Suche innerhalb des Archivs / Search the Archive All words Any words

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[] 16.1.02: A Cop in Every Computer,

Page printed from:

A Cop in Every Computer=20
The content and technology industries differ over an initiative that would=
 build infringement-sniffing powers into new computers=20
Mike Godwin
IP Worldwide=20

January 16, 2002=20
There's a war looming in cyberspace over copyright. The war will not be=
 about whether to combat the spread of unauthorized copies of computer=
 programs, music or movies. On that point, the combatants agree. This will=
 be a war about tactics and solutions.=20

The content industry -- especially Hollywood and the record labels -- wants=
 the solution built into computers and other digital devices, such as Palm=
 Pilots and MP3 players. The industry also wants it built into software,=
 operating systems, Web browsers, and routers -- the devices that guide=
 Internet traffic. It's a solution designed around the assumption that=
 nearly all computer and Internet users are potential large-scale=

In short: The content industry wants to place a copyright cop in your=
 computer. It also wants to station one anyplace else on the Internet where=
 an unauthorized copy might be made.=20

And if the industry has its way, we all may feel the consequences. Digital=
 videos you shot in 1999 may be unplayable on your computer in 2009. You may=
 no longer be able to move music or video files around easily from one=
 computer to another (from, say, a home desktop to a laptop or to a personal=
 digital assistant).=20

The content companies, on the other hand, see something different at stake.=
 In a speech before Congress in 2000, Michael Eisner, chief executive of The=
 Walt Disney Co., voiced the worries of the content industry when he said=
 that "the future of the American entertainment industry [and] the future of=
 American consumer" is at stake over the issue.=20

The content companies, with Eisner in the lead, argue that failure to build=
 copy protection into the very digital environment itself will lead to their=
 industry's destruction.=20

In previous battles over copyright, Hollywood and the large record labels=
 have received the full support of their powerful friends in the software=
 and computer industry. But this time, many of the high-tech companies are=
 on the other side. They're satisfied that current law -- rather than future=
 Rube Goldberg design mandates -- can do the trick. "We think mandating=
 these protections is an abysmally stupid idea," says Emery Simon, special=
 counsel to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an antipiracy trade group=
 whose members include the Adobe, Microsoft, Intel and IBM corporations.=20

A recent legislative proposal floated by Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., chairman of=
 the Senate commerce committee, is the most public manifestation of the=
 content industry's struggle. The Hollings bill, called the Security System=
 Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), makes it a civil offense to make=
 or sell digital technologies that do not contain what it calls "certified=
 security technologies," built-in systems that prevent the copying of=

Draft versions of the legislation, which hasn't yet been formally=
 introduced, also would impose criminal penalties -- up to five years in=
 prison -- upon anyone who alters existing security technologies or disables=
 copy protection mechanisms.=20

There's more than one way to prevent copying of copyrighted content. Various=
 approaches, sometimes referred to as digital-rights management schemes,=
 exist. One general method, called encryption, involves scrambling content=
 in a "digital envelope." Encryption is what protects DVD movie and video=
 game software from piracy. But the content industry wants to do more than=
 just protect content. If encryption is broken -- and hackers are often able=
 to break it -- content is free to be copied. To prevent this, the industry=
 wants content to be labeled or digitally "watermarked," and it wants=
 computers and other devices to be redesigned to look for the watermark, and=
 to limit copying accordingly.=20

Supporters of the Hollings proposal don't couch the legislation in terms of=
 protecting embattled copyright interests. They frame it as a measure=
 designed to promote digital content and the use of broadband, high-speed=
 Internet services. If Hollywood could be assured that its content would be=
 protected on the broadband Internet, the argument goes, it would develop=
 more compelling programs for the Web and spur greater consumer demand for=

An aide to the Senate commerce committee says there are likely to be=
 hearings on the bill as early as February 2002; hearings that had been set=
 for fall of 2001 were postponed because of the Senate anthrax scare.=20

Back in 1998, Hollywood, record labels and software and technology companies=
 came together to support the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That act --=
 now law -- prohibited the creation, dissemination, and use of tools that=
 circumvent digital-rights management technologies.=20

