June 25, 2018

Archives for June 2004

Tech Giants Support DMCA Reform

Big tech companies, including Intel and Sun Microsystems, and ISPs, including Verizon and SBC, will announce today that they have banded together to form the “Personal Technology Freedom Coalition,” to support Rep. Rick Boucher’s DMCRA bill (HR 107) to reform the DMCA, according to a Declan McCullagh story at news.com.

The Boucher bill would reform the DMCA to allow the distribution and use of circumvention technologies for non-infringing purposes. (As written, the DMCA bans even circumventions that don’t result in copyright infringement.) The bill would also create an exemption to the DMCA for legitimate research.

This bill has always been in the interests of technologists. The overbreadth of the DMCA has restrained both research and development of innovative, noninfringing uses of technology. The whole tech community – including users – would benefit from a narrowing of the DMCA.

So far, technology companies have been a bit shy about expressing their support for the Boucher bill, apparently out of a desire not to offend copyright maximalists. It’s good news that these companies are now willing to stand up for their interests and the interests of their customers.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about the Boucher bill in the coming weeks.

Voting News

The League of Women Voters last week rescinded its support for paperless e-voting machines. The decision was driven by grassroots support among the League’s members, overriding a previous policy that was, according to rumor, decreed originally by a single member of the League’s staff. (I can’t find this story on the public part of the League’s site, but it comes from a reliable source, so I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

Also, tomorrow, June 22, there will be a rally in Washington for supporters of voter-verifiable paper trails. The rally runs from 11:45 until 1:00, on Cannon Terrace, just south of the U.S. Capitol, between the Cannon and Longworth House Office Buildings. (Metro stop: Capitol South; enter at the corner of New Jersey and Independence) Speakers include Rep. Rush Holt and other members of Congress.

Lame Copy Protection Doesn't Depress CD Sales Much

A CD “protected” by the SunnComm anti-copying technology is now topping the music charts. This technology, you may recall, was the subject of a paper by Alex Halderman. The technology presents absolutely no barrier to copying on some PCs; on the remaining PCs, it can be defeated by holding down the Shift key when inserting the CD.

SunnComm execs say that this demonstrates consumer acceptance of their technology. A quick look at the consumer reviews at Amazon tells the real story: the technology causes significant problems for some law-abiding customers, and many customers dislike it. Many customers find the technology bearable only because it is so easily defeated, thereby allowing customers who, say, want to download songs from the album onto their iPods a way to do so.

Alex Halderman reports receiving at least three unsolicited emails this week thanking him for explaining how consumers can stop the SunnComm technology from impeding their fair use of this album. Here’s one:

Hello,

Thanks for the great article on this topic. I just bought the new Velvet Revolver CD and was not able to listen to it on my computer or import it into my iTunes program. I did use their “Copy” option which saved the files as Windows Media Files but these couldn’t be converted by iTunes. Well this is not acceptable and within about 5 minutes I was able to find your article and disable the lame driver.

Keep up the great work!

Another, in addition to discussing the fair use issue, says this:

If I wasn’t such a fan of this band, I would have taken the CD back in protest. But alas, it’s the only way to be legal and I wish for the artist to reap their financial benefits.

Needless to say, the SunnComm technology has not kept the songs on this album off of the filesharing systems.