[Reader-list] Re: [2600] DMCA Sequel:The SSSCA and its potential effects

Jaswinder Singh Kohli jskohli at fig.org
Thu Sep 13 01:18:40 IST 2001

Ideas: The SSSCA and its potential effects
Sep 11, 2001, 16 :00 UTC (20 Talkback[s]) (3824 reads)

Manuel Amador (Rudd-O) writes:

14:46 10/09/2001

This document is licensed under the GNU FDL

Over here at Plastic I just read about the latest offering from the U.S.
Congress. It's called the SSSCA, and it's brought to you by Sen. Fritz
Hollings (for those of you informed about the DMCA, you know who he is).

I'm not going to get into the details of what it is supposed to do and what
it really does. I'm just going to dissect the possible effects of the law:

1. It will make free software in (at least) the domain of operating systems
    Yes, no more Linux. Why? Because a DRM scheme like the proposal for the
SSSCA requires
    operating system-level support. And  obviously, no self-respecting Linux
advocate is going to write
    support for it. 16% of the global computer users will be left in the
dark or forced to shell out the
    money for a license for an encumbered and government-approved operating

    Global? Isn't the law only valid in the States? Think again: first, the
U.S. tends to export policy,
    technology and law to other countries, especially third-world ones.
Second, most PC manufacturers
    (no matter their resistance to it) probably won't be able to afford to
differentiate markets and will ship
    computers with the same restrictions to other parts of the globe.

2. It will make many DIY modifications to hardware illegal.
    You might stumble on a modification you really need, and upon performing
it you might accidentally
    or intentionally disable the DRM scheme.

3. It will close access to and sharing of many of your electronic
    documents.As the tendency of the software industry goes, many a file
format will be SSSCA-DRM
    enabled, and I bet you will have problems distributing your information
or restoring it from backups.
    Even if you don't have problems, DRM will make the task of restoring
backups cumbersome.

4. It will make anonymous speech nearly impossible. Since most of the file
formats will be DRM-enabled,
    your information will be timestamped and associated with your personal
creation ID. That is, if the
    scheme enforces personal IDs, which are required for a workable and
enforceable DRM solution.
    So everywhere someone enjoys (or regrets) something you worked on, you
can be sure he/she'll
    know you were involved.

5. It will outlaw many fair uses we know and enjoy. Look at Dmitry Skylarov.
A tool for fair use
    enforcement is now deemed illegal. Continuing this trend, we should
begin jailing Smith &
    Wesson employees (for the record and in interest of full disclosure, I
am a strong advocate of
    people arming and defending themselves).

6. It will make unsanctioned content akin to pirate or outlaw content.
Perhaps the most chilling
    effect that the SSSCA will have on free speech is that unsanctioned
(read: not DRM-licensed
     but freely authored or in free-to-use formats) speech will be seen by
future generations as something
    to run away from, surrounded by an aura of forbidden and bad, behavior
that surely will be instituted
    by megacorporations, such as Disney, that are sponsoring the SSSCA. This
can be expected, since
    the RIAA tried it with its "Home taping is killing music" propaganda
campaign in the 1970's. It's in
    every media mogul's agenda.

7. It will stifle innovation, create entry barriers for small inventors and
ensure megacorporation technology
    control, and widen the digital divide. The integration of the mandatory
DRM technology will drive up
    the costs of hardware development, manufacture and distribution. This
will ensure that low-capital
    startups will endure hard times, while guaranteeing market dominance for
huge corporations who can
    afford to revamp their product lines. The same problem will be
experienced in smaller countries who
    will have a larger barrier of entry into the U.S. market.

I held some hope until today. Now I'm convinced that our grandchildren will
enjoy the Right to read (TM) future.

You can find the original and revised document at:

Jaswinder Singh Kohli
jskohli at fig.org
The Uni(multi)verse is a figment of its own imagination.
In truth time is but an illusion of 3D frequency grid programs.

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