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Content Faction v. Tech Faction

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

Security 235

An Anonymous reader writes: "This essay describes the current battle between two former allies in the DMCA fight - The Content Faction (Universal, MPAA, etc.) v The Tech Faction (IBM, Microsoft, etc.). It gives a great overview of what the battle is, who is taking what position, what's at stake - and how consumers are going to be taking it in the *** no matter who wins, it's just a matter of how rough it will be. "

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235 comments

Could it be? Can one hope? (-1)

Pr0n K1ng (160688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737719)

First Post!!

Re:Could it be? Can one hope? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737726)

Congrats!

Oh, and second post

--sdem

Re:Could it be? Can one hope? (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737765)

d00d!

waaaazzzzuuuuuppp?

Re:Could it be? Can one hope? (-1)

Pr0n K1ng (160688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737839)

Not much. Lazily rolled out of bed this morning. Checked slashdot, and the opportunity for a first post presented itself. What else was I supposed to do? It's like my life calling or something. I bet I have the most first posts in /. history.

Eat my feet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737728)

Yes, eat them now!

An interesting business model.... (0, Offtopic)

IIOIOOIOO (517375) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737737)

"Hey recording industry! Seeing as we have captured one of the largest audiences currently trading illegal copies of your music, we somehow believe to have transformed ourselves into a valuable commodity. I mean, of course these guys all came to our service in order to get music for free, but I'm certain that if you pay us some money, instead of shutting us down, that the people will GLADLY pay money for the music they once got for free...."

Next month I'm going to start a business to corner the market on killing people. I'm not sure how commercialize my business model, but I'm sure I can convince someone to pay me to stop.

Re:An interesting business model.... (1, Funny)

mummers (253129) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737764)

Sorry, this business model is already being trialed in Northern Ireland with mixed results.

What did you expect... (-1, Offtopic)

tomcio.s (455520) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737738)

Because terrorists now use 'illegal' mp3s of wholesome american artists to widen their ranks.
Watch out YOU could be their next recruit.

On a serious note: I am way sick and tired of hearing illigal this, protect that.

Insanity

Im so leet! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737739)

Firts Pots! fort post! yipppyyy!

Content Faction? (5, Insightful)

vjmurphy (190266) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737753)


Huh? The content feaction would be the artists who actually create the stuff. These companies are just the Distribution Faction.

damn right (2, Insightful)

MrFredBloggs (529276) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737782)

Everyone bitches about how the record companies are slow to adapt new tech and use it for their own ends...where are the musicians using this stuff? Surely if they are so unhappy about distribution methods, they should get off their butts and do something about it?

Re:damn right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737847)

Everyone bitches about how the record companies are slow to adapt new tech

Well, duh, the record companies are pretty much dying off and being replaced by smarter companies who distribute content in more modern formats.

Re:damn right (1)

MrFredBloggs (529276) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737897)

"the record companies are pretty much dying off"

No, they are not.

Re:damn right (2, Insightful)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737892)

The musicians you've heard of are forbidden from using this 'new tech stuff' by their contracts with their record companies.

The musicians you haven't heard of ARE using this new tech stuff. Go out and find them and support them.

Re:damn right (1)

Phil Wilkins (5921) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737945)

Most musicians are just getting on with making music. Which, for most, is the reason they're in the business in the first place.

Re:damn right (2)

sien (35268) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738250)

They are. At least the smart ones are. Ani Difranco [righteousbabe.com] in particular. As well as being a very good songwriter she runs her own label.
Rather than getting the small fraction of the price of a CD that most artists get she is getting a good share.
It's a lot more than most other whinging artists get. Instead of whining ( ala Courtney Love ) she's gotten her act together and promoted herself through relentless touring and the quality of her music.
Ani Difranco is the future of music. EMI and all the rest are bankruptcies waiting to happen.

Re:Content Faction? (2)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737786)

That would make Nike a distribution and branding company, since the shoes are actually made by small independent contractors being paid poverty wages in Indonesia.

Re:Content Faction? (1, Redundant)

cperciva (102828) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737807)

That would make Nike a distribution and branding company

Yes, it would. Sorry, what was your point again?

Re:Content Faction? (5, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737877)

My point is that in economic and legal terms, to all useful extent and purposes, the recording industry owns that content. The recording artists are just factory workers, independent contractors whose labor has been paid for, and the goods handed over to their bosses. Granted, they get royalties and so forth, but the dispensation of their content is seldom under their control.

Re:Content Faction? (2)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737912)

To make a point of the obvious, making shoes isn't exactly art. These people didn't sign up for Nike because they figured that that was the best way to get their wonderful shoes to the world.
It's not as simple as "Designer, Distributor"...in that case it's more like "Designer , Manufacturor, Distributor", and we all know where the factory workors sit.
While the law may treat artists like slave labourers, they're still the Designers, and should have control over where every one of their designs goes.

Re:Content Faction? (3, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738018)

While the law may treat artists like slave labourers, they're still the Designers, and should have control over where every one of their designs goes.

Only until they sign a contract that says otherwise - and enough of them do, that the recording industry can call itself the content faction. Musicians aren't signing those contracts so that they can Share Their Music With The World, it's so that they can bring in the benjamins, just like everyone else. If they wanted to just share the music, they'd do just that.

There is a habit to attribute some sort of inherent nobility to certain types of artistic production, but that habit isn't particularly justified.

Re:Content Faction? (3, Insightful)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738053)

Ah, the eternal debate between craft and art...

To counter your point, singing a song that someone else wrote while someone else performs the accompaniment and someone else alters your voice isn't art either.

Re:Content Faction? (3, Insightful)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738063)

Fair enough - but it tends to be the exception rather than the rule in the recording industry. And if it's your own arrangement then there's at least some artistic effort going into it. The point is that anyone can make a shoe according to specifications, only *one* person could ever have written, say, American Pie (the song, that is) in the way that we all know and love...

And only one person could have written it in the fantastically horrible way that we all know and hate.

I think you have the wrong idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2738253)

It's just not intuitive to label artists that way. I would say the record companies have the "comparative advantage" in selling the music. Whether that advantange is greatly diminished thru technology(internet) or greater access to knowledge is debatable. Artists have to be "found" and promoted in the old days. Now music can be shared and words of mouth spreads electronically.

Contracting the music distribution, yes, but artists aren't workers in a firm.

Panda! (-1)

core10k (196263) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737754)

GO PANDA!!!!!!!

Update (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737759)

Hello everybody,
I am running FreeBSD now, instead of Linus. I can run my favorite Lixnu game, Doom, in the Linus compattibilty layer of FreeBSD. It works fine but similar to Lunix, the fonts look like crappy in the X Windows. For such a space-age sounding name, the X Windows sure is a piece of crap!
That is all.

This sumarizes the whole thing. (5, Insightful)

reaper20 (23396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737766)

"If you think about it, the content industry does not want people to have computers; they're too powerful, too flexible, and too extensible. They want people to have Internet Entertainment Platforms: televisions, VCRs, game consoles, etc."

I don't really know who to cheer for. The content guys are obviously stupid, but MS's tactics and IBMs tendency to forget what one hand is doing means Linux guys get stuck right in the middle. We can access content through 'uncoventional means', without the advertising channels and other marketing gizmos.

You have IBM supporting linux on one hand, and its hard drive people pulling that digital management stuff for IDE drives.

We need to tread lightly before we jump to conclusions...

Thought for the day (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737828)

The content guys are obviously stupid, but MS's tactics...

...

You have IBM supporting linux on one hand, and its hard drive people pulling that digital management stuff for IDE drives.

