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Berners-Lee Speaks Out Against DRM, Advocates Net Neutrality 187

Posted by Zonk
from the papa-don't-speak-i'm-in-trouble dept.
narramissic writes "Speaking before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee advocated for net neutrality, saying that the Web deserves 'special treatment' as a communications medium to protect its nondiscriminatory approach to content. Berners-Lee's more controversial statements came on the topic of DRM, in which he suggested that instead of DRM, copyright holders should provide information on how to legally use online material, allowing users the opportunity 'to do the right thing.' This led to an odd exchange with Representative Mary Bono who compared Berner-Lee's suggestion to 'having a speed limit but not enforcing the speed limit.'"
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Berners-Lee Speaks Out Against DRM, Advocates Net Neutrality

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  • Why can't (Score:5, Funny)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:10PM (#18199884) Homepage Journal
    ...Mary Bono do some snow skiing...and do us ALL a favor?
    • Re:Why can't (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:40PM (#18200204) Journal
      I agree. It's bad enough when a show-biz bubblehead gets elected, but when his widow gets to inherit his job because people feel sorry for her, it just makes me want to hurl.

      -jcr

      • by ePhil_One (634771)
        Cher is a congresswoman now?
      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Just hurl then. That's what we call a "political voice" nowadays.
      • by Alsee (515537)
        It's bad enough when a show-biz bubblehead gets elected, but when his widow gets to inherit his job because people feel sorry for her, it just makes me want to hurl.

        As nauseating as that may be, isn't that less nauseating than the general population of "legitimate" legislators making the same comments and same arguments and voting exactly the same way... other legislators who don't get quoted on it in the mainstream media simply because they aren't the show-biz bubblehead widow with a special and obvious ti
  • Flawed analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:10PM (#18199892) Homepage
    DRM would be more like having speed limits but having car manufacturers artificially prevent the cars from going over 65mph.
    • Re:Flawed analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wonkavader (605434) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:16PM (#18199970)
      "having car manufacturers artificially prevent the cars from going over 65mph"...

      Using a rate limiter velcroed to the dashboard.

      Which obscured the driver's vision.

      And stopped the car completely when it turned onto non-toll roads.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mgiuca (1040724)
        Of course, being velcro, it's rather easy to peel off, and everyone knows how to do it. But it's against the law, and if the cops catch you driving with your rate limiter removed, you're screwed.

        (Though they are now offering "pre-litigation" settlement options).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Alsee (515537)
          Of course, being velcro, it's rather easy to peel off, and everyone knows how to do it. But it's against the law, and if the cops catch you driving with your rate limiter removed, you're screwed.

          Actually it is perfectly legal to drive with the limiter removed. The law makes it criminal to reach out and remove it... even if you keep the car in your garage or drive it in your back yard. If someone else reached out and pulled the rate limiter off when you weren't looking, you're legally A-OK driving the car on
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by symes (835608)

      'having a speed limit but not enforcing the speed limit.'"


      Bono's just plain daft. The faster you drive the more likely you will inflict serious harm. The more drm-less mp3s you download the more likely you are to bore people senseless talking about your bulging mp3 collection.

    • Re:Flawed analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:22PM (#18200020) Journal

      Not quite. A theoretical open DRM that never prevented you from doing things that were legal would be like what you describe. His reply should have been something like this: "DRM in any practical sense assumes that ALL copying is illegal, regardless. It is the practical equivalent of having a limiter set at 15 MPH because anywhere you drive, 15 MPH will be within the speed limit. This prevents a lot of legal use as well, though, and I'd imagine that 15 MPH limiter will go over really well on the beltway." That's a reference that they'd all understand....

      • Re:Flawed analogy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mmurphy000 (556983) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:55PM (#18200436)

        Wish I had points to mod you up. Instead, I'll just extend your edition of the analogy, as it'd be like...

        • ...if major car manufacturers had lobbied Congress to create the Driving Millennium Conformance Act (DMCA), which made it illegal for people to modify their limiters to actually drive within the speed limit but higher than the limiter-imposed 15 MPH.
        • ...if major car manufacturers were lobbying Congress actively to require 15 MPH limiters on all cars regardless of manufacturer (let alone actual speed limits).
        • ...if Motor Car Association of America (MCAA) were suing people who didn't own cars for driving over the speed limit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by squidfood (149212)
        That's a reference that they'd all understand....

