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Lofgren's Anti-DRM Bill

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the trial-balloon dept.

United States 322

blastedtokyo writes "House representative Zoe Lofgren introduced the Digital Choice and Freedom Act. Perhaps the most interesting section is the part that invalidates 'non-negotiable shrink wrap licenses' (EULAs) that limit rights. On top of this, it states that both digital and analog media need to be subject to fair use rules for backing up. The full text of the bill is also available." News.com.com.com.com and Infoworld have stories as well, which both note that there is no chance of these bills being passed this year.

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322 comments

First post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4379929)

Couldn't help it...

you bitch (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4379943)

fuckin'robbed me

pist frost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4379933)

first prost?

Re:pist frost (-1, Offtopic)

benhaha (456005) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379942)

No! I won! Hahahahahaahha!

Acutally you may well have the first prost... I've never seen one.

wow.wow.wow.wow! (-1, Troll)

joseph schmo (223532) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379934)

that's amazing.amazing.amazing.amazing

news.com.com.com.com (-1, Offtopic)

Sn4xx0r (613157) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379938)

Complacent Communist Computernews Company?

Say it with me... (4, Insightful)

McCart42 (207315) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379944)

All together now...Repeat [slashdot.org] . However this is such great news, I don't mind hearing about it twice. Let's hope that at the very least this bill stirs up more media attention to the DMCA, DRM, and other things that are designed to take away our rights, not protect them.

Re:Say it with me... (5, Informative)

michael (4716) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379983)

I know we've mentioned it before, but we didn't have the text of the bill. IMHO, it's worth reading - always better to actually read source material instead of relying on second- or third- or fourth-hand reporting.

First vs. Complete (2, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380154)

Now I don't want this to come out the wrong way, and I'm already starting to wander a little offtopic, but wouldn't it be better to post a story once with all of the information than posting it several times with fragmented information?

IANAJ (I am not a journalist) but it would seem more important to have all the facts than to get that proverbial "first post". It doesn't matter if someone else breaks the story first, as long as you have the better/more complete information. That makes you (and Slashdot) look more professional and less knee-jerk.

Re:Say it with me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380167)

There's always a "reader" (I use the term loosely, since they rarely read the links) who will vehemently respond to something not said nor even implied; congratulations, you're the one for this story.

tool.

Re:Say it with me... (5, Insightful)

fizban (58094) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380034)

It's not a repeat if it provides more information. It's called a "follow-up."

Re:Say it with me... (2)

OrangeSpyderMan (589635) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380102)

Though, generally speaking, follow-ups contain the text "Following-up from a previous article here..." or something of that ilk. It's only a follow-up if you realise it is before you post it, otherwise it's just a repost, albeit a better-than-the-original one :-)

media attention (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380098)

I already thought that the 'media' knew about DRM and DMCA, aren't they the ones trying to push for it?

Re:Say it with me... (1)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380107)

This is what the world needs. To adapt to the new media, not to try and force the world to their standards. The RIAA is alarmed that we are not buying their music and so wants to stop the spread of other music. I agree that it can be bad for certain artists, but I believe that the spread of digital media is overall good for all.
Secondly, I really don't want DRM cancelling my ability to keep copies of my CDs and other digital media. If I had a printing press I'd make copies of some of my favorite books. I've lost one of them, and I'm really wishing I had a copy.
Bills like this are ones I expect to see almost all Slashdotters supporting!

I have spoken.

Don't cross the beams... (5, Funny)

Louis-Nap (552925) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379945)

I'm not a US citizen (I'm from the forgotten US state, Australia :0), so I'm not sure how the whole lawmaking process works - but doesn't this law say the exact opposite of quite a few laws either previously passed or currently being debated? What happens in this case - do the laws nullify each other? Do they both apply and it gets left up to the courts to decide which has priority? Perhaps we need some kind of legislation lottery, where the first law that gets drawn out of a barrel is passed, and the rest aren't...I can just imagine a group of senators, fingers crossed, chanting "come in DMCA!"

Re:Don't cross the beams... (2)

Trekologer (86619) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379964)

Typically legislation will have a clause that states that it supersedes any laws already on the books.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (2)

zaffir (546764) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380004)

So what prevents a more corrupt administration from creating more legisltation that repeals this bill, and others like it?

Re:Don't cross the beams... (2, Funny)

Louis-Nap (552925) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380017)

Ooh! I know the answer to this one. Nothing prevents the corrupt administration from repealing the initial legislation, but Democracy, and the Will Of The People (TM) prevents the corrupt administration from coming to power! Unless the corrupt administration owns an oil company, but that should be left for another post :0)

OT: (Re:Don't cross the beams...) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380128)


You know that guy who stole your girlfriend away from you in the summer of '95? He's going to die.

Good. But how do you know?

