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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 @12:09PM (#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 Megaweapon (25185) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:16PM (#10831767) Homepage
      They've got people from both parties in their pockets.

      So it is appropriate to blame Republicans then. Just so long as you lump the Democrats in as well. Personally I see so little difference between the two parties anyways.
      • by trajano (220061) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:51PM (#10832314) Homepage Journal
        This is why I vote for a different party other than the popular ones. I voted for the Green party here in Canada, I don't know about the US though, I am not sure if Nader is a good person to have run the country since I haven't done any research on US political parties.

        But how would you get people to change from the norm in US case (Republican vs Democrat) or in Canada (NDP, Liberal, Conservative). In my opinion they are all bad, since they haven't made any move to bring the needs of common people first. I am not talking about the poor people under the proverty line, I am talking about the average joe middle class person.

        Its like most of the highschool teachers we have here. During parent teacher conferences they only a lot to talk about the smartest kids or the most difficult kids, the rest who are average are just "yah they do well blah blah blah"

        I don't vote for those big parties since I know they screwed us before. Why would I vote for them again (if I ever voted for them which I never did).

        Also media has put forth a message saying that voting for the independents is a wasted vote or a vote for the other party. You know what? Its not a wasted vote. And personally, I would have more respect for a person that voted independent rather than the major parties (even if it is the Marjuana party or the communist party) because they actually know what they would want and know how to learn from the past.

        I think I saw it posted somewhere...

        "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result"
      • by Damek (515688) <adam@NoSpAM.damek.org> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:27PM (#10832945) Homepage
        There are a lot of significant differences, but few of them are actually important. For example, though I supported Kerry, Kerry's presidency would have simply been a kinder, gentler version of the same stuff Bush's administration is doing. Some environmental and labor policy would change, but the two greatest fundamental issues facing America and the world in the 21st century would not have gone away. The spotlight on them would merely have dimmed.

        1) Western imperialism (dare I say American imperialism?), of which terrorism is merely a facet.

        2) The rise of and lack of limits on corporate power - of which terrorism is also a facet.

        If we could honestly deal with these two issues, which are fast becoming one and the same due to corporate power influencing governments (and therefore imperialist policies), many other problems would become more manageable, and some might even disappear.
    • Parallels (Score:4, Informative)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:05PM (#10832569) Homepage Journal

      A nearly lame duck House and Senate passed both the Bono Act and the DMCA about a week before the November 1998 election, and they did it by voice vote so that constituents couldn't know which way anybody voted.

  • by Le Marteau (206396) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:09PM (#10831672) Journal
    The bill would also 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.

    Say WHAT???! The article wasn't clear about how this would be accomplished (not allowing us to skip commercials) but I assume the commercials would be flagged, and any new hardware must respect the flag's autho-i-tay.

    And who are these Senators representing, anyway? Planning to FORCE our hardware to play commercials? They sure as hell aren't representing ME. Bunch of streetwalkers, they are.

    ***sigh*** I have a TiVo now, and there is no way in HELL I will EVER watch another commercial again. In a way, I hope these shitheads actually DO get their way, and FORCE my hardware to play all commercials. That would be a sure way to get me to unplug the goddamned thing once and for all.

    I have to post the obligatory Robert Heinlien quote for this:

    "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped or turned back, for their private benefit."
    • by Cougem (734635) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:13PM (#10831729)
      What if people start to advertising things with sex? Like using penises like billboards? Do we have to watch?
    • by ivan256 (17499) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:17PM (#10831789)
      Your TiVo doesn't automatically skip commercials, which is what would be disallowed by this law. It's not forcing you to play commercials, or even stopping you from manually skipping them.
      • by Le Marteau (206396) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:22PM (#10831864) Journal
        Your TiVo doesn't automatically skip commercials, which is what would be disallowed by this law. It's not forcing you to play commercials, or even stopping you from manually skipping them.

