[free-sklyarov] What I'd like to see: fixing DMCA and IP

Stephen R. Savitzky steve at theStarport.org
Thu Aug 23 21:24:33 PDT 2001

Xcott Craver <sacraver at EE.Princeton.EDU> writes:

> On 23 Aug 2001, Stephen R. Savitzky wrote:
> > I'd like to see it made illegal to sell, distribute, traffic in,
> > etc. any file format or software that *prevents* fair use of
> > legitimately purchased copyrighted material, that prevents such material
> > from reverting to the public domain when its copyright has expired, or
> > that restricts in any way the use of public domain material.
> 	Um, wouldn't this be a ban on encryption?

No -- only on encryption that serves to prevent or restrict fair use of
purchased material.  Encrypt personal communication all you like.  For
that matter, encrypt what you sell, as long as the decryption software
doesn't prevent your making clean copies.  

Actually, it would be sufficient to include a unique serial number and
digital signature on every copy you sell.  That way if somebody
distributed a large number of copies you could trace them (or if they
filed the serial numbers and signatures off, you could bust anyone in
possession of an unsigned copy, since it's obviously stolen).

> 	Even if not, I can easily imagine a bill along these lines
> 	being altered to include restrictions on privacy.  After all,
> 	both fair use and wiretapping require the same basic restriction:
> 	that people make cleartext available in some form.

I'd like to see the right to privacy ensured, too, but that's another

> 	You could possibly prevent this by outlawing the *publication*
> 	or sale of material unless cleartext is available, but not mere
> 	distribution or transmission.  However, the Internet is slowly
> 	turning every act of communication into "publishing."

Basically correct.  No money changes hands, it's not a problem.  No
restriction on the use of the output of the decryption program, also not
a problem.  That way you could buy something that might be illegal, or
even just embarassing to somebody in power, but still have fair use of
it once you decrypted it.

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