Apple calls interoperability and competition 'state-sponsored piracy'

I hope people are watching this story closely. France just passed a draconian law that gives circumventing technical measures a very high penalty. Along with this they are demanding a tiny level of interoperability, something consistent with the 1991 European directive on the legal protection of computer programs (91/250/EEC). This directive did not offer copyright on interfaces, and specifically allowed reverse engineering. The preamble also explained the importance of interoperability in computing, concepts largely reneged on with directive 2001/29/EC "on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society" which implements the anti-competitive 1996 WIPO treaties. It is simply not possible to protect both interoperability/competition and technical measures which presume the owner of the device is the attacker, as they are opposing concepts.

Apple is claiming (See CNET article by Elinor Mills) that this is "state sponsored piracy". Interoperability and free market competition is "piracy"? Time to use what little market influence we have and boycott Apple, putting them into the same category of out-of-touch extremists as the RIAA, MPAA, etc.

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Wow Russell, what a flurry

Wow Russell, what a flurry of posts on the topic. Allow me to bulk comment.

DRM is technological fool's gold and is a far dirtier word than anything that would warrant a mouthful of soap. It also would never be put into FLOSS, because the people who don't want it there can forever purge the offending code from their apps and redistribute it. An almost trivially defeated technology is now totally up-and-down defeated.

There's a fictitious children's book from the Simpsons called "Don't do what Donny Don't does." Well, just what does Donny DRM do? It doesn't do what its intended to (because it can't), and aspires to do other things that it shouldn't (think rootkits).

Welcome to nowhere fast. I submit the DRM effort should be abandoned on the grounds that it is wasting the time of the human race. Why not stick to more productive projects like digging that hole to China? The tech asteroid hit, and the rest of us mammals are sitting around twiddling our opposable thumbs waiting for the dinos to die out.

Of course this French law is totally inane, though given their position on many issues, I’m hardly surprised. Outlawing DRM circumvention is like banning one half of the field of cryptography. From a philosophical standpoint, outlawing code cracking is unproductive, because at that point encryption itself becomes useless. Encrypting content takes time and energy, so what does it contribute when viewing the unenciphered message is what is supposed to be the crime? Just pass a law that makes viewing broadcasted content illegal and don't bother wasting your time computing the Galois-field inverses of bytes. (Of course that's just as silly.)

Perhaps I'm just biased because I myself research the mathematics of breaking cryptosystems. It's kind of like reliving the glory days of the 70's when cryptographers were afraid the NSA would throw them in jail for their thesis work. It's all fun and games until someone passes a law… then it's a sport.

You know that, I know that, but how do we explain..

The trick in this is not that there are qualified people who know the truth, but that the vast majority of people are not technical.

The issue isn't really about cryptosystems given, in order to access the digital content, the encrypted content, the key, and the algorithm must all be in the persons home. Using the provided key in order to decode the content doesn't even qualify as cryptanalysis.

The controversy is also not about using cryptography to lock content which copyright holders own, but governments allowing copyright holders to lock down the devices which *WE* own. Any technology which considers its owner to be the attacker of that technology is simply wrong, and IMHO should be outlawed.

I understand why the content industry is doing what they are doing: they are scared of the change that technology always brings, and are not technically competent enough to understand the consequences of what they are asking for. I understand the DRM vendors, who are looking for ways to circumvent competition law (the basis of our free market economies) and avoid ever having to compete with an innovator.

What I don't understand is why governments and the people that these governments claim to represent aren't up in arms telling the content industry and DRM vendors that they are not going to get what they are asking for.

I'm honestly baffled.

How do we explain this issue to the general public and to policy makers? Most people don't yet see the problem, and are of the false belief that those who oppose DRM are doing so because they want to infringe someone's copyright. In our case we are both opposing DRM in order to protect our rights to be creative and innovative, as well as to protect a variety of other human rights. For me it is authoring software (largely enhancing FLOSS software to meet the needs of my clients), and for you it is the innovative and interesting mathematics behind cryptography.

Where is the bill to protect citizens' rights from the (multiple) rights infringers (CRIA, CMPDA, CAAST, etc)?

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.