        "Moreover, Congress LIKES voluntary compliance on things like pollution standards... as long as it's for corporations. Why the double-standard?" They'd understand that argument, though they wouldn't like it.

      • It's not even the same as that, because driving more than 20 MPH lower than the posted speed limit is illegal.

        • by fourchannel (946359) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:39PM (#18200944) Homepage

          It's not even the same as that, because driving more than 20 MPH lower than the posted speed limit is illegal.
          That's not quite true. It depends on, for a few things, the state you're in, interstate vs. municiple streets, etc.

          For example: I can bring my car to a dead stop, legally, on a city street. If I go to the interstate, I must go at least 40 mph.

          This has nothing to do with sensible driving, but the legality of it. If I drove 40 mph on the interstate I would greatly endanger everyone from going painfully slow.

          • It's not even the same as that, because driving more than 20 MPH lower than the posted speed limit is illegal.

            That's not quite true. It depends on, for a few things, the state you're in, interstate vs. municiple streets, etc.
            For example: I can bring my car to a dead stop, legally, on a city street. If I go to the interstate, I must go at least 40 mph.

            Not quite true either...if you are doing more than 15 MPH under the speed limit on nearly any road, then you are pretty much required anywhere (no matter

        • So in a blizzard, white out conditions with the Freeway a sheet of ice you're not allowed to slow down?
          Around here the speed limit includes something about road conditions.
      • Re:Flawed analogy (Score:4, Interesting)

        by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel@nosPam.bcgreen.com> on Friday March 02, 2007 @01:54AM (#18203908) Homepage Journal
        I'd say that DRM is more like having a limiter on your car that presumes that:
        1. It knows what the speed limit is, and:
        2. it is illegal to go either over the speed limit or more than 15MPH below the speed limit.
        In other words:
        • once you hit a highway with a speed limit of 65MPH, you would be forced to go between 50MPH and 65MPH. If traffic forced you to go below 50MPH, your only option would be to come to a complete and immediate stop.
        • Note that in the city (where speeds near 30MPH are more common), this will mean that you will be allowed to go betwwen 15MPH and 30MPH.
        • If weather, road conditions and/or visibility problems would otherwise require that you drive below the normal, stated speed, it would still prevent you from 'breaking the law' (read: drive at a safe speed).
        • Once you chose the 0MPH option out of the 50/0 option, it would immediately slam on the brakes and bring you within the law (i.e. stopped) as quickly as possible. (If you are towing a trailer, it had better have good brakes or you're gonna be fishtailing all over the road ... the RIAA's solution to this will probably be to ban all trailers [[ which will cause serious problems for the trucking industry]]).
        • When you decide to resume a "legal" speed, the governor will floor the gas, and attempt to (once again) bring you in compliance with (it's interpretation of) the law. If you do not achieve 50MPH within 15 seconds (e.g. towing a heavy load up a hill), it will then slam on the brakes again.
        Some results:
        • Have you ever heard of stop/go traffic.... well, b-b-b-baby, y-y-y-you just ain't seen n-n-n-n-nothin' yet! [wikipedia.org]
        • although technically legal, towing trailers will disappear because of safety concerns.
        • monster bumpers will become the norm.
        • Tire manufacturer stocks will go through the roof.
        • Body repair shops will experience massive market growth.
        • parallel parking (especially) will require zen-like concentration
        • The art of 'cruising' will disappear.
        • sub-compact cars will disappear (into the pavement).
        • The RIAA (Road Improvement Association of America) will lament the sudden downturn in national driving skills.
        • Insurance rates (and deductibles) will skyrocket.
        • etc., etc., etc.
  • Speed limits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darthnice (591865) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:12PM (#18199910)
    There is a speed limit. I obey the speed limit. The police enforce the speed limit. They don't install a speed limiter in my car that keeps me from driving faster than the posted limit.
    • by ottffssent (18387)
      In particular, there is a speed limiter in your car, in all liklihood. It's probably set at somewhere between 100 and 140 mph. So it's not even an issue with added expense, etc. A simple software tweak would keep you from going faster than 75 (the fastest posted speed limit I know of in the US, though parts of Montana or somesuch may be faster).

      Speed limits aren't enforced, with rare exceptions (speed traps). In general, only egregious violations (== unsafe driving) are pursued. Applying this model to
      • by vux984 (928602)
        In particular, there is a speed limiter in your car, in all liklihood. It's probably set at somewhere between 100 and 140 mph.

