Trusted Computing and you.

One of the buzz phrases you’re going to hear about more as we get closer to the launch of Windows Vista is the concept of “Trusted Computing.” Microsoft has already started hyping trusted computing as the end of the virus threat, but there’s more to the story than they’re letting on. This short film on Trusted Computing by Benjamin Stephan and Lutz Vogel gives a small overview of what trusted computing originally meant and how the industry is interpreting it.

Microsoft came under a lot of fire when they first announced their plans for trusted computing in the next version of Windows in part because not only could it be used to lock out viruses, but also potentially users from their own data. Since then Microsoft has scaled back what Vista will have in the way of trusted computing support, but the underlying base is still present and once they get folks used to buying PCs that have Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips in them it’s only a matter of updating the software to enable the rest of the features originally planned. Also not mentioned is how the TPM chip may be used to try and cut into the amount of piracy of all kinds on your PC. Already Microsoft has announced that with Windows Vista if you want to play HD-DVD or Blu-Ray content on your PC you’re going to need a HDCP compatible monitor. HDCP stands for High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection and it’s a form of Digital Rights Management that encrypts the video signal sent to your monitor so you can’t do something sneaky like put a HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc recorder between your PC and the monitor to record the content. Incidentally, you can’t purchase a HDCP monitor yet and none are expected before 2007.

Not that Microsoft is alone in promoting this technology. Apple’s move to Intel based processors for their next line of machines had a lot of folks thinking that they’d soon be able to buy OS X and slap it onto whatever PC they wanted to, but Apple is planning on making use on their own TPM chips to ensure that the only hardware you can run OS X on is whatever over-priced pieces they decide to sell you. With that chip already in place it’s once again only a matter of Apple deciding to use it for other forms of Digital Rights Management for it to happen.

The problem, of course, is that the only people this stuff is really going to hurt in the long run will likely be the honest users who suddenly find that some of their fair use rights have been effectively stripped from them by the hardware and software makers who are trying to kiss the entertainment industry’s ass. It’s likely that all of this stuff will have no impact on the folks who are pirating software, music or movies to any great degree. You can already download one of the development copies of the Intel based OS X and find instructions on the Net on how to get around the TPM protection that’s supposed to keep it from running on non-Apple approved hardware. It’s surprisingly easy actually—just delete a couple of files here and there—the hard part is making sure the hardware you’ve got will work with it as there’s limited drivers for OS X for anything that isn’t Apple approved. So in the end the legit users get shafted and the only folks who will have full control over their PCs will be the pirates.

Link found via Boing Boing.

14 thoughts on “Trusted Computing and you.

  1. Heh. You get what you support.

    This is a natural progression of copyright’s pernicious pathology.

    One day, one day sooner than most care to believe, ownership shall be confined to services, sans transferable objects.  For example:  You create a web-service that allows people to do this or that function.  Customers pay your fee, recieve the service, and own any resulting byproduct.

    You purchase a chair, you own the chair, and can sell the chair for 1000 times it’s original cost, or can give it away in exchange for sex, a fluffy three-legged kitten, or a $1.

    Ditto for an e-book.

    Way back in my great-grandmother Francis Perkins’ day, Boston’s female brahman used to gather and share poetry they gleened from this or that magazine, book, or local pamphlet.  Sounds innocent enough, eh?

    Not so.  In the bowels of her too-laced chiffon parlor they would also engage in something, well, illegal.

    No, they didn’t break out the opium pipe and writhe in some prescient drunk rendition of the Dead Poets Society cave dance.  They did something worse, by our bizarre modern standards.  They copied their favorite poems and, hush, shared them amongst their literary coven, in a newsletter even.

    Disgusting, i know.
    But, hold your stomach and try and read on.

    Although this was perfectly legal, for the most part, my grandfather (a Dr. Perkins) had a near fit, given his social standing and reputation, and desire for a clean, crime-free gene pool.  That dear mah-mah might be tainted was too much to bear.  He made her stop—at once.  This tale is now part of my family’s lore.

    You see, here were the bizarre guidelines these evil, evil women were guilty of crossing:

    Multiple copies of a poem of 250 words or less that exist on two pages or less or 250 words from a longer poem.

    http://www.umuc.edu/library/copy.html
    as derived by this…

    1841: Folsom v. Marsh; In a case brought before the Massachusetts Circuit Court in 1841, the owner and editor of a multi-volume collection of George Washington’s letters sued Charles Upham for using hundreds of pages of the letters, in their entirety…[This case defined the] definition of what constituted a “justifiable use of the original materials” formed the basis of the “fair use” doctrine.

    http://arl.cni.org/info/frn/copy/timeline.html

    The reason i bring this up is that the doctine of “Fair Use” has, in many an area, been killed.  Like those snoty old women in Boston copying poetry in their secret piracy-mill, modern day consumers are even more well equipped to do so.  And, i think that is the reason we’ve seen such an errosion of right.

