Security Systems Standards and Certification Act: The DMCA's Evil Twin Brother
(c) September 10, 2001
Ray C.

Looks like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) may have a brother soon. The music and recording industry with the help of Senator Fritz Hollings (D - S.C.), the powerful chairman of the Senate Commerce committee, are pressuring Congress to rewrite the copyright laws, in their favor.

Under their proposed Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) scheduled to be introduced to Congress by Hollings, the music and recording industry want to embed copy-protection controls in all electronic and interactive devices and PCs. The SSSCA would extend and expand the powers which are already being abused under the DMCA. All types of digital content will be covered under this act, including music, video, and e-books.

If any type of electronic or interactive digital device is created, distributed, or sold that "does not include and utilize certified security technologies" that have been pre-approved by the federal government, the SSSCA would make such an act a civil offense. An interactive digital device is defined as any hardware or software capable of "storing, retrieving, processing, performing, transmitting, receiving or copying information in digital form."

As a result of the SSSCA, technology firms and developers will be forced to implement government-approved copyright protection technologies into their products. Anyone caught violating the SSSCA will be sentenced to five years in prison and fined up to $500,000.

The SSSCA would basically force consumers to buy only those systems which have been approved by and are under the control of the U.S. Commerce Department and that have their copy protection techology on by default. This act can also be seen as a violation of our freedom to create, use, or sell something without the government intervening.

Industry groups have a year to agree on a security standard, or the Commerce Department will step in and decide on one.

Disney is said to be one of the measures most ardent supporters.