Re:Don't cross the beams... (4, Insightful)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380031)

Checks and balances. 1) while the administratorn (President) can submit a Bill they can not Pass a bill into law, that is the job of Congress. 2) while congress can pass any bill they want the administration can veto it, thereby requireing 2/3 of congress to overcome the veto. 3) meanwhile our life term judges (appointed by the administration, and approved by congress, but who will outlast them all.. ok except strom thurman) can declare a law unconstitutional forcing congress to change the constitution to pass it. so you have people of 2 & 6 year terms making laws, a person with a 4 year term (limited to 2 terms) with veto power, and life term judges making sure the law is constitutional. Its a really clean system, if more americans voted ( and did not just vote the party line ) it would actually work.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (0, Offtopic)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380045)

Whoops just got off a forum with no HTML tags, sorry /.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (2)

pjrc (134994) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380133)

So what prevents a more corrupt administration from creating more legisltation that repeals this bill, and others like it?

Not much, except perhaps:

  • Private interests (technology companies mostly) who stand to lose money and will lobby against it
  • Public outcry (yes, slashdot, other less mainstream news, etc). If it makes the news, the slant/bias will matter (notice that some places are calling the p2p hacking bill "sagotage"...)
Of course, if the decision makers are "corrupt" then neither of these will matter. While our system in the US isn't perfect, it tends to only be really unjust when one side lobbies and the other side is silent. For many years, the RIAA and MPAA have lobbied hard and nobody made much noise. Looks like those days are over. Sure, they've got a few key senators in their pockets, but it takes a lot more to pass sweeping laws with broad implications.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (2)

wls (95790) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379977)

That's what's so great about this system of government, Congress doesn't have to worry about that! It's the judicial branch that's got to make sense of things.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (2)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380013)

Dont worry most Americans dont know how a bill becomes law, were more into teaching our kids to tolerate each other in school than we are into teaching kids how to function in a republic. I know the simple stuff but your question is rather more complicated than it looks, so I could be wonrg, dont flame me.

If you have two laws on the books which conflict, it is up to the courts to make a legal determination that the law is Constitutional, and I would assume as they are the ones who interprit the law they would also state how this law would affect something like the DCMA.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (5, Funny)

JWW (79176) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380054)

I'm just a bill yes I'm only a bill and I'm sittin ' here on capitol hill.....

Ok, everyone go out and buy the "Schoolhouse Rock DVD"... Wait that's being sold by Disney, aaaarrrrggghhhh, what a dillema.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (5, Informative)

grylnsmn (460178) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380038)

Go and read the actual bill. It is very specific in how it modifies the current Copyright law. For example:
(a) The first sentence of section 107, Title 17, United StatesCode, is amended by inserting after "or by any other means specified in that section," the following: "and by analog or digital transmissions,";

What this bill does is add some sorely needed wording to the current law that protects such things as the First Sale doctrine for digital items.

Another quote from the bill:
Section 1201 of Title 17, United States Code, is amended as follows:


(a) by redesignating paragraphs (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j) and (k) as paragraphs (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (k) and (l); and (b) by adding after paragraph (b) the following:

"(c)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision in this title, a person who lawfully obtains a copy or phonorecord of a work, or who lawfully receives a transmission of a work, may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access or protects a right of a copyright holder under this title if-

"(A) such act is necessary to make a non-infringing use under this title; and

"(B) the copyright owner fails to make publicly available the necessary means to perform such non-infringing use without additional cost or burden to such person.

"(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b), any person may manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise make available technological means to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access or protects a right of a copyright holder under this title if, if-

"(A) such means are necessary to enable a non-infringing use under paragraph (1)(A);

"(B) such means are designed, produced and marketed to enable a non-infringing use under paragraph (1)(A); and

"(C) the copyright owner fails to make available the necessary means referred to in paragraph (1)(B).".

As you can see, it redefines parts of the law (specifically the paragraph numbering) and then adds "notwithstanding the providions..." to clarify and interpret other parts.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (4, Insightful)

Patrick (530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380066)

doesn't this law say the exact opposite of quite a few laws either previously passed or currently being debated?

Most of the provisions in Rep. Lofgren's bill that conflict with existing laws are edits or clarifications -- they replace or qualify previous statements, but they don't contradict them outright. For example, it would still be illegal to distribute circumvention devices, unless they're required (no other easy way to get fair use exists) and marketed as fair-use devices. That is, cable descramblers sold as "ADV: GET FREE CABLE!!" are still illegal. Signal descramblers sold as "Tivo digital adapter" would now be OK.

Conflicts with proposed legislation are quite common. What gets passed, if anything, will be a compromise between the Lofgren bill and Sen Holling's "government-mandated DRM in all electronics" bill.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (3, Interesting)

beanyk (230597) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380093)

I think this kind of conflict happens in other countries, too. The adage in legislative terms is: "it is easier to create than to destroy". That is, it's easier to enact something new, rather than repeal something old. I can think of two reasons for this:

(1) practical -- it's very difficult to prove, in any kind of all-cases, mathematical, way, what all the consequences of a particular law are; so it's also difficult to prove what the consequences would be of removing it and replacing it with a different law, so patchwork laws happen, new cases being dealt with by incremental legislation, instead of a clean sweep.

(2) political -- it's very embarrassing for lawmakers to have spent time and money pushing for a new law, only to have to take it back a year or two later, because it is, in fact, a pile of crap. Joe Public might get the impression Parliament (or Congress, or the Dail, or whatever) wasn't efficient.

