FC: Everyone hates SSSCA, CBDPTA in comments to Senate Judicary panel

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Thu Mar 21 2002 - 23:59:03 PST

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: Forget MP3 players: Hollings' CBDTPA regulates software too"

    [Some sample comments follow. An exercise for the reader: How many of
    these comments *applaud* the SSSCA or, by extension, the approach its
    successor takes? See: http://www.politechbot.com/docs/cbdtpa/
          Protecting Creative Works in a Digital Age: What is at stake for
                       Content Creators, Purveyors and Users?
                             Thursday,  March 21, 2002
                                    Scott Atwood
                            Los Altos Hills , California
         Dear Honorable Senators,
         I am writing to you as a concerned citizen
         regarding the proposed "Security Systems Standards
         and Certification Act" or SSSCA. There has
         always been a delicate balance between holders
         of copyrights and users of copyrighted materials.
         I fear that the SSSCA will drastically alter the
         balance in favor of copyright holders.
         The courts have historically recognized and
         protected the fair use rights of consumers of
         copyrighted materials. For instance recording
         a television program to watch later at a more
         convenient time, copying music from a CD I own
         to my MP3 player to listen to while I work out,
         and loaning a book to a friend are all legal under
         fair use. The SSSCA would curtail or eliminate
         the ability to perform these actions in the
         digital domain, thereby trampling on consumers
         fair use rights.
         The media industry supporting this legislation
         claims that it is necessary to prevent piracy.
         It would prevent the average unsophisticated
         user from casually copying protected materials,
         whether for a legally protected use or not.
         Technically sophisticated users will still be
         able to bypass the restrictions and copy at will.
         One only has to look at the software industry to
         recognize the effectiveness of copy protection
         schemes. Most companies have given up copy
         protection but they still make good profits.
         If the media industry is worried about illegal
         copying of their copyrighted materials,
         they should support increased enforcement of
         existing laws against illegal copying instead of
         enforcing technical measures against all copying.
         Legal enforcement can distinguish between legal
         and illegal copying. Technical measures would
         prohibit *all* copying whether permitted under
         fair use or not. Rather than punish American
         consumers, shut down the piracy factories in Asia.
                                    Wade Minter
                           Fuquay-Varina , North Carolina
         I am a computer professional working in the field of Unix System
         Administration. I have been involved in technology for
         approximately ten years. I am opposed to laws such as the DMCA and
         the SSSCA.
         I have been watching with increasing dismay as copyright law has
         moved from a balancing act between the rights of the public and an
         incentive to creators to a tool to protect corporate profits. This
         is far from the ideals of the founding fathers, who correctly
         regarded copyright as a limited monopoly for creators, with works
         quickly entering the public domain for the benefit of all.
         The current situation does nothing to benefit the public. Copyright
         holders, increasingly large corporations instead of individual
         authors, retain control over their works for an obscene period of
         time (more than a lifetime in the case of both individual and
         corporate works). And it seems that over the past 40 years or so,
         the copyright period gets increased regularly, usually after
         lobbying by media companies. How the current copyright term can
         coexist with the Constitutional limitations of "for a limited time"
         and "To promote the progress of science and the useful arts" is
         beyond me. Current copyright law promotes nothing but corporate
         control and profit-mongering over works that should have long ago
         entered the public domain.
         Contrast copyright law with patent law. Patents cover control over
         physical items for a term of 17 years. Copyright covers control
         over intellectual items for terms over 100 years, generally. If the
         maker of a drug to cure cancer or AIDS is expected to earn back
         their development costs in 17 years, why is a record label or
         publishing house allowed to control their work for up to ten times
         as long?
