EFFector Vol. 20, No. 21 May 30, 2007 firstname.lastname@example.org A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424 In the 425th Issue of EFFector:
- Novell and EFF Team Up to Reform Software Patents
- House Intel Committee to Investigate NSA Spying
- California Senate Clears Groundbreaking RFID Bill
- Music Webcasting Still in Danger After Small Stations Get Temporary Reprieve
- "Effective Technological Measures": It Means What it Says, Declares Finnish Court
- Windows Media Center DRM -- Now With More Bugs!
- Neuros: We Work for You, Not for Hollywood
- miniLinks (11): Ask an RIAA Lobbyist
For more information on EFF activities & alerts: http://www.eff.org/ Make a donation and become an EFF member today! http://eff.org/support/ Tell a friend about EFF: http://action.eff.org/site/Ecard?ecard_id=1061 effector: n, Computer Sci. A device for producing a desired change. : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Novell and EFF Team Up to Reform Software Patents Organizations Will Jointly Lobby Governments and International Organizations Novell to Support EFF 'Patent Busting' Initiative San Francisco - Novell and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced last week that they are teaming up to work on reforms to software patents worldwide. "It is increasingly obvious that software patents are not a meaningful measure of innovation," said Jeff Jaffe, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Novell. "As a long-time innovator in the industry and a holder of many significant patents, we understand the rationale behind the patent system in general. But we believe that software patent system reform is necessary to promote software innovation going forward." Novell and EFF will work to lobby governments and national and international organizations to develop legislation and policies around patents designed to promote innovation. A key area of focus will be the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), where member governments of the United Nations meet to coordinate positions on intellectual property issues. Given the ease with which software ideas and code cross borders, a global approach to the issue is required. In addition, Novell will contribute significant resources to EFF's ongoing "Patent Busting" project. Launched in 2004, the project is designed to attack patents that impose particularly heavy burdens on software developers and Internet users by identifying prior art that can be used to invalidate those patents and by pursuing invalidation of those patents through re-examination efforts. "EFF has long been at the forefront in addressing the key challenges of the digital age, including worldwide intellectual property issues," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "The support of Novell -- a company founded on the proprietary software development model but now strongly embracing the open source approach -- will be a great boon to our efforts to rid the industry of innovation-killing patents. We hope Novell's example encourages other software vendors to join the effort." An early innovator in networking, word processing and messaging technologies, Novell holds more than 500 patents, many of which are fundamental to technologies in the market today. Having shifted its business to focus more on open source and open standards-based solutions, Novell recognizes the new model for innovation is open source, and the existing patent system is detrimental to open source development. Novell has already taken several steps to promote the use of patents to protect open source, including a 2004 pledge to use its own patents to defend against patent attacks on open source, and the contribution of patents and significant financial resources to Open Invention Network, an intellectual property company Novell co-founded in 2005 to promote Linux by using patents to create a collaborative environment. "Today's announcement is a logical next step for Novell in its efforts to make patents a non-issue for the software community," said Nat Friedman, chief strategy and technology officer for open source at Novell. "Software patents hobble open standards and interoperability, impede innovation and progress, threaten the development of free and open source software, and have a chilling effect on software development. Our partnership with EFF is about creating a world where software developers and users do not to have to worry about patents." For more on EFF's Patent Busting project: http://www.eff.org/patent For this release: http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2007_05.php#005268 : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * House Intel Committee to Investigate NSA Spying Last week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes announced plans for hearings on the NSA spying program. Investigations of this still-shadowy surveillance are long overdue, and we're hopeful that these hearings are only the beginning of vigorous Congressional oversight. In particular, Reyes' stated intention to dig into the telecommunications carriers' role is encouraging. EFF has been fighting hard in the courts to hold AT&T accountable for violating its customers' privacy and the law, and Congress must fulfill its duty to help uncover the truth about the telcos' collaboration with the government But a threat still looms to judicial and Congressional scrutiny of the program. As we've previously reported, the Bush Administration has been pushing legislation that, among other things, appears intended to let the telcos off the hook. Telecommunications carriers' adherence to the law is the biggest practical check that we have against illegal government surveillance, and EFF strongly opposes any legislation that would deprive Americans of the remedies to which they are entitled. It would be especially irresponsible for Congress to pass any legislation before thoroughly investigating the program. Reyes isn't the only representative turning up the heat on the Administration, and that goes to show that your letters and phone calls demanding investigations are getting through. Keep up the pressure through our Action Center: http://action.eff.org/fisa For this post and related links: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005271.php : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * California Senate Clears Groundbreaking RFID Bill A landmark bill that would require tough privacy and security safeguards for Radio Frequency Identification tags in state-issued IDs sailed through the California Senate last week on a 33-2 bipartisan vote. Without proper protections, RFIDs in IDs can broadcast your private information to anyone and leave you vulnerable to tracking and identity theft. That's why EFF, the ACLU, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and other groups have been working hard to get the Identity Information Protection Act (SB 30) passed. Last year, California's legislature passed a similar version of this bill, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a shortsighted veto. By passing SB 30, the Senate sent a clear message that the Governor should not forgo another opportunity to give Californians control over the personal information on their own drivers' licenses, library cards, and other important ID cards. For this post and related links: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005273.php : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Music Webcasting Still in Danger After Small Stations Get Temporary Reprieve Responding to Congressional pressure, the major label- backed licensing authority SoundExchange has offered small webcasters a temporary reprieve from the Copyright Royalty Board's outrageous royalty rate increase. This is a step in the right direction, but it still doesn't solve any of the underlying problems with the current licensing system. Music webcasting's future still hangs in the balance. SoundExchange's offer would essentially extend the much more reasonable statutory licensing terms that small webcasters have relied on for the last five years. But commercial services like Pandora and Live365 are still in deep trouble, as are small webcasters that may want to expand their businesses over time. And when SoundExchange's offer expires in 2010, small webcasters may once again be threatened with extinction. The Internet Radio Equality Act would help sustain music webcasting and fix the statutory licensing process on which most nonsubscription, noninteractive music webcasters rely. For more on this bill and SoundExchange's offer, check out SaveNetRadio.org: http://www.savenetradio.org For this post and related links: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005265.php : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * "Effective Technological Measures": It Means What it Says, Declares Finnish Court . Under both the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Europe's equivalent, the European Copyright Directive (EUCD), it's illegal to circumvent "effective technological measures" that restrict access to copyrighted works. But what happens when the measures aren't really effective? Part of the irony of the DMCA in the United States has been that generous court interpretations of "effective" has led DRM designers to craft the flimsiest of programs to control access. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that the DMCA would extend to simple ciphers, such as ROT13! In Finland, that absurdity has been challenged. Activists running a site offering DVD decryption code who were prosecuted under Finland's implementation of the EUCD defended themselves by arguing that the DVD encryption was an ineffective protection. The district court in Helsinki agreed, saying: "...since a Norwegian hacker succeeded in circumventing CSS protection used in DVDs in 1999, end-users have been able to obtain with ease tens of similar circumventing software from the Internet even free of charge. Some operating systems come with this kind of software pre- installed. CSS protection can no longer be held 'effective' as defined in law." It's a refreshing example of how the practical realities of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions can be accepted by a court. If an access control is so vulnerable that it can be broken by a few lines of easily conveyed code, or by pressing the shift key when rebooting, or by obtaining a key that is on thousands of sites across the globe, should the legal system be required to protect the unprotectable? For this post and related links: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005274.php : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Windows Media Center DRM -- Now With More Bugs! There was some Slashdot buzz last week about Windows Media Center users suddenly facing restrictions forbidding playback of recorded analog cable TV content. Was DRM smuggled along with an "update" into unsuspecting users' machines? In fact, Windows Media Center has always obeyed CGMS-A, a DRM system that TV stations can use. Pay-per-view, VOD, and premium channels like HBO can (and do) mark programming as "Copy Once" or "Copy Never." Tech creators are free to build DVRs and other devices that ignore CGMS-A signals and create restriction-free recordings, but Microsoft opted to kowtow to content providers and infect Media Centers with the DRM anyway. (You may recall that TiVo decided to cripple its DVRs so that they recognize a similar DRM flag developed by Macrovision.) As if the deliberate use restrictions weren't bad enough, obeying CGMS-A has also caused technical errors and haphazard incompatibilities. Remember Windows' "blue screen of death," signaling an unexpected failure? DRM creates more ways for your system to fail -- your Media Center may work reliably today, but a software or hardware change could create unpredictable limitations. According to PC World, this sort of technical problem probably led to the complaints featured on Slashdot. You can bet that this won't be the last time customers bump up against such problems both with CGMS-A and other DRM. It's worth noting that the DRM can get even worse when it comes to digital cable. Media Center users can look forward to even more limits on streaming throughout their houses, copying to portable devices, and other legitimate uses. Just because Microsoft decided to obey CGMS-A doesn't mean you have to. You can look to PC DVR alternatives, and you can make DRM-free, analog-to-digital conversions of TV content using tools like the Neuros recorder that don't recognize CGMS-A. For this