        Maybe, but the article wasn't clear about that. It said, However, under the proposed law, skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited. The article said nothing about whether the skipping was automatic or user-initiated.

        The technology certainly is there to prevent us from skipping commercials, for example, on DVDs, the hardware can be prevented from fast forwarding through content they don't want us to skip. I had to assume this was what they wanted to do for future TiVos.
        • by jarich (733129) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:43PM (#10832193) Homepage Journal
          1) Only applies to motion pictures (ie: movies) 2) Prevents any commercial skippage... so when they show a movie on TV, you are legally required to not skip them? From here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c108:5:./tem p/~c10864QF67:e20039: [loc.gov] `(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.';
        • by TheOldFart (578597) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:45PM (#10832224)

          -

          Using this logic, the channel up, channel down, and power button on your remote control and in the front panel of the TV are going to be illegal. If you use them with the intent of skipping the commercial and watch something else while the commercial is playing, you will be braking the law.

          -

        • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @02:48PM (#10834091)
          The technology certainly is there to prevent us from skipping commercials, for example, on DVDs, the hardware can be prevented from fast forwarding through content they don't want us to skip. I had to assume this was what they wanted to do for future TiVos.

          But at least its only the manufacturers trying to screw us. I can live with that. I don't like it, but I can live with it. When the government starts telling us that we have to watch commercials I have to wonder exactly who's side the government is on?

          I don't even understand what theory of government would be involved in such a law. Is there a some sort of constitutional mandate to give businesses whatever will make them happy? Is there some sort of law that insinuates consumers must purchase a full price product with every loss leader? When exactly did businesses get the right to have their business models only negative aspects "corrected" via legislation?

          If the age of comercials is waning, then pick another business model. HBO and Showtime do just fine without commercials. So do most DVD releases. Don't foce my government, who I thought was looking out for MY interests, to prop up your failed model with protectionist legislation.

          TW

    • by Bearpaw (13080) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:23PM (#10831876)
      The bill would also 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.

      But as far as I'm concerned, the commercials and promotional announcements are the content that I'm most likely to find objectionable.

      • Especially the commercials about menstruation. They always seems to come on when I'm eating diner.
      • EXACTLY! (Score:5, Informative)

        by WebCowboy (196209) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:01PM (#10832496)
        skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited

        This bill contradicts itself. I find most commercials/promotional announcements objectionable, and more and more these days are sexually explicit. Does the "skip objectionable content" part trump the "prohibit skipping commercials" part? Really, I don't want my kids minds to be warped by the likes of Britney Spears selling brown sugar water or any other product.

        I'm glad I live in Canada where the government doesn't try to tell us what we can and cannot watch...Oh wait... [crtc.gc.ca]
      • by doublem (118724) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @02:03PM (#10833455) Homepage Journal
        /me points finger

        "LOOK an Enemy Combatant!"

        You forget, mere consumer, that your right to be offended stops at advertising. It is a violation of the tenants of the Church of Consumerism to be offended by any advertisement. You are only permitted to obey the urge to buy, you miserable little cog.

        No go out there and max out your credit cards buying DVDs and CDs!
    • by Progman3K (515744) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:24PM (#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.
      • by John Seminal (698722) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:39PM (#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.

        • by Progman3K (515744) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:10PM (#10832650)
          >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.

          Americans need REAL leaders, who aren't just in it to get greased by lobbyists or cronies.

          >We have become sheep.

          No, you and many others like you are NOT sheep. You're seeing clearly. But of course the minute you try to ally yourself with others, it'll degenrate into extremism, radicalism, and possibly terrorism. Your mission is NOT to hurt the "sheep", no matter what. And I think any revolutionary leader that feels it is OK to sacrifice innocents to defeat such a system will undoubtedly establish an even greater tyranny.

          What's the answer?

          I think the U.S. has to change ONE law very quickly: It was ruled by the supreme court quite a while ago that corporations may exercise the same rights as individuals. THIS has got to go.

