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Bring on the SSSCA - Rev. 2

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  • Shlomi Fish
    Here is the second revision. I added some more meat and stuff, as well as something to do prior to the law s acceptance. I did not integrate all of Nadav s
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 9, 2002
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      Here is the second revision. I added some more meat and stuff, as well as
      something to do prior to the law's acceptance.

      I did not integrate all of Nadav's suggestions yet, nor answered them. But
      it's better to "release early and release often", than to make sure your
      work is free of unwanted issues entirely. Rome was not built in a day.

      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.

      8. Most programmers or text-book writers I am familiar with cannot comply
      with the SSSCA's terms. It was proven that it is cryptologically impossible
      to create a non-breakable copyright protection scheme[4]. Trying to mess
      their code with an ad-hoc heuristic imposed by the government is not their
      idea of being productive.

      9. The result: a massive brain drain of engineers from the U.S. If you think
      that because of the recession there is a surplus of programmers, think again.
      There is still a genuine lack of _good_ and qualified ones.[5] And those are
      the exact ones which would prefer to abandon the U.S. in favour of a country
      which gives them more freedom to program.[6]


      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.

      Seriously now, I'd rather see the public start opposing the SSSCA before it
      is enacted as law. How do we do it? By lobbying. Is there anything wrong with
      lobbbying? Not unless there's anything wrong with talking. Here's a related
      example: suppose you wrote a good screenplay and wish it to be materialized
      as a movie. You can either send it to the Disney/WB/Paramount/etc. box and
      wait for a reply, which you probably won't get.

      Or: you can travel to Hollywood, try to talk with other people who hold
      some power in the studios, tell them about your story; ask them to read
      it or your favourite parts; improve what they don't like and gradually
      think of ways to improve it; gradually have more people know about the
      story and eventually have the higher people notice you. This way will
      probably work better than just sending it by mail or E-mail and hoping for the
      best. Likewise for politics.

      We should get as many people as possible that can be concerned by the SSSCA
      to know about it, and criticize it at public. Furthermore, those people should
      propogate it further up the line. I.e: we should let Military engineers be
      aware of it, and let them tell their commander about it. If a commander hears
      about the SSSCA from 3 different engineers, he will become suspicious of it
      himself. If you actually know a general or an ex-general (or admiral, yeah
      yeah) tell him about it, and see what he makes from it. Now, substitute this
      paragraph with the Tech Firms (not necessarily info tech), or Police, or
      Local Municipilaties or generally equivalent.

      Like it or not, we have become dependant on computers. And like it or not,
      the SSSCA will make using and developing them impossible. So, let the people
      know, so legislators will notice[7] and we can get rid of this crap.

      And like I said earlier, it will give us a higher ground to further elevate
      our fight for individual rights. I cannot force you to contribute to its
      success ("Defame the SSSCA today!" and all this crap) but it does sound
      realistic to me. Still, don't rely on others to do the job for you.
      Remember: we are not centralized but distributed. Every node is important.
      You can start by writing an article about it while expressing your opinion
      rationally and benevelontly. Then, publish it somewhere appropriate.

      Life awaits you!


      [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/

      [4] - If you think about it, you can quickly realize that it also "makes
      sense". Naturally, it is not a proof, but should be convincing enough.

      [5] - I used to worry about not getting a job after I finish the Technion,
      too. However, I was told that experienced Linux developers (which is the
      case for me) are actually very hard to find in Israel. In fact, many qualified
      Windows programmers are hired only to force Linux down their throats.

      [6] - The U.S. may pride itself on being a free country. But becoming liberal
      and maintaining liberalism is a process, not a declaration. While no country
      in the world today is perfect constitutionally, I believe there are many
      countries in which a person can lead a free-er life than the U.S.

      [7] - Sending mail to your representative does not work as expected because
      of the following reasons:

      1. Representatives receive a lot of mail and E-mail containing many things
      starting from conspiracy theories to personal complaints (which may be
      legitimate). It is probably that they will not notice the SSSCA.

      2. It is possible that they have bad intentions and wish to pass the SSSCA.
      Evil people exist, and I believe most representatives fall into that category.

      3. A representative is likely to be more influenced by people he knows
      personally than from some random L. Torvalds hacker. We are dealing with
      people here, not with Turing machines.





