[free-sklyarov] [DMCA_discuss] FW: Rice U. Student cracks Wireless encryption protocol (WEP)]

Julian T. J. Midgley free-sklyarov at effector.xenoclast.org
Thu Aug 9 17:55:12 PDT 2001

 means to
descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work,
or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair
a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright
owner; and
ological measure On Thu, 9
2001, Jon O . wrote:

> Since when have CDs become a technological protection measure
> designed to prevent copyright infringement?
> http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/54/20919.html
> Or operating systems?
> http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/preview/order.asp
> Or Virus Scanners?
> Try to have an open mind about all the things they could use...

Sorry, that was quite a bit harsher than I meant it.  Occasionally we've
concentrated too much on the generalities, and missed some of the
significant detail, which risks weakening our arguments, and I basically
meant "well, it's a not a very useful question, since no-one really thinks
of WLAN encryption as an effective copyright protection mechanism".  It's
1:40am in the UK, and I fired it off before thinking - my apologies.

But it raises the very interesting question of "What does it take
to turn an encryption algorithm (or anything else) into a copyright
protection mechanism [thus turning breaking the algorithm into a crime]?"

I can't see anything in the DMCA that prevents the transition occuring the
moment someone uses an algorithm to protect a copyrighted work in a way
that is 'effective' ie. requires some form of permission (eg a password or
key) obtained from the author of the work in order to access the work.

Let's say I write a book and offer to sell electronic copies of it.

I create a PGP key pair, encrypt the book using the public key, and give a
copy of PGP, a copy of the private key, and the private key's passphrase
to anyone who buys it, under a contract that prevents them from giving the
key or passphrase to anyone else, or revealing the decrypted text to

As far as I can tell, this turns PGP into a copyright protection mechanism
overnight[0] and makes pointing out any flaws in it either a criminal and
civil offence depending on exactly how you do it and what you do with the
knowledge.  IANAL, and hope that this interpretation is wrong.

If I want to, I can stick my own frontend on PGP that also
disables copying to clipboards/printing etc - but that's not necessary to
make it a copyright protection mechanism - there's nothing in the DMCA
that obliges authors to remove fair use opportunities for the protection
measures to count as effective.


to t a technological measure

Julian T. J. Midgley                    http://www.xenoclast.org
Cambridge, England.                       PGP Key ID: 0xBCC7863F
UK Free Dmitry Protest:              http://uk.freesklyarov.org/

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