Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

There's a short interview in MIT's The Tech newpaper with Jack Valenti about DMCA. I'm glad that Jack is still willing to have discussions like this. This is what I meant when I said that I think Jack should be respected. Even if you don't agree with him, he's still willing to try to discuss his position with you.

via Creative Commons weblog


His answers made him look very stupid.

But he was trying to have a discussion which is better than some of the stupid name calling on boths sides.

I maintain that Valenti is an inexcusable, race-baiting doctrinaire whose willingness to resort to racism, to compare his enemies to terrorists, and to actively pursue "solutions" that are an insult to free expression and due process make him unworthy of respect or engagement.

Hey Joi, betcha didn't know that Keith Winstein is my cousin. Isn't that funny?


His answers didn't look stupid to me.

Actually, I think Valenti made a great point about the fact that policy can't be directed towards the miniscule number of people that want to build their own TV decoders...

Another point on which I thought the interviewer actually sounded stupid -- he kept questioning why there was no licensed linux DVD player yet. He implied that he somehow had a 'right' to watch DVDs on linux. This is actually ridiculous when you think about it...

That's the same thing as saying I have a 'right' to play quicktimes on linux. If the file format is proprietary and Apple never writes a player, and nobody else can, there just won't be one. I couldn't use iTunes on Windows for quite a while, but now I can. It's purely a market issue.

I tend to think that the reason there's no licensed DVD player for linux is that the market's just too damn small, or nobody wants to do it, or something of that nature. It's just a market issue, nothing more. If the interviewer had wanted to write one, he certainly could have bought a license and written one. He just wants it for free.

he shouldn't have to pay for things that he doesn't have to. linux users already have the ability to do what others do (that is to watch dvd on their own computer), but mpaa won't let them. it's more about having the right to excercize one's ability when it clearly is not harming others (that is to watch dvd on their own computer)

We've never had the rule that the guy who sells you the record gets to tell you what record player you're allowed to use. There has never been a piece of art produced with that level of control contemplated. What social benefit (more art, better art?) would accrue from giving creators this new windfall at the public's expense?

So does that mean that Apple is now morally required to port iTunes to Linux, because there's no way people can legitimately buy music from their store otherwise??

No, it means that Apple should have no basis to attack those who reverse engineer its protocols to make interoperable products (just as MSFT should have no claim against Apple for including SAMBA in OS X).

Thanks for your comments, Cory. I'm interested in getting to the bottom of why you think the way you do about these things.

It seems like a large part of this issue is that people actually can reverse engineer the protocols we're talking about. What happens when they can't? If it could be made technically infeasible to implement such a hack, would you then support a law to force corporations to open up their protocols involuntarily?

The issue here is not with Itunes. It's an after the fact thing, If I buy an audio CD I don't expect it to play in my toaster. Nor do I demand that my ITunes proprietary file that I knowingly bought play on linux. As a consumer I have choices (KEY) in the digital audio arena. If ITunes were the only way to get digital music, I'd have a different opinion. DVD on the other hand . . . is about the only way to get digital media (movies and such) that is supported by a wide number of consumer products. The entertainment industry has shoved these things down our throats as the greatest things since [delete explicative] as they did with CD's . . . oh the convenience the clarity etc . . . Now they're upset because the media is as good as advertised. (see the argument about perfect quality over and over again) and people both good and bad would agree . . . gee these really are convenient. Look ma, I don't even need the DVD anymore. At this point, no matter how annoying they make it. You can't go back, home media centers are becoming affordable, CD and DVD rippers are not just the domain of the crackers anymore. and the notion of using networks internal and external to move digital content around is nothing new but is becoming more commonplace.

Having realized this blunder the MPAA is pulling a shell game on us. The way it's being described by the MPAA a physical DVD and the media on it is belongs wholly to them with you the consumer paying a hefty price for the privilege of retaining it indefinately with very specific usage rules. Bottom line is . . . it will be cracked. Once the media is on the platter and in the right (or wrong) hands it will be cracked and the media genie released from the bottle. No longer matters what shell the pea is under. I wonder what happens when Sat and Cable companies start shipping Digital media around and people find a way into that.

Altering the hardware to play only "cryptographically" acceptible DVD's is just another economical waste of time. (see xbox, ps2 mods for copied games), that's as easily defeated (if not ultimately more costly for the consumer).

There's several high quality DVD players freely available for linux, BSD whatever, wether the MPAA likes it or not. For those complaining about not having a commercially available player on linux . . . who would want to have to pay for one anyway? I suspect the MPAA would have a real time of it trying to prove criminal intent if all you're doing is watching a movie you own using free software that is widely and publicly available. Morally I see nothing wrong with it as long as you're not doing the rip and share thing the MPAA would be smart to leave it alone. I'd say let that one lie.

I'd suspect that money is at the root of most of the hardware or software proposals. There's alot of it to be made (ask macrovision who implemented copy protection for VCR's and may do the same for digital media) Manufacturers pay a license fee as they are mandated to incorporate this stuff into their equipment. think about the way business and govt' work in this country especially high powered lobbyists and ask yourself who might get kickbacks for this kind of stuff. . . then ask yourself how effective it really is in the long run.

If the MPAA is smart they'll avoid the very bad PR mess the RIAA got into by going after the little guys and stick to the big fish. Tone down the rhetoric and find ways to work with the customers in a less hostile manner.

Digital media is here to stay, encryption at this level is an annoyance, little else and golly, some people do things they're not supposed to do, go figure. To push this already too long too boring post to a close. Don't kill your customers for being innovative. Stick to the old fashioned method of going after the bad guys.