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Senate May Rush Copyright Legislation 970

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the lick-a-stamp dept.
iman1003 writes "According to an article on Wired, the Senate may soon pass a bill labeled HR2391, a bill which lumps many other copyright bills. If passed the bill would "would criminally punish a person who 'infringes a copyright by ... offering for distribution to the public by electronic means, with reckless disregard of the risk of further infringement.'" In addition the bill would "permit people to use technology to skip objectionable content -- like a gory or sexually explicit scene -- in films, a right that consumers already have. However, under the proposed law, skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited." The bill would also punish people "who bring a video camera into a movie theater to make a copy of the film for distribution" with up to three years imprisonment and fines. If any of this worries you please contact your Senators and Representatives and voice your concern."
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Senate May Rush Copyright Legislation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:09PM (#10831671)
    Just remember, this is the current "lame duck" Senate, the one split 51/49. If the *AA thought they'd have an easier time with the new, more Republican Senate next year, they wouldn't be in a hurry to get this passed right now. They've got people from both parties in their pockets.
  • by gcaseye6677 (694805) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:11PM (#10831697)
    What will be the penalty for going to the bathroom during a commercial break? Hey, it's no less ridiculous than some of Hatch's other ideas.
  • by viniosity (592905) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:12PM (#10831717) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me or are any of you sick of advertising too? Seems like I can't do anything outside of my own home without being exposed to advertising in some form. (I sold my TV years ago.) Now they are legislating advertising?!? How long before the adblock extension in firefox becomes illegal? Sorry, not trying to troll here but am feeling a bit frustrated. (and being in DC without any legislative voting representation I can tell you there is not much I feel I can do about it.)
  • I2P & Freenet (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:12PM (#10831718)

    Seems like everyday there is more and more reasons to start using I2P [i2p.net] and or Freenet [sourceforge.net]. Frankly I'm not worried, in part because I don't live in the USA :), because of these anonymous P2P applications. If these weren't around, I'd be freaking out more ;).

  • Wouldn't this... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tuxedo Jack (648130) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:12PM (#10831722) Homepage
    Wouldn't this also ban Adblock from Firefox? From the sound of it, it would, and if ads are forcibly viewed, it sounds like they'll forcibly allow adware and spyware soon too.
  • by Sebby (238625) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:18PM (#10831798)
    " skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited."

    So, it would make it perfectly acceptable for producers to put 30 mins of promotional crap at the beginning of a DVD that *I* bought and I couldn't skip it?

    I already return the ones that won't let me skip 5 mins of it, because I feel it treats me like an idiot! And now they expect better sales because of the 'extra' protection this bill allows?

    And they wonder why people rip DVDs and such. Geez.

  • by Doktor Memory (237313) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:18PM (#10831809) Journal
    "It's an off switch. He'll get years for that."


    20 Minutes Into the Future...and getting closer every second.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:21PM (#10831856) Homepage
    ...permit people to use technology to skip objectionable content -- like a gory or sexually explicit scene -- in films, a right that consumers already have
    This part is very interesting to me. Is it good to have a law that explicitly states people's rights? The pure libertarian / constitutionalist in me says no. But the realist in me says this is good - state the rights we have. Of course, giving up the right to skip commercials isn't a fair trade for that.

    Now, commercials are what pay for the free content. So if I watch TV, should I feel morally obliged to watch commercials? If I read a newspaper, should I be obliged to read some ads? Should I be legally required to do so? If I stop watching the commercials, will they stop providing the free content? Am I willing to give that up?

    People need to have a sane discussion about these points before legislation of any kind makes sense. Either way, the death knell for free content-paid advertising may already be audible. Anyone have any ideas on this?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:23PM (#10831885)
    I think we already have this. I find most commercials aimed at children (toys, cereal, movies, etc.) very disturbing and inappropriate. I certainly wouldn't want my children watching commercials for the latest sex aid medication or condoms. Actually, most of the commercials on night time television are offensive. I don't care if they are paying for the program, if I find them offensive for any reason (and wasting my time is one reason) then I shouldn't be forced to watch them. I already have my own morality, I don't need the government imposed one.

