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Rep. Gets It - Boucher Re-Examines Fair Use 204

It's nice to have a bit of good news about the DMCA every so often. Who knows, maybe ten years from now we'll be right back where we were in 1997 -- and what a victory that will be! Anyway, Tech Law Journal has a transcript of Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.)'s savvy speech arguing that the DMCA has reached too far. Surprisingly clued for a lawmaker, he calls for "Congress to reaffirm the fair use doctrine" in a variety of areas: most notably, the contentious issue of buy-once-listen-anywhere for CDs. He also addresses backups, distance learning, resale, caching, and online sampling of your music before buying. He could have said more but I'm just glad he said anything.
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Rep. Gets It - Boucher Re-Examines Fair Use

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  • Forgive my cynicism, but what special-interest group is he fawning to with this? Who's paying him to have these opinions?

    I'm just utterly shocked that any elected official would dare strike against the corps unless someone else more influential was convincing him to do so.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe he actually beleives in something? I mean how hard is it to have faith in the American political process. I do. You seem to be surprised when any politician has any bit of principle, but it seems to me that is the way it should and often is.
  • by Spud Zeppelin ( 13403 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:21AM (#378614)
    His first name is "Rick," not "Dan."


  • Hmmmm I'm thinking that the RIAA turned down $1B from Napster, so maybe they're offering it to Congress? Shyeah right...
  • