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Consumer Technology Bill of Rights? 264

Posted by michael
from the any-port-in-a-storm dept.
thrilliams writes "The WSJ's Walt Mossberg has a story about DigitalConsumer.org, a new lobbying group that's pressing for a Consumer Technology Bill of Rights. It would aim to protect the right to time shift and space shift media, make backups, allow for platform independence and translation between formats. Given the current DCMA/SSSCA climate, even these basic rights seem ambitious, but check them out and do what you can to support this nascent effort." There's also an NYT article on the SSSCA debate, with an unintentionally humorous quote from the head of News Corporation (which owns 20th Century Fox): "without copyright protection we will change our business models".
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Consumer Technology Bill of Rights?

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  • Rights (Score:4, Funny)

    by Indras (515472) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @09:46AM (#3162054)
    Ooh, can we lobby for the right to bear portscanners?
    • You might laugh, but the last time I ran a port scanner over the net, I got an email from my (then) ISP telling me the use of portscanners was not allowed on their network, and if I did it again I might lose my account.
      • While the legality of portscanning can be argued all you want, you are on your ISPs network, and if they don't want you to portscan, then they can stop you.. After all, it's their network. If you don't like it, go to another ISP.

    • You have no rights. Your abilities regarding watching movies and listening to music are "privileges" granted by the Media Conglo^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H the Congress of the United States. Any attempt to change, circumvent, replace or remove these granted "privileges" is a violation of the DMCA and SSSCA and are subject to punishment to the fullest extent of the law.
    • you have the right to remain silent. anything you say has already been used against you. anything THEY (tm) say is protected by copyright and will be used against you unless used in the properly licensed, non-transferrable manner dictated by THEY (tm) lawyers.

      you have the right to spend millions of dollars to defend yourself from frivolous corporate lawsuits, to pay for the lawyer's suits.

      really folks, until we have our own multibillion dollar lobbying force to buy our government back from the corporations, this will be a VERY hard struggle to win.

  • All it needs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Apreche (239272) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @09:54AM (#3162082) Homepage Journal
    All this bill of rights needs is some support from artists. If you get top name musicians and movie makers to support this then it's all good.

    But there is one problem this still doesn't fix. For years and years the music industry has purposely not put out high quality recordings. CD quality is damn good, yes, but remember DAT? Know about DVD Audio? what's gonna be?
    • by wiredog (43288)
      Unless you're an audiophile [slashdot.org] do you care how much better the sound quality could be? How many people find MP3 to be Good Enough(TM)?

      I usually listen to music in the car. Between road noise, wind noise (especially in summer when the windows are down), and engine noise the sound quality is never going to be that good anyway.

      • by Apreche (239272) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @12:28PM (#3162760) Homepage Journal
        if you get a pioneer car stereo it will be.
        People find mp3 good enough because they dont' realize there's a difference. I did a presentation for professional communications on CDex, the little window program that rips mp3s. I ripped a 128, a 320, and a VBR. I played the same 5 second clip from each version, and then from the CD, everyone was shocked and amazed, they didn't realize that mp3 was lossy. Later 3 of them told me that they started to replace all their low rate mp3s with 320s. People do want higher quality, you just have to make them realize it.
        The public wants the same things that we want. They just need to be shown.
        • Except that there has been several double-blind tests using people's own ultra high end audio equipment that listen to classical (said to be the best for true audiophiles to hear "issues" -- I'll take their word for it) which had difficulty hearing the difference. Well, that's not exactly true, I should say, they had trouble picking out the orginal recording even though they could hear differences. Funny thing is, "best" is often not truely measurable...thus you don't have a tool which can readily do it. "Best" is often a gauge of which met or exceeded expectation based on previous listening experience. With that known and understood, it's very possible that some people may not actually enjoy the original audio source. This fact is often forgotten. Another point in fact is, if this were not true, the number of equalizers sold to audiophiles, and the masses in general, would be greatly reduced!!!

          Most find 256-bit quality MP3 encodings to meet or beat their expectations...especially given the audio equipment most use. This includes many audiophiles too.

          Now then, remove the $100,000 worth of high-end audio equipement and suddenly pretty much everyone is happy beyond compare.

          I don't know about you, but my self, like most of the masses don't have ultra high-end audio equipment so when someone says we need better, really has no meaning, let alone value to 95% of the earth's population.
  • by weave (48069) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @09:56AM (#3162088) Journal
    Our problem, is that we need to hype up our side like the other side does. We need to convince Joe Public that eventually they will no longer be able to "tape" their favorite shows. And that may not be that far off, when VCRs switch to digital from analog.

    Think about all the public alerts that have been passed around the net that still cause headaches for government agencies, like the "FCC banning religious programs due to Madilyn O'hare" or the infamous modem tax issue or the $2,500 area code 809 phone calls.

    Someone with a lot of literary skills needs to come up with some sort of alert that claims that those bastard liberal media companies and those liberals in Congress (I said sensationalist) are trying to take a way your right to record your TV shows by mandating that all future electronic devices contain copy protections to allow people who make shows to disable your ability to record them without paying for them. Include refs to digitalconsumer.org too. Then put the ole "We need to stop this right away, send this to all of your friends" line, details about the bill, and urge people to contact their congressman.

    Make this issue so poisoned that no elected official will get near it. Remember, the public are sheep and the reason corporations give so much money to candidates and the reason that is so influential is that people are elected by the strength of their campaign ads. But in the end, it's people who vote, not companies. So if enough people get up in arms about this, the elected (and elected-wannabees) will stand up and take notice.

    • by Lonath (249354) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:03AM (#3162112)
      Someone with a lot of literary skills needs to come up with some sort of alert that claims that those bastard liberal media companies and those liberals in Congress (I said sensationalist) are trying to take a way your right to record your TV shows by mandating that all future electronic devices contain copy protections to allow people who make shows to disable your ability to record them without paying for them. Include refs to digitalconsumer.org too. Then put the ole "We need to stop this right away, send this to all of your friends" line, details about the bill, and urge people to contact their congressman.

      But this is true. Those other things aren't. There's no need to be sensational. You just have to tell the truth: they want total control of all you see and hear so that they can make you pay-per-use and so they can control new entrants into the marketplace.

      I especially enjoyed the part (from the NYT article) where CAMCORDERS will have to recognize digital watermarks. You see, they aren't concerned about piracy...they're concerned about COMPETITION and they want to have control over what you produce with your own camcorders/microphones/cameras ...so that you only get to release things if they're approved.
      • Oh, they'll let you release things without approval. That is, if you can afford the $25K license fee built in to the price of release-grade equipment. But mostly they figure that independent artists won't be able to afford it and will get pirated like crazy.

        The irony is, pirates will be able to afford the release-grade equipment (even at black market prices) and will use it to continue churning out illegal copies.

        If you become popular outside the system anyway (what? popularity without marketing megabucks? impossible!), the RIAA/MPAA gang will offer to distribute your work under terms that make current artist contracts look wonderful. They'll just say "Hey, it's more than what you're getting from the pirates." The net result will be that independent artists lose a ton, the signed artists lose even more, and the official purveyors of culture cackle manaically while 10K whores massage them with gold-flecked oils.

    • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:09AM (#3162132) Homepage
      The public are not sheep, just badly informed by the media conglomerates. Perhaps you should try informing them instead of insulting them.
      • by Quimo (72752)
        Individual people are smart. Its when you start trying to comunicate to them in large groups that that informing them becomes a problem. In this situation we need to use some sensationalism to inform them that there rights are being taken away. That being said how could we do this with most of the major media outlets under the thumb of the Corporations.
      • They are sheep if they go where they are led. Unless they make an actual effort to become educated, they are sheep.

        Like it or not, spinning it "PC" doesn't make it any less true.

        Fact is, most people are quite happy to take the spoon full they get from TV and newspapers, reguardless of the source; which is sometimes hidden or obscured.
    • by lynx_user_abroad (323975) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:16AM (#3162155) Homepage Journal
      Someone with a lot of literary skills...bastard liberal media companies...

      There's an old addage from the newspaper business which is very applicable here: Only a fool would start a publicity fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

      If you want the media companies back in line, unplug your television and start talking to people about something other than SouthPark for a change.

      • There's an old addage from the newspaper business which is very applicable here: Only a fool would start a publicity fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

        Ironic, considering the source...

        If you want the media companies back in line, unplug your television and start talking to people about something other than SouthPark for a change.

        .... and start downloading your episodes from alt.binaries.southpark instead. That'll show em! :)

      • If you want the media companies back in line, unplug your television and start talking to people about something other than SouthPark for a change.

        It's funny, I'll be at work and I'll be talking part in a group conversation, you know, the kind where everybody's escalating who can be the wittiest! You know?

        Then, I'll see a reference to a South Park episode that NOBODY will see, and I'll make a reference to it and everybody is silent as my poignant insight leaves them disoriented. Ha!

        It's just that, I can find a way to reference South Park in ANY, and I mean ANY conversation!!!

        There's an old addage from the newspaper business which is very applicable here: Only a fool would start a publicity fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

        What do you think alternative media aims to do in the first place?

        Seriously though, if you want to really cheese the media conglomerates, you have to fight them with the truth, smothered with an exquisite glaze of wit and sattire.

        In this case, the topic being presented are by default, shrilly and droning, and you'd have to be pretty fucking entertaining and insightful to educate people on this shit.

    • Someone with a lot of literary skills needs to come up with some sort of alert that claims that
      those bastard liberal media companies and those
      ^^^^^^^
      liberals in Congress (I said sensationalist)
      ^^^^^^^^

      You misspelled "conservatives".
    • I used to explain how region controls were a slimy way of price fixing, how they enabled the studios control of who could see what, when, etc...

      Nobody cared. I mean, who cares if people in Europia, or Asica, or whatever those furign places are called, can watch? They don't speak English and can't watch "our" movies anyways.

      So I started explaining that overseas you can buy all of Friends on DVD, by season. Where here you can only get select episodes. But you can't simply order those DVDs from overseas, because players here are crippled to not play them. All because the studios want to sell the shows in syndication and as long as they can make money from that, they'll never be conveniently released.

      Now *that* got people bloody pissed off. They didn't care about anyone else's access to information. But they got fighting mad when someone would prevent them from watching Friends. Sheesh.

      But, it served the same purpose in the end. It got the "Average people" pissed off about it. Hopefully they'll pass that sense of outrage along.

      The lesson? Everyone cares about different things. Find someone's concerns and address those. They might not care about the "right" issues, but there's always a way to freak them out about it.
    • Someone with a lot of literary skills needs to come up with some sort of alert that claims that those bastard liberal media companies and those liberals in Congress (I said sensationalist) are trying to take a way your right to record your TV shows by mandating that all future electronic devices contain copy protections to allow people who make shows to disable your ability to record them without paying for them.

      I don't see where liberalism comes into it. Certainly none of the leftist media types I know would condone putting the keys to the entertainment and tech industries in the hands of media cartels like Disney.

      What I'm really disappointed in is the alacrity with which Sen. Kerry and the other Democrats on Hollings' committee agreed to the outlandish claims put forward by the entertainment weasels. I didn't go for Ralph Nader's "Democrats and Republicans are the same" platform during the election. But the SSSCA hearings provided a real "They Live" [imdb.com] moment for me, where I could see the invisible puppet strings from the entertainment industry.
      • by weave (48069)
        I don't see where liberalism comes into it.

        It has nothing to do with it, of course. Sorry, subtle joke on my part. The best way to manipulate the weak is to claim them liberals are out to get you, control you, and ruin your life.

        It just gets my knickers in a twist when conservatives blame everything on liberals, and then make excuses for republicans. Truth be, they are all (both Republicans and Democrats) big-spending ready-bought politicians. The only difference is who they take money from and where they like to spend it.

    • Good idea.
      I'd say - to raise a grassroots, you should go to your local audio/video electronics store, and tell them about all the revenue they're going to lose from blank tape and VCR sales. Have them hang a poster in their window.
  • by cdrudge (68377) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @09:58AM (#3162094) Homepage
    "We may be stupid but we're not idiotic." - Peter Chernin, president of the News Corporation.

    Step 1, Admit that you have a problem.
  • by snkline (542610) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:00AM (#3162102)
    But Mr. Chernin of the News Corporation suggested that matters might be different if the tables were turned. "Let's say I decide to broadcast on my network the code for how to make Intel chips or Microsoft software," he said. "I think they'd find a way to stop it."
    I don't think so. Intel and Microsoft wouldn't do anything if News Corp. told people how to make a microprocessor or a word processor. Now if they somehow got ahold of MS code and boadcast it, well that would be illegal now. What is the difference. The fact that computers can be used illegally does not mean those companies are facilitating it, whereas CNN broadcasting MS code IS facilitating illegal activity.
    • But Mr. Chernin of the News Corporation suggested that matters might be different if the tables were turned. "Let's say I decide to broadcast on my network the code for how to make Intel chips or Microsoft software," he said. "I think they'd find a way to stop it."

      And because Windows XP is the heart of Microsofts business model, Microsoft has obviously devised a way to completely stop piracy of their operating system.

      And as you can see today, they've been completely successful.

    • Wow. First Jack Valenti accuses most internet users of being thieves. Next News Corp accuses (in a sideways fashion, of course) Intel and Microsoft of broadcasting works to which they had no right? When will the lies stop? If these people can't be trusted to tell the truth in this simple matter, how can they be trusted to tell us about important matters, like wars and campaigns and other public policy issues?

      Intel and Microsoft may be guilty of other crimes, but this charge, even as an imaginary "Let's say" scenario, is spurious and dangerous! Intel and Microsoft aren't broadcasting anything that I'm aware of. The media themselves are the ones doing the broadcasting and a very very small minority of their customers take advantage of the fact that information is very difficult to fence in.

      MPAA, I'm very sorry your major members are having trouble selling high speed internet connections to further increase your profits on wiring you've already laid (in spite of the fact that cable sales seem quite brisk). I'm also very sorry that you are afraid of publishing material over the net without additional protections that your material has not enjoyed at any point in history. If you don't like it, keep your content in the vault and see how well it sells there. Or here's an idea. Simply release it on video tape and only broadcast it over analog signals-- most of us have been getting along just fine on those two technologies for years.
  • Add to the list... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jlower (174474) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:02AM (#3162108) Homepage
    From the story...

