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Re: bit-split, or: the schizophrenia of trusted computing
Re: bit-split, or: the schizophrenia of trusted computing
Mon, 01 May 2006 05:22:09 +0200
Wanderlust/2.14.0 (Africa) SEMI/1.14.6 (Maruoka) FLIM/1.14.7 (Sanjō) APEL/10.6 Emacs/21.4 (i486-pc-linux-gnu) MULE/5.0 (SAKAKI)
At Sun, 30 Apr 2006 22:08:36 -0400,
"Jonathan S. Shapiro" <address@hidden> wrote:
> On Mon, 2006-05-01 at 03:20 +0200, Pierre THIERRY wrote:
> > But there is something very strange, an assumption that you make, in
> > your arguments: why should I own what I use in a computer?
> There is a *second* assumption that Marcus made: that divided ownership
> is not ownership. What Marcus actually wrote was:
> >This is the meaning of ownership: You own something if you have the
> > exclusive right to access, control and dispose it.
> I may be mis-reading this, but it appears to deny co-equal sharing, or
> of cooperation in enabling a computation.
Well, it's almost literally a dictionary definition.
In the case of co-equal sharing, the right is not exclusive.
> Perhaps two parties have insufficient space individually, but
> together they have enough. In this situation, it is possible
> (technically) to create the following alternatives:
> 1. Either party can destroy, only one party can access and control.
> 2. Either party can destroy, *both* parties can access and control.
> The first corresponds to one user making a "loan" of the space to the
> second. If I make you a "loan" of my right to storage, this does not
> imply that I should be able to read what you put in that storage.
Right, it does not. However, it's not hard for you to encrypt the
data on write out.
> I need the right to reclaim (destroy), but not the right to
> access. This is similar to the right of privacy that you have when
> you rent from a landlord.
But the landlord, at least in Germany, can not kick you out from one
second to the next. Also, if there is a dispute, the final decision
is (if no other resolution takes place), done by a judge, and in the
trial the information how the property was used may be subpoenaed, for
example to check if it was used for commercial purposed (requiring a
higher rent than private use).
I am mentioning this to draw attention to the fact that the real real
world allow for much wider range of nuances than a superficial
analysis suggests. This should make one suspicious if the simple
technical means have the right properties, especially if they can be
> From his note, I believe that what Marcus is trying to disable is the
> ability to own *information*, which is different from storage.
Actually, both are separable concerns. The struggle for freedom of
information is a struggle for free culture. It is of secondary
concern here in this discussion. The struggle for free hardware is a
conservative cry: I should be in control over how the bits flow in my
computer (yes, even if I choose to store information on it that is
owned by somebody else).
> Suppose that I own a painting in the sense that Marcus means. It hangs
> on my wall. I control who goes into the room. I can burn it. I can sell
> I can allow you into the room, and I can impose conditions. For example,
> I can verify that you do not carry a camera. That is: you can look, but
> you cannot copy through mechanical means.
> I would like to understand how this is morally different from DRM. This
> is not a "troll." I am sincerely trying to understand the moral
> difference here -- if there is one.
Well, first, there is a very obvious difference that can matter. The
painting is not digital data. Digital data has the peculiar property
that it can be copied and distributed to everybody who wants to have
it without loss of quality, quantity, and without marginal costs.
Now, if you have a precious painting from the middle ages, it may be
photo-sensitive. So, not allowing to make pictures using a flash may
be ok to protect the integrity of the original.
Or, upkeeping and restauration of the painting may be expensive. If
this is true, and allowing to take pictures would mean that nobody
comes looking at the picture anymore, then it _may_ be ok to forbid
making photos. (I think that is a bit far stretched, but in some
situations this might even hold).
However: If the picture is part of our cultural heritage (in other
words: if it makes a significant contribution to the general public),
then I think you are wrong in forbidding to make reproductions that
are not harmful to the original. Many museums allow taking pictures
without flash. Paintings beyond a certain age are in the public
domain and can be reproduced at will: For these it is just a matter of
making the first copy, which could be imposed on you by the state out
of public interest.
This is in essence nothing else but the acknowledgement that art is,
to some extent, a public good.
If this painting however is just a picture of your dog that you made,
then, feel free.
I hope you did not expect a simpler answer. The impact that DRM has
which makes it morally reprehensive is that it artificially and
needlessly causes a shortage of intellectual goods, which could
instead be distributed to everybody in the world at no marginal costs.
To again quote Eben Moglen, now a shorter version of a quote I already
"In a world where everything is a bitstream, where the marginal cost
of culture is zero, where once one person has something, everything
can be given to everybody at the same costs that it was given to its
first possessor, it is immoral to exclude people from knowledge and
So, the right analogy to DRM is not a painting in oil, but a painting
in oil that can be endlessly copied without any costs, and that can
distributed to everybody who wants to have it, without any costs for
storage or distribution. Now, imagine that this is an important
painting that a significant number of people in the world want to look
at, enjoy, study, analyze, remix for other creative works. How could
one morally justify to _not_ give a copy to everybody in the world?