         Copyright is intended as a balance and an incentive. It is NOT a
         tool to guarantee profits, or legislate the survival of a
         particular business
         model. Can anyone look at the copyright system as it currently
         exists and say that at achieves any type of balance? Media
         companies say that they need draconian copyright protection in
         order for people to create new works. However, lasting works of
         art, music, and literature were created long before this system of
         copyright abuse, and will continue to be created if copyright laws
         are reformed, for no other reason than creative people are driven
         to create. In addition, more reasonable copyright law would most
         likely spur MORE creative works, as A) artists would no longer be
         able to wring every last cent out of a work, and B) there would be
         a larger body of public-domain work available for everyone to work
         I found it absurd that Disney's Michael Eisner was in front of
         Congress talking about "pirates" who steal, as opposed to artists
         who create. What have Disney's big hits been lately? The Hunchback
         of Notre Dame? Atlantis? The Little Mermaid? All of those are taken
         from stories and tales in the public domain. Disney has used these
         stories to make millions. However, they refuse to release their own
         works into the public domain to inspire others. Who in this
         situation is exploiting the work of others?
         Laws like the DMCA and the proposed SSSCA take corporate control
         over intellectual property to the next level. Under the guise of
         "protecting the artists", media companies want to make it a federal
         felony if you find a way around their copy-prevented items. As
         codified in the 1984 Supreme Court decision on VCRs, people have,
         for example, the right to time-shift and space-shift TV programs
         onto videotape. In the future of the SSSCA, though, the media
         companies will be able to mark digital TV shows as "uncopyable",
         and digital VCRs and the like will be forced to oblige, technically
         cutting off people from taping a TV show while they're at work. And
         if you are able to circumvent this restriction, to exercise your
         legal rights, you can be thrown in jail for five years. Where is
         the justice? Where are the rights of the citizens?
         When the VCR came into general use, Hollywood swore up and down
         that it would be the death of the industry. Why, if people were
         allowed to copy
         video and TV, then nobody would buy anything anymore. Now, of
         course, Hollywood makes a large chunk of its profits each year from
         video rentals, and media profits grow larger each year, even though
         people have the ability to use a VCR. If they were completely wrong
         about the VCR, what makes you think they're correct about digital
         media being the death of their industry?
         In addition, laws like the SSSCA will have a chilling effect on the
         progress and innovation of new technology. When every digital
         device created must meet the copy prevention standards (and
         licensing costs) ordered by the media companies, there will be a
         much lower incentive to create new technology. I point you to the
         Linux computer operating system, started by one man in Finland a
         decade ago, that is now a robust business-class operating system
         supported by companies such as IBM. In the world of the SSSCA,
         Linux would cease to exist, because as an open and
         freely-modifiable product, it would not be able to incorporated
         closed copy prevention technology. Is that the technological
         innovation that you claim to support? Someone who comes up with the
         next big digital audio invention will be forced to include this
         copy-prevention technology, cutting off the individual inventor.
         In addition, there will be an incentive to purchase pre-SSSCA
         digital hardware, and a disincentive to purchase post-SSSCA digital
         hardware, as no consumer in their right mind will want to pay more
         for crippled technology. This will have an adverse affect on the US
         It is time for copyright to return to its ideals - a balance
         between citizens and producers. This is NOT the time to swing the
         balance even more toward producers than it already is. I implore
         Congress to reject measures designed to technically impede the
         rights of the people.
         Thank you,
         Wade Minter
                                   Paul Cantrell
                                St. Paul , Minnesota
         It has come to my attention that the "SSSCA" bill proposed by Sen.
         Hollings is in a public comment period.
         I am a professional in both music and computer technology. In
         technology, I am a software engineer specilizing in Java. In music,
         I am a pianist and composer, and bring my music to the public
         through performances, recordings, and printed scores. From both
         professional perspectives, I have a strong interest in the
         development of copyright law.
         I have heard many times in the public debate surrounding first the
         DMCA and now the SSSCA that the new wave of copy protection laws
         represent the interests of creative professionals. This is
         grotesquely untrue. Let me go on the record as stating, in the
         strongest possible terms, that the SSSCA absolutely DOES NOT
         REPRESENT MY INTERESTS as either a musician or a software engineer.
         The SSSCA proposes that copy protection be mandatorily included in
         a wide variety of digital hardware and software devices. Such a
         mandate would crush the open, creative market for technology which
         has given us the innovations we enjoy today. It would also make the
         work of the creative professional one of endless finagling with
         copy protection, and endless fighting for creative freedoms
         normally protected by copyright law.