post and related links: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005269.php : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Neuros: We Work for You, Not for Hollywood We've been impressed by a recent essay written by Neuros Technology about where their loyalties lie and why we should care. Neuros discusses these issues in the course of inviting Apple TV hackers to try their hand at hacking Neuros products. In recent weeks, a community of enthusiasts has developed a useful, and impressive, set of unauthorized enhancements to the Apple TV. These enhancements make this product work better for end users, and they exist in a great tradition of user innovation in which users who care about a product (and understand their own needs and desires) figure out how to make that product do something more. (The same kind of activity thrives around game console systems, and, of course, the TiVo -- sometimes to the chagrin of TiVo, Inc.) Unfortunately, in today's digital media environment, users' improvements to products are often not welcomed by the manufacturers whose products are made more valuable. Instead of thanks, tinkerers often receive threats of litigation. Sometimes, the manufacturers spend hours of engineering effort to counteract and undo the users' improvements -- to break the new features that the users achieved and return the product to its original functionality. This may be a result of business strategy and a desire to avoid upsetting copyright holders. You may be the customer, but you may not have the last word if a copyright "partner" doesn't like what you've figured out how to do. It's a bit disheartening, not to mention wasteful, to have all of your creative effort annulled by a "product upgrade" (or to be threatened with litigation if you continue to share it with others). That's why lots of people are excited about open systems that put the user in charge: when you add value to an open system, it's harder for someone to show up and take it away from you. (That's one reason we've been excited about MythTV, the software that can turn your PC into a personal video recorder that you control, and why we're also excited to see what happens with the forthcoming open cell phone from OpenMoko.) This point was recently emphasized in a nice essay by Neuros Technology, the company behind the MPEG recorder that uses the "analog hole" to cut through licensing and DMCA thickets to let you watch commercial video on a wide variety of portable devices -- today, not years from now after some consortium negotiates a complicated DRM deal. Neuros is also promoting an open media center; they publish schematics and code and invite the community to figure out how to make the product better. That's a refreshing contrast to the attitude of many other electronics companies. For this post and related links: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/005262.php : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * miniLinks The week's noteworthy news, compressed. ~ Ask an RIAA Lobbyist In the bright digital future, RIAA's Mitch Glazier predicts that EFF "will start running the creative commons" instead of using the RIAA as a "punching bag." He seems a bit confused about who's been doing the punching! http://463.blogs.com/the_463/2007/05/3qs_mitch_glazi.html ~ Mexico to Boost Tapping of Phones and E-mail With U.S. Assistance If you break civil liberties at home, that's all you can export elsewhere. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico25may25,0,7011563.story?coll=la-home-center ~ Bent Copyright Uri Geller, Spoons, Skeptics and Copyright: Wendy Grossman connects the dots. http://www.newswireless.net/index.cfm/article/3396 ~ A Chinese Lawsuit Against China's Censorship Chinese citizen sues to access his own website. http://yetaai.blogspot.com/2007/05/practical-lawsuit-against-china.html ~ In Polish Prison for Adding Value Polish fan subtitlers held for questioning under copyright law. http://polishlinux.org/gnu/poland-9-people-arrested-for-translating-movies/ ~ Montana on REAL ID: "Hell no!" Or more specifically: "No, nope, no way, hell no," says Montana's governor. http://www.pogowasright.org/article.php?story=20070529070422813 ~ Giles Slade: DRM for Dummies (Like Me) Huffington Post's resident technology skeptic knows a bad deal when he sees it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/giles-slade/drm-for-dummies-like-me_b_49344.html ~ Japan Bans Camcording in Cinemas An unnecessary extra law, closing a private use "loophole." http://www.forbes.com/business/feeds/afx/2007/05/25/afx3757887.html ~ Time Writer Admits to Copyright Civil Disobedience "Almost everybody owns a little stolen music. But a little piracy can be a good thing." http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1625209,00.html ~ Liberating the Smithsonian Collection A public access group challenges the Smithsonian's statement that "even in the absence of copyright, [it] reserves all rights to images." http://blogs.govexec.com/fedblog/2007/05/challenging_smithsonians_copyr.html ~ An FBI Target Puts His Whole Life Online "I flood the market," says Hasan Elahi, who is putting his whole life online after FBI agents detained him at an airport. http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/15-06/ps_transparency : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : . : * Administrivia EFFector is published by: The Electronic Frontier Foundation 454 Shotwell Street San Francisco CA 94110-1914 USA +1 415 436 9333 (voice) +1 415 436 9993 (fax) http://www.eff.org/ Editor: Derek Slater, Activism Coordinator email@example.com Membership & donation queries: firstname.lastname@example.org General EFF, legal, policy, or online resources queries: email@example.com Reproduction of this publication in electronic media is encouraged. Signed articles do not necessarily represent the views of EFF. To reproduce signed articles individually, please contact the authors for their express permission. Press releases and EFF announcements & articles may be reproduced individually at will. Current and back issues of EFFector are available via the Web at: http://www.eff.org/effector/ Click here to change your email address: http://action.eff.org/addresschange This newsletter is printed on 100% recycled electrons.