[clug] Consume But Don't Try Programming [was viva la DMCA? [was: Against US-AU FTA Intellectual Property Clauses]]

Jepri jepri at webone.com.au
Mon Apr 12 02:51:29 GMT 2004

Ian McCulloch wrote:
>>I put a home movie on my website, and encrypt it with CSS. I can give 
>>the decrypt key to my friends and not to you, and you are just going to 
>>have to wear that.  You have no right to view my movie, if I don't give 
>>you access.
> So, you are OK with my right do download it, but you think I have no right 
> to decrypt it?  What is so special about CSS that makes it different from, 
> say, ROT13, or even Navajo?
> http://emoglen.law.columbia.edu/my_pubs/yu-encrypt.html

Well, CSS is more effective than ROT-13.  If I chose a different key to 
the DVD players, it would take you quite a few hours to break it.  What 
justification would you have, during those hours, for what you are doing?

>>If  you manage to get the key from my friends, or crack the encryption, 
>>I think it's reasonable for me to come after you for damages. 
>>Especially if I have a message on my webpage saying "Unauthorised 
>>viewing prohibited".
> Now you are really scaring me.
> It would be a different situation of course if you required some 
> authentication mechanism to actually download the file.  Cracking that 
> would be somewhat analagous to breaking into your house and copying your 
> personal documents.
> But the situation you are describing is equivalent to you putting a big 
> billboard in your front yard with an encrypted message on it, with a note 
> attached saying "If you decrypt and read this message without 
> authorization I will come after you and sue you".  Indeed, it sounds like 
> you want to be able to do that even if there is no such note attached.

Yup, definately.  Encrypting something is an access control, and you are 
circumventing it.

I'm not to happy about using real world analogies in this debate.  It's 
too easy to make a bad analogy.

In your analogy, the key to my house is like the password to my 
computer.  Getting into my house or my computer without the key is 

Actually getting into my house with the key is illegial as well.  See? 
Bad analogy.

In my analogy, the key to my house is like the encryption key to my 
files.  Getting into my house or my files without the key is illegial, 
or soon will be.

Why is it that breaking into my computer makes you a criminal, but 
breaking into my encrypted files makes you Mr. Awesome?

There is a common attitude in the computer world that "if I can do it, I 
should be allowed to do it".  Typified by those people who break into 
systems and then go "I was just looking, I didn't hurt anything.  You 
should be thankful to me".

Pretend that I also encrypt my files with PGP.  Now if someone broke in 
to my computer, they couldn't read my files.  So why not skip the 
password access control, and just encrypt everything?  Then our little 
hackers can "possess" all my files, but they can't access them.

Zimmerman released a program called "Pretty Good Privacy".  If you break 
my PGP key, you break my privacy.  You shouldn't be rewarded for that, 
you should be punished.

> Just out of curiosity, which act do you think should be the illegal one, 
> the act of decrypting the text, or the act of actually reading it?

I think it is consistent for me to say "both".  It wouldn't be your 
fault if your friend decrypted it and then showed it to you without 
warning you where it came from.  Any he clearly isn't hurting anyone if 
he decrypts it and then ignores it.  Perhaps it should be his fault for 
decrypting it *and* allowing anyone to read it.

> That is like saying Microsoft isn't a monopoly because anyone is free to 
> go install Linux, or Standard Oil wasn't a monopoly because anyone was 
> free to go and drill for their own oil.  In some very narrow literal 
> definition of "monopoly" it is true, but that definition isn't 
> particularly useful.

Thesedays Linux is a real alternative.  And your Standard Oil example is 
unfair because it costs millions to drill for oil.  Installing Linux and 
watching the AniMatrix is free.  It's $30 less than buying a movie, 
using DeCSS and watching it.

You save money, obey the law and have a good time watching a "movie". 
Could it be better than this?

> You are being disingeneous here.  He wasn't talking about software itself, 
> but pre-packaged boxed software.  Most (all?) people on this list would 
> agree that while a book is a real physical object to which one can easily 
> associate property rights, extending that notion to the abstract text 
> itself is harder.  

Yes, a book is property and can be resold.  Abstract text is not 
property, and can't be resold.  The box and CDROM are property and can 
be resold.  The license to use it is not property, and might not be able 
to be resold.

Incidentally, get your abstract text from http://www.baen.com/.

And since I've posted links to legal free music and movies, here's a 
link to free, current science fiction: 


> While I agree that (in the absence of any physical packaging) software is 
> very different to a book, I think the idea of whether licences should be 
> able to prohibit such things as reselling, is not a dead issue.

Indeed.  The problem as I understand it is that the licensor may wish to 
be selective about who gets a license.  If you can onsell your license, 
you might be entering the licensor into a relationship they don't want.

> I would try this, but I already know the answer: I would _never_ lose my 
> license to use Linux, because the GPL doesn't cover usage at all.  The 
> only thing that would happen is the copyright holders of Linux would be 
> able to sue me for copyright enfringement.

I stand corrected.  The GPL extends the right to copy, and assumes you 
have the right to use.

> But shrink-wrap licenses usually depend on contract law, and argue that 
> clicking 'yes' or whatever is equivalent to you signing a contract with 
> the supplier.  The GPL is completely different and only uses copyright 
> law.

This is just me quibbling over a moot point, but the GPL itself 
contradicts you here:

"You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed 
it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute 
the Program or its derivative works. These actions are prohibited by law 
if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or 
distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you 
indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and 
conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works 
based on it."

Instead of clicking a button to accept the license, modifying or 
distributing the GPL software is equivalent to signing a contract with 
the copyright holder.

> If Microsoft launches a big software patent action against open source 
> software, then this might be true.

Oddly enough they've kept away from that approach.  Maybe we shouldn't 
give them ideas.

>>Unfortunately it then insanely jumps to babbling about how you won't be 
>>able to play DVDs in your DVD player.
> On a linux.org.au site it is reasonable to suppose that they mean "play 
> DVD's on your Linux DVD player".  In which case, yes, it is true.

Fair enough.  Regardless - the DVD issue?  I'd rather see it downplayed. 
  We have covered many much more serious consequences of DMCA style laws 
on list.

I hear we can't amend the FTA.  So if we're going to argue it should be 
rejected, we should be arguing about the massive economic damage to the 
Australian economy.  Amy Ireland tells us we're looking at a billion 
dollar addition to our trade deficit, and the open source community is 
complaining about DVD players?

>>Not only that, the petition veers into actual craziness in at least one 
>>place.  The petition is just plain embaressing.
> Which place were you referring to?

Rather than drop another 1000-word missive on the list, I'll pop it up here:

 > Now help me, Muse, for
 > I wish to tell a piece of
 > controversial math.
 > http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/haiku.html
 > I don't see what this has to do with wiretapping and privacy laws per se.

OK, I'm sorry, I thought we were still on the right to use.  The deCSS 
as free speech was quite a while ago now.  Nice haiku BTW.

However I think my confusion can be understood when I read things like 
the link below.  Martin thinks that the interoperability clause doesn't 
apply, this guy does:


"[DeCSS]...developed to allow DVD movies to be played on the Linux 
operating system, which had been excluded from CSS licensing because of 
its open-source nature. This is specifically allowed by DMCA and WIPO 
laws. However, the DeCSS.exe program posted on the Internet is a Windows 
application that decrypts movie files. The lack of differentiation 
between the DeCSS process in Linux and the DeCSS.exe Windows application 
is hurting the cause of DeCSS backers..."

We got our escape clause, and I don't really care about windows users 

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