          Without the individual being protected and valued ABOVE corporate interests, lobbies will always have more resources and weild MORE and MORE power.

          That is my humble suggestion.
        • by KevinIsOwn (618900) <herrkevin AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @02:54PM (#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.
      • What makes you so sure this would take us closer to the end? Why won't this just further solidify the existing power structure?

        Maybe there's a way out [thestranger.com].
        • by Progman3K (515744) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:19PM (#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 DunbarTheInept (764) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:08PM (#10832607) Homepage

        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 problem is, that through the magic of selective enforcement, the government is perfectly capable of keeping the country running even with laws on the books that would cause implosions if actually enforced uniformly. If enforced everywhere, this law would make the entire entertainment industry implode. But rest assured, it will only be enforced when and where the industry wants it to be.

    • "Bunch of streetwalkers, they are."

      No, streetwalkers have standards. :)
    • by capnjack41 (560306) <spam_me@crapola.org> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:29PM (#10831983)
      Yeah, this sucks and all, but what we really should be asking is what the hell commercials have to do with copyright infringement. Is it now a violation of the work's author's copyright to skip commercials interpersed with his work? That copyright belongs to someone else. In fact, trying to control rewinding and fast-forwarding through anything doesn't have anything to do with intellectual property, period, or does it?

      Let's say I'm watching Law and Order, and there's a commercial. Let's say before that commercial, there was something important I missed, so I rewind back to it. Does that mean I'll have to watch the commercial again? Yeah I know I'm harping on some pretty dumb points, but I don't think they really thought this one through.

      • 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.
    • Heinlein references are good, but I've noticed that this discussion has a distinct lack of Sagan references. Didn't Sol Hadden get big on a gizmo for automatically skipping commercials?
  • hello 1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Janek Kozicki (722688) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:09PM (#10831673) Journal
    George, where are you?
    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:18PM (#10831813) Journal
      In the White House.
    • Re:hello 1984 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by twitter (104583)
      George, where are you?

      He's laughing at your non free software cellphone with a camera on it.

      He's also predicting convergence of law and technology: the home entertainment center which combines a VoIP video camera and TiVo like DVR. The center will not be able to skip the two minutes hate and, due to a bandwith shortage, the video phone will be reduced to security monitoring by authorized persons only. You will have one free of charge brought to you on behalf of our sponsors. Who needs laws when you ha

  • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:09PM (#10831674)
    `(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.


    Does motion picture mean TV programs as well? They weren't clear enough for me. If they mean any program (like DVD Shrink) which allows you to edit video of the "original content" and remove what you want I would say that it would have damaging effects on all video editing software.

    Would we have to buy/download video editing software that carried a warning that you couldn't remove unwanted commercials from products you already paid for and shouldn't be required to suffer through anyway?

    Sometimes I want to sit these lawmakers in front of a limited edition, Gold copy, digitally enhanced, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Disney DVD with their eyelids taped open. Maybe then they would think twice about forcing every hard-working, tax paying, voting American from "editing" the content of their PURCHASED media. Then again, Disney and their marketers might pay them more than our taxes are worth ;-)

    Will the end of Hatch mean the end of crap or will the big bucks be able to corrupt a whole new group of lawmakers?
    • by allism (457899) <alice.harrison@gm a i l .com> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:11PM (#10831703) Journal
      We should all pool our money and buy every Senator a TiVo, then send someone to their house to show them how to program the 30-second skip. This bill would be killed after about a week of them getting addicted.
      • And at the very least, after a few weeks we could bust them all for whatever the hell they're going to call the crime (doesn't seem like copyright infringement) of skipping commercials.
  • by Megaweapon (25185) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:09PM (#10831680) Homepage
    please spell "concern" correctly.
  • Only the best... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wayward_son (146338) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:11PM (#10831695)
    It's good to know the best Government money can buy.

    I'm also glad they are protecting me from those dangerous Canadian prescription drugs.

    • 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.

  • by gcaseye6677 (694805) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:11PM (#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 Prof.Phreak (584152) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:53PM (#10832333) Homepage
      What will be the penalty for going to the bathroom during a commercial break?

      The video player will detect your absense (scan room for open eyes, etc.) and will pause the commercial for you until you're right back and ready to see it... and you'll have to see it since once a commercial starts, the only way to get back to normal programming is to have your open eyes in front of the player for 5 minutes.
  • Weird (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:11PM (#10831709)
    Did not read the article. I assume it is a US thing.

    It is a very strange idea. Why would you want to skip the sex scenes but not the ads??

    Why did you guys vote Bush in anyway? Oh, that's right, you're stupid.
    • Re:Weird (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AvantLegion (595806) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:25PM (#10831923) Journal
      >> Why did you guys vote Bush in anyway? Oh, that's right, you're stupid.

      Who's more stupid: the stupid people who voted for Bush for President, or the stupid troll who can't tell the difference between a President and the Senate?

      • Re:Weird (Score:5, Interesting)

        by asoap (740625) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:10PM (#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

    • Re:Weird (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Moofie (22272) <lee@nOSPam.ringofsaturn.com> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:29PM (#10831986) Homepage
      Well, I'm smart enough to understand that 53% only equals 100% in really bad rounding algorithms.

      Like Presidential elections.
    • Re:Weird (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alien Being (18488) *
      "Why did you guys vote Bush in anyway?"

      Christian fanaticism.
    • Ok, 'splainin time (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:42PM (#10832178)
      I realise that research on foriegn governments may not be your thing, but if you are going to talk about them, you should know about them. The president does not make laws. Not only does he not, he cannot. He can endorse them, and he has the power to veto their passage (subject to override), but he doesn't make laws.

      In the US laws are made by the legslative body congress. It is a body of two houses. The lower body, called the House of Representitives, is composed of 435 representitives. They are divided across the US based on population. The upper body is called the Senate is is composed of 100 senators, two from each state.

      For a law to be made, a bill is introduced in one of the bodies of congress. The bill is then debated and voted on (there are a number of ways this can happen and most bills are killed before a full vote). If the bill passes a majority vote, it is tehn sent to the other body for another vote. If it passes a majority in both bodies, it is then given to the President to sign in to law.

      So no, the President isn't responsible for this. The person most responsible is Senator Orrin Hatch, from Utah. However the president has nothing to do with this legslation, and hasn't commented on it either way. The only say he'll get is if it does pass both houses, he can veto it (which congress can then override with a 66% vote).

      Please, if you are going to comment on the America political system, at least do some cursory research in to how it works. The President is the Chief Executive, meaning he is responsible for the enforcement of the law, not the creation of it. The legslature handles that.

      Same thing with treaties. It is not the president's responsibility to make a treaty law. The president signs treties, but that means nothing. A treaty is not law in the US unless ratified by the Senate. The President can sign whatever they like, the Senate has the final say on if that gets to become US law (though the judiciary can override them if it is unconstutional).
  • by viniosity (592905) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:12PM (#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.)
    • Advertising is going the way of many other industries in some respects.

      Oil companies want to stop true alternative fuels, because it threatens their business. Force people to use your product, instead of adapting yourself to the market.

      We've seen this over and over again since the Industrial Revolution (textile industry was one of the earlier ones).

      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 ca
    • LEELA: Didn't you have ads in the twentieth century?
      FRY: Well, sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio... and in magazines... and movies, and at ballgames, and on buses, and milk cartons, and T-shirts, and bananas, and written in the sky. But not in dreams, no sirree.

      I don't have a TV for over a year now, do you know how awesome that is? The only magic box that eats my time at home is my laptop.

      But I don't listen to music either for 1.5 years now, so I have to enterntain myself sometimes... a
    • Is it just me or are any of you sick of advertising too?

      I use Adblock religiously. I hardly ever watch TV that's not prerecorded, and the stuff I do watch tends to come off the BBC (which is commercial-free).

