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Boucher's DMCRA To Get A Hearing On May 12 305

Posted by timothy
from the speak-up-sonny dept.
Mr. Firewall writes "It's been a long road since Slashdot first carried the story that Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) was speaking out about the DMCA's trampling of fair-use rights. Well, his bill (HR 107) gets a hearing this Wednesday and the multi-billion-dollar music and movie industries have called out their Big Guns to stop it. This morning an urgent message from the Professional Photographers of America arrived in my inbox characterizing Boucher's bill as 'A bill that would make it impossible for photographers to protect their work' and other lies (apparently, the RIAA and MPAA have recruited the PPA into their Axis of Evil). The alert finishes by saying that 'a strong grassroots effort combined with [our] recent lobbying efforts should be enough to keep this harmful bill locked in the subcommittee ... until Congress adjourns.' Let's give these folks a little taste of the slashdot effect and do a little 'grassroots' contacting of congresscritters ourselves." Of course, you can decide only for yourself what your thoughts are on the bill.
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Boucher's DMCRA To Get A Hearing On May 12

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday May 08, 2004 @09:58PM (#9097204)
    Figures that Slashdot would talk about a piece of proposed legislation without linking to the actual text of the bill in question...

    Here's The bill's test on the Thomas system. [loc.gov] and here's the list of 15 representatives co-sponsoring the bill [loc.gov].

    Read the bill for yourself, then you can think for yourself about what it's going to do if passed.
    • by Viceice (462967) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:07PM (#9097259)
      And here's the link to the PPA for us to slashdo... i mean look at .

      PPA [ppa.com]

      • Yuck, silly flash page. Works as a slashdot-deterrent, I guess.
      • by Xenographic (557057) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @12:06AM (#9097851) Homepage Journal
        Bah, why the crappy flash intro page?

        Give them something more useful to look at, like the contact page [ppa.com]. You can tell them why this is unreasonable.

        Now then, they're probably right that it would prevent them from being able to protect their works--DRM does not and has not ever worked (and hopefully will never work, since DRM working would imply that all general-purpose devices have been disabled or destroyed...)

        Of course, where we disagree is whether this is a Bad Thing [TM]. Obviously, the substantial non-infringing uses (not to mention the crippling effects of DRM schemes when secure, and their futility when insecure) legitimizes the need to be able to crack DRM schemes without fearing that you might have to go to prison because you stripped out the "don't copy" bit.

        I could only wish that a judge would rule, with a perverse sense of irony, that the word "effective" when discussing copyright protection devices meant that the device had to actually work (e.g. be un-circumventable), but alas, I don't think that judges are allowed to do that.

        In the mean time, why don't they stick to suing people from actual copyright infringement, instead of "protecting" their works with stupidly restrictive schemes?

        I mean, I'm just waiting for a "DRM Virus" which makes use of some DRM scheme or another to prevent anti-virus people from reversing or deactivating it. And lest you think I'm kidding that a provision like this could be used by the virus writer, read McClelland v. McGrath, 31 F. Supp. 616 (N.D. Ill. 1998). Even though it might be "the very definition of chutzpah," a kidnapper sued a police officer for unauthorized monitoring of his cell phone. He may not have been able to supress the evidence against him and get off of the kidnapping charge, but there were still civil penalties under 18 USC 2518(10)(a) ... This has no bearing on a "DRM virus" but it shows that a judge might still entertain such an arguement, though I seem to remember that the DMCA has some manner of exemption that might cover such things... maybe.
        • I mean, I'm just waiting for a "DRM Virus" which makes use of some DRM scheme or another to prevent anti-virus people from reversing or deactivating it. And lest you think I'm kidding that a provision like this

          I've already ranted at great length on this; when DRM becomes common enough, someone is sure to write a virus that wipes out everyone's decryption keys. And you can bet your ass that the **AA is not going to allow you to keep spare copies of your keys, or unprotected backups.

          Also you might have mis
        • I haven't looked at the DMCA for a while, but IIRC (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong), one of the insidious aspects of the DMCA is that it provides for a committee that can grant exemptions. Hence, any special interest who lobbies for a change in or abolishment of the DMCA can be exempted, thereby eliminating that threat to it.

