Pay Per View

Below is a view on how CopyRight law is changing CorporateGovernment into becoming the rule maker. This was originally authored by JohnSchulien [jms@uic.edu] who has placed his rant in the public domain with the hope that it can be refined and used as an indicator of what is happening and what is to come.

This text is meant to be edited, the originals can be found on slashdot or the dvd-discuss forum --AndrewMcMeikan

For a view from the artist CopyRight holder point of view look at what CourtneyLove? has to say http://salon.com/tech/feature/2000/06/14/love/index.html


The problem with the term Pay per view is that it invites constraining the discussion to property that is viewed, like books, magazines, videotapes, and documents, and discourages consideration of property that mankind has been buying and selling for millennia, like wine, or real estate, or whatever. I could make this point with any of these but I'll stick with wine versus large granularity software components like word processors.

Oversimplifying slightly, with wine you can buy and sell it by the barrel, by the bottle, or by the drink. With word processors, you get only one option (leaving the ASP model aside for the moment), by the barrel. E.g. everybody pays the same amount, say $500, and they get the same amount, which is more word processing capability than they can conceivably ever use, and they pay that amount up front, before they've had a chance to try the product to find out if they like it.

We would never put up with that for wine, and it is unconscionable that we put up with it for word processors. By paying for wine by the drink, we pay only for what we use as we use it, so the wine producer has every incentive to keep improving the product. With word processors, well you know how that goes.

Now that the industry has pretty much saturated the pay to own desktop (fat client) market, it is beginning to look at the ASP (thin client) market as a way of delivering by the drink pricing to smaller shops. I've no problem with the pricing model, and thin client is apt to appeal to about half of the market. The problem (for the remaining half) is trust; trusting the ASP with the security and privacy of mission critical data, and a "best effort only" internet to make it available when needed.

Enough for now; I could rant about this forever. Check out my book (SuperDistribution) or drop me a line (bcox@virtualschool.edu) if you're interested. -- BradCox ''Better yet, see the feasibility demonstration of the mybank pay per drink digital rights management system at http://virtualschool.edu/mybank''

Good point, Brad. I guess the rant should really be titled Pay Per View When You Think You Bought The Picture. One of the hideous possiblilties of the DMCA is not being able to skip comercials, yet I have no objection to this when going to a theatre. The idea of micro payments for IntellectualPropertyRental? is fine and seems to be what your SuperDistribution is about.

[regarding AnonymousEmoney] It's orthogonal to the above, but interesting. I'm not sure anybody ('cept us nerds) cares about anonymity, privacy, etc. Why? Look at their actions, not what they say. They choose wireless phones over wireline phones, credit cards over cash, open email over PGP email, choosing convenience over privacy, security, whatever, every time it comes up. That said, anonymous cash is neat, I just doubt it will ever reach critical mass. CONVENIENT cash, now, that's a different matter!

We all understand the concept of a plugin in software. If you want to watch a Flash file, you have to download the plugin that allows you to do so. Then, when you open a Flash file, the Flash plugin takes over and your computer does exactly what the author of the Flash file wants it to do.

The DMCA has taken the concept of a plugin into the legal arena. The DMCA is a law that allows a publisher to replace Title 17, the entire copyright code, with a computer language technological "plugin" replacement.

Don't like that Title 17 Section 102 says that copyright is only available for original works of authorship? No problem! So long as your "plugin" also controls access to copyrighted works, you can take works from the public domain, encode them, and your "plugin" will eliminate that pesky part of copyright law.

Glassbook is right on top of that. You can download such public domain classics as The Art Of War, The Federalist Papers, and The Politics of Aristotle -- and these public domain classics are just as protected by Glassbook's "Title 17 plugin" as if they were written yesterday.

Don't like that Section 107 allows people to make partial or complete copies of your work for fair use purposes? No problem! Your plugin can fix that!

Don't like that Section 109 allows people to sell their used books without your authority? No problem! The Glassbook plugin lets you put a stop to that. Or perhaps you would just like to charge people whenever they resell their digital books. Hey, there's no limit to what you can do, if you can replace Title 17 with your own programmed plugin!

Here's an idea ... how about if a student drops out of school, their books are electronically erased so they can't sell them to a new student! Great idea! New York University's Dental School has contracted with Vital Source Technologies to create exactly that! Only possible if Title 17 can be replaced with an electronic "plugin."