    If you want to preserve both the music and movies we enjoy, and your rights to use them freely, there are several things you can do. First, stop stealing music online, and stop condoning the practice. Second, boycott copy-protected CDs. Third, start paying attention to the coming fight over copy-protection, and speak up for your rights as a consumer.

    These are all well and good but the fact is, a vast majority of consumers aren't even aware of the problem or the proposed solutions working their way through Congress. They won't know a thing about this until the mad rush is on to purchase the last few non-DRM protected PC's.

    So, I would add - Fourth, Tell everyone else about these three steps! Tell your parents, your siblings, your cow-orkers, the people in line next to you at the store, and so on. Put blurbs on your web pages and yak it up the other customers at the video/music stores.

    As large as the /. community seems to be, it is insignificant to the people pushing and passing the new laws. Everyone needs to know, everyone needs to complain. We are the ones who know, we are the ones who need to shout from the rooftops.
  • Bill of Rights (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alien54 (180860) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:03AM (#3162110) Journal
    Don't know if this will get Slashed, so here it is:

    Bill of Rights, as found at http://www.digitalconsumer.org/bill.html [digitalconsumer.org]

    1. Users have the right to "time-shift" content that they have legally acquired.

    This gives you the right to record video or audio for later viewing or listening. For example, you can use a VCR to record a TV show and play it back later.

    2. Users have the right to "space-shift" content that they have legally acquired.

    This gives you the right to use your content in different places (as long as each use is personal and non-commercial). For example, you can copy a CD to a portable music player so that you can listen to the songs while you're jogging.

    3. Users have the right to make backup copies of their content.

    This gives you the right to make archival copies to be used in the event that your original copies are destroyed.

    4. Users have the right to use legally acquired content on the platform of their choice.

    This gives you the right to listen to music on your Rio, to watch TV on your iMac, and to view DVDs on your Linux computer.

    5. Users have the right to translate legally acquired content into comparable formats.

    This gives you the right to modify content in order to make it more usable. For example, a blind person can modify an electronic book so that the content can be read out loud.

    6. Users have the right to use technology in order to achieve the rights previously mentioned.

    This last right guarantees your ability to exercise your other rights. Certain recent copyright laws have paradoxical loopholes that claim to grant certain rights but then criminalize all technologies that could allow you to exercise those rights. In contrast, this Bill of Rights states that no technological barriers can deprive you of your other fair use rights.

    • Needs an addition (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Zot (90080) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:15AM (#3162151)
      7. The rights previously mentioned cannot be hampered by technology.
      • No, it just cannot be hampered by government intervention. Valenti and Rosen can try and DRM or CD-key everything in sight but under no circumstances are they to have the power of law on their side. If I can beat it, I am legally allowed to do so.
    • There's one right missing from this list; the right to be left alone.

      I don't have cable or a satellite dish, so I don't watch much TV.

      I don't have broadband so I'm not one of the people downloading movies or MP3's off the Internet.

      I don't own a DVD player, and while I do own a VCR, I don't use it to record programs off the air; instead it plays Lion King and Toy Story videos to keep the kids off my back.

      I haven't bought a (music) CD in years, I don't own an MP3 player or even a writable CD drive.

      While I admit I'm not the best customer of the audio/video content industries, I'm not a pirate in any sense of the term. I don't even exercise many of the rights that the content industries themselves grant that I have. I understand the technologies, and could probably become one, but that stuff just doesn't interest me. In short, I'm just not equipped to be a pirate.

      But I do work with computers, and I am concerned about the effects that legislation like the DMCA and the SSSCA will have on me directly.

      I guess I need to go out and buy a few CD's so I can begin to boycott them, eh? ;-)

      The MPAA and the RIAA should view this as a shot across their bow; they are motivating people who otherwise couldn't care less and making enemies of people who would hapilly leave them alone. This is not a wise tactic.

    • Re:Bill of Rights (Score:2, Informative)

      by Steve525 (236741)
      It seems that this "Bill of Rights" doesn't include anything which isn't already covered by "fair-use" doctrine. This isn't a bad thing. Indeed, in the current climate we need to remind our lawmakers that they shouldn't be giving the media producers the ability to walk all over our fair use rights.

      I'm not opposed to the media producers trying to copy protect their content. I'm not even necessarily opposed to legislation that might help them do it. (such as a modified DMCA- the SSSCA on the other hand is pure nonsense). However, I am opposed to the fact that they've been able to tie copy protection in with fair-use steeling mechanisms, effectively killing the ability to exercise fair-use.

      Strangely enough, if our legal system worked the way it is supposed to, we wouldn't need to fight to keep fair use alive. Hopefully this example will explain why I say this...

      If I currently wanted to sell a way to rip DVD's I could claim my product has fair use reasons for existing. (such as back-ups and platform shifting). If the media producers gave us the ability exercise as much fair use as possible while maintaining copy protection, there would go my defense. The media producers would be left with a choice. If they give consumers their rights, the law will protect their copy protection. If they stomp all over fair use, they're on their own.

      However, in the current climate, copy protection trumps fair use. The media producers get to win it all. So, perhaps we do need this "Bill of Rights"
    • 6. Users have the right to use technology in order to achieve the rights previously mentioned.

      You need to somehow make it clear that this applies to any method of doing these things. Regardless of if the technology dates from 1850 or 2850... What makes things such as the DMCA and SSSCA especially bad laws is that they are over concerned with fiddling technical details of current technology. A good law concerns itself only with the "what" rather than the "how".
    • Point 6 is like the prostitution laws in Canada. Exchanging money for sex is perfectly legal, however any form of communication for the purposes of said exchange is solicitation and is illegal. So you can pay someone for sex as long as no-one ever actually talks about it. Funny, eh?
  • I for one really like this idea. My intentions are to fully support the organization [digitalconsumer.org] and it's idea of a consumer bill of rights. We've needed something like this for a long time. Who the hell does Hollywood think they are, standing in the way of progress? The sorid history of Hollywoods past tells us a lot about the enemy. Think about the "starlet pools" they used to keep around (not that I'd mind diving in...) for "casting". Even in the '30s and '40s they were hosing people with shitty contracts. The music industry was actually worse back then than Hollywood. How can we expect them to change now, especially since we are literally threatening their existence. Of course they're going to fight! All I can really say is, I hope we can win, because the future looks pretty bleak, what with the RIAA Stormtroopers and the MPAA KGB knocking on our doors, demanding we turn our equipment over.
  • Reading the story and the points, they seem very much aimed at getting the general public interested, as opposed to the smaller band of people currently involved who understand the effects of the DMCA and SSSCA. The language they use and what they are lobbying for are specifically things that consumers understand and want, as opposed to the more esoteric and ideal-oriented problems most of the /. crowd can understand and has been rallying against.

    =Blue(23)
  • by K7001 (472671) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:06AM (#3162125) Homepage
    for those without NYTimes accts:

    Jonathan Zittrain, an assistant law professor at Harvard, pointed out in a recent New York Times editorial that what Eisner's really saying is that the most dangerous threat to his industry is the American consumer. If that's really the case, what Eisner needs to do is rethink his business model rather than look for a way to outsmart his customers.

    which really sums it up for me
  • Without copyright protection we will change our business model


    And how exactly is this is bad? First of all, no corporation on earth has a guarantee that their business model will remain valid. To assume so, is a guarantee of (future) failure.