Thought for the day:

If you think Microsoft is bad for assailing Linux, with all it's distros, open source and accessibility, imagine how much worse things would be if they supported it and pushed their closed "Shared Source" and whoring to the content industry in their own brand of Microsoft Linux.

The horror! The horror!

Finance vultures (0)

Pussy Is Money (527357) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737958)

You don't cheer for anyone here. You just take the money that the private sector is pouring into what started out as a military-academic network, and run. It's rather too late for any effective resistance, and perhaps resistance is not what is needed at this time at all. We (or, you, rather) lost our opportunity when we bought the hype and ran up the debts. Now that payback time has come, the vultures from finance are in charge again, and we are left bickering petty change. All of this will become just a minor footnote in the history of what they will call the "Digital Media Revolution". There will never have been an actual computer revolution.

So let's see... (2, Interesting)

MantridDronemaker (541253) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737799)

So let's see they ram this HDTV stuff down our collective throats and now they are complaining about it?

I don't think it's ever going to be possible to prevent copying anyways- that's not even legal under fair use! (as I understand it)

Re:So let's see... (5, Informative)

wheel (204735) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737838)

I don't think it's ever going to be possible to prevent copying anyways- that's not even legal under fair use! (as I understand it)

At the risk of being moderated redundant, fair use gives you the right to make a copy under certain circumstances. It does not mean that content distributors have to provide the means to allow you to do it. In fact, they can quite legally make it technically challenging for you to do so.

Re:So let's see... (1)

mttlg (174815) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738067)

In fact, they can quite legally make it technically challenging for you to do so.

And quite technically they can make it legally challenging as well. I still can't figure out how to legally use something I can't legally develop or possess...

Re:So let's see... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737885)

that's not even legal under fair use! (as I understand it)

I don't think you understand it very well. To quote Disney [wired.com] :

"There is no right to fair use ... Fair use is a defense against infringement."

constitutional amendment someday? (5, Insightful)

mrroot (543673) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737808)

Just because a technology enables you to break the law should not make the technology itself illegal. That is what we're headed for though.

Maybe someday we'll see a constitutional amendment that gives people the right to own technology. Just like we have the right to bear arms, which may have been equally important to people back in the 1700s.

Just as guns can be used to commit crime, so can technology, but that is more the fault of the perpetrators than the technology itself.

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737876)

Shovels should be outlawed, because they can be used to commit horrific bloodshed. Yet, if they were outlawed, only outlaws would own shovels. Those damn gardners are communists anyways, they shouldn't be growing their own food when the capitalists do it safely and for the good of the country.

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737944)


That is a very good question.

I wonder how broadly "right to bear arms" might be interpreted.

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737973)

Given that the DMCA would almost certainly violate such a constitutional amendment, and given that congress passed the DMCA unanimously, what do you think is the probability that congress would ever ratify this fine constitutional amendment of yours?

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (2, Insightful)

kesuki (321456) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738062)

Constitutional ammendments are Ratified by the States. Not the 'congress.' Of course they need a 2/3rds of the states to ratify a constitutional ammendment. As long as the MPAA and RIAA can keep 20 states in thier back pocket we'd never have that kind of ammendment.

Besides, the DMCA already violates the constitution and some of the ammendmends. The problem is getting the law overturned in court.
One could also argue that the right to bear arms already applies to computers. Since they Can be used as a weapon, people have a constitutional right to have them.

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2738232)

I really did not want to get into a discussion of the technical details of constitutional law here. (BTW, you're wrong. Read the constitution.) My point is simply this: given the current political climate, there is no realistic chance of getting such a constitutional amendment passed.

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (2, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738086)

Their behavior depends entirely on how closely they think they are being watched. Congress isn't really opposed to us having rights; they just sell our rights when they're not being watched, and may protect them when they are. I don't think it would inconsistent for people who voted for DMCA to vote against it the very next day.

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2738031)

> Maybe someday we'll see a constitutional amendment that gives people the right to own technology

Which means everyone would have the constitutional right to own the equipment to make biological/chemical weapons and the technological means to deliver such weapons.

*sigh* Meditate upon this snippet of wisdom:
All general statements are bad.

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (1)

veektor (545483) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738054)

Congress shall pass no law that protects a business model when such a law reduces the freedom of choice.

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (3, Insightful)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738069)

Interesting point...

Guns allowed the 1700s US populace to feed themselves, protect their property, and provide for the common defense. Unrestricted general purpose information processing devices have interesting parallels.

Re:constitutional amendment someday? (2)

Winged Cat (101773) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738192)

We can wish. Sadly, with the current Congress, it's more likely we'd sooner see an amendment passed to revoke the First Amendment. Not necessarily ratified by the states, mind, but it would have an easy ride getting most of the Congressional votes it'd need to be sent to the states for ratification.

Is that what W3C TAG is up to? (5, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737818)

"Because computers are potentially very efficient and capable copying machines, and because the Internet is potentially a very efficient and capable distribution mechanism, even in the hands of ordinary individuals, the Content Faction has set out to restructure the entire digital world we have today. They want to rearchitect not just the Internet, but every computer and digital tool on or off the Net that might be used to make unauthorized copies."

Slashdot article on W3C TAG [slashdot.org]

" In an effort to build shared understanding of Web Architecture principles, W3C has chartered and assembled a Technical Architecture Group - the TAG for short. The TAG will document cross-technology Web architecture principles, and resolve architectural issues. "

Re:Is that what W3C TAG is up to? (1)

McChump (218559) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738004)

I just ran out of mod points, so I can't mark this down as "-1, paranoid." I hope someone else does me the favor.

which is worse (5, Insightful)

archen (447353) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737829)

In all honesty I just skimmed the article because I didn't find it all that interesting. I don't really see so much of a bad point of IBM and company winning this fight, compared to the nightmare described if the Content faction wins - basically making it all but illegal to have a general purpose computer.

civil offense for anyone who developed (for example) a new computer that did not include a federally approved security standard preventing the unlicensed copying of copyrighted works

Now THIS really scares me. That is just a skip away from "having any copyrighted material on your computer will result in prison time". Movies first, then Music (or perhaps at the same time). Then we move on to images. Have a wallpaper of some copyrighted picture? Yeah, that's illegal. At some point we have to draw the line. I don't agree with copying movies, but that could be because I hate watching movies on a computer anyway. I'd much rather sit on my cushy couch and watch a movie myself. Go rent a high quality DVD, or search the internet, find a link that works, and wait for hours downloading it - hmm... I'll just spend a few bucks. And if I liked it I'd probably buy it anyway. I really wonder if movie downloading is as wide spread as the movie industry claims.

Re:which is worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737936)

We're pretty advanced now. I've got a 300 disc VCD/DVD auto changer. I sit on my couch and watch a 32" Sony TV. The quality is SVHS (good enough for me). The movies go on CDrw and if they're good I buy the DVD and stick it in the changer. When the changer is full, I can daisy chain another one onto it (and another and another). Auto gnutella bots get the content, they just need to know how big the file is they're looking for and some keywords.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that you don't have to rub two sticks together anymore and I think that is what scares them. They shouldn't be scared though, in the end I'm still buying movies. I'm just not paying to preview like I previously had to do by seeing things in the cinema or renting them. Waiting for them to come to CableTV is free too though. Maybe that explains their dislike for ReplayTV. Their current business model is being attacked from all sides at once. Sort of makes you feel for the guys that used to make the whips and buggies...

Re:which is worse (4, Interesting)

Buran (150348) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738143)


"Have a wallpaper of some copyrighted picture? Yeah, that's illegal."
Is it? Not really... unless you bought it from, say, a "bundleware" CD of stuff that is supposed to be free (many freeware programs explicitly say in their readmes that this is not allowed) or it's an illegally resold commercial item (stolen goods?)