Don't like that Section 109 allows the owner of a copy to display works without permission of the copyright owner? No problem! The "CSS" plugin replacement for Title 17 allows DVD publishers to deny owners of DVDs the right to view their DVDs, unless they use "industry approved" equipment that pre-degrades the signal. And forget about extracting sections of digital video for fair use purposes ... The CSS Title 17 plugin doesn't provide for that, so it is illegal!

Or perhaps you'd like to replace Section 109 with a different flavor. Want people to pay every time they press the play button to watch their own DVD? How about a book that charges you by the page to read it ... or by the hour. No problem!

Anything becomes possible when you allow copyright owners to provide a "plugin" replacement for the entire copyright code, that does what they want it to do instead of what the copyright code says. Never mind that the copyright code, developed over 225 years, contains a system of checks and balances that protect both the rights of copyright owners and the rights of owners of lawful copies. That is all obsolete, because the DMCA gives copyright owners the absolute power. to disregard the copyright code and impose whatever "copyright law" they can dream up. And if you circumvent someone's invented "copyright law plugin", you're risking five years in jail and a $500,000 fine.

That's what's wrong with the DMCA. It absolutely eliminates all the safeguards in copyright law that protect your right to learn; to self-educate; to have your own library; to trade in used books; to archive literary materials. Under the DMCA, you have no rights ...

... unless those rights happen to be part of the "plugin" you are using.


Comments: Here is some commentary from Media Grok on a NYTimes piece
"The New York Times' Saul Hansell summed up the opportunity/problem neatly: "If Nike sells a pair of shoes on a CBS program, transmitted by an AT&T cable TV system to a Motorola set-top box running Microsoft software and ultimately seen on a Sony television, who does Nike have to pay?" Compared with this future, in which everyone with a logo will take a cut every time you click, the current version of TV is going to look like Napster in retrospect: a naive and simple era in which reckless and mildly un-American broadcasters sent out free TV programming to couch pirates who could tape the shows and watch them forever - without paying a dime!"


This was a respectable flame, but I have a different view of this whole space.

There are many titles for which I might like to pay a (presumably lower) per-view price. If I want a permanent, irrevocable access to "The Art Of War" (leaving aside, for the moment, the question of media and player life), I pay one price. I don't see the problem with offering a lower price if I agree that I only want to use the material for a limited time.

I happen to agree, and I think that it's a shame the Divx experiment (the special type of DVDs, not the new video codec) triggered such strong want-to-own sentiments - what it was really offering, to the few people who didn't reject it on principle, was the ability to have permanent, reliable, irrevocable access to a video, at a PayPerView price. It was applying the distinction between owning the medium and owning the content, effectively offering the medium for free. -- DanielKnapp

I am perfectly happy to pay a certain amount for a ticket to see a live performance by a musician I like. I have no problem with being told that I'm not allowed to record (especially for resale) the performance. I also have no problem with being offered an opportunity to buy a recording of a similar performance from a table at the back of the room.

I can well imagine that I might like to buy a ticket for a one-time cybercast of the same performance. I can also well imagine that I might be willing to pay a fee to a reviewer for collecting, in one convenient place, a set of choices for concerts that I might want to watch (and pay for).

As for Hansell's comments ... of *course* the existing advertisers will squawk, as will employees of advertising-based communications media -- because this technology renders that entire commerce infrastructure obsolete.

We are now participating in the creation of a medium, supported by an associated commerce infrastructure, that allows individual patrons to pay individual authors for intellectual property. Other agents, such as reviewers, publishers, and common carriers, compete with each other for an opportunity to receive a portion of the author's revenue (as a sales and distribution expense).

This is a completely inverted view from what we know today, and it renders many comparisons with traditional copyright practice moot.

Read CluetrainManifesto. Also read Brad Cox's book about SuperDistribution ("Superdistribution: Objects as Property on the Electronic Frontier"). Really!