    Given the quality and (lack of) originality of most the stuff that comes out of major studios, I would be more than happy for them to change their business model. Maybe they could actually produce something I wanted! Then again, maybe their new business model will be to stop producing anything at all. This will allow them to control distribution and prevent piracy :-)

    • First of all, no corporation on earth has a guarantee that their business model will remain valid.

      ...In an open and fair market.

      Which is why Media Interests have purchased the best legislation that they can that enshrines their business models and profitability in laws that ensure that their business models and organization don't become invalidated by changing technology.

      This seems to be an unfortunate trend everywhere -- once you get some measure of success, you use your money to purchase the force of law to guarantee your success into the future.
  • Legally acquired? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SkyLeach (188871) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:14AM (#3162148) Homepage
    If you tag Legally acquired onto the end of each line then all the RIA and MPAA have to do is make it illegal to acquire the media without waving that right. Rights are waved all the time in agreements.

    Also, all they have to do is make it illegal to acquire video via a recording device to defeat the space-shift/time-shift scenario.

    I think the bill should make it illegal to require that a person give up any rights to consume media. Of course it would be ignored just like the fact that it is illegal to *require* a person to give you their SSN, but then the company isn't *required* to give you a loan unless you do either...
    • by grid geek (532440) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:30AM (#3162214) Homepage
      Rights are waved all the time in agreements.

      The British system is better, consumers are not allowed to give up their statutory rights even if they sign an agreement, if it is to their detriment. e.g. If you have to sign a contract stating you will not rip a cd to mp3 after purchasing it the company couldn't sue you if you did as you have the right to back up digital media for personel use. Its actually more likely the record company would be investigated for monopoly/anti-trust practices. But then we limit the amount of money politicians can spend and recieve. 1 UK National election costs less than a single Senate seat. it

      would be ignored just like the fact that it is illegal to *require* a person to give you their SSN

      This would also be illegal in the UK under the data protection act, the only people who can request it are employers (since we generally pay tax at source rather than have to do our own accounts). Businesses here can only get the mimimum data they need and you can refuse to divulge anything else e.g. travel passes can include address detail in case they are lost (and the company likes you to fill this in for a variety of reasons); however, you don't have to even supply the companys with your real name providing you pay upfront rather than in arrears.
      • Businesses here can only get the mimimum data they need and you can refuse to divulge anything else e.g. travel passes can include address detail in case they are lost (and the company likes you to fill this in for a variety of reasons); however, you don't have to even supply the companys with your real name providing you pay upfront rather than in arrears.

        So long as you are not enguaging in fraud it is perfectly legal to give any name you like, including a different name to anyone you deal with.
    • The fact that something has a license does not mean it's licensed. If the transaction is conducted like a sale, it's a sale [linuxjournal.com].


      (Note: The actual text of the Adobe V. Softman decision seems to have been remove the CA courts site. If anyone know where it is, please post a link.

  • What a shame (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Salsaman (141471) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:14AM (#3162150) Homepage
    Microsoft: if you punish us, we will have to stop producing Windows


    News Corp: without copyrights, we'll have to change our business model


    I feel so sorry for all these 'poor' companies...

  • Sounds good to me. I was all ready to send 'em some cash, but surprisingly, I couldn't find a donations page. I suppose I'll just have to mail a check the old-fashioned way.

    I certainly hope they succeed. This is precisely the sort of effort I have been wishing the EFF would take, but they seem to concentrate solely on 'defensive' measures. (defending people who are accused under silly tech laws rather than pressing for good tech laws)
    • The EFF would lose it's nonprofit status if it started actively lobbying Congress. This happened to the Christian Coalition a few years back, which promptly spun off it's lobbying operation. Conservative activist organizations run into this problem quite a bit. They tend to split in half, with the original group staying out of direct lobbying, and the new group doing the lobbying. Ideally the EFF would do the same thing.
  • My own submission (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gabrill (556503)
    Included is my submission to the effort 8) Corporations may be the noisiest and most money throwing lobbyests around, but please don't mistake that for the best interests of Americans. I've heard a lot of arguements that say anything that makes a large corporation more money is in the best interest of the 'economy'. Please don't let the 'economy' (ceo pocketbooks) supercede my basic rights to use the media I buy in legal ways. Please don't make me buy 5 different media players, each with their own license, to install in my car when one can be translated to and save me space and electricity. Currently I have 3 different mediums in my living room. A computer to play recorded shows via an All-In-Wonder, a VCR deck to play old tapes, and an X-Box to play DVD's. The computer makes recording easier with the Guide+ software. If licensing on media wasn't so ludicrous I could archive my poor VHS collection to a computer format on cd and save these aging but precious copies that I rightfully paid for. I'm afraid that this will soon be illegal, and yes undo-able with new features that take macrovision and apply similar features to any copying media. It is a ploy to force consumers to re-buy their entire media library as the old one degrades past useability. Corporations will say the the interests of the 'economy' require this, but they are merely criminalizing the restoration and preservation of our own bought and paid for media. And as well I have read and agree with the form letter which follows: As a constituent and an ardent consumer of digital media, I write today to urge you to support a Consumer Technology Bill of Rights, and to express my concerns about the recent trend toward allowing one-sided copyright laws to eliminate my Fair Use rights. Historically, our country has enjoyed a balance between the rights of copyright holders and the rights of citizens who legally acquire copyrighted works. Generally speaking, rights holders have the exclusive right to distribute and profit from artistic works. Consumers like me who legally acquire these works are free to use them in most noncommercial ways. Unfortunately, this balance has shifted dramatically in recent years, much to the detriment of consumers. To prevent further erosion of my rights, I would like to add my voice to DigitalConsumer.org in calling for a "consumer technology bill of rights". It is simply an attempt to assert positively the public's personal use rights. These rights are not new; they are historic rights granted in previous legislation and court rulings that have over the last four years been whittled away. Under the guise of "preventing illegal copying" I believe Hollywood is vilifying their customers - people like me - and using the legislative process to create new lines of business at my expense. Their goal is to create a legal system that takes away my long-cherished personal use rights and then to charge me an additional fee to regain those rights! Copy protection, especially to prevent overseas piracy for illicit sale, is an important issue. But before Congress considers yet another change in the law at the behest of the copyright holders, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to protect my Fair Use rights. Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter. Sincerely, Justin Mahn
  • A suggestion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Windcatcher (566458)
    Of course the major reason all of this is happening is piracy. I submit that piracy isn't the cause of the problem, but a reaction to the fact that content simnply costs too much. We all know what happens when you are a content producer (e.g. musician, writer, software producer): to get your product distributed, you have to sign a contract with a distributor that grants them exclusive rights and lets them have the lion's share of the revenue. Distributors all consider this standard, and they also know that content producers have no choice but to to acquiesce. Anyone following the Bioware/Interplay fiasco knows what the game software industry is like--about the only way for a content producer to make any money anymore is to find a buyer for their company. It's the same with books and music. Ultimately the problem is that distributors with exclusive agreements are local monopolies, with the ability to charge a price far above where the supply and demand curves meet. The result is either abstention from buying their products or piracy. If music CDs cost $100 a piece, let's face it--NO ONE would buy them legitimately. At $22 a piece the effect is the same, just not as severe. My suggestion is to CHANGE CONTRACT LAW. Exclusive distribution arrangements and incentives should be classified as anti-competitive and make illegal. The incentive, from a content producer's standpoint, should always be in the direction of more distributors. Smaller distributors should be able to cut costs and undercut their competition by offering a producer's product to the consumer at a better price, thus garnering greater sales and revenue for the producer and themselves. Some distributors will survive, but the ones that don't suddenly start paying attention to their cost-revenue curves won't--just like in any other industry. The only real danger would be if distributors tacitly agreed not to "go after" each other's clients, but I feel that any distributor that didn't take every aggressive measure to undercut its competitors would quickly find itself sued by its stockholders. Greed will always be there, the trick is to make it work FOR the consumer instead of against it.
  • My favourite quote! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ProfBooty (172603) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:25AM (#3162195)
    That brought an angry retort from Andrew S. Grove, the chairman of Intel. "Is it the responsibility of the world at large to protect an industry whose business model is facing a strategic challenge?" he said in an interview. "Or is it up to the entertainment industry to adapt to a new technical reality and a new set of consumers who want to take advantage of it?"