         The SSSCA is a threat to my creative work, and my freedom. I urge
         you to trash this destructive bill; its introduction would be an
         embarassment to the senate.
         Paul Cantrell
                                     Ross Biro
                               Pacifica , California
         Dear members of the committee:
         My understanding of the Security Systems Standards and
         Certification Act
         (SSSCA) is that it would require Digital Rights Management (DRM) to
         be built
         into hardware and software. I am worried about the economic impact
         of the
         SSSCA on the American economy. Virtually all businesses use
         computers in
         one shape or another, and hence may be impacted.
         As a long time software developer, I am concerned about the impact
         of this
         act on open source software such as Linux, FreeBSD, and apache.
         55% of web servers run Apache software [www.netcraft.co.uk/Survey].
         the apache group no longer be allowed to publish their source code
         in the US
         since doing so would allow someone to easily remove any built in
         Another concern is how to prevent content from accidentally falling
         the control of the DRM system. What would the impact on
         productivity be
         when people can no longer mail copies of documents and spread
         sheets they
         have created to their coworkers? If a document were to fall under
         control of the DRM system, it may be effectively lost to the
         company that
         created it.
         A much larger concern is the impact of the SSSCA on innovations by
         companies in both the computer industry and the consumer
         industry. Any new products introduced by either of these industries
         require to include the mandated DRM. What additional development
         time and
         costs would be needed to include the required DRM? Would a company
         such as
         Apple Computers been able to create the Apple I and Apple II if the
         had been in force when the company was founded?
         Finally what will the impact be on the compositeness of American
         in the world market? Will businesses in other countries be willing
         purchase American made computers if they have built in DRM? Will
         in foreign countries be able to manufacture new products more
         quickly and
         cheaply that US companies? Will Microsoft have to move most of its
         operations overseas to be able to produce versions of their
         software with
         DRM and versions with out? How many American jobs will be lost if
         the SSSCA
         becomes law?
         I understand that many copyright holders support this act because
         they are
         worried about copyright violations costing them money. We should
         all be
         concerned about illegal activies hurting the economy. However, one
         of the
         things that has made American businesses great and our economy so
         strong is
         an ability to adapt to change and find ways to turn adversity into
         a profit.
         Perhaps what is really needed is for the copyright holders to be
         helped and
         encouraged to find new ways of making profits in our changing
         times, thus
         strengthen the American economy instead of weakening it.
                                   Malcolm Slaney
                            Los Altos Hills , California
         I am very disappointed in the response the Judiciary committee gave
         to the
         high-tech industry during the recent SSSCA hearings.
         The SSSCA bill is very misguided for several reasons.
         First, the behavior it is trying to prevent is already illegal.
         Napster is
         already out of business. And one article I read this morning
         that the reason that broadband deployment has fallen off is because
         this. Illegal trading activity has already been cut off.
         Second, it is mind-boggling to suggest that one industry (the
         people) should tell another industry (the computer industry) how to
         their products. If the music industry doesn't like how computers
         they should invent their own music delivery system. They can put as
         encryption into the system as they want. If they make a good
         product, then
         people will buy it.
         Third, the SSSCA proposal is entirely too broad. It's like asking
         people who make wheeled-devices (cars, wheelbarrels, trucks,
         matchbox cars)
         to put breath-analyzers into their devices because a few people
         drunk. The cost of the SSSCA is way out of proportion to possible
         damage. More importantly, I can't imagine how the SSSCA would allow
         to build their own computers. That is how I learned, and many other
         too. Hollywood is important, but I suspect that the computer
         deserves a lot more credit for the strength of our country. We need
         encourage people to play and learn. The SSSCA would kill this
         I have a computer full of MP3s that I play in my living room.
         *Every* one
         of them came from a CD that I purchased and is now stored in a box.
         would gladly buy the MP3s directly from the record industry, if
         they ever
         got a clue.
         Thank you for your attention.
         -- Malcolm Slaney
         Los Altos Hills, CA
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