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OT: [Fwd: The Original SSSCA]

Michael P. Soulier <msoulier@mcss.mcmaster.ca>, GnuPG pub key: 5BC8BE08
"...the word HACK is used as a verb to indicate a massive amount
of nerd-like effort."  -Harley Hahn, A Student's Guide to Unix
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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: The Original SSSCA
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2002 16:14:35 -0500
From: "Trei, Peter" <ptrei@rsasecurity.com>
To: "'cypherpunks@lne.com'" <cypherpunks@lne.com>,"'cryptography@wasabisystems.com'" <cryptography@wasabisystems.com>
CC: "'dee3@torque.pothole.com'" <dee3@torque.pothole.com>

[The SSSCA would require all devices capable of
carrying media content to have hardware locks
to prevent copyright violations. Essentially,
it turns all computers as closed as set-top
boxes - and about as useful.

See http://www.politechbot.com/cgi-bin/politech.cgi?name=sssca
for background -pt ]

I've been watching the entertainment industry's
approach to computers with what I can only think of as
Kafkaesque horror.

It's simply unthinkable that preserving the business
models of entertainers trumps the utterly central role
of computers and the Internet in improviing our

Apparently the politicians are actually *receptive* to
this. I guess this just shows how money corrupts - the
heavy donor's interests outweigh those of the nation.

I've been trying to think of an analogy to show just
how awful the idea of the SSSCA is. I've had to go back
a way. A long way.

(start satire)

The Original SSSCA.

Statement of Yakval Enti, spokesman of the MPAA
(Mnemonists, Praise-singers, and Anthemists
Association) to His Highness Hammurabi, King of

Your Majesty: I wish to call you attention to a severe
threat to the security of your kingdom, and the
livelihoods of thousands of your subjects.

After Shamash sets and the people kick back after a
long day of growing millet, they desire entertainment.
Their favorite forms are stories, tales, and sagas,
told by the members of the MPAA. Talented boys spend up
to 12 years learning the tales by heart at the feet of
the masters. Any evening MPAA members can be found in
the taverns singing the old tales, praising the
praiseworthy, and creating new tales from the old.

This system has worked well since the beginning of time
- there were storytellers at your coronation, there
were storytellers at your father's coronation, and
there were storytellers in the caves of our ancestors.

This natural arrangement is now threatened from an
unexpected direction - the scribes and accountants.
The geeks' system of recording numbers and quantities
has been perverted to freeze speech onto clay.

Understand the threat to our business model. At the
moment, if someone wants to hear 'The Tale of the Ox,
the Ass and the Sumerian', they find an MPAA member,
pay him, and sit back to listen to the whole four hour
saga. While anyone could recall and tell others the
general outline, only MPAA members know every detail
and can give the listener the whole story. If you want
to hear it again, you pay again. Thousands of MPAA
members rely on this fact for their livelihoods.

With the recent invention of "writing" the system is in
danger of collapse. We've found that some scribes are
actually "recording" entire sagas onto clay.  Any
scribe can "read" these out to people for free or for
money, complete and word-for-word, without being a
member of or paying the MPAA!  A scribe who has
obtained a set of tablets of an story can even read it
an unlimited number of times, or (worst of all) make
copies. This is starting to have an economic impact on
our membership.  Consider Rimat-Ninsun, whose
masterwork "The Epic of Gilgamesh" took him three years
to create, and who looked to it to put bread on his
table into his old age, as he told it for money, or let
others tell it under paid license after learning it
from him.  'Gilgamesh' is now circulating on 12 clay
tablets, and Rimat is starving. Who will bother to
create new tales if they are just going to be written

"Writing" presents insidious dangers to your kingdom as
well. It can be anonymous. Before writing, any message
arrived with a person to speak it, who could be held
accountable for their speech. With writing, it is
impossible to tell what scribe "wrote" a
message. Anonymous threats, kidnap notes, and
untraceable sedition are now possible. Clearly
"writing" carries with it far greater problems for our
civilization than it does advantages.

However, scribes, accountants, and their skills are
essential to business, contracts, laws, and the
collection of taxes. We just need to make sure that
they are controlled properly.

I therefore propose the Scribal Stylus Safety Control
Act. (SSSCA). This requires every scribe to have an
MPAA approved, "literate" slave with him at all times,
peering over his shoulder. If a scribe is seen to be
"writing' something other then accounting information,
for example a story (stories are the province of MPAA
storytellers), or a message (which should have been
given to a paid mnenomist for delivery), or anything
seditious, then the slave will take away the scribe's
stylus and call the authorities. I ask you to have this
Act "written" into your Code of Law.

Is this difficult? Yes. Is it expensive? Yes. However,
it is clear that without strict controls, widespread
"writing" will not only destroy the entertainment
industry, it will threaten civilisation itself!

(end satire)

The SSSCA threatens to return us to a Stone Age model
of information use.


The above are strictly the personal opinions of myself,
and I'd be astonished if my employer had any official
position on the matter (so don't pretend

Feel free to copy this document in its entirety, with
proper attribution.

Peter Trei

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