[cc-licenses] Version 3.0 - Public Discussion

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Sun Aug 13 23:32:43 EDT 2006

Mike Linksvayer wrote:
>  I'm surprised nobody AFAICT has suggested just that -- rather than
>  disallow DRM, explicitly give authority to circumvent. The DMCA
>  seems to allow this --
>  http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c105:6:./temp/~c1059gv3KK::
>  `(A) to `circumvent a technological measure' 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

You're right.  I haven't seen this suggestion here or on the GPLv3 
discussion. Seems like a logical addition to the wording.  But I don't 
think it's sufficient, so I wouldn't say "rather than".

Explicit permission to reverse engineer a particular work still implies 
the need for a cracker to do the job, and the DMCA makes it potentially 
illegal even to write the cracker.  It's like giving permission to pick 
your door lock, but lockpicks are still illegal (note that AFAIK, 
*lockpicks* like wire-cutters, guns, and other 'potentially criminal 
tools' *aren't* illegal -- in glaring significant contrast to the 
approach taken with DRM!).

> > And I also doubt that Free Software advocates will look kindly on a
> > project that had a chance to make their licenses compatible with
> > the DFSG, but decided not to.
> >
> > I'd appreciate it if people would factor this into their decisions.

>  I agree with Evan.

I'm honestly not sure. Both the FSF and the CC want strong anti-DRM 
clauses in free licensing. There is considerable fear of the problems 
that DRM can wreak.  I'm personally of the opinion that such fears are 
exaggerated -- but not unfounded.  I think that a significant effort to 
educate the public on the limitations of "Defective by Design" hardware 
(I love that label) is capable of having an effect on buying habits. IF 
companies step up to the plate and provide competitive non-DRM hardware 
alternatives, I believe people will buy them (although not without a lot 
of marketing effort).

OTOH, the "DRM dystopia" is not impossible, and the FSF and the CC want 
to take steps to prevent it via licensing.  Debian has little connection 
to CC, but will usually follow the lead of the FSF.  CC may only be 
reinforcing the FSF position by hanging onto its anti-DRM language.

So, politically speaking, I think CC still has a lot of room to maneuver 
on the DRM issue.

At the same time, though, I think the "parallel distribution" model is a 
harmless change. This is due to my experience with the GPL, since the 
GPL's allowance for parallel distribution of source and binary versions 
of code.

I'm not convinced by any of the arguments I've seen so far that a 
reasonably implemented "parallel distribution" clause would allow some 
kind of DRM lock-in -- I just can't see how.  So far, all the panic 
scenarios seem to involve a license violation -- the work goes into DRM, 
it's modified, then released only as DRM. Hence, license violation.

OTOH, the arguments that the existing wording, or the non-violation of 
fair-use rights already ensure the ability to add DRM to a non-DRM work 
just for porting to DRM platforms sound fairly solid to me.  It seems 
quite reasonable that I should be able to encode works I already have in 
my possession (gosh I hope fair use covers that) for my own use.  This 
might involve the publications of keys which might be some kind of 
contract violation with DRM providers, but otherwise seems reasonable to 
me.  I'd like to see the practical side of this kind of environment 
considered.  It clearly imposes a penalty on DRM platforms, but that's 
incentive not to use them, which might be a good thing to have.


Terry Hancock (hancock at AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com

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