          I don't think your "DRM virus" would be protected under the DMCA since the spreading of the "virus" would probably break other laws. Of course, an effective and popular D
        • DRM Virus (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kunudo (773239)
          Would be better if someone wrote a 'virus' that looked through people's harddrives for DRM-protected music and then stripped the DRM from them silently. That way, when people start getting subpoenas for DMCA violations, they can just say they had a virus, but removed it later. I don't think it would stand to reason that people should find some way to put the DRM back in place on the files that lost it, hm?
      • by mr i want to go home (610257) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @01:07AM (#9098141)
        From their home page it looks like your PPA is just like your RIAA - vocal supporters of mediocrity. Atleast half the photo's flashing up on PPA homepage are cheesy wedding photo's.

        Without trying to sound like flamebait, I suspect they're a body mostly looking after the highly commercial, wealthy, and LARGE photo studios who have, ofcourse, made their money by milking wedding photography for all that can be had.

        In other words they seem to have exactly the same respect and commitment towards the art of photography as the RIAA has towards the art of music.

        Nill.

    • Rep. Boucher... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      looks like your typical slashdot geek :p
      http://www.house.gov/boucher/pics/boucherpic.jpg [house.gov]

      Looks like he also aided the early growth of the internet:

      http://www.house.gov/boucher/docs/tbio.htm [house.gov]
      • Re:Rep. Boucher... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kalak (260968) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:45PM (#9097467) Homepage Journal
        Consistently, every time I hear something about Rep. Boucher, I'm proud to say he's the only politician I'm actually proud to vote for. (I think he's in some kind or political party, but I don't hold it against him.) And boy does he ever look like a /. geek. I bet he doesn't get many dates with the ladies either (that's an inside joke for those who know about Rep. Boucher).

        Don't just throw your support against something like the **AA. When you're given the opportuninty, throw your support *for* something. Let your representatives know that you are for something here, not just against things. It makes you feel better as a person too. Boucher gets my support every time he comes up for re-election, and is one reason I'm against term limits. He's someone I like, and I want him to stay there damn it!

        (For the record, I hate a 2 party system, can't stand disliking 95% of the choices I have to vote for, etc. Discussions that follow on the nature of politics/politicians/politicial parties will be sent to /dev/null. Discussions on activision are another story.)
        • Rep Boucher is a prime example of how individual politicians can be honest, honorable, and really make a difference. Boucher has been in the news before on slashdot, IIRC opposing RIAA bills and other nonsense. He's someone I'd proudly vote for, if I was from VA.

          That said, he's still a Democrat. (I hate the party system too, but it's likely he wouldn't be in office otherwise.) :)

          So... does this qualify for /dev/null or not? *grin* Fucking demorepublicrats. ("Rats" for short)

          SB
    • by Max Threshold (540114) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:12PM (#9097283)
      I always thought there was some law that bills had to be 80 pages long and composed of unintelligible lawyer gibberish. That one is actually an easy read, and the ideas proposed are sensible.

      I work in a professional photo lab and I am angling to become a professional photographer myself. AFAIC, the PPA can go fuck themselves on this one.

    • I've heard enough stories of people buying these things and then not being able to play them, that it just seems obvious that they should be correctly labeled since they are incompatible with some CD players.

      But regardless aren't cd sales declining? I mean the prerecorded kind. This bill only applies to an old technology medium, and copy protection schemes that have proven mostly ineffectual. Might as well throw in eight track and casette labeling, as long as we are concerned with correctly labeling ol
      • But regardless aren't cd sales declining?
        The bill does more than just deal with properly labeling CDs. It also ammends the following to the definition of fair use:
        `(5) It shall not be a violation of this title to manufacture, distribute, or make noninfringing use of a hardware or software product capable of enabling significant noninfringing use of a copyrighted work.'.
        IMHO, THAT is the most important part of this bill. It makes it *legal* to own a device that allows you to get access to the copyrighted material that you already own/rent/etc.
    • As other replies said, this is an easy read. Just to sum up for the lazy, though:

      Most of the text relates specifically and exclusively to audio CDs. Specifically, it will require CDs with copy protection to be labeled as such.

      The last bit is more general though:

      SEC. 5. FAIR USE AMENDMENTS.

