The Digg Incident Was Nothing LIke the Boston Tea Party

by on May 5, 2007 · 78 comments

The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Cord Blomquist also doesn’t approve of the Digg protesters:

Websters are calling the ‘revolt’ at Digg an online Boston Tea Party. This is offensive to anyone who knows the history of the Boston Tea Party. The Sons of Liberty destroyed someone else’s property, a very non-libertarian thing to do, but they did so to protest the unjust taxation of their own hard earned dollars and the tyrannical British rule. Besides, the British East India Company was nothing like what we would call a private enterprise. Before it was dissolved in the middle of the 19th century the East India Company had many governmental and military functions and virtually ruled India. The revolutionaries were against this kind of government granted monopoly and unjust use of power.

Digg users posting HD-DVD encryption keys is no Boston Tea party. These rogue digg users are referencing a proprietary code, which is not their property, and they’re using a private website, which is also not their property. This attack on private property is more like an online October Revolution. The people at Digg can exercise control over their own property, while the users claim that controlling a private site is equivalent to theft. (They should read What’s Yours is Mine). It all smacks of Marxism to me.

So in other words, it’s OK to destroy private property if you’re protesting a law Blomquist disagrees with, but it’s not cool to even “reference” private property if you’re protesting a law Blomquist likes.

  • http://www.withoutbound.net/blog/ Amanda

    I want to know exactly precisely which “kind[s] of government granted monopoly and unjust use of power” it is permissible to protest against.

  • http://www.withoutbound.net/blog/ Amanda

    I want to know exactly precisely which “kind[s] of government granted monopoly and unjust use of power” it is permissible to protest against.

  • http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    Published works are public property.

    Retailed DVDs are the private property of their purchasers.

    Domestic DVD players are the private property of their purchasers.

    No public property is being damaged.
    No private property is being damaged.

    If anything, it’s the public’s property (public and private) that is being repaired.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if Blomquist is aware of the role of smugglers in the Boston Tea Party?

  • http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    Published works are public property.

    Retailed DVDs are the private property of their purchasers.

    Domestic DVD players are the private property of their purchasers.

    No public property is being damaged.
    No private property is being damaged.

    If anything, it’s the public’s property (public and private) that is being repaired.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if Blomquist is aware of the role of smugglers in the Boston Tea Party?

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    The analogy that the AACS LA is trying to spin in the media is that distribution of the key is akin to distributing the combination of the combination to my bicycle combination. But that analogy is deeply flawed, because the key is to something I already own, that is a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drive. If I own a PC, I should be able to use it in the way I see fit, not how the AACS LA sees fit. It really is that simple: So Stop trying to steal my PC from me AACS LA!

    If that right is taken away, the PC revolution is in danger. The PC has been an enormously empowering invention, leveling the playing field between individuals and large corporations, and placing the means of production in the hands of many. There are those who would like very much to put the PC genie back in the bottle, and take control of PC’s away from users. All that is made possible by DRM. So when Ed Felten says:

    It will be interesting to see what AACS LA does next. My guess is that they’ll cut their losses, refrain from sending demand letters and filing lawsuits, and let the 09F9 meme run its course.

    I rather disagree, seeing that there seems to be a deeply malevolent streak in some of the public statements by the AACS LA. The AACS LA seems to want to really fight it out, and really go after someone. As covered at the BBC website:

    Bloggers “crossed the line” when they posted a software key that could break the encryption on some HD-DVDs, the AACS copy protection body has said.

    Thousands of websites published the key, which had been uncovered in a bid to circumvent digital rights management (DRM) technology on HD-DVD discs.

    Many said they had done this as an exercise in free speech.

    An AACS executive said it was looking at “legal and technical tools” to confront those who published the key.

    ….

    Michael Ayers, chair of the AACS business group, said it had received “good cooperation from most folk” in preventing the leak of the key.

    He described the row between Digg and its users as an “interesting new twist”.

    “It started out as a circumvention effort six to eight weeks ago but we now see the key on YouTube and on T-Shirts.

    “Some people clearly think it’s a First Amendment issue. There is no intent from us to interfere with people’s right to discuss copy protection. We respect free speech.

    “They can discuss the pros and cons. We know some people are critical of the technology.

    “But a line is crossed when we start seeing keys being distributed and tools for circumvention. You step outside of the realm of protected free speech then.”

    He said tracking down everyone who had published the keys was a “resource intensive exercise”. A search on Google shows almost 700,000 pages have published the key.

    Ok, they are in fact really, really silly. But here Mr Ayers says something that indicates is really, really dumb, and vicious too:

    Mr Ayers said that while he could not reveal the specific steps the group would be taking, it would be using both “legal and technical” steps to prevent the circumvention of copy protection.

    “We will take whatever action is appropriate,” he said. “We hope the public respects our position and complies with applicable laws.”

    The public neither respects your position, nor does it feel obligated to comply with an unjust law. On the contrary, certain portions of the public feel compelled to disobey such unjust laws. Many even feel that it would be immoral NOT to break such a law.

    And remember this: if you are going to start suing posters, you will in fact lose, and lose big. Just read about Dmitry Skylarov, or talk to someone at Adobe who mishandled that case. Mr Ayers, if you think that you have seen all of this rebelion at digg over their decision to remove posts with your key, you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you actually sued 1/1000 of those who posted the code, the DMCA there would be major fallout, and the DMCA would be history.

    But, the DMCA won’t become history be itself. Those who are concerned must speak out, and speak out now, very loudly. Politely, yes, but loud too. After all, it is our freedoms that are at stake.

    The action to take? The AACS LA is just a scheme by a few large corporation to do their dirty work. We can’t let those corporation distance themselves from the AACS LA.

    So, from the AACS LA website, the corporate founders are:

    IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba, Walt Disney Co. & Warner Bros.

