August 6, 2020

Archives for October 2002

Fritz's Real Hit List

Seth Finkelstein suggests that I should reexamine my “Fritz’s Hit List” feature in light of the “leeway” concept. Seth says, in effect, that it is possible, or at least it might be possible, to redefine the scope of the Hollings CBDTPA so that it covers “what 99.9% of the population uses for business or entertainment,” while not covering the items on Fritz’s Hit List.

I started Fritz’s Hit List to illustrate the extreme overbreadth of the Hollings CBDTPA. This can’t be fixed by making minor adjustments to the bill, or by relying on leeway to cover a few exceptional cases. The bill’s scope is far, far too broad. That’s the real point of Fritz’s Hit List.

This raises the obvious question of whether the bill can be fixed. Is it possible to redefine “digital media device” so that it is broad enough to cover the things it “needs” to cover, yet narrow enough to leave out dolls, dictaphones, and dog toys?

That’s harder than it sounds. I don’t know how to write such a definition. I haven’t seen anybody else offer a good definition either. The CBDTPA’s authors gave us a definition that is pretty far off.

So here is my challenge to the advocates of the Hollings CBDTPA: When you respond to Fritz’s Hit List, don’t just say, “That isn’t what we meant.” Tell us – specifically – what you did mean.

Fritz's Hit List #28

Today on Fritz’s Hit List: cockpit voice recorders.

These devices, which are part of an airplane’s “black box,” record the sounds audible in an plane’s cockpit, for forensic use in case of an accident. Newer recorders use digital storage, so they qualify for regulation as “digital media devices” under the Hollings CBDTPA. If the CBDTPA passes, any newly manufactured cockpit voice recorders will have to incorporate government-approved copy restriction technology.

Fight piracy – regulate cockpit voice recorders!

[Thanks to Eric Bragg for suggesting this item.]

Microsoft Decision Upcoming?

We’re still waiting for Judge Kollar-Kotelly to rule on the two outstanding issues in the Microsoft antitrust case: whether to approve the settlement between Microsoft, the DOJ, and the settling states; and what remedy to give the non-settling states. She is expected to rule simultaneously on both issues, and the ruling could come at any time.

The court has a mailing list, to which it sends updates about the case. (Click here if you want to subscribe.) The updates are simple text messages, typically announcing that some minor motion has been filed. Today, though, the list received an unusual test message, apparently testing out the court’s ability to send a PDF attachment to the list. It’s almost as if the court is expecting to send out a large PDF document soon.