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SSSCA: The 3rd Front? (was: RE: [dvd-discuss] The 2nd Front)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Bauer [mailto:jfbauer@home.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2001 6:57 PM
> To: dvd-discuss@lweb.law.harvard.edu
> Subject: Re: [dvd-discuss] The 2nd Front
> Bryan Taylor <bryan_w_taylor@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >In order for changes to the law to become law, a bill would 
> have to be
> >introduced. This bill would have to make it out of committee 
> in order to be
> >voted on by the full House or Senate. The committee chairs 
> can easily block
> >this from happening. The particular committe chairs, I 
> believe, are Coble in
> >the House and Feinstein in the Senate, who both have the 
> attitude that
> >"Copyright owners haven't complained about the bill, so it 
> must be great for
> >America". Both are bigtime MPAA campaign contribution recipients.
> We are all copyright owners.  Almost everything we write has either an
> implicit or explicit copyright.  Perhaps we need to make sure we
> mention this whenever communicating to our representatives on
> copyright related issues.

This leads into the other issue I was going to bring up today,
regarding the SSSCA, which seems is due to come off of it's 
terrorist-induced hiatus next session of Congress.  (I posted
this URL to a Wired news story yesterday:

The SSSCA itself (well, a summary thereof, thanks to Declan McCullagh) 
may be found here:

For those of you who don't recall, the SSSCA would require that
all consumer electronic devices have access protection for copyright
materials built in.  As stated in sec. 101 (a):

(a) In General -- It is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the
public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that
does not include and utilize certified security technologies that adhere to
the security system standards adopted under section 104. 

Section 104 refers to how to adopt a standard, giving "industry" 12
months to figger it out before Big Brother steps in.  (I am sure that
Microsoft's "Secure Windows" OS is going to be written in ...)

Section 102 is the one that brings copyright into the mix:
An interactive computer service shall store and transmit with integrity any
security measure associated with certified security techologies that is used
in connection with copyrighted material or other protected content such
service transmits or stores. 

Now, given that the US of A is signatory to the Berne Convention,
EVERYTHING we produce is protected by copyright.  That grocery list
you just typed up in notepad even.  So basically ANY software program
that doesn't provide protection is going to be in violation of the

Fortunately 101(b) is a grandfather clause, else all non-protected
internet protocols (HTTP f'r instance) would be out the window.

Ok, so you think the notepad & grocery list example is a bit
extreme?  Well ... it _is_ covered by the law, but let's try
a more realistic case.  Let's assume that (despite what the
text says) they're really only after protecting copyright material
of commercial value.

I take amateur photos of figure skating events.  A friend of mine
(Leah) started at about the same time, but she has the personality of
a steamroller and her photos are now regularly published in some
skating magazines & she is the official photographer of at least
one figure skating club.  One may assume that her photos (if not
mine) have commercial value.  Now imagine that she wants to ditch
the expense of developing dozens of rolls of 35mm film for each
event ... she wants a digital camera.  Many digital cameras can
be connected to a desktop computer w/ a USB cable.  Press a button
and *zap* the images are on the computer.  But wait ... it's
not Leah doing the transfer!  That camera needs security so that
she is require to identify herself before it allows the images
to be transferred, no?  Under this law I presume that the camera
manufacturer (if the camera was made after the law takes effect)
may now be prosecuted for a federal offense ...   How many other
devices would be similarly vulnerable if the manufacturers don't
recognize the impact of this law?

Oh ... only _registered_ copyright material needs to be protected
(again, despite the current text of the proposed law) ...

Well, _how_ is the machine supposed to distinguish between
material with a registered copyright and any other material?
Basically, it can't w/o the intervention of some human agent.  
_Somebody_ has to tag the material ... and that somebody could
be lying.

The implications of the SSSCA on consumer technology are 
drastic ... even if the text is altered to restrict it's 
application to something less broad than "copyrighted 
material".  If it remains unaltered the implications are
even worse.

The question now is ... what can we do about it?  Come
up with other examplse of potential impact and forward 
them to our congresscritters?

-Richard M. Hartman

186,000 mi./sec ... not just a good idea, it's the LAW!