Thoughts on SOPA

I attempted to take some of the hysteria out of the debate here. Bottom line: This is not a conflict between content creators and the public, but rather one between creators and the companies that support them on one hand and those that make money from their work without paying them on the other.





42 thoughts on “Thoughts on SOPA

  1. I’m sorry Robert, but with SOPA written as it is today, I simply have to disagree with you there. As good as your intentions towards protecting your work are, and I fully support you in that, this law is not the answer for 4 simple reasons:
    1. It is unlikely to have more than a minimal impact on copyright infringement.
    2. It takes away due process by placing the decisions in the hands of rights holders and the government rather than the judicial system.
    3. It requires fundamental changes in the basic structure of the internet, which according to the experts could have serious consequences on stability and security.
    4. It places an burden on any host and communications software provider that simply cannot be met. It will be the death of any popular site that allows user generated uploads and comments.

    In short: the benefits will be small to non existent, while the cost will be huge. As written, this law is simply very bad.

    Posted by Pieter | November 18, 2011, 9:23 am
    • If you listen closely, I did not say I support the bill as written. I like some of the ideas, but I think some of the language is too broad. I would like to see a smarter, more specific debate, mostly because your description of the bill is wrong. But I am not endorsing the legislation – just describing it.

      You should look into it more, because you are wrong about much of it.

      Posted by roblevine1 | November 18, 2011, 3:15 pm
      • That’s a rather general statement to make Robert. Would you mind being a bit more specific? What statements of mine are incorrect, and what parts of the law do you base that conclusion on?

        Posted by Pieter Hulshoff | November 20, 2011, 9:03 pm
  2. Dear Rob,

    I am enjoying your book, but why is there no mention of DRM nor digital rights management?

    It seems to me that DRM is vastly important to content creators and the creators of content.

    Do you not believe in DRM?


    Posted by stephan | November 18, 2011, 3:55 pm
    • I am not against DRM but I am not certain it is an effective solution. Any DRM will eventually be cracked, and one cracked file can be distributed widely – on an open system. The only DRM I think has been effective is that on video game systems, which are a bit more closed. I actually planned to write more about that, but I ran out of time. There were a bunch of subjects I wanted to go into more, but I did not have time to do so, due to my deadline. That sounds lame, but it’s true.

      Posted by roblevine1 | November 18, 2011, 4:39 pm
      • Dear Rob,

        You sound *exactly* like the upper-level management of google and cory doctorow: “I am not against DRM but I am not certain it is an effective solution. Any DRM will eventually be cracked, and one cracked file can be distributed widely – on an open system.”

        So… I guess that only Wall Street banks are allowed to have secure systems for distributing information and content, but not creative individuals.

        Also, as one cracked file can be distributed widely on an open system, there is no need to uphold the law nor Property Rights nor Natural Rights of individuals.

        Basically, what you are say is that because DRM is impossible, so are Natural Rights ad Property Rights, and thus the billionaire lords of the cloud aggregators in silicon valley are entitled to the fruits of other’s labor and creativity, from here on out, as DRM is impossible, except for large banks, who, ironically, are allowed to protect the 1’s and 0’s that are created from thin air, while the artist is not allowed to protect their 1’s and 0’s created from blood, sweat, and tears. 🙂

        If Hollywood really wanted to protect their profits, they would invest in a system that protected the NATURAL RIGHTS of indie bands and filmmakers. Unfortunately they are not interested in defending the abstract ideals of property rights and Constitutional Rights, but only only their own bottom line.


        Posted by stephan | November 18, 2011, 7:12 pm
  3. >>>You sound *exactly* like the upper-level management of google and cory doctorow

    Have you READ the book?

    Posted by roblevine1 | November 18, 2011, 11:31 pm
  4. Dear Rob,

    Yes–I have read the book, which is why I was wondering why there is no mention of DRM nor Digital Rights Management.

    I enjoy the book, but I’m not sure how we are supposed to give artists their Natural Rights without granting them Digital Rights Management in the digital age.

    Google and Larry Lessig are also “for” DRM, but like you, they kindof sweep the whole concept under the rug and proclaim unto the masses “DRM is impossible and besides, people can break it even if it were possible.”

    Perhaps we should get rid of all keys for cars and homes, as homes and cars are regularly broken into!

    At the end of the day, there is little difference between your book and the viewpoints of Cory Doctorow/Google, as the result is the same.

    “One must not talk about DRM for artists as it is both impossible and broken. Only Silicon Valley VCs whould have their offshore accounts protected by secrecy. Only google, which makes an entire copy of the web, should have their software kept on well-secured servers, where it cannot be copied. Only massive corporations, but not individuals, have Rights.”

    Posted by stephan wentz | November 18, 2011, 11:43 pm
  5. The problem with DRM, as it pertains to recorded music, is that music is inherently an analog medium. Sure, the bits may be digital, but you can’t listen to digital 1’s and 0’s.
    All one would need is a simple soundcard, and speakers (or just a ‘line-out’) to make a copy. a copy that wouldn’t need DRM to function.
    they wouldn’t even need to crack the DRM…

    I wish it [DRM] were that simple, Trust me, it isn’t.