Fair use is an interesting thing. Browsing the machine that hosts my web site (I'm one of a number of virtual hosts on it) I came across this page [critter.net] once:

Q: I love that drawing of yours, may I use it as the desktop wallpaper on my personal computer at home?

A: Sure you can. You're enjoying it personally, after all. This doesn't mean you can use if for your wallpaper on a webpage though! Private viewing of my work, such as on a PC desktop, is just fine.

In other words, this is fair use. The image may be copyrighted, but since you are not reselling it and are viewing it "in your own home" as those FBI warnings on home movies put it, there's no real harm. The images are provided for that purpose, after all -- what's the difference between dropping it on your desktop and floating windows over it and just leaving it in your browser? This is an example of what is intended by the fair use copyright law. A real shame that more content providers (in this case an artist) don't "get it" like this one does.

Yeah, I have a fair amount of copyrighted images on my computer. No, I don't redistribute them. Most of them are there as results of discussions ("this is what that looks like, so you know what I'm talking about"). That falls under "academic" use, which is largely what the recent arguments of fair use are about (Prof. Felten is a prime example).

I'd be a lot worse off if my own computer denied me permission to do that. The worst part of all this isn't the lost profits for one of these two camps.

It is going to be when academic freedoms, long held almost sacred here in the US, start to die. Compared to that threat, which has huge potential for long-term damage, the short-term worries about movies and music are a joke.

But that's typical of the MPAA/RIAA lately. Make money now and screw over the future. I bet the space station engineers at NASA and Boeing would be nodding their heads right now if they were reading this ...

Cry me (another) river... (2, Informative)

symbolic (11752) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737834)


As has been said so many times before, all of these stupid ownership and copyright battles can be over and done in a matter of a few months, if consumers would just WISE UP to what it is they're buying, and refuse to purchase anything with unreasonable strings attached. As long as consumers LET them call the shots, they WILL. Without the money, though, they're nothing.

It's time to stop whining, and start doing (like I have). Stop buying the stuff. SIMPLE.

Re:Cry me (another) river... (3, Insightful)

pointym5 (128908) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738003)

Read the damn article.

The issue discussed is NOT content -- it has nothing to do with whether you're boycotting copy-protected CDs, or Disney movies, or whatever. Do you like building your own machine from parts scrounged via PriceWatch? Do you like building your own bleeding edge Linux kernel and optimizing the driver for your video card? Well the article is about the distinct possibility that corporate interests will negotiate a legal solution that directly implies that writing your own software or building your own hardware is ILLEGAL.

Re:Cry me (another) river... (1)

Trilaka (172371) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738089)


It's time to stop whining, and start doing (like I have). Stop buying the stuff. SIMPLE.

It really isn't that simple. While the educated few could boycott the goods, that isn't going to put much of a dent into the profits of these companies, as the (relatively, and specifically on this point) uneducated majority will continue to happily and ignorantly purchase away.

The single consumer has little power in this system. The only bastion of hope would be to educate the masses, not simply to refuse to buy ourselves. The problem lies in finding a way to get the message across to an apathetic audience. How do you make your average, contented consumer realize that they should shoulder a little bit of discomfort for the good of society? And, more problematic still, how do you get your average American to shoulder a little bit of discomfort for any reason whatsoever, outside of personal gain?

Re:Cry me (another) river... (3, Insightful)

Flower (31351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738144)

Explain to me why 99.999 percent of the consumers out there should give a rip and "wise up." What unreasonable strings are being attached to them? Let's look at DVDs for instance.
  • Region encoding? Big whoop. For the vast majority of people out there this is a non-issue. They aren't buying foreign films from France. People are buying stuff like Cat and Dogs or Planet of the Apes.
  • Can't play on alternative OSes. Again. The market inconveinenced is so small it effectively has no voice.
  • Can't copy. Most people don't do that anyway. If Joe Average doesn't feel the need to backup his financial data on his PC then why backup his video library? For the public in general this too is a non-issue.

Now let's look at what they get by using DVDs.
  • Better video and sound quality.
  • More features. Like different aspects. Abilty to add in deleted scenes. Different languages. Games. The list goes on and on.

So from the consumer's perspective, there aren't any strings attached. Just a better product. And just as it is extremely hard to convince the Copyright Office and the Courts to take into consideration hypothetical pitfalls and insignificant markets it is even harder to explain these issues to a consumer. Been there, done that.

So no, it isn't "simple." I refuse to buy those products just like you but after listening to my co-workers I realize they could give a rip about any of these issues. Even the one who got burned by the region encoding on a DVD he bought from the UK. Was he disappointed? Yes. Would he stop purchasing DVDs? Hell no.

The problem with consumers "calling the shots" in this battle is one of inertia and unless Big Media does something completely whacked like suddenly going straight to everything is copy controlled pay-per-view it will only be "radicals" who fight this on the consumer front.

Re:Cry me (another) river... (1)

W.B. Yeats (236617) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738186)

You know, I really have to agree. Individuals need to assume the power that they have -- which is truly imense. No one can force me to buy anything I don't want -- isn't that amazing? MS and Disney have no power over me at all -- ZERO.

It amuses that this debate stems from access to crap entertainment.

Is my response only smug self satisfaction from a technical elite? I don't think so: my response comes from an increasing belief that all I can do is all I can do, and I believe that applies to everyone.

compelling content? (5, Interesting)

TTop (160446) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737850)

article says:
What's been missing from the debate so far has been the users themselves. It seems safe to say that most computer and Internet users like to have choices -- choices both of the content they consume and of the kinds of tools they should get to use. Still, maybe citizens would say they're willing to give up "general-purpose" computers and willing to use, instead, systems designed to prevent them from engaging in willy-nilly copying, if that is the price you have to pay for compelling music and movies and television over the Internet.

I guess I don't hear people clamoring for "compelling music and movies and television" over the Internet. I already have devices that do all three of those things just fine -- what's going to compell me to buy new devices to do these same things? I don't really want to sit in front of my computer to watch movies or television anyway, and I don't see the digital televisions coming into the _really_ affordable range (sub $1k) anyway.

I'd be happy to keep it that way as long as nobody tries to mandate how my computer treats bits! Why would I want to give up my existing devices for new content-controlled, digital rights managed devices? Is it somehow going to be "better" for me? What are the benefits to the consumer? It seems like (almost?) all the benefits are for the content companies, not me! Why would somebody pay money for this?

Re:compelling content? (5, Insightful)

DJerman (12424) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737919)

Why would somebody pay money for this?

Because LOTR: Return of the King may not play in your old DVD player. All they have to do is change the coding. It's not for delivering stuff over the internet -- it's for keeping you from re-watching your old movies forever, rather than buying new ones, and to keep you from (God forbid) creating your own stuff and posting it for others to see. What it's really for is to raise a barrier so that artists can't show or sell their art without funneling through one of these big companies for distribution.

If the Hollings bill passes, one day your computer will break, you'll look around, and there won't be any more to buy. You'll pay for this or live without computers (or toasters, if it passes in the form i read it). That's the evil - that you won't be able to get a general purpose computer or media player even if you don't want the compelling content. Because if it were general purpose it could be used to copy and display uncontrolled content.

The point is that you're right -- this can't happen with out a law (and treaties) banning alternatives. And the law will happen if we're not careful. That's what's wrong here. Government protecting corporations against the people who elect the government.

Re:compelling content? (1)

WhiteKnight07 (521975) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738156)

It seems like (almost?) all the benefits are for the content companies, not me!

You do of course realize that this the basic reason that corporations exist in the first place, to benefit themselves. They exist only to make a profit. Their interest in benefiting consumers is, at best, merely a side effect of this goal.