        Do you have a source for that?

        In all the cars I've ever owned, from Acura Integra's to VW Golfs to Porsche 911s I have never encountered a 'speed limiter'.

        Several of the cars did have 'rev limiters' which prevented the engine from going too far past the red line. But those are there to prevent over revving in 1st/2nd, not to limit speed in 5th or 6th. Most cars can't even reach their
        • a lot of cars sold in Europe have speed limiters set at 155mph. My jag has one, even though it can technically go faster.

          And yes, I tried on a straight track (not on the road), the car woudl refuse to budge beyond 155 on its own power.
        • by Grishnakh (216268)
          You're correct. My Integra definitely does not have a limiter. However, it is limited to around 120-130 mph by horsepower; the engine just isn't powerful enough to go faster (remember, air resistance increases exponentially with speed).

          Many people, it seems, learn that their car, or even many cars, have speed limiters, and then assume that all cars have these limiters, and this just isn't the case.
    • by Petrushka (815171)
      Indeed. And -- just to make it even more explicit -- copyright law enforces copyright. Bono is nuts.
    • by Geof (153857) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:07PM (#18200590) Homepage

      It's one thing for the police to enforce the law. It's quite another for private companies and individuals to do so. If DRM is enforcement, then it's private enforcement: companies interpreting and applying the law according to their own standards, and without oversight.

      Of course, as you correctly point out, DRM itself is not enforcement. It takes people to enforce a law. Devices can only enable and prohibit specific behavior, but that's a far cry from the active human reasoning required to apply the law.

      I have often seen copy protection and DRM measures described as "speed bumps" for pirates, which is a much more accurate characterization. Although again, these speed bumps are private, interfering in a public space (i.e. restricting legitimate activities of the public).

    • by caluml (551744)
      I obey the speed limit.

      What if you disagree with the speed limit for a certain part of road? What if your local authorities keep lowering the limits?
  • rep. bono's analogy that not using DRM and rather educating users is like not enforcing speed limits is just bogus. DRM is more like having a lock on your car that prevents your car from going any faster or slower than the speed limit except for slowing down to turn or stop. DRM is not a means of enforcement. it's a means of control.
  • by 1101z (11793) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:14PM (#18199940) Homepage
    Well in Mrs. Bono's analogy it DRM would be having a speed limit and building cars that could not go faster then the speed limit, and where the car manufacture deciding when and where you could drive your car.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)
      And who you can resell it to.
    • by Shadow99_1 (86250)
      Actually taking that last part ("the car manufacturer deciding when and where you can drive your car") a bit farther sounds a lot like the RIAA:

      Ford (pure example now) decides that their trucks can no longer be used offroad (say they get some bad press for rollovers or something), they enforce it by making their trucks unable to go offroad (limiter that detects something other than 'road material' under the truck). The sales of new Ford trucks plummets after the announcement (some people still buy them beca
  • Taking a step back (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:15PM (#18199952) Homepage Journal
    If we take a step away from the particular details of whatever argument he's made, let's consider the following:

    Berners-Lee, speaking before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet in the U.S. House of Representatives...said the Web as a communications medium deserves "special treatment" to protect its nondiscriminatory approach to content.
    Does anyone else notice that the very fact that we have a US HoR Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet (complete with all of the money that its respective members have a hand in distributing, regulating, or privately investing) makes it impossible for there to be a nondiscriminatory approach?

    Sure, the subcommittee can recognize that the federal government won't pass laws regulating content and then, in the next week, they can dump billions in social security funds into private investment brokerages which invest in only organizations which maintain pro-Mormon, pro-Catholic, pro-Abortion, pro-Prohibition, pro-War websites. Or they can go home and privately invest only in companies which are pro-Duracell, pro-Pepsi, or pro-Guatemalen. Or they can wait for the next spending bill to come along and selectively filibuster any measures which are pro-Smoking, or pro-Cheetos, or pro-Ford.

    Let's not allow the trees to obscure the forest. The only way to achieve net neutrality is to divest the government of their power to direct the flow of a significant portion of the GDP. As long as the federal government directly collects a significant portion of the GDP in tax money, and indirectly regulates the remainder, "net-neutrality" is nothing but lip service.
    • by grcumb (781340)

      Let's not allow the trees to obscure the forest. The only way to achieve net neutrality is to divest the government of their power to direct the flow of a significant portion of the GDP. As long as the federal government directly collects a significant portion of the GDP in tax money, and indirectly regulates the remainder, "net-neutrality" is nothing but lip service.

