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Jack Valenti's Views On The Digital Age 441

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-they're-against-otan dept.
ditogi writes "The Harvard Political Review did a quick interview with the lord of darkness himself, Jack Valenti. He gives his thoughts on government mandated copy prevention, fair use, and lobbying. In response to his famous 'VCR is [to the movie industry]...as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.' quote, he responds, 'I wasn't opposed to the VCR.' And what does he think of his current job? 'I think lobbying is really an honest profession.'" My favorite quote: "In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless." Update: 02/05 20:05 GMT by T : Derek Slater writes "I'm the author of the Valenti article you guys linked to. I've made some brief comments about it on my site, and figured I'd send them along."
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Jack Valenti's Views On The Digital Age

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  • no backups !!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Roadmaster (96317) <(roadmr) (at) (tomechangosubanana.com)> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:05PM (#5232962) Homepage Journal
    "In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless."

    Wait till his hard disk dies ;)
    • Re:no backups !!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NecroPuppy (222648) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:07PM (#5232980) Homepage
      Or the DVD rots away.
    • Re:no backups !!! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rfmobile (531603)
      Yeah, or his prized DVD collection gets scratches, or won't play at all 'cuz he is in the wrong region, or ...

      -rick
      • Re:no backups !!! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:32PM (#5233242)
        > Yeah, or his prized DVD collection gets scratches, or won't play at all 'cuz he is in the wrong region, or ...

        ...the media format changes from 78s to vinyl to CDs to DVD-audio, or film to 8mm to Beta to VHS to SVHS to DVD?

        You buy it again! I mean, duh.

        Why would anyone want backups of stuff they paid for when they could simply pay for the same content all over again!

        Look, let me put it in terms even a Slashdotter can understand. If people could have backups, how would Jack make more money? Next thing you know, people will start thinking movies are about "watching photons bounced off or emitted from a screen and being entertained". Sure, there's that "acting" and "direction" and "plot" and "special effects", but, please, people, don't lose sight of the important part, namely the part about Jack making money.

    • Re:no backups !!! (Score:2, Informative)

      by ecchi_0 (647240)
      What about "DVD-rot [hardocp.com]"?
    • Re:no backups !!! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BWJones (18351) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:14PM (#5233062) Homepage Journal
      "In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless."

      Or what about when media changes? Can I simply transfer digital content from one media to another when I have paid for the right to listen to it? For instance, I purchased and repurchased a significant bit of music first on vinyl and then on CD with many of the albums being duplicates. In fact, some of them were purchased as vinyl LP's, cassettes, and then CD's of the same album. Now they are digital and hosted on my dedicated G4 media server, I don't want to have to purchase them again.

      Also, what about all of that vinyl I have that is out of print? Old punk and bluegrass vinyl that I want to rip into iTunes as well. Since I have already purchased this stuff, I should be able to digitize it without having to pay any more royalties.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:19PM (#5233116)
        " purchased and repurchased a significant bit of music first on vinyl and then on CD with many of the albums being duplicates. In fact, some of them were purchased as vinyl LP's, cassettes, and then CD's of the same album."

        "The RIAA, where an ignorant consumer[*] is our best customer!"




        [*]sheep, that is

    • by levik (52444) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:20PM (#5233121) Homepage
      Following this statement, mr Valenti went on to say that the MPAA is looking into the shady activities of the system administrators worldwide, who persist in regularly backing up untold amounts of data.

      "All I am saying," he said, "is that there is currently no oversight over the information that is getting duplicated. In other words, for all we know these people could be backing up my clients' protected material. My clients are simply requesting a reasonable amount of access to this data to verify that it doesn't contain any of our intillectual property."

      Mr. Valenti then asked the SysAdmin industry can justify spending so much money on "backing up" untold Terrabytes of content even though the data is in digital, format which does not degrade.

      "I'm not accusing them of anything, but I think they are stealing content," he concluded.

    • by Interrobang (245315) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:34PM (#5233258) Journal
      We've long suspected as much, but now we know for sure. Is there anything in that article that he says that isn't an out-and-out lie? He was never against VCRs? That's doubtless why he claimed that VCRs would destroy the movie industry. Statistics I hear suggest that movie tickets are now selling better than they have at any time since Jack Valenti was still getting into movies at the "child" price.

      Backups aren't necessary? I wonder if, when he was a kid, he ever dropped a record on his bedroom floor and watched it shatter into a million pieces. He obviously really believes that if he scratches a CD, trips and falls and smashes a CD in half, has his cassette player or his VCR eat a tape, or anything like that, he (and we) should all just rush out to buy a new one. No way!

      Where does his figure "$3.5 billion a year in videocassette analog piracy" come from? How does he "measure" this loss, being as it's really difficult to measure negative quantities. Is he counting the total street value of large-scale bootleg videotapes, or some sort of hypothetical "if Joe Average hadn't taped Star Trek off the tv, he would have bought the box set" figure?

      "What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law. " Well, IANAL, but I quote

      107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

      Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.


      That looks like there's something in law, all right. In Canada, the similar reservation is called "fair dealing," in case you're looking for it.

      Oh, how he do go on. He claims to have been in Vietnam. Was he exposed to Agent Orange? That's the only other explanation I can think of...
      • You see... he's lying. He is, on purpose, saying things that aren't true.

        Geeks have a problem with this kind of thing, because computers don't lie (or argue ;), and when we run into someone who's a liar, we keep tring to have a reasonable conversation with them to find out where the point of divergence is. And we never get there, because he's not playing the same game of question and answer you are (google "Grician").

        All the documented evidence and logical disproof of everything he says won't make a bit of difference because he doesn't care.

        • by evilpenguin (18720) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @06:49PM (#5235370)
          Yes indeed. I'll never spell his name correctly, but the Nazi propaganda minister, Goebbels (did I spell it right?) had his famous comment about "the Big Lie." Just say it loud enough and often enough and it becomes the truth. If I may engage in a little Valenti-esque hyperbole, Valenti is the entertainment industry's Goebbels, saying it loud and often.

          Copyright infringement already WAS a crime 100 years ago. All the law that is needed is already on the books. I don't download music files. I don't "pirate" software (luckily, I'm able to use Free software for almost everything I need and I can afford the closed stuff I still need until Free versions mature). I don't copy movies from friends or strangers. But I do rip my CDs into ogg and mp3 files. That was legal. (Still is, unless I need to "circumvent" a copy-protection system to do it -- then the DMCA kicks in).

          Valenti not only doesn't have to speak the truth, he doesn't want to speak the truth. He is selling the Big Lie.