    Unless you could magically get rid of the billions of music devices out there, and then convince the public to purchase a system that’s more restricting…

    Bottom line is we need enforcement. We don’t need to go after downloaders, we need to take down and/or defund the sites that enable the downloads… exactly what these IP bills seek to do.

    Posted by James_J | November 19, 2011, 3:44 am
  6. Well, how come people aren’t just downloading and playing videogames, which are all 1’s and 0’s?

    The reason is that videogames are owned by massive corporations, whereas art is created/owned by individuals, and as Cory Doctorow keeps reminding us, only major leftist corporations have Rights in this Brave New World–the Rights to copy, distribute, and PROFIT off the creator’s work, without ever paying the creator, in the intellectual pyramid scheme which is killing the content industries.

    Sure Cory boasts that giving his book away for free does not kill his book sales. He could also boast to Roger Federer that Cory’s playing tennis for free has not harmed Cory’s overall tennis salary. And perhaps Google can create the “Tennis Wants to Be Free” fellowship, and Cory can fly around telling the pros that there is no need to get paid, as, well, tennis wants to be free, and democracy cannot survive without free tennis. They should just play tennis for free, and then, as they gain fame by uploading youtube videos of themselves playing for free (for Google to cut/dice/slice/archive/copy/sell $billions$ of ads around), the tennis players can sell merchandise and kotchkies so as to afford their lifestyle of working for google for free.

    Only real people are allowed to create facebook profiles. But facebook is allowed to send anonymous bots to deconstruct, probe, parcel, and capitalize on human friendships, violating the real person’s privacy, as how much fun would it be for Mark Zuckerberg to violate a fake person’s fundamental privacy rights, while claiming rights to their content?

    Posted by stephan wentz | November 19, 2011, 2:56 pm
    • >>>The reason is that videogames are owned by massive corporations, whereas art is created/owned by individuals . . .

      No. Just . . .no.

      First, video games are created by teams of people and owned by companies, but so are most films. There’s no real legal difference there that I can see.

      Second, there’s a crucial difference in how the business works that changes the incentives of the players, and thus the technology. In the console video game market, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo sell machines at cost, below cost, or at a modest profit in order to make money on games. (It’s the razor and blade model.) In some cases, they make money on their own games; in others, they take a royalty on third-party games. But the effect is the same: They make money on game sales. So pirate games _represent a loss for hardware makers_. That gives them an incentive to do what they can to limit it, both legally and with DRM. And you can have pretty effective DRM if you have cooperation from both sides; ie, hardware and software makers. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

      Compare that to the market for movies and music. There, the makers of devices – from computers to MP3 players – sell their products at a profit. They don’t need to make money on content, and they generally don’t. (Apple doesn’t make much profit selling music, and it remains to be seen where Amazon will go.) So they have no real incentive to prevent piracy – it doesn’t cost them anything. Indeed, the more content their consumers can acquire for nothing, the more valuable their devices become. So they have an incentive NOT to cooperate. That’s why the Consumer Electronics Association is such an opponent of strong copyright laws – and why it funds groups like Public Knowledge.

      In cases like this, the outcomes from DRM are very different. If you have an XBox that only plays games with ‘working’ DRM, you can have a reasonably strong system – I don’t think it can be perfect, but it seems to do a reasonably effective job of discouraging piracy. If you have an iPod that plays iTunes songs AND MP3s, or a Kindle that ‘plays’ Kindle-format books AND PDFs (which could include scanned books), DRM gets much less effective simply because a single ‘cracked’ file can spread widely and fast.

      None of this has anything to do with your rights. Only extremists would argue that you have no right to use DRM, and it’s a matter of law in the U.S. that breaking it is illegal. But the simple fact of the matter is that it may not be effective for the kinds of media you’re talking about.

      If you wanted DRM to be effective, you’d have to design a business ecosystem that gives all players an incentive to make it work. I think that’s what DECE did with UltraViolet, which I covered in my chapter on the movie business. I didn’t discuss it as ‘DRM’ per se, since there’s a lot more to it than that; it offers functionality, rather than limits. But that’s one example of the kind of scenario I’m talking about.

      Lastly, I have responded to your comments because I wanted to show you that I thought about the issue, which I have. But don’t compare me to Cory Doctorow – it’s pretty insulting.

      Posted by roblevine1 | November 19, 2011, 11:38 pm
      • “But the simple fact of the matter is that it may not be effective for the kinds of media you’re talking about.”

        Yes, again you are making excuses for the lack of laws and technologies protecting artists and creators.

        Imagine if you wrote, “But the simple fact of the matter is that the Constitution may not be effective for the kinds of people you’re talking about.”

        If more people understood that Property Rights are Natural and Inherent, and that above our Supreme Court, etched in the stone frieze, is “Equal Justice Under Law,” then we wouldn’t waste so much time studying the phenomenology of lost rights and missing technologies for common artists and creators.

        Once you state that DRM is effective for some types of media, but not others, right there the argument for Natural Rights is lost, as Property Rights depend upon the type of media, thusly, naturally, also depending on the type of people involved.

