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EFFector - Volume 17, Issue 23 - How Doesn't DRM Work? Let Us Count the Ways


EFFector - Volume 17, Issue 23 - How Doesn't DRM Work? Let Us Count the Ways

EFFector       Vol. 17, No. 23       June 23, 2004

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 295th Issue of EFFector:

How Doesn't DRM Work? Let Us Count the Ways

EFF European Affairs Coordinator Cory Doctorow visited Microsoft last week to ask the tech giant to stand up to the entertainment industry and make a media player that will play all the media you want it to.

In his speech, Doctorow made five main arguments against investing in digital rights management (DRM) systems:

  1. DRM systems don't work.
  2. DRM systems are bad for society.
  3. DRM systems are bad for business.
  4. DRM systems are bad for artists.
  5. DRM is a bad business move for Microsoft.

Follow the links below to read the speech, which was dedicated to the public domain with a Creative Commons license and has already been republished in a variety of forms, including a Wiki and an audio file:

EFF Joins Coalition in Fight for Legal Uses of Digital Media

EFF has joined with a diverse coalition of organizations and companies called the Personal Technology Freedom Coalition (PTFC). Alongside corporations such as Sun, Intel, and SBC, and groups like Public Knowledge and the Consumer Electronics Association, EFF is pushing for Congress to ensure that consumers can make legal use of digital media they have purchased. The coalition supports the rights of researchers to improve upon technology already on the market, and the rights of consumers to make fair use backups of CDs and DVDs they own.

On Tuesday, the PTFC held a press conference in Washington, DC with Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Rick Boucher (D-VA) to raise awareness about the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (H.R. 107). H.R. 107 amends the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to allow people to circumvent copy protection on their digital media if they aren't doing it to infringe copyright. Thanks to the efforts of PTFC members, as well as concerned citizens, it is also the first DMCA reform bill to make it this far in Congress. Currently, H.R. 107 is awaiting markups in the House Energy Committee. Representative Barton said Tuesday that he hopes for a markup by July, and Boucher added that the bill is close to reaching the Congress floor.

EFF one-pager: "The DMCA Revisited: What's Fair?"

CNET article: "Tech Heavies Support Challenge to Copyright Law"

EFF Stands Up for Election Integrity in California E-Voting Lawsuit

San Francisco, CA - At the request of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, EFF filed an additional brief in the lawsuit challenging the recent orders by California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley that require additional security measures for electronic voting machines used in the November elections, including the requirement that every California voter have the option of casting a paper ballot.

In the case, called Benavidez v. Shelley, EFF argued that the long record of problems with electronic voting machines more than justifies the Secretary's decision. EFF also responded to the plaintiffs' claims that voter-verifiable paper ballots would not increase voting security, noting that these systems "utilize one of the most longstanding and common-sense principles of general data security: two sets of books are better than one."

EFF was joined in the brief by, the California Voter Foundation, and VotersUnite!

EFF sur-reply in Benavidez v. Shelley:

RIAA Asks FCC to Lock Down Digital Radio Broadcasts

EFF, Brennan Center Argue Against Restrictions on Future Technologies

San Francisco, CA, and New York, NY - If the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) gets its way, consumers will not be permitted to listen to digital radio broadcasts unless they use an industry-approved device. The RIAA is particularly hostile to any TiVo-like recording device for digital radio. EFF and the Brennan Center for Justice have filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in an effort to stop the RIAA's plan to regulate digital radio technologies of the future.

In a letter to the FCC, the RIAA argued that the commission should force broadcasters to encrypt their digital radio signals so that only approved devices can descramble and play digital broadcasts. This is only the latest chapter in a decades-long campaign by the RIAA to stop home recording of radio broadcasts. But as EFF and the Brennan Center point out in their comments, it is perfectly legal for people to make home recordings of radio broadcasts under current copyright laws. In essence, the RIAA is urging the FCC to override home recording rights guaranteed to the public by copyright law.

"Having failed in their congressional efforts to restrict home taping, the recording industry is now asking the FCC to go beyond copyright law to interfere with the public's right to make recordings of radio broadcasts for home use," said Marjorie Heins, founder of the Brennan Center's Free Expression Policy Project. "This would be a perversion of the FCC's role, and home recording poses no threat to corporate copyright interests that could conceivably justify it."

"The RIAA is trying to halt the development of next-generation digital technologies, like a TiVo for radio - technologies that are perfectly legal under copyright law," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "This is about restricting personal home taping off the radio, something that Congress has said is legal and that millions of Americans have been doing for decades."

For this press release:

EFF/Brennan Center comments in FCC docket 99-325:

Let the Sun Set on PATRIOT - Section 218: "Foreign Intelligence Information"

Most Americans would be surprised to know that there is a secret federal court that authorizes the FBI to spy on the phone and Internet communications of alleged spies and suspected terrorists. They might be even more surprised to know that because of the USA PATRIOT Act, the lower legal standards of this secret court can now be applied against them in the context of regular criminal investigations.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 established the FISA court and gave it the power to issue secret spying orders under standards much lower than the "probable cause" standard used in the criminal justice system. But there was a key limit to this power: the Act required that the purpose of FISA-authorized surveillance be to gather foreign intelligence. This was to ensure that investigators in ordinary criminal investigations could not abuse the lower legal standards of FISA surveillance, doing an end-run around criminal suspects' Fourth Amendment rights.