    This is the ‘Gang of Eight’ that we should boycott, if we are really opposed the suppression of our First Amendment rights. The one that might be amenable to pressure, and probably doesn’t fit in with the others is IBM. Panasonic , Intel, and Toshiba, as hardware manufacturers, are only in this group because they want to see their hardware gain market traction, and for that to happen, they need to bring the content owners (Sony, Walt Disney, Warner Bros and perhaps even Microsoft*) along only until their format has market acceptance. Once that happens, they don’t need AACS LA anymore. They just want to sell hardware that works, and tho the extent DRM stops that, it stops hardware sales. So Intel, Toshiba, and Panasonic may yeild to some amount of market/community pressure.

    IBM, however, has a substantial amount of their future business plans invested in open source. The open source community could start pressuring IBM to leave the AACS LA. IBM will, of course, try to distance themselves from the actions of the AACS LA. Of course they will, those actions are abhorrent. The community should accept nothing less then IBM’s leaving the AACS LA as a condition of halting any boycott against IBM.

    * It is, of course, very doubtful that Microsoft has any IP content that is worth protecting, but they seem to think they do, so I won’t enter into that tangent here

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    And currently copyright law denies buyers of intellectual property a real right over the data for their own use. Many people today don’t like the idea that Disney and others can tell them how they’re going to watch their DVDs (YOU WILL WATCH EVERY AD BEFORE YOU GET TO SEE THE MOVIE!!) I see it as an assertion that buyers have a natural right to control that data for their own use. Seeing as how the idea of “I bought it, it’s mine” is one of the most ancient economic ideas, I think modern copyright expansionists would do well to realize that things like this will happen when the ancient ideas and norms of private property rights are pushed aside for “modern notions of property rights.” I see this as a way for people to assert their ancient property rights over the goods they have lawfully acquired.

  • http://linuxmusicreview.com Diomedea

    The people in the Boston tea party were legally allowed to use the tea leaves to make the hot drink in whatever kettle they like after they paid the taxes. In contrast to that, it is illegal to watch movies on my computer running linux even though I paid for the movies.

    Therefore, Blomquist is wrong when he writes that “The people at Digg can exercise control over their own property”.

  • eric

    Forget about watching a movie exactly as “they” require. I recently checked out a copy of Casino Royale (DVD, not HD) which would not play at all on my player. This is because of Sony’s new DVD protection (i.e. intentional data corruption) scheme. The perfect copy protection/rights management will eventually be invented, and no one will be able to use the product to watch/listen to the content.

    Perhaps the movie conglomerates should just abandon home video, and make people see movies in the theater. Only after they are strip-searched to make sure they aren’t carrying any video cameras, of course. I highly recommend this course of action. We must stop this bootlegging!

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    The analogy that the AACS LA is trying to spin in the media is that distribution of the key is akin to distributing the combination of the combination to my bicycle combination. But that analogy is deeply flawed, because the key is to something I already own, that is a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drive. If I own a PC, I should be able to use it in the way I see fit, not how the AACS LA sees fit. It really is that simple: So Stop trying to steal my PC from me AACS LA!

    If that right is taken away, the PC revolution is in danger. The PC has been an enormously empowering invention, leveling the playing field between individuals and large corporations, and placing the means of production in the hands of many. There are those who would like very much to put the PC genie back in the bottle, and take control of PC’s away from users. All that is made possible by DRM. So when Ed Felten says:

    It will be interesting to see what AACS LA does next. My guess is that they’ll cut their losses, refrain from sending demand letters and filing lawsuits, and let the 09F9 meme run its course.

    I rather disagree, seeing that there seems to be a deeply malevolent streak in some of the public statements by the AACS LA. The AACS LA seems to want to really fight it out, and really go after someone. As covered at the BBC website:

    Bloggers “crossed the line” when they posted a software key that could break the encryption on some HD-DVDs, the AACS copy protection body has said.

    Thousands of websites published the key, which had been uncovered in a bid to circumvent digital rights management (DRM) technology on HD-DVD discs.

    Many said they had done this as an exercise in free speech.

    An AACS executive said it was looking at “legal and technical tools” to confront those who published the key.

    ….

    Michael Ayers, chair of the AACS business group, said it had received “good cooperation from most folk” in preventing the leak of the key.

    He described the row between Digg and its users as an “interesting new twist”.

    “It started out as a circumvention effort six to eight weeks ago but we now see the key on YouTube and on T-Shirts.

    “Some people clearly think it’s a First Amendment issue. There is no intent from us to interfere with people’s right to discuss copy protection. We respect free speech.

    “They can discuss the pros and cons. We know some people are critical of the technology.

    “But a line is crossed when we start seeing keys being distributed and tools for circumvention. You step outside of the realm of protected free speech then.”

    He said tracking down everyone who had published the keys was a “resource intensive exercise”. A search on Google shows almost 700,000 pages have published the key.

    Ok, they are in fact really, really silly. But here Mr Ayers says something that indicates is really, really dumb, and vicious too:

    Mr Ayers said that while he could not reveal the specific steps the group would be taking, it would be using both “legal and technical” steps to prevent the circumvention of copy protection.

    “We will take whatever action is appropriate,” he said. “We hope the public respects our position and complies with applicable laws.”

    The public neither respects your position, nor does it feel obligated to comply with an unjust law. On the contrary, certain portions of the public feel compelled to disobey such unjust laws. Many even feel that it would be immoral NOT to break such a law.

    And remember this: if you are going to start suing posters, you will in fact lose, and lose big. Just read about Dmitry Skylarov, or talk to someone at Adobe who mishandled that case. Mr Ayers, if you think that you have seen all of this rebelion at digg over their decision to remove posts with your key, you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you actually sued 1/1000 of those who posted the code, the DMCA there would be major fallout, and the DMCA would be history.

    But, the DMCA won’t become history be itself. Those who are concerned must speak out, and speak out now, very loudly. Politely, yes, but loud too. After all, it is our freedoms that are at stake.