      (a) SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH- Subsections (a)(2)(A) and (b)(1)(A) of section 1201 of title 17, United States Code, are each amended by inserting after `title' in subsection (a)(2)(A) and after `thereof' in subsection

  • We do have an effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jasonbrown (142035) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @09:58PM (#9097205) Homepage
    Your letters do seem to have an effect folks. It's stopping the damn Diebold voting machines. Maybe we can pull together on this one. It is election season you know!
    • I'd love to send a letter, but I'm not quite sure who I should be writing to. I know I could figure it out with a little googling, but if someone could post the relevent info it would probably help other people besides me...
      • by nelsonal (549144) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:29PM (#9097666) Journal
        Now that it really does not take much effort you better write a letter or at least an email.
        If you enter your state and zip code here [house.gov](you shouldn't need a +4, unless your in a really gerrymandered district. You can either send an electronic message or get your representative's name. Then take that over to this page [house.gov] and you can see their little house page which has contact info for sending a fax, phone, or snail mail message. If you write a letter be sure to address them as Hon. or Rep. [last name] and try to be respectful and logical ie. this bill protects consumers from getting discs that do not meed the CD standard, and allows research that will improve current digital security. Also try to appeal to their desire to be bipartisan if your rep is a Republican or appeal to their party if they are Democrats. Since this is a house bill, I didn't provide the look up for your Senator. You should know which state our are in and there are two senators per state.
        Also, all of these house members are up for election this year, unless they are retireing, so you might want to spend a bit of time on their page to see what they are for and against.
        • by hype7 (239530)
          Here's my letter - have you sent yours?

          Dear X

          My name is XX YY, and I'm writing to you regards Rep. Rick Boucher recently introduced DMCRA (HR 107) bill. I strongly support this bill, and I would humbly ask you to support it also. It allows for consumers to break digital encryption schemes in the pursuit of fair use. Whilst this may sound like a far out problem that affects a small minority of consumers, nothing could be further from the truth. The problems that the DMCA creates are far-ranging for users o
      • comgress.org [congress.org] will give you contact infoformation for your elected officials, given a zip code.
  • I personally think that the Congressmen would not wish to consider themselves so wrong on this; however, if the DMCA has an expiration date on it (like some legislation), there might be a chance of letting it lapse. Also, I think it far more likely that things such as signal flags and other copy protection devices have more support on the Hill.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:02PM (#9097238)
    Taking a look at the PPA's of the PPA's release...
    A bill that would make it impossible for photographers to protect their work in any digital format is set for a hearing in the House on Wednesday, May 12.
    It'd be still possible for photographers to protect their work using DRM. They could apply DRM until the cows come home... it's just that people would legally be able to crack their DRM in a way that's presently illegal. Security-by-encryption will still be around, but having security-by-law to back it up when it fails would go away. Okay, that's FUD.

    Known as H.R. 107, the Digital Media Consumer Rights Act would give hackers explicit permission to distribute software and hardware devices designed to defeat copyright protection technology.
    That's exactly true. Software like DeCSS would no longer be illegal to distribute, and in fact would be specifically authorized by this law. The PPA seems to think this is a bad thing, but that's the only problem with this claim.

    Other provisions of the bill would set a dangerous precedent by making copyright owners who use anti-copying technology on music discs subject to regulation and fines from the Federal Trade Commission unless they meet extensive labeling and regulatory requirements.
    That's true as well, as a CD with any sort of DRM applied to it ceases to be a "Red Book" standard CD. This law would require labeling of such non-standard CDs, and that such labels not be removed until the end consumer gets the disc. There'd be fines from the FTC if such a CD is sold without being properly labeled. Again, The PPA seems to think this is a bad thing, but that's the only problem with this claim.

    In short, this is a piece of legislation that undoes some of the most offensive provisions of the DMCA, which is exactly what the "groupthink" opinion of Slashdot has wanted all along...
    • by narkotix (576944) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:08PM (#9097265)
      That's true as well, as a CD with any sort of DRM applied to it ceases to be a "Red Book" standard CD. This law would require labeling of such non-standard CDs, and that such labels not be removed until the end consumer gets the disc. There'd be fines from the FTC if such a CD is sold without being properly labeled. Again, The PPA seems to think this is a bad thing, but that's the only problem with this claim.

