From: Richard M. Smith
Sent: Friday, March 01, 2002 10:01 AM
To: Senator Holling's Office and the Walt Disney Corporation
Subject: Anti-piracy technology means more surveillance, less privacy
Who would have ever believed that Mickey Mouse would be leading the charge to bring Big Brother to the U.S.?
I have been reading coverage of the Senator Hollings' Commerce Committee hearings on digital copy protection for movies. Like most people, I watch movies on my TV set or at the local movie theater and not on my computer. I do not see any reason why consumers should be forced to purchase a government-imposed surveillance device for their home computer to make sure that they obey U.S. copyright law.
It is very clear that if the Hollings bill passes, then a copy-protection scheme will be adopted which incorporates computers "phoning home" to copyright holders each time a movie is played. This type of surveillance system is straight out of 1984. I am confused while Senator Hollings, in the past a champion of privacy rights, is now demanding that Americans must be spied on to enforce copyright law.
In addition, as a Disney stockholder, I am concerned why the company is wasting its time and effort on such a foolhardy project. I don't know who your technical advisory is here, but it appears that they forgot to tell you that it is technically impossible to stop people from creating movie players which will play unprotected movies. Movies pirates will continue to exchange movies in unprotected form, regardless of what copy-protection scheme is developed by the movie industry.
The bottom line here is that Disney and the rest of the movie industry is going to have to use existing copyright law to go after movie traders. There is no technology "quick fix" which is going to work.
Richard M. Smith