-- TomStambaugh

I agree with you that being able to PayPerView is not in itself a bad concept, my deep concern is with FairUse now going out the window. I rent videos, I pay each time I want to watch those movies, but I also have the choice of buying them and ewatching as many times as I want, that choice is becoming a thing of the past, very soon such repeat watching will require a fee, reselling (or perhaps even owning) a book rather than renting it from a library or publishing house will be outlawed. New distribution, MicroPayments, and PayPerView are OK in the old law framework, but the new laws will end up making it the only way. -- AndrewMcMeikan

Sounds like an appropriate time to make a crosslink: http://usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?InformationWantsToBeFree. The DMCA is a money making law and consequently is about controlling information. I don't think there was much pretense that the law was created for the benefit of the citizenry, let alone fundamental democratic institutions. For example, it is bizarre that academic information is not free for that is absolutely countermand to academia and the pursuit of knowledge. But, you know, if you really cared, donate some of your high-tech salary to the ElectronicFrontierFoundation (or the AmericanCivilLibertiesUnion?). -- SunirShah

I doubt, strongly, that owning a book will ever be "a thing of the past". Come on. The same technology that makes information available to us electronically also makes it easy to create real hard-cover hard-copy books at a fraction of the cost of "traditional" publishing. I don't believe that information can ever be "controlled" -- precisely because it is, by its nature, abundant and easy to copy.

I worked with MitchellKapor in the earliest days of OnTechnology?, and I'm well aware of the ElectronicFrontierFoundation (and the AmericanCivilLibertiesUnion?). Both are great organizations. I don't believe that the sky is falling -- but I DO believe that many vested interests in corporate america will try to persuade us that it is. I don't really care about this law -- what I do care about is that content creators are able to sell their intellectual property directly to their audience, without the need for an intervening broadcast medium. PayPerView enables that. The rest will work itself out over time. -- TomStambaugh

I don't really care about this law -- what I do care about is that content creators are able to sell their intellectual property directly to their audience You should care, want to make a movie and sell it? Whoops this law wont let you, is it because of patent or copyright infringement? NO, its because the DVD-CCA (MPAA) now has a monopoly on DVD production (not just DVD's either http://www.fujitsu.co.jp/en/news/2000/09/13.html) and more importantly on players. Content creators are now forced to go through the MPAA if they want market penetration. Think this doesn't apply to to online content, think again. I had my Web site pulled simply because of an accusation of having mp3 files. I wish I shared your optimism for it sorting out over time, others certainly don't. http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/09/13/touretzky/index.html

''I worked for SONY while they tried the aborted launch of the first VideoDisk? players. The market chose VHS tapes because the video disk publishers (Pioneer) refused to publish the material the market (at that time) wanted -- hard-core porno in that case. If I can't put my material on DVD, for whatever reason, I'll put it on something else. If all else fails, I'll put in on VHS cassettes.

How do you mean you had your Web site "pulled"? There are thousands of ISP's -- find another one. To me, this is a matter of staying focused on whatever your original creative content is, and finding ways to walk around obstacles that you can't move. It doesn't take long for the path around the stumbling block to turn into a highway -- pretty soon the "stumbling block" is a quaint scenic attraction as you drive by. -- TomStambaugh''

Sure for me it was a temporary hiccup, but what about those getting cease and desist letters, what about LiVid?? JackValenti does not like the masses to be able to record to VHS so I would not take for granted that it will always be there, certainly MacroVision? is well on the way to perverting video, how much longer until DigitalTeleVision? only plays authorized MPAA movies on an authorized playing device. In recent testimony on the DeCSS case he indicated that building your own VHS player was illegal! I would like to think that we can just RouteAroundDamage? but can you do it while hunted by the law? -- AndrewMcMeikan

I don't mean to sound unsympathetic, Andrew -- it frustrates the hell out of me, too. I work hard, both inside and outside the political process, to make the laws more reasonable. But my point here is that we are in the midst of the most revolutionary period humankind has faced in hundreds, or even thousands, of years. Control of about ninety percent of the world's wealth is concentrated in the hands of about one percent of its people (some sources will argue that about eighty percent is concentrated in the hands of about one tenth of one percent of its people). The web threatens to break that stranglehold. No revolution has EVER been bloodless. Bruno was burned at the stake for insisting, publicly, that the earth revolves about the Sun. Tyndale was executed by the English monarchy for daring to publish an English-Language translation of the bible. This is a *real* battle, about *real* things -- and it will be hard-fought. We can all only hope that it can be resolved in the legal system without recourse to the draconian risks our predecessors faced. But my answer to your question ... "I would like to think that we can just RouteAroundDamage? but can you do it while hunted by the law? " ... is "YES, we can and we must". I view as a form of noblesse oblige -- a duty imposed on us because of who we are. -- TomStambaugh

Bruno was burned at the stake for insisting, publicly, that the earth revolves about the Sun. - Actually, Bruno was burned because he insisted that there are other planets and extra terrestrial life.