    The action to take? The AACS LA is just a scheme by a few large corporation to do their dirty work. We can’t let those corporation distance themselves from the AACS LA.

    So, from the AACS LA website, the corporate founders are:

    IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba, Walt Disney Co. & Warner Bros.

    This is the ‘Gang of Eight’ that we should boycott, if we are really opposed the suppression of our First Amendment rights. The one that might be amenable to pressure, and probably doesn’t fit in with the others is IBM. Panasonic , Intel, and Toshiba, as hardware manufacturers, are only in this group because they want to see their hardware gain market traction, and for that to happen, they need to bring the content owners (Sony, Walt Disney, Warner Bros and perhaps even Microsoft*) along only until their format has market acceptance. Once that happens, they don’t need AACS LA anymore. They just want to sell hardware that works, and tho the extent DRM stops that, it stops hardware sales. So Intel, Toshiba, and Panasonic may yeild to some amount of market/community pressure.

    IBM, however, has a substantial amount of their future business plans invested in open source. The open source community could start pressuring IBM to leave the AACS LA. IBM will, of course, try to distance themselves from the actions of the AACS LA. Of course they will, those actions are abhorrent. The community should accept nothing less then IBM’s leaving the AACS LA as a condition of halting any boycott against IBM.

    * It is, of course, very doubtful that Microsoft has any IP content that is worth protecting, but they seem to think they do, so I won’t enter into that tangent here

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    And currently copyright law denies buyers of intellectual property a real right over the data for their own use. Many people today don’t like the idea that Disney and others can tell them how they’re going to watch their DVDs (YOU WILL WATCH EVERY AD BEFORE YOU GET TO SEE THE MOVIE!!) I see it as an assertion that buyers have a natural right to control that data for their own use. Seeing as how the idea of “I bought it, it’s mine” is one of the most ancient economic ideas, I think modern copyright expansionists would do well to realize that things like this will happen when the ancient ideas and norms of private property rights are pushed aside for “modern notions of property rights.” I see this as a way for people to assert their ancient property rights over the goods they have lawfully acquired.

  • http://openmarket.org Cord Blomquist

    I understand the criticisms of my post, but my point was not to argue viscerally in favor of DRM, but rather against the use of the Boston Tea Party analogy. So let me grant that we ought to view the DRM scheme of HD-DVD as an unjust law for the sake of argument. Does the Digg Revolution still compare to the American Revolution?

    The Boston Tea Party was a protest of the government and a government granted monopoly that was carried out by directly destroying the property of that government granted monopoly. If the anti-DRM crowd attacked those granted the unfair monopoly of DRM directly, then we would have an analogous situation, but that’s not what’s going on.

    Instead the anti-DRM crowd is attacking a 3rd party, Digg, who is trying to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

    Some may see Digg as a collaborator, some sort of Vichy France of the tech world, but that’s unfair. They aren’t promoting DRM, they’re trying to avoid a lawsuit, which is understandable.

    Reasonable people can disagree over the nature of property rights and what rights sellers should be able to retain upon selling something like a DVD, HD-DVD, or BlueRay disk. I also believe that taking direct action is the right of every citizen if they believe a law is unjust. However, I disagree that 3rd parties who have no intention of being involved in such a struggle should be dragged into the fight and possibly bankrupted because of it.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Cord, all the users were doing was using Digg’s software as it was intended, clicking the “digg it” link for stories about the AACS key. Do you really think that that counts as coercion from a libertarian perspective?

  • http://linuxmusicreview.com Diomedea

    The people in the Boston tea party were legally allowed to use the tea leaves to make the hot drink in whatever kettle they like after they paid the taxes. In contrast to that, it is illegal to watch movies on my computer running linux even though I paid for the movies.

    Therefore, Blomquist is wrong when he writes that “The people at Digg can exercise control over their own property”.

  • eric

    Forget about watching a movie exactly as “they” require. I recently checked out a copy of Casino Royale (DVD, not HD) which would not play at all on my player. This is because of Sony’s new DVD protection (i.e. intentional data corruption) scheme. The perfect copy protection/rights management will eventually be invented, and no one will be able to use the product to watch/listen to the content.

    Perhaps the movie conglomerates should just abandon home video, and make people see movies in the theater. Only after they are strip-searched to make sure they aren’t carrying any video cameras, of course. I highly recommend this course of action. We must stop this bootlegging!

  • http://openmarket.org Cord Blomquist

    I don’t see it as coercion, but it certainly isn’t a nice thing to do!

    Even if DRM didn’t exist, Digg could get into legal hot water if users started linking to other materials that are illegal, and clearly should be. We wouldn’t condone Digg users linking to child pornography or posts of national security secrets simply because they were “using Digg’s software as it was intended.”

    But this also points out a difference between the Revolution and this so-called revolution. The revolutionaries were willing to risk their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. The online revolutionaries are risking someone else’s fortune, namely Digg’s. Not exactly what I’d call bravery.

    Sure they’re not doing it through coercion, but its not as though non-coercive activity is always okay. Morality extend beyond legality and beyond non-initiation of force.

    Even if one views the current system as unjust in regard to DRM, surely killing Digg isn’t the best way to go about defeating DRM.

    Perhaps I’m wrong in all of this and DRM will crumble after Digg is sued into bankruptcy and we are forced to reconsider the effects of laws like the DMCA. Or perhaps Sony and others will back off and spare Digg after they see the potential for a backlash. This may cause DRM to lose some of its power if these firms will get gun-shy, or in this case lawsuit-shy. And the fact that posts by users can place a company into a situation like this alone is compelling case for reform.

    Regardless of whether or not this ends favorably, I think my original criticism is still valid. Posting a story on Digg is not revolutionary, and when that story causes dig to get sued, well that’s just mean.