Just my two cent.

the way i see it... (1)

NevermindPhreak (568683) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380124)

the way i see it, this bill is meant to be more of a counteract to Hollings CBDTPA bill, and not meant to go against the DMCA. sure, this overlaps a bit with the DMCA, but its supposed to allow people to circumvent copy-protection devices if the copy is for their own personal use. if the CBDTPA gets passed, everything and its mother will have copy-protection, so it would almost not be possible without some hardcore hacking to make a perfect digital copy for your own personal use.

personally, i think this bill is a great idea. i like making a copy of a CD the moment i buy it, so i can keep the original in its jewel case and put the copy in my CD binder and take it along with me in my car or to my friends houses. when the copy gets too scratched, i can make a new copy from the original, unscratched version. also, i rip the songs into ogg from the CD, and enjoy what is pretty much my own personal radio station when at my computer, thanks to winamp. if the CBDTPA passes, id probably have to buy multiple copies of the same CD, and i would never get to enjoy the songs on my computer.

Re:Don't cross the beams... (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380126)

What happens in this case - do the laws nullify each other? Do they both apply and it gets left up to the courts to decide which has priority?

If you read the text of the bill, it specifically ammends those laws which are 'contradicted' by it's statements. If you read the DMCA text, it does pretty much the same thing. In theory, this helps to simplify the laws because rather than having 20 different laws that apply to the same thing, you have 20 bills that ammend the 1 law in chronilogical order. Unfortunately, the bills sometimes have affects outside of the original scope of the law being ammended.

To be more specific, the DMCA added Chapter 12 to Title 17 of the United States code (and ammended various other sections of the title), and this bill ammends Chapter 12 and other sections of the title.

What are the chances... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4379950)

of this getting passed? How much support does this bill hold in congress?

This is the kind of stuff we need (5, Interesting)

Deth_Master (598324) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379955)

This is what the world needs. To adapt to the new media, not to try and force the world to their standards. The RIAA is alarmed that we are not buying their music and so wants to stop the spread of other music. I agree that it can be bad for certain artists, but I believe that the spread of digital media is overall good for all.
Secondly, I really don't want DRM cancelling my ability to keep copies of my CDs and other digital media. If I had a printing press I'd make copies of some of my favorite books. I've lost one of them, and I'm really wishing I had a copy.
Bills like this are ones I expect to see almost all Slashdotters supporting!

Go digital media!

Re:This is the kind of stuff we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380058)

You forget that this Zoe Lofgren is a fucking libral democrat. She can stick a 15" condum up her goddamn vagina for all I care. We already set up concentration camps for people like these. It's about time we exterminate these heinous libral beasts and pile the streets with their putrid remains. DEATH TO LIBRALISM

Re:This is the kind of stuff we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380148)

Worst. Troll. Ever. (2 in a row)

Re:This is the kind of stuff we need (1)

jodo (209027) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380149)

Gee! I'm a Libra myself. My birthday is Saturday. When you say "DEATH TO LIBRALISM" does that mean you want to kill me?

Re:This is the kind of stuff we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380151)

Liberalism is a derivative of the word liberty.

When you're calling for the end of liberalism, you're calling for the end of freethinking (we'll replace it with christianity!), personal freedom (we should be able to tell you what adults should be allowed to do with their own bodies!) and human rights (keep those pagan muslims out of this country or at least track them all!).

CmdrTaco - US flag desecrator and anti-Delawarian! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4379962)

As noted on the Smithsonian Institution's site [si.edu] , the first official American flag had thirteen stars and thirteen stripes, each representing one of the thirteen original states.

The flag icon for Slashdot's 'United States' section is missing its first stripe - the stripe that represents Delaware, the first state admitted to the Union. While a simple oversight could be forgiven, it should be known from here on out that Slashdot is in fact aware of the missing stripe, and even worse, refuses to do anything about it! [sf.net]

This vulgar flag desecration and rabid anti-Delawarism must be put to a stop. Let the Slashdot crew know that we will not accept a knowingly mutilated flag or the insinuation that Delawarians deserve to be cut out of the union. I ask you, what has Delaware done to deserve this insolence, this wanton disregard, this bigotry?

This intentional disregard of a vital national symbol is unpatriotic. Why, the flippant remarks CmdrTaco made about our flag border on terrorism! I urge you to join the protest in each 'United States' story. Sacrifice your karma for your country by pointing out this injustice. Let's all work together to get our flag back. Can you give your country any less?

Re:CmdrTaco - US flag desecrator and anti-Delawari (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380039)

Delaware lost it's Slashdot stripe long ago via a click-through EULA.

Flags - symbols of NAZIonalism (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380111)

Flags are nothing but colourful rags that are unfurled every time the politicians want to increase their wealth and influence by sending more young men to die abroad.

You should try burning a flag some time. It's a great feeling to see how upset some people can get over a symbol of nationalism (or more accurately: NAZIonalism).

Wow. (0)

diablochicken (445931) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379966)

An intelligent politician? Who'da thunk it?

Maybe a benevolent dictatorship wouldn't be such an impossibility after all. Lofgren for Emperor!

democRAT == LIAR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380182)

She's a democRAT, so she's LYING.
Don't you get it yet?
She's not concerned about your rights or the laws, she's concerned about getting ELECTED and holding POWER. See clinton, bill.
Dumbass.

