EFFector Vol. 13, No. 8 Sep. 18, 2000 firstname.lastname@example.org
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation ISSN 1062-9424
IN THE 156th ISSUE OF EFFECTOR (now with over 25,100 subscribers!):
* EFF Calls for Boycott of "HackSDMI Challenge"
For more information on EFF activities & alerts: http://www.eff.org
EFF Calls for Boycott of "HackSDMI Challenge"
Don't Undermine Your Own Fair Use Rights!
Electronic Frontier Foundation ALERT -- Sep. 18, 2000
Please redistribute to relevant forums, no later than Nov. 1, 2000.
The Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), an entertainment industry
trade association led by the Recording Industry Association of America
(RIAA), has announced a "contest" in their "Open Letter to the Digital
Community" (at http://www.sdmi.org/pr/OL_Sept_6_2000.htm ), where they
challenge hackers to test the security of their music encryption
program. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urges the Internet
community to boycott this contest and refrain from helping the
recording industry perfect a way to undermine our fair use rights.
EFF is the first to acknowledge that hacking at encryption code is
vital to ensuring security in digital architecture. However, we
question the motives of SDMI, which has indicated an interest in
severely limiting your ability to listen to digital recordings in your
favorite format and in undermining all attempts at non-SDMI-compliant
music distribution models.
EFF therefore urges anyone with the technical expertise to compete for
the $10,000 prize to refrain from doing so and to tell SDMI - and your
friends, relatives and colleagues that you are participating in this
boycott and why.
EFF also invites musicians and listeners to participate in a "contest"
to Set Digital Music Free (SDMF), where the prize is your freedom to
distribute your music any way you choose. The SDMF challenge, part of
EFF's Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expresssion (CAFE), is aimed at
empowering musicians and listeners through alternative business models
with open architectures in cyberspace. Detailed explanations of SDMF
and CAFE are available at http://www.eff.org/cafe .
SDMI has proposed a new standard that they are heavily pushing on
equipment and software manufacturers. The Digital Music Access
Technology, or DMAT, format is intended to put an encryption-based
shell around digital audio content that prevents unauthorized copying
or playback. Examples of "unauthorized" uses are likely to include
your attempts to: play music files on any player that does not honor
DMAT; make backups of your music files; excerpt portions of music
files in high quality audio; or have multiple copies of music files,
such as having one for a portable player and one in your car.
Furthermore, there has been some speculation that SDMI will arm-twist
equipment makers into either disallowing playback of non-DMAT music or
converting it permanently to DMAT format, regardless of the intent of
the artist that produced and released it. Finally, copyright is only
intended to cover works for a limited time, after which they are
supposed to become part of the public domain. This transition will no
longer be allowed to take place with technology such as DMAT, where a
song that is branded with the industry's watermark will be
Civil Liberties Concerns
DMAT is designed to undermine fair use and related rights, such as:
the ability to play content on whatever equipment the purchaser
desires; the right to "time shift" and "space shift" (e.g., record for
playback at a later time or in a different format); the right to make
backup copies of purchased content; the right to actually own instead
of simply "license" purchased content (the "First Sale" doctrine); the
right of artists to distribute content digitally without signing
ownership of their works over to a major record label; the rights of
journalists and educators to re-use content excerpts without having to
pay licensing fees; and many more. SDMI's neglect to address these
fair use issues displays a shocking and callous attitude towards the
public domain rights of consumers and artists in the digital world.
Most at risk by the SDMI proposal are independent artists and the
consumers who appreciate their work. Increasing numbers of artists are
recognizing the awesome potential of the Internet to directly connect
with their listeners. Technological advances and alternative
distribution methods should allow more musicians to enter the market
at a lower cost to consumers. This change is not welcomed by the big
record labels, however, which have depended on musicians only being
able to reach potential listeners through the exclusive distribution
power of the recording industry. SDMI's DMAT is the industry's attempt
to keep its stranglehold on music distribution.
SDMI wants DMAT to be uncrackable so that all who dare to exercise
their rights will be cryptographicly prevented from doing so. The RIAA
is mischaracterizing all "unauthorized" access or duplication - no
matter how well protected by fair use and other rights - to be
copyright piracy. And now SDMI is asking the very hackers they malign
in the press and in court as criminal copyright pirates and thieves to
help SDMI make DMAT unbreakable!
EFF has attempted dialog with SDMI and even asked to be part of SDMI
in an attempt to improve it from a public interest perspective. SDMI
consistently rejected our applications and has completely ignored all
of the fair use, constitutional, anti-trust and social responsibility
concerns we have raised with DMAT. Enough is finally enough.
Don't Do Their Dirty Work!
EFF urges all hackers, reverse engineers, digital audio experts,
cryptographers and others targeted by SDMI's Trojan horse invitation
to refrain from giving them free consulting on how to hack away at
your rights. Please:
* Refrain from participating in the "HackSDMI" backstab.
* Publicly say you are doing so (in your e-mail signature file, on
hacking, engineering and other relevant mailing lists, on your own
web page, and wherever else you deem appropriate).
* Write to SDMI and tell them that you refuse to help them undermine
your own rights, and why.
* Urge colleagues to do likewise.
* Inform and encourage musicians to participate in the SDMF
challenge through CAFE.
* Join EFF!
If you are not a tech expert but are a user of digital music
technology, you too can play a role:
* Write to SDMI and to your favorite MP3 equipment/software
vendor(s) and tell them that you want to be able to choose how you
listen to your music. Express your concerns with distribution
systems that lock you into a single technology or music player.
Tell them that you do not appreciate being considered a thief by
* Pass this alert around to your friends. (Please only recirculate
to appropriate forums if sending to mailing lists, etc.)
* Write to your favorite artists (e.g., via their record labels) and
ask them to take a public stand.
* Join EFF!
If you are an independent artist, you can:
* Participate in CAFE and the SDMF initiative
( http://www.eff.org/cafe )
* Inform and encourage other artists to participate in CAFE and
* Release your material in MP3 and other open formats.
* Send your music to outlets that are dedicated to giving exposure
to artists using open formats such as Radio EFF
* Tell SDMI you oppose their attempt to force manufacturers to
disable support for non-DMAT music in an attempt to herd new
artists toward the RIAA oligopoly.
* Join EFF!
If you are a "signed" artist, you can really help:
* Tell SDMI you do not agree that protecting music industry and
artists' revenues is dependent on stripping everyone of their
* Tell your label you do not support SDMI or DMAT.
* Tell your fans (live, on your web site, in lyrics, etc.) that you
do not believe they are all a bunch of pirates, and that they
should write to the labels and protest being treated like they are
all thieves by default.
* Contact us about becoming more involved in speaking out against
the direction the industry is pushing digital content.
* Join EFF!
For More Information
EFF's Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression (CAFE)
The "HackSMDI" site:
the SDMI homepage:
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