Subject: Webnoize: Hollings schedules SSSCA hearings October 25
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 17:53:13 -0700
Thu, 18 Oct 2001 17:53:13 -0700
Mark Lewis of Webnoize reports that hearings on the SSSCA ("Security
Systems Standards and Certification Act") are scheduled for October 25.
Public and fair-use interests not invited.


The SSSCA is legislation authored by Senators Hollings (D-SC) and
Stevens (R-AK) that would mandate copy prevention controls on every
piece of electronic hardware, and every computer program, with no
exceptions.  It was first publicized in early September.  Sponsorship
appears to come from Disney corporation.  

The law would make illegal a broad range of hardware, and would
effectively render the burgeoning free software movement a criminal
movement.  The focus on digital television, and language in the statute
on "time shifting", also appears to ban such pedestrian activities as
recording programs for repeated playing from TV broadcasts.
This language has *not been revised*, according to
    Hollings Sets Hearing on Copy Control, Explains Need for New Law

    Executives from Walt Disney, News Corp. and Thomson Multimedia will
    testify next week on Capitol Hill on the need for a proposed bill
    that ensures that computers and digital devices prevent individuals
    from making unauthorized copies of media, whether the content is
    copyrighted or not.

    Scheduled for October 25, the Senate Commerce Committee hearing will
    provide the first congressional forum to probe Disney's and News
    Corp.'s support for an unintroduced draft bill that would require
    all hardware manufacturers, networking companies and web sites to
    use security technologies approved by the federal government.

    Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) drafted the
    bill, called the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act,
    at the urging of Disney and News Corp., which have sought new legal
    guarantees for the protection of digital movies and digital TV
    broadcasts. A Senate source said it hasn't been determined whether
    the bill will be introduced in the remaining weeks of this
    congressional session. The bill's draft language, first reported by
    Webnoize, hasn't been revised [see 09.7.01 Hollings' Draft Bill
    Presents Radical Changes to Hardware and Copyright Law, Document


    Some computer and electronics attorneys believe their industries
    might eventually agree to a bill that only establishes copy-control
    for digital video and requires technology to prevent consumers from
    distributing digital TV files through the Internet.

    Closing that loophole is a problem because digital TV is broadcast
    without any encryption. Some industry attorneys believe that a law
    is needed to force manufacturers to build sets and recorders that
    use encryption, because a licensing system to require encryption
    could run afoul of antitrust law.


    Hollings' letter, which was also sent to lobbying groups the
    Business Software Alliance and the Consumer Electronics Association,
    chastised the organizations for offering their leaders to testify at
    the October 25 hearing, but not senior executives from member
    companies. Members include 3Com, Apple, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Sony
    Electronics and hundreds of others.


    Disney and News Corp. secured witness spots for their top executives
    -- Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner and News Corp. Chief
    Operating Officer Peter Chernin. Other conglomerates' studios,
    notably Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures and AOL Time Warner's Warner
    Bros., haven't chimed in to support the bill, having already agreed
    to use encryption co-developed by Matsushita, Sony, Hitachi, Intel
    and Toshiba for movies delivered over cable and satellite systems.

    Thomson, the French electronics giant, snagged a witness spot for
    Jim Meyer, the firm's highest-ranking American and a special advisor
    to Thomson's chairman. Eager to accelerate its digital TV business
    and protect its MP3 audio business, Thomson is taking a careful
    political position on the issue.


    Non-profit public interest groups haven't been invited to the
    hearing, which has motivated them to take action. The Electronic
    Frontier Foundation (EFF) is drafting a letter to Hollings asking
    that the EFF, librarians or consumer groups be included, according
    to Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the

    Branding the bill "DMCA 2," after the highly controversial Digital
    Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the EFF states on its web site that
    Hollings' bill would eliminate the "preservation or protection of
    fair use, first sale, the public domain, or any of the other rights
    reserved for the public by copyright law."

    "We're also talking to other interested parties, including the
    Consumer Electronics Association, the Home Recording Rights
    Coalition, and ACM [Association for Computing Machinery], as well as
    several technology companies, about the possibility of building a
    broad coalition to oppose the bill," emailed von Lohmann.

    The hearing is called "Promoting Broadband: Securing Content and
    Accelerating the Transition to Digital Television." At press time,
    the hearing had not been postponed due to a clean-up project to
    remove anthrax bacteria sent to the office of Sen. Tom Daschle
    (D-S.D.), the Democratic majority leader.

For additional background, see:

    Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (Full Text)

    Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (Analysis)

    EFF Alert:  Defeat SSSCA: eff sssca alert.html

    USACM letter to Sen. Hollings criticizing draft SSSCA bill

    Sen. Hollings plans to introduce DMCA sequel: The SSSCA

    Anti-SSSCA petition asks Congress not to pass draft bill

    Hollywood lobbyists laud SSSCA as "exceedingly reasonable" bill

Karsten M. Self <>
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