16.175 Internet Society on Digital Rights Management

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Fri Aug 23 2002 - 09:52:28 EDT

  • Next message: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty : "16.176 commerce and research"

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 175.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 06:51:03 -0700
             From: NINCH-ANNOUNCE <david@ninch.org>
             Subject: Internet Society on Digital Rights Management

    News on Networking Cultural Heritage Resources
    from across the Community
    August 22, 2002

             Statement of the Internet Society on Digital Rights Management

    >Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 19:34:22 -0400
    >To: Telecom Regulation and the Internet List
    > Digital Copyright List <digital-copyright@lists.umuc.edu>,
    > CNI Copyright List <cni-copyright@cni.org>,
    > Intellectual Property List <intprop-l@topica.com>,
    > Web Law List <web-law@yahoogroups.com>
    >From: Seth Johnson <seth.johnson@RealMeasures.dyndns.org>
    >>Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 22:18:29 +0100
    >From: Somebody
    >To: "R. A. Hettinga" <rah@shipwright.com>
    >Subject: Statement of the Internet Society on Digital Rights


    August 15, 2002

    Contact: Julie Williams 703-326-9880, x111; 703-402-6715
    Statement of the Internet Society on Digital Rights

    Washington, D.C. - The Internet Society strongly opposes
    attempts to impose governmental technology mandates that are
    designed to protect only the economic interests of certain
    owners of intellectual property over the economic interests
    of much larger portions of society. The current debate in
    many countries of the world regarding digital rights
    management (DRM) has illustrated the inevitable conclusion
    of technology mandates in law: a world where all digital
    media technology is either forbidden or compulsory. The
    effect of these mandates is to grant veto power over new
    technologies to special interest groups who have continually
    opposed innovation.

    There are many policy reasons that can be advanced to oppose
    government intervention in technology. Society at large has
    a powerful economic interest in promoting research resulting
    in the creation of new products and services as well as new
    jobs. Many of the legislative proposals currently under
    consideration would shackle technology and the research
    needed to support it, solely for the benefit of one small
    group. From the standpoint of sound public policy,
    intellectual property rights must be respected but must also
    be kept in balance with other rights and interests. In
    particular, copyright law is a kind of "bargain" between
    rights owners and consumers. Copyright, except in rare
    instances, is not perpetual, and there are a wide range of
    fair use exceptions to copyright that limit its restraints.
    Without these limits, copyright would soon become an
    oppressive burden on creativity and freedom of expression.
    The Internet Society acknowledges these policy
    considerations, but also believes that there are other even
    more persuasive arguments, based on sound engineering and
    technological principles, that show the folly of government
    mandated technology.

    Technology mandates are inherently anti-innovative. The
    entire concept of a mandate is that it freezes a particular
    technology at a point in time, and inhibits research and
    development on new and better technology. Technological
    standards are desirable and even necessary for widespread
    implementation of new technology, but all standards sooner
    or later must give way to new standards. This process should
    not be impeded by legislation that effectively prohibits
    research and development.

    A classic illustration of the dangers of DRM legislation may
    be found in legislation enacted by many countries as part of
    their treaty obligations under the World Intellectual
    Property Organization (WIPO) copyright treaties. The
    so-called Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed by
    the United States Congress in 1998, is an example. Under the
    WIPO treaties, the United States, like the other countries
    bound by the treaties, had an obligation to "provide 'legal
    protection and effective legal remedies' against
    circumventing technological measures, e.g., encryption and
    password protection, that are used by copyright owners to
    protect their works from piracy . . ." [See S. Rep. No.
    105-190, at 8, 10-11 (1998)]. The DMCA, in responding to
    this obligation, illustrates the "law of unintended
    consequences." While purporting to help copyright owners, it
    seriously threatens research in the field of encryption for

    The DMCA prohibits "circumvention" of existing technological
    measures (such as encryption) that control access to a work
    and encryption; it prohibits "trafficking" in technology
    designed to circumvent access control; and it prohibits
    "trafficking" in technology designed to circumvent copying.
    These prohibitions are subject to certain exceptions; the
    DMCA acknowledges rights of fair use, so that, in certain
    limited circumstances, circumvention of copying protection
    for purposes of fair use of an encrypted work does not
    violate the act.

