Letters We're only just beginning to catch up with an avalanche of correspondence on our series of CPRM on ATA stories. This selection was culled before the 4C Entity signalled its willingness to accept a compromise on the issue. However that compromise is in no small part due to the outcry reflected in your letters here.
Which as ever, are full of surprises. Like a timely reminder of Sony VP Steve Heckler's promise last August:
"Sony is going to take aggressive steps to stop this. We will develop technology that transcends the individual user. We will firewall Napster at source... We will firewall it at your PC."
Thanks for all your letters.
The boycott begins here
From: Josef Schneider
Look you fascists. Back off your proposal from putting CPRM encryption on ATA hard drive specifications. I don't know how you think you'll benefit from this, but you are asking for a boycott of monstrous proportions.
Hey IBM how long do you think your collaboration with Linux developers will last after you've proposed this? We'll see you blackballed from any Linux development projects.
I for one will NEVER buy any machine that has ANY copyright protection built into the hardware, unless it be to then rip the offending hardware out and replace it with non-compliant hardware. I will NEVER rent software, music, or text.
I have not been active around on-line privacy issues since the Clipper Chip went down in flames. But I will be now.
IBM wants to work with Linux developers, eh? I think not. I will pay double the price/MB of hard drive to the providers of non-ATA fascist hardware.
It is time for the Mother of All Boycotts!
Down with IBM! Down with Intel! Down with Matsushita! Down with Toshiba! Down with the Gang of Four!
Unidentified Flying Objects
From: Jakub Papierski
Those responsible better start running now... I hear harddrives make excellent projectile weapons in their spare time :)
From: Jim Bennett
Nice article ! You folks should organize classes to teach 99% of "reporters" in the U.S. what it means to be a good reporter.
Although you probably do not have the 200 year lifespan that it would take for the lesson to sink in!
I do not think that "capitalism" is inherently a bad thing. But when these bastards are "buggering you" while reaching into your pocket to help themselves to your wallet, I think that may be going a little bit too far !
There is always talk (at least in the U.S. "media") of "adjusting" one's horizons, or expectations. The small business owner is told to "adapt" to "new" circumstances. When do we get these arseholes to "adapt" to the "new" digital world?
The copyright laws are out-dated, anachronistic, and need to be re-done or thrown out. The "Big Boys" in the music (and other) industries that sit back and collect royalties for distributing the "media" have to realise that the gig is up.
It is time for a new model. One that pays the "artist" in a more directfashion. Digitally, in the exact opposite fashion that the "consumer" down-loads said media.
These Big Boys need to take up "Bee Farming in Sussex Downs" (see Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Chip Identifiers redux sux
From: Jay Namon
If they adopt CPRM for hard drives it will be a PR disaster worst than Intel's when it placed personal identifier numbers in CPU's. The big difference is you could turn off the feature in the CPU, but you won't have that option for the hard drives since almost every one would turn it off.
When consumers get wind of this one watch out because the first reaction will be they are not going to buy a PC or hard drive with CPRM in it. I know I won't and it is clear that the RIAA had a hand in this one. All I can say is bring it on and watch the fun because this one is going to turn into a disaster.
Where will pay-per-use hardware end?
From: Andrew I Busigin
If you tamper with a hard disk to create an inaccessible area where an agent outside of your control on your computer has reign, then this is no longer your computer. One of the most important ideas underlying Linux is the ability to have ultimate control over every line of code compiled into the operating system. On the other hand MS-ware is a black box of widgetware much of which you really don't want running on YOUR computer.
If we start with some hardware having inaccessible hardware/firmware/software functionality, then we stand to lose a great deal of trust in our boxes, and a good deal of freedom, because the hard disk will only be the starting point.
Why not a graphics card that is sold for $10, and then whenever it turns over more than 50 frames per second, it exacts a credit card payment for a dollar/penny/centime a minute? What about the audio card or the CPU?
Now if you for a moment believe that this standard will serve the creative generators of content, then postulate each participant in the freeware or GNU projects attempting to invoke the proposed copy protection schemes.
If millions of potential authors want to protect their intellectual property, do you think they will be afforded the chance to grab a sector or two on the proposed hard disk controlled areas, or perhaps it is just a little more likely that large publishing houses will reserve the access to intellectual property protection schemes to a few large players?
This is less about protecting IP and more about protecting $$$'s. The publishing business is changing. They are fighting back, and have a lot of money. Instead of devising a public infrastructure to equitably distribute "branded" content, they want to climb into our computers, and control some of the hardware.
It's time to make a lot of noise about this, or everything from our toasters to our credit cards will have somecorp's hardware restricting our use. I can just see it now -- my toaster will refuse to brown my toast the way I like it, because somecorp firmware has detected the use of a corporately registered Pantone shade of brown.
The danger be restated quite simply. If you want to have "general purpose computers" available to process data the way in which the owner of the box wants to try to process it, then resist attempts by companies from insinuating proprietary and potentially limiting hardware/firmware. Otherwise the box you pay for will increasingly be delivered with ever greater restrictions on "appropriate use".