  • http://openmarket.org Cord Blomquist

    I understand the criticisms of my post, but my point was not to argue viscerally in favor of DRM, but rather against the use of the Boston Tea Party analogy. So let me grant that we ought to view the DRM scheme of HD-DVD as an unjust law for the sake of argument. Does the Digg Revolution still compare to the American Revolution?

    The Boston Tea Party was a protest of the government and a government granted monopoly that was carried out by directly destroying the property of that government granted monopoly. If the anti-DRM crowd attacked those granted the unfair monopoly of DRM directly, then we would have an analogous situation, but that’s not what’s going on.

    Instead the anti-DRM crowd is attacking a 3rd party, Digg, who is trying to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

    Some may see Digg as a collaborator, some sort of Vichy France of the tech world, but that’s unfair. They aren’t promoting DRM, they’re trying to avoid a lawsuit, which is understandable.

    Reasonable people can disagree over the nature of property rights and what rights sellers should be able to retain upon selling something like a DVD, HD-DVD, or BlueRay disk. I also believe that taking direct action is the right of every citizen if they believe a law is unjust. However, I disagree that 3rd parties who have no intention of being involved in such a struggle should be dragged into the fight and possibly bankrupted because of it.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Cord, all the users were doing was using Digg’s software as it was intended, clicking the “digg it” link for stories about the AACS key. Do you really think that that counts as coercion from a libertarian perspective?

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Well, OK, if your point is just that the Digg incident isn’t as revolutionary as the Boston Tea Party, I certainly agree with that. I’ll even agree that Digg’s users have put them in a difficult position, and that wasn’t very nice of them. I just don’t think it makes sense to characterize the actions of Digg’s users as an assault on private property. And I think it gets a little silly to call it Marxist.

  • http://openmarket.org Cord Blomquist

    I don’t see it as coercion, but it certainly isn’t a nice thing to do!

    Even if DRM didn’t exist, Digg could get into legal hot water if users started linking to other materials that are illegal, and clearly should be. We wouldn’t condone Digg users linking to child pornography or posts of national security secrets simply because they were “using Digg’s software as it was intended.”

    But this also points out a difference between the Revolution and this so-called revolution. The revolutionaries were willing to risk their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. The online revolutionaries are risking someone else’s fortune, namely Digg’s. Not exactly what I’d call bravery.

    Sure they’re not doing it through coercion, but its not as though non-coercive activity is always okay. Morality extend beyond legality and beyond non-initiation of force.

    Even if one views the current system as unjust in regard to DRM, surely killing Digg isn’t the best way to go about defeating DRM.

    Perhaps I’m wrong in all of this and DRM will crumble after Digg is sued into bankruptcy and we are forced to reconsider the effects of laws like the DMCA. Or perhaps Sony and others will back off and spare Digg after they see the potential for a backlash. This may cause DRM to lose some of its power if these firms will get gun-shy, or in this case lawsuit-shy. And the fact that posts by users can place a company into a situation like this alone is compelling case for reform.

    Regardless of whether or not this ends favorably, I think my original criticism is still valid. Posting a story on Digg is not revolutionary, and when that story causes dig to get sued, well that’s just mean.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Well, OK, if your point is just that the Digg incident isn’t as revolutionary as the Boston Tea Party, I certainly agree with that. I’ll even agree that Digg’s users have put them in a difficult position, and that wasn’t very nice of them. I just don’t think it makes sense to characterize the actions of Digg’s users as an assault on private property. And I think it gets a little silly to call it Marxist.

  • http://openmarket.org Cord Blomquist

    Certainly Marxism, or a very watered-down version of Marxism, only enters into it if we bring the issue of DRM back into the argument.

    Personally I think that DRM is bound to fail in the market, but I don’t think it’s somehow an over-extension of property rights. To say such a thing is to misunderstand the nature of rights.

    Rights to property should be infinitely divisible. If I sell my neighbor part of my property I have the option of retaining some rights, like restricting her from building a huge fence or from planting a tree that might block my view.

    Copyright and patents aren’t contracts, they’re codified law, and it’s understandable why we’d prefer a common standard for such things. Imagine we had to sign a contract waving acknowledging that the seller retains the rights to reproduction every time we bought a book or magazine. This would be cumbersome and tedious. Yet even without a contract or another such explicit statement we all know that we can’t just post an article from a magazine on a site and put AdSense ads against it and call ourselves a legitimate web business. This would be copyright infringement and stealing. Take this idea a step further and we see that he 2nd or 3rd person to copy the material is equally liable for the copying if they know that the material is copyrighted.

    How is this different from Digg hosting something that is copyrighted? Are we saying DRM and music copyrights don’t deserve the same respect because they are copyrights we don’t like?

    I understand that it’s frustrating to have a machine running Linux, for example, and not being able to play a DVD for no reason outside DRM, but that’s the way that a private party has decided to sell their property, with certain rights restricted. When only a small legal issue and a bit of code stands in the way of using our machines as we see fit it’s frustrating, but it’s also frustrating for my neighbor knowing that I still have the lean on that property I sold her and a few lines of text entitle me to stop her from building a 12 foot fence.

    While the anti-DRM movement isn’t Marxist (I’m certain that most people hate DRM not because they just want to copy some CDs or DVDs) it certainly doesn’t respect the idea of divvying up and protecting property rights.

  • http://openmarket.org Cord Blomquist

    Certainly Marxism, or a very watered-down version of Marxism, only enters into it if we bring the issue of DRM back into the argument.

    Personally I think that DRM is bound to fail in the market, but I don’t think it’s somehow an over-extension of property rights. To say such a thing is to misunderstand the nature of rights.

    Rights to property should be infinitely divisible. If I sell my neighbor part of my property I have the option of retaining some rights, like restricting her from building a huge fence or from planting a tree that might block my view.

