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[ox] Music Bootlegging with Napster Hurts Free Software


Über die WOS-Liste (danke Detlef) kam gerade ein Hinweis auf diesen
Artikel herein:

Ich habe ihn mal angehängt, weil er sich einerseits auf die
MP3-Gedanken bezieht, die hier schon entwickelt wurden und er
andererseits auch m.E. interessante Gedanken bzgl. Raubkopieren und
einem verantwortungsvollen Umgang damit enthält.

Auf der Web-Seite gibt's wohl auch eine Diskussion zu diesem Artikel.

						Mit li(e)bertären Grüßen


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    Editorial: Music Bootlegging with Napster Hurts Free Software

	 Posted by: Bruce Perens on Thursday May 04, @03:22AM

When Free Software authors wanted an operating system that they could
modify and share without the usual hassles of proprietary software,
they wrote a new system from scratch. Many of the same programmers who
wrote the free GNU/Linux system had access to the source code of
proprietary operating systems like the old ATT Unix, and Sun
Microsystems SunOS. They did not bootleg those systems and form a
widespread underground of people hacking on a stolen OS. They
respected other people's property rights, even when they might not
have supported them. Free Software authors worked a peaceful
revolution, within the law.

That's not what we're seeing now with Napster, and the widespread
bootlegging of music by Napster users justifies, in many people's
eyes, the way we're being prosecuted over our free software DVD
players. There are lots of casual music thieves who are taking
advantage just because it's suddenly become physically possible for
them to do so. What's going to happen before net bandwidth and bigger
disk drives make it possible to pass around movies as we do music
today? I compare it to Tiananmen square. We are enjoying the short
dance of freedom before governments come in with heavy weapons. And
the worst thing about it is that we are giving them a good reason to
do so.

The band Metallica is in the news for going after over 330,000 of
their own fans who happen to have gone into the music duplication
business for themselves. Many of these fans are legal minors, and net
polemicists correctly grieve over the "chilling effect" this will have
on the free exchange of information on the Internet. But in this case
the 330,000 kids are stealing, and the popularity of this form of
theft won't ever make it right. The kids, and their parents, should be
pursued. The people who make Napster, by taking no stand against
having their products used for bootlegging, have made themselves

I am a follower of Richard Stallman, the creator of the GNU project
and pioneer of the free software movement, but Richard and I don't
agree on one thing: Richard doesn't believe in ownership of
intellectual property. I believe that free software and proprietary
software should peacefully coexist. But if you grant that proprietary
intellectual property has a right to exist at all, some legal
protection like copyright becomes necessary. The important part is
finding the right balance between the rights of the copyright holder
and the good of the general public. Over time, that balance has
shifted toward the rights of the copyright holder and away from the
good of the public. For example, copyright used to be an exchange of
government protection, for the author allowing his work to go into the
public domain eventually. These days, copyrights effectively never

Many of us percieve the corrupt nature of the music industry: they do
have a lock on the business of distributing music, and the artist is
often taken advantage of by the mega-corporation. But the Internet
will solve this problem, because it lets the artists distribute
directly to their patrons. Those artists still need to be able to be
compensated for their work. Widespread bootlegging deprives them of
that compensation, whether or not the mega-corporations of the music
industry are involved.

Some of my colleagues have proposed the Street Performer Protocol as a
means of compensating artists without the need for music to be
proprietary. I'd like to see experiments like that succeed, but until
they do I think we need to continue the conventional methods of
compensating artists by allowing them to charge a fee for copies of
their work.

Thus, I'm taking a personal stand against bootlegging of music with
Napster. I'm not against the tool, but the unethical way in which it
is being used. This will no doubt make me unpopular in forums such as
Slashdot, and that's too bad. I like myself a lot better when I do
what's right, rather than what's popular.

So, why is bootlegging with Napster hurting free software? Because it
will drive legal and physical means of further restricting
intellectual property in a way that will rule out many uses of free
software. In the future, all media will be distributed over the
Internet. What we get in the record store, the bookstore, the movie
theater, and from the television will come to our homes as digital
data. Just what will we be using to read that digital data? Computers
running free software? Not if the media producers have their way,
because they see any player software that can be modified by the user
as a virtual factory of bootlegging tools. What use will computers
running free software be when they cut you off from outside forms of

The entertainment industry is turning to a technology called trusted
client. This means that a computer or player will be equipped with a
cryptography chip that identifies the user and decodes media for only
that user. And this time, they won't use weak cryptography as they did
in DVD because of export restrictions. Passing around data won't do
you any good unless you can decrypt it first. To fight that, the
decryption chip will be on your sound and video cards, so that you
won't be able to get access to the decrypted digital data with
software, or it will be on the motherboard, and the software you'll be
able to run with that chip will itself be cryptographicaly protected
so that modification becomes impossible. There's no room, in the minds
of the media producers, for free software being able to manipulate
that data stream. Essentially, all media will become play-only, with
other forms of manipulation becoming impossible.

The first thing that will go away with the implementation of trusted
client technology will be the view source function of your web
browser, and the ability to save web pages. After that, trusted client
will reach television, and you'll no longer be able to fast-forward
through commercials on your VCR. That feature is already implemented
for DVD disks today. Trusted client will be protecting your music from
the customer by preventing them from using more than one player for
the same work - you won't be able to take your CDs to a friend's home
to listen to them together as you do today. Trusted client will
provide the media industry with the second sell that they envy the
software industry for today. How does that work? As media file formats
become obsolete, your media collection will become un-playable and
you'll have to replace it, the way you currently have to upgrade
Microsoft Windows every few years, essentially paying for the same
product over and over again. Conversion of file formats will be
restricted, because it will be percieved as a bootlegging tool. The
media industry is even toying with the idea of programming that
expires, becomes un-playable after a particular amount of time has
elapsed. Think about books that can only be read once, and a revival
of the unlamented DIVX pay-video system, with customers forced to use
it this time or forego home viewing of feature films entirely.

So, why is this totalitarian control of information coming? Because
widespread bootlegging of music with Napster today provides enough
justification to convince lawmakers that it's necessary. Otherwise, we
might have a small hope of protecting our freedoms, but right now it
looks like we're sunk.

With freedom comes responsibility. It's time for us to start being
good examples.


Bruce Perens


[English translation]
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