  • Some good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:23PM (#10831888) Journal
    The bill would also punish people "who bring a video camera into a movie theater to make a copy of the film for distribution" with up to three years imprisonment and fines.

    This is the good part. All of this was MPAAs agenda etc... But people carrying cameras into theaters is a big part of how they gathered public momentum (political momentum was acquired on a COD basis)
  • by Progman3K (515744) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:24PM (#10831895)
    I agree with your sentiment.

    Personally, I can't wait until all these repressive measures are put in place and the United States can finally implode and leave the rest of the world in peace.

    The end of a tyrant is always something to rejoice about.

    Sure, mod this flamebait if you want, but let me first say that I believe in the ideals of truth, freedom and the pursuit of liberty.

    The problem is that NONE of those are being espoused by the U.S. and its policy makers, who instead seem hell-bent on enslaving their own people.

    It's not the American dream I want to see destroyed, but the horrible travesty that has been put in its place, foisted on the american people by its own electorate who serve nothing but the corporations' dollar-interests.

    If you can't live free, die.

    May the end come quickly.
  • Campaign vs. action (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sphealey (2855) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:27PM (#10831951)
    Funny how the Republicans campaign against "Godless Hollywood which is corrupting our values", and then when elected immediatly rush through legislation which will greatly increase the cultural power of Hollywood and Nashville.

    That said, this one is a lock. Expect it to be on the President's desk the week after Thanksgiving.

    sPh
  • by stecoop (759508) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:28PM (#10831968) Journal
    Your TiVo doesn't automatically skip commercials

    My Replay-TV does. It has a flag that automagically skips commercials. Recently, replay was forced to remove that future due to legal threats. However, the code was left in the machines and you can modify a flag to automatically skip the commercials with a small code modification.
  • by micromoog (206608) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:34PM (#10832052)
    No shit. Even the logo of one [levitra.com] is sexually explicit. Yes, that's a snatch.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:39PM (#10832133)
    But the article specifically states they want to do it while one particular Republican is head of the Judiciary comitee (Orin Hatch). So, while not all Republicans or even most of them are to blame, it is one particular Republican who is the problem
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:39PM (#10832146)
    If passed the bill would "would criminally punish a person who 'infringes a copyright by ... offering for distribution to the public by electronic means, with reckless disregard of the risk of further infringement.'" (sic)

    I think we will be fine. All you have to do is "infringe copyright by ... offering for distribution to the public by electronic means, with calculated expectations of the wonderful potential of further infringement."

  • by John Seminal (698722) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:39PM (#10832147) Journal
    The problem is that NONE of those are being espoused by the U.S. and its policy makers, who instead seem hell-bent on enslaving their own people.

    Money corrupts. And I agree, the USA is becomming a profit driven country. The problem is politicians no longer view people as their electorate, instead they view complex algorithms of where to spend money on advertising as the equation to get elected. We have become sheep. And it is the corporations which fund politicians. Is it any wonder why politicians pass these rediculous laws? They need the continued financial support to wage their election campaigns.

  • Re:Only the best... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:44PM (#10832199)
    I'm also glad they are protecting me from those dangerous Canadian prescription drugs.

    They're also working hard to prevent terrorists from finding out about their own assets and insider trading:
    Tucked within the House's 497-page version of the "9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act" is a provision to repeal the requirement that senior-level officials report their personal financial assets valued at more than $2.5 million. It also would end the practice of disclosing the dates of stock transactions.

    The proposal to limit financial disclosures initially covered only top-level intelligence officials. It was recently expanded to include all executive branch officials, according to a draft version of the bill.

    Courtesy of the LA Times. [latimes.com] It's good to know they're working in our best interests.
  • by Arcturax (454188) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:49PM (#10832276)
    This is all the more reason to build a MythTV box.