Finally Some Good News (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379967)

This is definitely the best news we've been hearing from YRO for a long time. Maybe there's liberty for more than the corporations alone, after all...

---
Peace, n.:
In international affairs, a period of cheating between two
periods of fighting.
-- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

Re:Finally Some Good News (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380091)

Liberty for more than corporations?

Let's not get too crazy here and think that the Rep is doing this out of the goodness of her heart.

"Silicon Valley Congresswoman introduces bill to respect consumer rights and expectations."

What we have here is a battle brewing between interest groups in California. Fritz Hollings is a patsy for Disney and the rest of Hollywood. I'm sure that Lofgren has some ties to Apple and other companies in the Valley that don't want DRM.

"The Semiconductor Industry Association has named her a "Congressional Leader" and the Business Software Alliance has called her one its "Cyber Champions."'

And lets not forget that the Supreme Court decided long ago that Corporations have rights as well as all citizens do.

I think this is the right idea, but don't kid yourself about heroic Representatives fighting the evil corporations for the good of the people.

It's good to know (2)

Apreche (239272) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379969)

Even though this is a repeat story (that never happens!) It is good to know that not everyone in D.C. is a corrupt pawn of a corporation out to make money and nothing more. So voting isn't meaningless. Find out which people aren't corrupt and get them in office.

Re:It's good to know (1)

Software (179033) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380152)

It is good to know that not everyone in D.C. is a corrupt pawn of a corporation out to make money and nothing more
I'm sure that not everyone in DC is a corrupt pawn. But I wonder, how many Senators and Representatives will use the threat of this bill to extort^H^H^H^H^H^H request more campaign donations from their corporate benefactors?

TacoSnot change the flag icon you scumbag (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4379972)

What the hell is wrong with you? You have been asked to get a correct American Flag icon--Do it!!!

Re:TacoSnot change the flag icon you scumbag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380196)

Oh piss off you nazionalist nutcase.

National states should be dead and buried now. Dismantling borders and adapting a world government is the only way to go.

FINALLY!!!!!!!!! (1)

AlexMax2742 (602517) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379979)

It is about time something like this got in motion.

Now all it has to do is pass. I sincerely hope that they don't water it down...

hmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4379986)

I would have thought they could afford to purchase CDs. If they have to stoop to stealing them, we are in sad shape.

But this is what we all want. (0, Offtopic)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#4379987)

It looks like this guy is just fishing for votes from the tech community. Irefuse to fall for such a cynical ploy.

Re:But this is what we all want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380005)

Fishing for votes from the least voting segment of the population? Yeah, that makes sense ...

Re:But this is what we all want. (2)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380067)

I really dont think tech people are the 'least voting segment of the population'. I think that in general young people are, some of them may be tech people, but its more non tech.

Re:But this is what we all want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380030)

It looks like this guy is just fishing for votes from the tech community

Umm, Zoe is a woman...

Re:But this is what we all want. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380052)

Of course he isn't.

It's all about statistics. The majority of people in government are male, therefore, statistically Zoe must be a guy.

uhh moderators (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380071)

Do you know what "Offtopic" means?

Your stupid! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4379991)

I respect this web magazine quite a bit and read it multiple times a day. However, this article has to be your most clueless from my perspective:

This is why:

All software has bugs. All software has security holes. Lots and lots of them. Microsoft is hardly alone in this regard. The more usability and features you add to your products, the more bugs and security holes you add to your products.

The logic is straightforward.

I find it hilarious that people think that going to Linux or whatever other software is going to give them less bugs and security holes. Well, yes to some extent, because you have less usability and less features. But there are still thousands of bugs and thousands of security holes (you really can't count anything by counting only the ones that are published).

If anything, Microsoft's foray into "trusted computing" is dumb. I'm sure there are people at the company (including Bill G) who know it is technically impossible for computers to be secure or trusted. It's just a really stupid marketing tactic. See where it landed Oracle with their "Unbreakable Database" . (A great article, by the way).

This whole "trusted computing" distraction is wasting a lot of people's time. A bug is found, reported, and then fixed. It's really just a matter of choosing whose bugs you prefer. I think Microsoft fixes more bugs faster because they have more resources to do it, so I choose Microsoft's bugs. Anyone else is welcome to make their own decision, but if you haven't ever used other companies buggy software, I don't want to hear your opinion about how buggy Microsoft's software is.

Yep, one more repeat... (-1, Redundant)

deego (587575) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380000)

This story [slashdot.org] has been posted before. A repeat yet again. Just how is it possible for a person to be the esteemed slashdot editor if they cannot even keep track of what stories have been posted earlier?

Even an "ordinary" slashdot lurker like me knows a repeat story when he sees it.

You must have many people with excellent karmas. Why not make some of them the editors??

Re:Yep, one more repeat... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380040)

Michael has been too busy doing other things [amazon.com] to read Slashdot.

