Boycott Hollywood for Thanksgiving?
We are all "Stuckists" now
A quick note before we start. There's a real Stuckist Art Movement, and it was the inspiration for us appropriating the term. Charles Thomson who coined the expression has written to us. They'd like to avoid confusion that it's a "Stuckist"-blessed project. Now the Stuckist Net is not project at all, but a dystopian future, but fair dues nevertheless. See the end of this story for Charles' request.
See also your suggestions for Rebranding Fair Use.
Unfortunately, some of your contributors to this debate remind me of the kind of gentlemen who live in Montana and bury food and ammo caches around their houses for when the UN troops come to round them up. It seems that the era of personal liberty we've enjoyed in the West for so long is finally going to be ended when Microsoft and the RIAA take over the internet and we all have Fritz chips installed up our arses.
What is going to happen is the fragmentation of the IT market and the internet as there is a reaction worldwide against what the US entertainment/IT cabal is trying to achieve, with very unpredictable (and possibly fascinating) results.
I agree with those who advocate activism. That's because free speech actually works in the West. How do you think environmentalism became a big issue? Or race? Or gay rights? Because people militantly organised themselves and began to exert pressure on those who make the decisions. Go and buy Sony shares and start to hassle them. If 1000 people do that it will make a difference. If it's 10,000 it'll make a big difference. Let these people know what you want, because at the end of the day, you're the customers, right??
As an employee of an oil company, let me assure you that nothing, and I mean NOTHING scares a big company more than a noisy, smelly, obnoxious, disaffected pressure group.
Now go away and chain yourself to someone important's front door.
Regarding the Stuckist Net: I think you are applying too radical a requirement on the effect Stuckism must have in order to defeat the 'establishment'. I think that hoarding laptop components is somewhat akin to survivalists building armed bunkers in the distant hell holes of Montana. The fundamental weakness of the TCPA/DMCA/RIAA composite strategies is that they may very well be unable to propagate the TCPA element of the strategy quickly enough to preserve the financial interests of the establishment that proposes them.
Stuckism must surely embrace a very wide ranging number of composite strategies that undermines the commercial viability of the hostile corporations, including a media/music/content equivalent of the GPL – content that is intrinsically free and use of which renders any aggregating content intrinsically free. If culture that is free becomes culture that is cool amongst youth consumers of media, the content empires face a very difficult future regardless of the delivery technology.
Further, the preservation of existing technologies, such as Windows 98SE, becomes axiomatic to furthering the overall aims of Stuckism. The essential paradigm of the Wintel industrial core is continual innovation – you must always be on a conveyor belt of incremental redundancy. It is, I would claim, a fundamental axiom of Stuckism to retain vibrant, living legacy wherever and whenever possible, and support and foster centers of Web excellence to that end.
Finally, the threat of boycott must be made real by the unifying of the myriad voices in wilderness currently fragmented into anti-Microsoft web rings, anti-DRM movements, Open Systems and freedom oriented pressure groups into a cohesive whole. This will require a charter, again along the lines of the GPL, that by common consent binds the many different small elements opposing this 'establishment' with a kind of constitution, bill of rights, and declaration of independence.
Many thanks to you and The Register for spearheading this discussion in the first place.
S G H Houbart,
I want in too! I must agree with much of the sentiment of the letters you published, however I agree most with Bill Softky. There are several inherent problems if TCPA/Palladium is to do what its promoters think it will:
1. Either software certification is easy/cheap or it isn't. If it's easy we can certify our own compiled linux kernel and there is no issue. If it is difficult/expensive then we break every Word and Excel macro and Access database application that has ever been written by an end user. Most of the web would just disappear since all those Perl modules are unlikely to be certified. Forget the little developer - how many large companies will have their websites broken by this? They would have to certify every thing they use. CGI.pm v1.0 on your London intranet server? Certify it. CGI.pm v0.45 on your US intranet? You could upgrade to your certified 1.0 and risk breaking things or certify 0.45 too. One of you inhouse developers fixed a security bug in v1.0 - you know what that means! I just can't see how this could possibly work.
2. Class breaks. What is the likelihood of the Fritz chip being bug free? Those "securing" a TCPA system have to cover all bases, an attacker only needs to find one weakness. Think DeCSS here. Burn the software into hardware and you have a large number of expensive and ineffective systems.
3. The will to be free - and the money to be had from this. If a Fritz/TCPA law came into being and Intel fritzed its CPUs, would AMD follow suit, or would they provide motherboard designs including a separate fritz chip on an EEPROM or with a convenient "undocumented" jumper setting? We've already seen Dell do something similar in response to MS's insistence that no PC shall be OS free - they throw in a copy of FreeDOS.
There will be a chicken/egg situation. If the implementation takes place before the law is mandatory - it will show the folly of the law and be the most unpopular version of Windows yet. If the law becomes mandatory before it is implemented, people will get used to ignoring it, making future enforcement seem unreasonable to the populous - which makes it harder to enforce.
I wish I was that optimistic.