      It's incredible how much cleaner my life is.

      Every so often I have to use IE or watch some commercial TV channel and I'm always horrified by how much flickering, jittering, attention-grabbing crap there is, always trying to distract me from what I want to read or watch or whatever, metaphorically s

  • Read The Ammendment (Score:4, Informative)

    by teiresias (101481) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:12PM (#10831720)
    http://www.aipla.org/Content/ContentGroups/Legisla tive_Action/108th_Congress1/House/hr2391.pdf

    now that you've read what they're voting on (even if they probably haven't) write or e-mail your representative.
  • Wouldn't this... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tuxedo Jack (648130) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:12PM (#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.
  • Senate.Gov (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pavo (70713) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:14PM (#10831734) Homepage
    Come on people. Right to your senators. Let them know this is not acceptable to you. You've only got 2 of them and they've got a webform. Give "fair use" two minutes of your time. Here is what I sent in:

    Dear Senator,

    I write to you today in opposition to H.R.2391 which seeks to lump several controversial copyright bills into one for swift passage through the lame-duck session of congress. Copyright law exists to protect the interests of the citizens, not just those of corporations. This bill harms the "fair use" rights of citizens and puts too much power in the hands of the "entertainment" industry, among others. These bills deserves at least the chance to face fair and open hearings and to be debated carefully. Please vote against this bill.
    • by JPelorat (5320) *
      Right to your senators.

      That reminds me.. we should ask them to increase education funding as well. =)

      (just a friendly tweak, don't everyone go get excited and moddy about it..)
  • Many commercials could be considered offensive. What if you don't drink? What if you don't want your kids to demand sugar cereals? What if you don't want to know about the benefits of Viagra?
    • by Bastian (66383) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:49PM (#10832289)
      It's funny how making people aware that sex exists and people have it has been decried as obscene, and people say it hurts children.

      But on the other hand, it's perfectly fine to skip the part about saying sex exists, and then, from the assumption that everyone knows it does, anyway, proceed to tell them that they are unattractive, under-endowed, smell bad, and are generally worthless people unless they shell out for xxxx.

      In other words, outright acknowledging the facts of life is an unimaginable sin, but using them to do deliberate harm to a person's psyche is just the way we do business. (So much so, that apparently we don't have the right to avoid such harm.)
  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:17PM (#10831780) Journal
    At the risk of being redundant, just what in the flaming, farging heck does that mean, "skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited"?

    If it means what I think it means, then this corporate control of the federal government has gone far enough.

    When it's gotten to the point where the federal government is actually proposing criminalizing the use of technology to ignore a corporation's mind-numbing commercial pabulum, then it's perfectly obvious to me that what needs to be overhauled is not copyright law, but the whole damn government.

    And up to three years in prison for camcordering a movie? THREE YEARS?! Guys spend less time in prison for rape!

    I did RTFA, but I didn't attempt to plow through the language of the bill itself.
    • by DM9290 (797337) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:47PM (#10832257) Journal
      And up to three years in prison for camcordering a movie? THREE YEARS?! Guys spend less time in prison for rape!

      It is clear that the public considers bringing a camcorder to the theatre to be a more heinous offence than rape. Rape only has 1 victim. But when you bring a camcorder to a theatre you are raping America.

      Remember, you elected these people. Now sit down and shut up before the commercials start.

    • And up to three years in prison for camcordering a movie? THREE YEARS?! Guys spend less time in prison for rape!

      Government is becoming more and more concerned about making America safe for corporate profiteering, and correspondingly less and less concerned about the safety and security of people. 114 million people voted FOR this sort of government on Nov 2nd. Having once again made this bed, we will all have to lay in it. (Except those of us who are frankly criminal by deed and intent. {wave and smile})
  • loophole (Score:3, Funny)

    by r00t (33219) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:17PM (#10831788) Journal
    Simply put a product tie-in into the sexually
    explicit gory scene. There, it's an ad, so you
    can't bypass it.
  • by Sebby (238625) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:18PM (#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 @12:18PM (#10831809) Journal
    "It's an off switch. He'll get years for that."