    Copyright and patents aren’t contracts, they’re codified law, and it’s understandable why we’d prefer a common standard for such things. Imagine we had to sign a contract waving acknowledging that the seller retains the rights to reproduction every time we bought a book or magazine. This would be cumbersome and tedious. Yet even without a contract or another such explicit statement we all know that we can’t just post an article from a magazine on a site and put AdSense ads against it and call ourselves a legitimate web business. This would be copyright infringement and stealing. Take this idea a step further and we see that he 2nd or 3rd person to copy the material is equally liable for the copying if they know that the material is copyrighted.

    How is this different from Digg hosting something that is copyrighted? Are we saying DRM and music copyrights don’t deserve the same respect because they are copyrights we don’t like?

    I understand that it’s frustrating to have a machine running Linux, for example, and not being able to play a DVD for no reason outside DRM, but that’s the way that a private party has decided to sell their property, with certain rights restricted. When only a small legal issue and a bit of code stands in the way of using our machines as we see fit it’s frustrating, but it’s also frustrating for my neighbor knowing that I still have the lean on that property I sold her and a few lines of text entitle me to stop her from building a 12 foot fence.

    While the anti-DRM movement isn’t Marxist (I’m certain that most people hate DRM not because they just want to copy some CDs or DVDs) it certainly doesn’t respect the idea of divvying up and protecting property rights.

  • Doug Lay

    All who consider the idea of “divying up and potecting property rights” important enough to stomp all over the rights of people to program their own computers as they see fit, please raise your hands.

    I’ve got a different view of property rights, which may or may not fit as libertarian. It is that when I get some bits copied onto my own system, I will do wih them what I please. I should not take bits that I do not have the right to posess, but if I do come to legally posess bits, on a DVD or otherwise, I feel that any restriction on working with them is a violation of my right of free expression.

  • Doug Lay

    All who consider the idea of “divying up and potecting property rights” important enough to stomp all over the rights of people to program their own computers as they see fit, please raise your hands.

    I’ve got a different view of property rights, which may or may not fit as libertarian. It is that when I get some bits copied onto my own system, I will do wih them what I please. I should not take bits that I do not have the right to posess, but if I do come to legally posess bits, on a DVD or otherwise, I feel that any restriction on working with them is a violation of my right of free expression.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    Instead the anti-DRM crowd is attacking a 3rd party, Digg, who is trying to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

    No. They are attacking the assault on the First Amendment by using their First Amendment rights.

    They care nough about their freedoms to post the number. Those individuals could be prosecuted. I in theory could be prosecuted.

    http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2007/05/01/09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0/

    But, after seeing what Gary Kasparov did the other day, knowing full welll that he could be killed for what he is doing, I decided that if he could particpate in that protest, I could and should do my share to prevent the loss of freedom of Speech here.

    If we all use the First Amendment now, while we still have our rights more or less intact, there is less of a chance of additional trespass on those rights.

    No one ‘attacked digg’ in fact I don’t understand at all your line of reasoning here.

    digg took a courageous stand, just like 2600 did in the linking to de CSS.

    We need more diggs and more 2600′s.

    And more Tim Lee’s, too (except of course when he is talking about net neutrality)

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    Cord said:

    Certainly Marxism, or a very watered-down version of Marxism, only enters into it if we bring the issue of DRM back into the argument.

    Absolute rubbish!

    Opposition to DRM is much, much broader and deeper than that!

    I saw Richard Stallman give a talk at University of Missouri, Saint Louis the other day. Standing room only crowd.

    His remarks against DRM got quite a bit of applause.

    Having been a long time resident of Saint Louis I can speak with authority that the University of Missouri student demographic includes very very few Marxists!

    Only a few, living in their insulated worlds, still believe DRM will be around five years from now.

    This is the beginning of the end, for DRM.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    Instead the anti-DRM crowd is attacking a 3rd party, Digg, who is trying to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

    No. They are attacking the assault on the First Amendment by using their First Amendment rights.

    They care nough about their freedoms to post the number. Those individuals could be prosecuted. I in theory could be prosecuted.

    http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2007/05/01/0

    But, after seeing what Gary Kasparov did the other day, knowing full welll that he could be killed for what he is doing, I decided that if he could particpate in that protest, I could and should do my share to prevent the loss of freedom of Speech here.

    If we all use the First Amendment now, while we still have our rights more or less intact, there is less of a chance of additional trespass on those rights.

    No one ‘attacked digg’ in fact I don’t understand at all your line of reasoning here.

    digg took a courageous stand, just like 2600 did in the linking to de CSS.

    We need more diggs and more 2600′s.

    And more Tim Lee’s, too (except of course when he is talking about net neutrality)

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    Cord said:

    Certainly Marxism, or a very watered-down version of Marxism, only enters into it if we bring the issue of DRM back into the argument.

    Absolute rubbish!

    Opposition to DRM is much, much broader and deeper than that!

    I saw Richard Stallman give a talk at University of Missouri, Saint Louis the other day. Standing room only crowd.

    His remarks against DRM got quite a bit of applause.

    Having been a long time resident of Saint Louis I can speak with authority that the University of Missouri student demographic includes very very few Marxists!

    Only a few, living in their insulated worlds, still believe DRM will be around five years from now.

    This is the beginning of the end, for DRM.

  • http://www.wbklaw.com Michael Sullivan

    Just for what it’s worth, my bicycle lock combination shows 6,770,000 results on Google. Can I sue (I use the term herein to mean legitimately, not merely file a suit) all those people under the DMCA? Hell, no. If the AACS group used 1234567890 as its key could it sue everyone merely expressing those digits online? Hell, no.

    I can use a GUID generator on the web (http://www.famkruithof.net/uuid/uuidgen) to generate what purports to be a unique number: 0cc41a96-fc60-11db-8314-0800200c9a66. Can I sue someone who includes this number in an online posting? No.