OH NO! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737852)

This page is all shit colored!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Government, Business, Religion (5, Insightful)

telbij (465356) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737865)

I find it somewhat scary that 'content companies' have willing allies in congress for this kind of oppressive legislation.

To me it's a symptom of too much prosperity. Think about it, these 'content companies' are no more than _businessmen_ who profit from other people's work. They say it's their god-given right to buy something and then sell it repeatedly forever making billions of dollars. Yet they forget (and it would seem congress forgets) that money != value. Money is supposed to represent value so that people can trade goods. Throwing more middle-men into the equation doesn't increase value UNLESS they provide quality-assurance, shipping, or some other thing that the producer themselves doesn't want to do but is nevertheless necessary.

Our quality of life is determined by how many goods and services get produced, not how much money is spent. Because the United States is so rich, we forget that the value of money comes from all our hard work. If we suddenly start devoting man-hours to stifling distribution of existing work and regulating everything so that every pasty-faced exec can get his stock options + bonus, where will the value be?

In the information age it's clear that the richest society is the one with the most information. The way to achieve that goal is to spend our time researching and developing new information, not creating a world where trading information becomes harder.

Note that this is not an "information wants to be free" argument. I think people who contribute to society should get paid, and get paid well. Currently there is not an efficient mechanism whereby information producers can get paid small amounts by the masses who enjoy their work. That's the 'content companies' niche.

I grudgingly admit that there is a place for middle-men in this world, but we have to draw the line at legislation that just makes them fatter and reduces our cultural value.

I think this problem, like so many in our society is caused by too much money in government. The founding fathers knew that religion had to be separated from government in order to be fair and just. Sadly we were too poor then for them to realize that the economy must also be kept strictly out of government. I say we have publicly funded elections with standard forums where candidates can express their views. Outlaw political advertising as subversive propaganda, and let Joe Schmoe run for office. It has been said that "You can't legislate morality." But that is a falacy because what else is legislation for?

Re:Government, Business, Religion (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2738049)

Your argument is interesting and well-written. It's unfortunate that most readers will fail to notice that it has a fundamental flaw: it is complete nonsense.

Where the hell do you get the idea that we are living in an era of "too much prosperity"? You provide absolutely no evidence to back this up (nor could you, because -- I repeat myself -- it is complete nonsense). The economy as a whole, and the economic situation of the music industry in particular [salon.com] , are quickly deteriorating. The current round of totalitarian legislation is hardly the result of "too much prosperity"; on the contrary, it is the result of a number of declining corporations desperately trying to salvage whatever they can (by any means necessary) from a rapidly shrinking industry.

Re:Government, Business, Religion (1)

raduga (216742) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738166)

I find it somewhat scary that 'content companies' have willing allies in congress for this kind of oppressive legislation.

To me, that's not the scary part
What's really frightening, when you consider that the 'content companies' claim to speak for the myriads of silent 'content creators' aka artists, is that the voice of 'content company' allies in congress COMPLETELY overwhelms and surpasses that of actual content creators, who ARE members of congress! If Senator Orrin Hatch and other musicians (who publish and sell their work) in Congress are unable to convince their peers that RIAA are as much thieves as the napsteroids, then we're in trouble.

It has been said that "You can't legislate morality." But that is a falacy because what else is legislation for?

It's only half a fallacy. Morality can be legislated, but only very poorly. Morality is about our core beliefs and values, and most attempts to regulate these turn up laughable.

What legislation CAN be used for, and can be very effective at times, is for enforcing Ethics, which is in essence more about behaviors and how we apply our personal idiosyncratic moral frameworks to a multimoral society.

Here's an example.

  • I personally believe Nudity (not wearing clothes) is EVIL, is bad and would like for people not ever to not have clothes on.

    That's a moral judgement, being a belief and a value. If I decide I want everyone else to feel the same way about clothes, I have a pretty difficult row to hoe, since some people (Say, the girl next door) do not like wearing clothes at all! What I can do, however, is lobby my congresscritter to pass a law regulating what people *do* with clothes, i.e. that they must wear clothes when walking outside where members of the sensitive public as myself, can see them.

    It's an ethical guideline because it it bridges between my morals and the morals of the girl next door. She might see it as an imposition, because it prevents her from trapising about naked on my lawn, but it does not prevent her from doing so indoors, or in some other setting that I might not notice.

Moral edicts come from people like God and Mom, and possibly Osama (if you follow his advice??? Bad advice if you do) but ethics come from people like Nietzche, Rheinquist and Orrin. You might notice that ALL of these people suggest both moral and ethical ideas, but the main weight of their discourse falls into the one or the other.

In general, it seems that Moral people will regard you as immoral if you dispute their morals, but Ethical people may still grant you ethical, while in dispute, since disagreement and resolution seem to be what Ethics is all about.

Balance (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737875)

The problem here is a question of balance. Yes copyright infringement is a generally bad thing. It pushes up prices for the rest of us and threatens the profitiability of the providers. Is stopping piracy the most important thing in the world ??
heck no !
The content industry has been screaming "The monsters are coming" for years yet entertainment is still masively profitable for them. The current law already shifts the balance too far in favour of the industry and away from consumers. If the quest to stop infrigement is going to interfere with everyday life then it's going too far.

Re:Balance (2)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738021)

Right on- this started the day VCRs came out, and now they have the term "perfect digital copy" to also bandy about. And the one guy who predicted that "Napster was the end of the music industry, in 5 years it'll just be a cottage industry"- can you lay the FUD on a little thicker next time?!

I don't know what the "content faction" is really striving for here. Every year their revenues and profits go up, even in the Napster years. Forget music, I stopped listening to new music a decade ago. Movies I like, but if they keep pushing DVDs into stranger formats and making me jump through hoops just to watch a friggin rental, I might just drop that habit, too. Good job there, guys! Alienating the customer!

The "tech faction" sounds like the less evil of the 2, but even they have their problems. DRM on hard drives- so much for backing up my data if I don't do it right. (Yeah, it's only supposed to be for copyrighted/watermarked material, but do you really trust that they won't screw up the DRM code somehow, resulting in my data refusing to be copied?)

And why the hell does the government need to set any kind of standard in a private industry?! (Answer- lobbiests are paying them to) How about just trying to keep our asses from being blown up in big buildings?

News from the future:
"Sony has just trademarked the color blue. Here is the online account number that you may send your micropayments each time you see the color blue. Film at eleven, once we pay for the blue"

indiv.rights > toilet
indiv.$ > content.co

/rant

SSSCA and industry revenues' orders of magnitudes (5, Insightful)

SysKoll (48967) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737878)

At stake in this war, says Eisner, who's the acknowledged leader of the Content Faction, is "the future of the American entertainment industry, the future of American consumers, the future of America's balance of international trade."

We know the SSSCA does not make sense from a technical point of view. We know that it is akin to smothering basic freedoms. But of course, these considerations do not compute in the dollar terms that are the only things filtering through your average executive's thick ears (not to mention many Congresscritters).

So let's humor Eisner's point of view and talk greenbacks here. Let's see: Unless my sources are totally wrong, Hollywood's revenue is about $9 to $13 billion a year. Among which a lot of derived products reimported in the USA (e.g. console games on movie licenses) which actually degrade the US trade balance. But let's retain the $13 billion/year for the sake of this discussion.

On the other hand, the IT industry represents $600 billion at least. Heck, just adding up IBM, Microsoft, HP/Compaq and EDS gives you more than $300 billion/year.

So let me get this straight, Mr. Eisner: in order to "protect" a $13B/year industry branch against a problem that isn't an effective threat yet, and might never be, you and other SSSCA supporters want to hamper and possibly seriously harm an industry that is at least 25 times bigger?

