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Digital Rights Management Act?

Written by Jari Ketola @ 29 Jul 2002 14:41 User comments (9)

Well not quite, but almost. Senator Joseph Biden, the head of Foreign Relation commitee, is on a mission to stop the theft of intellectual property. In February he released a report titled "Theft of American Intellectual Property: Fighting Crime Abroad and At Home" in which he describes counterfeit products as a major cause for loss of revenue for American software companies.
Shortly after ToAIP:FCAaAH (sounds like someone falling, doesn't it? "FCAaAH...!") was released, Biden introduced a bill titled "Anticounterfeiting Amendments of 2002". Originally the bill targeted physical counterfeiting, such as fake holograms and packages, but was later rewritten to cover digital rights management technologies as well.

In essence what the bill means is that it would be illegal to fake a DRM watermark and distributing the product, e.g. a song, with the fake watermark. Now why would anyone want to fake a watermark? There are several projects around, such as Microsoft's Palladium that will, eventually, embed operating systems, computers, and all sorts of gadgets with DRM modules -- whether you like it or not. Now if you have a perfectly legitimate MP3 of your own making, you wouldn't be able to listen to it with these devices, or operating systems, equipped with a DRM scheme of some sort. If there's a software available that would allow you to create a valid, but fake watermark for the song, it would be illegal to use it. The bill would make this type of action a federal felony, and you could end up in prison for the next five years after first scooping up up to $25,000 in civil penalties per offence.

Sounds like a reasonable law now doesn't it? Might sound like a big joke now, but it might be the cruel reality sooner than we realize. We should be lucky if we're able to listen to our CDs in a couple of years without having to purchase a Discman equipped with a "Designed for Microsoft Palladium" sticker on it. I think there might be call for a Digital Right to Copy Act soon...

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9 user comments

129.7.2002 20:51

Does the movie/music industry expect something good to come out of this? i don't know about you but if this bill is passed and i have to buy another cd player just to listen to some music, i'll stop buying music and movies. How many others plan to be pushed around by money hungry power freaks? I say we stop buying movie/music products. that'll slap those dickheads.

Tromadance, tromadance, tromadance.

229.7.2002 23:10

Of all the impending injustices we're going to have to face; of all the restrictions we're going to have to dance around; of all the incompatibility and multiple, proprietary formats we're going to have to wade through; of all the future headaches we're going to have to face - *nothing* compares to the Nightmare of having no choice but to purchase *crippled* computers and computer devices in the future. I'm talking about your basic, everyday hardware. Burners, hard-drives, motherboards, sound cards, (for all I know, *video* cards), *C P U s*, etc. Intel is already fully aware of what these bas####s are up to. No mega-global corporation, no matter how big or powerful, should *ever* be permitted to weild that kind of power. I think that this universal crippling of hardware is the ultimate goal of the world's largest media (content) providers, in other words, the Record companies and Hollywood, but I'll tell you this: If my computer won't do what I want it to do, then I don't want the computer. Sometimes, I just think that all of these proprietary, closed formats, copy-protection schemes, watermarking, DRM software "solutions", and god only knows what else, are only, in the overall scheme of things, insignificant twaddle & a temporary prelude to the ultimate hardware horrors coming down the pike. But as a perennially optimistic person, I'll predict, for now, with baited breath, that common sense and decency will prevail and Armeggedon can be avereted. (I'm *so-o-o-o* naive aren't I?) :) -KA-

330.7.2002 2:52

In the unlikely event of all music being sold be DRM protected, require hardware players supporting only DRM protected content and this law (plus many others) going ahead there is one last thing I would do as well as recommend others. It sounds crazy, but read on: Go into the attic (or basement), grab that old dusty radio cassette player and the bundle of cassettes. Hopefully FM radio will still be operational with some good music playing radio stations. Clear off the dust, plug it in, tune in a good radio station and insert a blank tape. When the radio DJ announces a good song coming up, have your finger ready on the record button. ;-) OK, cassette quality is not as good as the CD or any other standard that may come out. But if a good majority of the population started reverting back to some previous method of obtaining the latest hits and music they like without buying these propriety DRM protected players and content that’s likely to replace CDs & the CD player in the future, this may be the only method to get the music industry to start changing back also. It may take a few months before the music industry cops on why their DRM content isn’t selling as good as they in tented.

430.7.2002 6:31

A quaint suggestion, seanbyrne, but practically speaking, that isn't going to happen. I feel no guilt pangs when I clone a music cd, either mine or not, purchased or borrowed (there *are* public libraries); make a vcd of my or someone else's dvd, or burn to cdr anything I may d/l from WinMx; whatever. Fight fire with fire I say. Hack, work-around, patch, improvise - do whatever it takes to beat these mothers. I do not consider myself as part of the problem, but IF the mega content-providers ever smarten up (don't hold your breath), I will consider doing the same. THEY started this s###, and it is my fervent hope that WE (the internet) end it. I'm counting on it. -- Mike --

530.7.2002 12:02

Weren't we hacking, patching, cracking before? hopefully more people will become hackers and patchers. but there should be some sort of political counter to this. that would be the better way.

Tromadance, tromadance, tromadance.

630.7.2002 18:11

Oh, there's a political side to this alright. It comes down to a fine balancing act: Big payouts to select government departments and those in key positions of power ($$$) vs. the will of the people and the perceived public good. i.e. : How far can you screw the public and still come up looking like a rose? Yeah, the ultimate balancing act. ka

731.7.2002 7:24

Is Microsoft stupid? I haven´t read the rest of the comments due to lack of time, but still... If they restrict our free and legal usage it will force Windows users to swith to things like Linux. That couldn´t be too good for MS.

831.7.2002 23:13

I've often thought about using/learning/installing Linux, but frankly, I just ain't that smart. If I use Windows, I can be my usual (dumb-ish) self. KA.

91.8.2002 19:04

Doesn't anyone in the entertainment industry remember the "Boston Tea Party"? Their stance is beginning to smack of the British Tea Tax -- it's time that they changed their business model. All this protectionist legislation is doing is eroding our freedoms as citizens.

Dexter Pensee
"Thought Before Action"

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