    If I were to use that number as an encryption key for copyrighted content but didn’t tell everyone what it was, could I sue everyone who posts that number? No.

    But under the DMCA I probably could sue everyone who posts that number specifically as the key to my copyrighted content (and my licensees could probably sue to protect their copyrighted content).

    To the extent the AACS group go after the people who simply ape the number, they have essentially no case; they should have to be shown specific intent to circumvent copyright protection.
    The DMCA applies to all encryption technologies used to protect copyrighted content. I have used double ROT-13 encryption to protect all of the foregoing content. Accordingly, if you have viewed any of that content (other than as permitted by the license below), or told anyone how to view it, you have circumvented my copyright.

    The foreging is © 2007 Michael Sullivan; all rights reserved. Permission granted for posting on http://www.techliberation.com as a response to “The Digg Incident Was Nothing LIke the Boston Tea Party”. By reading this post you agree that you will not defeat the copy protection scheme pursuant to which it was posted. You agree to be sued in the District of Columbia for any violation thereof; to confess error; and to pay $1,000,000,000,000.00 in liquidated damages for each violation.

  • http://www.wbklaw.com Mike Sullivan

    Just for what it’s worth, my bicycle lock combination shows 6,770,000 results on Google. Can I sue (I use the term herein to mean legitimately, not merely file a suit) all those people under the DMCA? Hell, no. If the AACS group used 1234567890 as its key could it sue everyone merely expressing those digits online? Hell, no.

    I can use a GUID generator on the web (http://www.famkruithof.net/uuid/uuidgen) to generate what purports to be a unique number: 0cc41a96-fc60-11db-8314-0800200c9a66. Can I sue someone who includes this number in an online posting? No.

    If I were to use that number as an encryption key for copyrighted content but didn’t tell everyone what it was, could I sue everyone who posts that number? No.

    But under the DMCA I probably could sue everyone who posts that number specifically as the key to my copyrighted content (and my licensees could probably sue to protect their copyrighted content).

    To the extent the AACS group go after the people who simply ape the number, they have essentially no case; they should have to be shown specific intent to circumvent copyright protection.
    The DMCA applies to all encryption technologies used to protect copyrighted content. I have used double ROT-13 encryption to protect all of the foregoing content. Accordingly, if you have viewed any of that content (other than as permitted by the license below), or told anyone how to view it, you have circumvented my copyright.

    The foreging is © 2007 Michael Sullivan; all rights reserved. Permission granted for posting on http://www.techliberation.com as a response to “The Digg Incident Was Nothing LIke the Boston Tea Party”. By reading this post you agree that you will not defeat the copy protection scheme pursuant to which it was posted. You agree to be sued in the District of Columbia for any violation thereof; to confess error; and to pay $1,000,000,000,000.00 in liquidated damages for each violation.

  • http://blog.actonline.org Mark Blafkin

    Enigma said “digg took a courageous stand, just like 2600 did in the linking to de CSS.”

    Not really. I’ll give you 2600. They were a tiny little hacker pub that stood on principle. Digg, on the other hand, did nothing of the sort. Digg was merely coerced by the activist member base. They had a choice to kill the company on the spot (members threatened to leave the site if the company didn’t bow to their demands) or buy a few months and fight it out in court. Like any sensible business, they chose to buy themselves a few months.

    And I for one throw the BS flag on your “I’m just like Gary Kasparov” assertion. Give me a break! He is a truly inspiring individual, but I doubt he would agree your efforts are really in the same league.

    If you really cared about Free Speech you would be in Egypt protesting the government’s detainment of bloggers. You would be in front of Congress protesting every time they bring up aspects of the Patriot Act. Heck I would even respect you more if you were in front of the offices of Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft protesting their relationships with the Chinese government. But instead you’re spending your time complaining about the fact you can’t make free copies of Legally Blond 2 for all your friends…I’m sorry, but Mr. Kasparov would not be proud.

  • http://blog.actonline.org Mark Blafkin

    Enigma said “digg took a courageous stand, just like 2600 did in the linking to de CSS.”

    Not really. I’ll give you 2600. They were a tiny little hacker pub that stood on principle. Digg, on the other hand, did nothing of the sort. Digg was merely coerced by the activist member base. They had a choice to kill the company on the spot (members threatened to leave the site if the company didn’t bow to their demands) or buy a few months and fight it out in court. Like any sensible business, they chose to buy themselves a few months.

    And I for one throw the BS flag on your “I’m just like Gary Kasparov” assertion. Give me a break! He is a truly inspiring individual, but I doubt he would agree your efforts are really in the same league.

    If you really cared about Free Speech you would be in Egypt protesting the government’s detainment of bloggers. You would be in front of Congress protesting every time they bring up aspects of the Patriot Act. Heck I would even respect you more if you were in front of the offices of Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft protesting their relationships with the Chinese government. But instead you’re spending your time complaining about the fact you can’t make free copies of Legally Blond 2 for all your friends…I’m sorry, but Mr. Kasparov would not be proud.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    If you really cared about Free Speech you would be in Egypt protesting the government’s detainment of bloggers. You would be in front of Congress protesting every time they bring up aspects of the Patriot Act. Heck I would even respect you more if you were in front of the offices of Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft protesting their relationships with the Chinese government. But instead you’re spending your time complaining about the fact you can’t make free copies of Legally Blond 2 for all your friends…I’m sorry, but Mr. Kasparov would not be proud.

    I rather think you are mis-charaterizing my objection to the DMCA. I do in fact criticize the Chinese government in several posts on my blog, see particular the post titled “Free Press Famines and Disease Outbreaks,” “A Public Health Threat in China Glossed Over (Again)” as well as my guest post over at Freedom to Tinker (21st Century Data Harvesting: Syndromic Surveillence)

    I do not agree that I shouuld be able to make a copy of any movie, least of all the one you cite which is not my taste in Movies at all.