        For instance, information just wants to be free. So why not walk into a googleplex building with an iphone video camera roling, and upload it? In no way has this harmed nor stolen anything from google, as they still have their building. And yet, when do you think we will see Cory Doctorow running through the googleplex, making a copy of a bit of the work environment, so as to share and set information free?

        Again, in support of google, who would have security officers quickly halt such taping activities, we could write, “Because google has elite security guards, then they can effectively prevent you from taping their buildings. But the simple fact of the matter is that it may not be effective for the kinds of media you’re talking about. Ergo, Natural Rights and Property Rights apply to google, but not to individual artist and creators, because the simple fact of the matter is that Property Rights and Natural Rights may not be effective for the kinds of media you’re talking about. “

        Posted by stephan | November 20, 2011, 1:42 am
  7. As far as I can tell, here is how the fanboy argument goes these days:

    “lzozlzlzo drm is broken loozers use drm zlzozozl we crack it smakckck it pw3d zlzozolzlooz only bad eveil corproarprpations want to close off tyhe ineternet and make it evil bad only good corprroatations like googles do no veil no evil zlzolzlz they are good they get me all my albums through youtube good goo divine google bad artists bad record companies when sean parkeker does coke it is good good good because he never creates notrr innovates but jsut leaches but when pink floyd or metallica or beatles or kid rock wantz 2 get paid they are bad suck sean paker good genius vecaiuse he cretaed napstsersz and killed tower reoeercds and we are soooo much better off iwth cory doctorr ow sci fi novels and mysapapce bandz than we were iwth pink floyd and led zeeplin and labels that iveested in the who labelszz suck big time sean parker rocks iw wanna party with snoop dogg and sean parker lzozozzozozl pw3d!!!! e71te haxxxors rprnnpron”

    Posted by stephan | November 19, 2011, 3:48 pm
  8. One of the funniest things to watch is Sean Parker partying
    With Snoop Dogg
    up in Palo Alto
    the decline and death
    of the recording industry
    the decline and death
    of the newspaper
    the decline and death
    of property rights for the common artist and creator
    the decline and death
    of privacy rights for internet users
    the decline and death
    of a country and currency
    the massive wealth transfer
    from the creative individual
    to the aggregator
    as cory doctorow
    puts on his horn-rimmed glasses
    to signify that unlike you
    he is a geek
    approved of
    by billion dollar corporations
    who profit off your work
    without ever paying you a penny
    by peering into your privacy
    by mashing and archiving and scanning and digitizing
    for the collective good
    drm is dead they proclaim
    the technology just isn’t compatible
    with human rights
    natural rights
    property rights
    and constitutional rights
    which are sooooo 1994
    to make man fit the technology
    we just had to saw off his rights
    to fit in the bed of Procustes
    instead of exalting the technology
    with the rights of man
    the Rights of Man
    but you see
    it was far more profitable
    to do no evil
    and only do good
    in sawing off man’s property and privacy rights
    and transferring trillions in wealth to the aggregators
    killing the creative industries
    the industries of the artist and individual
    killing the soul of the internet
    for the greater good
    of mankind
    sean parker parties for the
    greater good of mankind
    whereas peter townsend
    was selfish
    like kid rock and eminem
    selfish selfish
    because they wanted their millions
    while sean parker
    the leach and parasite
    makes billions
    and cory doctorow smiles with his horn rimmed glasses
    and gives his mediocre books
    away for free
    showing how he is far more generous
    than metallica and the who
    and the beatles and kid rock
    who just
    the internet

    Posted by stephan | November 19, 2011, 4:41 pm
    • >>> “But the simple fact of the matter is that it may not be effective for the kinds of media you’re talking about.”

      Yes, again you are making excuses for the lack of laws and technologies protecting artists and creators.

      You’re confusing rights with the mechanisms to protect them. LEGALLY, you have plenty of backup. The problem is enforcement. You’re making a legal argument; I’m making a practical one. Legally, you’re right – the law protects you and I agree that it should. Practically, it hasn’t been effective. If you think it has been, I’d love to hear you make that case. And my conclusion isn’t like Cory’s – that you need to give up your rights. My conclusion is that we need a more effective enforcement mechanism.

      Posted by roblevine1 | November 20, 2011, 7:40 am
      • Yes,

        I agree the law hasn’t been effective, but that is because it has been ignored and traduced. Private property–the lifeblood of the classical Judeo-Christian heritage–is scoffed at by the elites.

        The Sean Parkers of the world (backed by the fiat venture capitalists), like the false suitors in Odysseus’s home in Homer’s Odyssey, care for neither “god nor man,” and think that Odysseus will never return to reclaim his natural property rights.

        Homer’s Iliad begins with the RAGE of Achilles, when the great warrior Achilles has his prize–his love–seized by his King and Commander. Denied his property rights, Achilles quits the Greek army, whence they begin to lose, just as the content industries are losing today, having denied the artists and creators their property rights.

        Thomas Jefferson wrote, “They all fall off, one by one, until we are left with Virgil and Homer, and perhaps Homer alone.” He also wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Homer and Jefferson exalted the heroic humanity and nobility of the individual over Kings, Parkers, Doctorows, and VCs.

