Fw: CBDTPA bans everything from two-line BASIC programs to PCs

karee@tstonramp.com karee@tstonramp.com
Tue, 26 Mar 2002 10:19:56 -0800

Just in case everyone is sleeping through this one ...

We do not need a DMCA 2.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Declan McCullagh" <declan@well.com>
To: <politech@politechbot.com>
Sent: Monday, March 25, 2002 8:00 PM
Subject: FC: CBDTPA bans everything from two-line BASIC programs to PCs

> Just in case folks haven't figured out how sweeping the Hollings-Feinstein
> bill, aka CBDTPA is, well, keep reading.
> The CBDTPA says that if I were to write and sell this BASIC program...
> 10 INPUT A$
> 20 PRINT A$
> ...after the regulations take effect, I would be guilty of a federal
> felony. That's up to five years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine.
> Distributing my two-line application without charging for it, either via
> handing out floppies or by posting it on a website would be at least a
> civil offense and, depending on the circumstances, a crime as well.
> It's no joke. CBDTPA regulates "any hardware or software that reproduces
> copyrighted works in digital form." My program above does that, especially
> if my BASIC interpreter permits arbitrarily long strings.
> The business end of the CBDTPA says that "a manufacturer, importer, or
> seller" of such software cannot "sell, or offer for sale, in interstate
> commerce, or cause to be transported in, or in a manner affecting,
> interstate commerce" their code unless it "includes and utilizes standard
> security technologies that adhere to the security system standards adopted
> under section 3."
> The FCC gets to invent those. But I can't see how my two-line program is
> going to incorporate such standards. If I'm using C, must I "#include
> <sys/copycheck.h>?" In Perl, will I "use Parse::DRMVerify?" If so, who at
> the FCC will ensure that these modules are available for the languages I'm
> using? (It is true that folks at the FCC are smarter than the folks in
> Congress, though that is not saying much. FCC staff will try to make the
> standards workable. But the CBDTPA gives them -- and the public --
> little wiggle room.)
> By design, programming languages are terribly flexible. The only way to
> prevent software from removing do-not-copy bits from digital content would
> be for Congress to ban the programmable PC. And replace it, perhaps, with
> WebTV television-top boxes.
> In case you're curious, the felony penalties kick in when you try to sell
> your post-ban BASIC program -- not to mention any commercial software --
> and perhaps even if you're a free software developer hoping to gain
> reputation capital from your code.
> They say that violators "shall be fined not more than $500,000 or
> imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense; and
> shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10
> years, or both, for any subsequent offense."
> (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/1204.html)
> Yes, this is silly. No, it is probably (I hope) not what senators Hollings
> and Feinstein and their colleagues intended. Yet it is what the text of
> bill says. And this is after the good senators had seven months of
> correspodnence from computer scientists and industry representatives
> worried about the scope of the legislation after it was widely circulated
> in August 2001.
> Don't believe me? Read it for yourself:
> Text of CBDTPA:
> http://www.politechbot.com/docs/cbdtpa/
> Politech archive on the CBDTPA:
> http://www.politechbot.com/cgi-bin/politech.cgi?name=cbdtpa
> -Declan
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