          I hate to sound like a broken record (for anyone who still remembers what that means), but the best thing you can do is to educate, say, two non-techie friends on fair-use, the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions, and the Big Lie about DVD region encoding (it's price fixing, folks, not copy protection) and ask them to do the same. Then support organizations that are taking the fight back to the entertainment lobbyists: Support the EFF. [eff.org]

          One Big Lie I'd like to put to rest is that the world is filled with people longing to destroy intellectual property. I'm sure there are some. But I'm opposed to the DMCA, UCITA, CBDPTA (did I get that acronym right?) and the extension of copyright terms, but I'm still in favor of the existence of copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Copying something under copyright illegally is and should be a crime. But making a device that copies something for fair-use purposes shouldn't be, especially if that device has uses for non-protected works as well.

          So, if I may pretend I have the man's ear for a moment:

          You see, Mr. Valenti, I have no desire at all to steal your industry's products. Zero. Zilch. But I do refuse to let you or our government look into my home to prevent me from doing so. To be Valenti-esque again, if the DMCA makes sense, then we should pass another law that makes similar sense: Since the majority of violent crime is perpetrated by young men from the ages of 15-30 years, we should lock all males between those ages in prison. It would dramatically reduce violent crime. That seems like a legitimate public goal to me.

          You see, opposition to the egregious expansion of IP law is a civil liberties issue for many of us. Not a "I want free stuff issue."
      • Where does his figure "$3.5 billion a year in videocassette analog piracy" come from? How does he "measure" this loss, being as it's really difficult to measure negative quantities. Is he counting the total street value of large-scale bootleg videotapes, or some sort of hypothetical "if Joe Average hadn't taped Star Trek off the tv, he would have bought the box set" figure?

        Given his "have/eat cake" fallacy in reguard to backups as you noted I suspect he's counting both...
    • Maybe ol' Jack can help me transfer the data from my collection of old TRS-80 disks. They're five and a quarter inch, double sided, double density. Most are forty-track, although a few are thirty-five track. They were written using a non-standard doubler -- track zero is double-density too, unlike most where track zero was still single density.

      Hell, they don't even have anyone else's Intellectual Property on them, except for a quotation collection I'd transcribed from old Chinese legends and stuff.

    • Re:no backups !!! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Duck of Death (189129)
      "Wait until his hard disk dies ;)"

      Or wait until his "Shrek" DVD gets all scratched up. I just found out a couple of days ago that the disc with the widescreen (e.g. correct) version of the movie is mangled and won't play.

      I paid for it, and it doesn't work as Jack advertises (i.e. "never wears out"). Will I get a free replacement? No, I will not. So I borrowed a copy from a friend and I'm making myself a copy. And once that copy is complete, I will make another copy. Why? Because I have a small child and they can break the unbreakable and wear out the un-wear-out-able.

      I intend to make "kid copies" of all my kid's DVD's and keep the original as backup. Let him throw the copy across the room, or stand on it, or put it into the machine crooked, or play with it in the driveway, or use it as part of an intricate LEGO construction.

      JV claims everything he predicted about video tapes and copying came true. Everything, that is, except for the utter destruction of the movie and television industry, right Jack?

      DoD
  • a shed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spicy Bisquit (100885) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:08PM (#5232993)
    If Jack Valenti had his way back in 1982 (he almost did as the Sony BetaMax case went all the way to the Supreme Court) we wouldn't have VCRs today, Blockbuster wouldn't exist and 50% of Hollywoods income wouldn't exist.

    The guy is a knob.
    • Re:a shed (Score:5, Funny)

      by mccalli (323026) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:10PM (#5233012) Homepage
      If Jack Valenti had his way back in 1982...50% of Hollywood's income wouldn't exist.

      Hmmm...

      OK, I've switched sides. I'm a fan now.

      Cheers,
      Ian

      • Re:a shed (Score:3, Funny)

        by Spicy Bisquit (100885)
        im not saying that hollywood having more income to produce rapping kangaroo movies is a good thing. just that valenti is a tool.
    • Re:a shed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:13PM (#5233046) Journal
      Blockbuster, and ONLY blockbuster would exist. (We have that now through special deals with BB/Hollywood video, the mom & pops are dead)

      They werent opposed to selling you movies to watch in your own home, they were opposed to a free market distributing those movies.

      Thats where the whole crap about they sell 'liscenses' to the movies come about. Legally you can lend, trade, give away, or sell a videotape, but since the movie it contains is only liscensed to you for a particular purpose (personal viewing or rental) you cant.

      But in the digital age, apparently he feels we should not be able to protect those 'liscenses' we bought. Or he maybe thinks our liscense is only valid so long as the medium the movie came on is in working order?

      Is anyone stupid enough to believe a DVD is indestructable? My 8 year old single-handedly destroyed 2 of them this weekend alone. Does she no longer posess the liscense to view 'Shrek' because she stepped on the DVD, or can she watch the backup I made of it?
      • Re:a shed (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fucksl4shd0t (630000) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:53PM (#5233433) Homepage Journal

        Is anyone stupid enough to believe a DVD is indestructable? My 8 year old single-handedly destroyed 2 of them this weekend alone. Does she no longer posess the liscense to view 'Shrek' because she stepped on the DVD, or can she watch the backup I made of it?

        My 4-year-old wrote all over the movie side of my Back to the Future II DVD this morning, and I'm pretty pissed about it. I bought the set of the 3 movies for $50. Now I'm going to download a replacement and try to get it burned onto an svcd.

        From the article:

        You have to have copy prevention mandated by the government sooner or later because otherwise everybody's not playing by the same ground rules. For example, the standards of my cell phone have to be mandated by the FCC because everybody has to operate off the same standards. Also, all railroad tracks in this country are the same standardized width.

        Exactly how does protecting your intellectual property compare to a standard that brings about industrialization? It's not like movie companies do anything productive for society, they just entertain us. They don't ship food the the hungry, or build houses for the homeless, or do any important scientific research. They just make goddamn movies!

      • by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:48PM (#5234699) Homepage Journal
        Thats where the whole crap about they sell 'liscenses' to the movies come about. Legally you can lend, trade, give away, or sell a videotape, but since the movie it contains is only liscensed to you for a particular purpose (personal viewing or rental) you cant.

        The belief that movies, music, or books are somehow licensed to you is incorrect. It's a popular misconception, presumably because the copyright industry wants people to believe it. Don't fall for it, the debate over copyright is messy enough without people bring incorrect beliefs into the mix.

        If you purchase a DVD, a CD, or a book, you have a right to that particular DVD, CD, or book. In general you have every right to that DVD as you do to a chair you purchase. You can sell it, loan it out, modify it, give it away, use it, and let your friends use it. The only restriction of note on your behavior if copyright law. Copyright law says you can't distribute copies, that right is reserved for the copyright holder.