    Initially it will probably cost more than a Tivo but you will be free of corporate crap and restrictions. That and no monthly fees which means in the long run it will be far cheaper.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:51PM (#10832320)
    I'm a Republican, and I normally try to be as law-abiding as I can. However, I am fed up with Hollywood-oriented copyright laws, and as I see prior examples in this country's history for civil disobedience, that is the road I take. For example, I own several collections of episodes which I have copied to my computer, using a DeCSS program. I do not do this to share them, or to make illegal copies. I simply do it so that I don't have to fumble around with switching disks every time I want to see something different. I am not in any way harming the companies that produced this stuff. Someday I would like to have all the shows I like to watch this way, rather than having to watch TV, but I don't think my wife would let me divert our cable bill into DVD purchases. So, if more laws like this keep getting passed (I hope they do not, but who knows...) I will simply continue, in the privacy of my own home, to do as I see fit. I will endeavor not to violate the real "rights" of media producers, but stuff like saying I can't skip through comercials... thats just absurd. If I am paying for content, I should be able to choose wether I view it or not - wether it be a TV show, a sex scene, or a viagra add. Anyway, thats my two cents... and yes, I'm posting annonymously because of my tin foil hat... ;)
  • by aventius (814491) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:56PM (#10832397) Homepage
    Senator Specter, I am extremely worried about HR2391, the Intellectual Property Protection Act. From what I have read it seems this bill only supports big business and not the general public. It seems that it, along with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act will continue to strip away the fundamental freedoms from American public. The only group that this seems to help are large corporations. The bill's summary states that I can skip gore/violence in a movie (which I already can do with a remote control) but I would not be able to skip commercials? This is ridiculous. If this passes, I can only assume that the next logical step taken by commercial backed lobbyists is to promote a bill that bans the American public from switching the television channel during commercial breaks to see what else is on. Television advertising has only been around as long as the television. Before this, companies were able to market and advertise their products and still make large profits. This bill just seems to be taking a step backwards. It doesn't protect the free market but strips it of its basic ideals. The beauty of the free market is that the market (the public) will dictate what businesses will be profitable, instead of the government or large corporations deciding. If we all end up with TiVo's and skip every single commercial, and television advertising becomes extinct (which is a ridiculous long shot) then the market will bounce back with INNOVATION and find a new avenue to market their products. The internet has already provided, in my mind, a much better advertising platform. I have never bought anything off a television ad, but yet have bought numerous items off a internet ad that was linked categorically to the webpage I was visiting. This bill just seems to only hurt the American public in order to protect a few corporations who refuse to adapt and innovate to stay profitable within our supposed free market, which seems to be moving to a more unfree market with each passing year. Thank You, David ****** Munhall, PA 15120
  • by PoderOmega (677170) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:58PM (#10832436)
    You know, I saw an add walking to work today for a Spiderman 2 DVD. It was a picture of the DVD cover and it said "The Adventure Contiues!" I mean really, come on. Some jackass advertising company probably got paid a load for that. "The adventure continues"??? I could have come up with that in 2 seconds. Seriously, maybe if advertisers came up with more creative and less intrusive ways to advertise (i.e. trying to pass a bill that makes it illegal to skip a commerical) maybe we wouldn't hate advertisements so much.
  • Re:Weird (Score:5, Interesting)

    by asoap (740625) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @02:10PM (#10832645)
    Actually, the people that voted for Bush for President.

    In the words of John Stewart, that went something like: "Do you trust someone who drives your car into the ditch, and says 'ok let me drive it out of the ditch, I got it figured out now'"

    -Derek

  • by Progman3K (515744) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @02:19PM (#10832821)
    >What makes you so sure this would take us closer to the end? Why won't this just further solidify the existing power structure?

    Because I'm a fool.

    No, really. I have stars in my eyes, and I expect a happy ending where the american people live out their noble dream by putting an end to this tyranny THEMSELVES, just like they did when they got here.

    The king of England a tyrant? Free men wouldn't stand for it.

    Huddled masses, yearning to breathe freely? Americans built a country to welcome them.

    Why should these dreams be things of the past?