    It is nice to see a more "mainstream" opinon which echos the sentiments of slashdot posters. This really is the core of the issue: Media companies don't want to deal with the new dynamics as to what people (the "consumer") want to do with the content that they percieve they own (i.e. i bought it in the store, i can do whatever i want with it). I don't see how digital rights should be any different than rights in the analog world. Asides from preceieved quality issues, all the move to digital has done, is make it easier for people to do stuff that they had done previously, i.e. the new term "space shift".

    In my younger days i "spaceshifted" a record or cd to a tape or MD to listen to in my walkman or in my parents car. How is this any different than when I download a copy of a cd i own to my mp3 player?

    The question I have, is who has more lobbyists? The hardware or media industires? That will probably be the deciding factor.
    • Yeah, I agree with the points that are made here: An industry that thinks its business model should be unchanged during a technological revolution is just pathetic. One remark, though:

      The question I have, is who has more lobbyists? The hardware or media industires?

      Well, the hardware industry is quite a lot bigger, isn't it?

      However, this means that we need to be very careful about how we talk to people about this. Right now, we can say "look at how these huge record companies are screwing artists and consumers alike!" And there is a lot of truth to it. However, getting the largish hardware industry on the matter means that RIAA, MPAA and the like can say "look at how the huge hardware manufacturers are screwing the poor, idealistic artists for their own profit!" You know, we should be concerned that there may become so truth to that as well, in which case the tables are turned.

      • Ah, yes, but it's not just the entertainment industry that you have to deal with. They have lots of ties. There's a good summary here [adbusters.org] (the fruits of a Google search). Entertainment and the major TV networks are tied in with power (GE, Westinghouse), AOL, and Philip Morris (already a massive company).

        For example, Disney's ties (from the document linked above):

        DISNEY / ABC / CAP

        Television Holdings:

        ABC: includes 10 stations, 24% of US households.
        ABC Network News: Prime Time Live, Nightline, 20/20, Good Morning America.
        ESPN, Lifetime Television (50%), as well as minority holdings in A&E, History Channel and E!
        Disney Channel/Disney Television, Touchtone Television.

        Media Holdings:

        Miramax, Touchtone Pictures.
        Magazines: Jane, Los Angeles Magazine, W, Discover.
        3 music labels, 11 major local newspapers.
        Hyperion book publishers.
        Infoseek Internet search engine (43%).

        Other Holdings:

        Sid R. Bass (major shares) crude oil and gas.
        All Disney Theme Parks, Walt Disney Cruise Lines.
        • Ah, yes, but it's not just the entertainment industry that you have to deal with. They have lots of ties.

          A very good point. Indeed, these companies are far bigger than many of us imagine. If you want to see a full list on what companies own what, take a look here:
          http://www.cjr.org/owners/ [cjr.org]

          Especially check out Clear Channel, it's amazing how many stations they own. Also, it's odd that under Disney, it shows that they have an investment in TiVo. Isn't Disney part of the same people trying to outlaw those types of technologies?!
    • by BeBoxer (14448)
      The question I have, is who has more lobbyists? The hardware or media industires? That will probably be the deciding factor.

      Possibly the biggest difficulty in this fight is that the media industries have an ace up their sleeve. Namely, they are the media. They can run warm fuzzy stories about Sen. Hollings standing up for the rights of "artists" in the face of Internet criminals. And any Congress-critter who opposes them better not have any upset interns for the media to dig up. Whether or not it would work is one thing. But I bet that media lobbyists can make very effective use of the threat.


      Amazingly, Newsweek seems to have spent a lot of effort to rag on the music industry in a recent issue. About three pages blaming their lagging sales on too much bad formula music and too-high prices. It also discussed the successes of "O Brother Where Art Thou" at the Grammy's as evidence that even the folks who work in the music industry know that most of the stuff they are shoveling out the door is crap. Another one page article about Hollings and the SSSCA making it quite clear that that the proposed law would impinge on legal copying as well as pointing out that the Internet can probably do for media industries what the VCR did for the movie industry, namely make them a shitload of money if they would just stop trying to make it illegal.


      I don't know, but it seems that print media is much more willing to actually run stories on the issues involved. Maybe it's because they are an older industry. Maybe they just see it as a way to kick a competitor. Maybe it's the fact that I don't have cable and never watch broadcast news. Has anybody ever seen any coverage of this issue in the broadcast media? How biased did it seem?

  • You want to give up the convenience of wireless, pay per view, video on demand, media organization, plug and play, one touch recording, ease of use, so you can shift time? You need to give before you can get. If you want rights, use a PC and do it yourself. Don't expect major electronics companies to give you maximum convenience with full rights.

    • Start paying attention.

      According to the SSSCA, a PC is an interactive digital device, and as such, it must be neutered according to government-created specifications. If an SSSCA-like law is introduced and passed, there will be NO technology available to enable you to exercise your rights.

      I think this is Consumer Technology Bill of Rights is an excellent idea.
  • by eples (239989) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:27AM (#3162202)

    Joe Kraus, founder of Excite and co-founder of DigitalConsumer.org, is scheduled to testify before Congress today - his testimony is online [digitalconsumer.org] and is excellent.
  • From the Article(NYT one)...he(Eisner) suggested that they (MS Apple, Intel ETC) had failed to develop adequate protection for digital media because piracy helps sell computers.
    Microsoft et al aren't even able to develop decent anti-piracy measures for their own software and hardware(Multi-Regional DVDs etc) why should they bother to work on another companies problems when they can't beat their own?
    Also the very idea that pirited songs and ripped movies help to sell computers is stupid. At most it forces some people to go get a better video card, start a broadband account and get a bigger screen and speaker set.
  • Why isn't anyone using this argument? I think I read somewhere that the video game industry is bigger than hollywood, and they don't seem to b*ch nearly as much, while their medium is solely computers. They can deal with it, why can't Hollywood/RIAA?
    • Some console game companies may be doing well. But PC? What about Interplay, or Sir-Tech? Note that Sir-Tech specifically had trouble collecting payments from overseas distributors -- folks who basically *were* pirating for money, because they weren't paying.