        The copyright industry is spending alot of effort to manipulate the language of the debate. Their goal is to make the debate impossible by removing or invalidating the language of the other side. Don't let them!

    • If Jack Valenti had his way back in 1982 (he almost did as the Sony BetaMax case went all the way to the Supreme Court) we wouldn't have VCRs today

      That's not what he said in the article. He said he wanted a piracy royalty on all blank videotapes to compensate copyright holders for losses due to piracy. In other words, he wanted the VCR to succede and become a free source of revenue for Hollywood.

      Remember: Paying a piracy royalty is being convicted of a crime before you've even committed it, assuming you were ever going to commit the crime in the first place...

  • Costs of Production (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrs clear plastic (229108) <allyn@clearplastic.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:10PM (#5233013) Homepage
    Hi:

    I would like to respond to the article's citation
    to the costs of producing a CD and a movie.

    I believe it cited 250,000 dollars for a CD and
    20 million for a movie.

    I talked about this with a friend who is doing
    a CD for a chorus. He said that the studio
    rental and editing costs were about $20,000
    to $30,000.

    We did not get a chance to talk about the
    manufacturing and distro costs, but I strongly
    think that the total costs can be done at much
    less than the number cited in the article.

    Mark
    • Obviously he was only referring to a CD that he had to pay Clearchannel to push.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You know, in the article they talked about censorship some. I think that in interviews like this they should censor the amounts he claims to lose due to piracy becausy they are absolutely obscene.

      "Yea, last wear we lost *CENSORED* due to internet piracy."
    • Depending on how you go about it, a CD can be produced for very little. If I were to record a chorus I would bring my Roland VS-1680 and microphones to their rehearsal hall. I would set up six microphones a few feet in front of the singers and have them go through their selected songs while I recorded everything. I would then, back in my home studio, extract the best performance of each song and mix it down to stereo. I can make small quantities of CDs directly on the VS-1680. When they approve the master I send it to a duplicating house who will make a few hundred for about $1 apiece, including jewel cases and simple jacket art. Total cost is about $2 per CD, less if they want thousands.
      John Sauter (J_Sauter@Empire.Net)

    • Unfair comparison (Score:3, Informative)

      by aborchers (471342)
      I would recommend you do some research on the music production process as a whole, and not base your assumptions of it on a single, very limited case. Your example leaves out a few hundred factors that can affect the cost of production. Many, if not all of these, were discussed at length [slashdot.org] a few weeks ago on this very board.

    • by victim (30647) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:42PM (#5233329)
      Studio costs are just one part of production for a typical album. They also usually include a producer to guide the project (assuming you want to be a commercial success) and paying the band an amount to live off of during the process.

      Choruses also usually spend less time in the studio than the typical band. The chorus is working from a precomposed score and can sing their parts right the first time. Overdubbing, multiple takes, mistakes, and experimentation all take time.

      Manufacturing/distro is in the $2/cd neighborhood. Marketing can be huge.
    • by Rinikusu (28164)
      Yeah yeah yeah.

      The biggest problem with this kind of analysis is that you're an outsider looking IN. At what point do YOU dictate what another person can and will do a job for?

      Think, techies: Your IT/Programming clueless boss comes in and demands something TOMORROW that you know will take 5 months to do properly (or some other number > tomorrow, mkay?) Doesn't it PISS YOU the fuck off that this guy is going to make demands just because "Joe down the Hall" said it's not a big deal and now expects YOU to deliver? If a studio engineer/producer sets his prices at $250k, then I can shop around. If *everyone* is charging that amount, then I suppose it's a fair price. The same goes for ANY profession. With IT, you can go with some IT monkeys who have a decent (or maybe not) understanding and pay them $7/hour (or out-source it overseas for even less), or you can get a bona-fide EXPERT at something (which you may or may not need) for whatever they go for these days (I have friends that billed out for $125+ hour during the .com rush and they could still ask for more). Yeah, you can go down to your local studio and record for $15/hour for some guy to do some basic knob twiddling (that's the "friend" rate I get), but you can bet your ass that Butch Vig wants $50k minimum, plus points, or it's not even worth his time to get out of bed.

      • Valenti cited that it costs 80+ million to make a movie, and about 350k to make a CD.

        if these figures are anywhere accurate for an average performance, then why the hell does it cost 18 bucks for a soundtrack for a movie that costs a little bit less than the DVD? For example, the Shrek sound track retails for about 18 bucks USD, and the Shrek DVD retails for about 26 bucks USD. Only about an 8 dollar difference. Since the movie took far more money to make, then why are they selling the DVD cheaper? Even when you factor in theatre incomes, some of which goes to pay the artists who wrote/had songs used for the movie, the costs should be a bit more even with the production values don't you think?

  • by bytesmythe (58644) <bytesmythe.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:11PM (#5233026)
    I am so reassured to know that the future advancements of our society are safely in the hands of visionaries such as Jack Valenti. I hope that he plays a major role in the formation of legistlation related to technological concepts, as he is surely one of the most forward-thinking members of this digital age.

    • by nanojath (265940) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:27PM (#5233192) Homepage Journal
      It's easy to slag off these fools but let's face it: they are not going to give up their private candy store, they are not going to give up their lucrative lobbying contracts, they are not going to stand up in front of their shareholders and say, well, hell, we're wrong. Opening up to the realities and efficiencies of digital is not going to come from them or from politicians: it has to come from artists and patrons, the people who stand to gain.


      The more serious, non-copyright-infringing projects are cooking, the better defense we have against indefensible legislation.


      Wanna talk to a REAL visionary? check out the MAPS project at http://www.kingdomcomeinstitute.com

  • by mcSey921 (230169) <<mcsey> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:12PM (#5233034) Homepage Journal
    'VCR is [to the movie industry]...as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.' quote, he responds, 'I wasn't opposed to the VCR.'

    From that quote then we can also infer he wasn't opposed to the Boston Strangler. Maybe he is the "Prince of Darkness".

    • I don't know what he is but it isn't good. I was having lunch the other day with Christopher Walken, Neutron Jack and Kennith Lay, and all agreed, "Jack Valenti? Now that's one scary evil sonuvabitch."

      Neutron boasted he almost took Valenti out once. But he only had the souls of 12 fair maidens trapped in lead vials worn around his neck, while Valenti had the full 13.

  • Anyone got Jack's home number? I'd like to get a free replacement, since digital copies "last forever" and never "wear out"

  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:14PM (#5233052) Homepage Journal
    [from the interview:]

    Valenti: But in digital piracy, with the click of a mouse a twelve year-old can send a film hurdling around the world.