        Moses proclaimed “Thou shalt not steal,” which Mark Twain referenced before the 1906 Congress while defending property rights, alongside the Constitution.

        Of course Cory Doctorow is a superior writer and thinker, when compared to Homer, Moses, Jefferson, and Mark Twain, who weren’t techno-hipsters promoting the profits of Silicon Valley insiders: http://boingboing.net/2007/09/23/mark-twains-nutty-19.html

        There is the famous biblical story of the two women arguing over possession of a baby. The wise King Solomon suggests they cut the baby in half. One woman is all for it. The other is willing to give up the baby to save it. And thus Solomon determines the true mother, giving it to the latter.

        Well, Cory Doctorow is all for cutting copyrights in half, as Mark Twain is the real writer.

        Posted by stephan wentz | November 20, 2011, 8:14 am
  9. I’m sorry Stephan that we can’t change the laws of physics for you. TPM, by its very definition, is incapable of stopping copyright infringement or even slow it down on anything other than software (that includes games) on a completely closed platform. Even on those platforms it’s rather vulnerable, as has been shown time and again on every cracked games console out there.

    Protecting books, music, and movies via TPM? Keep dreaming. 🙂

    You stated: “So… I guess that only Wall Street banks are allowed to have secure systems for distributing information and content, but not creative individuals.”

    That’s because there’s only one way to correctly use cryptography: to protect information flowing from person A to person B from attacker C. TPM fails because person B and attacker C are the same person. Whether or not you like Cory, his speech on DRM (even Cory makes mistakes; the correct term is TPM) was right on the dot. You should watch it sometime.

    It has nothing to do with money. Microsoft can’t even protect their own software from infringement, yet you think they could somehow do it for books, music or movies? Please leave technology to the engineers, and I won’t tell you how to write a book. 🙂

    Posted by Pieter Hulshoff | November 20, 2011, 9:21 pm
    • >>>TPM, by its very definition, is incapable of stopping copyright infringement or even slow it down on anything other than software (that includes games) on a completely closed platform.

      This is not true at all. While it does not stop copyright infringement, it certainly slows it down.

      I can’t watch Cory – he literally makes my skin crawl. I understand cryptography fairly well, although perhaps not as well as you, but we’re talking about different things. I want to make infringement inconvenient, which is very much possible. Cory wants me to give up my rights under the law because technology has evolved. I am very much in favor of technological progress, but my rights do not change and I have no intention of giving them up. Cory seems to believe that, if one can do something with technology, one may – an attitude that borders on fascism.

      As far as the law, you have to read it and some of the legal commentary on it. I’d recommend copyhype.com.

      Posted by roblevine1 | November 20, 2011, 9:44 pm
    • You write, “TPM fails because person B and attacker C are the same person.”

      Are you saying that all those who buy books and read them on kindles are, by definition, attacker hackers?


      BTW, I have a Ph.D. in physics/engineering, and my dissertation won an international award for technology, as well as several NSF awards, for a novel invention. What degrees do you have?

      Also, I was at the Creative Commons launch in 2002 in San Francisco. 🙂

      Posted by stephan wentz | November 20, 2011, 10:43 pm
      • I’m glad you find such humour in my words. As a strong supporter of copyright I find reality rather grim to be honest. Even more unfortunate is that you misunderstood what I was saying.

        No, I’m not saying that all those who buy books and read them on kindles are, by definition, attacker hackers. I am saying that all an attacker has to do to gain all 3 components needed for decryption: the message, the cypher, and the key, is to buy the encrypted medium. Since the copyright holder wants the customer to be able to read/view/listen to the sold product, he automatically provides the attacker all 3 needed components to complete his task.

        I’m impressed by your degrees, but apparently it did not include knowledge about the difference between TPMs and secure bank connections. Personally I only hold a masters degree in computer science. Beyond that I’m an ASIC designer in the telecom industry, Open Source software developer, and amateur musician. I’ve also been involved in the political discussion of copyright law since 2000.

        Posted by Pieter | November 21, 2011, 11:45 am
  10. Robert, in what far away universe has infringement on books, music and video been slowed down by TPM? Infringement by the masses isn’t done by breaking TPMs; it’s done by finding the results of those who have. Breaking a TPM for non-software on non-closed platforms is child’s play for those knowledgeable in the field.

    I understand what you’d like to do, and frankly I stand behind your intentions, but I doubt it can be achieved in the way that you want it to, and I fear the collateral damage created in the attempts. Still, if you can give me some examples of your thoughts on how to inconvenience infringement, I can give you the technological input on it, and perhaps together we can come to brighter ideas.

    I don’t recall Cory calling for giving up anyone’s rights; he’s just warning that there may not be good ways to enforce those rights the way we used to. This means we can either continue to struggle, and perhaps create a variety of damage in attempts to turn back time, or we can think of new ways for artists to get paid. A few years ago the BUMA (Dutch music licensing organisation) proposed a general (internet) tax in return for a full license for non-commercial music exchange. If they hadn’t linked it to a DPI requirement I think the idea would have been very well received. I know the EFF proposed something similar in the US about 5 years ago.

