[ISN] New Copyright Bill Heading to DC

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Sun Sep 09 2001 - 22:17:37 PDT

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    By Declan McCullagh 
    4:19 p.m. Sep. 7, 2001 PDT  
    WASHINGTON -- Music and record industry lobbyists are quietly readying
    an all-out assault on Congress this fall in hopes of dramatically
    rewriting copyright laws.
    With the help of Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), the powerful chairman of the
    Senate Commerce committee, they hope to embed copy-protection controls
    in nearly all consumer electronic devices and PCs. All types of
    digital content, including music, video and e-books, are covered.
    The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA),
    scheduled to be introduced by Hollings, backs up this requirement with
    teeth: It would be a civil offense to create or sell any kind of
    computer equipment that "does not include and utilize certified
    security technologies" approved by the federal government.
    It also creates new federal felonies, punishable by five years in
    prison and fines of up to $500,000. Anyone who distributes copyrighted
    material with "security measures" disabled or has a network-attached
    computer that disables copy protection is covered.
    Hollings' draft bill, which Wired News obtained on Friday, represents
    the next round of the ongoing legal tussle between content holders and
    their opponents, including librarians, programmers and open-source
    Hollywood executives fret that without strong copy protection in
    widespread use, piracy will allow digital versions of movies to be
    pirated as readily as MP3 audio files once were with Napster. With the
    SSSCA enacted, the thinking goes, U.S. technology firms will have no
    choice but to insert copy-protection technology in future products.
    The last legislative salvo in the content wars was the controversial
    1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which the SSSCA extends and
    expands. Under existing law, Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov has
    been charged with allegedly selling "circumvention" devices, and 2600
    magazine has been sued for distributing a DVD-decryption utility.
    "The government is mandating what your technology has to do," says
    Cindy Cohn, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
    of the SSSCA. "The government's now in some ways effectively writing
    code that anyone who makes anything with a microprocessor has to
    implement in anything they make. I'm unaware of any other requirement
    like that."
    Hollings' aides could not be reached for comment on Friday. One
    lobbyist opposing the legislation said Disney, which markets movies
    and TV shows, is the measure's most ardent supporter among industry
    The SSSCA and existing law work hand in hand to steer the market
    toward using only computer systems where copy protection is enabled.
    First, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act created the legal
    framework that punished people who bypassed copy protection -- and
    now, the SSSCA is intended to compel Americans to buy only systems
    with copy protection on by default.
    The SSSCA says that it is illegal to create, sell or distribute "any
    interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified
    security technologies" that are approved by the U.S. Commerce
    Department. An interactive digital device is defined as any hardware
    or software capable of "storing, retrieving, processing, performing,
    transmitting, receiving or copying information in digital form."
    Jessica Litman, a law professor at Wayne State University who
    specializes in intellectual property, likened it to the 1992 Audio
    Home Recording Act that slapped restrictions on digital audio
    "This appears to be an attempt to expand the concept to anything that
    has a microprocessor in it and to have everyone agree or to have the
    government set technological standards that will enforce copyright
    owners' preferences," Litman says.
    "Forgetting all the reasons why this is bad copyright policy and bad
    information policy, it's terrible science policy," she says.
    Sonia Arrison, a technology policy analyst at the free-market Pacific
    Research Institute, said, "Some parts of this go too far.... Would
    this mean that if I distributed a file that I received from someone
    who had broken security technology that I would be breaking the law?
    Sounds like it."
    Under the SSSCA, industry groups have a year to agree on a security
    standard, or the Commerce Department will step in and decide on one.
    Sunshine laws would not apply to meetings held in conjunction with the
    law, and industry organizations would be immune from antitrust
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