      Well if the smoking companies are forced to put warning labels on their cigarette packets, then why shouldnt there be large warnings saying this cd is protected by copying protection schemes and may be incompatible with your current cd player. If the person wants the music bad enough, then it shouldnt be a problem and wont detract from sales. Heck you see heaps of smokers still smoking despite the surgeon general's warning on the front!

      Whats good for the goose, should be good for the gander as well is what is appropriate here. Sure cd's aint killing people but hey, if you dont adhere to a standard then you should be made to say so that its not the genuine thing and not dupe people into thinking otherwise

      • Amen brother..

        Actually I think this almost mirrors deceptive marketing practices. I wonder if any of the "totaly frivilous lawsuite" lawers would take it up if the bill doesn't pass. Maybe if the corect way doesn't work we can make it happen anyways using some less then ethical ways.
    • Other provisions of the bill would set a dangerous precedent by making copyright owners who use anti-copying technology on music discs subject to regulation and fines from the Federal Trade Commission unless they meet
      extensive labeling and regulatory requirements.

      The PPA's notion of extensive is ridiculous. All they need to do is put on a label like copy-protected music or encrypted music - not a CD. The regulatory requirements are almost fully contained in the text of the bill and basically just require these labels. You'd think that they were being asked to provide the kind of detailed labelling required on food, or regulated the way prescription drugs are. The requirements are very modest and entirely justifiable - they just prevent consumer fraud.

  • by Imoen1337 (559938) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:03PM (#9097243)
    "Let's give these folks a little taste of the slashdot effect and do a little 'grassroots' contacting of congresscritters ourselves." The problem with trying to slashdot congressmen is that writing your congressman takes a lot more effort than clicking a hyperlink. A lot fewer of us have that kind of motivation, unfortunately. Apathy, it's whats for dinner in America.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:05PM (#9097248)
    From the bill's text, if it is passed this sentance would be added to the Laws of the Land:

    It shall not be a violation of this title to manufacture, distribute, or make noninfringing use of a hardware or software product capable of enabling significant noninfringing use of a copyrighted work.

    It's the RIAA/MPAA's nightmare and the consumer's dream... the right to defeat DRM in order to make fair use of the resulting file.
  • by doormat (63648) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:05PM (#9097250) Homepage Journal
    here [protectfairuse.org]
    • The reality is that Email will only go so far as to swaying opinion, and the truth is, it doesn't go very far (unless the slashdot effect really works in this matter). Snail mail, fax or even calling their office on the other hand will get a LOT more mileage with your congressmen. Avoid using form letters since they will get treated more like spam, instead, write it out in your own words.

      This is simply due to the fact that a member of congress has to handle physical letters (or pay a staffer to do it) and
      • Blockquoth the poster:

        This is simply due to the fact that a member of congress has to handle physical letters (or pay a staffer to do it) and it can have much more of an impact.

        Is this still true? I come from the postal district of the anthrax mailing. I know for some time Congresspeople stopped handling their mail, and I wonder if it's regained its cachet. Maybe faxing is the way to go...
    • I would, were it not for their spam I recieved this morning (shown here [hahns.info])
  • HAHAHA (Score:2, Funny)

    by FS1 (636716)
    Just used their system to send an email in favor of HR 107.

    Suck my balls MPAA, RIAA, and now PPA!
  • by F13 (9091)
    sorry to be off-topic, but does anyone have any good links on how the American policial system works, who has what powers. These debates that involve congressmen and sub-committees are all very interesting, but for an outsider it can sometimes be difficult to understand.
    • Basically, congressmen are elected officials. They come from different states. The amount of congressmen differs per population of each state.

      Big corporations give them campaign donations and such. They then campaign for those corporation's interests.
    • by gilroy (155262) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:15PM (#9097596) Homepage Journal
      Blockquoth the poster:

      sorry to be off-topic, but does anyone have any good links on how the American policial system works, who has what powers.


      Sure. It's really quite simply, actually:
      $$$ = power

      The middle school textbook answer would be: Congress divides itself into committees, which further subdivide into subcommittees. All legislation starts in one of these subcommittees. (A member can introduce a bill directly but it is then routed to the "appropriate" subcommittee, yielding the same practical result.) The subcommittee holds hearings, which are basically a chance for the monied stakeholders to inveigle and jeremiad about how the proposed legislation will cause The End of the World as We Know It. (That is, unless the monied interest would benefit from the bill, in which case its passage is deemed Vital to the National Security and Desired by All Right-Thinking People, in contrast to its opponents, who Eat Babies and Hate America.) From time to time, for amusement value, small groups who have the actual public interest at heart get to testify, too.

