Why you weren’t protected from Sony

In an article for Wired News, Bruce Schneier asks:

What do you think of your antivirus company, the one that didn’t notice Sony’s rootkit as it infected half a million computers?

Mr. Schneier’s readers answered him:

Many readers pointed out to me that the DMCA is one of the reasons antivirus companies aren’t able to disable invasive copy-protection systems like Sony’s rootkit: it may very well be illegal for them to do so. (Adam Shostack made this point.)

Isn’t it great that we live in a country that not only has the DMCA, but is actively exporting it? Aren’t you glad companies like Sony have laws like the DMCA; laws that keep you from protecting yourself against them? The best part is that people are generally fine with it as long as it fights “piracy,” but DRM has nothing to do with piracy!

If you want to know how we got to the point where Sony is taking complete control of your computer, look at why bad laws like the DMCA’s anticircumvention section are around.

Update 2005-11-23: Curious how other parts of the DMCA are being used? Boing Boing summarizes a study from the Chilling Effects Project. Turns out a lot of DMCA requests are bullshit. I know mine was. I publicly announced that I would participate in Grey Tuesday, and then publicly backed down when someone pointed out my hypocrisy. I still got a DMCA takedown notice, despite not having infringed any copyright. It isn’t surprising that mine wasn’t an isolated incident, but it does piss me off.

Google vs. Book Monopolists

In an article on Google’s efforts to scan books USA Today highlights part of what’s wrong with the US copyright law:

Richard Hull, executive director of the Text and Academic Authors Association, called Google’s approach backwards. Publishers shouldn’t have to bear the burden of record-keeping, agreed Sanfilippo, the Penn State press’s marketing and sales director.

“We’re not aware of everything we’ve published,” Sanfilippo said. “Back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, there were no electronic files for those books.”

Memo to Richard Hull: Google is forwards, you are backwards. Why do you care if Google makes a few sentences from books you’ve never heard of available? If you’re really all that concerned with keeping control of those books, you would have kept track of them. In a sane system you have to actually know what work you’re protecting the copyright of. You can’t just say “well, I don’t remember my copyright work and can’t show any infringement, but dammit they better stop because they might infringe on my copyright!”

Our current copyright law gives a monopoly to people who don’t even want one thanks to the US Copyright Act of 1976. Why are we giving monopolies of human knowledge to absentee landlords who can’t be bothered to keep track of their work, but who freak out at the possibility that their long-forgotten work might be used without their permission?

Lessig on C-Span

Lawrence Lessig, fresh off his gig as Christopher Lloyd on West Wing, will be on C-Span Thursday, March 3rd 2005 as part of its Digital Future series. Spread the word.

Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, is the author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, published by Basic Books. He is an expert on the issues of copyright and “copyleft.” He is the inventor of the revolutionary concept and application Creative Commons, which invites the right to use material under specific conditions.

The series “Managing Knowledge and Creativity in a Digital Context” will examine how the digital age is changing the most basic ways information is organized and classified. The goal is to educate the public on what the digital age means to their lives. The events will include a featured speaker, followed by a panel discussion, and a question and answer session with the audience at the venue, and C-SPAN television viewers who submit questions to the experts by electronic mail at digital@loc.gov.

[TiVo Link]

Creative Commies in Maxim

In order to make this post, I have to admit to reading Maxim, but this find was worth it. In the latest issue, they have a story where they think up ways for terrorist to scare us. For example, a nuke in New York City, or this scene of terrorists taking over a mall:

Image from Maxim of mall scene

Wait a second, is that hostage wearing a Creative Commies t-shirt!? (Background on the shirt) It’s even got the Copyleft C! What’s going on here?

Are the terrorists taking over the mall a metaphor for Big Copyright, with their DRM gun to the head of the commons? Or is it just a graphic designer playing subversive?

[Thanks for scanning it in, Stephen]

Does the Right of First Sale Still Exist?

I just posted an eBay auction for a song I bought from the iTunes music store. It should be interesting to see how this works out. I only spent $0.99 on it but I bought the song just as legally as I would a CD, so I should be able to sell it used just as legally right?

[Update 09-05-2003 2:17 PM]: Did anyone happen to grab a list of the bidders? I want to get in touch with legitimate bidders, if you were one please contact me. [OK, I got one, thanks!]

[Update 09-05-2003 8:42 AM]: Just so there wouldn’t be any hard feelings between us I decided to buy something on eBay.
Continue reading “Does the Right of First Sale Still Exist?”