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Podcast Episode: Open Source Beats Authoritarianism

EFFector - Volume 13, Issue 8 - EFF Calls for Boycott of "HackSDMI Challenge"


EFFector - Volume 13, Issue 8 - EFF Calls for Boycott of "HackSDMI Challenge"

   EFFector       Vol. 13, No. 8       Sep. 18, 2000
   A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424
  IN THE 156th ISSUE OF EFFECTOR (now with over 25,100 subscribers!):
     * EFF Calls for Boycott of "HackSDMI Challenge"
     * Administrivia
   For more information on EFF activities & alerts:
EFF Calls for Boycott of "HackSDMI Challenge"

  Don't Undermine Your Own Fair Use Rights!
   Electronic Frontier Foundation ALERT -- Sep. 18, 2000
   Please redistribute to relevant forums, no later than Nov. 1, 2000.
   The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), an entertainment industry
   trade association led by the Recording Industry Association of America
   (RIAA), has announced a "contest" in their "Open Letter to the Digital
   Community" (at ), where they
   challenge hackers to test the security of their music encryption
   program. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urges the Internet
   community to boycott this contest and refrain from helping the
   recording industry perfect a way to undermine our fair use rights.
   EFF is the first to acknowledge that hacking at encryption code is
   vital to ensuring security in digital architecture. However, we
   question the motives of SDMI, which has indicated an interest in
   severely limiting your ability to listen to digital recordings in your
   favorite format and in undermining all attempts at non-SDMI-compliant
   music distribution models.
   EFF therefore urges anyone with the technical expertise to compete for
   the $10,000 prize to refrain from doing so and to tell SDMI - and your
   friends, relatives and colleagues that you are participating in this
   boycott and why.
   EFF also invites musicians and listeners to participate in a "contest"
   to Set Digital Music Free (SDMF), where the prize is your freedom to
   distribute your music any way you choose. The SDMF challenge, part of
   EFF's Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expresssion (CAFE), is aimed at
   empowering musicians and listeners through alternative business models
   with open architectures in cyberspace. Detailed explanations of SDMF
   and CAFE are available at .
  SDMI's Motivations
   SDMI has proposed a new standard that they are heavily pushing on
   equipment and software manufacturers. The Digital Music Access
   Technology, or DMAT, format is intended to put an encryption-based
   shell around digital audio content that prevents unauthorized copying
   or playback. Examples of "unauthorized" uses are likely to include
   your attempts to: play music files on any player that does not honor
   DMAT; make backups of your music files; excerpt portions of music
   files in high quality audio; or have multiple copies of music files,
   such as having one for a portable player and one in your car.
   Furthermore, there has been some speculation that SDMI will arm-twist
   equipment makers into either disallowing playback of non-DMAT music or
   converting it permanently to DMAT format, regardless of the intent of
   the artist that produced and released it. Finally, copyright is only
   intended to cover works for a limited time, after which they are
   supposed to become part of the public domain. This transition will no
   longer be allowed to take place with technology such as DMAT, where a
   song that is branded with the industry's watermark will be
   copy-protected eternally.
  Civil Liberties Concerns
   DMAT is designed to undermine fair use and related rights, such as:
   the ability to play content on whatever equipment the purchaser
   desires; the right to "time shift" and "space shift" (e.g., record for
   playback at a later time or in a different format); the right to make
   backup copies of purchased content; the right to actually own instead
   of simply "license" purchased content (the "First Sale" doctrine); the
   right of artists to distribute content digitally without signing
   ownership of their works over to a major record label; the rights of
   journalists and educators to re-use content excerpts without having to
   pay licensing fees; and many more. SDMI's neglect to address these
   fair use issues displays a shocking and callous attitude towards the
   public domain rights of consumers and artists in the digital world.
   Most at risk by the SDMI proposal are independent artists and the
   consumers who appreciate their work. Increasing numbers of artists are
   recognizing the awesome potential of the Internet to directly connect
   with their listeners. Technological advances and alternative
   distribution methods should allow more musicians to enter the market
   at a lower cost to consumers. This change is not welcomed by the big
   record labels, however, which have depended on musicians only being
   able to reach potential listeners through the exclusive distribution
   power of the recording industry. SDMI's DMAT is the industry's attempt
   to keep its stranglehold on music distribution.
   SDMI wants DMAT to be uncrackable so that all who dare to exercise
   their rights will be cryptographicly prevented from doing so. The RIAA
   is mischaracterizing all "unauthorized" access or duplication - no
   matter how well protected by fair use and other rights - to be
   copyright piracy. And now SDMI is asking the very hackers they malign
   in the press and in court as criminal copyright pirates and thieves to
   help SDMI make DMAT unbreakable!
   EFF has attempted dialog with SDMI and even asked to be part of SDMI
   in an attempt to improve it from a public interest perspective. SDMI
   consistently rejected our applications and has completely ignored all
   of the fair use, constitutional, anti-trust and social responsibility
   concerns we have raised with DMAT. Enough is finally enough.
  Don't Do Their Dirty Work!
   EFF urges all hackers, reverse engineers, digital audio experts,
   cryptographers and others targeted by SDMI's Trojan horse invitation
   to refrain from giving them free consulting on how to hack away at
   your rights. Please:
     * Refrain from participating in the "HackSDMI" backstab.
     * Publicly say you are doing so (in your e-mail signature file, on
       hacking, engineering and other relevant mailing lists, on your own
       web page, and wherever else you deem appropriate).
     * Write to SDMI and tell them that you refuse to help them undermine
       your own rights, and why.
     * Urge colleagues to do likewise.
     * Inform and encourage musicians to participate in the SDMF
       challenge through CAFE.
     * Join EFF!
   If you are not a tech expert but are a user of digital music
   technology, you too can play a role:
     * Write to SDMI and to your favorite MP3 equipment/software
       vendor(s) and tell them that you want to be able to choose how you
       listen to your music. Express your concerns with distribution
       systems that lock you into a single technology or music player.
       Tell them that you do not appreciate being considered a thief by
     * Pass this alert around to your friends. (Please only recirculate
       to appropriate forums if sending to mailing lists, etc.)
     * Write to your favorite artists (e.g., via their record labels) and
       ask them to take a public stand.
     * Join EFF!
   If you are an independent artist, you can:
     * Participate in CAFE and the SDMF initiative
       ( )
     * Inform and encourage other artists to participate in CAFE and
     * Release your material in MP3 and other open formats.
     * Send your music to outlets that are dedicated to giving exposure
       to artists using open formats such as Radio EFF
     * Tell SDMI you oppose their attempt to force manufacturers to
       disable support for non-DMAT music in an attempt to herd new
       artists toward the RIAA oligopoly.
     * Join EFF!
   If you are a "signed" artist, you can really help:
     * Tell SDMI you do not agree that protecting music industry and
       artists' revenues is dependent on stripping everyone of their
     * Tell your label you do not support SDMI or DMAT.
     * Tell your fans (live, on your web site, in lyrics, etc.) that you
       do not believe they are all a bunch of pirates, and that they
       should write to the labels and protest being treated like they are
       all thieves by default.
     * Contact us about becoming more involved in speaking out against
       the direction the industry is pushing digital content.
     * Join EFF!
  For More Information
   EFF's Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression (CAFE)
   The "HackSMDI" site:
   the SDMI homepage:
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