    Hey Valenti, what sites have you been visiting lately? Pete Townshend wants to know...
  • Why? I don't know. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dugsmyname (451987) <thegenericgeek@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:14PM (#5233061) Homepage

    We're breeding a new group of young students who wouldn't dream of going into a Blockbuster and putting a DVD under their coat. But they have no compunction about bringing down a movie on the Internet. That isn't wrong to them. Why? I don't know.

    Nowhere in this article did I find any mention of turning "Bringing down a movie on the Internet" into a viable business model.

    People download movies becasue it is easy, convenient, and fast.

    Attach a cost.

    Keep it easy.

    Keep it convenient

    Make it fast.

    and it could become a viable business model for the future...
    The music industry still hasn't gotten the clue, maybe the movie industry still has a chance before it eaten alive by Kazaa, IRC(for the moment), and other file sharing applications.

  • No backups? (Score:4, Funny)

    by rd (30144) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:15PM (#5233067)
    He doesn't have CD eating children running around his house like I do.

  • Dear Jack (Score:5, Funny)

    by xXunderdogXx (315464) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:15PM (#5233075) Homepage Journal
    Dear Jack,

    I work at the bank where your financial information is stored. We were considering backing up your jillions of dollars but decided after hearing your comments that the information is secure because it is digital.

    Have a nice day,
    A fan
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:15PM (#5233077)

    the lord of darkness himself, Jack Valenti.

    I was going to make a comment about slashdot, and professionalism, and editorial responsibility to present unbiased viewpoints..

    but..

    ..fuck it. This guy is Satan on Earth, and I hope he goes the fuck out of business.

  • "In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless."

    That all depends on whose posession that 'digital copy' is in.

    If it is in MY posession, my dog might eat it. Or my computer/mp3 player/DVD drive might die. And I'll need the ability to make my own backup. When I want, how I want.

    If it is in THEIR posession (streaming or whatever), then I'll assume they have multiple copies on various servers. BUT, then they can charge me again to watch it whenever they feel like.
  • by TheFrood (163934) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:16PM (#5233085) Homepage Journal
    From the interview:

    HPR: The MPAA has backed several bills mandating copy prevention technologies. Critics have lambasted these bills for curbing consumer's "fair use" rights, including the ability to make back-up copies. How can we balance the interests of consumers and the movie industry?


    JV: What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law.


    Bullshit, Jack. It's right here: US Code: Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107 [cornell.edu].

    TheFrood
    • Likewise, while "all railroad tracks in this country are the same standardized width," it's not the result of governmental regulation (I believe), but rather a holdout from England.

      Anybody know for sure?
      • The width of a railroad track goes back to the width of horse-drawn vehicles that ran on standardized rutted roads, which in turn was based on slightly more than twice the width of a horse's rear end. Let Cecil Adams explain the rest [straightdope.com].

      • [Thanks Markus]

        The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet,
        8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

        Why was that gauge used?

        Because that's the way they built them in England, and English
        expatriates built the US Railroads.

        Why did the English build them like that?

        Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built
        the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

        Why did "they" use that gauge then?

        Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools
        that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

        Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?

        Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would
        break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because
        that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

        So who built those old rutted roads?

        Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and
        England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

        And the ruts in the roads?

        Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to
        match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots
        were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of
        wheel spacing.

        The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is
        derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war
        chariot. And bureaucracies live forever.

        So the next time you are handed a spec and told we have always done it
        that way and wonder what horse's ass came up with that, you may be
        exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just
        wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.
    • he obviously turns the blind eye to laws that he doesn't like, and wants the public to do the same until they're eroded into nothingness.
    • by Thud457 (234763) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:37PM (#5233285) Homepage Journal
      JV understands, like GWB, that if you repeat a lie often enough, the sheep eventually swallow it.
  • by Bloodwine (223097) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:17PM (#5233095)
    My god the VHS tape is barely over 20 years old, but you'd think the way he talks people have been breaking VHS tapes and buying replacements for over 100 years.

    Also I never knew it was illegal to copy VHS tapes that you already owned. All the FBI blurb at the begining of almost every U.S.-made movie says is that it is illegal to copy for distribution or showing in front of an audience. I guess he could get the legal eagles to define 'audience' as one or more people or pets.
  • DVD's won't wear out. They'll just get superceded by another format. I think agent K said it best in MIB when he said "Looks like I'll have to buy the White Album again."
    • "Looks like I'll have to buy the White Album again."

      According to copyright law, he wouldn't. He had already purchased the right to listen to the music. He simply has to have the music transfered onto the new medium (should be avalible for a nomial cost). The music industry needs to either admit they are selling us the medium only and cannot lay claim to the content, or admit they are only selling us the content and let us listen to it on whatever medium we want.

  • by yerricde (125198) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:20PM (#5233123) Homepage Journal
    Jack Valenti said:
    What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law.

    He obviously has not read Title 17, United States Code, the statutes that specify copyright law in the United States. If he had, he would have seen section 107 [cornell.edu], which tells the judge what four factors to look at.

    And one of the four factors is commercial exploitation. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. If a work is out of print or otherwise not being exploited, then it'd probably be possible for a defendant's counsel to argue that by taking the work out of print, the copyright owner has admitted that the work has negligible market value, that unauthorized copying could not possibly diminish the market value, and that the use of such material is more likely to be fair.

  • by crovira (10242) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:21PM (#5233125) Homepage
    "In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless."

    I'd like him to play a DVD from Hollywood Video.

    Of the last three I rented,
    - one had pits and I had to skip a scene,
    - one was delaminated, unplayable and I had to eject it before my DVD drive got munged,
    -one was outright unplayable on my TiBook because according to the README.TXT "It doesn't play on a Macintosh."

    I can MAKE a DVD on my TiBook with iMovie and a video camera but I can't play one of yours Jack.

    Bwahahaha. Somebody buy this poor dumb [expletive deleted] a clue.

    He probably believes M$ when they say that their systems are "secure now."
    • one was outright unplayable on my TiBook because according to the README.TXT "It doesn't play on a Macintosh."
      If it doesn't play on a DVD player that conforms to the DVD Specification (which, by the way costs $5000 and an NDA if you want to read it) then it is not a DVD Video. I hope when you took it back you got a refund.
  • It has little to do with pirates, or poor product.

    Its his really bizzare attitudes and desire to restrict 'his' consumers to the point of lunacy..

    The man needs to go, while there is still time.

  • and scratching all of his DVDs.

    "Hey, what the hell are you doing??!"

    "Don't worry, it lasts forever. It never wears out. In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless. Bye."

    /me dances out front door with cane and striped suit singing "da da da da da da, da da da da da da, da da da da daaaa daaaaa daaaaaaaaaaaa!"

  • by Zone5 (179243) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:22PM (#5233145)
    "we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out."