    I don’t believe Cory’s saying that if you can do something with technology that you should be allowed to do it either. He’s just saying it’s impossible to stop people from doing it without seriously violating their privacy. That means we have a choice to make, and while it’s clear where the RIAA/MPAA, and some artists stand in that discussion, it’s also quite clear where the general public stands. Considering most of us live in a democracy, that may be something to keep in mind. Mind you: I’m not saying the privacy rights of infringers are more important than copyright, but I am saying that the privacy rights of innocent citizens is more important than a (failed?) attempt to inconvenience infringement, and I think most innocent citizens would agree.

    I will check out copyhype again soon, but what I remember from last time it mostly focuses on what some supporters of the law say their intentions with the law are, and not so much on what the law actually says. I support the intentions; I just think the law as written doesn’t match the intentions.

    PS: Seems there’s still some issues with my account; I could post yesterday, but I can’t post today.

    Posted by Pieter | November 21, 2011, 7:40 am
    • lol! you write, “I don’t believe Cory’s saying that if you can do something with technology that you should be allowed to do it either. He’s just saying it’s impossible to stop people from doing it without seriously violating their privacy. That means we have a choice to make, and while it’s clear where the RIAA/MPAA, and some artists stand in that discussion, it’s also quite clear where the general public stands. Considering most of us live in a democracy, that may be something to keep in mind. Mind you: I’m not saying the privacy rights of infringers are more important than copyright, but I am saying that the privacy rights of innocent citizens is more important than a (failed?) attempt to inconvenience infringement, and I think most innocent citizens would agree.”

      dude–google keeps a record of every single search you make and they read your emails while photographing your house and private property.

      but here you wheel out the classic lessig fanboy defense “DRM would cause google to violate pricacy rights.” lol!!!

      it’s as if there is a firehose of privacy violations shooting in your face, and someone shows up with a squirt gun, and you call the police because the guy with the squirt gun was about to get you wet.

      earlier you said, “hey loozer leave da engineering and technology to da elitettete 31l173 haxxor fanboyuz zlzlzzozozlzozzozlz omg zlzozozlzlz omzozmzozmzo,” just because you red “teach yourself php in 24 hours.” lzozlzlzl!

      Posted by stephan | November 22, 2011, 3:27 pm
      • If you can’t argue against what I actually said, making something up, and making fun of that is your way of discussing a topic? Not exactly something I’d expect from someone with a Ph.D. to be honest.

        How I feel about what Google does to my privacy is not at issue here. At least I can keep Google out of my private life if I want to. I didn’t say DRM would cause privacy violations either. What I said was that you cannot stop people from infringing on copyright without seriously violating the privacy of every citizen, infringers as well as non-infringers. To what degree society is willing to accept such a thing is the question.

        Seriously, please discuss what is actually said in stead of straw man arguments. It doesn’t become you.

        Posted by Pieter | November 23, 2011, 6:55 am
  11. Dear Pieter,

    You write, “I’m glad you find such humour in my words. As a strong supporter of copyright I find reality rather grim to be honest. Even more unfortunate is that you misunderstood what I was saying.”

    Why do you find reality grim? The reality is that copyright is a Natural and Eternal Right. The reality is that those who run giant tech companies are like the Cyclops in Homer’s Odyssey eating Odysseus’s men, and telling Odysseus that they care not for his Laws nor Zeus nor Men.

    You should cheer up and work on some DRM technologies, and stop being sad in thinking that Cory Doctorow will be able to forever dominate as a useful idiot for billion-dollar tech companies and the VCs who profit off the work of others.

    Posted by Great Books For Men GreatBooksForMen GBFM (TM) GB4M (TM) GR8BOOKS4MEN (TM) | November 21, 2011, 3:23 pm
    • Actually, copyright may be natural in Europe, but it certainly isn’t in the US, and for a few exceptions it’s certainly not eternal anywhere, but that’s not what I was talking about. What I find grim about reality is that more and more people stop respecting copyright, and these failing attempts to stop infringement aren’t helping any. Damn, even the European Vice-President of the European Commission thinks this way, and she’s part of the Dutch VVD party. They’re about as pro-copyright as they come in Europe.

      Why on Earth would I want to waste my time working on TPM technologies that are doomed to fail, and that no customer will ever be waiting for? I could make a lot more money providing my customer with the product they actually do want. You find me one movie that wasn’t infringed upon due to its TPM, and maybe I’ll consider the option that there may be such a thing as a working TPM for books, music and movies.

      Posted by Pieter | November 21, 2011, 9:30 pm
  12. Another way to explain it is this:

    There are generally two types of TPMs:
    – copy TPMs
    – access TPMs
    What you’d really want on copyrighted works is copy protection. I think the last failed attempts at that died in the 1980s.

    Encryption is an access TPM. It protects information against unauthorized access. It’s exactly what banks need: protect their customer’s information from people other than the customer. It’s not meant to prevent the customer from copying his own information. Also, the DRM resides on the server, outside the control of potential hackers.

    Now apply this to a dvd. The TPM is called CSS, and it’s an encryption TPM. The DRM resides on the player (dvd-player, computer), under full control of the potential hacker. The hacker also has full access to the dvd, since as he’s also a customer he’s supposed to have access to the dvd already (nobody will buy a movie they can’t watch after all). You can see why this won’t work?

