markpasc (markpasc) wrote,

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The TCPA and Palladium

Shkval aroused Knuth Park's ire ranting (not unreasonably, I thought at the time) about Palladium and the TCPA.* So here's Edward Felten on such things. (Edward Felten being Princeton professor who challenged the DMCA in court because he thought the RIAA would use it to quash his academic analysis of whatever safe music standard they were developing at the time.)

He invokes Bruce Schneier and some lawbloggers. I agree the TCPA is something to watch but not worry overly about right now--unlike all the folks in Knuth Park who believe it isn't going to happen with such conviction that Shkval was a raving loon. I agree he was raving, but not that he was a loon: it's important to understand that there are people (and corporations) who would like to see this done, and that, if we disagree, we should act against them, by buying from independent media producers and not depending on Windows (although I, for one, still do).

I also agree with Schneier that worrying about Palladium is silly since we don't know what it is yet. I see it as Microsoft's cudgel for smacking Big Content, so if the RIAA does become a rogue government agency, Microsoft can continue to exist. (You may want Microsoft to lose in the marketplace, but trading Turing machines for jukeboxes isn't how to do it.) It's nothing but self-preservation on Microsoft's part, but Microsoft knows its greatest wealth--Windows software developers--won't be happy if they're suddenly limited to writing DVD intro menus. (Anyone can do that as it is.)

TCPA, though, is a rope we can give publishers with which to hang themselves. OK, so I have to buy Intel and run Windows to listen to big-label music and watch big-studio movies on my "computer." Fine: I won't. If you want to make the dubious claim that downloading music costs you record sales, go ahead--but banning the universal Turing machine from legal music playback devices will cost you more. I won't buy your music unless CDex will let me carry it to campus with me.

So. At any rate, it's not worth worrying about now, but please be aware of it. The RIAA and MPAA would like nothing more than a legal requirement to use TCPA hardware, but that would be the death of the universal Turing machine too.

* Since one of Shkval's two URLs was the TCPA FAQ, I was going to mention Joshua Allen's piece against the so-called FAQ in the conversation, but there was never a chance to get it in edgewise. Joshua Allen writes many thought-provoking things, and happens to work for Microsoft.

** Disney was shown a demo of the VCR, under development. Originally the tapes were designed with a mechanical lock that prevented rewinding: you would rent the tape, watch it, then return it to the place of rental so they could reset the tape with a special machine. Disney objected because the same viewing of a tape might be attended by one or nine people, so they couldn't charge based on the number of viewers as with a movie theater. (Paraphrased from memory of Larry Lessig's The Future of Ideas.)

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