FC: Forget MP3 players: Hollings' CBDTPA regulates software too

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Fri Mar 22 2002 - 15:16:49 PST

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    As a bonus, here's a section-by-section summary of the bill:
    And a collection of info on the Consumer Broadband and Digital
    Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA):
       Anti-Copy Bill Slams Coders
       By Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
       1:25 p.m. March 22, 2002 PST
       WASHINGTON -- America's programmers, engineers and sundry bit-heads
       have not yet figured out how much a new copyright bill will affect
       their livelihood.
       When they do, watch for an angry Million Geek March to storm Capitol
       A bill introduced this week by Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-South Carolina)
       would roil the electronics industry by forcibly embedding copy
       protection into all digital devices, from MP3 players to cell phones,
       fax machines, digital cameras and personal computers.
       But the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act
       (CBDTPA) would also wreak havoc on programmers and software companies
       -- both those distributing code for free and those selling it.
       No more than two years and seven months after the bill becomes law,
       the only code programmers and software firms will be able to
       distribute must have embedded copy-protection schemes approved by the
       federal government.
       To put this in perspective: The CBDTPA would, if enacted in its
       current form, have the electrifying effect on computer professionals
       that the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore did to some
       Democratic Party members.
       Legal experts said on Friday that the CBDTPA regulates nearly any
       program, in source or object code, that runs on a PC or anything else
       with a microprocessor.
       That's not just Windows media players and their brethren, as you might
       expect. The CBDTPA's sweeping definition of "any hardware or software"
       includes word processors, spreadsheets, operating systems, compilers,
       programming languages -- all the way down to humble Unix utilities
       like "cp" and "cat."
       "The definition will cover just about anything that runs on your
       computer -- except maybe the clock," said Tom Bell, a professor at
       Chapman University School of Law who teaches intellectual property
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