(Fwd) If music be the food of law
Tom at Abacurial.com
Tue May 14 19:35:22 EDT 2002
For Your Information , Tom
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Date sent: Tue, 14 May 2002 18:00:01 -0500
Subject: If music be the food of law
To: Tom at Abacurial.com
From: NW Gibbs and Bradner <GibbsBradner at bdcimail.com>
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NETWORK WORLD NEWSLETTER:
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Today's focus: If music be the food of law
In this issue:
* Backspin columnist Mark Gibbs implores others to get behind
the Electronic Frontier Foundation
* Featured reader resource
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Today's focus: If music be the food of law
By Mark Gibbs
I just drove from my home (north of Los Angeles) to Las Vegas,
a pleasant 5 1/2-hour jaunt. It was great - I loaded up the CD
cartridge, packed it into the car, cranked up the volume and
rocked out baby.
My selections included a CD I purchased ("Tales of the
Inexpressible" by Shpongle - one of the best CDs of 2001) as
well as several I created. The content for the latter I
downloaded - no, not from Napster, Grokster or any of that ilk.
Last year I subscribed to emusic.com and it frankly changed my
life. I am a music addict and I used to spend a fortune on CDs.
The problem was that much of the money I spent was wasted. All
too frequently I'd hear a track or two from some album, go and
buy it and then find that the rest of the album was far less
Then I found emusic.com! Emusic has several subscription plans
and I chose the $9.95-per-month version that lets me download
as many MP3s as I please. And what a selection there is! My
collection of jazz and big band has exploded, I'm drowning in
classics and my drum and bass, jungle, ambient and hip hop
holdings are staggering.
So, in preparation for my journey I burned a half-dozen CDs
and, as I said, off I roared.
Now, if the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group (BPDG) has
its way, downloading music could become far more complex or
even forbidden. The BPDG is a subgroup of the Copy Protection
Technical Working Group, itself a subgroup of the Motion
Picture Association of America (MPAA). Whew.
The objective of the BPDG is to define what features must and
must not be included in digital playback devices (TVs, audio
players and so on) as part of a "standard." To this end they
have invited all of the major technology vendors to join in and
most worryingly, this insane idea is to be enforced by law!
Yep, you read that right. Senator Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) has
been trying since last year to sneak a bill into existence
called the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act
(SSSCA), which would require that any "digital media
technology" be controlled to the extent that approval would be
required to introduce new digital media technologies in both
professional and consumer equipment.
So far, Intel and Phillips have spoken out against the SSSCA
and its bastard revision, Hollings' Consumer Broadband and
Digital Television Promotion Act, but the battle has probably
not even begun.
The problem is that Hollywood as represented by the MPAA just
doesn't get it: It doesn't matter what laws are passed, digital
content cannot be controlled by its creator once it is let
loose in the world. Sure, we can create laws that mandate
technologies to be used in equipment maintain copyright but we
all know how long it will take before someone figures out a
But in all this wild posturing and positioning, these ideas
will have an effect far greater than stopping a few CDs or DVDs
from being copied: They will create a violent assault on free
speech, including academic work (remember Professor Felten, who
successfully hacked the bSecure Digital Music Initiative's
"Public Challenge" and was legally prevented from publishing
his results), hobble technological progress, and make consumer
and professional products more complex, more expensive and less
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://www.eff.org/) has
lots of background and news on these issues and we should all
get behind the EFF and make our voices heard before this
stupidity gets more momentum. The sheer irrationality of these
ideas is frightening and should they get any traction in the
real world it will set an appalling precedent for all sorts
of controls over the IT industry.
And worst of all, it could make my drive to Las Vegas much less
Secure or insecure music recommendations to backspin at gibbs.com.
To contact Mark Gibbs:
Mark Gibbs (http://www.gibbs.com/mgbio) is a consultant,
author, journalist, and columnist. He writes the weekly
Backspin (http://www.nwfusion.com/columnists/gibbs.html) and
columns in Network World. Gibbs is also co-conspirator of the
Vitally Important Information Web site,
Gibbs can be contacted at mailto:webapps at gibbs.com. Press
releases to mailto:pr at gibbs.com.
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