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Bring on the SSSCA - Rev. 1

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  • Shlomi Fish
    This is the text of something I wrote. It was supposed to be part of my IP in the Info Age treatise, but it s pretty much standalone. I post it here to get
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 8, 2002
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      This is the text of something I wrote. It was supposed to be part of my
      "IP in the Info Age" treatise, but it's pretty much standalone. I post it
      here to get some comments, suggestions, typo reports, etc. before I
      propagate it further (like post it to Advogato or Slashdot).

      Please keep the discussion (even if it is a typo report or is slightly
      flamatory) on this list.

      Regards,

      Shlomi Fish

      Bring on the SSSCA! Why? Because I want to kick some serious intellectual
      property Law Butt! I have nothing against the concept of intellectual
      property. I believe it is also valid now, in the information age. However, I
      do believe that IP Law is objectively tilted towards the wrong side, and I
      wish to change the fact. And legislation of the SSSCA (or CBDPTA as it is now
      called)[2] is the perfect vehicle to make it gain momentum.

      Let's imagine a world in which the SSSCA has been passed (in the U.S. alone
      for the time), and it has taken effect. What would happen? Here's my
      predictions based on the commonplace interpretation of the law:

      1. Most existing software and hardware systems becoming illegal. Literally.
      This includes open-source and commercial software. Windows XP, Microsoft's
      latest operating system lets people hear "pirated" mp3s doesn't it?
      Then, obviously it has to go.

      2. Hardware and software vendors will need to invest a lot of money in building
      copyright protection into their products.

      3. Someone will have to finance this development, and later on converting the
      legacy systems into the SSSCA-sound devices.

      4. This someone is the U.S. Government.

      5. I'm not really good at approximating things like that, but I think this
      amount of money can easily surpass the current U.S. Budget. And I mean the
      entire budget, defense budget and all.

      6. Assuming they are forced to switch, then people will have to put up with
      computers, that are not quite those that they were used to. Not only that
      Moore's Law will be temporarily reversed, but those systems will not put up
      with many actions that are considered mundane and day-to-day now. Even such
      that are perfectly sound copyright-wise.

      7. This will make everybody unhappy and they demand the law to be changed.

      Do you think that a different outcome can happen? It is possible that the
      SSSCA will exist on paper but won't be enforced until someone is reported
      to commit a crime against it. But obviously the Free Software Foundations
      can sue Microsoft for manufacturing an operating system that violates its
      intellectual property. After all, I can use Notepad to remove the copyright
      notice off one of gcc's files. Which is a clear violation even of existing
      copyright law.

      When the SSSCA was first heard of (in its previous incarnation) some people
      thought that Microsoft would be happy to see it because it will most existing
      free software illegal. But even Microsoft cannot to put up with the terms of
      the SSSCA. Microsoft would rather be a company whose products are possibly
      threatened by Linux, than a monopoly which will manufacture a practically
      useless operating system that could only exist in Sen. Ernest Hollings
      imagination.

      Obviously #7 will probably happen a long time before the law takes into effect.
      And I think it is a good thing, because then:

      1. Everybody will take about intellectual property laws and their
      implication on computers.

      2. Hackers who strive for political freedom will become media icons.
      Remember when Linus Torvalds appeared on the cover of Forbes?
      Now think of Richard M. Stallman on the cover of Time magazine.[1]

      3. People will become interested in other IP laws that violate their
      individual rights. Acts such as the DMCA, or the UCITA, or the
      restrictions on encryption or previous copyright legislation that is
      bluntly illegal (objectively speaking) may actually become headline news.

      Which means: more publicity for us! And a greater chance of getting something
      to move there.

      Don't get me wrong, I don't encourage the U.S. legislation to make the SSSCA
      into law. But I think it may actually serve as a turning point for those who
      strive for digital freedom of expression. We should criticize it rationally
      as much and as hardly as we can, but even if it passes it won't be the end of
      the world, but rather the beginning of a wonderful era.

      The other possibility would be that Sen. Hollings et. al will decide to pass
      the SSSCA incrementally by one irrational provision at a time. But I
      believe this will only make the process slower, but the final outcome
      inevitable as it is. Many people who download mp3s illegally would agree that
      it is the right thing not to do it. But they would much more think that
      they should be given a choice whether to do it or not.

      I have one piece of advice to Sen. Hollings, Disney's CEO, Michael
      Eisner and all the other people who have expressed support of the SSSCA. Learn
      how to program. This is not only enlightening and mind-exercising, but also
      a very practical skill. After you have learned how to program, I want you to
      make your code or commonly used code SSSCA-friendly.

      I'd like you to take the Meta-Circular Evaluator of the classic text
      "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" and make sure it
      does not execute copyrighted code. I'd like you to take GNU echo and make
      sure it does not prints copyrighted expressions to the screen. (you may
      actually find it useful to start from agrep). I want you to take gcc
      and make sure it does not compile code that one does not own the copyright
      to. And I want you to make sure your own pet programs and script follow suit.

