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The next step in copyrights?

Feb 12, 2000, 15:45 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rip Linton)

By Rip Linton

Companies that publish copyrighted works on paper have missed the boat so far. They need to get with the program and start making it more difficult to produce illegal copies of their works. Should the MPAA and the DVDCCA be successful in these cases, publishers should take notice.

First, they need the "Book Magazine Newspaper Copy Control Association", which will be known as the BMNCCA. And, of course, they will need the "Print Publishers Association of America", to be known as the PPAA.

All media produced by members of the PPAA will be printed, with an ink and on a paper that will insure the content is only visible under a special light. The ink will be patented and licensed by the BMNCCA and will be different for each region that the media may be sold in. (This is the region coding.) The paper also will be patented and licensed by the BMNCCA and will have a component that would disappear under light modulated by a specific code, under any other light the content will be blocked with garbage. (This is the content blocking system, known as "CBS".)

The media will come shrink wrapped with a license that you accept by opening the shrink wrap. The license will state that:

1. The media remains the property of the publisher.
2. You are only allowed to read it within the terms of the license.
3. You are not allowed to reverse engineer any part of the system.
4. A whole bunch of other things that are written in language that makes it very hard for you to understand what you have agreed to.
The media will be packaged in a shrink wrapped box so that you can only see the license after you have paid for it and left the store. Should you not agree with the terms of the license, you will be allowed to obtain a refund by sending the unopened package to the publisher.
Next, the BMNCCA will license, at a large fee, manufacturers who will produce the lights required to view the media. All manufacturers will place the circuitry in their lights for the region code of the country where the light will be sold.
Finally, the BMNCCA will license the modulation codes to utility companies which causes the light to make the CBS invisible.
Now we get to the good part. My favorite author has written a new fiction novel which is published by a member of the PPAA. I have to read this novel. I buy a light and buy the novel. (oops, I buy the right to read the novel within the terms of the shrink wrapped license.) I live in a house that is served by an electric utility that sends the proper modulation code so all is well.
Six months later, the local electric utility service gets unreliable. I install a wind powered generator to provide electricity to my house. Now, I no longer receive the modulation codes so all I see when I look at my novel is the garbage produced by the CBS. I cannot read my novel. I decide to figure out what the modulation codes are and how to add them to my wind powered system. I can use the light and read my novel. (oops, I keep doing that. I mean the publishers novel.) I call this solution DeCBS. I am sure that other people also use their own electric generators, so I share the information with them.
The results. I have violated the DMCA and the terms of the shrink wrap license. The PPAA and the BMNCCA will sue me, and everyone else who spread the codes, claiming that the codes will allow use of a digital camera to make unencrypted copies of protected media. These copies could then be printed in the clear on plain paper, or even shared via the Internet.
If this seems far fetched, I suggest that you think hard about what fair use and freedom of speech really mean should the MPAA and the DVDCCA succeed.
I realize that the above does not consider the fact that DeCSS "could" be used to play movies placed on other media, such as a hard drive. I feel that issue compares with copying a music cd onto a cassette tape. Yes, it could be done but so what? Isn't that what fair use is all about? DeCSS is not needed to put the movie on the hard drive, only to view it after it is there.