain types of access to copyrighted
    analog audio and video works, but doing so would also impopse sweeping
    restrictions on perfectly legitimate activities using those
    copyrighted works.

    For example, once a piece of music is digitized it is possible and
    (with modern software) easy to analyze exactly nuances of voice and
    timing that are otherwise very difficult to discern. Furthermore,
    music is often stored much more compactly in compressed digital form
    than in the original CD form. By copying and compressing the music on
    CDs, a music lover can store the equivalent of 2,000 CDs in a single
    hard drive with less volume than 10 CDs (in jewel cases), reducing the
    need for large racks of CDs. By digitizing and compressing music
    signals, users can transfer audio signals to much more mobile and
    convenient devices for travel, remix sequences of audio tracks, enhance
    particular aspects of the sound, and generally make much better use of
    their copyrighted material than they could without doing so.

    Similarly, broadcast video is often digitized by the modern digital
    equivalent of a VCR -- a digital personal video recorder such as those
    made by TiVo. This enables much easier time shifting and storage of
    video than is possible with a conventional analog VCR. These uses of
    broadcast video have been upheld by the Supreme Court for analog recordings,
    and digital storage is simply a more effective way to engage in these
    legal uses of broadcast material.


    In general it is not wise to restrict the _tools_ required to engage
    in an activity rather than the activity itself. Doing so requires
    legislators -- who are wise but not inhumanly so -- to anticipate
    every possible use of the tool. For example, an unmodified hi-fi
    stereo amplifier can be used to fill a room with music, as a high
    precision AC power supply for delicate equipment, for degaussing video
    monitors, as a sound synthesizer, as a PA -- all legal. But it can
    also be used for public performance of copyrighted music, for
    telephone wiretapping, for eavesdropping, or to make unlicensed
    LF radio broadcasts -- all illegal. Yet we distribute hi-fi stereos
    without requiring them to have subsystems that prevent them being
    attached to the telephone network or to a large external antenna, and
    without limiting the amount of output power (which would prevent using
    them for public performance).

    A/D conversion of electrical signals and even of audio and video signals
    are general enough activities that the MPAA's ideas are not only infeasible
    but also just plain wrong.
  • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @12:42PM (#3579851) Journal
    I would like to urge those who claim to represent me to please recognize that the existing proposals are clearly not in my interests.

    * Enacting the type of controls proposed by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America would, if perfectly implemented, completely eliminate my ability to exercise Fair Use rights in the content I have legally acquired.

    * Any attempt to implement digital watermarking on every Analog-to-Digital converter would make literally thousands of common products impossible to manufacture economically. For a few examples: Consider that you would, as a conservative estimate, more than double the complexity, size and cost to manufacture of hearing aids; design of medical sensors and tools would be set back decades as the increased size of components would make them unsuitable for microsurgery; automobile emissions controls would become less efficient as their behavior would be dictated by artificial constraints imposed by the watermarking technology.

    * Common consumer devices would function erratically as they attempt to prevent recording of watermarked content. For example video cameras might become non-functional at wedding receptions if the DJ is playing any watermarked content. Digital telephones would cut out if there is a TV or radio nearby playing watermarked content.

    * Content would be unavailable after copyright has expired. Any content controls would have to be automatic, with special actions necessary to access it. Once the copyright term has expired, there is no economic incentive to the previous copyright holder to provide this mechanism. All content controlled by such a mechanism would disappear forever into a vault to which it is illegal to create a key.

    * Finally, even if it were possible to create a technological solution that provided exactly what the content industries are requesting, there is no precedent for requiring the $600 billion tech industry to absorb the expense to satisfy the $35 billion entertainment industry. It is not at all unreasonable to suppose that the direct costs of complying with these requirements would cost more in real dollars than the entire value of the entertainment industry. Given that the only possible justification for enacting these controls is to protect the entertainment industry, it seems that causing a greater loss to the technology industry is the wrong way to go about it.
  • Neil Peart was right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ZillyMonk ( 581377 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @01:07PM (#3579993)
    This is beginning to sound a lot like the "Temples of Syrinx" movement of Rush's album 2112:

    "The massive grey walls of the Temples rise from the heart of every Federation city. I have always been awed by them, to think that every single facet of every life is regulated and directed from within! Our books, our music, our work and play are all looked after by the benevolent wisdom of the priests..."

    We've taken care of everything, The words you hear the songs you sing, The pictures that give pleasure to your eyes...

  • by Odinson ( 4523 ) on Friday May 24, 2002 @03:02PM (#3580680) Homepage Journal
    In case you didn't notice, there is an opportunity to comment.

    Here is what I wrote...

    Dear Sirs or Madams

    The effectiveness of DRM will be proportional to the damage it does to both the Personal computer market and to effectiveness of enforcing United States intellectual property law overseas. The global market will not accommodate the legal enforcement of digital rights management and will benefit financially from the restricted position of American business, while American business suffers. The personal computer market is as successful and lucrative as it is as a direct result of the flexibility personal computers allow, if that flexibility is reduced it's value to the information market and it's positive influence on the economy are reduced as well.

    Discouraging American citizens from infringing on copyright would be just as effective and far less financially damaging to our economy if it was done through compulsory licensing. This would more closely match an ideal free market. In addition, shorting copyright stay would force the industry to become more competitive with their time limit and subsequently more appealing to customers with their products. A copyright reform solution would also match more closely with a strict interpretation of the constitution, which explicitly states copyright is to be for "limited times", "To promote the progress of science and useful arts".

    As a strictly technical matter, DRM is only effective if the free use and processing of information on computers is diminished to nearly nothing. As an economic matter, we should not cripple the massive industry of flexible electronics in the United States for the smaller copyright industry.

    Thank You for your time.
    Matthew Newhall
    A.S. Computer Science
    President of LILUG
    Long Island Linux Users Group

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker