Analog Hole Bill Would Require Secret Expensive Tech That No One Can Examine
from the uhhhhhh dept
One of Ed Felten’s claims to fame was that he showed successfully showed the weaknesses of an earlier copy protection system the recording industry wanted to use. Even though the cracking of SDMI was part of a challenge issued by the industry, in preparing to actually publish the info on the weaknesses of SDMI the industry threatened to sue Felten. So, it should be no surprise to find out that Felten is quite interested in the new bill to “plug the analog hole.,” that also requires a watermarking system. He’s already pointed out that it appears the purpose of the bill has little to do with preventing copying and much more to do with killing off competition from amateur content providers, but now he’s trying to look more thoroughly at what the bill proposes. There’s just one major problem: it’s all a big secret. Apparently, the digital watermarking spec that would be required under the bill is a secret — and the only way to look at it is to pay $10,000 and sign non-disclosure forms. In other words, there’s absolutely no way to know what the bill is actually requiring without paying ten grand to a private company — and if you’ve done so, you can’t discuss it publicly. That seems quite problematic. Not only does it make it even less likely that smaller innovators and amateur content producers can comply, it means that our politicians may be passing a law concerning everyone’s rights, where one of the core components is considered a trade secret. It’s no surprise that the industry wants the info out of Felten’s hands, given his work in the past, but if the company (and the lawmakers) actually think that keeping this info secret somehow makes the protection scheme stronger, they’re sadly mistaken.