And this is going to help the US economy?

So even from a strickly financial point, SSSCA does not make any sense. Eisner is a fraud. He is athreat to the IT industry, which produced far more jobs, wealth and well-being than any other industry since WWII.

With business executives like that at the head of American corporations, who needs Ben Laden?

-- SysKoll

P.S. Actually, from the moment Eisner started draping himself into patriotic self-righteousness, it sounded fishy. The guy is a patriot the way a televangelist is a believer.

Re:SSSCA and industry revenues' orders of magnitud (4, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738044)

> [Content Faction: Tens of billions in revenue]
> [Tech Faction: Hundreds of billions, maybe a trillion, in revenue]

I think we'd all agree that government operates by the Golden Rule: Those that have the gold, make the rules. But if we truly live in a "one dollar, one vote" society, why the fsck is anyone in Congress listening to the Content Faction at all? Do Content Faction lobbyists hire better hookers, with cocaine instead of silicone in their tits?

> So even from a strictly financial point, SSSCA does not make any sense. Eisner is a fraud. He is a threat to the IT industry, which produced far more jobs, wealth and well-being than any other industry since WWII.
>
> With business executives like that at the head of American corporations, who needs bin Laden?

I thought my "Hollywood hookers and better coke" crack was good, but I think you've got the better soundbite, by far.

Rack up the dollar cost of the WTC disaster. (Conservatively $100B), and compare it to the dollar cost to the Tech Faction if the Content Faction gets its way, and discover that a mere 10-15% "hit" in Tech Faction revenues is the equivalent of a WTC attack when it comes to GDP. The Eisner-Valenti-Rosen triumvirate is a greater threat to the economy than bin Laden ever was.

I think we need to push three talking points:

  • The memes "Content Faction" and "Technology Faction". Portraying Hollywood as a "faction", rather than an "industry" makes it clear that there are opposing interests here.
  • The fact that tech is at least an order of magnitude larger - in jobs, revenues, profits, and taxes remitted to the government - than the Content Faction.
When you write your Congresscritter, you can call them "industries" instead of "factions". And instead of asking him which industry is likely to give him the most campaign dollars over the next 30 years, ask him which industry is most likely to provide the most jobs for his constituents. He'll do the campaign contribution math by himself, and you've pointed out there's a compelling "it's the economy, stupid" excuse his opponent can use against him, should he side against the Tech Faction.

When you talk to your co-workers, write letters to the editor, or post to weblogs, feel free to be honest - call 'em Factions, and ask the campaign contribution question. The readers will do the "Hollywood must have better hookers, if my Congresscritter supports the Hollywood faction, he must be corrupt" math by themselves, and vote accordingly.

Re:SSSCA and industry revenues' orders of magnitud (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738050)

> I think we need to push three talking points: [two points listed]

Of course, there are three kinds of people in the world. Those who can count, and those who can't.

Unrealistic Assumptions (2)

darkov (261309) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737882)

They may no longer be able, for example, to move music or video files around easily from one of their computers to another ... The digital videos they shot in 1999 may be unplayable on their desktop and laptop computers

I don't think consumers will ever except this. Even if some politician who's been paid off by the industry tries to make it fly it will fail. The idea that your own liberties, such as managing the videos you shot, are limited just in case some greedy record comany or film studio might have their copyright voilated, is outrageous.

If people (who are old enough) cast their mind back, copy protection on software largely disappeared in the eighties. It was just too much of a burden on people who didn't pirate software. And ultimately it didn't work.

Re:Unrealistic Assumptions (1)

slackster (518221) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738097)

While I hope not, I'm afraid many will accept it, unknowingly, because it might be sold merely as an innocuous format change. Ie. we accept that Betamax movies and 5-1/4" disks can't be read by virtually any (none?) new machines nowadays, but only because different formats are the standard now, for better or for worse. But we know that's the free market at work (mostly), not Constitution-trampling legislation. I'm worried that the average consumer won't know the difference, given enough marketing spin.

Just a mating dance between elephants (3, Insightful)

sphealey (2855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737883)

This is just the typical mating dance between elephants who are both mature, experienced, and tough. They will circle each other for a while, bellowing challenges, doing a bit of fighting to see who (if either) is dominant, who is more willing to fight, who is more determined. Then the mating will commence (i.e. a "compromise bill" will be introducted by Mr. Hollings) and the two large elephants, and their children, will continue to dominate the rest of the herd.

I hope no one thinks that there is an actual chance that IBM or Microsoft will oppose the RIAA, MPAA, et al? Their long-term interests are identical; it is just dividing the spoils in the short term that is creating the appearance of conflict.

sPh

War on Bytes (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737900)

It will be just like the war on drugs. The fascists ( government & corporations ) will up the ante in terms of cost to do what you want with your computer so there will be more no-knock entries, booby-trapped computers, gunfights, ambushes and dead law enforcement people and citizens.

I say say we learn from our past stupidity and let the fucking content industry create non-political solutions or die a timely death. Bastards.

Coniine

Wonder what the gun lobby thinks of this? (3, Insightful)

sensate_mass (171138) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737913)

A lot of the lawmakers who'll be attempting to pass legislation requiring manditory hardware/os-based DRM currently support gun rights.

What's the difference between "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." and "Hard drives don't commit piracy, people commit piracy." I'd like to think that limiting a person's ability to quickly and easily murder from a distance would be more important than limiting their ability to pirate a song. Does anyone here think we'll see laws that force gunmakers to limit what people can shoot at anytime soon?

What about the reverse? (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738199)

It seemed like most of those who thought Napster was in the Constitution also opposed gun ownership, at least on /. They thought it was more important to be able to copy music than to defend themselves.

airwaves a "public resource"? what a quaint idea (2)

Dr. Awktagon (233360) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737921)

First, the Federal Communications Commission requires that broadcast television be sent "in the clear" -- in unencrypted form -- as a matter of public policy. The argument here is that broadcasters are custodians of a public resource -- the part of the broadcasting spectrum used for television, and need to make whatever they pump into that spectrum available to everyone.

Oh man, the US gov talking about an entertainment medium as a "public resource"??? Am I the only one that sees a giant price tag on this? "Dear corporate America: for two million dollars, the airwaves will no longer be 'a public resource', but will instead be rebranded as 'an essential component to American innovation' and 'a vital tool in the fight against media piracy'.. and a law will be passed that says ALL content must be encrypted... any takers?"

Remember kids, our US government consists of four parts: the executive, the judicial, the legislative, and the corporate.

Re:airwaves a "public resource"? what a quaint ide (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738079)

The argument here is that broadcasters are custodians of a public resource -- the part of the broadcasting spectrum used for television, and need to make whatever they pump into that spectrum available to everyone.

If this were really true, how come the company that took these public resources and made them more widely available still was so summarily shut down [cnet.com] ?

drawing a line (2)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737924)

We are in the process of drawing or having a line drawn. After it is drawn, it still will be moved to some extent.


Look at guns, they are legal, but with many restrictions. They can be used for legal and illegal reasons. The same thing with computers, CD-Rs, casette tapes, pencils, etc. As with gun control people - you can't have people doing anything illegal with guns, if there are no guns, which restricts people using guns for legal reasons (and yes, I know that guns are not the greatest analogy, but I am taking license).


What should be is go after people who break the law, not people who make tools that may be able to be used to break the law. Or ones who advertise tools for breaking laws (like the SPAMMER that advertises Never pay for a DVD again.

The sound of Inevitability... (5, Interesting)

Bonker (243350) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737927)

"Do you hear that, Mister Andersen?"

