FC: Intel VP, bruised in hearing, dashes off letter to Senate

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 20:44:50 PST

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    The background here is that Intel's Vadasz got beaten up pretty badly
    during the hearing today (see Mike Godwin's below). So Vadasz,
    sensibly, felt compelled to try to lay out his arguments in a more
    careful manner in the letter below.
    It is a mark of how poorly the hearing went for opponents of
    SSSCA-style legislation that Intel chose to do this nearly
    unprecedented step. Often witnesses extend their remarks. Rarely is it
    done so quickly, forcefully, and publicly. (Intel's PR department
    immediately sent this to reporters.)
    Politech archive on Sen. Hollings' SSSCA:
    Prepared testimony from the hearing:
    Draft text of the SSSCA:
            February 28, 2002
            Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
            508 Dirksen Senate Office Building
            Washington, DC  20010
            Dear Chairman Hollings and members of the Committee:
            I write to thank you for the opportunity to testify today
            before the committee on the important issues of content
            protection for digital media. After my appearance today, I
            received a number of questions from members of the press about
            a few key points and I wanted to convey to the members of the
            committee my answers to those questions to be included in the
            record of the hearing, with the Committee's permission. I
            believe this additional information will help the committee
            understand more fully the IT perspective.
            I reiterate that the CPTWG cross-industry working group has
            developed effective technology that is available today that
            can and will protect new digital, secured content from being
            pirated on the Internet. If it is protected "at the source" it
            will always be protected from the illegal activities of
            Internet pirates. Sony Pictures and AOL-Time/Warner have in
            fact licensed this technology.
            However, there was a point of confusion injected before the
            Committee by Mr. Eisner and Mr. Chernin, specifically: the
            securing of unprotected content from Internet piracy. It is
            important for the Committee to understand that content, once
            captured in "unprotected" form, can never be put back in the
            "bottle" and protected against copying on the Internet. This
            is because this unprotected media looks no different to
            digital devices than a home movie that you would send to a
            relative or friend. There is no watermark, chip device, or
            screening system that will ever effectively put an end to this
            problem. Only the passage of time - as new content is released
            with the required protection technologies - will eventually
            solve Internet piracy. Mr. Perry, who co-chairs the relevant
            working group within the CPTWG, also made this clear.
            Another major point of misunderstanding is our differing
            perspectives on the role of the PC in the hands of the
            consumer. Mr. Eisner's characterization of the phrase "rip,
            mix, burn" as emblematic of our industry's perspective on
            piracy is utterly false. What the content community fails to
            recognize is that these utilities - the ability to copy
            content, remix and manage it and port it to other storage
            media for personal use in a protected fashion - are features
            that consumers have come to expect. The ability to rip, mix
            and burn in a protected manner is not piracy, it is simply
            fair use of content as permitted by law.
            As I said, we will continue to work with all interested
            parties on these important issues, as they are vitally
            important to our industries and the nation's economy. Thank
            you again for the opportunity to present our position on these
            important matters.
            Leslie L. Vadasz
            Executive Vice President
            Intel Corporation      
    From: Mike Godwin <mnemonicat_private>
    Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 17:11:32 -0500
    To: Dave Farber <daveat_private>
    Cc: mnemonicat_private
    Subject: Re: IP: intel backs consumers in copyright war
    Hi, Dave.
    I was in the hearing room, and I thought Vadasz's testimony made
    important points. But the senators were not terribly receptive to his
    arguments, and in fact came close to (effectively) ordering the IT
    industry simply to comply with Hollywood's demands (or else they'd be
    forced to by legislation). It was clear to me and to other
    technically knowledgeable people in the room that neither the
    senators nor most of the copyright-company witnesses grasped the
    scope of what Disney's Eisner and others were asking for.
    The IT community has a formidable task ahead of it when it comes to
    educating policymakers about the problems and costs of proposals like
    the one Senator Hollings floated prior to this hearing. Because a
    central goal of Hollywood's lobbying effort this time is to prevent
    unencrypted and unwatermarked content from being circulated on the
    Net, and the only kinds of measures that could do this require
    top-to-bottom rearchitecting of every aspect of the digital world.
    This rearchitecting would, among other things, require first the
    labelling of all coprighted content and secondly a redesign of all
    digital tools (from PCs to OSs to routers to everything else) to look
    for the labels and permit or deny copying accordingly. But few
    speakers at the hearing seemed to be aware of this.
    Consumer and civil-liberties groups were not represented on the
    witness list, but they were in the room, as were representatives of
    many companies that would be affected by schemes like the one that
    might be mandated by Senator Hollings.  Most audience members were
    visibly amused or distressed when Eisner confessed that the only
    reason he could think of for Michael Dell not to build in ubiquitous
    copyright-policing functions in his products was that Dell wants to
    sell his products to infringers.
    The central thing I took away from the hearing was that too many of
    the players and decisionmakers in this area lack the basic technical
    understanding necessary to make intelligent copyright-policy and
    IT-policy decisions. It was disheartening.
    For archives see:
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