      Then I want you to let me know how you felt doing that. I know I would
      feel that it would be a complete waste of time if my own Freecell Solver[3]
      had to make sure it respects the copyrights of layouts it receives as input.
      Worse yet, I may have to make sure it does not inspect such boards at
      mid-run. FYI, Freecell Solver can scale to millions of
      boards (which are all valid Freecell states) during a mundane run, and
      I have to make sure I check each one.

      If I had to comply with the SSSCA, I would rather be jailed before I implement
      such a disaster in it. (seriously) If the U.S. Government would sacrifice the
      well-being of thousands of engineers and millions of users just so Walt Disney
      Corp. would be happy, then I'd rather get rid of the U.S. Government, (Disney
      is actually a relatively benevolent and productive corporation as far as I can
      tell), than the American or world-wide public.

      So, fire away I say to Sen. Hollings. Unless, of course, he actually
      want to remain in one piece afterwards.



      [1] - I'm not very fond of the latter. But he is one of the most influential
      and opinionated people in the free software/open-source world, so I chose
      to give him as an example.

      [2] - I'm not calling the SSSCA, in its new name, because it has a very
      horrid acronym. And it is basically the same law.

      [3] - Refer to:

      http://vipe.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/freecell-solver/



      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
      Home Page: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/
      Home E-mail: shlomif@...

      "Let's suppose you have a table with 2^n cups..."
      "Wait a second - is n a natural number?"
    • Nadav Har'El
      ... I suggest you start with a short paragraph or two saying what the SSSCA or CBDPTA (eek, couldn t they have chosen more obscure acronyms? I suggest they
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 9, 2002
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        On Tue, Apr 09, 2002, Shlomi Fish wrote about "[hackers-il] Bring on the SSSCA - Rev. 1":
        > wish to change the fact. And legislation of the SSSCA (or CBDPTA as it is now
        > called)[2] is the perfect vehicle to make it gain momentum.

        I suggest you start with a short paragraph or two saying what the SSSCA
        or CBDPTA (eek, couldn't they have chosen more obscure acronyms? I suggest
        they join the AAAAA, the American Association for the Abolition of
        Abbreviations and Acronyms). Most people probably don't really know what
        this proposed law says.

        > 2. Hardware and software vendors will need to invest a lot of money in building
        > copyright protection into their products.
        >
        > 3. Someone will have to finance this development, and later on converting the
        > legacy systems into the SSSCA-sound devices.
        >
        > 4. This someone is the U.S. Government.

        I don't see how 4 would necessarily follow from 2 and 3.

        > 5. I'm not really good at approximating things like that, but I think this
        > amount of money can easily surpass the current U.S. Budget. And I mean the
        > entire budget, defense budget and all.

        If such a law ever passes, I assume they will have to "grandfather" [4] any
        existing applications. Americans usually cherish the concept that you cannot
        be prosecuted for something you did before that act became illegal.

        This will make converting existing applications (like Windows XP) unnecessary,
        but also make creating new applications nearly impossible. Instead of ruining
        Microsoft with huge modification costs, it might make it a monopoly forever ;)

        > I'd like you to take the Meta-Circular Evaluator of the classic text
        > "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" and make sure it
        > does not execute copyrighted code. I'd like you to take GNU echo and make
        > sure it does not prints copyrighted expressions to the screen. (you may
        > actually find it useful to start from agrep). I want you to take gcc
        > and make sure it does not compile code that one does not own the copyright
        > to. And I want you to make sure your own pet programs and script follow suit.

        I think that anyone familar with computers will find the proposed laws'
        absurdity and unapplicability "self-evident". Americans love "self-evident
        truths" [1]

        > feel that it would be a complete waste of time if my own Freecell Solver[3]
        > had to make sure it respects the copyrights of layouts it receives as input.

        Or worse in the case of another game, Mine Sweeper. It was proven that
        Minesweeper is Turing-complete :) [3]

        > So, fire away I say to Sen. Hollings. Unless, of course, he actually
        > want to remain in one piece afterwards.

        Romans had a horse for a senator [2], so why can't the Americans have
        a jackass? :)


        [1] http://www.nara.gov/exhall/charters/declaration/declaration.html
        [2] http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/1843/Caligula.html
        [3] http://www.mat.bham.ac.uk/R.W.Kaye/minesw/
        [4] grandfather clause: noun, 1900: a clause creating an exemption based on
        circumstances previously existing; especially : a provision in several
        southern state constitutions designed to enfranchise poor whites and
        disfranchise Negroes by waiving high voting requirements for
        descendants of men voting before 1867
        For the curious, http://www.wikipedia.com/wiki/Poll_tax explains the
        origin of this phrase a bit clearer:
        The United States Constitution, Article 1, section 9, prohibits Congress
        from laying capitation taxes or other direct taxes. (The Sixteenth
        Amendment allows the Federal government to tax income.) However, some
        states used poll taxes and literacy tests to determine eligibility for
        suffrage, circumventing the Fifteenth Amendment with a "grandfather
        clause" that allowed any adult male whose father or grandfather voted
        to vote. The Twenty-fourth Amendment ended this process.