Listening to this argument is interesting, because you can see just how much these companies, the Tech giants on one side and the Distribution giants on the other continue to rail against what they call the 'Destruction of the Intellectual Property Industry', at least as what they said in the article.

All I have to say is: The Sooner the Better.

Seriously. These guys are fighting obsolescence. They were obsolete the second the first computer disk was digitally written. That was the shot that killed them. Not Napster... not Gnutella, not Morpheus. Not even DivX or DeCSS. What these industries do not know is that they've been doomed to slow death the second mankind invented digital storage. The ability to store and manipulate data in a digital format is one of those watershed inventions, like fire, the wheel, gunpowder, or the combustion engine. Too much has changed for the existing order to survive. Just like there are no wagon makers any more, there will be no 'content distributors' in the future.

The fact that information can be reproduced endlessly, perfectly and easily by individuals, invalidates all the companies who sprung up in order to fill the gap that existed before digital information storage was possible.

The record industry bitterly, bitterly regrets the invention of the CD. It's very nearly a perfect format for storing audio. The people who make CD's and hardware for and software for creating CD's sure as hell don't, though. Roxio, as well as others like Phillips and Magnavox all have commercials on TV that encourage their customers to make CD's full of 'free' MP3's.

Yeah, right. As if. 'Free'. Sure....

The same thing is going on between the distribution industry and the computer hardware industry. Sure, it's a good thing for hard drives and CPU's to be altered so that information cannot be copied on them. That makes them a lot more expensive to produce, however. Why should one industry suffer because another is obsolete? That's the thought going through the minds of the people at Maxtor, Western Digital, and Iomega. It's also the thought going through the minds of people at Intel and AMD.

For the recording and entertainment industries to survive, they're very literally trying to cripple an entire industry with players from all around the globe. They're buying legislation right now because that's the only chance they have to force companies like ABit and Acer, who aren't even headquartered in the United States to tow the line.

But it's already too late. The first step in any kind of revolution is civil disobedience. Sometimes that's enough. Sometimes the flow of ideas is just too powerful to allow the existing order to stay in power. Gandhi believed this when he led India against Britain, and he ended up being right.

Even if the recording and entertainment industries manage to buy all the legislation they want, they're still faced with the daunting task of stopping the civil disobedience they've created. They'll very literally have to march into every home and take away non-DRM compliant computers and TVs.

Here's a quick hint. The U.S. government tried to do this in the 30's with alcohol. It ended up being one of the single greatest failures of the government and has created criminal and social problems that live on today.

So, the long and short is not how long you can hold on to your computers... It's how long the RIAA, MPAA and any other companies that make money by restricting the flow of information can hold on to life.

Die, bitches, die...

Re:The sound of Inevitability... (1)

paranoic (126081) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737941)

These guys were doomed once the cost of reproducting their product become insignicant compared to the price they were charging and means of reproducing that product became available to the masses.

Re:The sound of Inevitability... (1)

EAB (209079) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738073)


Here's a quick hint. The U.S. government tried to do this in the 30's with alcohol. It ended up being one of the single greatest failures of the government and has created criminal and social problems that live on today.

I can see Ad campaigns in the next 10 years after all this fails stating 'Don't copy digital media, don't drink and drive. Do you know what format of media your children are watching?'

Re:The sound of Inevitability... (2)

FFFish (7567) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738117)

Good post. Can't resist following up on this, though: "Here's a quick hint. The U.S. government tried to do this in the 30's with alcohol. It ended up being one of the single greatest failures of the government and has created criminal and social problems that live on today."

The US government is also trying to do this with (recreational, illegal) drugs, and is experiencing failure that is even worse than that of prohibition.

However, it doesn't matter to them: the drug lords in the DEA are employed and wealthy, and will continue to protect themselves by insisting that this idiocy continue.

The US government might very well attempt to control the entertainment media as well, and will experience the same high level of ineffectiveness. But that's not important: what is important is that the media lords will have money and power. Joe Common Citizen will take it up the ass with a broken glass bottle *yet again*, and will take it more or less willingly, just as he did for booze and pot.

USA. Land of the free.

Re:The sound of Inevitability... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2738215)

The US government might very well attempt to control the entertainment media as well, and will experience the same high level of ineffectiveness. But that's not important: what is important is that the media lords will have money and power. Joe Common Citizen will take it up the ass with a broken glass bottle *yet again*, and will take it more or less willingly, just as he did for booze and pot.


Hey - at the start of Vernor Vinge's True Names the protagonist is, IIRC, raided by the govenrnment or something and is relieved after they leave that they didn't discover the hoard of very expensive storage and processing power squirrled away under his floorboards...


Wow. I'd always thought that notion was a bit silly until now...

Attack? (3, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737934)

I am opposed to copy protection, but up to now I have always defended content makers' "right" to attempt to implement it. As far as I'm concerned, it simply reduces the value of a product, and then natural selection in the marketplace can decide whether or not it is worthwhile.

But I really am starting to get pissed off at all these stealth attempts to move the status quo from "try it if you think it's worth it" to mandated incompatability. I am very much opposed to mandating incompatability, but I don't think I would resent the attempts to do this so much, if it weren't done in such secret. These cockroaches scatter whenever there's light cast upon them and media exposure has been shown to be nearly lethal to this kind of legislation. And that makes sense too, because, after all, this crap really is directly against the interests of the American People. Congresscritters are happy to sell us out, but they really hate getting caught while they are doing it (but interesting, they don't seem care if they get caught after-the-fact -- I still haven't figured out that part yet).

DMCA wouldn't have passed if it had received news coverage instead of the Lewinsky scandal. Now we have the terrorist thing to distract the media, so this really is a good time to attack the American people again. They can get away with it, right now. But if it doesn't happen now, it'll happen later. More distractions can always be found. It never ends.

And that bothers me. Sooner or later, the assholes will find a weakness and push us back a notch, and then another, and then another. We just have to let our guard down once. I don't know about you guys, but I get pretty fucking weary of this, and I know someday I will be taken unaware.

What we need is to stop defending, and start attacking. Put them on the defensive for a change, reacting to us.

And there's a way to do it. It's dirty and underhanded, because IMHO it really will infringe upon what I think hey're rights are. But they are assholes and never give up with stealth attacks, and if it has to come down to "them or us" situation, I'd rather be on the winning side. So fuck 'em.

I think we need to outlaw copy protection. Something on the level of a constitutional ammendment (although that feels like inappropriate overkill) so that stealth attacks can't override it.

I think most Americans would support it. I don't know how we'd get the representatives to vote on it (a democracy would make things a lot easier than our damned republic). But it might be worthy trying anyway.

Because it's funny (1)

CatherineCornelius (543166) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737935)

This all has the air of an attempt to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted. General purpose computers simply cannot be outlawed--you can build a perfectly workable computer in a garage, as Wozniak and many others did. And programmers cannot be forcibly prevented from doing what they want to do--lock us up, and we'll still be programmers.

I suppose I could get a little angry when I consider that now you can be locked up for publishing a computer program, but mostly it just makes me laugh. Because it's funny.

A bit Alarmist (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737937)

While the article is generally well written, my impression is that the essay is generally just an alarmist piece. There are for sure some things to be concerned about in the future of technology and a lot of the industries in entertainment worry about the change, as they picture the entire future as a 'worst case scenario'. (IMHO, planning on the basis of a WCS means a good business model). Here are the things that come to my mind, in order:

1) My parents have difficulty just checking email, let alone going out and searching for internet music. While there is a whole generation of people growing up with computers and seeing the internet as a distribution channel for free music, there remains quite a large number of people who don't have the level of skill to get free music. 10 years in technology is eternity: Just look at what was around 10 years ago! By the time we reach 2010, many of these companies will have a shift of people in thier management that will understand that they can't fear the future, they must embrace it.