    And in the end, no empire that wields the sort of oppresive power you are talking about can last, it WILL fall. History has shown it.
  • by Rei (128717) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @02:22PM (#10832869) Homepage
    How can you see little difference between two parties that have a stark partisan divide on about 90% of votes? Or are you referring to specifically copyright issues? If so, you're wrong there, too. Name a bill, and I'll get you the voting record for it. The Democrats have a much better copyright voting record; I went into this in a lot more detail over here:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=111525&t hr eshold=1&commentsort=0&tid=153&mode=thread&cid=946 6472

    It's mostly focused on civil liberties in general, but the same thing applies to copyright law specifically.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @02:33PM (#10833025)
    actually, we weren't always.

    "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
    -- U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864
    (letter to Col. William F. Elkins)
  • by paesano (784687) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:05PM (#10833478)
    Agreed. Which is why a lot of people (like myself) want a smaller government. Less regulation. Less intrusion into our lives. We don't get that from either party. Democrats are on a constant march toward socialism and Republicans, while espousing smaller government, never quite seem to get there. However, having been born and raised in the USA, I have to say that I have never once fealt oppressed. Ever. I don't fear the government. I don't fear the police. I don't panic when my candidate loses. I'm still a believer in those ideals of freedom and believe that they are still possible, even in the USA.
  • Instead of trying to come up with more effective ways to advertise products, they're just going to shove it down our throats as long as they can. If they can get the government to help them do it, all the better for them.

    Here's the really fun part: according to corporate law and precedent, they are obligated to cram products down consumers' throats, to pander to and bribe politicians. Corporations must maximize shareholder interests, measured in dollars, to the exclusion of all other concerns. Charitable acts are good PR. Environment consciousness appeals to a growing market niche. Corporate actions can only be justified at the bottom line -- by law.
  • by RealProgrammer (723725) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:23PM (#10833702) Homepage Journal
    Here is the legislation [loc.gov], by the way.

    Sec. 2319B. Unauthorized recording of motion pictures in a motion picture exhibition facility

    • (f) Definitions, in this section
      [...]
      • (3) MOTION PICTURE EXHIBITION FACILITY- The term "motion picture exhibition facility" means a movie theater, screening room, or other venue that is being used primarily for the exhibition of a copyrighted motion picture, if such exhibition is open to the public or is made to an assembled group of viewers outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances.

    At least they don't try to regulate private screenings. I guess.

    SEC. 210. ENHANCEMENT OF CRIMINAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.

    • (a) Criminal Infringement- Any person who--
      • (1) infringes a copyright willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain,

        (2) infringes a copyright willfully by the reproduction or distribution, including by the offering for distribution to the public by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000, or

        (3) infringes a copyright by the knowing distribution, including by the offering for distribution to the public by electronic means, with reckless disregard of the risk of further infringement, during any 180-day period, of--

        (A) 1,000 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works,

        (B) 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works with a total retail value of more than $10,000, or

        (C) 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted pre-release works,

        shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18. For purposes of this subsection, evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work, by itself, shall not be sufficient to establish the necessary level of intent under this subsection.; and


      [...]
      (g) Limitation on Liability of Service Providers-
      [...]

    These provisions say that there are three ways you can be liable:

    1. You try to sell the stuff to make money w/o paying the copyright owner
    2. You put up some thing(s) worth $1000
    3. You privately (or publicly) exchange 1000 files, a $10000 work, or a pre-release work.

    The valuation is "retail value", but in effect they munge that in the definitions section to mean the asking price. So street value may or may not determine whether someone goes to jail; it may be some absurdly high asking price.

    Still, on its face anyway, this is going after people who are either profiting or trafficking in other people's copyrighted commercial stuff.

    The next question is, since FOSS is copyrighted, how does this change affect enforcement of the GPL? Someone who loses their right to copy under the GPL would be liable depending on the value of the work, which may or may not be its asking price.

  • by GreyWolf3000 (468618) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:47PM (#10834068) Journal

    The only effect advertisements have on me is in raising my awareness of the existence of a product, and even then, unless it is something that fills a need that I knew existed -prior- to seeing the ad, I don't buy it.

