[free-sklyarov] AAP response quoted in a previous thread

Ethan Straffin drumz at best.com
Mon Aug 6 13:10:43 PDT 2001

Paul Callahan writes:
> Personally, I think the DMCA anti-circumvention 
> provision is not only an unjust use of
> government force, but also a very unrealistic approach
> to preventing unauthorized copying. Sklyarov was 
> caught precisely because of Elcomsoft's insistence
> that its business was not violating any law
> combined with Sklyarov's openness in claiming 
> authorship.  It would be virtually impossible to
> enforce this law against a company that was making 
> any serious effort to evade prosecution.
> Somehow, the suggestion seems to
> be that with a sufficiently draconian penalty and
> relentless enforcement, it will be possible to deter
> any would-be authors of unauthorized decryption
> software even if the decryption systems themselves
> are not intrinsically secure.  I would concede that 
> this may be true, but "sufficiently" in this
> case is at an unprecedented cost to the civil
> liberties enjoyed in a democratic society.

Very much so -- which is why I agree only partially with your statement
that DMCA proponents understand the technological issues.  They are
perceptive enough to recognize that encryption-based DRM is inherently
circumventable, but they are *not* perceptive enough to recognize that the
Internet makes it well-nigh impossible to prosecute anyone who doesn't
want to be prosecuted.  Individuals who are technologically savvy enough
to compromise encryption systems are, by and large, also technologically
savvy enough to share what they've learned anonymously.  So why not try to
punish them anyway?  Because the only way you stand a chance of doing so,
once the lessons learned from the 2600 and Sklyarov cases become common
knowledge, is to inaugurate a new era in which Echelon-style surveillance
is everywhere, the "safe harbor" and "common carrier" defenses for ISPs
are nonexistent, and Internet privacy is a thing of the past.  Even more
than the prosecutions themselves, and the chilling effect on free speech,
*this* is what scares me about the DMCA: it's an authoritarian time bomb 
wrapped in pretty free-market packaging.


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