    Damn, I wish he banked with my company... I'd make sure we didn't make any backups of his bank account - since they're not needed and all that.

    And then I'd schedule a disaster-recovery test involving fire, flooding, and lots of sledgehammer blows to the DASD where his data was stored.
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:23PM (#5233151) Journal
    What's his point here?

    "What is not fair use is making a copy of an encrypted DVD, because once you're able to break the encryption, you've undermined the encryption itself."

    So what if I've 'undermined the encryption'?

    I do know what the DMCA says about it. But it's absurd and wrong that they can wrap a patent around something that copyright law won't let them accomplish.

    Through their own legal battles against used sales and mom & pop rental places, they've made the point that I'm purchasing a liscense to the content. Where is the liscense (if there is a standard one)? Is there a term anywhere that says the liscense is tied to the medium and the encryption somehow?

    Also I take issue to this quote:

    "We're breeding a new group of young students who wouldn't dream of going into a Blockbuster and putting a DVD under their coat. But they have no compunction about bringing down a movie on the Internet. That isn't wrong to them. Why? I don't know."

    This is bullshit. 'Young students' surely do know right from wrong. They know getting a movie (or video game or album) they haven't paid for is wrong. They also know it isn't theft, but a copyright infringement. I just hate his insinuation that we're not only criminals, but stupid.

  • by BigBir3d (454486) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:24PM (#5233156) Journal
    Money, however, is negative--it's corrupting the body politic. Even though money might be the most self-conflicting force in politics today, there are too many loopholes in this McCain-Feingold bill. All these lobbyists in town who are callous to what the bill stands for are going to exploit it. They'll turn to state parties and special interest groups and the money will keep pouring in. It's a tragedy.
  • A notable quote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cultobill (72845)
    HPR: The MPAA has backed several bills mandating copy prevention technologies. Critics have lambasted these bills for curbing consumer's "fair use" rights, including the ability to make back-up copies. How can we balance the interests of consumers and the movie industry?

    JV: What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law.

    If you were prepping someone like JV for a interview like this (you know he had help coming up with answers), wouldn't you tell him not to lie blatantly?

    http://fairuse.stanford.edu/
  • "JV: What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law. "

    It gets even better...

    " What is not fair use is making a copy of an encrypted DVD, because once you're able to break the encryption, you've undermined the encryption itself."

    Breaking the encryption has nothing to do with fair use. The interview astutely follows up and then we get this gem:

    "But you've already got a DVD. It lasts forever. It never wears out. In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless. "

    There you go folks, *we don't need backups*, it lasts *forever*

    Straight from the mouth of Sauron itself. Can the debate of whether the MPAA is an ignorant, greedy monstrosity finally be put to rest with a resounding yes?
  • Summary: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by superdan2k (135614) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:28PM (#5233204) Homepage Journal
    The article could be summed up as follows:

    Interviewer: blah blah blah
    Valenti: I am a back-pedalling, hypocritical, full-of-shit weasel.
  • In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless.


    Idiot. The data may be in some rarified technical sense "timeless", but any physical media has certain inherent limitations that cannot be overcome. So a backup will always be a good idea, a matter of sheer prudence. Or is Mr. Valenti is claiming that not only are CDs and DVDs immune to all forms of physical harm, they somehow automatically return to you if lost or stolen? Like Lassie, just, well, smaller. And shiny.

    Wow, I'm really dammed impressed by that kind of technology. Good thing Saddam Hussein hasn't caught on yet, or he'll be armoring his secret bunker with an impenetrable shield of AOL CDs. And that RIAA Hilary-class assault vehicle will really be terrifying with those remaindered copies of "Glitter" deflecting anything those vile pirates can throw at it.

    What concerns me now are the privacy implications - if the discs are somehow immune to theft or loss, how do they know the identity and location of the legal owner? What aren't they telling us? Where are the chips imbedded? Bastards...

    On the other hand, maybe Mr. Valenti is just a lying weasel who is saying whatever he thinks he needs to in order to cover up an indefensibly weak position. Nahh, those CDs are fricking magic!

    -reemul
  • My favorite line: (Score:3, Informative)

    by illuminatedwax (537131) <stdrange&alumni,uchicago,edu> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:31PM (#5233232) Journal
    This is great: "The MPAA tried to establish by law that the VCR was infringing on copyright. Then we would go to the Congress and get a copyright royalty fee put on all blank videocassettes and that would go back to the creators [to compensate for videocassette piracy]."

    And of course, the MPAA are the "creators," because who else would ever make a movie? And he's also saying this implies that the MPAA own the right to copy movies period?!

    This line, too:

    "What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law."

    May I point Mr. Valenti to the US Code Sec. 107. - Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use.
    "Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."
    And he thinks no one should be allowed to copy anything, ever.

    I don't see how anyone can take this guy seriously.
  • by Slightly Askew (638918) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:33PM (#5233250) Journal

    Local Man Arrested For Violence At Bank

    Police Tuesday arrested a local man at a Bank of America branch. Jack Valenti, 46, was charged with assault and attempted robbery for beating the bank president with a spindle of blank CDRs and attempting to take cash from the teller's drawer. According to the teller, Mr. Valenti became upset when he was informed that, due to a computer error, his account had been closed. Due to recent changes in the bank's policies, the IT staff ceased making backups of the bank's data. When asked about the policy change, the IT manager, who appeared to be choking back laughter, said, "We recently changed our backup policies in light of statements made by Mr. Valenti himself that digital information was timeless and, therefore, did not need backed up. The bank president read that interview and told us he could no longer justify the cost of daily tape backups."

    Mr. Valenti is being held on $50,000 bond. His lawyer declined our request for an interview. In similar news, the RIAA has filed suit agains Bank of America for copyright violations. When asked what evidence prompted the suit, a spokesdemon replied, "They had CDRs, didn't they? What more evidence do you need?"

  • As far as the response of 'wasn't opposed to the VCR.', Valenti goes on to say that instead he was in favor of a fee placed on blank cassette, which never passed.

    Aso for the quote, 'I think lobbying is really an honest profession', he was talking about the ability to get your point of view across to a congress-person, and then goes on to talk about money corrupting the process.

    You'd think slashdot editors wouldn't pick such biased posts, but timothy doesn't seem to mind the misrepresentations.
  • What he really said was
    I think lobbying is really an honest profession. Lobbying means trying to persuade Congress to accept your point of view. Sometimes you can give them a lot of
    money they didn't have before.

  • 55 MPH? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by intermodal (534361) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:42PM (#5233331) Homepage Journal
    We always operate on the fact that everybody needs to know that there's a 55 mph speed limit. That's called a standard.

