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what's illegal?
Elcomsoft's ebook reader 0%
Zimmerman's PGP 0%
any one of the hundreds of deCSS implementations 0%
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Votes: 6

 law turns on law

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Aug 27, 2001

Yet another turn to the DMCA!


More diaries by johnny ambiguous

They lowered me by winch and harness down the tube of a huge vertical water turbine today. It was like being Peter Pan; I can fly! I can fly! Tip for any of you who ever attempt this; make sure the crotch straps aren't too tight, like ouch man, I nearly can talk like Peter Pan too! So much for the diary aspect of this post, on to the title part.

Here's a letter forwarded through a mailing list I'm on from comp.risks. I know it's not the usual snarky material but I thought it might raise a smile anyway. Begin quote:

Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 15:47:51 -0700 (PDT)
From: Fred Cohen <>
Subject: Re: Avoiding prosecution of the DMCA (Ferguson, RISKS-21.60)

The DMCA has also had effects on my forensic analysis products. Because the current copyright law makes anything that is put into tangible form copyright unless made otherwise by the author (or by law), things like criminal records are copyright. This means that if the criminal tries to protect their material - for example by hiding it using steganography, encrypting it, or by putting it on a computer with a password to prevent unauthorized access - then that work is protected by the DMCA (after all, the password on Windows systems is effective protection unless you try to circumvent it).

Because the primary purpose of most of my forensic analysis tools is to reveal things that are protected from revelation, and because the DMCA makes it illegal to distribute such a device, I have been forced (based on the recent arrests and other threats against authors of such things) to withdraw my forensic products from the market.

I should note that companies like Access Data who sell products that are explicitly designed for undoing encryption, etc. are almost certainly in violation of the DMCA. While the FBI might not arrest them now because they sell to the FBI (and other in law enforcement - as did I), this does not mean that the FBI cannot arrest them at any time and charge them with a felony. Indeed, sale to law enforcement is not legal, even though law enforcement can, on its own, build and use such tools.

The effects on research and education are even more interesting. For example, I am having a discussion with my university now about canceling courses on forensics and cryptanalysis because in these courses we teach people how to get around protection of this sort and may provide the capabilities to do so in so teaching. The DMCA has, I believe, made this illegal - and if you are teaching such a course next semester, you might think about the issues as well. On the research side, I don't work on research I cannot publish, so I am canceling the aspects of my research that go into these areas.

Fred Cohen Fred Cohen & The University of New Haven..... Sandia National

End quote. I so love to see my most feared and loathed enemies at one another's throats, don't you? And of course it clearly implies that the DMCA, at least in in its present all-inclusive form, is doomed, since the corporations that wrote it may trample over any and all rights belonging to lowly workies such as I, up to and including prohibiting us to even look at documents we ourselves wrote, with utterly unfettered abandon amidst applause by all the legislators, but you know fucking with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is another matter!

Yours WDK -


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