    Advertisements just make mental associations. They define how you perceive products and companies before you even enter into a transaction with them.

    I know a lot of so-called intelligent people who scoff at the uninformed, disinterested masses who "fall for" advertising on television. I find the same people laughing at inventive, humorous spots.

    Everyone has different kinds of commercials they respond to, but none of us are immune.

  • by KevinIsOwn (618900) <herrkevin AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:54PM (#10834169) Homepage
    First, the US has always been a profit driven country. That's what capitalism is about: Profits. The key is, has the drive for profits hurt the average citizen, and for the most part the answer is no.

    However, everything works in cycles. The US had this problem with widespread worker abuse during the muckraking period of the late 1800s/early 1900s. This gradually was fixed by populist outrage and a movement to fix the situation. The same thing will happen now, if we stand up and fight for what we believe in.

    Some posters here have even suggested the only way to fix the problem is with guns. Simply look at history. These problems are fixed when a certain point of outrage is reached. This tipping point forces politicians to either change their ways, or be forced out of office. It has happened before, it will happen again.

    Slashdot is full of the notion that politicians routinely cow to corporate interests over the common good of the people. While true in some cases, it is unfair to stereotype the politican as a greedy malfeasant who only wants what is best for his corporate donors. This is true for some politicians, and we must target them. By lumping them all together, we end up taking down the good with the bad.
  • by Rei (128717) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:55PM (#10834186) Homepage
    Oh, please, give me a break. Present a *REAL* example of a single bill that has gone that way. If you can't, then drop it.

    In the real world, the parties have ideological stances. You may not agree with every stance a party has, but a consistant majority of each party takes a given stance on a given issue. On abortion, a clear majority of democrats will vote to support it, and a clear majority of Republicans will vote to oppose it. On hate crimes laws, a clear majority of Democrats will suport it, and the opposite for Republicans. School prayer? Republicans support, Democrats oppose. Bracketted taxes? Democrats support, Republicans oppose. UN? Democrats support, Republicans oppose. I could keep going for hours.

    Now, the caveats: There's the 10% or so of bills for which both parties agree, or there is no ideological divide, or that there is a divide even while both sides get a majority**. There's also, for every bill, dissenters with each party's line. Nonetheless, the totality of the situation - ideological divides on the vast majority of issues - is very clear and present to anyone who takes a non-selective look at bills, interest-group ratings (Sierra Club, ACLU, NRA, or whatnot), etc.

    ** Examples: A vote on creationism in public schools will get a majority of both Republicans and Democrats in opposition; however, while almost every Democrat will be opposed, perhaps only 2/3 of Republicans will be opposed. On the opposite side, a vote to ban gay marriage will get almost every Republican in tow, but only 2/3 or so of the Democrats.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:55PM (#10834187)
    However, having been born and raised in the USA, I have to say that I have never once fealt oppressed. Ever. I don't fear the government. I don't fear the police.

    Here's a suggestion: put up a website and post the source code to DeCSS on it. The source code is publicly-available, and open-source. You won't be breaking copyright law by posting it, and the owners of that code will be happy you posted it. Of course, put your name and address on the site too. Now sit back and see how fast the FBI shows up at your door for posting information simply allows people to watch DVDs. Then we'll see what you have to say about feeling oppressed.

    There's lots more examples just like this. How is it not oppression when you can't give people information, even when you're not breaking any copyright law in the process?

    For another type of oppression, try creating a website that speaks badly of a large corporation and its products, using truthful information. The government and police won't care, but you'll be served by the corporation's lawyers ordering you to cease and desist, even though you've done nothing wrong. Try fighting this in court: how much will it cost you? That corporation can afford to bankrupt you with legal fees. You don't call this oppression? No, the government isn't actively doing the oppression in this case, but it's the government's job to protect people from barratry, and it's not doing that, so the government is complicit in this oppression. In more advanced countries like Germany, this isn't a big problem because they have laws preventing this type of abuse.
  • by Hentai (165906) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:58PM (#10834232) Homepage Journal
    I used to think that, too - then I started really paying attention to some odd hunger cravings I would get from time to time. Seeing specific corporate logos (Burger King, Wendy's, or Sonic) will cause me to crave their food, if I see the logo out of the corner of my eye and don't consciously recognize that I saw the logo.

