DMCA / When you decrypt, that's illegal

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Tue Jun 26 15:19:31 EDT 2001

--- begin forwarded text

Status:  U
From: "Frank Sudia" <fsudia at>
To: "Digital Commerce Soc" <dcsb at>
Subject: DMCA / When you decrypt, that's illegal
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 12:05:35 -0700
Sender: bounce-dcsb at
Reply-To: "Frank Sudia" <fsudia at>

[Sounds like the "battle over control of encryption" has pretty much been
won by the content distributors.]

= = = = =
>From Internet Patent News Service

Lee Hollaar, a professor of computer science, and a member of the IEEE
Intellectual Property committee, recently made the following interesting
observation regarding DMCA:

At 09:15 PM, A.C.G. wrote:
> Lee argues that it becomes "more sensible," the less effective the
> technical means used by the owner of the underlying intellectual
> property.  The fact of the matter is that what Lee wrote is fundamentally
> true -- the DMCA exists NOT TO protect copyrighted subject matter, but
> to protect "encryption schemes."  This protection is applied regardless
> of its effectiveness, originality, novelty or otherwise.  The protection
> is draconian in nature, includes criminal penalties and statutory
> remedies, with lopsided procedural remedies and with indefinite term.

This is nothing new with the DMCA.  From House Rpt. 105-551 Part 1 - WIPO

   Similar laws have been enacted in related contexts. See, e.g.,
   17 U.S.C. 1002(a) (prohibiting the import, manufacture, or distribution
   of digital audio recording equipment lacking specified characteristics
   and prohibiting the import, manufacture, or distribution of any device,
   or the offer to perform any service, the primary purpose or effect of
   which is to circumvent the serial copy management system required for
   digital audio equipment); 47 U.S.C. 553(a)(2) (prohibiting the
   manufacture or distribution of equipment intended for the unauthorized
   reception of cable television service); 47 U.S.C. 605(e)(4) (prohibiting
   the manufacture, assembly, import, and sale of equipment used in the
   unauthorized decryption of satellite cable programming.)

And if you think the DMCA provisions are draconian, here's the law on
satellite decryption devices:

    Any person who manufactures, assembles, modifies, imports, exports,
    sells, or distributes any electronic, mechanical, or other device or
    equipment, knowing or having reason to know that the device or equipment
    is primarily of assistance in the unauthorized decryption of satellite
    cable programming, or direct-to-home satellite services, or is intended
    for any other activity prohibited by subsection (a) of this section,
    shall be fined not more than $500,000 for each violation, or imprisoned
    for not more than 5 years for each violation, or both. For purposes
    of all penalties and remedies established for violations of this
    paragraph, the prohibited activity established herein as it applies
    to each such device shall be deemed a separate violation.

Yes, that says $500,000 and five years in prison PER DEVICE!  The penalties
for cable television aren't as bad: only $50,000 and two years for the
first offense, and $100,000 and five years for a subsequent offense.

Internet Patent News Service

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--- end forwarded text

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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