[PLUG-TALK] IEEE P1817 "Consumer Ownable Digital Personal Property"

Alex Young alexander.young at gmail.com
Tue Mar 15 23:57:47 PDT 2011

On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 10:09 PM, Keith Lofstrom <keithl at kl-ic.com> wrote:

> Rather than going to PLUG A.T. (an interesting topic, Michael!)
> I went to the Paul Sweazey's presentation about the IEEE P1817
> draft standard for "Consumer Ownable Digital Personal Property".
> http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/1817/
> Note, when an IEEE standard starts with "P", it is a proposed
> standard, not voted on or approved.  A lot of proposed IEEE
> standards don't go anywhere.  But a standard does help
> manufacturers design interoperable devices and software,
> if the standard describes a useful market.
> This was the second public presentation outside the working
> group, so it was a little rough.  I haven't had time to digest
> it.  It is not the kind of thing I would dream up.  But it is
> an attempt to close the wide gap between the MPAA position
> and the "we want to share" position of almost everyone else.
> If you want to argue, read the information on the website first,
> approximating what I heard tonight, because I am probably
> describing it inaccurately.
> It is a very different kind of DRM, built into hypothetical
> media players, with two buttons, "SHARE" and "TAKE", that work
> with the content and repudiatable keys.  You can share content
> with as many people as you want.  Anyone in the sharing group
> can also repudiate that sharing with the "TAKE" button, perhaps
> after buying the content from the previous owner.   The person
> pushing the TAKE button now owns the only copy.  So, go ahead
> and share it with 20 friends and each can share it with 20 more
> friends, but if any one of them hits the TAKE button, you and
> the rest of the sharing group loses it, until the TAKER shares
> it again.  If you put it up on Youtube, then the company that
> sold it can TAKE it.  Be careful who you share with.
> Lots more details, of course.
> The intent is to approximately recreate the experience of owning
> a physical object and being able to share it with others - and
> not share it with the careless.  A useful goal, weirdly done.
> I can see about a zillion problems.  Still, it is an interesting
> way to think about solutions to the current DRM insanity.
> Personally, I see a different problem to solve.  Each year, about
> two trillion personal hours are spent consuming TV, and billions
> of more hours are spent semi-passively consuming other mass
> entertainment.  I would rather see those trillions of hours
> spent on creation and human interaction.  The equivalent of
> creating thousands of wikipedias a year, and millions of smaller
> but still important projects.  Getting off the couch and
> rebuilding the world.  "Solutions" that make entertainment
> more palatable may delay the solution to my problem.
> However, Sweazey said that the standard, while requiring the
> keying and SHARE and TAKE functions, also explicitly requires
> expandability, for example to not yet defined functions like
> MIX and ANNOTATE.  So if I want to build an obscene sound track
> for Disney's Snow White, I am free to do so, which others can
> MIX on top of their own copies.  Interesting implications for
> creativity.
> That is as I understood it.  Things are still handwavy right
> now.  I would like to see what a bunch of creative hackers
> could do with a prototype system to surprise the P1817 folk.
> I hope we all can learn from the result.
> Keith
> An interesting idea to say the least.  I have some thoughts though:

It seems like your mentor Ben Franklin subscribed the the "take, hack, and
ask questions later" model.   I'd suggest that model has wider benefits when
widely applied.

I often wonder why we care so much about copyright enforcement when it is
often so obviously inhuman (I started to write 'immoral, but inhuman makes
more sense in this case I think).

Other inhuman laws are largely ignored when perceived as unjust, but we seem
to leave some special exception for intelectual property, as though it were
in some way above reproach.

However inhuman, this DRM stuff makes some sense right now, as we can easily
copy data.  But what sense will it make once we can also copy things with 3D
printers?  Is this really the direction we want to go?  Won't we innovate
without direct incentive?  I know many of us are not motivated in a
fiduciary manner and yet still contribute.

I say screw the wealth-hoarding minority.  Hack what you want, and
distribute as needed.  Anything else is strictly anti-social.

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