Re: Woo hoo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380109)

Michael sure has a fine taste in movies. I wish he would post nude pictures of himself on Slashdot. I wonder though, why are most geeks gay? Is it because we can not relate to women that we have to take it up the butt like Michael? (He is the VB you know). But anyway, another thing Slashdot should do is start a gay personals. You could rank it into tiers, low carma, medium carma, and maxxed carma. That way trolls could find love with each other and karma whores could find each other also. Remember, Karma is not just a integer in a database--it is a measure of your homosexuality. Low(negative) karma means you are the male/assertive gay and high karma means you are the woman/taker type of gay.

Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380002)

>which both note that there is no chance of these bills being passed this year.

Um, no they don't.

This bill will fizzle. (0)

Dugsmyname (451987) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380025)

With the imminent war in Iraq, this bill will most likely become sidelined... Something about American men and women being killed being more important than copyright law and what we can do with our CD/DVDs.. If it passes, hooray, but most politicians don't understand the difference between a CD and a DVD....

Re:This bill will fizzle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380050)

Part of the problem being that most american politicians, much like their president, can't spell "CD" or "DVD".

I wonder if... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380035)

this new law will protect ./'s right to copy old articles from the day before?

Why? (1, Flamebait)

BoBaBrain (215786) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380043)

Disclaimer: I'm not trolling. I'm just proposing an alternative view.

Why shouldn't companies slap whatever restrictions they want on their products? Microsoft's EULA could state that by opening the wrapper I agree to eat the contents. If I don't agree to that, I don't buy the product.

As consumers, we have no right to demand certain products. We do have the right not to buy a product we don't like. We also have the right to buy lots of products we do like.
This gives us a lot of clout in the market place.

If the product we want does not exist, then there is a niche in the market. Businesses may want to take advantage of this, as the excellent open source community has done.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

radish (98371) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380083)


That's fine if you can read the agreement before buying the product. The problem with shrinkwraps is that you often can't. You buy the nice looking box at the store, get it home, open it up and there's some sticker saying you have to take it back to the store for a refund if you don't agree. That's too much of a pain. If you want the agreement to be really binding (and I tend to agree that manufacturers should be able to put whatever terms in they want) you have to be open and make sure those terms are publicised alongside the marketing material.

Re:Why? (2)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380085)

Becuase a person or corporation can not take away an individules rights, period. My rights are God given and protected (supposedly) from (not by) the Government.

M$ is an easy case of a EULA and a products the world does not need, but what if I design a product that can save the life of say aids patients, but I put a EULA in it which says, and you shall always vote for the green party.

When you let one company or industry take away rights you open the door for them all to do it.

Re:Why? (2, Troll)

Enry (630) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380097)

We do have the right not to buy a product we don't like.

If MSFT were not a monopoly, I'd agree. But since they are, it makes it much harder to avoid purchasing their products and being forced to use them.

When interviewing, many companies asked for Word documents. Today, it's a bit easier to do with OpenOffice, but two years ago, it would have been almost impossible to do. Word is also used for most business communications. Now that I'm employed, I'm getting quotes from vendors in Excel spreadsheets. Even my dad is sending me digital photos from his camera in .DOC(!).

Now, does this mean that MSFT is popular because people use it, or that people use it because it's popular?

Because the RIAA is trying to force it on us. (3, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380105)

The issue is not that the RIAA is trying to DRM all of their products, the issue is that the RIAA is trying to legislatively force EVERYONE to DRM-cripple their products.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

katre (44238) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380108)

Why shouldn't companies slap whatever restrictions they want on their products? Microsoft's EULA could state that by opening the wrapper I agree to eat the contents. If I don't agree to that, I don't buy the product.

Two problems with this. First, what if Microsoft stated in their EULA that, if I want to run Windows, I have to go find a Linux-using hippy, break into his house, reformat his hard drive, and install Windows on his computer? This is fairly clearly illegal. So such a EULA would also be illegal.

Also, just try and get a copy of the EULA to software (especially from Microsoft) before buying it. It's not on the box. It's not on the website. While I've never tried myself, I've heard tell that people calling up or emailling Microsoft to ask for a copy were denied. It's not until after you've paid your money that you get asked if you want to accept the EULA. And find a software store that will accept a return of an opened box.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380115)

Microsoft's EULA could state that by opening the wrapper I agree to eat the contents. If I don't agree to that, I don't buy the product.
You would not find out that part of the EULA is to eat the contents until after paying for it and opening the box. Do you think it's fair to advertise an operating system, get someone to pay $200 for it, and then when they open it, they should be legally obligated to eat the contents in order to legally use the OS?

Re:Why? (2)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380120)

I agree with that view.

This is basically the point I made in this post [slashdot.org] .

Opponents of this view base their arguments around being forced into something by an industry, but I think that's a weak cop out.

You're quite correct, you have no right to expect something from any company or industry.

Re:Why? (1)

clonebarkins (470547) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380134)

Why shouldn't companies slap whatever restrictions they want on their products? Microsoft's EULA could state that by opening the wrapper I agree to eat the contents. If I don't agree to that, I don't buy the product.

Because the problem is you can't read the restrictions until you remove the shrinkwrap. If the restrictions are clearly printed on the outside of the package, then I might agree partially with some of what you said. However, most of these EULAs are in the shrinkwrap and boxes and can't be read until you've already opened them -- which presumably forces you to agree with it even though you didn't have a chance to read it yet.

