Prometheus von Cornsilk (kingnixon) wrote,
Prometheus von Cornsilk
kingnixon

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what fun

10 INPUT A$
20 PRINT A$

according to current US law, the above two lines are now illegal. if i were to sell them, it woudl be a felony, but since they're free, i think it's just misdemeanor.



Just in case folks haven't figured out how sweeping the Hollings-Feinstein
bill, aka CBDTPA is, well, keep reading.

The CBDTPA says that if I were to write and sell this BASIC program...

10 INPUT A$
20 PRINT A$

...after the regulations take effect, I would be guilty of a federal
felony. That's up to five years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine.
Distributing my two-line application without charging for it, either via
handing out floppies or by posting it on a website would be at least a
civil offense and, depending on the circumstances, a crime as well.

It's no joke. CBDTPA regulates "any hardware or software that reproduces
copyrighted works in digital form." My program above does that, especially
if my BASIC interpreter permits arbitrarily long strings.

The business end of the CBDTPA says that "a manufacturer, importer, or
seller" of such software cannot "sell, or offer for sale, in interstate
commerce, or cause to be transported in, or in a manner affecting,
interstate commerce" their code unless it "includes and utilizes standard
security technologies that adhere to the security system standards adopted
under section 3."

The FCC gets to invent those. But I can't see how my two-line program is
going to incorporate such standards. If I'm using C, must I "#include
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<sys/copycheck.h>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

10 INPUT A$
20 PRINT A$

according to current US law, the above two lines are now illegal. if i were to sell them, it woudl be a felony, but since they're free, i think it's just misdemeanor.

<lj-cut text="explainario"><hr>
Just in case folks haven't figured out how sweeping the Hollings-Feinstein
bill, aka CBDTPA is, well, keep reading.

The CBDTPA says that if I were to write and sell this BASIC program...

10 INPUT A$
20 PRINT A$

...after the regulations take effect, I would be guilty of a federal
felony. That's up to five years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine.
Distributing my two-line application without charging for it, either via
handing out floppies or by posting it on a website would be at least a
civil offense and, depending on the circumstances, a crime as well.

It's no joke. CBDTPA regulates "any hardware or software that reproduces
copyrighted works in digital form." My program above does that, especially
if my BASIC interpreter permits arbitrarily long strings.

The business end of the CBDTPA says that "a manufacturer, importer, or
seller" of such software cannot "sell, or offer for sale, in interstate
commerce, or cause to be transported in, or in a manner affecting,
interstate commerce" their code unless it "includes and utilizes standard
security technologies that adhere to the security system standards adopted
under section 3."

The FCC gets to invent those. But I can't see how my two-line program is
going to incorporate such standards. If I'm using C, must I "#include
<sys/copycheck.h>?" In Perl, will I "use Parse::DRMVerify?" If so, who at
the FCC will ensure that these modules are available for the languages I'm
using? (It is true that folks at the FCC are smarter than the folks in
Congress, though that is not saying much. FCC staff will try to make the
standards workable. But the CBDTPA gives them -- and the public -- precious
little wiggle room.)

By design, programming languages are terribly flexible. The only way to
prevent software from removing do-not-copy bits from digital content would
be for Congress to ban the programmable PC. And replace it, perhaps, with
WebTV television-top boxes.

In case you're curious, the felony penalties kick in when you try to sell
your post-ban BASIC program -- not to mention any commercial software --
and perhaps even if you're a free software developer hoping to gain
reputation capital from your code.

They say that violators "shall be fined not more than $500,000 or
imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense; and
shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10
years, or both, for any subsequent offense."
(http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/1204.html)

Yes, this is silly. No, it is probably (I hope) not what senators Hollings
and Feinstein and their colleagues intended. Yet it is what the text of the
bill says. And this is after the good senators had seven months of
correspodnence from computer scientists and industry representatives
worried about the scope of the legislation after it was widely circulated
in August 2001.

Don't believe me? Read it for yourself:

Text of CBDTPA:
http://www.politechbot.com/docs/cbdtpa/

Politech archive on the CBDTPA:
http://www.politechbot.com/cgi-bin/politech.cgi?name=cbdtpa

-Declan




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