Feeds

Alan Cox attacks the European DMCA

Wake up call

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Alan Cox has issued a wake up call to the Linux community amid concerns that the pending European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD) could stymie open source development.

The directive, which was approved last year, extends European copyright legislation so that it is even more restrictive than America's controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), critics argue. National governments have until December 22 to incorporate the directive in national legislation.

If it goes through unmodified, the EUCD would make it a criminal offence to break or attempt to break the copy protection or Digital Rights Management systems on digital content such as music, software or eBooks. As it stands, the EUCD may lead to a rerun of Dmitri Sklyarov's prosecution, prevent teachers copying materials for their students or other legitimate uses of copyright material, opponents believe.

The DMCA grants limited permission to circumvent copyright protection in order to make braille copies of eBooks for use by the blind, for example, but the EUCD makes such exceptions optional for member states, so they need not be implemented.

Concerns about disabled access was one of the issues highlighted by open source heavyweight Alan Cox in a speech made during a Campaign for Digital Rights mini-conference, held at London's City University last night.

Cox wants to see clear exceptions for open source developers and explained some of the negative effects of the EUCD during a well received presentation.

It's feared the EUCD could create monopolies in file formats, hinder the ability of different operating systems to work together and remove the ability to discuss security issues.

Since it is illegal to circumvent copyright protection, developers would be forced to sign licenses with the creators of a format in order to develop playback tools. This means that a creator could control the market, Cox warned, creating antitrust concerns.

Open source development is in for a rough ride, he suggested, because openness is fundamentally incompatible with DRM technology operating down to the hardware level.

Cox described the directive as a "land grab" by the entertainment industry - and he says it is badly thought out technically. It only takes one person to establish a way a particular technology prevention measure can be circumvented, he pointed out.

Martin Keegan, one of the founder members of the Campaign for Digital Rights (CDR), went further than this and described the EUCD as a "profit maximisation system with the prevention of piracy seen as a beneficial side effect".

So far the EUCD has received little attention but the CDR aims to mobilise opposition against the directive, which the Recording and Publishing Industries are heavily lobbying. The CDR is also protesting against music industry plans to market copy-protected CDs.

The next stage in both campaigns remains unclear from last night's event, but through the conference the CDR has raised awareness about a technically and politically complex issues which have thus far been neglected. ®

Related Stories

Alan Cox stars in EU copyright protest debate
Senator brutalizes Intel rep for resisting CPRM
Brit music indies want copy-protected CDs
Digital right lobbyists picket UK record stores
UK campaigners call for anti 'anti-rip' CD day of action
ElcomSoft attacks DMCA in Sklyarov test case
US courts claim jurisdiction over Sklyarov
US courts kowtow to entertainment industry
Stealth copy protection - where we are now

External Links

Links to audio feeds from the conference
Campaign for Digital Rights

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?