      If the subcommittee likes the bill, it is reported up to the full committee, which more or less repeats the process but adds some pork for various Congressional districts, entirely coincidentally the ones from which the committee members were elected. Then, at the whim of the committee chair, the bill as amended is reported to the House or Senate for the almost mythical "straight up-and-down vote".

      If the bill is unpalatable but embarassing to vote against -- if, for example, it's a bill banning the sale of contaminated milk to schoolchildren but you happen to have been heavily lobbied by SpolitMilkCo -- then you look for ways to kill it without a vote. As much as possible, you keep it "bottled up in committee", meaning that there are occasional hearings but the report is never written. If you wait long enough, the Congress will adjourn and all unreported bills will die of asphyxiation. That means that the pesky bill would have to be re-introduced at the next session by whatever pesky Congressperson introduced it in the first place -- and with any luck, the massive spending by the ticked off monied interests will have led to the demise of that Congressperson. Then everyone wins.

      Except, of course, the actual people of the United States. But really, if they can't be bothered to donate uber-millions to defend their interests, to heck with them.

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:26PM (#9097366)
    PPA believes that a strong grassroots effort combined with its recent lobbying efforts should be enough to keep this harmful bill locked in the subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection until Congress adjourns.

    That's a sign of trouble right there. The PPA's goal is to see Congress lock this bill in committee. That's a legislative tactic to defeat a bill by having the comittee that's been assigned the bill simply never submit a report, which denies the full House any chance to debate or vote on the bill unless there is no objection to the House substituting a favorable report to make up for the comittee's inaction. Death-by-inaction is a way to get rid of a bill you don't like without having to actually make a "nay" vote that goes on the record.

    However, this May 12 hearing is not something people supporting that outcome want to see. It's even very possible that the vote to favorably recommend the bill to the full House may come out of this session...
  • Defiance is better (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argoff (142580) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:28PM (#9097377)
    Alot of times, when a system goes to hell, peoples first instinct is to try and 'force it' to work. After all, it took so much to set up - it would be such a waste. But I think things are different here. The system is stacked against us, and the right to copy openly available information freely exists inspite of government coercion, not because of it.

    The freedom restrictions caused by copying monopolies are far more effectively addressed by defiance, encryption, and p2p.
    • by argoff (142580)
      OK, I know it's bad form to repy to my own post. But every time defiance is sugested as a solution - someone else relpies and says something like "... self centered childish teens that would rather steal than ask mommy for the money to buy a cd ... ", I swear, it's true, or they say something like "... with civil disobedience you have a duty to accept whatever punishment the system dishes out ...(or youre just greedy coward - is often on)"

      So let me just address it now. First off, in the information age i
  • After reading the entire text, i have to say i have no clue why a photographers association would have anything to do with this. Pretty much the entire thing is about mislabelled CDs.
    The only thing that might pertain to photographers is the section about fair use:

    SEC. 5. FAIR USE AMENDMENTS. (a) SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH- Subsections (a)(2)(A) and (b)(1)(A) of section 1201 of title 17, United States Code, are each amended by inserting after `title' in subsection (a)(2)(A) and after `thereof' in subsection (b)(1)(A) the following: `unless the person is acting solely in furtherance of scientific research into technological protection measures'. (b) FAIR USE RESTORATION- Section 1201(c) of title 17, United States Code, is amended-- (1) in paragraph (1), by inserting before the period at the end the following: `
    and it is not a violation of this section to circumvent a technological measure in connection with access to, or the use of, a work if such circumvention does not result in an infringement of the copyright in the work'; and (2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph: `(5) It shall not be a violation of this title to manufacture, distribute, or make noninfringing use of a hardware or software product capable of enabling significant noninfringing use of a copyrighted work.'.

    Not coincidentally, this is my favorite part of the bill.
    • That's what I can't figure out. I'm a professional photographer, and a card-carrying member of the PPA (seriously, I just went to Blockbuster, and when digging through my wallet looking for my BB card, I pulled out my PPA membership card). I have absolutely no idea how this bill will impact my copyright rights in any way. What the hell do I care about about noninfringing use of hardware and software products, especially with respect to audio CDs?