Section 218 of PATRIOT changed all of that. Now, foreign intelligence gathering need only be "a *significant* purpose" of FISA-authorized surveillance. This means that PATRIOT essentially handed to criminal investigators secret spying authority previously reserved only for federal intelligence agents. As a result, ordinary law enforcement now has extraordinary power - power originally justified on the basis of the President's special authority to deal with foreign intelligence threats.

And the bad news only gets worse: federal agents are using these unprecedented powers at increasing rates. Based on the latest government reports, it appears that there is now more surveillance being secretly authorized by the FISA court than by all the other federal courts combined. (See

It's time to put the brakes on FISA before it completely replaces the traditional law enforcement surveillance regime as limited by the Fourth Amendment. Section 218 is scheduled to expire, or "sunset," at the end of 2005, but new legislation has been introduced to make the provision permanent. EFF strongly opposes its renewal, and we urge you to do the same. Visit the EFF Action Center today to stand up against this unjustified corrosion of your most fundamental rights as a U.S. citizen:

For the expanded analysis of Section 218:

Previous analyses:

EFF Seeks Dynamic, Motivated Membership Coordinator

EFF is seeking a full time Membership Coordinator to start immediately and work out of EFF's San Francisco (Mission District) office.

The Membership Coordinator reports to the Director of Development and is a key part of EFF's fundraising team. The MC is responsible for managing all contact with EFF's 12,000+ members, helping to develop strategies to grow the membership, processing all donations to EFF, mailing regular "thank-yous" and renewal notices to donors, ensuring an efficient donation system, managing the donation pages of the website, and responding to any issues donors may have. The MC also manages all aspects of EFF's online shop, including order fulfillment. Additional responsibilities include various marketing projects, including oversight of the design and printing of t-shirts, hats, stickers, brochures, and other materials. The MC also attends a number of commercial conferences each year, managing the EFF booth presence and speaking informally with conference attendees.

The position requires enthusiasm and a flexible, can-do attitude. Having the initiative to sniff out and solve problems independently is essential, as is the dedication to perform daily tasks with minimal oversight. Nonprofit fundraising experience, particularly managing a growing membership department, is required. Experience managing a large contact database is also required. A marketing background and knowledge of digital civil liberties issues are especially helpful.

Salary is at nonprofit scale and includes benefits package. This is a job for someone who wants to affect positive social change in the world. To apply, send a cover letter and your resume to no later than July 2, 2004. We request that you send these materials in a non-proprietary format, such as an ASCII text file. No phone calls please!


miniLinks features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.


Beastie Boys Put Use-Restrictions on New Album
The irreverent trio's long-awaited CD slips computers a DRM-mickey:

RIAA's Broken Record Plays On
More new lawsuits that aren't newsworthy unless your beat is "stubborn industries banging their heads against the wall":

Papers, Please
The Supreme Court recently upheld a Nevada law that makes it a crime to remain silent if a police officer asks for your identity:
(San Francisco Chronicle)

Technology Policy Is an Election Issue
Michael Geist's most recent column rates the political parties in Canada on copyright, spam, and other tech issues, as preparation for next week's election:
(Toronto Star)

Induce Act = Hollings II?
The senator who suggested that people suspected of copyright infringement should have their computers "remotely destroyed" is back with yet another *cough* bright idea:

Online Movie Downloads Highlight Appeal of Infringement
One user thinks that Hollywood's approach to the Internet is enough to drive people to piracy:

Tim Berners-Lee Awarded Large Wad of Cash
Oh, and the Millennium Technology Prize, which recognizes technologists who've dramatically improved the quality of life. This article points out that much of the Web-inventor's impact stems from his decision to forego patent protection on his ideas:

FTC Says No to "Do Not Email" List
Pennywise spammers across the globe were disappointed to hear that the large, public database of valid email addresses would not be ready for the holidays:

Election Officials Who Choose Frying Pan Over Fire
Running elections can wear an official out, so it must be nice that cushy jobs at voting equipment companies are often available to former public servants. Plus, they can start pitching their new employer's wares before they're off the government payroll. Brilliant!
(Registration unfortunately required.)

Staff Calendar

For a complete listing of EFF speaking engagements (with locations and times), please visit the full calendar.

June 24 -
Wendy Seltzer speaks at Supernova 2004
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
"IP vs. IP: Intellectual Property Meets the Internet Protocol"
Santa Clara, CA

June 28
Cory Doctorow speaks at Tech Active
3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
"Nerd Determinism, Nerd Fatalism, and the Copyfight"
Stanhope Centre for Communications Policy Research
London, UK


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