It's like if you went to buy a house and the guy said, "Sure, you can look through it, but you gotta give me the down payment and pay off the mortgage before you're allowed to inspect the house."

As consumers, we have no right to demand certain products.

What does this have to do with anything? The contention isn't in products that don't exist -- it's in products that do exist, but which are restricted (connivingly) by EULAs that you can't read before you purchase the product.

We do have the right not to buy a product we don't like. We also have the right to buy lots of products we do like.

It's kinda funny because now you're refuting yourself. These rights themselves culminate in the right to demand a product we want.

If the product we want does not exist, then there is a niche in the market. Businesses may want to take advantage of this, as the excellent open source community has done.

Exactly. But you've gone off-topic now. The original argument is about the legality of EULAs, not whether or not there is a niche for widgets of a different color. It's about existing products that do have a marketplace demand, but which restrict somebody's rights after they buy the product they want.

Re:Why? (1)

DdJ (10790) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380135)

Why shouldn't companies slap whatever restrictions they want on their products? Microsoft's EULA could state that by opening the wrapper I agree to eat the contents. If I don't agree to that, I don't buy the product.
They should go right ahead and slap whatever restrictions they want on their products. They just shouldn't do it by the mechanism of shrink-wrap EULAs. Folks are used to just buying stuff and getting full use out of it. In my opinion, a shrink-wrap EULA isn't disclosure enough for licensing terms that differ dramatically from standard expectations. This mechanism borders on fraud. Make sure the customer understands the restrictions, and actually make them provide a real signature with a pen and ink, and all is joy. Just don't slip in unexpected restrictions via a shrink-wrap EULA that most people won't read anyway.

Re:Why? (3)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380177)

Why shouldn't companies slap whatever restrictions they want on their products?

There are really two reasons against this.

The first, and more important one, is that these agreements are not agreements. There is no contractual process going on here. There is only a sale. To make matters worse, the contents of the "agreement" is hidden from the purchaser until AFTER the sale has been completed. The fact is, the "contract" is attempting to force a consumer to abrogate rights that the consumer doesn't have the right to give away. Only a court of law can decide these things.

Second is that there are laws that companies have to follow. When Microsoft signed the papers that made them a Corporation they traded a certain amount of "freedom" for a certain amount of protection. Specifically the process of incorporating a company allows the owners and investors to be shielded from the actions of the company to a great extent. So, they have to take the bad (consumer protection laws) with the good (corporate shield laws).

Finally (thirdly, something about the Spanish Inquisition...), the companies make no effort to ensure that they are actually entering into a legally binding contract with these EULA's. Think about it. In most homes it is the kids that know the most about the computers and thus do the software purchasing and installation. So, if the 16 year old son is opening and installing all of the software on the box then how can the EULA be binding? (After all, the kid can't legally enter into a contract at that age.) Also, there's no effort on the company's behalf to obtain proof of the person who actually entered into the contract. Finally, there is patently illegal language in those contracts that violate both the first amendment (the no benchmarking clauses) and the doctrine of first sale (the no resale clauses).

Let your congressmen(women) know you want this! (5, Informative)

BobRooney (602821) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380051)

Its amazing and exciting that a member of congress has her finger so precisely on the pulse of the geek community with respect to the whole digital media fiasco.

What now? EVERYONE WRITE/CALL/PETITION your congressmen and your senators. Let them know that geeks vote too and we have the ability to get/cost them a large number of votes thanks to our prowess with all the latest communications technologies.

  • Find out what congressional district you live inLook up [house.gov]
  • Call your congressperson's office. Get them on the phone and tell them you want them to vote for this bill
  • If you get your congressman on the phone, schedule an appointment. If you cant' schedule an appointment, write 2 letters, yes 2.


  • The legislative process only works if you involve yourself. Oh, and don't forget to vote!.

Re:Let your congressmen(women) know you want this! (0, Offtopic)

AmishSlayer (324267) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380079)

MOD PARENT UP!!!!

copyright, EULA and GPL (2, Interesting)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380060)

Just wondering, with all of this bashing of copyrights and EULAS, isnt the GPL itself a copyright? and that little header that is on GPled files a EULA? After all, it does say how we can use the software and how we cant.

Re:copyright, EULA and GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380078)

You shit-for-brains cock sucker. The GPL is COPYLEFT. COPYLEFT. Dimwhit. DEATH TO LIBRALISM.

Re:copyright, EULA and GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380125)

DEATH TO LIBRALISM.

Here here! An deth 2 those dam dikshunry things 2.

Re:copyright, EULA and GPL (1)

Vinum (603982) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380144)

The GPL does not bind you by using a GPL program. All the GPL does is tell you what you can do with the source of a program or how you can distribute the program. Furthermore, if there was an expensive program out there under the GPL that you were going to purchase in the store you could go on the web and see exactly what the GPL was...

Find me a URL that shows the license agreements for all possible Microsoft programs that I could ever buy. :)

Hey Microsoft! (1)

TitusC3v5 (608284) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380081)

When a digital work is distributed to the public subject to non-negotiable license terms, such terms shall not be enforceable under the common laws or statutes of any State to the extent that they restrict or limit any of the limitations on exclusive rights under this title.