    Last time I checked, the 55 MPH speed limit was acknowledged to be a bad idea and repealed, and if not, then Texas sure doesn't seem to care...

    and if that's standardization then I have the ass of a boar. Yet again, last time I checked, the vast majority of cars in the United States are capable of driving both above and below 55 MPH, and do not actually require roads to operate (though it is recommended)

    And to further debunk the arguement, the 55 MPH was not a 'standard' in that it was a 'regulation', and that anybody could break it without risk of more than a traffic ticket, there were no technological barriers. Then there's always the fact that a state could legally have a higher speed limit in those days, they simply wouldn't get federal transit maintenance money if they didn't.

    Please move your hole-filled arguements over to the sink now, jack...i have some pasta to drain.
  • This brain surgeon doesn't have any small children to take care of. Let's see how well that DVD holds up when the little ones get their paws on it...not to mention the player itself. Don't need backups--what a lie.
  • by Gannoc (210256) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:48PM (#5233388)
    For the record, about 250 million blank tapes were sold in 2001.
    That means that he's claiming about $20 worth of losses for EACH blank videotape.

    So I guess they're assuming that every single blank videotape sold is used to pirate movies. Nice.

    Wait, just kidding. I just totally made up those numbers. Shit, I should be a lobbyist and live with honor.

  • by mugnyte (203225) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:49PM (#5233399) Journal
    So this is the voice of the Status Quo. That's how money is made to him. He doesn't know how the New System will make money, and he doesn't have to think about it. It's easier to fight for the Status Quo. Why? Because he is scared and it fuels his energy.

    Who wouldn't sympathize with this creature? The world it has grew up inside of, loved and excelled at, is eroding away. Mentally, this person terrified of a world where information is moved without oversight; copied without permissions.

    We all know there is no way to prevent the erosion. When you get to brass tacks, there are mathematical theories about how information cannot ever be entirely "secure". His battle is to do two things:

    - Increase the effort to bypass licensing schemes. Make the appearance of an unlicensed copy an obvious flag of misuse and globally "illegal" activity.

    - Increase the punishments for conviction of misuse and license bypass. Make them so horrifically outrageous a small percentage of ne'er-do-wells avoid trying to bypass the license.

    So, we have the DMCA and all the legal details. Trial lawyers salivating at the chance to walk these through the courts, since they are headlines and precedent-makers. On the side of the status quo, they are also money makers.

    But, in the end, digital information, if able to be delivered to the senses, can be recaptured in ever-increasing quality. Reprocessing of this kind skirts most license protection. For others, only a gentle spin cycle takes care of the rest.

    This is the crux of his fear. Movies begin to appear on swapped discs the weekend before release, copied from stolen or illegal screenings. On a P2P network, with ever-increasing sizes and trusted agents, the information flows faster and faster. 1.5MB/sec later, I am popping my own popcorn and bypassing the Status Quo.

    Oh woe is the Status Quo! The RIAA is first in the lineup for bat, but the issues are the same. Artists MUST eventually build the New Way to directly reach consumers. If they would only band together, they'd have enough strength to do it. Right now, they are too timid. Newbies in the industry still clamor to jump into the status quo. They are so mistaken. But that's all they know, like Jack. He will die an unhappy man, unable to put the genie back in the bottle.

    mug
  • by Steve B (42864) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:51PM (#5233419)
    I think you need to remember what de Tocqueville once wrote, that "The people grow tired of a confusion whose end is not in sight."... If you lose the confidence of the American people, you face a terrifying problem.

    Well, then, Jack, by your own words you might as well just give up already.

  • by graikor (127470) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:52PM (#5233422) Journal
    my favorite bit is this gem:
    Jack Valenti: I wasn't opposed to the VCR. The MPAA tried to establish by law that the VCR was infringing on copyright. Then we would go to the Congress and get a copyright royalty fee put on all blank videocassettes and that would go back to the creators [to compensate for videocassette piracy]. I predicted great piracy. We now lose $3.5 billion a year in videocassette analog piracy. It was a 5-4 Supreme Court decision that determined VCRs were not infringing, which I regret. As a result, we never got the copyright royalty fee, but everything I predicted came true.
    How does anyone with any functioning brain cells come up with this? The VCR is the sine qua non of the immensely profitable home video industry. Many modern films don't even become profitable until they are released on video, and yet, he ignores the giant profits the video industry has created for him and his cronies while harping on a few dollars they don't get.

    According to this ass, the film industry, which is rolling in more money because the VCR exists than they would without it, is still grousing because the SCOTUS decided to allow me to videotape my niece's birthday party without forking money over to his fat-cat cartel.
  • by today (27810) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:56PM (#5233459) Homepage
    He's been spending way too much time in the back of a limousine....

    "We always operate on the fact that everybody needs to know that there's a 55 mph speed limit."
  • Who is Valenti (Score:3, Informative)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:03PM (#5233596)
    A lot of people don't seem to realize who Jack Valenti is, or the power he had even before his position with the MPAA.

    Valenti was in the motorcade when Kennedy was assassinated -- and was the first person to be given a new job under Johnson (before AF1 even left Dallas!) He had a part in writing most of Johnson's speeches, and was stronly in favor of the war in Vietnam.

    The man is over 80 years old.

    One thing I definitely have observed is that people over 80 make short-term decisions. (Little old ladies selling farms to be paved over, old politicians milking the last bit of pork from the barrel).

    I thought our society was supposed to strongly encourage retirement at age 65? For Valenti, that would have been during the Reagan administration.

  • by Speed Racer (9074) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:08PM (#5233689)
    I just sent our friend Jack an e-mail regarding this interview. I made sure to keep the tone cordial, if not academic as I don't believe that vitriol or rancor will do anything but further convince him that he is right. Anyways, here it is:

    Mr. Valenti,

    I just read an interview you gave to Derek Slater of the Harvard Political Review and I would like to direct your attention to several pieces of information that directly relate to statements you made in that review.

    You said, in response to a question regarding fair use, "What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law."

    I would like you to have a look at Title 17, Chapter 1, Sec. 107 of the US Code. You may conveniently read this short section online at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html. Please comment on your statement in light of this information.

    You also said, regarding media backups, "But you've already got a DVD. It lasts forever. It never wears out. In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless."

    Please take a look at a recent article regarding "DVD rot" published by the Sydney Morning Herald at http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/01/31/10438045 19345.html. Again, please comment on your statement in light of this information.
  • Fair Use HAH (Score:4, Informative)

    by pyite (140350) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:21PM (#5233878)
    "JV: What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law."

    This is really laughable, and an idiot like this should not even be ALLOWED to lobby. Sorry Jack, but you don't know Jack. Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107 of the United States Code provides a four value metric [cornell.edu] for determining whether or not something falls under the fair use doctrine. A very good fair use explanation can be found here [eff.org].