    I object to someone, however saying that I cannot write certain code or post a certain number. DRM cannot tread on the First Amendment.

  • Doug Lay

    Mark:

    I think enigma or most anyone else on this board could easily obtain “Legally Blond 2″ or any other DVD you care to mention, and copy if for all of their friends, for little more than the cost of a blank DVD, with a possibility of getting caught that approaches zero. Shoot, I’ll bet you could even do that yourself. All that’s stopping us is our consciences. Certainly DRM isn’t stopping us.

    It is premature to compare the anti-DMCA revolt to the Boston Tea Party or other such milestones in the history of standing up to arbitrary and unjust law. But this is about a lot more than watching DVDs. It’s really about whether citizens are going to be allowed to control their own computers.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    If you really cared about Free Speech you would be in Egypt protesting the government’s detainment of bloggers. You would be in front of Congress protesting every time they bring up aspects of the Patriot Act. Heck I would even respect you more if you were in front of the offices of Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft protesting their relationships with the Chinese government. But instead you’re spending your time complaining about the fact you can’t make free copies of Legally Blond 2 for all your friends…I’m sorry, but Mr. Kasparov would not be proud.

    I rather think you are mis-charaterizing my objection to the DMCA. I do in fact criticize the Chinese government in several posts on my blog, see particular the post titled “Free Press Famines and Disease Outbreaks,” “A Public Health Threat in China Glossed Over (Again)” as well as my guest post over at Freedom to Tinker (21st Century Data Harvesting: Syndromic Surveillence)

    I do not agree that I shouuld be able to make a copy of any movie, least of all the one you cite which is not my taste in Movies at all.

    I object to someone, however saying that I cannot write certain code or post a certain number. DRM cannot tread on the First Amendment.

  • Doug Lay

    Mark:

    I think enigma or most anyone else on this board could easily obtain “Legally Blond 2″ or any other DVD you care to mention, and copy if for all of their friends, for little more than the cost of a blank DVD, with a possibility of getting caught that approaches zero. Shoot, I’ll bet you could even do that yourself. All that’s stopping us is our consciences. Certainly DRM isn’t stopping us.

    It is premature to compare the anti-DMCA revolt to the Boston Tea Party or other such milestones in the history of standing up to arbitrary and unjust law. But this is about a lot more than watching DVDs. It’s really about whether citizens are going to be allowed to control their own computers.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    And I for one throw the BS flag on your “I’m just like Gary Kasparov” assertion. Give me a break! He is a truly inspiring individual, but I doubt he would agree your efforts are really in the same league.

    I was not trying to put myself in his league (I have never had a rating over 1900) but to indicate that I was inspired by him to stick my neck out a little bit.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    And I for one throw the BS flag on your “I’m just like Gary Kasparov” assertion. Give me a break! He is a truly inspiring individual, but I doubt he would agree your efforts are really in the same league.

    I was not trying to put myself in his league (I have never had a rating over 1900) but to indicate that I was inspired by him to stick my neck out a little bit.

  • http://www.limnthis.com Jim S

    It seems to me like something is getting lost here. Posting a number, even a number that happens to mean something else in another context, is one thing, but posting it with its meaning when it’s meaning is protected is another.

    If I post “345 54 8902″ with no supporting text it’s no big deal. But if I post it as so-and-so’s social security number alongside their address (just another number) it does matter. If it were your SSN I was posting with your address I suspect you would not be so quick to see it as my right of free speech being excercised (or maybe you are a true believer and would be ok with it).

    So it isn’t really honest to say “it’s just a number” if it is posted as a mechanism for assisting someone with either breaking copyright or related law.

    By the way, I submit that you do have complete control over your computer Doug. You are not being coerced by anyone into placing a CD or DVD in it; you are making a choice that is informed by the license printed right on the thing. If enough people were to make the choice not to purchase content that had DRM on it, it would go away.

    I find DRM to be not only irritating but downright insidious in the way it is implemented and I don’t buy Sony products because of that damned root kit; I just don’t see the presence or absence of DRM on my content purchases as a fundamental “rights” question of the kind dealt with by our constitution.

    Interesting conversation though; it is definitely making me think and I appreciate that.

  • Doug Lay

    Jim:

    It’s not the use of DRM itself that raises a fundamental rights question. The problem is the DMCA anti-circumvention provision, which aims to protect DRM systems from hacking but in the process makes it illegal for me, as a software engineer, to implement certain functionality on my computer. AACS is not just resident on DVDs – there’s also logic on the playback device, implemented in code or circuitry. That logic has been placed off-limits to me as a citizen by the DMCA. I can’t implement it, I can’t change it, and in some ways I can’t even talk about it, even though it’s all resident on a machine I paid for fair and square.

  • http://www.limnthis.com Jim S

    It seems to me like something is getting lost here. Posting a number, even a number that happens to mean something else in another context, is one thing, but posting it with its meaning when it’s meaning is protected is another.

    If I post “345 54 8902″ with no supporting text it’s no big deal. But if I post it as so-and-so’s social security number alongside their address (just another number) it does matter. If it were your SSN I was posting with your address I suspect you would not be so quick to see it as my right of free speech being excercised (or maybe you are a true believer and would be ok with it).

    So it isn’t really honest to say “it’s just a number” if it is posted as a mechanism for assisting someone with either breaking copyright or related law.

    By the way, I submit that you do have complete control over your computer Doug. You are not being coerced by anyone into placing a CD or DVD in it; you are making a choice that is informed by the license printed right on the thing. If enough people were to make the choice not to purchase content that had DRM on it, it would go away.

    I find DRM to be not only irritating but downright insidious in the way it is implemented and I don’t buy Sony products because of that damned root kit; I just don’t see the presence or absence of DRM on my content purchases as a fundamental “rights” question of the kind dealt with by our constitution.

    Interesting conversation though; it is definitely making me think and I appreciate that.