    TPMs on software are completely different. They generally have nothing to do with encryption, since software has the unique capability of providing its own active TPM and DRM in one. Not that it helps much on an open platform like a PC, but for closed games consoles you can certainly slow down infringement to a reasonable level, since running a cracked game also requires a cracked games console.

    Posted by Pieter | November 21, 2011, 4:39 pm
  13. Pieter said: “Still, if you can give me some examples of your thoughts on how to inconvenience infringement, I can give you the technological input on it,”

    …That’s the POINT OF THE BILL you’re commenting on…

    Here’s an easy to read walkthrough (copyhype)

    Quote from link,
    (about foriegn [non-USA] sites that do not respond to injunctions, that by the way are under the same rules that govern every federal lawsuit… basically the intirety of the Bill…) :
    The AG can then, after approval by the court, serve court orders on specified entities, requiring specified actions by each entity. In all cases, the entities are only required to take “technically feasible and reasonable measures” to comply with the orders.

    (1) An online service provider must prevent access by its subscribers to the infringing site, including preventing the domain name from resolving to the site’s IP address. The service provider is not required to modify its “network, software, system, or facilities” in order to do this, and its DMCA safe harbors are not affected.

    (2) A search engine must prevent the infringing site from being served as “a direct hypertext link”.

    (3) A payment network provider must prevent or suspend transactions between US customers and the infringing site from completing. The payment network provider has no continuing duty to monitor transactions after it has taken these steps.

    (4) An Internet advertising service is required to prevent providing advertising services to or relating to the infringing site. Like payment network providers there is no continuing duty to monitor once the advertising service has put its measures into place.


    Granted, this is from a US perspective, and won’t affect how other countries access.. but it’s a start, and it cuts off alot of would-be pirates from the most lucrative market.

    Posted by James_J | November 21, 2011, 5:52 pm
  14. I’m familiar with the walkthrough, and it’s about as convincing as a giraffe wearing dark sunglasses trying to get into a polar bear only golfclub. Not only does it mostly focus on what the intentions of the law are rather than what the law actually says, but it completely ignores that the measures are ineffective, and violate due process.

    Seriously: A DNS block? A DNS block?!? Aside from using IP addresses and Open DNS, we have VPN, TOR, not to mention the ability to just send around a daily update of every torrent file (they’re really small). That’s even ignoring the fact that the latest bittorrent clients don’t need sites like TPB anymore. They don’t even need trackers. Not only does a DNS block leave holes the size of Manhatten, it’s also targetting yesterday’s infringement.

    And what about due process? Since when is the AG qualified to determine copyright infringement? What’s wrong with leaving that in the hands of the court where it belongs? If it had been up to the record companies, practically every major website would be on that list: Google (and every other search engine), YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, RapidShare, Rojadirecta, etc. It’s clear what country won’t spawn the next big internet site, and once the first European companies get targeted you can bet the EU will be pretty pissed off.

    Wait, that’s already happened: http://www.macworld.co.uk/digitallifestyle/news/index.cfm?newsid=3319621&pagtype=allchandate

    Seriously: this law won’t accomplish any of its intentions, but will have some serious consequences for the American economy if it goes through as it’s written today.

    Posted by Pieter | November 21, 2011, 10:06 pm
  15. There is no industry sustaining “new business model”. The sooner we stop beating that idiot drum, the better. It’s been more than a decade now and there’s still no sign of these messianic “new business models”. At what point do you put down the cardboard signs and defer to reality? How many decades of failed prophesies and false prophets will it take?

    Lowering prices, convenient services, the embarrassing pay-what-you-want charity model (etc etc), all of them are unsustainable in a world with increasing online piracy and decreasing online accountability. Without new legislation that keeps pace with technology and governments willing to enforce it there will eventually be a piratical inverse of Netflix and iTunes matching them in polish and far exceeding them (without any possible recourse) in convenience and value. Legitimate business won’t stand a chance.

    Not only does rampant unfettered piracy place enormous downward pressure on on the marketplace it also places enormous downward pressure on society as a whole. The longer piracy is allowed to reign free the less inclined people will be to pay for anything that can be reduced to 1’s and 0’s. Legitimate sales will diminish then disappear in a world where the growing legal and social acceptance of piracy is allowed to progress towards its natural and inevitable end.

    You, like innumerable others, seem hellbent on convincing everyone that even REDUCING piracy to a manageable level is an unwinnable arm’s race. What you and those innumerable others don’t (or don’t want to) understand is that If it’s unwinnable for piracy then it’s also unwinnable for kiddie porn, and counterfeiting, and spam, and malware, and viruses, and hacking. And if we can’t reduce counterfeiting, spam, malware, viruses and hacking then national security, legal tender and online commerce are themselves equally unsustainable.

    An internet in which anonymity and anarchy are the only unassailable laws is an internet in which only scoundrels and villains will ultimately flourish.