      On the other hand, there are a few legislative goals the P
      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @01:42AM (#9098266) Homepage
        Mainly, it sucks that in order to get the full protection of copyright, I have to submit a print to the copyright office to register it.

        No, that's right and proper. First, if you want a copyright, it's important that you tell the world just what, precisely, you're trying to copyright. A sample is perfect for that. Second, the Copyright Office is a branch of the Library of Congress, and the purpose of copyright generally is to expand the scope of knowledge. If they have a copy of your photograph, they'll preserve it so that it won't be lost if at all possible. And it'll be available to the public to look at, and once the copyright expires, to copy. The LoC has a gigantic collection, and they get a lot of it through copyright deposits.

        Frankly, this is just the cost of doing business. You can't reasonably expect to get something for nothing, can you? If you want a copyright, you need to submit a best copy of the work. It would be foolish of the public to give you a copyright for free, and it's hardly a notable cost. In the circumstance that a copy for deposit IS more than the copyright is worth, then your smart choice is to not get a copyright.

        Now, I would say that it's possible that the LoC needs to start thinking about accepting digital best copies for deposit, but since they are interested in preserving works for as long as possible, and since computer media and formats change all the damn time, I'm willing to bet that they have a good reason for wanting prints. I sincerely doubt that it is intended to annoy you.
  • by vyrus128 (747164) <gwillen@nerdnet.org> on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:43PM (#9097458) Homepage
    If you support this bill, please do what I just did and write your representative [house.gov]! If you don't, perhaps you should read it more carefully [loc.gov], instead of relying on others' representations about it; I suspect you'd change your mind. There is absolutely nothing objectionable in this bill, if you don't make copy-protected CDs or object to fair use...

    Notes:
    If you're not sure what to write, you can start with my letter [nerdnet.org] to my congresscritter.
    If the bill link above stops working (Thomas doesn't seem to like direct-linking bills), just go to Thomas [loc.gov] and enter bill number HR107.

  • by Illix (772190)
    I'll definitely try to get the word out to anyone I know around this strangely-company town; but I have known a few Congresscritters and the main reason that I've found for so much FUD and "copyright protection" law being passed is that most of the people elected don't understand what they're making a law against.

    Let's face it: they know a lot of things, but some of them are lucky if they can get Microsoft Word to start up. A sufficient amount, especially the ones without much seniority or facing tough e

  • by Aire Libre (603106) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:07PM (#9097561) Homepage
    An interesting analysis of the DMCRA [interactionlaw.com] argues that the DMRCA strengthens the DMCA -- but in a good way.
  • Rick Boucher makes me proud to be a Virginian. One of the rare times I can feel that way.

    It's good to know there are at least somewhat reasonable people in our government, and not complete toadies of the RIAA and MPAA, and now the PPA.

    If this thing gets shot down, you can be sure I'll be sending in a furious protest letter. This bill is really important, so that we as citizens can regain some of our rights taken away by the DMCA.

    I don't want to be a criminal for watching DVDs that I paid for in linux.

  • by BrianWCarver (569070) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:11PM (#9097581) Homepage
    This hearing is before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Committee which is a subcommitte of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It is the 27 members of this specific subcommittee that need to hear from us as they will make the decision on what to do this Wednesday.

    This is a list of the subcommittee members [congress.org].

    E-mail each of these 27 members, especially if one of the members happens to be your representative. They hold the power right now. Later we'll worry about other votes and other members. For now, write these 27 reps! Here's a sample letter:

    Dear Subcommittee member,

    I am writing to ask you to support H.R. 107 this Wednesday and favorably recommend that it move on from your subcommittee. This bill is identical to one which Representatives Boucher and Doolittle introduced during the last Congressional session, so the time that this bill move forward has come.

    H.R. 107, the Digital Media Consumer's Rights Act (DMCRA), restores consumers' fair use rights by amending the DMCA to allow circumvention of copy protection for non-infringing uses of digital copyrighted material. The DMCRA also specifies that it is not a violation of Section 1201 of the DMCA to manufacture, distribute, or make non-infringing use of a hardware or software product that enables significant non-infringing use of a copyrighted work, as in making back-up copies of legally purchased DVDs or other digital media.