        --
        Nadav Har'El | Tuesday, Apr 9 2002, 27 Nisan 5762
        nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
        Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |I used to work in a pickle factory, until
        http://nadav.harel.org.il |I got canned.
      • Shlomi Fish
        ... I will include a link to the LWN coverage of its newer incarnation, or some other resource that describes it. My modus operandi is that they are familiar
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 9, 2002
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          On Tue, 9 Apr 2002, Nadav Har'El wrote:

          > On Tue, Apr 09, 2002, Shlomi Fish wrote about "[hackers-il] Bring on the SSSCA - Rev. 1":
          > > wish to change the fact. And legislation of the SSSCA (or CBDPTA as it is now
          > > called)[2] is the perfect vehicle to make it gain momentum.
          >
          > I suggest you start with a short paragraph or two saying what the SSSCA
          > or CBDPTA (eek, couldn't they have chosen more obscure acronyms? I suggest
          > they join the AAAAA, the American Association for the Abolition of
          > Abbreviations and Acronyms). Most people probably don't really know what
          > this proposed law says.
          >

          I will include a link to the LWN coverage of its newer incarnation, or
          some other resource that describes it. My modus operandi is that they are
          familiar with it. Describing it is kind of like the chicken and egg
          problem.

          > > 2. Hardware and software vendors will need to invest a lot of money in building
          > > copyright protection into their products.
          > >
          > > 3. Someone will have to finance this development, and later on converting the
          > > legacy systems into the SSSCA-sound devices.
          > >
          > > 4. This someone is the U.S. Government.
          >
          > I don't see how 4 would necessarily follow from 2 and 3.
          >

          I do. For instance, when the FBI decided he needs to wiretap all local
          phone calls in the U.S. at will, the phone companies demanded money to
          implement it, and the government allocated 200 million dollars of its
          budget to do it. Then, the phone companies sued the government. Search
          for:

          http://www.techtv.com/cybercrime/features/story/0,23008,2134763,00.html

          It is common knowledge that the government is required to finance
          executing its laws into action. The FSF, being a large software vendor,
          can naturally demand that the government finance SSSCA-safing all of its
          software. Microsoft can follow suit, followed by Oracle, Sun, Corel (which
          is based in Canada), IBM. Even I can go to the U.S. Embassy and demand
          them to hire programmers to make sure a patch to Freecell Solver in which
          it is converted to be SSCA-friendly is maintained.

          Someone has to make sure SSSCA-friendly software and hardware is produced,
          and that someone has to be the U.S. according to the logic behind the
          Democratic process.

          > > 5. I'm not really good at approximating things like that, but I think this
          > > amount of money can easily surpass the current U.S. Budget. And I mean the
          > > entire budget, defense budget and all.
          >
          > If such a law ever passes, I assume they will have to "grandfather" [4] any
          > existing applications. Americans usually cherish the concept that you cannot
          > be prosecuted for something you did before that act became illegal.
          >

          That's a common legal paradigm, which is commonplace in every liberal
          country. Writing retro-active laws is considered Totalitarian.

          > This will make converting existing applications (like Windows XP) unnecessary,
          > but also make creating new applications nearly impossible. Instead of ruining
          > Microsoft with huge modification costs, it might make it a monopoly forever ;)
          >

          Microsoft cannot live with those terms. Obviously, they will have to add
          some features to XP, or fix bugs, etc. I believe they won't be able to
          sell new versions of XP. Microsoft is keen on giving the public what it
          wants and what it finds appealing. That's not always the case with some of
          the software out there, but it is a necessity behind every good software
          design. (commercial/o-s, GUI/command line - everything)

          Obviously, I would still be able to use Mandrake 8.2 perfectly. But it
          would be fully to think that 5 years from now, I would actually still use
          it.