    Posted by Technotopia | November 22, 2011, 1:59 am
    • I don’t recall talking about “new business models”. I’m not a businessman, so I’m certainly not going to advice people about their business models. Considering the latest industry numbers show once again that the entertainment industry’s doing better than most business in these economic troubling times makes it questionable that such a thing is needed. Then again, it also makes it questionable if copyright infringement really is having much of an impact. Of course I applaud anyone who comes up with a new business model that works for them, but that doesn’t mean I think the entire industry should copy it.

      If you want opinions: I’ve got plenty, but that doesn’t diminish technological facts, as unpleasant as they may be. Just because something is a huge problem doesn’t mean that if you stamp your foot down hard enough that a solution will present itself. Just because two problems have commonalities doesn’t mean the same solution will work for both.

      Counterfeiting deals with copied products marked falsely as the original thing. Unless a site pops up that pretends to legally sell copied media as the originals this is a completely different problem.

      Spam is email, so a completely different protocol. Also: people don’t want spam, so they’ll happily install anti-spam software. People do want to download entertainment, so they won’t be very cooperative.

      Malware and viruses are mostly software that may happen to come in over the internet. People don’t want malware and viruses, so they’ll happily install anti-virus software on their computer.

      I’ll keep my opinion of people using the child pornography argument to support their claim to myself. What’s more than clear though is that filtering child pornography doesn’t stop anyone from getting it if they want to. At best it prevents someone from accidentally encountering it. If someone accidentally encounters infringing files, I doubt it will cause them emotional harm.

      Does that mean there are no solutions to infringement? Perhaps not so much in the prevention part, but technology could help a lot in the detection of possible infringement. YouTube for instance already provides rightsholders with tools to help them find infringing videos. Just like Google crawls the web, it really isn’t _that_ difficult to write software that does the same, and automatically detects possible infringing files. I know that solution’s already used quite a lot in the photo industry. Yes, the internet has made it easier to infringe on copyrights; it’s also made it easier to detect such infringement.

      In the end, can we prevent copyright infringement? I seriously doubt it.
      Will it be problematic? Considering the industry’s own economic data, and history, I also doubt it.
      Infringement by itself isn’t the problem; infringement that stops people from buying is, and so far the entertainment industry’s doing quite well in these economic troubling times. It seems that if you give people a good product at a reasonable price, they’re still very willing to buy.

      Does that mean we should just let infringing sites be? Of course not, but doing away with due process, and installing expensive non-working filters that compromise national security is not the answer.

      Posted by Pieter | November 22, 2011, 9:15 am
  16. Cutting off American credit card payments to infringement sites is a worthy goal, imo. If you think these guys are operating under some ideal, other than greed… you’re sorely mistaken.

    (legitimate) Sites would have the same protections they have currently under the DMCA. There is most definately Due Process, and the courts are definatly involved.
    Your response is right out of the Big Tech textbook script propaganda phamplet, and is unfounded fearmongering/misinformation.

    The goal isn’t to “end piracy” it is to keep honest people honest.
    That there is still murders and traffic violations doen’t mean that we should get rid of murder and speeding laws..

    Posted by James_J | November 22, 2011, 4:15 am
    • Perhaps if the entire tech industry, with its many different fields, and many who don’t have any interest in copyright infringement whatsoever, come together on this, and say it’s a bad non-working idea, perhaps you should stop for just a second to think that perhaps they have a point? Do you really believe Sandia Labs is warning about the impact of this law on DNSSEC because they profit from copyright infringement?

      If you let the AG decide on a blacklist, then you’ve done away with due process. Determining copyright infringement belongs in the court room, not in the hands of the entertainment industry and the government. You are aware of what the term “due process” stands for, right?

      You don’t need to keep honest people honest; that’s the definition of being honest. If a person doesn’t want to infringe, he won’t (or at least not knowingly). This law won’t stop people who want to infringe, not even slightly.

      Of course we need to have laws; do you hear me calling for the abolishment of copyright law? As with every law, one must look at the benefits and the cost. What cost are you willing to pay for this law? What cost do you think the rest of society is willing to pay? What benefits do you think you’ll gain from this law? Do the costs really outweigh the benefits or is this just ostrich-politics?

      Posted by Pieter | November 22, 2011, 9:34 am
  17. i think i can sum up pieter’s argument,

    “lzozozzzozlzo drm will violate priavacy and comproromise natailoonal security so those for DRM are agianst privatacyc and agaisnt natstsional secruitrrity and are tus terroristss terrorists agaianst netaional securifty. pro drm = anti natioonal security. those who are for drm hate their nationo zlozlzlzlzzo and are loooozers. bsiedes drm is broken sayas the lord cory docoroorow famous science fiction writer who gives his books for free and selslss more bacsuee he gives them for free so eveyroen must give eevrything for free and sell t shirts on the side and drm is impossible an dits alos impossible and brokenen and can enevr work and will never work zlozlzlzlzlzlzzl leave the technology to geneiusses like me who have read lessig’s books and techy yourself php in 24 shours zlzlzlozozzozlzlzozlzl and i have seen that those who are pro drm are aniti national security and are thus terrorists and should be prosecuetetd and tracked down as they are pro drm and thus anti privacy, unline google, which never, ever keeps track of every single search you ever make, every video you watch on youtube, every email you send who rea dyour emails sent and received who take pictures of your house and private property, with eric schmidt saying tht you don’t have to worry if you’ve done nothing wrong zlzozlzlzozzol and so you see google is pro privacy while those who are for drm enabling artsits and cretaors to profit from their songs and films are terrorists who are against national esecurity and are anti-privacy terorist spies in villolation of humanity and lessig’s laws zlzlzlzolzlzlzlzlzozlzlzozozll”