    20 Minutes Into the Future...and getting closer every second.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:07PM (#10832596)
      > "It's an off switch. He'll get years for that."
      >
      > 20 Minutes Into the Future...and getting closer every second.

      20 minutes into the future -- 17 years into the past.

      From the Max Headroom Episode Guide [iastate.edu], we have 14 episodes. Of those 14, I can classify only THREE as "fiction", meaning "requires technology that doesn't exist today."

      Episode 1: Blipverts. Check. (Ad agencies are designing ads to look "good" even if you're fast-forwarding them at 30x on a DVR).

      Episode 2: Rakers. 75% there. ("Ultimate Fighting Championships", "COPS" - it'll be official when we have a reality TV series in which serious bodily harm and/or death is part of the show.)

      Episode 3: Body Banks. Check. (Harvesting of Brazilian street youth, Chinese execution market.)

      Episode 4: Security Systems. Check. ("Credit fraud! That's worse than murder!" - and now 3 years for skipping commercials.)

      Episode 5: War. Check. (Bringing you the opening 72 hours of Operation Iraqi Freedom, live and direct!)

      Episode 6: The Blanks. 50% there. (HomeSec, national ID card, Safe Travel programme, MATRIX database, Supreme Court decisions regarding citizens' obligation to reveal or provide identity on demand, all clearly pointing towards the criminalization of anonymity and development of systems and technologies to make the "roundup" option more practical.)

      Episode 7: Academy. Check. ("Captain Midnight" was a real-life "zipper", and was likely the inspiration for this episode. This was the only "current events" episode in the series.)

      Episode 8: Deities. 75% there. (We already have "online churches", it's only a matter of time before some huckster starts charging for diskspace for the soul. All the technology is now in place, all we need is the huckster and some suckers. :)

      Episode 9: Grossberg's Return. Check. ("Watch while you sleep" devices in the episode are basically like auto-clickers for those stupid dotcom pyramid schemes like AllAdvantage, used to artificially boost clickthrough ratings.)

      Episode 10: Dream Thieves. 0% there. (Finally, something that's just science fiction!)

      Episode 11: Whacketts. 0% there. (Finally, another fiction episode :)

      Episode 12: Neurostim. 25% there. ("Neuromarketing" is the buzzword -- advertisers are doing active brain scans to see how effective their campaigns are. Long way from being able to induce brain states to drive product, but it's a start.)

      Episode 13. Lessons. Check. (Any teacher using showing taped from the TV in the classroom without paying a license fee is eligible for the DMCA smackdown. In 1987, the smackdown was dystopian science fiction. Today, the surprising thing would be if they didn't get the smackdown.)

      Episode 14. Baby Growbags. 0% (OK, three episodes out of 14, fiction.)

  • by igaborf (69869) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:18PM (#10831810)
    ...skip objectionable content -- like a gory or sexually explicit scene....skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited.

    The philosophy of the Republican Party in a nutshell.

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rnelsonee (98732) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:20PM (#10831841)
    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."

    What if I find the ads objectionable?

    Non-rhetorical stance:
    Really, what if there's an ad for say, Wonderbras, that I find explicit? Can I turn that off? This is insane. Who are they to say what I can and can't watch? Howabout turning off the TV to eat dinner when there's an ad on... is that okay? Do I have their permission for that at least? Ugh.

  • Just to clarify... (Score:5, Informative)

    by syphax (189065) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:21PM (#10831845) Journal
    The Senate bill is S.2192 [loc.gov]

    The House bill is H.R.2391 [loc.gov]

    See the S is for Senate, the H in H.R. is for House...