What's interesting about the MPAA's use of the DMCA is that they have provided case history now that when a company screws up (security) badly (as CSS was a complete failure), they no longer have to accept losses. They can just sue and gag the users that exploit their failure, even though the exploitation does not affect anyone else but the user. Good ol' FreeMarket at work. -- SunirShah

Case history will depend on appeals, sometimes even then a case will be non-citable, in the meantime it is encouraging an atmosphere of exploitation.


Zulauf's Three Laws of Copy Protection (v1.0) ******

1. To be legal, a copy protection scheme must allow for fair use.

2. To allow fair use, any copy protection scheme must have a simple, readily available means of circumventing that scheme.

3. The only legal copy protection schemes are those which are trivially defeated and thus serve no purpose.

Zulauf Axioms of Access Control (v1.0)

1. Any "access control" must be restricted to controlling access by authorized persons to a given media, content, or data stream.

2. Subsequent restrictions on the use of the accessed media, content, or data stream constitute copy protections schemes, subject to the Three Laws above.

Strangely enough I **can** see a reading of the DMCA that would allow that view -- though the whole of the Macrovision provision is incompatible with that reading and the US Constitution unless you allow for fair use circumvention. Folks would be up in arms about Macrovision where it not for the general and easy availability of "image stabilizers." IMHO that's the only reason Macrovision has had a "free ride" from the public so far. As the "I can't hook my DVD through my VCR" bug becomes more commonly encountered, that may end as well. If Macrovision ever decided to go after the image stabilizers -- there would be a storm of protest.

-- John Zulauf, private netizen

(**) A patent on the shape of the cartridge connector was one of the means Nintendo used to enforce its licensing scheme. Anything that could fit their socket infringed the patent (at least in Japan) and couldn't be made or sold. Nintendo thus had exclusive control over production of the game cartridges and thus the distribution and licensing of the games as well. I'm not sure if this scheme was eventually challenged (and if so successfully).

(****) When I use first-access, I don't mean it in the sense of "once I've payed to view a movie I can crack the PPV to see it again." What I mean is in terms of the signal flow -- once I have authority for the signal to reach my eyes/ears I have "first-access" (first in the sense of the data stream and by allusion first as in first sale). If I decide to make fair-use of that data stream, by time or space shifting, that must be permitted I have "first sale" access to the stream.

(******) (with apologies to Mr. Asimov) The above three laws (and axioms) are licensed under the LGPL. You may extend these laws only if such extension is published in compliance with the LGPL. However these laws may be freely used i.e. "linked" with any other argument freely without infecting such arguments with the restrictions of the LGPL. (c) John Zulauf, 2001 just to make sure no one is ever able to ban access to my words.


Copyright and copy-protection are two different things. The DMCA is a step from the former to the latter, a step toward a future where courts will say that your copyright is meaningless if you fail to "defend" it by using copy-protection, while, if you use copy-protection without bothering to secure your copyright, you will still be protected by the anti-circumvention laws. In the future there won't be a Library of Congress where copyrighted works are kept.

There will have to be a single copy-protection standard, so that all devices can recognize copy-protected works and refuse to copy them. This will no doubt become law soon. Who will control that standard? Obviously only "trustworthy" devices will be allowed to adhere to it; loopholes render the whole thing useless. Who will gauge trustworthiness? The movie and record companies are hoping that they will control the standard, and gauge the trustworthiness.

Think about it: if you're an intellectual property creator, you will have to buy "protection" from the movie and record companies, or else, it won't really be a crime for people to infringe your copyright, because you're "failing to defend" it by not buying the protection.

The DMCA is actually assisting in the destruction of copyright and of the rights of individual creators. -- anonymous

This has already happened in Italy http://www.infoanarchy.org/?op=displaystory&sid=2001/2/24/164046/250 -- AndrewMcMeikan

As I understand it, it has already happened here. Go make your own film, transfer it onto your new Macintosh, and burn it on to a DVD. Now go try to make a copy of that DVD. You'll find you can't; the "copy protection" system won't let you. How convenient...

To get a broader view for what is possible with PayPerView, you might want to have a look at PublicBankView. -- FridemarPache PS.: It's probably more useful for services than images.


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