This bill is worded so broadly that any pieces of digital
technology, from PCs to PDAs, from maintrames to pocket calculators, from
CPUs to operating systems, from printers to monitors, will fall under its
provisions. Of course, for the sort of "digital rights management system"
that this bill envisions to be successful, such overbroadness is necessary.
The system would never work unless the protected media can be transmitted
to and from any device, over any medium, with its security protections intact.
For example, a computer's digitial audio and video outputs
would be required under this law to only send data to devices that maintain
copyright protection. Otherwise, you could plug the unsecured outputs back
into your computer's A/V inputs, and re-record the formerly protected files
into new, unprotected files with no immediate loss of quality. Efforts are
already under way to encrypt data between the operating system and the sound
card (by Microsoft, of course), and between the video card and the monitor
cable. This bill would make these efforts mandatory.
(from a computer engineering standpoint)
What You Can Do
This bill cannot be allowed to pass. Regardless
of whether you think the legislature or the courts will honor it, it must
be stopped dead in its tracks NOW. Remember, many computer geeks laughed
at the DMCA until it passed. Once it did, they dismissed it as unenforceable.
Once it was enforced, they thought it would be declared unconstitutional.
Now, they are crying.
- Write your representatives:
- Write to Sen. McCain and other Senate Commerce Committe members,
in addition to your state's Senators/Reps.
- Use FAX if you can, due to the recent anthrax scare. E-Mail
is OK too, but not quite as effective.
- See this recent
EFF "Action Alert" for a good sample letter.
- Register to vote, and help to ensure that
Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) and
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)
are never elected to office again
- Support the EFF
- Alert your friends (if you use email to do this, be sure to
include prominent links to sites that will let people know if the bill is
defeated; you don't want to start another unstoppable
chain-email "hoax" , do you?)
- Protest, commit civil disobedience, quit your job (if you work
for a company that backs this bill)
- Alert the media to this threat, and try to get respected people/companies
on our side
- Support congressional term limits and soft-money restrictions
(bills like this exist because certain "good 'ol boys" in Congress had their
palms sufficiently greased, by even greasier lobbyists)
- If you don't live in the US, protest it anyway. Remember,
for this bill to be effective, ALL computer components must be
conformant. The U.S. will pressure YOUR country to adopt a similar law to
prevent your native companies from providing "unsecure" devices to the U.S.
- Let me know
if you have any suggestions
Copyright © 2001, Mark McClelland.
You may reproduce this document or any portion thereof, in any form, without
restriction or attribution.