    Several provisions of The Digital Millenium Copyright Act have harmed law-abiding citizens of this country for too long. The DMCRA is a sensible change to the law that is necessary for consumers to enjoy their rights of fair use.

    The content industry that opposes this bill has cried wolf before. They opposed the VCR, likening it to the Boston Strangler. We know now that technological advances are good for both consumers and industry, and that an industry scared of change should not be allowed to impede progress or consumer's rights.

    I believe that if you are truly thinking of the interests of your constituents, then you will support the DMCRA. I urge you to take a stand for the public this Wednesday.

    Thank You.

  • A little reversal? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hawkeyeMI (412577) <brock.brocktice@com> on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:14PM (#9097594) Homepage
    How about we do a little bit of analysis on this:

    bill that would make it impossible for photographers to protect their work in any digital format is set for a hearing in the House on Wednesday, May 12. In response, Professional Photographers of America has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to rally opposition to the legislation.

    Key emotional words (some of which are outright lies as well) are impossible and rally. Not too bad so far, though starting off with a lie in the first paragraph is a bad sign.

    Known as H.R. 107, the Digital Media Consumer Rights Act would give hackers explicit permission to distribute software and hardware devices designed to defeat copyright protection technology. Other provisions of the bill would set a dangerous precedent by making copyright owners who use anti-copying technology on music discs subject to regulation and fines from the Federal Trade Commission unless they meet extensive labeling and regulatory requirements.

    Many of us will disagree with the use of hackers here, but explicit has dirty connotations, even if it's not a dirty word. We all know what the general public thinks hacker defines, anyway. My favorite is the "dangerous precedent" -- a slippery-slope argument

    PPA believes that a strong grassroots effort combined with its recent lobbying efforts should be enough to keep this harmful bill locked in the subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection until Congress adjourns. To that end, we encourage all members to contact their Representative and urge them to oppose H.R. 107 the Digital Media Consumer Rights Act.

    Just a plea here, nothing too exciting.

    Of course, the comments with the post of the article are just as bad but you all must be used to reading that point of view by now.

  • My Letter (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:26PM (#9097657)
    Just as a possible example:

    Congress(wo)man //their name//,

    On Wednesday, May 12, 2004, there will be a congressional hearing to consider HR 107, the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA). The DMCRA has been endorsed by many large corporations, including those with //your state// ties, such as //companies with a presence in your state//. I too, as a private citizen, support this bill.
    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, illegalized acts that are necessary for scientific research and fair use of technology products. The DMCRA works to loosen some of these restrictions. Specifically, it informs consumers of when an audio CD does not conform to industry standards and therefore might not be able to function in their player. Furthermore, it invites scientific research by allowing products to be reversed-engineered, only so long as such use is does not infringe upon the copyright.
    I encourage you to consider this bill as a first step towards reinstating the rights of citizens to be informed of the limitations of the products they buy and to use those products in whatever non-infringing ways that they see fit.

    Thank you for your time, //your name//
  • by Technician (215283) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:40PM (#9097708)
    Most pro photographers try to own anything they shoot. This is a broken business model. If they shoot people, they have to get a model release to sell the photos. When was the last time your wedding photographer did this? (Oops) They do not have the right to sell the likeness of the people in the photos without a model release. On the other hand, photographers should simply do weddings and such as a work for hire and not own the copyright. When I hire a photographer, I bring my own contract to that effect. My works for hire buys the copyright. Many photographers won't go along. Some want sky high prices to discourage the contract. If we can't settle, then I take bids. Do expect to pay more for the service, but get the copyright in writing. Hire it for albums and web. Offer to buy a fixed number of prints to support the studio. With the current copyright issue, taking a families photo album, scanning the photos including school and sports photos, and showing them as a slide show at a wedding is a copyright violation. It's also common. Quick, can you find your friends 3rd grade school photographer to get permission to use the school photo in her wedding slide show? The business model is very broken and needs to change to adjust to the reality of how photos are shown nowdays. It shouldn't be a crime to show kid growing up photos including school and sports photos. Changing the law simply makes what is now being done legal. Is there anyone out there that put together a slide show for a wedding and actualy found and paid the school photographer to produce a slide show? (I'm guilty as anybody on this one. How do you find them?) Do you simply leave out school and sports photos? Is making a slide show not a copy but just another way of presenting the photos? If you are a school photographer and are at a family wedding, do you say anything regarding the inclusion of school photos in a slide show?

