Subject: RE: new expanded DMCA-like law
To: None <>
From: David Lawler Christiansen \(NT\) <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 09/10/2001 11:51:11
Speaking for myself, not for my employer, and as someone with NO
background in law or law-enforcement, see below...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rick Kelly []=20
> Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2001 4:45 PM
> To: Wolfgang Rupprecht
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: new expanded DMCA-like law
> Wolfgang Rupprecht said:
> >A new DMCA-like law is being readied in congress.  This one would=20
> >mandate that all computers include music-industry approved secure=20
> >non-copyable storage system.  $500k/5year penalties for=20
> noncompliance.=20
> >It doesn't look like these congressional turkeys have though=20
> about the=20
> >open-source implications of this.
> This could cause a very grim situation for open source.=20
> Ultimately, it could effectively ban sales of Linux and *BSD,=20
> and push them underground in the US.=20

Unless I'm completely misunderstanding what Wired said about the SSSCA
(or Wired has it wrong, which is equally possible), this is not true.
The SSSCA seems to deal with HARDWARE sales-- it might make it illegal
to buy or sell hardware with *BSD/Linux preinstalled, but even that is
debatable. =20

I admittedly have not read the SSSCA directly, but here's a snippet of
what Wired says about it:


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"=20


Note the use of the word "device". =20

> Microsoft would have a=20
> field day with this. They would probably make a great effort=20
> to become the "official" software for use in the US.

Microsoft would *not* have a field day with this, even though it might
benefit us in the short term.  Microsoft (in general) hates it when
government attempts to interfere with the software industry.  This law
would do exactly that.  If you don't believe me, consider this: the more
legislation is introduced requiring specific features be present in
software, the more interaction our people working on the products that
come under that legislation must interact with our lawyers.  It wastes
the lawyers' time and that of our developers.  Not good for the bottom

> Who knows? Microsoft may already have something in XP that=20
> will do the job. It wouldn't surprise me if Billy Gates was=20
> in bed with the RIAA. IBM already has the drive hardware technology.

Even if there were such a feature in XP (and, without knowing what the
requirements are for the bill, it's hard to tell), I seriously doubt it
would be due to the proposed SSSCA.  Having written our software before
the law was passed, we'd (presumeably) be grandfathered, as, I might
add, would the BSD-variants as well as Linuxes written before the
effective date be.  Most of us, I'm sure, would rather be working on
more exciting things than complying with a lame bill that may not even
be passed.

Remember that, although the law goes into effect immediately once it is
passed, the law doesn't actually DO anything until the "Security
Standard" is established, some year (minimum) after the law goes into
effect.  It may take additional time (in up to six month increments)
depending on how hard it is to establish such a standard.  See Section
104.  The bill doesn't say how long a computer manufacturer has to
comply with the law AFAICT.

Looking at the wired article, this bill is chock full of loopholes.
First of all, it doesn't seem to govern devices not intended to play
digital music.  That is to say, that if you include no digital music
player, then you're not subject.  If the user installs one after he buys
it (my assessment as a non-lawyer is that the NetBSD package system
counts as this), all bets are off.

> Hopefully, the government is smarter than that...

Don't confuse intelligence with wisdom.  Contrary to popular belief,
government at the national level is (often) highly intelligent.
Unfortunately, they also have a number of other agendas that are not
within the field of vision of mere peons like ourselves.  What's worse,
they are generally not fully informed about the issues they are
deciding, despite attempts to educate them-- no matter how much
information you pack into a congressional briefing, it still can be only
so long before the congressmen start to pass out from sheer boredom. =20

If you have genuine concerns about this bill, the best course of action
is generally to contact your senator or representative.  Failing that,
join a PAC that opposes legislation like this.  I'm guessing you can
start with =20

Personally, I'm disturbed to see such a bill, but I seriously doubt it
will make it to law.  And even if it does, this is what the Supreme
Court is for.

> --=20
> Rick Kelly