"If TCPA restricts copying MP3s or CDs, can't I just put the microphone of my home CD-burner in front of the loudspeaker? If TCPA restricts DVD playing, can't I just aim my home video camera at the monitor during playback?"
Spoken like someone who almost certainly hasn't done either of these. Have you tried recording with an air-gap? That digital-analog-digital conversion is a killer, and who is going to bother? Unless you've got very good equipment, an extremely steady hand and a very quiet room, the degradation of signal is prohibitive.
And if you make a copy of a copy of a copy, that only gets worse.
I wonder whether some public-spirited Mafia Don or Al-Qaeda terrorist couldn't sue the FBI or CIA under the DMCA for breaking their encrypted digital data? How sweet that would be?
Here's Bill's follow-up:-
I'm not so worried about how to build your own video cards, etc; I'm sure that stuff will get worked out. On the other hand, here is how I
see the arms-race as a whole playing out... and think all the while about how it applies to stuff *almost everybody* wants to stop, like kiddie porn, and not just bootleg MP3's:
Simple signatures (like checksums) won't work on almost any kind of media file, because someone who wants to copy it can always turn it into its perceptual form (plain text, audio, video), cut it it pieces, change the resolution, put little bits of extractable junk in it here and there, and make a new file which can be easily converted to a perceptual form, but which doesn't look much at all like the original. So basically all media can be scrambled by almost anyone, scrambled well enough that the only way to tell what's in the file is to have a human try to unscramble and look at it.
So automatic content-measuring bots (like they used to fight Napster) can be easily defeated... but human bots cannot, since the whole point is to make something that a human CAN read/hear/see. So if you have enough RIAA shock troops trolling the download sites and looking for copied stuff, they'll find it, or at least find the most obvious sources of it. Just as you presently have lots of police etc trolling the kiddie-porn sites, pretending to be preteen girls.
So broadly speaking, the Powers That Be will be able to catch and harrass/shut down any large-scale copying by having real live people looking for downloads and seeing what's in them. But they'll never be able to stop small-scale stuff, from emails to just-among-friends ftp dropoffs, because they can't automate the process.
The best set of opinions I've seen yet on the current attempts to pound the populace into digital serfdom. I don't expect to see better. Articulate, vastly different viewpoints. And it's starting to scare the hell out of me, because each one undermines the hope in the other. I'm stockpiling hardware and taking stock of my friends in Taiwan.
All the mere technical workarounds for the Fritzed machines assumes that the CRM lobby doesn't buy legislation to make it illegal to have a Fritz-free machine. In theory, since the intent of the Fritzed machine is to enforce copy write laws, the only reason to have a Fritz-free machine is to break the law. Ought to be an easy sell to the
politicians on the dole.
How many eager but law fearing Stuckists would be willing to buck Uncle Sam with his dander up?
Brian Beesley continues the conversation started in last week's postbag.
The "rebel hackers" don't appreciate the magnitude of the problem yet - working on the assumption that PCs will remain open, and routers will remain neutral.
You misunderstand me. Routers will remain neutral in the parallel structure because they'll be in user premises, constructed using "open" hardware & software, connecting together open wireless islands. For WAN we resort to wireless again, if neccessary recycling the old University of Hawaii "Alohanet" from the mid-seventies, though these days we'd be able to do rather better than 9.6 Kbits/sec. We can do all this with current "open" consumer computer & radio technology.
The result is that the "secure" system will leak like a sieve; eventually the pragmatists will realise that the "rebels" can't be beaten, and a realistic compromise will have to be found. Just as in previous cases e.g. the lost battle by the UK authorities against "illegal" citizens' band radio.
Given that there is so much open hardware already in existence, my guess is that Palladium cannot be enforced within five years. I have every expectation that, by then, the parallel network will be in place.
Most people who know me consider I'm a pessimist; thanks for accusing me of over-optimism, that doesn't happen often!
The communications issue could be solved using this
No - break the law, dammit:-
Humans are not simply rule-following animals; that scarcely distinguishes them from any other. They are above all rule-breaking. I cannot think of any social advance that did not require the breaking of rules. And one of the most important, but rarely acknowledged, functions of the rule of law is to make clearer which rules must be broken. Our very future depends on it.
Boycotts should be focused, writes one reader:-
"We need an active campaign on the lines of "We're NOT buying CDs from the
pigopolists. We're NOT going to the movies", writes David Cefai
I like it. And I believe that it should be done during the last week of November.
Why then, you ask?
The last Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day in the States, an orgy of conspicuous gluttony exceeded only by the following Friday which is the official start of the Christmas shopping season (although I think the stores should be putting their Christmas decos up any day now, if trends hold true), and is the SINGLE BIGGEST RETAIL SALES DAY OF THE YEAR.
Now, for the past several years, AdBusters has been (semi)organizing a worldwide protest for that Friday - "Buy Nothing Day". If we can add our voices and theirs and piggyback our messages together we could conceivably get a little synergistic effect going and make Swiny, Time-Whiner, and all the rest sit up and take notice.The one disadvantage of this sched, that I can see is that, with the holiday in the U.S. and a possible lull in sales in the week before the "real" holiday season begins (does anyone out there in Reg-land know if this happens?), the media outlets - with the exception of the movie theaters - might EXPECT that week to show a sales dip. In that case, the alternative is to START it on Friday the 29th, using But Nothing Day as a kickoff and
running for the week following, right at the start of the Saturnalia Bacchanalia.
