wanna go HOME now...

  Fuck These People Right in the Ear

12 August 2002

3:52 PM:

"Now, what I am about to read you now boggles my mind and it is going to boggle the mind of everybody in the movie and television business in this city. If 56 of the 93 movies recordings made by the 250 households during the first 3 days of a diary week -- just 56 of those movies are saved for the shelf and for additional playback -- then the number of movies collected in a year by the Nation's 2.4 million VCR households, only 2.4 million, the number of movies collected would be 6,537,216. At a prerecorded purchase of $50, they would have a retail value of $3.2 billion.

Mr. Chairman, things like that could make a grown men cry."

Jack Valenti
APRIL 12, 13, 14, JUNE 24, AUGUST 11, SEPTEMBER 22 AND 23, 1982

If I had a nickel for every time someone in Congress acted like an idiot, I'd be a rich man. And that does make a grown man cry.

Ashcroft Asked to Target Online Song Swappers
Fri Aug 9, 5:21 PM ET

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers have asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to go after Internet users who download unauthorized songs and other copyrighted material, raising the possibility of jail time for digital-music fans.

In a July 25 letter released late Thursday, some 19 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle asked Ashcroft to prosecute "peer-to-peer" networks like Kazaa and Morpheus and the users who swap digital songs, video clips and other files without permission from artists or their record labels.

The Justice Department should also devote more resources to policing online copyrights, the lawmakers said in their letter.

"Such an effort is increasingly important as online theft of our nation's creative works is a growing threat to our culture and economy," the letter said.


Among those signing the letter were: Delaware Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden; Wisconsin Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner; Virginia Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott; Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers; North Carolina Republican Rep. Howard Coble; and California Democratic [sic] Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

She of the famous Flag Amendment. But she's a woman so she must be good. Right?
Mr. VALENTI. Yes, sir, I do. I am taking somebody else's copyrighted material without their consent and I know damn well I am infringing. But as far as court action or anything else, I am safe. First, it is not a criminal act. Again, the opposition would tell you video, police, and criminals. They show an astonishing lack of the copyright law. They know good and well that that is not a criminal infringement unless you do it for profit.

Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-3841
Fax: (202) 228-3954
TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501
No published email address, only a form on her web page.

Dear Senator Feinstein,

I am appalled that my state's Senator would lend her name to the letter petitioning Attorney General Ashcroft to prosecute and jail individuals for sharing electronic files. This is not only disproportionate beyond reason - as if you had urged for a nationwide crackdown on jaywalking, while hit and run drivers ran free - it is based on false premises, promoted by a single industry to the detriment of our whole country's economy.

I quote the Reuters story on the petition: '"Such an effort is increasingly important as online theft of our nation's creative works is a growing threat to our culture and economy," the letter said.'

This is an untrue statement on many levels. For one, there is no "theft" taking place. As much as the record industry and the film industry would like to make you believe otherwise, a copyrighted song or film is NOT in the same category as real property. If I steal your car, you don't have it any more. I hope that anyone can see that the same is not true of music.

Copyright is a government-granted license of limited scope and duration. Its existence - AND its limitation - are in our Constitution. Although the recent actions of Congress threaten to turn it into an effectively permanent license, it was never intended to be thus. And in any case, the activity which copyright is meant to protect the holder from is *commercial activity* - not the private actions of private citizens.

Has the publishing industry been brought to its knees by the "growing threat" represented by the "theft" perpetuated every day by lending libraries? Is the kind-hearted librarian really a ruthless pirate in disguise? If you answer "No", then what exactly is the difference?

The truth is that the record industry, and to a lesser degree the film industry, would like to eliminate the use of general-purpose computers for recording or playback. Or, failing that, to implement absolute control over the software and hardware used for this purpose - so-called "Digital Rights Management".

You might notice, however, that the computing and eletronics industry in this country dwarfs the record industry in revenue, and more importantly, as an engine of economic growth. The climate of fear promoted by actions such as yours would truly harm the most important and dynamic sectors of our nation's economy, to prevent the ENTIRELY THEORETICAL loss of POSSIBLE revenue to one small - but glamorous and PR-savvy - sector.

Please, I urge you, rethink these actions. Don't join Mr. Valenti - who so accurately predicted the destruction of America by the VCR - "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." - on history's shelf of ludicrous examples of short-sightedness.

This is what is technically known as "a gigantic waste of time." But I feel better.

Willfully blind self-indulgent nebbish or amusingly quirky old coot? And how bout that local sports team? Discuss among yourselves.

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