This to me is one of the most important aspects of th act. Microsoft isn't stupid - they know people don't read EULAs. In effect, would this not nullify most of M$'s up-and-coming .NET subscription business model? They aren't going to be able to FORCE you into a license agreement after you've already paid for their product, correct?

Uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380088)

Anybody know why cnet.com changed their URL to news.com.com? What's with the .com.com thing?

Address (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380090)

Washington, D.C. Office:
227 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3072
Fax: (202) 225-3336

San Jose District Office:
635 N. First Street
Suite B
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 271-8700
Fax: (408) 271-8713

It's nice that this fucking liberal gave us her addresses. It's about time someone firebombed these two offices and film the buring corpses falling from the windows. We need to set an example with these bastards. DEATH TO LIBERALISM!

EULA Strength? (3, Interesting)

viper21 (16860) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380094)

What kind of legal strength does a EULA have any more?

1. They are on every software product.
2. Nobody reads them.
3. Those who say they read them are lying.

Therefore, one could assume that nobody understands their rights and none of the software companies seem to enforce their stated restrictions. At least that I have seen.

So what good is a EULA these days? Should we be reading them? Are they even valid, considering they 'go into effect' upon opening of an envelope.

Can such an agreement be made without a signature?

Can I just have my minor child open software to relieve me of these obligations to the software company?

These are things I would like to know. I admit that I am ignorant :-)

-S

Re:EULA Strength? (5, Interesting)

Ryosen (234440) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380195)

Actually, I read them. As a developer, I have to be concerned with what provisions companies put into their EULAs regarding distribution and use of their tools. I'm much too lazy to go digging for the references, but there are many examples of frivolous restrictions being placed in the EULA. For example, Microsoft's specification that its tools may not be used in open source development.

In addition to this, as a consumer, I look through the EULA for clues that there might be trojan processes in the software. Microsoft's Media Player is a good example of this whereby they reveal in their EULA that they can remotely access your machine and install arbitrary "updates." This has been covered here before so there is really no need to retread it again.

As for the legality of the EULA, no, it is not enforceable. The EULA is supposed to be a precursor to the purchase and subsequent use of the software. However, as you cannot view the EULA before purchasing, and as the software is invariably non-returnable, the agreement is non-binding.

By law, you have a set term to review a contract before signing it. In most states, this is three business days. A contract cannot be introduced and imposed ex post facto (after the fact). Typically, a contract is not legally binding unless it is signed by both parties and in the presence of at least one witness. Further, a contract is not binding to a minor unless that minor's parent or guardian also signs. So the whole notion of EULAs in video games is nonsense.

Ultimately, the enforceability of a EULA relies on the ignorance of the parties involved. The consumer who believes that it is binding and the vendor who finds comfort in the mistaken belief that an enforceable contract has been executed.

I personally do not know of a single court case where a EULA has been tested, which suggsests to me that the software manufacturers and their legal teams realize that a EULA is nothing more than a facade.

With respect to the inclusion of EULA legistlation in Lofgren's bill, I would suspect that that was put there as a bargaining chip. In negotiations, you always ask for more than you expect to receieve and you always ask for things that you don't care too much about. This way, you have something that you can concede to the other parties without actually losing something that you want.

Ice Cube + Hell = ? (1)

Ryosen (234440) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380099)

...which both note that there is no chance of these bills being passed this year.

...or any year, for that matter.

Granted, it's not binding anyway, but you'll probably see Hillary Rosen doing iPod commercials before companies like Microsoft et. al. give up the facade of the "enforceable" EULA.

Will not pass, but good to do anyways.. (2, Interesting)

debest (471937) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380106)

Neither this bill nor Boucher's will pass, because there is no huge lobby (or $$) for this cause like Hollywood has. Still, it's good to go forward anyways, since raising public awareness is the only shot we have to change the industry's mind.

Actually, introducing this now (when it might possibly be made into an election issue) is a great idea, as the public is paying a bit more attention to politics than usual and is less likely to be completely ignored by mainstream press (a la DMCA).

BTW, *two* bills that seek to accomplish roughly the same thing? Why?

This bill will never pass (5, Interesting)

Patrick (530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380112)

Rep Lofgren's bill probably isn't even intended to pass. It's intended to get a voice out there to debate Sen Hollings. It defines a spectrum. It tells the rest of Congress that Sen Hollings is a raving, preserve-the-Mouse-at-all-costs lunatic. Rep Lofgren is giving consumer rights groups, the consumer electronics industry, Apple, and civil liberties groups a bill to support.

What gets passed, if anything, will be somewhere in between Lofgren's bill and Hollings's bill.

Happy disbelief (2)

Jeppe Salvesen (101622) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380116)

Granted, I no longer live in the states. But - to see such a bill introduced by a Californian Democrat is quite encouraging. Way to go, Zoe. If this passes, the rest of the world will thank you.

Act at the local level (2, Informative)

RobertNotBob (597987) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380123)

After I read the article and followed the links to the actuall bill, I was very pleased with what I saw. However my representatives in congress has no way of knowing this unless I tell them.