    The law is broken and needs to change.

    Non-works for hire such as nature photos should still be pieces of art and protected as a piece of art such as a painting, movie, or song. My wedding for hire photos should be mine, not the photographers.
  • /.ing Congress (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lax-goalie (730970) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:46PM (#9097735)

    Not a bad idea, but there are a few simple rules to make your vote actually count...

    First, read the f'ing bill. It's here [loc.gov]

    Use the telephone. You'll probably never get through to your congressman, but getting through to staff is actually more important. Call the office in DC (http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html [house.gov]) and ask to speak to the STAFF MEMBER who's tracking HR 107. If no one's following it, ask for the staff member who handles IP, technology, or computer issues.

    There's no more powerful statement to make than "I'm your constituent, and if this passes it's a problem for me", except for...

    "This is so important that it will impact how I'm going to vote in November." But you damn well better believe it if you say it, because that's the easiest lie to detect. (Hey, if your guy's from the wrong party, but does the right thing here, why aren't you voting for him?)

    Stay on message. Resist the urge to talk about Iraq, or software patents, or anything else. The point is for the staff member to say, "I got 50 calls today abut HR 107, they're mostly from people in the district, and they all said it's important that the bill gets through". Hard to believe, but if a party whip isn't demanding a position, this generally determines how somebody's gonna vote.

    And don't take a lot of time. In the first three minutes, you've made your case or not. In any case, your call has already been recorded as for or against, and is going to be in tomorrow's daily brief. Once you state your case, all you can do is fuck up, unless the staff member starts asking you questions.

    Follow up with a fax. It should go to the DC office, the closest district office, the sponsor (Boucher), and if you're feeling creative, all of the bill's cosponsors -- there's actually bi-partisan support. (Available from the bill link above.) Staff tally these things, and it goes into the decision matrix.

    BTW, if anybody's from Rhode Island, Patrick Kennedy was a co-sponsor, but withdrew his support.

    Don't bother with email. These guys get slashdotted every day (imagine a half million people knowing your email address), so the sad fact is that nobody on the hill reads email.

    Follow up, part II: a personal note to the staff member. It may not help this time, but a note card saying "Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today" goes a long, long way the next time you need to talk to your representative. Tip O'Neil got to be Speaker that way, and you can make the case that George H.W. Bush got to be president that way. The legislative process is all about relationships.

    Finally, Stay polite. The staff member (or the congressman) may be a pinhead, but if you get belligerent, he might vote the other way because you're seen as an asshole. Bite your tounge, especially if they're stupid.

    Note: If your Congressman's a Congresswoman, use your favorite word processor to adjust the genders referenced above. Reread, lather, rinse, repeat.

    • Re:/.ing Congress (Score:3, Informative)

      by Quantum Jim (610382)

      Don't bother with email. These guys get slashdotted every day (imagine a half million people knowing your email address), so the sad fact is that nobody on the hill reads email.

      I'm a little skeptical of this statement. I occasionally email my Senator and have received a personalized response via postal mail every time. The relevant bills were referenced in those replies and the Senator signed each one. Although there is room for a little bit of suspicion (a staff member may have ghostwritten them), the

  • The site favors getting small business insurance support by the government (that is your tax dollars at work), but they oppose the government giving us back the fair use that we had for 2 centuries.

    Man, what a screw job that is.
  • There's an EFF Action Center item [eff.org] about the DMCRA. Just enter your name and ZIP, rewrite the form letter (if you care to) and click -- the letter (which urges your individual congresscritters to support the bill, hence the ZIP code) goes straight to the Hill:
    Dear Representative,

    I am writing today to ask you to co-sponsor Rep. Boucher & Doolittle's Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA, H.R. 107). I believe that our copyright law has become unbalanced and fails to address the interests of the public.

    The DMCRA would protect consumers from buying "copy protected" audio compact discs that may not work in personal computers, cars, and other consumer devices. It would also codify a citizen's right to make fair uses of copyrighted material. I think that this is an absolutely fundamental step towards redressing the imbalances that have plagued copyright law in recent years.

    I hope you will co-sponsor the DMCRA and show your support for the public's rights in digital media. Thank you for your time.

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