    This new battle against the copyright fundamentalist faction will, unlike in the past, not be decided in a court of law, but on the streets.  One need only go East to know how well the Forces of Good are winning.

    Technology, just like military interdictions in the war-on-drugs, is like trying to patch a breached levee with 20-1000 pound sandbags.  It might stave the flow, but come the next big storm (read: innovation) it’ll burst forth, again, in all its free flowing glory.

    rob@egoz.org

  2. OOps, me so stupid typosetter.

    Those last three paragraphs are MY work and writing, and are not quotes from Folsom-v-Marsh briefing.  I forgot to close the quote, and misappropriated my creation.

    Sorry for the sloppiness.

  3. That film was amazing.  I mean, forget for a moment about TPM chips and such; it was just an incredibly sophisticated bit of persuasive/informative delivery (AKA, propaganda). 

    I’m not using propaganda in a pejorative sense here, just saying I’m impressed by the film, by the way it places the viewer on a greased downward track to their premise. 

    We really need some kind of bulletproof authentication process or digital commerce will grind to a halt.  Of course the powers-that-be see this as an opportunity to turn copyright into, well, control of all information. 

    Lyndon Johnson once said you should spend more time thinking about how a law will be misused than about how it will be used.  So too with technologies.  While I don’t agree with rob adams 100% on this, it does seem that the cancerous mutation of copyright law (always two decades behind current technology) lends itself to exploitation by media companies.  Not a comforting thought – the intellectual and artistic life of a civilization strangled by SONY and Time-Warner.

  4. They copied their favorite poems and, hush, shared them amongst their literary coven, in a newsletter even.

    Although this was perfectly legal, for the most part

    Nothing “perfectly legal” about it.  Ten Myths About Copyright, myth number two: “If I don’t charge for it, it’s not a violation.”

    It is fair use to get together and read each other poems, and pass them around, and comment on what you like or don’t like about each one.  That’s called literary criticism, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to do it.

    It is certainly not fair use to take the poems you like out of a book or magazine, and copy them verbatim into a free newsletter.  What’s the intent of publishing them in a newsletter?  Why, to save people money.  This way they don’t have to buy the book or magazine in order to have a copy of the poem.

    Of course, the authors’ exclusive right to authorize copies of their work (“copyright”) is how they pay their rent and feed their kids.

    Unlike that paramedic story which had a note at the top which said “go ahead and copy me” (mea culpa), magazine and book publishers have employees they need to pay, not the least of which are the people who write for them.

    Back on the subject of DRM: DRM is good, and I hope they get it right this time.  Previous incarnations have inevitably been cracked, because they were software based and thus vulnerable to reverse engineering.  Hopefully with a tamper-proof chip on-board they will have more luck.  As someone who actually buys software as opposed to warez-ing it, I would love to be able to buy software for 1/10th the price.  The only way that can happen is if I no longer have to pay for the 90% of users who are freeloading.

    Love to discuss DRM further, but it’s time for church!  cheese

  5. Just a thought about copyright as, for example, Disney envisions it, Daryl…

    You can’t translate Micky Mouse into another language and publish it without Disney’s permission and paying them royalties.  And they clearly want rights to it forever

    Under their model, one or more corporations would have acquired the rights to the Bible manuscripts in their original languages long ago.  God’s holy writ would be beholden to copyright holders in Jerusalem and Rome even today, and every translation subject to editorial approval by the corporate holders.

    Have a nice church service! grin

  6. I’m not wholly against the idea of copyrights and I buy most of my software as well, but I don’t think effective DRM is going to lead to lower software costs.

    I do feel that copyright law has been extended too much from it’s original concept laid down by the Founding Fathers and I am very upset about the restrictions being placed on fair use that end up punishing only the folks who are legitimately owning the materials in question.

  7. The more draconian measures they take, the more pirates they’ll make.

    I have issue with the corps extending copyright and patent law beyond what they were originally intended.  Disney creates its works from public domain, then wants eternal control over it.  Fuck that, Mickey Mouse needs to go into the public domain.

  8. This thread reminds me of one of the “you might be a liberal” jokes (knocking off Foxworthy): You might be a liberal if you believe consenting adults have the right to engage in any activity except capitalism.

    If I sit down at my home studio and release a techno song that you must have, but sell it with the provision that you can only listen to it while standing on your head eating a peanut butter sandwich, then that is my right. It is also your right to tell me “Thanks, but no thanks.” But if you do choose to buy it from me, then you are morally obligated to stand on your head and eat a peanut butter sandwich while listening to it.