      Microprose, SimTex, Broderbund, Atomic Games, Strategic Simulations Inc, Spectrum Holobyte... there are a lot of names you don't see that often anymore in that industry. I'm not saying piracy killed them, but the industry has had a fair number of casualties, so are they really thriving?

      *shrug*

      (Honest question, actually. I don't know that much about the financials of the companies that are still in the game.)
      • He meant console gaming, not PC gaming in particular

        "According to IDC, the movie office receipts for Y2000 was $7.75 billion, while the interactive games industry revenue was $8.2 billion!" (found here [expresscom...online.com])

      • It's a tough industry, no denying it, probably the toughest there is. Gaming is probably the fastest-changing segment of the technology industry. The games we're playing today are nothing like the games from a decade ago. Real-time strategy, MMORPG, and first-person shooter games didn't exist in 1990. Today they dominate. Lots of company don't adapt to the changes and they die.

        But lots of gaming companies are doing pretty well - Firaxis, Blizzard, id, Verant, Maxis, etc. There's been quite a bit of consolodiation, most of the names above are now subsidiaries of megacorps. Entertainment in general lends itself to consolidiation because sometimes even the best creators turn out flops so you need quite a few titles out at any time. On the whole, gaming companies have figured it out:

        1) Use sane copy-protection features that don't seem horribly hostile to consumers. I can transfer my copy of Starcraft to any damn machine I please as long as I enter the key. I can copy the damned CD so I can not play from the original and avoid scratching it. This is not strong copy-protection, of course. I can probably share with some of my close friends, but game companies have figured out there's no way to prevent that without making their products anti-consumer. I won't buy a game that requires me to insert random disks at random times, say the magic incantion every third time I start up, and prostrate myself before the Gods of Copy Protection for the privelege of using their Glorious Content.

        2) Charge reasonable prices. Games have stayed in the $30-70 price range for almost a decade. If prices rose as fast as CD and video prices did Black and White would cost $200. Piracy makes price discrimination quite difficult.
  • by RAVasquez (318309) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:44AM (#3162273)
    But Mr. Chernin of the News Corporation suggested that matters might be different if the tables were turned. "Let's say I decide to broadcast on my network the code for how to make Intel chips or Microsoft software," he said. "I think they'd find a way to stop it."

    It's called a "lawsuit." That is, you sue whoever leaks proprietary code when they do it. It doesn't mean you cripple your hardware or software on the off-chance that somebody could do it.

    I swear to God, these media types must blow their noses by committee.
  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @10:52AM (#3162329)
    To contact your Representative and Senator. Go to http://www.digitalconsumer.org/fax.html [digitalconsumer.org] and fill out your name, e-mail address, and Zip code. Then they'll fax a pre-made letter (which you can alter if you'd like) to your two Senators and your Representative (based on your Zip code). Very important since many people are concerned about this stuff, but balk when it's time to actually write and send a letter.
  • I like the concept and I thought the "bill of rights" was right on target but that website could use some more content. Possibly message boards and some type of petition to sign. A donations page is usually standard with these grass route advocacy pages. You think these guys would have their act together if they were getting linked from the WSJ.
  • by LinuxParanoid (64467) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @11:34AM (#3162510) Homepage Journal
    I know that the congressional staffers don't pay too much attention to boilerplate messages, so I rewrote mine to say the following, posted here as just another perspective:

    I'm upset that the Fair Use rights of citizens and consumers of copyrighted information are under steady and increasing attack by profit-maximizing and liberty-minimizing corporations.

    It'd be nice if some representatives such as yourself stood up for the average Joe's 'pursuit of happiness'.

    Specifically, I would appreciate if Congress would grant the right for consumers to 'time-shift' and 'space-shift' our use of legitimately purchased (or licensed) copyrighted materials for personal use. I would like to add my voice to DigitalConsumer.org in calling for a "consumer technology bill of rights" in an attempt to preserve our Fair Use rights. I'm sure you've read their boilerplate, I won't repeat it.

    I have a bunch of old cassette tapes. And I have a bunch of CDs. And I listen to a lot of my music and audio on the computer nowdays. And over time my cassettes (and even CDs) degrade for reasons of physics and cheap electronics.

    As a software developer who respects intellectual property rights, I have never used Napster (or similar services) to download music I have not purchased. But I dang well *would* like the clear legal right to download MP3s of casettes I purchased 15 years ago, or CDs in my collection, so I don't have to go through the hassle of upgrading my tape deck and connecting it to my computer to try to move songs around. (To be fair to record companies, I would not demand the right to download CD-quality copies of my old cassettes, but CD-quality copies of CDs or low-medium-grade MP3 copies of casettes should be 'fair'.)

    I've slowed and stopped purchasing much additional music until the industry comes up with a consumer-friendly way for me to purchase it; something which allows me to recognize a song on the radio, say "hey, I like that song and would like it in my permanent collection" and allows me to download it and play it for the rest of my life, like a book on my shelf.

    The record industry wants me to purchase a 'license' to listen to the song when I am online, being tracked, or wants me to purchase a copy on some physical piece of media that they will obsolesce in 15 years.

    I don't mind if they attempt to convince the public to do that, but I resent that they are enhancing their ability through highly suspect oligopolistic practices, through high-paid lawyers in the courts, through high-paid lobbiests trying to convince you, my representative.

    Copyright was designed by our founders not as a license to print money (although that is a nice side effect when a work is popular). Copyright should be an incentive to create new, great works.

    Wouldn't the world be a better place if they focused their massive resources on identifying new, good music? And not on trying to reduce the public's Fair Use rights in an attempt to create pseudo-mandatory upgrades for consumers who just want to listen to the Beatles songs of their youth, 20, 40, and 60 years later without paying copyright holders at every step along the way?

    I focus on the music industry because that is closest to my heart, but there are very similar issues with movies, the electronic books of tomorrow, and other media products.

    Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter.

    --LP (no, I signed it with my real name and address in hopes they'd pay more attention)
    • by Steve B (42864)
      I would appreciate if Congress would grant the right


      Ack! It should be protect the right -- this is not asking to ge given something, this is insisting that Congress cease and desist from violating our traditional rights.

    • Whomever handles the mail will enter it into their CMS, give you the "TECH.GEN", "PIRACY.PRO" and "DRM.CON" interest codes, and add a row for you to get the non-committal form letter regarding DRM(DRMGEN). A couple weeks later when a legislative coorespondent gets around to writing the letter, they'll print them off all at once and mail them out.

      At the end of the month, the sys admin will run a report of the top ten interest codes for the Congresscritter. If enough people wrote in about DRM, it'll make the bottom half of the list. (Social Security, Medicare, Abortion, Guns and Education will always be the first five.) The sys admin may or may not include a sample letter for each of the subjects. Depends on whether he threw them out as soon as they were assigned a response in the system.

      It's only at that point that the Congresscritter will notice that anyone is against DRM. Whether he's influenced by one line in the report more than the $10,000 HollyPAC just sent his campaign is up for you to decide.