    I discovered this after the third time I craved a particular brand of fast food, only to discover we had JUST passed it. After that, I started looking around more whenever I had a fast food craving, and could usually find a logo that had been within my line-of-sight, unnoticed, within the past 90 seconds.

    I'd like my medula oblongota back, please.
  • by Le Marteau (206396) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @04:46PM (#10834919) Journal
    You accept as your god given right to consume what someone else produces...

    No, for fucks sake, no I did not. I never claimed it was my 'right' to consume. All I am bitching about is the government potentially mandating how my hardware functions. If some schmuck wants to broadcast on the public airwaves, and I choose to rig up some hardware to tap into the public airwaves, that is my right. I did not make any 'deal' with the media. They put it up and out, and I tap into it, and the government has no business mandating how my passive hardware functions.

    but then staunchly demand you shouldn't have to pay for it.

    No, again. I'd GLADLY pay for what I watch, and would pay in cash. WITH PLEASURE. What I WON'T do is sit through a bunch of insulting, mindless, badly produced commercials. That I WILL NOT do, that is TOO HIGH a price to pay for TV, and, like I said, if forced to watch commercials, I would unplug the damned thing.

  • by AnimalCoward (600737) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @04:46PM (#10834921)
    >>The problem is politicians no longer view people as their electorate, instead they view complex algorithms of where to spend money on advertising as the equation to get elected.

    >You're right, dammit. And it's hard to fix; it verges on darwinism: If they can get an advantage using methods like you describe, then they are selected, and it reinforces itself. How can you fix something like that? Any attempts at leveling the field are usually subverted and exploited.

    Oh for Christ's sake...

    Could you please put an end to your silly over-simplifications, and actually get involved with the issues?

  • by Progman3K (515744) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @04:46PM (#10834928)
    >But they will get better. Americans are optimists, problem solvers. You may think that there's nothing we can do to change the system, but you're wrong because it's a fundamentally good system. As such, it was designed for change.

    Yup, I agree. American are blessed by the fact that they originally formed their nation by opposing tyranny. But whatever you do, DON'T let the pigs (animal farm) rewrite your laws to a point where it is illegal for you to correct the situation. The slow erosion going on around you has to be stopped.

    The tactic so far is to divide you to better conquer you. You have to stand TOGETHER, like the founding fathers originally envisioned.

    OK, OK, I know a few of them owned slaves and didn't really LIVE their ideals fully because of it, but still, the vision was good, and it deserves to be preserved.

    Want an example? Gay rights.

    "WHAT?" I hear you saying. Well, YOU may not be gay, and you may not even know anyone who is, but the fact is that if you let them treat even ONE segment of the people as less deserving of the basic freedoms than others, you're dooming everyone ultimately.

    >The American dream is alive and well. And as long as it exists, there will be people fighting for it.

    Right on, that's the ONLY attitude worth having.

    >So shut the fuck up!

    Please, make me. :-)
  • by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:02PM (#10836625)
    But how would you get people to change from the norm in US case (Republican vs Democrat) or in Canada (NDP, Liberal, Conservative).

    In New Zeland, we recently switched to the MMP (mixed member proportional) system. This allows minority parties who actually have a significant (>5%) share of the vote to actually get a seat. An individual votes for a party and a candidate and the number of seats obtained in parliment is based on both.

    While not perfect, it certainly allows minority parties (who actually have support) to have a say. In our situation, coalitions are formed to get a majority and so party policy becomes not so extreme.
    The tendancy towards coalition is further exagerated because people tend to actually vote for the party they like, rather than the one they prefer in the hopes that their vote will somehow count more.
    This was a problem identified in the US elections recently with nader and actually demonstrated in NZ with the removal of a bi-party duoply post MMP.

