Why secrecy sucks

The BPDG (the group that’s trying to give Hollywood a veto over all new digital video tech, including the pieces that go in your PC, banning open source in the process) is nominally “public,” but they don’t want the press there, since they say it will curtail their ability to discuss things frankly. This weird dichotomy is, of course, nonsensical, and gives rise to weird stuff like the National Association of Broadcasters’ representative calling for the EFF to be removed from the BPDG’s mailing-lists because we reprint their proposals for the law they’re trying to make on our blog. Yesterday, they summarily removed all the journalists who’d joined the group. And now that my guest editorial on the BPDG has hit the SJ Mercury News, one imagines they’re going to be in quite a knot, pantie-wise.

The people who fought tooth and nail to keep VCRs off the market will have a veto over all new digital television devices, including digital television devices that interface with personal computers. The next generation of home entertainment systems will include only features that don’t inspire Hollywood’s dread of infringing uses, no matter what the consequences for you, the owner of the device. With today’s VCR, you can record an episode of “The Simpsons” and bring it over to a friend’s house to watch. This “feature” won’t be included on the digital VCRs and DVD recorders of tomorrow until and unless Hollywood executives decide you deserve it — until they decide that the technical means of allowing neighbor-to-neighbor sharing of video won’t open the gate to the Internet piracy bogyman. Mo< Even if a feature makes it into your device, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to keep it. Many copy-prevention technologies have self-destruct switches that can be activated remotely, so that when a technology is hacked, a copyright holder can send a broadcast message out that will shut it down.

The current Broadcast Protection Discussion Group draft requires that any vendor incorporating a “revocable” technology must leave the revocability option switched on. Your home-entertainment center will be filled with ticking bombs, ready to be remotely triggered at Hollywood’s unilateral say-so.

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