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RE: [C-FIT_Community] The Microsoft DRM Patent and Our Freedom to Speak and Thi  Allen Kleiman
 Dec 15, 2001 02:12 PST 
Hi Peter:-)

I have been a "computer nerd" for 30 years and ny attitude toward computers
is closest to Thoreau's.

Even if Gates had the inclinition to control information he never has and
never will posess the ability to implement it.

Fear not my freind this trend will soon pass as thinking people will soon
grow tired of spending 25 to 50 percent of their time keeping the "thing"
running and return to thinking.

The media is not the message!

Allen Kleiman

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Suber [mailto:pet-@earlham.edu]
Sent: Friday, December 14, 2001 4:25 PM
To: fos-f-@topica.com
Subject: [C-FIT_Community] The Microsoft DRM Patent and Our Freedom to
Speak and Think

[Forwarding from Seth Johnson. --Peter.]

The Microsoft DRM Patent and Our Freedom to Speak and Think

by Seth Johnson
Committee for Independent Technology
December 14, 2001

In his November 6 essay "You're Free to Think,"
Dave Winer comments that whatever else happens in the ongoing,
increasing trend towards policing of the public's right to use
information and information technology, we are still left with the
freedom to *think* for ourselves. He seemed to me to be offering this
comment as a bare source of solace against the government's increasing
intent to control the prospects of communications technology.

Microsoft's favorable treatment of late caused him to wonder what kind
of deal Bill Gates must have worked out with the Bush Administration.
He wondered what Microsoft might have given the government in return for
the highly favorable terms of the settlement that's currently on the
table in the court proceedings against the company, for monopoly
practices in the operating systems arena.

He commented specifically on the current ramifications of Microsoft's
increasing position of power in the operating systems market:

 Now, they have to get people to upgrade to
Windows XP -- that's the final step, the one that
fully turns over the keys to the Internet to them,
because after XP they can upgrade at will, routing
through Microsoft-owned servers, altering content,
and channeling communication through government
servers. After XP they fully own electronic
communication media, given the consent decree,
assuming it's approved by the court.

Now, it has just come to light that Microsoft has been awarded a
software "patent" for a "Digital Rights Management" operating system.

This development shows us exactly where we stand now. Microsoft doesn't
have to offer anything to the government; it has only to hold possession
of a patent covering the "DRM" elements of its latest OS, thereby
providing an almost absolutely assured trajectory toward establishing
the terms by which the public's ability to communicate digital
information will be controlled.

Please see the message I am posting below, from the CYBERIA email list,
which quotes from the patent.

The real kicker is right here:

 The digital rights management operating system
also limits the functions the user can perform on the
rights-managed data and the trusted application, and
can provide a trusted clock used in place of the
standard computer clock.

The ability to use information freely is now going to be policed at the
most intricate level, in the name of exclusive rights and to the
detriment of the most fundamental Constitutional principles of our

Whereas the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution assures that every
American citizen has the full right to freedom of speech, we see here
the ultimate legislative and technical trappings by which the public
will be demarcated as mere information consumers.

Facts and ideas are not contraband and may never be copyrighted or
otherwise constrained under the terms of intellectual "property,"
whether they are bound up in an expressive work or not; and the computer
is a *logic* device that now sits on nearly every citizen's desktop --
it is *not* a consumer appliance. From both the standpoints of speech
and thought, so-called digital "rights management" is a utterly desolate
*dead end.*

Whether we speak of the constituent pieces of expressive works, or the
nature of the computer itself, so-called digital "rights management"
marks the beginning of a grand rollback of the means by which the
promise of our participation in and advancement of civil society have
lately been greatly augmented.

Rather than facing the simple, plain truth that the power given in the
U.S. Constitution for Congress to grant (or deny) to authors and
inventors "exclusive right" to their works, was intended to cover
products that do not intrinsically bind up the very means of
communication and of our participation in civil society, we instead are
experiencing a social condition wherein monopoly interests exploit the
fluidity of logical products to evade the very terms of antitrust law
and to assure that the public's ordinary rights do not gain purchase
against their interests. Antitrust law is all about competition in a
particular product, but software is as amorphous in its possibilities as
our own vaunted power to think. Thus Microsoft easily maintains it is
not in the browser market, competing with Netscape; it is, rather, in
the market for "innovative operating systems."

We are now seeing just how "innovative" that operating system can really

If we do not confront the ludicrousness of the idea of holding a patent
of this nature, and the outrageousness of our courts' failure to
confront the truth about what holding market power in the field of
informatin products really means, we will soon be free to speak and
think -- only so long as we don't use our computers to do it.

Thus, in the name of exclusive rights, Microsoft is serving old world
publishing interests, acting by means of legal fictions to assure that
citizens who seek to further the prospects of information technology,
will be inexorably locked into the role of information consumers,
blocked from exercising their own tools in full accordance with the
rights that our Constitution supposedly guards.

We are *all* information producers, whether we manifest this as a
routine, inalienable part of the ordinary rights we exercise in our
everyday lives, or whether we engage ourselves in the present,
increasingly desperate and furtive struggle to guard commercial
interests by restricting the use of information delivered in digital

We have always been information producers, and we must not accede to the
interests of those who do not regard the public at large as full and
equal citizens, but rather as mere consumers.

Seth Johnson
Committee for Independent Technology

Information Producers Initiative:

 -------- Original Message --------
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 23:18:08 -0800
From: John Young <jy-@PIPELINE.COM>

Microsoft's patent for a Digital Rights Management
Operating System was awarded yesterday:



A digital rights management operating system protects
rights-managed data, such as downloaded content, from
access by untrusted programs while the data is loaded
into memory or on a page file as a result of the
execution of a trusted application that accesses the
memory. To protect the rights-managed data resident in
memory, the digital rights management operating system
refuses to load an untrusted program into memory while
the trusted application is executing or removes the
data from memory before loading the untrusted program.
If the untrusted program executes at the operating
system level, such as a debugger, the digital rights
management operating system renounces a trusted identity
created for it by the computer processor when the
computer was booted. To protect the rights-managed data
on the page file, the digital rights management
operating system prohibits raw access to the page file,
or erases the data from the page file before allowing
such access. Alternatively, the digital rights
management operating system can encrypt the
rights-managed data prior to writing it to the page
file. The digital rights management operating system
also limits the functions the user can perform on the
rights-managed data and the trusted application, and
can provide a trusted clock used in place of the
standard computer clock.

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