If you are a regestered voter, tell your representatives what you want. If you are a citizen but not registered to vote, then move away to some backwater, third-world country where you belong. Or, of course, you could just get off of your lazy, excuse-finding a$$ and register.

And to be most effective use SNAIL-MAIL. Five letters with a return address from their home district get more attention from congressmen than 500 digital signatures from unknown locations on the internet, even if they SAY they are constituants. Slashdotting a website with 150,000 hits may be cool and all, but 150,000 leters to congress can actually make a difference.

OT: snail mail v. email for contacting congress (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380179)

And to be most effective use SNAIL-MAIL. Five letters with a return address from their home district get more attention from congressmen than 500 digital signatures from unknown locations on the internet, even if they SAY they are constituants.


This may be true, but I have doubts over whether a letter to one's congress critters posted through the USPS is any more effective than an email sent to one's congress critters. I used to think so, until I contacted my US congressional representative last year via the house email contact form. Much to my surprise I got a snail mail response two months later informing me about a different (but related) issue.

Apparently, someone in my congress critter's office reads the feedback and keeps track (to a certain extent) of what constituents are interested in what issues.

Not to mention that events like last year's despicable mailing of anthrax to government agencies have made snail mail much less valuable as a value proposition.

Faxing is probably a good middle ground. But email uses less of my federal tax dollars.

Good day.

Full analysis needed (2)

sphealey (2855) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380143)

Sometimes the text of bills ends up creating the opposite effect of what is stated (can you say "Patriot Act"?). Is anyone doing a detailed analysis of this bill to determine if this is the one that proponents of the rights of individual citizens should be backing?

sPh

Where do you get a ban on shrinkwraps? (2)

jimhill (7277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380157)

On the off chance that there'll be people reading the comments who didn't read the full text of the bill, it contains the following definition: "A 'digital work' is any literary (except a computer program), sound recording or musical work, or dramatic, motion picture or other audiovisual work, in whole or in part in a digital or other non-analog format."

See that "except a computer program" part?

Not that it matters -- Lofgren introduced the bill far enough before the election to claim she's a backer of your right to watch movies but too close to the end of the legislative session for anything to come of it.

*sighs* (1)

jjshoe (410772) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380158)

its not uncommon if you visit your state senate passing laws to first stop a law from passing. then they motion for a re-vote only to pass the law


got to love politics!

Re:*sighs* (1)

jjshoe (410772) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380185)

i forgot to expand on why they do this. come election time they can claim they voted one way on a certain bill. realy i hope some day that america runs an entire electronic based voting system that can be monitored via the web so we can see exactly who's doing what


however im sure big bucked politics will just make sure certain things dont show *sigh*

The bill won't get passed this year or any other!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4380163)

It won't get passed this year or any future year!

Three words:

World War Three!!!!

Its coming to a foreign land near you!

EULA not for Computer Software (5, Informative)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380165)

I'm surprised (or maybe I shouldn't be) that nobody's mentioned that the anti-EULA section of the bill explicitly excludes computer software:
"(b) When a digital work is distributed to the public subject to non-negotiable license terms, such terms shall not be enforceable under the common laws or statutes of any State to the extent that they restrict or limit any of the limitations on exclusive rights under this title.


"(c) As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings: A 'digital work' is any literary (except a computer program), sound recording or musical work, or dramatic, motion picture or other audiovisual work, in whole or in part in a digital or other non-analog format.
It looks like the right to copy/archive/circumvent does not exclude computer software, though -- this seems to be the only explicit exclusion. Of course, one really needs to actually patch the relevant code with the proposed diff :) to see what's *really* being introduced.

Don't get me wrong, I like this thing, but... (2)

foxtrot (14140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380169)

From the text of the bill: a work in a digital or other non-analog format ...as opposed to non-digital, non-analog formats?

-JDF [We need a few geek congresscritters]

It it real or just a stunt? (2, Insightful)

kawika (87069) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380178)

Here's a cynical view. Every year, minority parties and candidates dredge up lost causes on nearly every controversial issue that they hope will improve the odds in upcoming elections. By being on the losing side they say "I'm sticking up for you" to those particular interests without really risking anything.

When a long-shot bill actually does get a chance due to exceptional circumstances, such as campaign reform after Enron, the process is slowly and noisily debated for the benefit of cameras. Often nothing comes of it, but each politician will swear they wanted to make something happen. If a bill actually passes, it is watered down enough to provide a symbolic victory without actually affecting the way business is done.

I think we're much more likely to have our rights protected by the courts than by Congress. Once those rights under current laws are reaffirmed, it will be politically difficult for Congress to pass new laws taking them away.

What about legitimate use? (-1)

slashuzer (580287) | more than 11 years ago | (#4380193)

Invalid form key: AMwPhG7Me1 ! If this error seems to be incorrect, please provide the following in your report to SourceForge.net: Browser type User ID/Nickname or AC What steps caused this error Whether you used the Back button on your browser Whether or not you know your ISP to be using a proxy, or any sort of service that gives you an IP that others are using simultaneously How many posts to this form you successfully submitted during the day * Please choose 'formkeys' for the category! Thank you.
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