Anyone interested in Buy Nothing Day, and links to the rest of AdBusters' culture-jamming ideas, should go to AdBusters site.
The real issue here is that it will take YEARS, of constant effort to get pols to notice your position. It took 18 years for Campaign Finance to get passed, despite retired Senators as far apart McGovern and Goldwater saying it's been a problem. DC doesn't have voting rights despite 30 years of work.
Hopefully GeekPAC will realize this. Politics is a messy business, and sometimes, it takes a long time to be effective.
So you want to stockpile you old hardware?
Fritz Junior will simply propose a law that makes it illegal to own non-Palladium hardware. Penalty 20 years. Would you want to be the first to lose 20 years of your life for a few computer bits and pieces. They may represent your freedom but they can also take it away. If the whole population stood with you and defied the authorities it would win. If you stand in front and lead you will most likely be pursued, humiliated and thrown in jail if not killed, accidentally of course. Are you brave enough?
You look to China. Why? They will also embrace Palladium. Why not. This increases the level of control they will have over their citizens.
I believe that the US, EU and Chinese governments are all after the same thing in spite of their differing overt ideologies. Power and control.
So you think you can vote with your dollars? This will work for a while. Until the electronic infrastructure is built up with great fanfare about the new millenium of technology. Then suddenly your are no longer able to participate in society without a special outlet at your home. To ensure your privacy (wry laugh) a form of PKI (escrow form) is legislated and you are issued with an encryption key to access the network. Your signature is now no longer the primary legal form of identification. Too easy to forget, they say.
TV has become digital and is no longer free to air. You need a decoder at home. You can't turn the device off because this clears the encryption key from memory and costs say 20 pounds to reinstate. This is an unfortunate side effect of the new technology which can't tell a power failure from an attempt at reverse engineering. The TV power is supplied through the decoder so you can't turn that off either.
Any untoward events related to encryption keys cause yours and your family's to be deactivated for the sake of safety of course and you need to be issued with a new one. This takes two weeks and while you're off the network you can't access your bank accounts, your bills don't get paid, your medical records are locked so if you get sick you can't get medical treatment. Even though your doctor has known you for 30 years that bit of legislation was passed last winter, says that you need your encryption key to identify yourself and that has been invalidated.
Your kids can't go to school and miss their exams.
You can't get to work because the security system is keyed to your encryption code. Your life just got flushed.
Then you realise with a sinking feeling that a law was passed just last month that makes it your legal responsibility to ensure that your encryption key is not compromised. Penalty 6 months detention unless you can prove you were assaulted and had your pass stolen. Now you have a criminal record and cannot hold down any job which requires an unblemished record including being a janitor. You lose your home and your family.
Ok, so this may be a little out there but not impossible. I know I don't have all the answers. But this little 'for-instance' hopefully serves to illustrate some other possible futures that we may experience.
While this is nothing personal against Mrs. Grubb, as from reading her website she seems to be rather practical, US Libertarians (again note the capital) would be hard pressed to actually do anything to protect our digital rights. The CATO institute, the head US Libertarian think tank recognizes intellectual property as being just that, property. This would not only get in the way of any effort to abolish the DMCA, it would make the DMCA automatic. Copy Protection can be seen as a form of IP, therefore breaking the protection damages the value of the IP, which is a no-no for Libertarians. Even worse, a Libertarian government would open the door for more mergers and less choice in the marketplace, making a "Stuckist Net" even more likely. Even though a Libertarian government would not enforce these laws criminally, this is a minor point compared to the threats at lawyerpoint which is the real damage of the DMCA and other such laws.
I'm not a communist or an anarchist, I support common-sense protections of IP for a limited amount of time. It's just that as someone who has followed the Libertarian movement for some time, to see our hopes for digital rights framed about a movement that would do nothing to protect them is a tad bit concerning. It doesn't matter if it's government or business, when our rights are trampled we get flattened. Thank you for your time.
I am glad to see that the Stuckist Art Group has provided a name also for an alternative web project. I don't understand all the technical jargon, but do agree with the general gist of maintaining freedom of communication outside the oppression of big business monopolies.
It is generally in line with our own ideas. If you haven't read them, then check out Manifestos page on www.stuckism.com
I actually coined the term Stuckism (and Stuckist), initially for the art group, but with a view also to giving a name to a particular and, right now very necessary, attitude to life.
You seem to hold the same philosophy.
The term is slowly spreading and being applied outside our group, but yours is perhaps the strongest application to date.
It has already caused a little confusion with some people who think it is one of our projects.
I suggest therefore that a line of clarification might be help out here. Maybe along the lines of:
The term Stuckist has been used with permission from the Stuckist Art Group, who have no responsibility for the ideas of Stuckist Net or any related activities. See www.stuckism.com
I hope this is acceptable to you.