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Re: bit-split, or: the schizophrenia of trusted computing

From: Jonathan S. Shapiro
Subject: Re: bit-split, or: the schizophrenia of trusted computing
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 22:08:36 -0400

On Mon, 2006-05-01 at 03:20 +0200, Pierre THIERRY wrote:

> But there is something very strange, an assumption that you make, in
> your arguments: why should I own what I use in a computer?

There is a *second* assumption that Marcus made: that divided ownership
is not ownership. What Marcus actually wrote was:

>This is the meaning of ownership: You own something if you have the
> exclusive right to access, control and dispose it.

I may be mis-reading this, but it appears to deny co-equal sharing, or
of cooperation in enabling a computation. Perhaps two parties have
insufficient space individually, but together they have enough. In this
situation, it is possible (technically) to create the following

  1. Either party can destroy, only one party can access and control.
  2. Either party can destroy, *both* parties can access and control.

The first corresponds to one user making a "loan" of the space to the
second. If I make you a "loan" of my right to storage, this does not
imply that I should be able to read what you put in that storage. I need
the right to reclaim (destroy), but not the right to access. This is
similar to the right of privacy that you have when you rent from a

>From his note, I believe that what Marcus is trying to disable is the
ability to own *information*, which is different from storage. I propose
that his definition can be slightly weakened without loss of intent: it
is okay for another party to hold the right to destroy as long as you
(the owner) know about it. This does not weaken your control. It *does*
weaken your access, in the sense that access can be lost if you fail to
rearrange your storage. This is true in the same way that something you
own physically can become broken and valueless. It does not seem to me
that this alters anything fundamental about the uses of Marcus's

Let me pose a test question about this.

Suppose that I own a painting in the sense that Marcus means. It hangs
on my wall. I control who goes into the room. I can burn it. I can sell

I can allow you into the room, and I can impose conditions. For example,
I can verify that you do not carry a camera. That is: you can look, but
you cannot copy through mechanical means.

I would like to understand how this is morally different from DRM. This
is not a "troll." I am sincerely trying to understand the moral
difference here -- if there is one.


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