2) The racket around VCRs. I'm not a legal person, or even a historian, but if I recall correctly: there were many legal challenges by the same groups to outlaw VCRs. These legal challenges were not so much thwarted by the lawmakers (who may get paid handsomely by the industry), but rather by the large amount of the populace that rose up and said "We want our rights to record!" The power of the people is great, even if it seems dormant most of the time.

3) Ebooks. Yesterday on NPR, there was a short piece on the failure of Ebooks. While many people believe that it just isn't the time for ebooks yet, many ebook publishers are going out of business. I think there were many reasons for the failures around this technology, but I think the first and foremost was: technology. Each ebook manufacturer used something different, so buying one brand of ebook meant that you couldn't read books from other publishers! You don't see that sort of problem with paperbacks. With all these competing technologies for Content Protection, I don't think that MS DRM will win out, especially with groups of people who couldn't use the technology (can we say Linux?).

All in all, I really don't believe people will sit around and accept the fact that they won't be able to 'buy' music anymore (or any other type of entertainment), despite the intentions of many of these companies to have strict control over content.

As a personal hope, I always find myself hoping that MS will win. Why? Because those people who did nothing to preserve their rights of choice deserve no choice at all. Those of us who make our own decisions will continue to use Linux: just as those who enjoy Macs will continue to do so. It may be a niche market, but it will be our market.

[ if you don't like what I've written, oh well. This is my opinion after all, not yours. ]

The pandora box is open... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2737959)

And nobody can't close it...
The tech-savvy know how to build almost anything... and there isn't a way to close it down... as for content management... i would like to see that inside a corporation... ha... sorry i can't get your information. I can't copy it to a safe place... no backup available... call another day...

The real battle (2)

Veteran (203989) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737978)

While the tech and content factions described in the article are fighting - no one is listening to the other side of the battle; almost no one even knows the other side exists.

Who is on the other side? The content producers (artists) and the listeners/watchers. Neither the tech side nor the 'content' side want the artists or the audience to have any say in the issue.

Doubtless defenders of the current status quo will spout blather about "Valid contracts" with the artists or how the record companies provide promotion and advertising etc. as excuses for the predatory behavior of companies toward actual content providers. But before you start writing posts like that I am going to propose a shame test: for the sake of argument assume that there really is a God, and that you are going to have to defend your statements in front of Him at your judgment someday. Do you think you could get away with the "valid contract" claim when you know larceny is in your heart? I always apply that shame test to what I have to say - if you don't do it then you are insincere - a troll at best, or evil at the worst.

Why doesn't the tech faction want to see the artist and audience side heard? The answer is that tech companies do the same things to engineers and programmers that recording companies do to artists, and neither faction wants people to be paid what they are actually worth.

Programmers, artists, engineers and the audience to our works belong on one side of the argument along with sincere and honest businessmen (I have met a few; they do exist). On the other side are all the greedy thieves: Mega corps and the RIAA.

By the way -for all of you Libertarians; the standard for a contract ought to be right and wrong, not "what I can get away with". If a contract is not really equally benefiting both sides it is a fraud.

Universal VP speaks from where the sun don't shine (3, Interesting)

mttlg (174815) | more than 12 years ago | (#2737981)

Matthew Gerson, the vice president for public policy at Vivendi Universal S.A., which produces and sells both music (Universal Music Group) and movies (Universal Studios, Inc.), is quick to dispute the prediction that the music companies face cottage-industry status. "We know that if we build a safe, consumer friendly site that has all the 'bells and whistles' and features that music fans want, it will flourish. My hunch is that fans will have no trouble paying for the music that they love, and compensating the artists who bring it to them -- established stars as well as the new voices the labels introduce year after year."

Um, I don't know where to start... Let's see, "safe, consumer friendly site," isn't that a contradiction? I have a feeling that "all the 'bells and whistles' and features that music fans want" doesn't include crippled CDs, but Universal seems to like that idea... Sure, "fans will have no trouble paying for the music that they love," but that assumes that you produce that music and not the usual garbage. Lots of people are interested in "compensating the artists who bring it to them," which is why they don't want to deal with the major labels. As for "the new voices the labels introduce year after year," exactly which ones are these? They all look and sound the same to me...

Eisner's take on computers (2)

mttlg (174815) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738033)

This is precisely what Disney CEO Michael Eisner, in a speech to Congress in summer of 2000, was referring to when he warned of "the perilous irony of the digital age." Eisner's statement of the problem is shared by virtually everybody in the movie industry: "Just as computers make it possible to create remarkably pristine images, they also make it possible to make remarkably pristine copies."

Then perhaps there is no longer enough value in the "making and copying remarkably pristine images" business to sustain so many huge companies. Either make your content something people want to pay for, or find another business strategy. People tend to dislike having the government tell them what to do in the privacy of their own homes, how do you think they will feel about Disney doing it instead?

A bleak future (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2738039)

"Back in the nineties, when we bought a movie on video, your grandma and me could watch it as many times as we wanted, without paying for it again each time. We could pause it to get up and get a soda, and we could rewind it if we missed something and it didn't cost no extra to do that."

"Wow, gramps. You mean there were no coin slots on TVs back then?"

"That's right. And if the movie was a dud, we could sell the tape at a garage sale, or give it to a friend, or even just throw it in the trash."

"Weren't you afraid you'd get arrested, grandpa?"

"They didn't arrest people for those things back then, boy. Didn't need no stinking TV license, heck, nobody didn't even have to own a TV if they didn't want to."

"When grandma gets out of prison for muting commercials, can she tell us some stories about the old days too?"

Requisite car analogy (4, Insightful)

Rand Race (110288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738040)

In the 19th century my family made quite a good living as wainwrights, they made wagons. I imagine thaey felt much like the content industry does now when the automobile was invented. But guess what? They divested from wagons and invested in autos, they didn't try to make cars illegal.


Technology giveth, there was no real music industry until the phonograph was invented, and technology taketh away. Limiting technology in favor of business is shortsited, ill founded, anti-capitalistic, and doomed to fail.

The economic imperatives ... (3, Insightful)

LL (20038) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738047)

The golden rule used to be "whoever has the gold makes the rule" but I would observe from current machinations the golden collorary "he who writes the rules, defines the gold".

The reason ... think what the internet does .. every single piece of information whether written in the past or immediate future (think trailers) is now immediately available. It's like a thirsty man in a desert being swept away by a flash flood. All the historical economic models based on a content/distribution model is now completely invalidated. Historically media studios could release stuff at different price/time points (movies, videos, cable reruns, etc) with the nice kicker that a popular franchise can be remastered with relatively little marginal cost.

Now suddenly anyone (with a modicum of hacker skill) can bypass their time/space-controls (cough DVD-region-coding), the TiVo is just one small example. Suddenly all their media libraries is implicity devalued as they can't withdraw "obsolescent" titles. The First Sale doctrine means that anyone can resell their "original" copy which creates competition for their newest overhyped gee-whiz production. Hence their incentive, nay long-term economic survival, in pushing Digital Rights Managment (aka service selectivity/variability) by stealth (submarine legislation) or by wealth (trial by litigation).

Of course, they don't always have much of a clue (cough*CueCat*cough) so they have to rely on the tech experts to provide them with the tools to control/segment the entertainment market. Which means that unless you have a tech department under your belt like AOL, they are held over the barrel by the likes of Microsoft who have their own ambitions of being the broadband toll-keepers.

Economics alway always been about scarcity (whoever dies with the biggest toys wins) but the internet inverts all that into a surplus. The "gift culture" that ESR mentions is thus anathema to any self-respecting aspiring monopolist as infinite replication/distribution of information-based products limits their market of gullible fools.