    Posted by stephan | November 22, 2011, 3:54 pm
    • i think this will get you tenure at today’s top law schools, as well as a fellowship from billion dollar corporations and an endowed chair:

      “lzozolzozo drm is bad and evil only google does no evil those who are for drm are against national security and are terrorists those who are for artist rights are against privacy rights and the constitution zlozlzzozozlzooz”

      Posted by stephan | November 22, 2011, 5:27 pm
  18. Please be polite.

    >>>You are aware of what the term “due process” stands for, right?

    Read the bill.

    >>>Perhaps if the entire tech industry, with its many different fields, and many who don’t have any interest in copyright infringement whatsoever, come together on this . . . .perhaps they have a point?

    The entire tech industry IS coming together but they are making points about legal principles that they don’t understand.

    Posted by roblevine1 | November 23, 2011, 12:28 am
    • I have read the bill, Robert, and part of it puts certain powers in the hands of the AG that belong in the courts. That’s exactly fitting the violation of due process:
      “Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due-process violation, which offends against the rule of law.” (wikipedia; I’m willing to find other definitions if you don’t like wikipedia 🙂 ).

      What the tech industry is mostly doing is making points about technical principles that they do understand. They know the inefficiency of the measures proposed, and they know the damage it will cause to their field. That’s why you see even parts of the tech industry that have nothing to do with copyright or books, music and film protesting this bill.

      Please explain to me what alterior motive e.g. Sandia National Laboratories could possibly have for protesting this bill’s ineffectiveness and denial of the full adoption of DNSSEC? This is a government-owned company under the DoE that does nothing with multimedia.

      Posted by Pieter | November 23, 2011, 7:06 am
  19. Interesting piece, but either wrong or misleading (?) on several accounts.

    1. SOPA actions would not be warrantless.
    True, a court has to sign off on the warrant, but the penalties of Sec 102(b)(5) take place BEFORE the defendant has had a day in court, and before they’ve had a change to defend themselves. Under due process, such penalties would not be executed until after sentencing, and often not until after all appeals have been handled. Any of these penalties could have serious consequences for a target site, even if that site was found legal in court afterwards or on appeal. Many sites might not even last that long financially, even though they are legal under the law.

    2. Willful intent must be demonstrated
    Technologically, the only difference between a stream and a download is what client program is handling the signal. From a server perspective, there is no difference, and it cannot be controlled by the server either. Since the server is the one at question here, it makes no sense whatsoever to legally differentiate between a download and a stream.
    Section 201 has a few nasty surprises too. Especially section 201(b) significantly lowers the bar for infringement qualification. Whether YouTube would qualify still depends quite a bit on Viacom vs YouTube. If you believe Viacom, YouTube should very much be liable, and if not under the current bar then perhaps under the new bar.

    3. Safe harbours would still apply
    Yes, DMCA 512(g)(1) still applies, but the bar for what qualifies as a “red flag” is very much lowered, as requested by the rights holders. Currently, a host must be made aware of specific instances of infringement, as discussed in Viacom vs YouTube. This implies a reactive response. This bill requires an active action, where a general knowledge that a particular work is available on the system is enough to require a proactive search and removal by the host of all such files. Basically, DMCA safe harbours are changed to read what the industry couldn’t get accepted in 1998.

    All that, and the measures won’t even prevent copyright infringement.

    Posted by Pieter | November 23, 2011, 11:11 pm
    • Turns out we agree on a lot . . .

      1, So you agree with me that there’s due process – it’s just not due process you like. I am sorry about that.
      2, You do not think there should be a difference between downloads and streams? Neither do I. Since distributing a certain amount of media for downloading with criminal intent is a felony, why shouldn’t streaming be the same?
      3, You do not understand the history of the DMCA. But if you look at the interpretation of the law, the current definition of a red flag has been reduced to nothing. If a full copy of a movie that’s still in theatres doesn’t qualify as a red flag, what does?

      It will limit copyright infringement. It will not prevent it. That’s enough for me.

      Since you like to say that non-technical people don’t understand technical measures, I will point out that you do not understand how laws work. No law in history has ever prevented a crime, so the idea that this will not prevent infringement is irrelevant. The purpose of this law is to provide penalties and liabilities to discourage illegal behavior. I think it needs to be more specific – but it is increasingly clear that you do not understand it.

      I am closing this thread and we will move on.

      Posted by roblevine1 | November 25, 2011, 9:21 am
  20. I am closing this thread. I am sorry if people here have more to say, but I feel like I’ve started to host a two- or three-person conversation about legal procedural issues, and that means it’s time to move on. I am not offended by anyone or upset in any way – it just seems like the conversation has started to move in a circle, so, like any good host, I am changing the subject.

    Posted by roblevine1 | November 27, 2011, 8:12 pm

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