  • Valenti on VCR's (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimsum (587942) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:56PM (#5234202)
    From his comments about not actually wanting to ban VCR's, despite every indication to the contrary:

    "Then we would go to the Congress and get a copyright royalty fee put on all blank videocassettes and that would go back to the creators [to compensate for videocassette piracy].

    "I predicted great piracy. We now lose $3.5 billion a year in videocassette analog piracy."

    Well how nice, he never wanted to destroy the money-making prerecorded video cassette industry that he so astutely predicted, he only wanted to charge us for time-shifting TV shows and making our own home movies.

    This guy really takes the cake. He isn't happy with all the money that selling videocassettes made his association. He just whines about the 3.5 billion extra he thinks he should have been able to extract from people.

    The prerecorded videocassette industry came after VCR's were introduced (of course). VCR's were invented to record, not just play. At about the time VCR's became popular, prerecorded movies where available on higher quality play-only media like laser disks; but people weren't buying Laser Disk players, people bought VCR's instead because they could also record with them. After a while, when a large-enough number of movies were available on tape, and the studios started charging a reasonable price for them, the market for videocassettes took off, despite some piracy.

    I think that not only did the availability of VCR's create a huge market for videocassettes; it also made the sale of DVD's possible. When DVD players first came out, the pundits predicted that people wouldn't buy them because they couldn't record. Yet people did buy them because of the market for prerecorded copies of movies created by the existence of VCR's.

    Is this guy really so stupid that he objects to devices that have made his association untold billions of dollars because some people are not paying? If VCR's couldn't record, not many people would have bought them, and the studios wouldn't have made any money at all.

    People buy hardware because of the capabilities of the devices. Once enough hardware is out there, then there is a market for software. Software availability drives hardware sales too, of course. These markets are feedback loops that are sensitive to the characteristics of the hardware and quality and availability of the software. If you change the capabilities of the hardware, you are going to affect how many people buy the hardware, and therefore the market for software.

    Record companies are going to be disappointed if they monkey with copy protecting CD's (without lowering the price). Movie companies are going to be disappointed if they force us into their preferred rental model where you pay for each viewing. Computer software companies are going to be sorry if they monkey with the computer hardware to prevent unauthorized execution of their software. All of these companies have an overinflated opinion of the value of their software, and are underestimating the backlash that will occur when they try to shove crippled hardware down our throats. They can only play us for suckers for so long. The huge price discrepancy between the cost of making an illegal copy and buying a legal one creates a vacuum that technology will fill. If the copies are more convenient than the originals, that will only add to the pressure. I wish the companies luck in cutting their own throats.
  • Standards evolve (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mistifilio (628642) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:17PM (#5234344)
    You have to have copy prevention mandated by the government sooner or later because otherwise everybody's not playing by the same ground rules. For example, the standards of my cell phone have to be mandated by the FCC because everybody has to operate off the same standards. Also, all railroad tracks in this country are the same standardized width.

    The "railroad standard" evolved without a gov't mandate (unless of course were talking about Rome)...search google for "space shuttle chariot railroad". Any number of links to the following text:

    The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

    Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads.

    Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

    Why did 'they' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

    Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

    So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? Roman war chariots first made the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels and wagons. Since the chariots were made for, or by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

    Thus, we have the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder which horse's rear came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses.

    And now, the twist to the story... There's an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs, Thiokol makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses behinds.

    So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of a Horse's ass!

  • DVD = Better Value (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alric (58756) <slashdot.tenhundfeld@org> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:20PM (#5234360) Homepage Journal
    While the RIAA should be worried about piracy, I don't see why the MPAA/Valenti is so concerned. Here's why.

    I often download divx rips of movies. I then watch the movie. If I like the movie I buy the DVD, which offers superior quality of video and audio and usually a plethora of special features, like director commentaries or deleted scenes. The movie probably cost between $75 - $150 million dollars to produce. I feel that $15 is not too much for me to pay for the quality of the movie and the extra features.

    On the other hand, I download an album of VBR mp3's. I listen to it, and I usually like three or four songs, assuming I'm downloading an album because I've been exposed to the artist. (Otherwise, I might like one song.) I look at the CD, which (liberally) might have cost $350,000 to produce. The CD will cost me at least $15, and I will get a very minimal increase in quality with no added features. That is simply not worth it to me. By purchasing the CD, I get nothing, and I am sending the message that I like the music on the album. Of course, I have bought around 10 cd's in the last month, but they were albums on which I enjoyed a majority of songs.

    The RIAA needs to adapt. Their options, as I see it, are to start producing better music or dramatically drop the price. Wasting efforts on DRM systems and lobbying for stricter laws is myopic and futile.

    Sure, copying entire DVD's is possible now, but it is beyond the capability of most people. Spending my time finding and downloading an entire DVD image is not worth the cost, to me.
  • by jimsum (587942) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:29PM (#5234459)
    I was surprised to discover that Valenti is also concerned about the music industry:

    "The music industry now is suffering nine, ten, fifteen percent losses in revenue. When you compound that over the next three or four years, the music industry is dead. I don't see a future for it. After awhile, who's going to produce it?"

    I think I can answer his question. I suspect that the same producers will still be available if the music industry dies; I doubt that all the producers will be killed.

    I think the question he really wanted to ask was "who's going to PAY to produce it?" The answer right now is that the musicians themselves pay to produce; the record companies just front them the money. If the musicians become about as popular as Britney Spears, they can earn enough to pay back the production costs out of their royalties.

    So the question really is, who is going to front the musicians production money when record companies can no longer make obscene profits from their control of music distribution?

    There are some possible answers to that, which I'll illustrate from experiments done by one of my favorite groups, King Crimson. The band owns its own record label, and they make 10 times as much money per copy on the CD's on their own label, compared to the CD's that they license the Record companies to distribute. Even if the current music distribution system collapses along with Valenti's predicted collapse of record companies, then independent record companies can still use their distribution methods.

    Although King Crimson is a popular enough band to be able to provide their own production money, only their new releases are sure to make back the money. They also have a scheme for paying the cost of producing CD's from old concert recordings. They ask their fans to front them the money by contributing to an account, from which they buy for the CD's that they want from the ones that are produced.

    Musicians and producers will survive the death of the current music industry. More and more musicians are bypassing the current record companies because of how badly they are being ripped off. I am confident that music will still be produced because either the artists or their fans will be able to front the production costs. If the big multi-national record companies no longer monopolize the distribution and promotion systems, I think you will find that the artists themselves will be able to take over. After all, the current system is really only helping the small number of hugely popular acts that dominate MTV. All other acts are simply getting screwed by the current system, which charges them for all the costs, but gives them only a tiny percentage of the earnings.

