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

Darren Freeman daz111 at rsphysse.anu.edu.au
Mon Apr 12 05:09:53 GMT 2004

On Sun, 2004-04-11 at 20:14, Jepri wrote:
> Martin Pool wrote:
> > Three of the core freedoms of a western society are: free speech, free
> > markets, and stable property rights.  DMCA-like laws attack all three
> > freedoms: prohibiting speech (DeCSS), entrenching monopolies, and
> > retrospectively deleting property rights (reselling software you no
> > longer use.)  Put like that, it seems more important to me.
> OK, that one was just willfully deceptive.  CSS does NOT prohibit 
> freedom of speech.  You are talking about a 'right to listen'.  Every 
> western society I know of has laws specifically to prevent unauthorised 
> listening, e.g. wiretapping and privacy laws.
> 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.

Unfortunately for you, somebody found a way to decrypt CSS without the
key. You shouldn't have used CSS, because you have now distributed your
movie for free to whoever found the link. That was probably not your
intention, but you made the mistake. Password protecting the download
would have been a better option. If I lost my freedom to discover and
advertise this mistake, you would probably make it again. One day it
will come out though and you'll feel more than silly when your home
movies are viewable to all.

The fact that DeCSS is widely available and known will allow
cryptographers to learn from this mistake and try again, delivering what
you thought CSS was going to be. But be warned: they might have made a
mistake. Making it illegal to exploit the mistake will never stop people
doing it. Look at the number of users of DeCSS in the US, despite the
threat of criminal proceedings. You should be less trusting of
cryptography and find additional ways to control your content.

> 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.

I think it's reasonable to come after your friends for damages, they
broke your implied non-disclosure agreement. Now that the key is running
wild on the Internet you are totally borked. Get over it. Everybody can
see your doodle. Probably shouldn't have put the movie on a public site.

> Especially if I have a message on my webpage saying "Unauthorised 
> viewing prohibited".

If I put a message on my car saying "unauthorised stealing prohibited"
it doesn't make it any less likely to be stolen or any more criminal to
steal it. I should have locked the doors and used an alarm or steering
lock. Certainly leaving the keys in the ignition and the engine running
is right out of the question.

However in the case of copyright you have let the browsee know that they
are not authorised to view, not unauthorised from downloading. After all
you put a link there with the purpose of giving anybody the ability to
download it. It makes sense that people might download it under the
belief that this is permitted. Now in the privacy of their own home you
can't possibly know what they are going to do with it. Putting your
faith in CSS is a mistake since some of them will watch it via that flaw
in CSS that you would have known about if DeCSS were available to you
via a Google search before you started.

If however you had required a username/password to download it, then not
only would you know which friend had betrayed you, but existing computer
crime laws would allow you to come after people for unauthorised access.

> As for entrenching monopolies:  no again.  My computer can play movies 
> that haven't been encrypted, like the AniMatrix( 
> http://www.intothematrix.com/ ).  It would be a monopoly if someone 
> could prevent me or you from watching the animatrix.

Microsoft isn't a monopoly for the same reason. They just have >95%
market share, that's all. Presumably their products are the very best or
people wouldn't keep buying them.

> And as for deleting property rights, I thought we were all agreed that 
> ideas and software aren't property.  Switching horses in midstream is a 
> clumsy maneuver, just like changing positions in a debate.

No change of position. We are talking about the right to view or tinker
with something I *own*. If I already bought something and I expect to
view it or tinker with it, and you take my rights away, it makes my
purchase somewhat pointless. I can't sell it to somebody else who wants
to view it or tinker with it, because they know it's of no value to
them. So for people who want what I wanted when I bought it, it's now
valueless. I have to hope it's good for somehting other than viewing or
tinkering, like bought DVDs are useful as drink coasters.

> You use software under a license.  If your license doesn't allow you to 
> transfer the license (by selling it), then you can't.

That's true, it's an issue of consumers reading the license rather than
the license being inherently wrong. It's when something isn't stated as
a license condition, rather it's incorporated into criminal law, that
bothers me. What if I have bought a whole shelf of DVDs, have been
playing them under Linux for years, and now it becomes criminal? DVDs
never came with a license agreement forbidding me from watching them how
I please. That was achieved through control of technology instead. I
broke free of that control by using alternative technology. Which is now

> I remind you that you are only allowed to use Linux and its friends 
> under the terms of the GNU License.  If you think that's a mere 
> formality, I invite you to start selling Linux without source and see 
> how quickly you loose your license to use Linux.

