[p2p-hackers] Stop Palladium and TCPA Now!

Hal Finney hal at finney.org
Mon Feb 3 13:28:02 UTC 2003

Zooko writes:
> Yes, I'm just calling them names.  It was RMS's idea AFAIK.  Likewise,
> he expands DRM as "Digital Restrictions Management", which I believe is
> a much less euphemistic term than the official one.

Just as a data point, I personally have a very negative reaction to
substituting name-calling for argument, and probably at least a few
other people do, too.

> That's a good point -- the TCPA hack can enforce Digital Restrictions
> Management without preventing you from booting a free operating system.
> So inasmuch as that works, it lessens the profit motive to prevent
> alternative OSes, by instead constraining what the alternative OSes are
> capable of doing.
> ...
> One final profit motive might be simple competition: if Linux or
> another OS were to sufficiently encroach on desktop sales of Windows
> then applying Xbox-like constraints to PC hardware might be worthwhile.
> But there might be cheaper ways to achieve the same thing (such as
> managing OEM relationships).

I agree that the profit motive is the right place to start.  The founding
members of the TCPA were HP, Compaq, IBM, Intel and Microsoft.  Since then
HP has bought Compaq and Microsoft has somewhat disassociated it from
the effort as it has gone off with Palladium.  That leaves HP, IBM and
Intel as the main members at present.  I don't see them as benefiting by
making computers that can only run one OS.  IBM has been moving towards
the free software camp, and both HP and Intel would benefit from making
the hardware they sell more useful and versatile.

> Well, there are two prongs here: one is that if you run Windows, then
> Microsoft will have de facto control of everything that you do with
> your computer, and will use it for various profit-making purposes such
> as disabling competing software, forcing you to upgrade, preventing you
> from sharing content, etc.  The other prong is that if you *don't* run
> Windows, there will be less and less that you are able to do in terms
> of interacting with the rest of the world that does.

Both of these are well along the way to coming true even without these
new technologies.  Windows puts many restrictions on what you can do,
whether Palladium ever happens or not.  And Linux users give up a lot
of functionality.  They can't run most of the PC games in the store,
they can't run IE and access sites that require it.  On the other hand
they gain some advantages too.  Everything in life is a tradeoff.

> Currently we live in an exception from the big pattern -- a bubble in
> history, when I can send and receive e-mail and web pages with my mom even
> though she runs Windows and I run Linux.  This will become less and less
> possible in the future, as the web page that she views and the document
> tools that she uses (MS Word, Outlook) start emitting information which
> is cryptographically impossible for me to read.  (For example, because
> the information is encrypted with a public key whose private counterpart
> is embedded in my computer and only available if I boot Windows.)

It's very questionable whether it will be in Microsoft's interest
to close its world to this extent, even ignoring anti-trust issues.
Customers do need to be able to talk to users who have non-Palladium
computers - Macs, Linux and Unix systems, older versions of Windows.
How easy will it be for Microsoft to sell its new version of Windows if
it has all these built-in incompatibilities?

And if Microsoft were sure this were the right way to go, couldn't they
do much of this already?  Remove the "text mode" save option from Word,
for example, so that you could only save in modes that Word users could
read?  They could FORCE everyone to buy Word!  Given your model of how
the world works, why hasn't Microsoft done this?


More information about the P2p-hackers mailing list