  • A few comments. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Irvu (248207) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @07:14PM (#5235642)

    Money, however, is negative--it's corrupting the body politic. Even though money might be the most self-conflicting force in politics today, there are too many loopholes in this McCain-Feingold bill. All these lobbyists in town who are callous to what the bill stands for are going to exploit it. They'll turn to state parties and special interest groups and the money will keep pouring in. It's a tragedy.

    And yet they still participate. According to Opensecrets.org the movie industry donated $20,172,249 to Democrats in 2002 and $713,874 to Republicans in 2002. Most of that money came in the form of soft contributions, the primary targets of the Mcain Feingold bill. See here [opensecrets.org] for details. The Star player in the industry Disney came in at #66 in the all-time top donors list at opensecrets. See here [opensecrets.org] for the list and here [opensecrets.org] for their profile. They too favor a lot of soft money. Jack's own opensecrets link is here [opensecrets.org].

    JV: At all costs, the government should stay out of censorship, except in war. When soldiers lives may be at stake, I think you can. Vietnam is the only war we've ever fought in the history of our country, without censorship. But in any other arena, I'm totally opposed to censorship in any form. I'm a great believer and defender of the First Amendment.

    And yet he favors censoring technologies and code when his clients' profits are at stake. It's obvious that he doesn't consider code or engineering to be speech but still it seems odd to take this kind of firm line on one area of human endeavor and yet to be so closed off in another. Perhaps his speech is more important than other peoples' speech.

    JV: But you've already got a DVD. It lasts forever. It never wears out. In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless.

    However:
    1. DVD cds and records can become scratched over time and therefore unplayable.
    2. All digital media can become broken and do actually degrade over time through not necessarily from "routine" use.
    3. All digital media and digital files can be lost necessitating a backup. This loss can be due to losing wither the physical device or the file on a hdd. Who hasn't accidentally typed rm at least once, or discovered that their kid decided to experiment with magnetism or the "empty recycle bin" command.
    4. Hard disc drives can fail.
    5. Standards can change making old formats incompatible.
    6. etc.

    In Jack's world of course we would all be happy to pay for new copies whenever this occurs. Here on earth however my wallet and I object to re-purchasing the same thing.

    If anyone can do it under the rubric of fair use, how can we protect the artists?

    The same way that we always have with books, cd's and movies, by relying on sensible laws. And accepting the fact that the profit models just have to take a hit now and again.

    Today, it's illegal to copy a videocassette. No one has a fair use to copy a videocassette. If you lose it, you get another one, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    Not completely true. It is illegal for me to copy the Spider man videotape and to share it with a million friends. It is not illegal for me to copy excerpts from it for activities covered under fair use restrictions. I agree with Jack that you cannot legally make backup copied of your tapes (unlike cassette tapes) but I would argue that this is wronmg and that this restriction, in light of the fair-use provisions, exists soley to guarantee a stream of new customers as tapes wear out and to permit hollywood to adopt a two-tier model of pricing whereby video stores pay more than the rest of us for each copy.

    Today, it's illegal to copy a videocassette. No one has a fair use to copy a videocassette. If you lose it, you get another one, and there's nothing wrong with that.
    That's what people have been doing for generations.

    Just how old does he think video tapes are?
    Seriously, Would I find one if I looked through my grandparent's house?

    JV: What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law.

    Other people have pointed this out already but just to rub his face in it the law is here [cornell.edu]. Since we haven't been using the Internet for generations he may not be used to it. In his testemony [cryptome.org] before Congress on the VCR he stated "I am suggesting that the copyright royalty fee lives under the canopy of fair use."

    Jack Valenti: I wasn't opposed to the VCR. The MPAA tried to establish by law that the VCR was infringing on copyright. Then we would go to the Congress and get a copyright royalty fee put on all blank videocassettes and that would go back to the creators [to compensate for videocassette piracy].

    Actually he was opposed to the VCR and what he felt that it would do. The presentation before congress is a beautiful read [cryptome.org] in which he quotes excerpts from peoples' diaries as evidence not unlike the recording industry's current work with phone surveys. He also decries the first sale doctrine as a route to an unstable marketplace, spends time discussing the greed of Japenese companies and his desire to help the American Consumer. He even admits to infringing himself and asserts that the only purpose of VCR's is to "is to copy coyrighted material that belongs to other people".

    I predicted great piracy. We now lose $3.5 billion a year in videocassette analog piracy. It was a 5-4 Supreme Court decision that determined VCRs were not infringing, which I regret. As a result, we never got the copyright royalty fee, but
    everything I predicted came true.

    He predicted:
    • The trade imbalance with Japan would be deeply effected as a result: "We are going to bleed and bleed and hemorrhage, unless this Congress at least protects one industry that is able to retrieve a surplus balance of trade and whose total future depends on its protection from the savagery and the ravages of this machine. "
    • Producers would get less for their films on the air and less revenues will be availible to networks and producers.
    • That commercial skipping would strip away the reasons for free television.
    • That the eceonomic benefits of recording movies from tv would reduce the need or desire for people to attend movies in the theatres, buy prerecorded tapes, or rent prerecorded tapes. He did not specifically predict that the desire would be killed just lessened.
    • That the inevitable reduction in films availible in the theatrees and on TV (due to the rise of VCRs) will adversely impact "the less-affluent, the disadvantaged people pressed against the wall, out of work, who can't afford these expensive machines, and free television to the sick and the old and the poor will remain the primary source of home entertainment. "
    • "substantial portions of any fees will be borne by manufacturers and retailers rather than passed on to the consumer."
    • "The audio business today is where the video business is going to be 4, 5, 6 years from now. By that time, Mr. Railsback, it is going to be too late. You can't salvage the business then. " I am not so sure about this one but he seems to be referencing the fact that as of 1982 the music industry had utterly and irrevocably collapsed.


    "plus the people on fast connections in universities, making it so easy to bring down a movie in minutes..."

    Where the hell can you download >700mb in a matter of minutes?

    Although this isn't in his article but in the testimony [cryptome.org] above I feel it should be commented on too:

    "I want to go on record as saying that the motion picture industry, and I hope I am including all of those who are allied with me today, we are free traders. We do not believe in duties and import quotas."

    If that is the case, then he has a lot of explaining to do about the DVD Reigon Encoding system.

    Final quotes from Jack:

    "One final point, Mr. Chairman, and then I am through and I have taken more time than I should have, but I am so fascinated by what I am saying..."

    "They have more than 40,000 artists and they have people who poll and spot check the logs of radio stations and they make allocations of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of musical recordings and they have done it with almost no dissention from the ranks because they have gotten expertise in it and everybody trusts their judgment..."


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