There won't be a similar broad-based coalition behind anything like the=
 Hollings bill. Software and technology companies simply aren't ready for a=
 state-ordered restructuring of their entire industrial sector. In remarks=
 made in December at a business technology conference in Washington, D.C.,=
 Intel Corp. chief executive Craig Barrett spoke out against legislation=
 like the Hollings bill. Let the private sector work out its own systems for=
 protecting copyright, Barrett said.=20

A few companies are so big and so diverse that they don't fall easily into=
 the content or technology camp. AOL Time Warner, for example, is=
 conflicted. The movie companies and other content producers under the AOL=
 Time Warner umbrella tend to favor efforts that lock down cyberspace, but=
 AOL itself and some of the company's cable subsidiaries oppose compulsory=
 designs. "We like the DMCA," says Jill Lesser, AOL Time Warner's senior=
 vice president for domestic public policy. "There isn't from our=
 perspective a need for additional remedies of copyright violations."=20

Broad as it is, the Hollings proposal is only one small part of a global=
 effort to make the digital world safe for copyrighted materials. Standards=
 groups, industry gatherings and global business policy forums are all=
 working to create industrywide standards that don't require the approval of=

A group called 4C Entity is promoting a standard for building digital rights=
 management into digital storage devices, such as hard drives and possibly=
 writable CD-ROM drives (the devices that copy CD-ROMs). The 5C Consortium=
 is developing a copy protection standard for digital television, and=
 interindustry forums like the Content Protection Technology Working Group=
 are also working on digital TV.=20

But the content industry complains that the standard-setting process is=
 proceeding at a tortoise's pace. The Hollings bill is meant to speed up the=
 process, acting as a lever to compel the technology companies to negotiate=
 more and faster.=20

The movie and TV studios are trying to ward off a possible Napster-like=
 scenario. Though the free music-sharing service is now gone, other=
 file-sharing systems, more decentralized and less easy to sue, remain. And=
 Napster's legacy still casts a shadow over the music industry -- and on the=
 content owners as a whole. A technology expert at News Corporation says=
 that Napster signals the music industry's downfall. Music fans are now=
 accustomed to copying CDs with CD burners, and downloading music from the=
 Internet as MP3 files. "Within five years," the expert says, "music will be=
 a cottage industry."=20

Rubbish, responds Matthew Gerson, the vice president for public policy at=
 Vivendi Universal S.A., which produces and sells both music (Universal=
 Music Group) and movies (Universal Studios Inc.). "We know that if we build=
 a safe, consumer-friendly site that has all the bells and whistles and=
 features that music fans want, it will flourish," Gerson says. "Fans will=
 have no trouble paying for the music that they love, and compensating the=
 artists who bring it to them -- established stars as well as the new voices=
 the labels introduce year after year."=20

But maintaining that model -- with the record label serving as the conduit=
 between creation and consumption -- depends both on large streams of=
 revenue and on control of copyrighted works. The Internet and digital=
 technology could cut off the revenue stream by moving music consumers to a=
 world in which trading music online for free is the norm.=20

The record labels and the movie and TV studios see watermarks --=
 undetectable yet traceable digital imprints -- as their way to prevent a=
 future world of widespread trading in free music, movies, and other types=
 of content.=20

How would those watermarks work? For an example, let's use digital=
 television, a nascent technology that transmits high-quality television=
 broadcasts using a digital, rather than an analog, signal. A digital=
 broadcast would include a watermark that identifies the content as=
 copyrighted and might contain certain instructions. Devices and software=
 designed according to the content-industry's mandate would look for the=
 watermark. Those devices, in turn, would have strict limitations built in=
 as to whether, and how often, a copy of that broadcast could be made.=20

The reverse might also be true: Those components might be designed not to=
 play un-watermarked content. Otherwise, it would only encourage pirates to=
 learn how to strip out the watermarks. In a world in which all consumer=
 digital technology looks for watermarks, our legacy digital videos and MP3=
 collections might no longer be playable.=20

Digital television is the most pressing worry. Unlike DVD movies, which are=
 encrypted on disc and decrypted every time they're played, digital=
 broadcast television must be delivered unscrambled. The Federal=
 Communications Commission requires that broadcast television be sent in the=
 clear as a matter of public policy.=20

The prospect of high-quality, unencrypted content, delivered digitally,=
 scares Hollywood. Without watermarking, consumers could simply record their=
 favorite shows, trade them with friends, or -- worst of all -- make them=
 available on the Internet, =E0 la Napster.=20

