From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Thu Jan 25 2001 - 09:50:33 MST

On Wed, Jan 24, 2001 at 08:20:31PM -0800, Adrian Tymes wrote:
> Possibly conspiracy-theory level, but...what if they push for a law
> saying that only licensed organizations are authorized to give away
> copyright rights (possibly as a step down from these organizations being
> the only ones allowed to have copyright, and that all content authors
> must assign copyright to one of these organizations, with the
> organizations able to declare themselves owner if the author does not
> assign within some finite amount of time)? The licensing agency might
> be controlled by cartel, or they might just sue any licensor they do not
> approve of out of existence. Upshot: illegal to be an indie
> distributor.

Or an indie author, or musician. I can see this getting a lot of support
at WIPO from the representatives of various unsavoury regimes who have
state censors -- but I can't see the US or EU getting behind it any
time soon.

The real fun with CPRM is that it requires an operating system to
cooperate with it. If your OS won't play along, CPRM can't work; for
example, you could write a driver shim for the Linux kernel that would
simultaneously spool the (plaintext) of a CPRM-protected file to an
unencrypted location, at the same time as it copies a protected file.

I don't think the people behind CPRM have realised this yet, and I
hope they don't for another year or so, but the open source movement
is fundamentally incompatible with their designs. If Cringley's view
of the future of hardware is correct (you run it off on your inkjet
printer) we'll be seeing entire open source laptop and server hardware
blueprints that you can build at home showing up in a couple of years
:-) :-) ... and this means that the stable door is not only un-secured,
but the horse is well over the horizon and still accelerating.

I give the copyright totalitarians five years. If their bid for power is
incomplete by then, they're stuffed. (On the other hand, if they triumph,
*we* are stuffed. Combine their copy control mechanisms with the sort of
omnipresent surveillance society that Jack Straw is pressing for in the UK
and we will have all the trappings of a corporate-feudalist society,
combined with police state mechanisms that Stalin would have considered

-- Charlie

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