    • by cdrudge (68377) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:38PM (#10832118) Homepage
      The original bill was introduced into the House, hence the HR2391 in the write up and article. It basically they was hijacked once it got to the Senate, but it still is tracked by the HR2391 name here [loc.gov]. Check out the differences between #4 and #5. Anything that was in the house version was strickened out and all the extra crap was added.
  • by JavaLord (680960) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:21PM (#10831853) Journal
    I don't see how this fits into the Republican ideal of smaller government. Should the government be concerned with if you decide to skip any commercials or promotional announcements? I'm sure the democrats will oppose this bill, and I would urge all Republicans to do the same. It is against the core values of your party.

    PS- No matter what your political affiliation is, Do you think sending people to prison for three years who "bring a video camera into a movie theater to make a copy of the film for distribution" is a good use of your tax money? Those three years probably come to around/at least $150,000
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:21PM (#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?

  • Some good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:23PM (#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 Badgerman (19207) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:25PM (#10831913)
    I found this interesting:

    The groups that lined up against the bill include the Consumer Electronics Association, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, the American Conservative Union and public-interest advocacy group Public Knowledge, which hosted a press briefing on Friday as the opening salvo of its campaign to stop passage.

    and

    Hollywood's involvement has even irked the American Conservative Union, which holds considerable sway with conservative Republicans in Congress. The ACU plans a major print ad campaign this week to oppose the bill, mainly because some provisions would require the Justice Department to file civil copyright lawsuits on behalf of the entertainment industry.

    "It's just plain wrong to make the Department of Justice Hollywood's law firm," said Stacie Rumenap, ACU's deputy director.


    Sounds like there's some pretty good opposition lined up. Besides writing your Congressbeings, it may be worth keeping track of what these groups are up to.

  • Campaign vs. action (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sphealey (2855) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:27PM (#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 Meostro (788797) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:27PM (#10831955) Homepage Journal
    <rant>
    Compyright? Consern? Editors, please fucking EDIT these stories!!!
    </rant>
    According to an article on Wired, the Senate may soon pass a bill labelled HR2391, a bill which lumps many other compyright bills.
    The Senate will never pass a bill labelled HR2391, that would be a House of Representatives bill.

    It wouldn't hurt to notify your Senators [senate.gov] and Representatives [house.gov] anyway. Click the link, pick your state or zip and go to their e-mail forms.
  • by enrico_suave (179651) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:27PM (#10831959) Homepage
    only outlaws will PVR!

    er... doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?

  • by Fnkmaster (89084) * on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:27PM (#10831960)
    This is legislation by exhaustion. It is clear that there is zero popular support for any of this copyright fascism legislation, and every time a new bill comes around, the various grass roots organizations stir up a frenzy about it, because we all learned our lesson when we let the DMCA get passed.

    I have decided they are just trying to tire us out. If they keep trying to push the same kinds of insane measures through by repackaging them with new insane measures, they hope we will be caught offguard and forget to protest one. Once it's passed, it's going to be damned near impossible to get it revoked, barring years of painful jurisprudence to limit its powers (witness the DMCA which only now is starting to be limited in scope by judicial precendent).

    How can we make it crystal clear that we don't want more copyright restrictions and that we want our fair use rights encoded in law and guaranteed to us? We need more, well funded groups to stand up for our rights against the fascist copyright regime (and I mean that literally, as the government and big media are essentially working in lockstep on this issue, which is the definition of fascism).
  • Why worry? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wylfing (144940) <(brian) (at) (wylfing.net)> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:28PM (#10831972) Homepage Journal
    I don't think it's worth worry about. This will pass, and over the next 2 years the U.S. Congress is going to pass a number of extremely harsh IP-protecting bills. Shortly we will be living under the copyright rules that our founders were desperate to get away from.

    However, I believe this will greatly accelerate the movement toward things like the Creative Commons and FOSS. It will be too dangerous to do otherwise. When lending a book carries a jail sentence, the market will quickly shift toward books that explicitly permit sharing. When misplacing your retail Windows XP carton lands you in prison, Linux will be on everyone's computer.