      Right, because leaving things entirely in the hands of the multi-national corporations is guaranteed to ensure that they'll have a sudden ch

  • bad analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by javilon (99157) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:17PM (#18199976) Homepage
    having a speed limit but not enforcing the speed limit

    It would be more like enforcing the speed limit by legislating that car wheels have to be squared!!
  • gah (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hemogoblin (982564) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:19PM (#18199992)
    You've unleashed the Slashdot car-analogy fiends! You fool!
    • by roystgnr (4015)
      No kidding. The admin posting this article is like a broken traffic light which just lets everyone into the intersection at once.
  • Have a speed limit but don't enforce it? It would be just like here in Canada!
    • by Malc (1751)
      I think you've been watching too much CBC recently. I had a couple of several hundred dollar fines and points on my license for doing 142 in 100 zone, and two years later, 135 in a 100 zone. I was younger and stupider... thank goodness they didn't catch me when I used to drive 160-170 on the 401 between London & Toronto. That would have been a criminal conviction for doing more than 50 over the posted limited. Oh wait, the 142 offence was when I drove that fast - I was leaving London and hadn't got
  • The only way that copyright law will really work is if the public respects it, and right now the public doesn't. It has nothing to do wtih prices or the actual law; most people don't even think about that as hard as that may be for most slashdotters to think about. It's because the public has been conditioned to think that no one is getting screwed, when in fact the creators are getting screwed. DRM is not going to fix what is fundamentally a social problem, and it's not like speeding. Damn, sometimes I hat
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by csplinter (734017)
      Nah it's the price for me. I love having a music collection more valuable than I can afford right now. Music needs to become about an order of magnitude cheaper before I could consider going completely legal. I'm sure there are others that feel the same way.
      • by geekoid (135745)
        If you can't afford something, then you can't have it.
        If I can't afford to buy a guitar, it doesn't mean I can go out a take one illegally because they cost more then I am willing to pay.

        Of course, it is balantly obvious to everyone that's just an excuse so you can get free shit.
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:05PM (#18200552)
      Actually, I think it's more a perception (largely correct) that the big copyright holders are screwing both the creators and the buyers. Certainly that's the case when it comes to music, and given the creative accounting for which Hollywood is so famous, that likely applies to the movie industry as well. Consequently, you are right, copyright infringement is not victimless, but the victims are generally not the people that the RIAA/MPAA types would like us to believe. Much of the verbiage those outfits spew on that topic is downright disingenuous.

      Now I do believe that one should pay for what one receives, and I've no problem buying music, but I'd just rather buy from a source that is as close as possible to the creator. That way, as much of my money as possible goes to the creative elements of our society rather than the parasitic ones. Take iTunes: yes, Apple gets very little of the vast stream of raw dollars pouring into it's DRM-constricted throat, but the people actually producing that music don't get even that much. The rest is picked off by businesses that have litte raison d'être in the Internet age.

      But that is nothing new in and of itself. Middlemen generally suck, when you get right down to it. But pinning down who, exactly, is a "victim" is not always so black-and-white, and given that many of the "victims" here are organizations that have criminally abused their own customers it's hard to work up much sympathy.

      In truth, the recent corruption of IP law in this country is turning a nation of people into victims, in many ways. Think about that for a moment. Something isn't right, and it can't all be laid at the feet of P2P technology and downloaders.

      It amazes me to hear people like you rambling on about "jail terms" for civil violations like copyright infringement. Apparently you've bought into the idea that downloading a song is somehow the moral equivalent to a violent crime. It's not, never has been, and copyright law never said so. Heaping on more penalties isn't the solution. Besides, copyright infringement is already against the law, and given the extreme penalties that could already be (mis)applied to an individual I don't see how tougher laws would help.

      A freer-market is the solution, one that is not controlled by a handful of abusive corporations. That would be better for both the content creators and their customers. Bad for the middlemen, but odds are we won't miss them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PietjeJantje (917584)
        Why do copyright holders screw the creators? No one is forcing the creators with a gun to their head to buy their world wide distribution service. Usage of a distribution chain isn't a birth right. If I have a store in Fruits&Vegetables, I've to market the store and make a local living. Or, I can choose to join Evil Fruits&Vegetables Corp and have my apples distributed worldwide. On their terms, yes, but it would still be my choice. Why would I choose that? Because I want to be a millionaire and rul
    • Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you have to educate a lot of folks in order to get them to see that sharing is wrong, is the problem really a matter of education?