          > > I'd like you to take the Meta-Circular Evaluator of the classic text
          > > "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" and make sure it
          > > does not execute copyrighted code. I'd like you to take GNU echo and make
          > > sure it does not prints copyrighted expressions to the screen. (you may
          > > actually find it useful to start from agrep). I want you to take gcc
          > > and make sure it does not compile code that one does not own the copyright
          > > to. And I want you to make sure your own pet programs and script follow suit.
          >
          > I think that anyone familar with computers will find the proposed laws'
          > absurdity and unapplicability "self-evident". Americans love "self-evident
          > truths" [1]
          >

          I hate them. One needs to reason his conclusions. Perhaps not with a
          mathematical proof. (that would be ridiculus in such a scope) But at least
          give some basis to it. To quote Atlas Shrugged (which I highly recommend
          reading despite what distinguished members of this mailing list have
          said):

          <<<
          "We never make assertions, Miss Taggart," said Hugh Akston. "That is
          the moral crime peculiar to our enemies. We do not tell -- we *show*.
          We do not claim -- we *prove*."
          >>>

          I do not prove that 1+1 = 2 or other things whose proof can be trivially
          deduced. But I try to illustrate or reason what I say.

          > > feel that it would be a complete waste of time if my own Freecell Solver[3]
          > > had to make sure it respects the copyrights of layouts it receives as input.
          >
          > Or worse in the case of another game, Mine Sweeper. It was proven that
          > Minesweeper is Turing-complete :) [3]
          >

          So is the game of life. BTW, solving MineSweeper was proven to be
          NP-Complete. But I did not yet write a complete Mine Sweeper
          implementation, so I'd rather keep to stuff I know.

          > > So, fire away I say to Sen. Hollings. Unless, of course, he actually
          > > want to remain in one piece afterwards.
          >
          > Romans had a horse for a senator [2], so why can't the Americans have
          > a jackass? :)
          >

          I think most of the statesmen today are irrational, spineless mystics that
          lack any conception of idealogy. They purposely, willingly and directly
          destroy values and cause money to be lost and lives to be killed. But
          these are just my political opinions which are out of scope of what I wish
          to concentrate on conveying.

          To quote Leonard Cohen: "First we take Manhattan. Then we take Berlin".
          Let's first handle the SSSCA, which is easy bait and a grossly illegal
          law. Then we will have a good momentum with which to get rid of the DMCA,
          or make the public aware of UCITA, of the grossly immoral nature of
          existing IP laws, etc. By then, we can proceed to other things which are
          not computer-related. But one step at a time, and everything
          done strategically.

          The Content Providers are not the real enemy. Yes, they are rich, they are
          paranoid and they tend to abuse their power and money. But they produce
          intellectual values that give people joy or teach them a lot of things. In
          an LFC environment, they could not have been abusive even if they wanted
          to, because in an LFC the law does not change to reflect the whims of
          private factors. (let's not turn it into a flamewar - if you wish -
          subscribe to Philosophy-IL and discuss it there) The digital revolution
          naturally changes the model in which they operated in. But I think they
          can find a new model to work in. Maybe they won't garner as many profits
          as before, but they at least would be happy knowing they produce such
          values.

          We should try to convince them to lose their paranoia, rather than to
          attack them. I don't mean they are innocent in their demands, but an "Foo
          is", "Foo is not", "Foo is too" only escalates to a situation where
          everybody is more convinced of his opinion. It is fun doing it sometimes,
          but usually not constructive.

          A better idea, (based on Cognitive Psychology again) is to do the
          following:

          1. Ask him to explain what he means.

          2. Agree that he may have a point.

          3. Try to reach a constructive conclusion that will make both sides happy.

          With some people, you cannot really reason or should try to. But with most
          people, this methodology works very well.

          Regards,

          Shlomi Fish

          >
          > [1] http://www.nara.gov/exhall/charters/declaration/declaration.html
          > [2] http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/1843/Caligula.html
          > [3] http://www.mat.bham.ac.uk/R.W.Kaye/minesw/
          > [4] grandfather clause: noun, 1900: a clause creating an exemption based on
          > circumstances previously existing; especially : a provision in several
          > southern state constitutions designed to enfranchise poor whites and
          > disfranchise Negroes by waiving high voting requirements for
          > descendants of men voting before 1867
          > For the curious, http://www.wikipedia.com/wiki/Poll_tax explains the
          > origin of this phrase a bit clearer:
          > The United States Constitution, Article 1, section 9, prohibits Congress
          > from laying capitation taxes or other direct taxes. (The Sixteenth
          > Amendment allows the Federal government to tax income.) However, some
          > states used poll taxes and literacy tests to determine eligibility for
          > suffrage, circumventing the Fifteenth Amendment with a "grandfather
          > clause" that allowed any adult male whose father or grandfather voted
          > to vote. The Twenty-fourth Amendment ended this process.
          >
          > --
          > Nadav Har'El | Tuesday, Apr 9 2002, 27 Nisan 5762
          > nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
          > Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |I used to work in a pickle factory, until
          > http://nadav.harel.org.il |I got canned.
          >
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > hackers-il-unsubscribe@egroups.com
          >
          >
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          >
          >



          ----------------------------------------------------------------------
          Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
          Home Page: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/
          Home E-mail: shlomif@...

          "Let's suppose you have a table with 2^n cups..."
          "Wait a second - is n a natural number?"
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