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Subject: [IP] more on Trying to Plug the Analog Hole -- An Exercise in Futility

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To:
  • Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2005 14:30:53 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: November 2, 2005 11:54:26 AM EST
Cc: 'Lauren Weinstein' <>
Subject: RE: [IP] Trying to Plug the Analog Hole -- An Exercise in Futility

Apologies for getting a bit philosophical on this but I think it's useful to build on the &quot;spite&quot; point because it has far reaching policy implications. It also helps understand the appeal of strict enforcement by the police vs an emphasis on civil liberties.

If you believe people only behave out of fear of punishment than clamping down makes sense. But so does evading the rules -- it's necessary to make the rigid system work!

I argue that such systems are ultimately dysfunction because they are zero summed -- you are behaving because of what you can lose, not what you can gain.

The more powerful dynamic is based on the notion that you are part of a common purpose and have something to gain by contributing. Of course dynamic systems have risk &#x2013; just like dynamic memory does in a computer (bad digital analogy?)

Our social systems aren't perfect and I am not arguing for altruism &#x2013; perhaps the opposite -- participation. Lauren&#x2019;s point is telling -- strict rules not only breed resentment but also make evasion necessary.

Our language for describing dynamic systems is very new, thanks to computing, and even then there is still a tendency to look for rigid algorithms. It's far easier to describe static systems which tend to be more comforting in their certainty.

It's really an illusion of certainty and at the price of disallowing discovery and innovation. Unfortunately its appeal is evident out in today's politics and the abhorrence of the idea that we've evolved out of such uncertainty.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Farber []
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2005 09:14
Subject: [IP] Trying to Plug the Analog Hole -- An Exercise in Futility

Begin forwarded message:

From: Lauren Weinstein <>

Date: November 1, 2005 9:09:42 PM EST



Subject: Trying to Plug the Analog Hole -- An Exercise in Futility


I won't even bother itemizing here the long list of ways in which

attempts to &quot;copy protect&quot; analog sources are outrageous,

oppressive, anti-consumer, and expressions of hubris on high, with a

vast range of negative technological and social consequences, both

planned and unintended by the proponents of such malarkey.

Instead, I have a simple comment for the would-be

&quot;analog hole pluggers&quot;:

Take a memo guys, it ain't gonna work!  You will put yourselves,

politicians, and the rest of us through the wringer, and in the end

the video piracy situation will be as bad as before -- probably even

worse since otherwise law-abiding and anti-piracy viewers may be

driven to piracy just out of spite from your overreaching.

The main reason that the plan is doomed from the word go is that it

only takes *one* digital copy of any given material to render the

analog hole meaningless for that item.  And that digital copy will

be able to saturate the Internet despite any attempts at controlling

ISPs, blocking file sharing, or even the return of Hypnovision!

There will always be very large numbers of &quot;uncontrolled&quot; analog

conversion points.  It is guaranteed that unauthorized

analog-to-digital conversions will take place, in most cases at

multiple locations.  And once that happens, it's game over for

controlling the digital existence of that particular item.  This

*will* happen with every single desirable item of media that you're

attempting to control down by the ol' analog hole.

So in the end, what you'll have accomplished is inconveniencing

honest consumers -- who aren't your real enemies -- while living

up to old Soviet-style information control philosophies (which,

by the way, were largely ineffective for them, too.)

I don't like piracy.  I'm sympathetic to *legitimate* concerns about

piracy.  But as a famous fictional starship engineer once said,

&quot;Ya' cannot change the laws of physics!&quot;  Attempts to plug the

analog hole won't do any good, but will do a lot of damage to

technology, society, and -- oh yes -- to you.


Lauren Weinstein or or

Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800

Co-Founder, PFIR

   - People For Internet Responsibility -

Co-Founder, EEPI

   - Electronic Entertainment Policy Initiative -

Moderator, PRIVACY Forum -

Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy

Lauren's Blog:



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