      I mean, what if I proposed that we "educate" people that it's my *RIGHT* to be paid continually for something I did once? Perhaps a "teacher right" that gives teachers a share of the revenue their students make from their teachings? After all, that would surely encourage people to teach each other, right? What could possibly go wrong?

      P.S. You owe me big time for reading th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bullet-Dodger (630107)
      Yes, we do need more education about copyright but your view of it is completely one-sided. It's very possible that people would be less respectful of copyright if they were taught more about it. You, it seems, have been conditioned to think that copyright exists solely for the benefit of the creator. It doesn't. It exists for the benefit of society.

      The deal was that content creators would get a limited period of control as an incentive to create works that would then go into the public domain. Increasing
    • by westlake (615356)
      The only way that copyright law will really work is if the public respects it, and right now the public doesn't.

      "The public" is not all of one mind.

      Not everyone has a computer with tetra bytes of storage. Broadband service. Not everyone can afford the 200 pack of DVD-Rs.

      Not everyone loves the Geek for stealing a copy of a movie he had to buy or rent or go without.

      Until its mutilated release on broadcast tv or basic cable.

      The Geek is far too quick to mod down as Flamebait the bare suggestion that his d

  • Bono questioned if his idea would prevent mass stealing of copyright materials. "Is that not the equivalent of having a speed limit but not enforcing the speed limit?" she asked.
    [...]
    "What is the enforcement for speeding?" he said. "The enforcement for is not that the car grinds to a halt. [Instead of DRM] I'm inclined to make software to allow people to do the right thing first."

    Why on earth did he choose to turn aside that argument in lieu of taking it head on? This is an EXCELLENT analogy to turn to his own uses imo. Speed limits in almost any country I know of seem to have a good 10 units of measure (km/h or mp/h) leeway it seems as to whether the speed limit is enforced or not. This seems to me to be an excellent analogy to the black and white way the **AA's attempt to enforce the DRM rules currently versus the grey area that SHOULD exist with regards to fair use.

    Can someone e

    • by mgiuca (1040724)

      Can someone enlighten me as to why he would choose to avoid that point? Is there some precedent that makes this dangerous to his argument?

      Yes, that precedent is slashdot and it's ever-raging car analogies.

      Sarcasm aside, I fully agree with you.

      Not only does it highlight the disparity between enforcement of copyright laws versus safety laws (ie. there is a lot more focus on laws to make billions off sucker^H^H^H^H^H^Hcustomers than laws to stop people from dying). But also, this "speed limit" analogy is preci

  • Speed Limits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zerocool^ (112121) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:27PM (#18200050) Homepage Journal

    Well, here in Virginia, it seems that the speed limit serves only to fund the police.

    Honestly, if the speed limit were posted as a suggested top safe speed, I think we'd still be ok.

    Research has shown that regardless of the speed limit, almost all motorists will drive roughly the same speed on the same road, indicating that most people have common sense and will find a "max safe" speed that they're comfortable with. Some people will speed, some will go far slower. But when a speed limit is lowered below this "natural speed", it only serves to line the coffers of the Police, filling their quotas.

    For instance, here in Blacksburg, they've just recently decreased the speed limit of Patrick Henry Drive from 35 to 25. This road is four clearly marked lanes, has a sidewalk on both sides, a bike lane, and is clearly lit with streetlights on both sides of the road. Why is it 35? I dunno, but I can tell you there have been a lot more police on it since then.

    I really believe that if the powers that be started enforcing reckless driving statutes - ticketing people for weaving in and out of traffic, not using signals, etc - and stopped enforcing speed limits, we'd have fewer accidents and everyone would be happier (fewer "speed traps"). But then, I'm a firm believer in less police and that police should "Keep the peace", not "enforce the law".

    It'll never happen, though, cause old people are the only ones that vote anymore (cause it's all they have left to look forward to, other than death and the daily delivery of the mail), and they all drive at 15mps regardless of the speed limit (causing more problems than people who speed).

    ~Wx
    • by PhotoGuy (189467)
      Research has shown that regardless of the speed limit, almost all motorists will drive roughly the same speed on the same road, indicating that most people have common sense and will find a "max safe" speed that they're comfortable with. Some people will speed, some will go far slower.

