[cc-licenses] ParaDist Questions

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Wed Nov 29 17:34:00 EST 2006

Benj. Mako Hill wrote:

> I can choose to include a ROM over a programming RAM *becuase* I want
> to keep people from reprogramming my hardware. 

If a card manufacturer doesn't want people reprogramming the greeting 
cards that they buy from them, that is fine as far as free culture goes 
(they are preventing no use of the cultural work and their customers are 
free to extract and re-distribute it) and I believe having read one of 
the comments the FSF made on the GPL that it is fine as far as free 
software goes as well.

The card manufacturer should not stop their customers moving their media 
off the greeting card, or try to force people to buy the exact same 
cards in order to play that music. This would prevent distribution of 
unmodified versions of the work with full Freedom, and hamper derivation.

Another artist I know once made an installation of musical cards that 
were opened and controlled by servo mechanisms. I hadn't thought of this 
as a wall of illegal public performance and derivation until now. :-)

> That technological
> choice can have both the intent and the effect making it prohibitively
> difficult for the vast majority users to create a derivation in the
> same form.

Certainly, and I am glad that we are now discussing derivation. But the 
difficulty is only technological, not legal. If you copy the ROM you 
have infringed only the copyright on the data, which may be defensible 
under Fair Use (or a CC license). You have not infringed the ROM Act of 
2007 and incurred its wrath.

>>> If so, why is DRM different?
>> Because DRM is law not technology.
> I think at least one of us is confused.  While the DMCA and similar
> laws regular DRM and create penalties for trying to circumvent them,
> DRM is technology. TPMs are created by programmers, not lawyers. One
> of the major criticisms of DRM/TPM is that they are frequently out of
> step with the law (e.g., when compared with fair use).

If the DMCA and similar laws did not prohibit breaking or reverse 
engineering TPMs they would not be such a problem. Any security system 
where you give the attacker the keys isn't going to be particularly 
strong. But the same system becomes a bit more harmful when you will be 
arrested as soon as you set foot on US soil if you reverse engineer it.

It is trivially true that the code hooks for TPM law are written by 
programmers. This seems to give programmers a blind spot for DRM. I have 
no objection to programmers creating DRM software. I do object to 
receiving cultural work restricted by TPM law.

- Rob.

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