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News Roundup: New CD copy protection, the DMCRA and DVD censorship

Posted by: , 15:06 AEST, Thu June 24, 2004
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A news roundup including news of a new CD copy protection software on the Beastie Boys CD, support from the IT industry for the DMCRA and DVD censorship that bypasses studios and directors...
A couple of interesting news items today...

First up is a new CD anti-copy protection software that automatically installs it self when the CD is inserted into your computer's CD drive - without asking for your permission. This copy protection scheme is on the Beastie Boy's new album, and unlike previous similar efforts, works in both Windows the Mac systems. Under Windows, the CD autorun capability of the OS is utilised to automatically install the copy protection software (which one assumes can't be uninstalled, making it very similar in nature to spyware), and hence, circumvention is very simple - simply hold the "shift" key while the CD is being inserted and accessed, and the autorun will not be activated. Of course, circumventing copy protection is a crime under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and so anyone found holding the shift key could be subject to prosecution. And Microsoft, by making the shift key autorun bypass, might also be liable for making and distributing copy protection circumvention software. Welcome to the madness that is the DMCA...

And a follow-up to the last news roundup, Congressman Rick Boucher's proposed amendments to the flawed DMCA, the DMCRA Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act), appears to have gained the support of a coalition of technology companies that includes some big names, such as Intel, Sun Microsystems, Verizon Communications, SBC, Qwest, Gateway and BellSouth. Their support comes because of the concern that consumer fair use has been harmed by the DMCA, and more important, that the DMCA might endanger computer research vital to national security. The passing of the DMCRA looks to be more likely now than before. You can read more about this story here.

And while the US Congress is just about to pass a copyright law that actually makes sense, it has also done something that doesn't make any sense at all. Apparently spurred by Janet Jackson's "surprise appearance" at the Super Bowl, a decency proposal has been attached to the Senate's annual defense bill which allows filters to remove any content deemed "unsuitable" and "offensive". This will mean that DVDs can now be edited for content without the approval of the studio or director as way to prevent kids from seeing "filth", as opposed to any sort of parental responsibility. According to technology news website the Inquirer, this will mean a massive 22 minute cut from the 94 minute Austin Powers in Goldmember movie, and by cutting Schindler's List, in their own words, "a kid might be convinced that the Nazis were in fact a bunch of Happy Chappies providing free hotel accommodation". By our own calculations, Kill Bill Volume 1 would be cut to only 10 minutes long, and that includes the opening and closing credits. One wonders when the news, which contains plenty of death and destruction, will be censored in the same fashion...


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