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Control is the issue...


As Robert Cringely might have put it...
   Feb 11, 2000, 03:35 UTC (5 Talkbacks) (Other stories by
   A.J. Mayo) 

   By A.J. Mayo 

   The fascinating developments in the DVD DeCSS affair
   have been reported from several angles. However, two
   points of view seem to have emerged to the exclusion of
   other important realities. One side claims the other are
   hackers, bent on pirating copyright DVD material and
   misappropriating trade secrets in order to do so. The other
   side claims that reverse engineering is a legitimate
   expression of free speech, and that in any case, a disk can
   be pirated simply by doing a bit-for-bit clone, without the
   need for decryption. 

   It is quite clear, I think, that the motivation of those who have
   reverse-engineered the inner workings of the content
   scrambling system was that darn human curiosity which
   marks us as a species. And the Internet has made it pretty
   darn near impossible to pop the genie back into the bottle.
   So why are the plaintiffs bothering?. At best they would
   appear to create a bunch of martyrs, and at worst they will
   lose control of a valuable trade secret. 

   What DeCSS lets the consortium do is determine who will
   make players, and on what terms, and who will provide
   content. If you can neither encrypt or decrypt the bit stream,
   you are locked out of both markets. If you purchase a license
   to use the technology, then the consortium has a way of
   controlling your actions. Want to sell a player that doesn't
   honour region codes?. Hmm, maybe we'll revoke your
   license. Or maybe yes, of course, but you gotta charge three
   grand for it. Want to produce content - well, you need a
   license to produce the encrypted bitstream that will go on a
   disk, or you'll have to deal with someone who does. This is a
   handy way of exercising future control, is it not?. After all,
   you might be allowed to produce content only playable in
   region 1, thus controlling your distribution, or perhaps
   competitors of the consortium members might find
   unexpected 'capacity problems' in getting their product onto

   But without DeCSS, this control vanishes and a great many
   ricebowls are broken. The consortium always knew that
   someone would break into the system. They probably
   planned exactly what they'd do, ahead of time. 
Kristian Koehntopp, Knooper Weg 46, 24103 Kiel, +49 170 2231 811
"Basically, the mere appearance of new technological forms of
 have never been a reason to change the existing 'legal rules of play'."
	-- WIPO rechtfertigt ein globales Trafficabhoer- und Filtersystem