  • Doug Lay

    Jim:

    It’s not the use of DRM itself that raises a fundamental rights question. The problem is the DMCA anti-circumvention provision, which aims to protect DRM systems from hacking but in the process makes it illegal for me, as a software engineer, to implement certain functionality on my computer. AACS is not just resident on DVDs – there’s also logic on the playback device, implemented in code or circuitry. That logic has been placed off-limits to me as a citizen by the DMCA. I can’t implement it, I can’t change it, and in some ways I can’t even talk about it, even though it’s all resident on a machine I paid for fair and square.

  • http://www.limnthis.com Jim S

    Doug,

    Yep, I absolutely agree with you exept for one thing; you paid for the device fair and square knowing full well what restrictions there were (others might not understand those restrictions, but you certainly did) when you bought it.

    To the degree that this argument is similar to the arguments of the FSF on free software I agree as far as it goes to say that free software is good, I just don’t go so far to say that it is some kind of first principal fundamental right. How can there be a fundamental human right to something that has only existed for half a century at most? Maybe I’ll feel differently about it someday but I think fundamental rights are a pretty elite group.

    I bought a car fair and square with a “license” that says if I modify it the warranty is null and void. Not only that, but even if I choose to ignore that and let my warranty lapse, the government has all kinds of things to say about what modifications I can or cannot make to the car I paid my money for (don’t remove that catalytic converter!) to drive it on the streets that I paid for with my taxes. And even if I don’t modify it all I am still restricted in how and where I operate it. In fact, it has a governer on it that will not permit me to go above a particular (illegal) speed that it would otherwise be very capable of achieving, and it is unlawful for me to remove it or make it inoperable.

    The point is that we buy things all the time that have restrictions on use. If the restrictions are too severe (like that damned “feature” that requires my foot to be on the clutch to start my car) either don’t buy it or work to get the regulation that requires it changed. But I humbly suggest that we save the civil disobedience for the really important stuff.

  • Doug Lay

    Jim:

    I don’t find any of your car analogies very convincing. None of the restrictions you mention on modifying the car take effect until you take the car out and start driving it around, off your property. The DMCA restricts what I can do in the privacy of my own home. Moreover, it restricts the dissemination of knowledge. There’s nothing illegal about Web sites that tell you how to remove a catalytic converter – it’s only illegal when you actually remove it and start driving around.

    I humbly suggest that the right of citizens to program their own computers as they see fit is really important stuff. I respect your right to disagree.

  • Doug Lay

    On the issue of civil disobedience, let me throw one more piece of info out there. Over at the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog, Professor Randy Picker (a DMCA backer) has reviewed Thoreau’s oiginal essay on Civil Disobedience, and found that Thoreau did NOT consider the Boston Tea Party to be a legitimate example of civil disobedience. After all, if the colonists didn’t like the taxes on imported goods, they could simply have done without the goods. Hmmmm…sound like a familiar argument? So, reasonable people can disagree about this stuff.

  • http://www.limnthis.com Jim S

    Ok… well, I was a little bit hesitant to use the auto analogy because it is a bit remote (and I am not surprised that it didn’t sway your pov; it is clear that your pov is pretty firmly established). However, I do still think there is a connection. At the heart of regulations like the ones on how I can use my car is the idea that government regulates use for the good of all participants. You might not remember how pissed off people were about catalytic converters and mandatory seatblet use?

    What we seem to be arguing about is whether the subverting of a DRM mechanism harms anyone or not (like if I remove the catalytic converter from my car) and whether you have some fundamental inalienable right to use a device that you own in any way you see fit. I don’t believe that their is any such inalienable right, though I think it is a desirable state when it comes to the impact of DRM on personal computing and similar devices.

    If by “really important stuff” you mean important enough for civil disobedience, then I really disagree. That’s a pretty low bar for civil disobedience and if everyone with a similar level of passion about something has a similarly low threshhold for invoking civil disobedience it’s gonna get messy out there (although the people still protesting mandatory seat belt use would probably prune their own ranks pretty quickly).

  • http://www.limnthis.com Jim S

    Doug,

    Yep, I absolutely agree with you exept for one thing; you paid for the device fair and square knowing full well what restrictions there were (others might not understand those restrictions, but you certainly did) when you bought it.

    To the degree that this argument is similar to the arguments of the FSF on free software I agree as far as it goes to say that free software is good, I just don’t go so far to say that it is some kind of first principal fundamental right. How can there be a fundamental human right to something that has only existed for half a century at most? Maybe I’ll feel differently about it someday but I think fundamental rights are a pretty elite group.

    I bought a car fair and square with a “license” that says if I modify it the warranty is null and void. Not only that, but even if I choose to ignore that and let my warranty lapse, the government has all kinds of things to say about what modifications I can or cannot make to the car I paid my money for (don’t remove that catalytic converter!) to drive it on the streets that I paid for with my taxes. And even if I don’t modify it all I am still restricted in how and where I operate it. In fact, it has a governer on it that will not permit me to go above a particular (illegal) speed that it would otherwise be very capable of achieving, and it is unlawful for me to remove it or make it inoperable.

    The point is that we buy things all the time that have restrictions on use. If the restrictions are too severe (like that damned “feature” that requires my foot to be on the clutch to start my car) either don’t buy it or work to get the regulation that requires it changed. But I humbly suggest that we save the civil disobedience for the really important stuff.

  • Doug Lay

    Jim:

    I don’t find any of your car analogies very convincing. None of the restrictions you mention on modifying the car take effect until you take the car out and start driving it around, off your property. The DMCA restricts what I can do in the privacy of my own home. Moreover, it restricts the dissemination of knowledge. There’s nothing illegal about Web sites that tell you how to remove a catalytic converter – it’s only illegal when you actually remove it and start driving around.

    I humbly suggest that the right of citizens to program their own computers as they see fit is really important stuff. I respect your right to disagree.

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