    Coalitions mean a party cannot railroad through legislation through and that debate (remember that democracy=debate anyone??) becomes vital. Even in a bi-party duopoly, the common values of those two parties end up being grossly overrepresented. (e.g. people's complaints about simularities between rep. and dem.)

    As I said not perfect but, so far as I have seen, the change has led to a system approximating democracy much closer than others I have seen.
    Of course the US/CAN politicians would never buy this, they like their duopoly. :)
  • More info (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BoldAndBusted (679561) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:32PM (#10836920) Homepage
    Public Knowledge has a really nice summary and position page here: http://www.publicknowledge.org/issues/hr2391 [publicknowledge.org]
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @08:09PM (#10837282)
    Do any of you remember the Max Headroom series (This this this IS ... Network 21)? It was a silly show in many ways but it is proving to be prophetic. In the future portrayed by Edison Carter and Max Headroom, a television with an OFF switch was illegal and punishable by imprisonment, it being simply unacceptable that someone might miss viewing a commercial. In one episode a girl was arrested for having wired an off switch into her TV. I remember, twenty years ago or so, thinking how ridiculous that was. But now now ... I'm not so sure. Congress and the MPAA certainly seem to be heading us in that direction and I think the producers of that series picked up on trends that escaped the rest of us. No matter ... ultimately television, in any form, is a luxury and luxuries can be dispensed with. Fortunately I have plenty of books and they don't have a broadcast flag.
  • Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vex24 (126288) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:47PM (#10838159) Homepage
    Read the section in context:


    SEC. 212. EXEMPTION FROM INFRINGEMENT FOR SKIPPING AUDIO AND VIDEO CONTENT IN MOTION PICTURES.

    (a) Short Title- This section may be cited as the `Family Movie Act of 2004'.

    (b) Exemption From Copyright and Trademark Infringement for Skipping of Audio or Video Content of Motion Pictures- Section 110 of title 17, United States Code, is amended--

    (1) in paragraph (9), by striking `and' after the semicolon at the end;

    (2) in paragraph (10), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and';

    (3) by inserting after paragraph (10) the following:

    `(11) the making imperceptible, by or at the direction of a member of a private household, of limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture, during a performance in or transmitted to that household for private home viewing, from an authorized copy of the motion picture, or the creation or provision of a computer program or other technology that enables such making imperceptible and that is designed and marketed for such use at the direction of a member of a private household, if--

    `(A) no fixed copy of the altered version of the motion picture is created by such computer program or other technology; and

    `(B) no changes, deletions or additions are made by such computer program or other technology to commercial advertisements, or to network or station promotional announcements, that would otherwise be performed or displayed before, during or after the performance of the motion picture.'; and

    (4) by adding at the end the following:

    `For purposes of paragraph (11), the term `making imperceptible' does not include the addition of audio or video content that is performed or displayed over or in place of existing content in a motion picture.'.


    It appears that the whole section, including the parts about editing out "objectionable" content and not removing ads are relating to the same practice.

    There's a group out there (Yo [cleanfilms.com]) that's renting/selling "family-friendly" movies with the materials that might offend conservatives removed. They have to edit the movies in-house to make their versions available. Right now I think they're in a legal grey area. Filmmakers want their work protected from prudish editors, and conservative parents want their children protected from godless liberal Hollywood heathens, so to speak.

    Regardless of how you feel about editing movies for content, some people want their content pre-screened before they (or their kids) watch it. I'm personally against it, but this legislation doesn't force anyone to buy movies from these places.

    Looks like the advertising bit refers directly to the practice of editing movies for content on after-studio edits. What they're saying is that a business may edit the film for content, but may not remove previews and ads, etc. that would appear on the original DVD or Video. I don't think this has anything to do with TiVo et al.

    I had to check into this one further after seeing Rep. Rich "The Slashdot Congressman" Boucher's name on the list of cosponsors.

    IANAL, btw.

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