BTW, I'll bet that aside from casting aside the existing "Fair Use" provisions, such a scheme probably lacks any release mechanism to release a volume of work upon expiration of the copyright. In effect such a hardware device would create a de-facto timeless copyright.
In the shadow of the valley of the Seven Dramurai...
Several of you made the following point - only this was the most pithy -
these bastards got to be kin to rambus if not they're damn sure drinkin out the same cup of coffee
Bad for business From: Spencer T. Kittelson
You may have posted the most important news story of the year with: Stealth plan puts copy protection into every hard drive Stealth plan puts copy protection into every hard drive.
What the hell are drive mfgs. thinking? I'll be sure to give 'em all a piece of my mind. As an old hand at the biz of managing computer technology (>25 years) this development is just terrible. What utter chaos it will create.
May your holidays be blessed.
They're defrauding us!
From: Randall Hofland
At some point in time the issue of standardized hardware designed to control copying has to become a issue of conspiracy to defraud. Individuals should not be subject to centralized controls, that is an issue of monopolization of power and when it is used to extract money, then an issue of fraud.
Other issues such as invasion of privacy and restraint of trade need to be addressed as well. But one of the best arguments will be the theft of time that unwieldy copy-protection schemes create.
Time is money and stealing that away is theft of the worst kind because there is no effective way to compensate that loss.
Grow up, Hollywood
From: Michael Whiteman
I think I speak for everyone who's been hearing about this, its time for the entertainment industry to grow up.
Who the fuck do you think you are?
Don't they realise that their plans are not in the interest of anyone, even themselves in the end. This kind of shit will..
1) Retard development as people have to waste their time fixing stuff because of them.
2) Encourage rampant piracy, the more you try to screw people over, the less likely they'll want to give you money for your wares...
The entertainment industry needs to take a long hard look at itself, this isn't on, and we're all getting sick of their lobbying and whining.
Nice pieces on the latest CPRM/CSS madness.
That is what they are trying to do: implement 'security' measures in hardware that prevent the OWNER of a device from using it in whatever manner said OWNER would like to use it.
In the end, it's not the media conglomerates that own the physical hard drive, it's the person who bought the drive.
There's another angle that you can look at this, too: there's social engineering and maneuvering going on by those who develop anti-encryption methods. They know what they're doing: it's no mistake that the DeCSS/css-auth 'first post' was traced to a 16-year-old Norwegian boy. How many underage foreign nationals do you need to arrest in the name of global media corporations (based in the US, of course) before you've really ticked off a lot of otherwise friendly governments? Not too many, I suppose.
I suspect this technology will smother itself. Probably not quietly, though. It can't get pushed upon an unsuspecting public because they're going to know about it when things start to break. As such, it's really about consumer education: the more people that know exactly what these corporations are trying to do (which, btw, is leech every last penny from the average consumer while not passing a single dime to the actual content creator), the more public outcry there will be against it.
The reason there hasn't been any outcry from consumers with respect to similar encryption schemes in DVD is because the hardware technology was completely new: the laser subsystem was quite different from CDs, and since you were forced to upgrade your hardware to be able to read DVDs at all, the content management companies (not content creators - those are the artists who create the content in the first place) managed to get access restriction measures in place before the first piece of hardware was shipped. A brilliant move.
But, the content management companies may be shooting themselves in the foot here: once people realize they're trying to retroactively apply access restriction measures to an old, trusty technology, they may decry the access restrictions currently in their DVDs when its found they're closely related.
Personally, I find it surprising that no one has taken those 7 plaintiffs of the DeCSS suit into court for price-fixing yet.
From: Graeme Evans
Whoops! Forgot to say - excellent sniffing-out article. Many thanks. As a Research University, with the resultant sharing of data campus-wide, CPRM is likely to pose quite a few problems for us, should it appear on drives.
Judging by the speed the spinners came onto the scene, you've snagged them well and truly!
Long Live the Register!
New names for "Copy Protection"
If we don't call it copy protection, a term heavily loaded against fair use, what do we call it? Several of you had suggestions.
Andrew (above) suggests 'content access restriction' or 'media access restriction measures'. A little long, but the acronyms are nice.
Frazzle writes "It is perhaps not a snappier but rather than 'copy protection' we could all just settle on 'greed'. There are no symptoms present that the various multi-billion dollar industries are in danger of folding due to unheard of levels of piracy. Even the dreaded Napster hasn't managed to completely destroy the recording industry as far as I have seen."
Jesse Duke suggests 'anticopy hard drives'. Brian (no surname) suggests a few we liked, including including Copy Arrest, Robocopy.
Or as Craig points out "No need to sugar-coat it. Capture the true spirit with something unambiguous like 'copyright enforcement technology'. Orwell would have been proud of the term." ®
Our CPRM coverage in full
Stealth plan puts copy protection into every hard drive
Linux lead slams 'pay per read' disk drive plan
Copy protection hard drive plan nixes free software - RMS
EFF's Gilmore calls for CPRM hardware boycott
CPRM on hard drives - IBM takes a spin CNet suckered by CPRM spin
Everything you ever wanted to know about CPRM, but ZDNet wouldn't tell you...
4C retreats in Copy Protection storm