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[FYI] (Fwd) About Gilmore's letter on IBM&Intel push copy protection

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Date sent:      	Fri, 22 Dec 2000 11:30:00 -0500
Send reply to:  	Law & Policy of Computer Communications
From:           	Peter Wayner <pcw2@FLYZONE.COM>
Subject:        	About Gilmore's letter on IBM&Intel push copy protection into
             	ordinary disk drives

I'm glad that John spent the time and energy to write a good summary
of what is going on in the hard disk area. He's spot on about the
dangers to our liberties.

But I was quite worried until I began to see the dangers for IBM and
Intel in the scheme. This is not an easy play for them because it
threatens much of the entire industry in these ways:

1) This is going to increase the cost of using  PCs dramatically. Hard
disk crashes are going to go from major disasters to utter
catastrophes. When the disks go bad, you'll need to buy all new copies
of the software, images, movies, and what not. Backing up? Well, that
will be another headache that won't be possible without the right
permissions. They can wave their hands, but there's no getting around
the fact that installing software is going to have plenty of new red

I don't see how they will be able to distinguish between the truth and
a lie when a guy calls up and say, "uh, my hard disk crashed. I need
to install it on a new machine." They either authorize it or they
don't. In fact, they'll probably have to automate the process because
it's so expensive to have an actual human on the other end.

My mean time between hard disk failures is about 2 years, but I'm a
heavy user. Can we really afford to create a new class of technicians
who do special hard disk replacement for 20% of America each year?

2) This really changes the nature of the business. Right now the PC
and software manufacturers sell you a box, wave good bye and say,
"Good luck." Support is a joke. Actually fixing the machines costs too
much money. Anything worth under $400 is essentially disposable.

If they put trusted hard disks in place, then there needs to be
someone to care for these disks. They can't just keep waving good bye
when you walk out the door. The business model needs to change to be
something like cable television. That means hiring thousands if not
millions of technicians who will come to your house and fix your hard

3) This is really going to slow innovation and that's really going to
hurt IBM and Intel. Already the hardware guys depend heavily on
upgrades to keep people buying machines. If people can't move their
software to a new zippier computer, then they're not going to buy a
new zippier computer. Take a look at the cable television world. Most
people are still using 1970's era technology. It just takes too long
for the service technicians to go to each house and replace things.
But that's the only way you can run the world when you have trusted
corrals for special data. You can't just let any schmoe upgrade their
hard disk or any schmoe is going to be able to pirate Hollywood
movies. Gosh, that's all us proles do all day long you know. Pirate

4)  This is another opportunity for the open source community to come
in and steal market share. If the press reports in Slashdot and other
places are to believed, it was only a few months ago that Microsoft
marched into the offices at Virginia Beach and asked them to produce
the certificates for their copies of Windows. You know, those neat
hologram embossed slips of paper. They didn't have one for each PC so
they had to pay more than $129,000.

This is another opportunity for Red Hat or some other Linux box
company to walk into companies and say, "Use Red Hat, Mozilla, and
Star Office and you'll never have license problems again. The hardware
guys claim that they can take care of rights management issues for
you. So can we and we cost alot less."

I think this may be the greatest thing that's come along for open
source OSs yet. As Princess Leia said in the Hollywood content "Star
Wars", "The harder you squeeze your fingers Vader, the more planets
slip through the fingers." Do those content wrangling lawyers down
there ever look at the content they protect?

Tune to http://www.wayner.org/books/ffa/  for information on my book
on Free Software.

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