    For a more principled explanation, read this article.

    More generally, this debate is about technology finally providing the enforcement power to turn a non-excludable public good to an excludable public good.

  9. I do feel that copyright law has been extended too much from it’s original concept laid down by the Founding Father

    I looked up the law after reading your post. 1790 law provides protection for 14 years with another 14 year option. The current law provides for 70 years. Both are flawed. The correct answer for anyone who believes in liberty and natural rights, is that individuals should be free to choose their own copyright terms rather than being forced to accept the terms of the state.

  10. Justin, as copyright holder of this blog I now require you and you alone to send me $10 every time you visit the site and read any of the material here.

    I mean, if you want to have such ridiculous rules I’ll happily supply them for you.

  11. Just because a company has the right to offer a contract at any terms they like (and you have the right to refuse), doesn’t mean that they should. It is possible that DRM will drive away business.

    Similarly, just because you have the right to charge for access to your blog, doesn’t mean you should. There are a lot of liberal blogs that that will allow me to get my liberal debating fix for free.

    But having said that, I had to provide my email to register so if you want your money email me your paypal info (I’m not exactly sure how paypal works since I’ve only used my account once) and I’ll send it to you. smile

  12. Just because a company has the right to offer a contract at any terms they like (and you have the right to refuse), doesn’t mean that they should. It is possible that DRM will drive away business.

    Which is exactly the point I’m trying to make. They’re not going to eliminate piracy, but likely are going to drive business away possibly making more pirates in the long run.

    Similarly, just because you have the right to charge for access to your blog, doesn’t mean you should. There are a lot of liberal blogs that that will allow me to get my liberal debating fix for free.

    I’m sure there are.

    Again, I’m illustrating a point. Simply because copyright law gives one the right to determine exactly how and where something they’ve created can be copied that doesn’t mean they should make up idiotic rules on a whim.

    Though it may be a violation of a purely libertarian viewpoint, I do agree with the idea the Founding Fathers had that copyrights should have a limited lifespan as once they hit the public domain they can be adapted and expanded upon coming up with new innovations in the process.

    I have no problems with people being compensated for their creativity for a set period of time, but perpetual copyrights are not something I agree with.

    But having said that, I had to provide my email to register so if you want your money email me your paypal info (I’m not exactly sure how paypal works since I’ve only used my account once) and I’ll send it to you.

    There’s a PayPal link in the sidebar to the left.

  13. Back on the subject of DRM: DRM is good, and I hope they get it right this time…
    Hopefully with a tamper-proof chip on-board they will have more luck.

    Yeah… and that good old BS of getting prices cheaper.
    And like that would result cheaper products, in capitalism’s only target is maximizing profit, and best way for that is monopoly, or total control.
    With huge increase in corporation power this capability to control information would soon materialize Orwell’s “vision”, in form of corporationistic fascism.

    “I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.”
    -George W. Bush

    PS. Recent globalization’s “10 year interim report” shows that instead of that much touted general good uncontrolled capital/corporations and “free” market have only caused greater inequality so I wouldn’t trust sh*t to any kind organization who “flags” those things.

    cookies.jpg

    In the US, for example, one professor estimates that corporate crime costs the country about $200 billion a year

    Estimating how much abusive tax shelters cost the U.S. Treasury is very difficult. Some estimate the cost is in the tens of billions every year and a few deem it as high as $50 billion a year.

    … Whatever the actual cost, former IRS Commissioner Rossotti says that abusive tax shelters are the “biggest single source

  14. Treacherous Computing… pfft. Microsoft is already working on testing it’s new software and hardware TCPA components (on the end-user) in the upcoming Xbox 360. They have claimed that no two 360’s can be hacked alike due to hardware DRM on the silicon level combined with a customized BIOS and Windows Media Centre 2005.

    Scenario: Microsoft, Intel, et al. want to foist their TCPA dreamland upon us. They are using the 360 as a test box. They will take what they learn from the successes and failures of the hardware and software DRM of the various 360 configurations and apply that to laptop and desktop PCs, combined with a TCPA aware OS (Vista).

    Now, mind you, they claim they are doing this to squash the modchip industry, because they don’t like their Xboxes getting mucked with, and to prevent cheaters on Xbox Live. But think about it. If anyone can take a generic modchip from a modchip store and bypass their TCPA crap in a game console, what is to prevent people from taking that same knowledge and developing a modchip to bypass the TCPA in a computer?

    Ergo, using slightly different hardware and software setups in each batch of Xbox 360s, taking what works against “hacking” the best and applying it to PCs to prevent people from bypassing the TCPA crap.

    Just something to think about.

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