      Unfortunately, the "max safe" speed that some people are comfortable with, isn't necessarily the speed at which they are *safe*. You might be a perfectly competent driver, and stay within your means. There are an *awful* l
    • A little off topic admittedly, but...

      Here in NZ, the Automobile Assoc did a survey of all members to find
      out the types of driving that concerned them the most.

      Turns out there were two ranked waaaaay above all others:

      41% said they hated tailgaters
      42% said they hated slow drivers.

      hmmmm an interesting correlation.
  • Look at how part of the conversation went:

    Bono questioned if his idea would prevent mass stealing of copyright materials. "Is that not the equivalent of having a speed limit but not enforcing the speed limit?" she asked.

    "What is the enforcement for speeding?" he said. "The enforcement for is not that the car grinds to a halt. [Instead of DRM] I'm inclined to make software to allow people to do the right thing first."

    But Bono said strong protections for digital content are needed. "With great respect to S

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sam Ritchie (842532)

      what was she thinking with that last comment?

      I don't know. Apple's patents are all available on the internet free of technological copying restrictions. What's protecting them is that fact that copying [the ideas in] the patent is unlawful, ie they have exactly the same protection as hypothetical DRM-free Sonny & Cher MP3s.

      • they have exactly the same protection as hypothetical DRM-free Sonny & Cher MP3s


        Not to mention the countless DRM-free records and CD's published in the past.
  • Speed Limit Analogy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hey! (33014) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:29PM (#18200078) Homepage Journal
    My knee jerk reaction to the "speed limit" analogy was "Oh, god, here come the tubes again."

    But actually it's a pretty interesting analogy.

    You don't have to have cars engines cut out, you just have to require governors be installed that limit the speed to, say , 65MPH. If you visited a place like Montana, you could have the governor adjusted upward. If you were driving on a private speedway, you could set it as high as your car would go. But if you were caught driving over the governor limit on a public road, you'd be subject to severe penalties.

    What makes this interesting is that the argument for installing governors on cars is stronger than the argument for enforcing DRM.

    WHAT IS ACCOMPLISHED:
    DRM enforcement: increase copyright holder's profits.
    Speed governors: saves lives, reduces strategic dependence of foreign oil, reduces insurance costs.

    COSTS:
    DRM enforcement: restricts users from doing some things that they have a legal right to do.
    Speed governors: restricts users from doing things ONLY if they are clearly illegal.

    IMPACT ON FREEDOM:
    DRM enforcement: restricts fair use of information for critical, educational and political purposes
    Speed enforcement: prevents police from arbitrarily stopping/fining people.

    I'm not saying I'm for putting speed limiters on cars. I'm just saying anybody who sees DRM as an appropriate way of enforcing the law should also be for limiting how fast cars can go.
    • by Penguinshit (591885) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:37PM (#18200148) Homepage Journal
      186,282.397 miles per second; it's the law.
  • I wonder if he would feel the same way about his patents being on the Internet free of patent protection.
    You can freely view patents online [uspto.gov].
  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:32PM (#18200104)
    There's already a standard treatment available--common carrier. ISPs were subject to this regulation when everyone connected to the Internet over phone lines. Now, thanks to the 9th Circuit Court, cable ISPs are not subject to this regulation. And rather than restore it via legislation, Congress is instead considering stripping it from telephone-line ISPs as well.

    Common carrier is an essential part of all of our transportation networks. The reason you can go to Kinkos and send a package, regardless of what's in it, is common carrier. The reason you can make phone calls to Cingular with a Verizon cell phone is because of common carrier. Without it the transport company can refuse or degrade service as they please.
  • It's not like having a speed limit and not enforcing it. DRM is like having a speed limit of 65mph and installing electronic governors on every car that limit it to a top speed of 65mph. If instead of DRM the RIAA and MPAA just ticketed people for $75 when they discovered they were violating copyright, then we'd have a better comparison.
  • For those of you who don't know, Mary Bono [wikipedia.org] is the widow of Sonny Bono, as in Sonny and Cher, and the politician who yes, died while skiing in Nevada. More importantly, she is the namesake of Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act [wikipedia.org] which dramatically increased the duration of copyrights, which may explain her opposition to free and open formats and architecture.
  • I think politicians are all in favor of a "toll-road on the Internet" because just like with state highways, there is money to be had in bribes and kickbacks for the politician(s) who give a particular toll-road company the operating contract.
  • Well, at the very least it's nice to know that there are more than two people actually in the room listening to proposals. Have you ever seen the room BEHIND the person on the mic? Nearly all those chairs are EMPTY most of the time!
  • by nameer (706715) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @07:01PM (#18200524)
    FTFA: But Bono said strong protections for digital content are needed. "With great respect to Steve Jobs, he's trying to sell hardware, first and foremost," she said. "I wonder if he would feel the same way about his patents being on the Internet free of patent protection."