Are you inciting me to break the law? In a public forum? Not good. And I
have witnesses.

No reminder needed. You are on a Linux user group mailing list after

> Just because you like the GNU license more than the restrictive 
> shrink-wrap license most software has does not give you the right to 
> rewrite the shrink license to be more in your favour.

DVDs don't come with shrink-wrap licenses. We're talking about our legal
rights here, not the ones we receive through purchasing a disc. When a
piece of software comes with a EULA and the EULA contradicts the law,
the law prevails. In USA and NZ it is legal to make backup copies of
DVDs no matter how many times it is forbidden on the box. The content
providers can take it or leave it, funnily enough they keep selling
their wares so it's probably not the worst thing for business.

This does not make those countries morally objectionable, in fact IMHO
it makes them more reasonable than us on this matter. I get a little
worried when the rights I have enjoyed for years are about to be taken
away though, the right to use DVDs for their obviously intended purpose.
To watch them.

> >>You are free, right now, and you will be free under the FTA.
> > 
> > <1984>We have always been at war with Eastasia</1984>
> I think we need to extend Godwin's law.  I make a few reasonable, on 
> topic points ( a first, I know ),  and you start quoting George Orwell 
> at me.  If you were implying that just like in the book 1984, the 
> government (or me) is rewriting history, let everyone know about it on list.
> Or is it chicken little time already?  Aaagh! The sky is falling! 
> Aaaagh!  Aaaagh!  Big Brother is watching us!  Aaagh!  Aaagh!  Aaagh! 
> My toes are plotting to kill me while I'm asleep!

I think it is you who is straying from the topic. Take a break, relax,
and read what you just wrote. Attack the topic, not the person. Or do
both but in different places. I don't want to read flame wars in the
CLUG list. A dozen eggs and some toilet paper are not that expensive,
although I'm not in any way encouraging you to trespass on somebody's
property in the way you're probably thinking about.

> > Right now I'm free to buy a DVD player that plays US DVDs I bought and
> > paid for.  Under the USFTA, I might not be.  Explain how this is good?
> I'm not sure about this one.  I didn't see anything that would stop you 
> importing a US PlayStation and using it to play US-encoded DVDs.

If I've already bought a region-free player legally in this country, I'm
going to get really pissed off if I have to buy another one from
overseas which differs only in the region byte. A couple of bits even.

> People in the US already do this so they can watch Japanese movies that 
> are never released in the states.

And the practise is dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Even here you don't
have to resort to that. For the next few days at least.

> > Right now if somebody patents an obvious/trivial software idea, I am
> > free to just smile wryly.  Under the USFTA, it might make it illegal
> > to write some free software.  Sounds bad to me.
> OK, that one is bad.  But most of the protests focus on not being able 
> to watch movies/listen to music.  For instance, one of the links Darren 
> quoes ( http://www.linux.org.au/fta/ ), starts off by announcing that 
> the FTA will crush open source.

Which you aren't refuting, eh?

> Unfortunately it then insanely jumps to babbling about how you won't be 
> able to play DVDs in your DVD player.

I don't see any signs of insanity here. You'll see worse on the
mainstream TV news programmes. Leaving a statement unjustified doesn't
mark it as invalid. If you really wanted to know, you'd have to keep
reading. And using web search engines.

Again, don't attack the person or in this case the style of argument,
attack the topic. Please, for the love of us not having to read any more
of your posts that don't go anywhere, do this for us.

> WTF?  Local business will be crushed, the internet will be crippled, but 
> more importantly, nobody will be allowed to play DVDs?

This is the only thing most people are going to get worked up about. So
it rates a mention or three.

> I urge everyone NOT to sign the petition, until they come up with one 
> that actually represents OSS developers and users rather than whiney 
> people who want to watch DVDs on their laptops and play playstation 
> games that they aren't supposed to.

I for one think that buying a disc legally entitles me to do whatever I
want with it, with the limitation that I must not make and/or sell
unauthorised copies, except where permitted by law (backup rights would
be nice). NO OTHER FSCKING EXCEPTIONS!!! I reserve the right to view,
listen to, stomp on, or sell secondhand, any and all of my property.

> Not only that, the petition veers into actual craziness in at least one 
> place.  The petition is just plain embaressing.

ass es yor speeling

Seriously dude name the place where it is crazy, and we might have the
author committed. Otherwise stop the wild accusations.


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