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Re: Separate trusted computing designs

From: Jonathan S. Shapiro
Subject: Re: Separate trusted computing designs
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2006 06:34:57 -0400

On Thu, 2006-08-31 at 09:58 +0200, Tom Bachmann wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Jonathan S. Shapiro wrote:
> > The term "owner" has a specific and well-defined legal meaning, and I
> > have (in the past) understood Marcus to be using this meaning when he
> > uses the term "owner". His position (as I understand it) might be
> > captured with two statements:
> > 
> >   1. The legal owner should be able to read and write every bit of this
> >      computer's ram (at any time).
> >   2. This right should be inalienable -- it should not be possible for
> >      an owner to give up this right in whole or in part.
> > 
> >      [This is the part where Marcus and I disagree.]
> >
> Just for this mail, let me define this (2-statement-definition) as "full
> ownership" and only point 1 as "partial" or "shared ownership". This is
> a bit misleading, because as long as the ownership is not given up whole
> or in part, these two are equal.

I do not like this definition. If I own the computer, it should be mine
to do with as I wish. This should include temporarily giving up or
qualifying my right to read/write certain parts of the machine state.

This is true in the same way that if I own a house, I can rent a part of
it to you, and my right of physical access to the rented space becomes
constrained by the terms of the lease. If I cannot do this, it isn't
full ownership.

The difference between the two cases is solely this: in the electronic
variant of leasing (e.g. a leased VM), the terms of the contract and the
compliance with the contract can be electronically assured.

> > The TC/TCPM design that is currently being implemented on PCs is
> > entirely consistent with statement (1). It is not consistent with
> > statement (2).
> > 
> So within this design, I own my computer only partially.

Not at all. The ability to limit parts of my rights subject to certain
conditions is an essential part of ownership.

> And what's with the movies on it (that are protected?). I own them
> actually less than partially.

You do not own them at all. You license them. As part of storing them
you, as owner of your computer, have entered into an agreement that you
will not perform certain actions with these bits. This agreement is
electronically enforced.

>  I have no access to the bits. And if I
> play them, I partially give up ownership of my monitor and graphic card.
> Hell, what component of my computer _do_ I fully own?

This is why I dislike the term "own" for this conversation. It's
entirely misleading and confusing, and it is a value-laden term. Nothing
in any of the doscussion has changed the nature of your ownership.

> Despite the possibility of abusement, why should I pay the same price
> for something I own together with others I neither know nor trust?

For the same reason that you, as landlord, have to pay for the home that
you rent to someone else.

You are confusing ownership with control.

The correct question is: "why would I rent part of my machine to the
content provider to store and display content when I'm not getting
anything in return for the rental?"

The answers are:

  1. You *are* getting something in return: the ability to watch
     that movie.
  2. If you *really* aren't getting any return, then the answer is:
     "because you are a fool." It is beyond technical means to
     remove stupidity from the world.

> Would you think it is OK if government would have the legal right to
> prevent you from going into your kitchen if tv is running?

The analogy is not correct. First, the government has *exactly* that
right -- there are certain portions of your home that you are not
permitted to touch or alter without appropriate licenses. For example:
your gas lines.

Second: this is not a case of a third party enforcing a restriction on
you without your consent. The situation here is that you, as owner, have
entered into an agreement in which you have received something of value
in exchange for limiting your rights. It is a contract. Nothing more,
nothing less.


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