    Umm... They are, at www.uspto.gov. There is no "patent protection" keeping people from the information. If Steve wants to enforce his patents, he can file a civil suit, but the information in the patents themselves is available to all.
    • Yes, but the stuff on www.uspto.gov clearly IS subject to patent protection. Mary Bono is talking about being both on the internet and being free of patent protection.

      www.uspto.gov only meets one of those criteria.
    • Like so many others you're deliberately misreading the sense of what she said. It's obvious that she means "How would Steve Jobs feel if his companies work was not protected?", ie, there was no legal enforcement of patent protections for software. And say what you like about Apple but Jobs protects his companies 'creative works' very strongly, both through patent enforcement and by tying MacOS X to a hardware purchase. It's a perfectly reasonable point to make - either Jobs believes copyright needs to be en
  • Actually, that would be like having a speed limit and putting speed inhibitors on everyone's car to force them to do that speed. Having the rules there and busting people when they don't follow them is exactly how things have been done for the past 200 or so years. Since when did it become necessary to prevent people from doing illegal things by limiting what they can do? You're free to break the law if you please, but you WILL be punished. The punishment in itself is a deterrent, beyond that you can do
  • "Would you prefer to have a beautiful eight lane superhighway with a 20 MPH speed limit? Of course people are going to break that one!"
  • This led to an odd exchange with Representative Mary Bono who compared Berner-Lee's suggestion to 'having a speed limit but not enforcing the speed limit.'"

    This is a very good analogy. If you live in Texas, you'll note very few moving violation stops are ticketed on intercity highways (in major cities like Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio. Not so much in smaller towns like Corpus Christi, Amarillo, El Passo, and such).

    This is because of the danger to the officer and the small numbers of officers av

  • by nandnor (1002136) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:20PM (#18202982)
    for anyone who doesn't know the backstory, she is the widow of faux hippie turned politician Sonny Bono, who is best known for:

    The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998--alternatively known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act or pejoratively as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act--extended copyright terms in the United States by 20 years. Before the act (under the Copyright Act of 1976), copyright would last for the life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship; the act extended these terms to life of the author plus 70 years and 95 years respectively. The act also affected copyright terms for copyrighted works published prior to January 1, 1978, increasing their term of protection by 20 years as well. This effectively 'froze' the advancement date of the public domain in the United States for works covered by the older fixed term copyright rules. Under this act, no additional works made in 1923 or afterwards that were still copyrighted in 1998 will enter the public domain until 2019...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Bono_Copyright_ Term_Extension_Act [wikipedia.org]

    and here's something from her entry in Wikipedia:

    Bono said in May 2006 that she depended on royalties from Sonny Bono's estate to supplement her US$165,200 congressional salary in order pay her son's college expenses. In addition, in 2006, it was reported that she had received $30,000 from the later-indicted Jack Abaramoff.[7][8] In her official 2005 filing, Bono stated that her income from royalties and dividends was between US$402,000 and US$3.3 million

    Insert your punchline here!

    • From the wikipedia article mentioned in the parent:

      Mary Bono, speaking on the floor of the United States House of Representatives, said:

      Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. . . . As you know, there is also [Motion Picture Association of America president] Jack Valenti's proposal for the term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress.

      And people elect this wo

  • I just try to imagine someone enforcing the speed limit in the same way DRM enforces copyright: at very least, all cars having an automatic sensor with camera and OCR software that would read the transit speed signs, and just slow the car down until it complies. Very safe and usefull, indeed!
  • This led to an odd exchange with Representative Mary Bono who compared Berner-Lee's suggestion to 'having a speed limit but not enforcing the speed limit.

    DRM is not like arresting people that are guilty of doing something, it is like preventing them from doing it (or other things they are allowed to do) in the first place. Comparing it to speeding, it would be like this:

    1. You cannot drive over 55 MPH, period. You may try to pass someone doing 50 mph, but you had better leave plenty of room since you

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