    Another important exception is the separate provision of the
    DMCA that allows circumvention of access controls for the
    purpose of encryption research to identify flaws and
    vulnerabilities of encryption technology. This provision is
    narrowly drawn with explicit conditions relating to good
    faith in performing research. Most significantly, the
    exception is for access only; it does not permit what the
    act refers to as trafficking in such research.

    The danger to research presented by statutes like the DMCA
    is best illustrated by a real world example of a researcher
    in the field of encryption. Just because cryptography can be
    or is being used for purposes other than copyright
    protection, does not mean it is not also used for copyright
    protection and therefore subject to the provision of the
    DMCA. Although a researcher may be looking at a certain type
    of cryptographic technology that is used to protect packets
    containing information in the public domain, that same
    technology might also be used to protect other packets that
    contain copyrighted data, unknown to the researcher.
    Likewise, a researcher might attempt to break the protection
    on an item without realizing that the protected item is a
    copyrighted work, which may not be discovered, if at all,
    until it is too late. But the issue isn't whether the
    researcher has cracked the protection - the issue is what
    the researcher may do with the resulting information.

    A central question for encryption researchers is whether
    publishing the results of their research amounts to
    disseminating something whose primary purpose is to
    circumvent copyright protection. Under the DMCA, the act of
    circumventing access controls for good faith research,
    standing alone, is, generally speaking, legitimate. This
    does not present great problems to researchers. However,
    when the researcher then wishes to publish the results of
    the research, the DMCA provides a test of the intent of the
    original circumvention that depends on whether the
    subsequent publication is made to "advance the state of
    knowledge" of encryption research, or whether it is made "in
    a manner that facilitates infringement." In other words, if
    the researcher acts in good faith to circumvent access
    control and publishes with the intent of reaching other
    researchers, but the information ends up being "disseminated
    in a manner that facilitates infringement," then the
    original circumvention of the access controls may have been
    illegal. Since there are both civil and criminal remedies
    available to copyright owners, the researcher faces serious
    dilemmas in deciding whether, how and when to publish.

    There are already court decisions in the United States and
    elsewhere involving both civil and criminal aspects of the
    publication of encryption research. Many prominent figures
    in the field have already spoken out against the chilling
    effect of legislative interference with research in
    technology. The Internet Society calls on the legislatures
    of the world to limit the damage caused by shortsighted
    legislative efforts, intended to carry out the seemingly
    high-minded purposes of the copyright treaties, that instead
    threaten the advancement of science and technology.

    About ISOC

    The Internet Society is a not-for-profit membership
    organization founded in 1991 to provide leadership in the
    management of Internet related standards, educational, and
    policy development issues. It has offices in Washington, DC
    and Geneva, Switzerland. Through its current initiatives in
    support of education and training, Internet standards and
    protocol, and public policy, ISOC has played a critical role
    in ensuring that the Internet has developed in a stable and
    open manner. It is the organizational home of the Internet
    Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture
    Board (IAB), the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG)
    and other Internet-related bodies.

    For over 10 years ISOC has run international network
    training programs for developing countries which have played
    a vital role in setting up the Internet connections and
    networks in virtually every country that has connected to
    the Internet during this time, while at the same time
    working to protect the Internet's stability. ISOC is taking
    the next step in this evolution with the recent announcement
    of its intent to bid for the .ORG registry based on the
    belief that a thriving non-commercial presence is a key
    element in developing a strong social and technical
    infrastructure in all nations. For additional information
    see http://www.ISOC.org.

    --- end forwarded text

    R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah@ibuc.com>
    The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation
    44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
    "... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and
    antiquity, [predicting the end of the world] has not been
    found agreeable to experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline
    and Fall of the Roman Empire'


    ============================================================== NINCH-Announce is an announcement listserv, produced by the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH). The subjects of announcements are not the projects of NINCH, unless otherwise noted; neither does NINCH necessarily endorse the subjects of announcements. We attempt to credit all re-distributed news and announcements and appreciate reciprocal credit.

    For questions, comments or requests to un-subscribe, contact the editor: <mailto:david@ninch.org> ============================================================== See and search back issues of NINCH-ANNOUNCE at <http://www.cni.org/Hforums/ninch-announce/>. ==============================================================

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Aug 23 2002 - 02:03:19 EDT