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[dvd-discuss] Microsoft's DRM OS Patent

Following are my comments to Dave Farber on the recently unveiled
Microsoft Software Patent for a Digital Rights Management Operating

Seth Johnson
Committee for Independent Technology

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 01:46:42 -0500
From: Seth Johnson <seth.johnson@RealMeasures.dyndns.org>
To: dave@scripting.com


In the essay at the bottom of this post, you asked what Microsoft gave
up in a deal you felt they had to have reached with the Bush

I think we see it right here.  Microsoft didn't have to give up anything
-- Microsoft just had to own the patent on a DRM OS, providing the
Government with an almost absolutely assured trajectory toward
establishing the terms by which exclusive right to digital information
would be policed.

The real kicker is right here:

> The digital rights management operating system
> also limits the functions the user can perform on the
> rights-managed data and the trusted application, and
> can provide a trusted clock used in place of the
> standard computer clock.

The ability to use information freely is now going to be policed at the
most intricate level, in the name of exclusive rights and to the
detriment of the most fundamental Constitutional principles of our

Whereas The U.S. Constitution assures that every American citizen has
the full freedoms accorded to the First Amendment, we see here the
trappings of the final phases of the legislative demarcation of the
public into a mass of information consumers.

Seth Johnson
Committee for Independent Technology

> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [C-FIT_Community] MS Patent for Digital Rights Management OS
> Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 01:17:07 -0500
> From: Seth Johnson <seth.johnson@RealMeasures.dyndns.org>
> AAcckk!!
> It's a LOGIC DEVICE, not a consumer appliance!!
> Okay, so we can stop Microsoft from establishing that this kind of OS is
> legally required on our machines, right?  *RIGHT??*
> Seth Johnson
> (Forwarded from Law & Policy of Computer Communications list,
> -------- Original Message --------
> Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 23:18:08 -0800
> From: John Young <jya@PIPELINE.COM>
> Microsoft's patent for a Digital Rights Management
> Operating System was awarded yesterday:
>   http://cryptome.org/ms-drm-os.htm
> Abstract
> A digital rights management operating system protects
> rights-managed data, such as downloaded content, from
> access by untrusted programs while the data is loaded
> into memory or on a page file as a result of the
> execution of a trusted application that accesses the
> memory. To protect the rights-managed data resident in
> memory, the digital rights management operating system
> refuses to load an untrusted program into memory while
> the trusted application is executing or removes the
> data from memory before loading the untrusted program.
> If the untrusted program executes at the operating
> system level, such as a debugger, the digital rights
> management operating system renounces a trusted identity
> created for it by the computer processor when the
> computer was booted.  To protect the rights-managed data
> on the page file, the digital rights management
> operating system prohibits raw access to the page file,
> or erases the data from the page file before allowing
> such access.  Alternatively, the digital rights
> management operating system can encrypt the
> rights-managed data prior to writing it to the page
> file.  The digital rights management operating system
> also limits the functions the user can perform on the
> rights-managed data and the trusted application, and
> can provide a trusted clock used in place of the
> standard computer clock.
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: dave@scripting.com (DaveNet email)
> Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 18:49:31 GMT
> Subject: You're free to think
> ***The right to think
> No matter where you live, in what time period, no matter who you work
> for, you can think for yourself. We don't need a Constitution or a
> First Amendment to guarantee the right to think. This is a point worth
> noting as our freedoms are whittled, controlled and choked, for good
> reasons or bad.
> ***The right to speak
> Now the right to speak is a whole other matter.
> In Nazi Germany, or Stalin's Russia, had you spoken out, you would have
> been killed.
> That's how extreme it gets some times in some places.
> ***The fear of government
> Even the US government under a Democrat president was scared of the
> Internet [1]. Perhaps with good cause, I'll give them that much, it's a
> powerful communication medium, and it can be used equally well by
> scientists, thinkers and people doing good as it can be used by
> terrorists, racists, abusers of children, and promoters of hate.
> However silly it may seem, we made a historic decision [2] in the US,
> in the 18th century, to take the bad with the good. In the US, the
> right to speak is something the government, by design, has very little
> power to regulate.
> ***What did Microsoft give up?
> It's a fact, Microsoft made a deal with the US government. No
> theorizing necessary there, it's not a matter of probability, it's a
> certainty. The deal was announced. Ashcroft spoke. Gates spoke. We all
> know it happened.
> But what was the deal? What did Microsoft give up to get full control
> of the Internet?
> What did the government want from Microsoft, and what did Microsoft
> give them?
> Was it merely a campaign contribution in the 2000 election?
> Or did Microsoft promise to provide the government with access to all
> the information they accumulate in the Hailstorm database?
> Did Microsoft give the government the power to censor websites they
> think are being used by terrorists? With that power will they be able
> to shut down sites like the NY Times or the Washington Post if they say
> things that compromise the government's war effort?
> Will Microsoft support an Internet tax?
> What else? These are just the ideas that occurred to me as I thought
> about the possibilities this morning. I'm sure there are others I
> haven't thought of.
> ***And who did they sell out?
> At a certain level I'm just beginning to understand how powerful
> Microsoft has become.
> They own the chokepoint for most of the electronic communication over
> email and the Web.
> Now, they have to get people to upgrade to Windows XP -- that's the
> final step, the one that fully turns over the keys to the Internet to
> them, because after XP they can upgrade at will, routing through
> Microsoft-owned servers, altering content, and channeling communication
> through government servers. After XP they fully own electronic
> communication media, given the consent decree, assuming it's approved
> by the court.
> Here's how it works. Because their operating system is a monopoly, so
> is their bundled Web browser. If one day my site were not reachable
> through MSIE I'd lose most of my readers. They could shut down any site
> they want to, and with their new partnership with the US government,
> they could have justification, if not moral, at least legal and
> pragmatic. The government has law on its side, and the FBI, CIA, NSA,
> FAA, FDA, the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. Nukes and biological
> weapons. They're a powerful partner, and a now, a Friend of Bill.
> The rest of us are totally cut out of this deal. We're taken for
> granted, we're dumb, fat and happy, supposedly, and the future no
> longer looks so bright. The fat period is over. Microsoft had a lot of
> power to offer to the government. The government has been granted new
> electronic surveillance power [3] by Congress. Now how do they
> implement it? Microsoft can help. In my mind I'm not so naive to
> believe this was an arms-length deal, I'm certain there are aspects to
> the partnership between Microsoft and the US government that we can't
> see.
> If this scares you -- good. I think we've got a problem, and the
> government and Microsoft are not likely to help us.
> ***Your freedom will persist
> No matter what happens to the Internet, remember you are free to use
> your mind.
> Dave Winer
> PS: In my heart I cling to the hope that the Bush Administration really
> doesn't understand the Web, and that Microsoft really doesn't want the
> power to control what is said on the Internet. In my dream they wake up
> and say "Holy shit we didn't see that we were accumulating this much
> power."
> PPS: Failing that, I pray for the integrity of the Judicial branch of
> the US government. Gotta love those checks and balances.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> (c) Copyright 1994-2001, Dave Winer. http://davenet.userland.com/.
> "There's no time like now."
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