[Fsfe-ie] Letter about EUCD implementation

Fergal Daly fergal at esatclear.ie
Mon Dec 15 00:02:58 CET 2003

On Sunday 14 December 2003 22:18, Conor Daly wrote:
> > Obviously one answer is that copyright is not a "natural right", it is a 
> > privilege granted to authors by the government for the purpose of 
> > encouraging creativity.  The quid pro quo is that the public gets rights 
> > in return.  If the copyright owner is now to deny users these rights, 
> > why should they continue to benefit from their part of the copyright deal?
> They should lose the benefit of their part of the deal by losing the sale
> of another copy.  If we can't legally use it and therefore don't buy it in
> the first place, they lose out.

The copyright holder gets much more than just the money from each individual 
sale. The bargain is really about the "temporary" monopoly (in quotes because 
these days it only seems temporary). If I start selling copies of their work, 
then society will use it's resources to actively enforce this monopoly 
through the police and the courts.

For this massive benefit they have to give up any hope of controlling certain 
uses of the copyrighted material.

The alternative to the copyright bargain is that they would negotiate very 
strict contracts with every single customer saying something like "you may 
read this book, you may not make any copies of this book and you may not give 
this book to anyone else without getting them to sign this exact same 
contract. If you break this contract you owe me 1 meeeeelion dollar".

This was obviously impractial before now, if someone copied the book, the 
author had no way of knowing who did it and so didn't know who to sue. So 
people thought copyright was a better way of doing things.

The problem is that now the contract scenario is becoming practical which in a 
way is fair enough but you shouldn't get to make the nasty contracts AND get 
the benefit of a temporary monopoly. The only reason that monopoly was 
available was because the contract way of doing things was impossible.

A (bad) compromise would be: you can release under copyright and you get 
public protection or you can release with supercool DRM technology where you 
get total control but it's your tough luck if someone cracks you DRM.

This compromise would be exactly analagous with patents and trade secrets. You 
get public protection for your patent but you lose it after X (21?) years. 
However, if you're feeling lucky, you can just try to keep it secret and use 
really nasty NDAs to make sure no one lets it out. If it ever does get out, 
then that's just tough, you can kick someone's ass with the NDA but you can't 
stop anyone using your secret.

> > Another question that could be asked in response to "what gives you the 
> > right to crack my content protection?" is "what gives you the right to 
> > tell me what I can and cannot do with my own computer?".
> The right to restrict what you or I do with our own computer is already
> there and accepted for example in laws against; archiving child
> pornography, attacking computer networks, crypto cracking.  All the EUCD
> wants to do is include protection defeating activities in the list.

I don't think crypto cracking is illegal unless of course you illegally 
intercepted the encrypted message in the first place. The others damage a 
person or property. Having a book read outloud in private does not.


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