      If you haven't already, you'll soon start receiving mailings from your Rep's office. ie: newsletter, meeting notices, etc.

      (Hint: If you want to get everything your Rep sends out, send a letter about the future of technology, education and Social Security and portray yourself as a hispanic mother in your 40s.)
    • Remove "(or licensed)" from your letter, your future comments, and your mind. This whole fight is about the restoration of rights, including the doctrine of "first sale". Once you admit to even the possibility that you're "licensing" the content the battle is over. You only have the rights the license grants you.


      Note that whether a license exists or not is irrelevent. [linuxjournal.com]
      It's the nature of the transaction that determines whether it's a sale or not.

    • Dear Billy,

      Thank you for letting me know what I already know. I understand the issue, but it seems you don't understand that I don't really care about your "rights" to be entertained. Now listen little Billy, you'll always be able to watch TV and movies you want, we're just making sure that the other kids don't ruin free entertainment for everyone.

      You see Billy, there's a lot of money to be made by pacifying the ignorant masses to keep them from killing each other and the rest of us who want to make this world a decent place to live without having to worry about migrant hoards of sodomizing hippies who smoke "dope" and play their anti-establishment MP3s on their computers running that communist operating system Linux.

      Earth and Justice to you, Fcuky!!!

      Your Congressman,

  • by Reziac (43301) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @11:39AM (#3162537) Homepage Journal
    I note in the article, this statement:

    "I believe if you say to these people, `You get us a system by Dec. 31 or we'll do it for you,' you'll be surprised at how innovative they'll become," Mr. Eisner told the lawmakers at last month's hearing.

    Let's turn that around, and pretend I'm Intel for a moment:

    "I believe if you say to the RIAA, `You find a new business model by Dec. 31 or we'll do it for you,' you'll be surprised at how quickly they'll adapt to current technology," Intel told the lawmakers at next month's hearing.

    There, see how easy that was??

    • I know talking to myself is frowned upon, but here's how I adapted my post for the abovementioned protest fax:

      ***
      Today there is an article in the NYTimes, which you can view at
      http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/14/technology/14PRO T.html

      I note in the article, this statement (copied here under the Doctrine of Fair Use -- be aware that this very copying for the purpose of using a brief quote would be illegal under the SSSCA bill):

      "I believe if you say to these people, 'You get us a system by Dec. 31 or we'll do it for you,' you'll be surprised at how innovative they'll become," Mr. Eisner told the lawmakers at last month's hearing.

      Let's turn that around:

      "I believe if you say to the RIAA, 'You find a new business model by Dec. 31 or we'll do it for you,' you'll be surprised at how quickly they'll adapt to current technology," consumers told the lawmakers at next month's hearing.

      No one has the RIGHT to profit, let alone a right to continue making money via an outdated business model.

      The SSSCA and bills like it are trying to legislate a RIGHT TO PROFIT for a very small segment of the economy, at the expense of literally everyone else.

      This bill is the modern equivalent of an attempted law of the early 1900s, where automobiles were to be outlawed because they would put manure sweepers out of a job. (This is a real example, you can look it up.)
      ***

      • This bill is the modern equivalent of an attempted law of the early 1900s, where automobiles were to be outlawed because they would put manure sweepers out of a job. (This is a real example, you can look it up.)

        I like the manure sweeper analogy a lot better than the buggy whip analogy. Nice find. :)
  • "If someone figured out how to unlock the gas in the gas station, people would be outraged," Mr. Eisner added. "They wouldn't say to the oil industry, `You need a different business model.' "

    i read the article and was not able to find one good point on behalf of the media companies. this point is absurd. when i copy a song, i am not depriving the people who have the song curently of their song so any analogy that deals with material goods is stupid at best.

    We may be stupid... -Peter Chernin

    you said it.
  • by mttlg (174815) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @12:04PM (#3162653) Homepage Journal
    Peter Chernin, president of the News Corporation (news/quote), which owns 20th Century Fox, said in an interview that "without copyright protection we will change our business models and the loser will be the public,"

    This is from the company that brought us a boxing match between Tonya Harding and Paula Jones, Temptation Island, Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, The Chamber, and loads of other worthless trash, while at the same time doing a poor job of promoting Futurama and Family Guy (and a poor job in general with The Tick). Since when is changing this business model a bad thing? The public is already a loser, it can't get much worse.

    Other nice quotes:

    "I believe if you say to these people, `You get us a system by Dec. 31 or we'll do it for you,' you'll be surprised at how innovative they'll become," Mr. Eisner told the lawmakers at last month's hearing.

    Oh yeah, this really makes Eisner look like the good guy...

    Senator Ernest F. Hollings, Democrat of South Carolina and chairman of the Commerce Committee, says that without technological safeguards Hollywood may never offer the kind of high-quality programming for digital television and broadband Internet services that would generate consumer interest and, in turn, economic growth.

    Real "high-quality programming" comes from intelligent and creative writing, good acting, and management that lets these things happen - until that happens, it won't matter how many lines the video image has if they are all lines of crap.

    "Unfortunately in many cases, fear is paralyzing Hollywood's ability to seize what I believe is an incredible opportunity," said Steven P. Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computer. "We at Apple believe most people want to be honest, and if offered reasonable choices, most people will choose to buy their content."

    You know things are bad when Steve Jobs is the least insane person in the room...

  • by kindbud (90044) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @12:10PM (#3162678) Homepage
    That brought an angry retort from Andrew S. Grove, the chairman of Intel. "Is it the responsibility of the world at large to protect an industry whose business model is facing a strategic challenge?" he said in an interview. "Or is it up to the entertainment industry to adapt to a new technical reality and a new set of consumers who want to take advantage of it?"

    Oh Yes! OH YES! OH YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!!

    Andy's karma just went up a few notches there...
  • Look who's behind this. It's the guys who did Excite.

    Excite was heavily hyped, didn't do much, and went bankrupt. This "DigitalConsumer" thing is starting out with heavy hype, and hasn't accomplished anything yet. Bad sign.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @12:56PM (#3162906) Homepage Journal

    "without copyright protection we will change our business models"

    You already have copyright protection, so I must conclude that you're happy with what the status quo was before 1998.

    And if copyright protection is what you're concerned about, why do you keep asking for something else -- copy protection?

    Take all that money you're spending on congress bribes, and hire some private detectives and lawyers to prosecute infringers instead. Make an expensive example out of some Morpheus or Gnutella user, and maybe things will get back in line.

  • by NanoGator (522640) on Thursday March 14, 2002 @01:18PM (#3163028) Homepage Journal
    'Is it the responsibility of the world at large to protect an industry whose business model is facing a strategic challenge?" he said in an interview. "Or is it up to the entertainment industry to adapt to a new technical reality and a new set of consumers who want to take advantage of it?"'

    It's about time somebody said this! A company's inability to stay ahead of customer demand is not the fault of the consumer . Don't punish them for saying "we have more things we want to do with your product."
  • The RIAA and the MPAA only want to sell the same crap over and over again, with no need to innovate. I have proof:

    "If someone figured out how to unlock the gas in the gas station, people would be outraged," Mr. Eisner added. "They wouldn't say to the oil industry, `You need a different business model.' "

    Never mind that he's accusing his customers of being natural thieves, but he also likens the content industry to an oil company. I don't think it's any accident that he used this terminology. He wants to be able to sell a movie, and anybody who uses it in any way pays for it, just like oil. He also secretly wants to make the content so easy to manufacture that there's always a supply of it.