  • Appalled... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gleenie (412916) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `neerg.c.nomis'> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:29PM (#10831987)
    Having said that, I can Australia & New Zealand following suit pretty soon after. Once these things get passed into US law, the WIPO forces everyone else to "harmonise" with them.

    Funny how it's never the US who needs to harmonise with other countries where the lawmakers are not yet completely coopted by large corporate special interests. But that's because most of said special interests call the USA their home. If it were somewhere else, things would still be heading this way, but with a different nation "leading the way".

    I believe it's been mentioned on /. before, but those who haven't read it should read Joel Bakan's "The Corporation" [amazon.com]. It's a very interesting read, and it will certainly open your eyes as to why this sort of thing is happening more and more. Unfortunately, Prof. Bakan hasn't come up with any suggestions as to how to deal with it that I can see working right now...

  • No problem except (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enrique1218 (603187) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:46PM (#10832238) Journal

    I have no problem with Congress protecting copyright holder. If you come up with something original and people like it, why shouldn't you expect that work to be protected from unauthorize distribution- whatever the means. We should protect the creative impulses that make this country great. However, for the love of Lord, why do I have to sit through these lame commercials?! Why do I need Viagra for or douche or panty liners? I don't have genital herpes!!! Why is the superbowl the only time in the year we get commercial that is actually entertaining. I submit we should abandon the whole television medium and break the bond that shackle us to our couch. Live, learn, be merry, and most important be passionate.

    I know sounds easier than it is. But, one day at a time, it all it takes for freedom

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:51PM (#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 Luscious868 (679143) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @12:57PM (#10832415)
    I wouldn't worry much about the bill. At least, not right now. We're now in a lame duck session of Congress and there are several other bills that both the House and Senate are trying to get through, get sent to committee and get finalized and signed by the President before this session is through. The intelligence reform bill comes to mind.

    Anything that passes the Senate, in order to become law, would also have to be passed by the House. Then it would have to be sent to a conference committee where members from both the House and the Senate try to reconcile the differences between the bills passed in each chamber. Members of that committee would have to agree on a final form of the bill and then send the compromise back to House and Senate for an up or down vote. This in and of itself, is no small feat. There are plenty of bills that pass both the House and the Senate that never make it out of the conference committee.

    If both chambers managed to pass it, the president would then have to sign it. The chances of all of this happening in a lame duck session of Congress are slim to none. Especially when you consider that they are trying to get this mammoth intelligence reform bill done. This copyright bill will then die when this session of Congress ends and the process will have to begin all over again. Don't worry about this bill, at least, not yet. Instead, focus your energy on getting the idiots that sponsored the bill and the idiots that ultimately voted for it out of office the next time they are up for reelection.
  • by SiliconEntity (448450) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:57PM (#10833385)
    However, under the proposed law, skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited.

    This is wrong. The proposed law does not prohibit skipping commercials.

    What this portion of the law is about are products like ClearPlay [clearplay.com], which is a DVD player that "sanitizes" movies by eliminating the naughty bits. Some object to this as censorship, others endorse it as personal control of content.

    Movie producers have claimed that ClearPlay violates their copyrights on movies. This new bill incorporates an earlier proposal that would basically make it clear that the system does not violate copyright. It explicitly says that these kinds of filtering systems are legal.

    However, the exemption from copyright does not apply to systems that eliminate commercials. That is the clause which is causing so much controversy. It leaves open the possibility that filtering commercials might be said to violate the copyright held by the original producers of the content.

    Here is where the big mistake is made in interpreting this. The new law does not change the legal status of filtering commercials. It might be legal, or it might not. Generally, it is untested. What the new law FAILS to do is to explicitly state that it is legal.

    I hope that readers are intelligent enough to distinguish between a law that criminalizes skipping commercials, versus a law that fails to legalize them. The truth is that this law does not change the legality of the action.

    Unfortunately the Wired author either was not intelligent enough to make this distinction, or chose to present an inflammatory and false interpretation in order to increase his readership and make more money for his employer.

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