      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      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
      Just some non-serious remarks: ... I m not sure relase early and release often is a good approach for texts. Do you really think people like to read the same
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 9, 2002
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        Just some non-serious remarks:

        On Tue, Apr 09, 2002, Shlomi Fish wrote about "[hackers-il] Bring on the SSSCA - Rev. 2":
        > I did not integrate all of Nadav's suggestions yet, nor answered them. But
        > it's better to "release early and release often", than to make sure your
        > work is free of unwanted issues entirely. Rome was not built in a day.

        I'm not sure "relase early and release often" is a good approach for texts.
        Do you really think people like to read the same text over and over again,
        each time trying to find the new or changed paragraph(s)?

        A release-often policy makes reading your document a O(N^2) effort, rather
        than a O(N) (where N is the length of your final document).

        > example: suppose you wrote a good screenplay and wish it to be materialized
        > as a movie. You can either send it to the Disney/WB/Paramount/etc. box and
        > wait for a reply, which you probably won't get.
        > Or: you can travel to Hollywood, try to talk with other people who hold
        > some power in the studios, tell them about your story; ask them to read

        Those who saw "Moulin Rouge" know there's another way: pretend to be filthy
        rich, and sleep with the studio owner's young female protege :)

        > You can start by writing an article about it while expressing your opinion
        > rationally and benevelontly. Then, publish it somewhere appropriate.

        :)


        --
        Nadav Har'El | Tuesday, Apr 9 2002, 27 Nisan 5762
        nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
        Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |Today is the tomorrow you worried about
        http://nadav.harel.org.il |yesterday, and now you know why.
      • Shlomi Fish
        ... I know, I know. If you want I can organize the article in an AVL tree, and then it will be O(n*log(n))... :-) ... Actually, Ayn Rand tells in Atlas
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 9, 2002
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          On Tue, 9 Apr 2002, Nadav Har'El wrote:

          > Just some non-serious remarks:
          >
          > On Tue, Apr 09, 2002, Shlomi Fish wrote about "[hackers-il] Bring on the SSSCA - Rev. 2":
          > > I did not integrate all of Nadav's suggestions yet, nor answered them. But
          > > it's better to "release early and release often", than to make sure your
          > > work is free of unwanted issues entirely. Rome was not built in a day.
          >
          > I'm not sure "relase early and release often" is a good approach for texts.
          > Do you really think people like to read the same text over and over again,
          > each time trying to find the new or changed paragraph(s)?
          >
          > A release-often policy makes reading your document a O(N^2) effort, rather
          > than a O(N) (where N is the length of your final document).
          >

          I know, I know. If you want I can organize the article in an AVL tree, and
          then it will be O(n*log(n))... :-)

          > > example: suppose you wrote a good screenplay and wish it to be materialized
          > > as a movie. You can either send it to the Disney/WB/Paramount/etc. box and
          > > wait for a reply, which you probably won't get.
          > > Or: you can travel to Hollywood, try to talk with other people who hold
          > > some power in the studios, tell them about your story; ask them to read
          >
          > Those who saw "Moulin Rouge" know there's another way: pretend to be filthy
          > rich, and sleep with the studio owner's young female protege :)
          >

          Actually, Ayn Rand tells in "Atlas Shrugged" of an actress who became
          famous not by sleeping with producers, but by the "shortcut" of sleeping
          with politicians. ;-) The thought of an actress doing that makes me
          shiver.

          But regarding to your comment: (taken too seriously) I was talking of
          moral, honourable ways. Which I believe lobbying or human-engineering are
          such.

          > > You can start by writing an article about it while expressing your opinion
          > > rationally and benevelontly. Then, publish it somewhere appropriate.
          >
          > :)
          >

          It's kind of like a BFS scan followed by the PI (propogation of
          information) protocol, only for humans. The kind of crap you start to
          think with if you learn too much CS.

          Regards,

          Shlomi Fish

          Knuth is not God! God's Book of Algorithms also cover heuristics with
          working with actual people. They are not guaranteed to work, but they were
          measured to have an average of %83 success rate.[1]

          [1] - I don't mean any malevolent methods of course. Neocheating, lying or
          its ilk is not something one will benefit from doing.

          >
          > --
          > Nadav Har'El | Tuesday, Apr 9 2002, 27 Nisan 5762
          > nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
          > Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |Today is the tomorrow you worried about
          > http://nadav.harel.org.il |yesterday, and now you know why.
          >
          >
          > 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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