    Eisner is going to learn a very harsh lesson about how much I'm willing to pay for content.
  • Prohibition turns otherwise honest citizens into criminals. If the SSSCA (or similar legislation) ever passes, I think it inevitable that an underground hardware market will emerge. Geeks with soldering irons and smaller-scale manufacturing equipment in their basements will fight the control.

    Just like a whole population of stoners has been turned into criminals, we geeks could face the same fate, having our passtime be deemed illegal, and punishable by lots of jail time. I could end up buying hardware and pot from the same people. ;)

    Cheers, Joshua

  • "If someone figured out how to unlock the gas in the gas station, people would be outraged," Mr. Eisner added. "They wouldn't say to the oil industry, `You need a different business model.' "

    Yes they would. Gas is easy to go buy. There's really no need to try to steal it. There'd be far more drive-offs if people were really trying to steal gas. But let me tell you something, if companies who sell gasoline played games with how much people could by (like they cannot buy gas for their lawnmower), then they just might steal it. In which case, the oil industry would HAVE to have a new business model.

    If Eisner really wants to liken Disney to the oil company, then this is a more accurate assesment:

    - Gas can only work in cars, it may not be used in any other vehicle like a lawnmower.

    - You have to pay for gas while you are using it. So if you are going up a hill, gas costs more.

    - You're not allowed to try to make your own fuel.

    - Disney has the right to tell you if you can drive or not.

    - You may only buy a full tank of gas, you may not purchase only a gallon.

    - The gas you bought will not work in anoter car, so you cannot sell your gas to somebody else.

    - You're not allowed to store gas in a 1-gallon container, even though it is more convienient and you've paid for it.

    If Disney ran the oil companies, and they played games like this, they're basically forcing people to acquire gas through 'unofficial channels'. The RIAA and the MPAA are basically entrapping people by not providing into the market people want to buy content in. "We're not going to sell into that market, but damn you if you try to get it anyway."

    I think the end of the RIAA and the MPAA is on the horizon . It's like refusing to turn when the road is swerving to the right.
  • I filled out the fax form, but I made a few changes to the default letter. You're all invited to use - - and in the further interest of fair use, to modify and add your own thoughts - - my version of the message, listed below:

    ---

    You and your colleagues have recieved letters or faxes from me in the past regarding issues of Consumer Technology. While the are no doubt recieving a number of faxes that look very similar to this one, I urge to you read this one completely. While most of this letter was written by members of DigitalConsumer.org -- they've already stated things better than I could -- I have added a few of my own thoughts.

    As a constituent, an ardent consumer of digital media, an artist, musician, author, and software developer, I write again today to urge you to support a Consumer Technology Bill of Rights, and to express my concerns about the recent trend toward allowing one-sided copyright laws to eliminate my Fair Use rights.

    Historically, our country has enjoyed a balance between the rights of copyright holders and the rights of citizens who legally acquire copyrighted works. Generally speaking, rights holders have the exclusive right to distribute and profit from artistic works. Consumers like me who legally acquire these works are free to use them in most noncommercial ways. Unfortunately, this balance has shifted dramatically in recent years, much to the detriment of consumers.

    To prevent further erosion of my rights, I would like to add my voice to DigitalConsumer.org in calling for a "consumer technology bill of rights". It is simply an attempt to assert positively the public's personal use rights. These rights are not new; they are historic rights granted in previous legislation and court rulings that have over the last four years been whittled away.

    Under the guise of "preventing illegal copying" I believe media companies are vilifying their customers - people like me - and using the legislative process to stifle outside innovation and create new lines of business at my expense. Legitimate, legal devices and methods for Fair Use copying, time- or media-shifting -- privileges that I am granted under both Constitutional and Federal Law -- are being outlawed because of the possibility that they may be used for widespread copyright infringement. Content licenses are becoming more and more restrictive, too. I can recall a recent case where the license of a particular electronic book forbid the content of the book to be spoken aloud! And another case where consumers were cease-and-desisted because they figured out how to use a hardware -- hardware! -- bar code scanner that the company had given them to read bar codes other than the ones that the company had intended them to read. Can you imagine the state of the country if Goodyear tires could only be used on roads that Goodyear approved of, or if people were forced not to use timesaving or lifesaving products or information because to do so was not the use the manufacturer had intended for their product?

    The goal of the media companies seems to be to create a legal system that takes away my long-cherished personal use rights and my right to innovate, and then to charge me additional fees to regain those rights! These companies should be encouraged to examine and reform their products and business models, not to infringe upon my rights.

    Copy protection, especially to prevent overseas piracy for illicit sale, is an important issue. But before Congress considers yet another change in the law at the behest of the copyright holders, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to protect my Fair Use rights. I don't pirate software. I don't pirate music. Yet, what the media companies have done and are doing with laws like the DMCA and proposals like the SSSCA will have great negative impact on my rights, and what I choose to do, within the real of fair use, with content I license or own.

    Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter.
  • Just more fuel for those wanting to actually write letters.

    Copy, mix, paste. (Hmm.. Kind of like Rip, Mix Burn huh?)

    I am writing you today to urge you to seriously consider supporting the development of a consumer technology bill of rights. One such effort can be found here: http://www.digitalconsumer.org

    Until now, our nation has employed a careful balance between the rights granted to copyright holders and those granted to citizens making use of protected content. These rights have enabled those who create and distribute content to generate wealth while allowing content to eventually pass into public domain in order to fuel future content creation.

    Fair use also plays an important part in this balance. Today citizens who legally obtain content are free to use it in most non noncommercial ways such as time shifting, space shifting, and archive creation and use. These uses provide good value to consumers today. Fair use also permits many adademic uses of works that may or may not be endorsed by the creators, but are vital to the growth of our culture and society in general.

    The efforts today to reduce the volume of content returned today to the public domain will reduce the quality and creative character of future content without any real benefit to society other than increased profits for the content creators. This is not what copyright was intended to do.

    I am also concerned over the many efforts to eliminate or sharply constrain the scope of Fair Use. A reduction in Fair Use will have negative long term effects on our ability to understand the nature and worth of technology put forth in the future. These reductions will also come at our expense without any real benefit to society in general other than increased profits for the content creators.

    The digital consumer today is under represented compared to the technology and content creators. The rapid pace of technology today makes it difficult for most of us to be reasonably informed about the technology that has a growing influence on our day to day lives. Through history, invention has changed our world in remarkable ways. We live now in a time where invention is again changing how our world works. Protecting the economic interests of a few large corporations now is just as wrong as it has been in the past.

    Given the relative youth of digital technology and our limited understanding of its long term effects on society today, efforts such as the Consumer Technology Bill of Rights seek to establish a foundation upon which technology and content creators can innovate fairly while preserving every citizens essential freedoms in the process. Maintaining the checks and balances necessary for fair and just growth is a must and efforts such as the Consumer Technology Bill of rights represent a much needed vehicle to properly balance technology growth in the future.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. I value it.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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