Content owners are also worried about the computer as it becomes not just a=
 stand-alone device but also a component within the overall home=
 entertainment system.=20

Says the BSA's Simon: "That's the multipurpose device that has them=
 terrified." The fear is that computers will leak copyrighted content all=
 over the world, he says.=20

And that, says Simon, is why the Hollings legislation is so broadly drafted.=
 It's designed to close up all the leaks that digital technology might pose.=
 In the drafts made available in the fall of 2001, the Hollings bill would=
 make it a civil offense to develop a new computer or related technology=
 that does not include a federally approved security standard preventing the=
 unlicensed copying of copyrighted works. In at least one version, the law=
 would make it a felony to remove a watermark or flag from copyrighted=
 content. It would also outlaw logging onto the Internet with any computer=
 that removes or sidesteps the copy protection technology.=20

Before the draft legislation was circulated, "we didn't know how broad this=
 was," says one lawyer for cable company interests. Many cable companies are=
 worried that the measure will interfere with their customers' viewing=

Although the Hollings legislation is controversial, its supporters are=
 working to garner support. Preston Padden, the executive vice president for=
 government relations for Disney, traces the origins of the bill to the=
 Global Business Dialog on e-Commerce, a public policy group whose members=
 come from a wide range of businesses. The group's IP subcommittee is=
 chaired by Eisner, who, after much give and take with software and computer=
 companies, shepherded through language favoring government "facilitation"=
 of copyright protection standards.=20

With the group's recommendations in hand, Eisner could go to Congress and=
 say there was a general business consensus favoring the passage of new laws=
 to protect content on the Internet.=20

But there is a big difference between what that group generally recommended=
 and what the Hollings bill specifically proposes.=20

The devil will be in the details. IBM, Microsoft and other technology=
 companies are all developing their own ways of protecting copyright. Their=
 digital rights management schemes are generally based on encryption, not=
 watermarks. These companies don't want design mandates, which would=
 effectively kill a market they are poised to exploit.=20

Moreover, technology companies have a "philosophical problem" with being=
 told how to build their technologies, says Disney's Padden. With the=
 exception of export controls on encryption, the computer and software=
 industry does not have much experience with government mandates.=20

Not surprisingly, Rick Lane, News Corp.'s vice president for governmental=
 affairs, and the other content industry lawyers think that the computer=
 companies need to get over it. After all, mandates have been a fact of life=
 for the consumer electronics industry -- particularly radio and television=
 equipment -- for decades. Forty years ago, for example, the government told=
 television makers to build UHF-reception capability into all new TVs.=20

The real problem runs deeper than mere resistance to government control.=
 There's a philosophical difference that separates the content industry from=
 the technology companies. You can see that difference in the way each=
 industry refers to its customers. The content companies refer to=
 "consumers," while the tech industry refers to "users." If you see a world=
 of "consumers," your major concern is setting prices at the right level, so=
 that buyers will purchase your products -- while you still make money. You=
 control access to your merchandise, and do everything you can to prevent=
 theft. For the same reason that supermarkets have cameras by the door and=
 bookstores have electronic theft detectors, content companies want copy=
 protection to prevent theft of their wares. Allowing people to take stuff=
 for free is inconsistent with their business model.=20

But if you see a world of "users," you want to give that market more=
 features and powers for less money. The impulse to empower users was at the=
 heart of the microcomputer revolution. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, for=
 example, founded Apple Computer Inc. partly because they wanted to put=
 computing power into ordinary people's hands.=20

Redesigning the world of digital tools so that every device, application and=
 operating system is on the lookout for copyrighted works is at odds with=
 that view.=20

What gets lost in the debate is the voice of consumers -- whatever they are=
 called. Maybe they are willing to trade away open, robust, relatively=
 simple digital tools for a more constrained digital world in which they=
 have more content choices. But maybe they aren't. The Hollings bill is=
 unlikely to attract them to the debate, pitched as a "security standard"=
 rather than as a new copyright law.=20

Like the larger philosophical war that is raging around the world in the=
 aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the looming war between these two sides=
 has the potential to be a long, difficult fight without a foreseeable=
 conclusion. And if and when peace talks begin between the two sides,=
 there's no guarantee that the rest of us will have a seat at the table.=20

Liste verlassen: 
Mail an infowar -
 de-request -!
- infopeace -
 de mit "unsubscribe" im Text.