[Cdn-DMCA] Tech activists protest anti-copying
jyoung at lexinformatica.org
Thu Jul 18 13:31:03 EDT 2002
Let me add a few observations from yesterday:
- I was impressed by Rob Reid, founder/CEO of Listen.com who asked
and then answered the questions "How do you compete with free?"
Citing designer bottled water as a precedent, Reid said piracy will
be a permanent part of the landscape and litigation is not the
answer. Instead, he said that rights holders need to create a
legitimate market that is attractive enough consumers will want to
use it over other, illegitimate services. He described the experience
of downloading an album from Listen.com vs. pirate services
(convenience over cost).
- Valenti disagreed, saying that you cannot compete with free and
wished Reid luck, but Mitch Glazier of RIAA did not side with him on
- Valenti is still looking for a compulsory licence for all music
transmitted over the net. However, when Lessig challenged Valenti at
the Tech Forum a couple of weeks back to end litigation and accept a
compulsory licence for analog (non-DRM protected music), Valenti
- Glazier talked a bit about RIAA's proposal for an "audio flag" to
combat misuse of webcast licencing by narrowcasters or end-users
(i.e. Streamripper). Interestingly, nobody else present from the
webcasting community had heard of this proposal.
- Preston Padden (Disney) called on gov't to set a time line for
action, but Phil Bond (Commerce) didn't seem too keen on the idea.
- Microsoft said DRM is a privacy-enhancing technology that could
easily be applied to your own "content" (i.e. p.i.) as it could to
copyright works. ZKS used to call this PRM (privacy rights
management), but it suffers from all the same criticisms, namely, how
do you plug the "analog hole" and apply PRM attributes to legacy
systems; and, how do you secure the PRM "platform". PRM only works if
everybody plays by the rules and falls apart the instant any one
actor chooses not to.
- Valenti accused the IT industry of dragging their feet on DRM by
not responding quickly enough to a letter the MPAA had sent them
requesting a sit-down. This angered a lot of the IT reps. In
particular, Rhett Dawson of ITIC responded by pointing out that the
IT industry was twenty-times larger than the motion picture industry.
Some public interest advocates like to paint industry with one brush,
but I think that is the wrong thing to do in the DRM debate; the IT
and content industries are not in the same boat.
- Rhett Dawson also mentioned - and I was glad to hear it - that the
IT industry needed to be careful that DRM standards did not invoke
anti-trust concerns. Nobody mentioned reverse engineering or the
free/open-source software question, but concern over anti-trust is a
- Jonathan Potter of DiMA called for DRM that respected 'fair use'. I
was disappointed to hear a consumer advocate say this because I don't
believe DRM can ever treat 'fair use' without necessarily giving it
structure, rigidity and thereby shrinking its scope. Canada, btw,
does not have fair use. It has 'fair dealing' exceptions, which are
enumerated in the act and which could be much more easily coded into
software rules. I think 'fair dealing' is a poor substitute for 'fair
use', and if you attempt to code 'fair use' into software, you're
going to end up with 'fair dealing'.
- one of Reid's biggest concerns wrt the creation of a legit market
for digital audio is the lack of access to the complete catalogue,
particularly for out-of-print titles. Rather than having to seek
permission from the artists or rights holders - who are apparently
very difficult to track down for this category - he suggested a "safe
harbour" scheme whereby digital audio services could sell
out-of-print music, keep royalties in escrow, and receive limited
liability protection for infringement.
EPIC's comments on the Commerce roundtable questions can be found
>Tech activists protest anti-copying
>By Declan McCullagh
>Staff Writer, CNET News.com
>July 17, 2002, 5:55 PM PT
>WASHINGTON--Enthusiasts of free software disrupted a Commerce Department
>meeting Wednesday, insisting on their right to debate the entertainment
>industry over anti-copying technologies.
>About a dozen vocal tech activists in the audience challenged speakers,
>including Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America
>(MPAA), who equated piracy with theft and applauded digital rights
>In 1982, he told a House committee that "the VCR is to the American film
>producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman
>BTW: I think the wrong language was used here. I think he meant to say
>"who equated unauthorized sharing with theft"
>Then there is "digital privilege extension and enforcement" rather than
>Digital Rights Management, but you get the idea.
> Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
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