Electronic Frontier Foundation Press Release

Standards Committee Rejects Hard Drive Copy Prevention Scheme

Electronic Frontier Foundation Applauds Victory for Fair Use

For Immediate Release

Apr. 4, 2001


John Marttila - CAFE Project Manager
+1-415-436-9333 x103
Robin Gross - Staff Attorney for Fair Use & Intellectual Property
+1-415-436-9333 x112

Apr. 4, 2001, San Francisco -- At least for now, the copy cops will not patrol your computers' hard drives. On April 2, the T13 technical standards committee rejected a "Proposal to Support Generic Functionality" that provided for a Global Unique Identifier (GUID) enabling copy prevention technologies to tether computer files to a specific hard drive.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) joined the T13 technical committee, responsible for establishing Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) standards, in response to proposals for copy prevention technologies. EFF's "Defending the Public Interest: The UnFair Use of Standards" document warned that copy prevention standards would take choice away from the public while eliminating many fair uses in this digital age. Specifically, EFF cited legal uses of copyrighted materials that would be eliminated, such as media library backups and excerpting from works for educational and critical purposes.

"Copy prevention's defeat is a victory for the public's right to choose technologies that don't police their use of files at home, preventing them from exercising their legal fair use rights," according to John Marttila, manager of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression (CAFE). Marttila attended the last meeting of the T13 technical committee in February, when he voiced public interest concerns surrounding hardware copy prevention. "Clearly it's not the end of this fight, but we're certainly relieved that, for now, T13 has chosen not to facilitate copy prevention through the standards." The system was to be called Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM).

In recent years, EFF has defended vigorously the public's fair use rights and the individual's right to choose fully functional digital recording technologies. Along with joining the T13 committee as a voting member, EFF has opposed the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) and is currently defending several lawsuits challenging people's right to possess and publish DeCSS, a computer program that allows Linux computer users to decrypt and watch their own DVDs.

In what seems like an intensified re-run of technology battles over VCR's recording capacity, recording and movie studios represented by the Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of America are wielding a tremendous amount of lobbying and litigating power to prevent new technologies from reaching the market place with recording and copying functions fully intact.

"Under the guise of 'protecting copyright', the industry is attempting to kill fair use and effectively prevent works from passing into the public domain - two of copyright's primary goals," stated EFF intellectual property attorney Robin Gross. "EFF's CAFE campaign is the only organized effort to combat the imposition of anti-copy technology on the public."


EFF's Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression (CAFE) Homepage:

John Gilmore's "What's Wrong With Copy Protection":

"Defending the Public Interest: The UnFair Use of Standards" [PDF format]:
http://www.t13.org/technical/e01110r0.pdf (there are said to be some broken links in this document)

The T13 Technical Committee:

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression, privacy, and openness in the information society. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to Web sites in the world:

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