It will be an interesting decade as all these economic forces resolve themselves.

LL

How much does DRM cost the 'consumer'? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2738078)

What I find amazing about all of this is that noone is talking about how much we are expected to spend to participate in our on-line culture.

Radio is free (for now) but I'd have to get a $ub$cription to listen to satellite XM broadcasts. Likewise, I'll need a subscription to be able to listen to music on-line, and I'll need a high-bandwidth connection to be able to download it all...

How much is all this going to cost me? Digital Cable $50/month, Cable/DSL Internet $50/month, XM subscription $10/month, On-line music $10/month.

I'm already up to $120/month and I haven't even started talking about what my kids want/need... or how much my cost of living has increased because I have to live in an urban area where these services are offered...

How much money are we talking about, and how many people, realistically, can afford this ?

There is more involved than they realize! (3, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738092)

The real issues at hand are far more reaching than copyrights. The Digital Media functionality that computers provides all of us with most certainly goes way beyond the copyright dimension.

They may not realize it yet, but eventually will have no other choice but to recoignize that the "CANNOT" base intellectual property laws will have to be changed to be "CAN" based.

I'm all for artists, creators, those who produce additional productive and pleasure values to be recognized and rewarded. For such carrots is how we teach our children to help make our society a better place of all of us to enjoy.

But the bottom line is to get people to want to recognize and reward those who do good. And the only way that is going to happen is change the laws so as to motivate and inspire people to do so.

Lawrence Lessig pointed out to me that there are two parts to dealing with Intellectual Property. The first part I believe was in reference to beng granted IP rights as a creator, the second part being liability law. I suppose this is the part in most need of changing into "asset" law.

comments?

maybe see other slashdot posts by your truely?

Who the governament is protecting? (1)

inerte (452992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738153)

We? Okay, so we must continue trading. Kazaa is right about they can't shutdown clients. Even if they do, Gnutella, Freenet etc.. will survive.

Why am I on Morpheus? Because it has 500.000 users. The minute it shuts down, other p2p protocol will get these users. And this time many people will have learned their lesson.. Don't go p2p'ing if it has a company backing up almost everything.

That's why I like gnutella. Sadly it doesn't have all the users. BUT IT'S UNSTOPPABLE. 500.000 from Kazaa/Morpheus/Grokster users, please come to Gnutella. Nobody will ever shutdown your ability to trade files.

BUT, they might try to 'shutdown' your RIGHT to trade files, correct? Yes, that's what they are trying to do. But hey, how many people CAN share files in the world? Anyone connected on the internet? Okay... how much does this mean nowadays, 500 million? Maybe more? None can put this amount of people on jail, na, nothing can be done.

Warez sites are easier to shutdown. Pretty much because you have one tunnel where data flows. With millions of tunnels, bam! Impossible.

So, even our 'right' to share is secured somehow (based on 'they can't prosecute every body premise'). Fine, so another way is to make the hardware in a way that it doesn't allow file sharing.

So here goes what I think everyone should do. Tell everyone you know this. DO NOT buy these hardware. It's that simple. Hardware is a lot harder to make them software. So, you rarely will see 'pirated' hardware that allows file sharing. It's an enormous task, and this yes, the governament/RIAA/companies/ has the resource to stop.

Just don't buy the hardware when it comes. Or if contains a return policy (like the soon to be released cds in America), spend your whole bank account and savings on it and ask for the money back. If, I don't know, 5000 people do this, the company will go bankrupt.

It's a matter of value. Who cares what the governament and the companies want? What matters is what the people want.

Our laws are just this, common sense. If we stick to the value that trading files should become the common sense, there's nothing to do.

Just don't buy the hardware, remember.

PS: For developers and content producers. I feel sorry in a way for you. You're are not going to get money now from the usual way (produce, distribute, sell, royalties, etc..)

And don't ask me how to make money too when your new cd can be traded and none is going to buy it. I honestly don't know, but hey, I sincerely hope you find a way.

Digital Rights in computers could be a good thing. (2, Interesting)

stoicfaux (466273) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738174)

If musicians had a good way to deliver their music/art/books/etc directly to the consumer, what need would they have of the big[1] distribution companies?

Instead the authors would need:
a) server hosting
b) advertising
c) agents who could get them airplay and/or tour venues

and would no longer need
d) to press CDs, DVDs, etc.
e) select the least painful contract from a handful of distrubutors

This would:
-reduce costs- by cutting out the middleman/distributor.
-increase competition- cheaper "distribution" costs would allow more artists to compete for your money.
-decrease pollution- no need to burn fuel for cd making factories, delivery trucks
-increase greenspace- no more need for brick and mortar stores
-shift jobs from music retail stores and fat cat distributors[1] to high tech server hosting companies and slimy advertising firms. (In other words they would have to get "real" jobs.) ;-)

[1] aka the Evil Greedy Screw the Consumers Coporations

Local scene (2, Interesting)

gurensan (259321) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738175)

Well, I don't know what to make of this. Any way they handle this we're screwed. The only way I think this problem will go away is to stop paying for big name albums and movies entirely. When the revenue stream dries up, lawyers tend to wither and blow away.

The problem with this is that there are a lot of extremely gifted artists and musician who would be left out in the cold. Bands like Metallica already have more money than God and can easily afford to set up their own distribution channels, so the little guys are the only people who would be hurt by it.

What to do about it? Support yout local music/film making/Art scene like you support your local LUG. When they get the support they need locally, they don't need to go to LA to get it and it's only a matter of time before this kind of stupidity and personal rights violation goes away permanently.

Paying for music (2)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738220)

Just on the note of music here, I know that what I want when I buy a CD or an MP3 online, besides the music, is for the author to be compensated appropriately. I think it would be a great public service to foce music companies and their ilk to publish how much of a CD sale goes back to the authors (whether to pay their debts or in their pockets) and how much is kept by the record company.

Forgets to Mention (2, Insightful)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738226)

The writer forgets to mention that this would happen only in the U.S.
The rest of the world would happily chug along without these wild restrictions on what people can do with their computers.
The irony of it is that innovation is a product of the freedom to think and do whatever you want with the means at your disposal. Today, the U.S. is the best place for it.
The minute these limitations are put into place, the U.S. can kiss its technological supremacy goodbye. The bleeding edge will move elsewhere.

suing the record companies (4, Interesting)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738268)

There was this blurb recently:

http://www.sacbee.com/state_wire/story/1348770p-14 18333c.html

Elton John, No Doubt and the Eagles are among a group of musicians who will perform at five benefit concerts the night before the Grammy Awards telecast to raise money for a legislative fight against the record industry. [...] "It's about time for artists to take control of their work and how it is presented to our fans," said Dexter Holland of the band Offspring, which will perform as part of the effort. [...] The tentative lineup is Billy Joel, Sheryl Crow, the Eagles, Dixie Chicks and Stevie Nicks at the Forum in Inglewood; Offspring, No Doubt, Weezer at the Long Beach Convention Center; Ozzy Osborne at the Los Angeles Sports Arena; rhythm and blues acts to be announced at the Universal Amphitheatre; and country artists at an undetermined fifth site.

Of course, the record companies are denying any allegations.

Well... (1)

NiftyNews (537829) | more than 12 years ago | (#2738276)

"how consumers are going to be taking it in the *** no matter who wins"

That all depends on how smart the consumer is. When pushed, consumers split into 4 groups:
1) Give in and accept it
2) Find a new option
3) Do without
4) Acquire it with less than legal means.

I don't think most of the people reading /. "are going to be taking it in the ***" anytime soon.
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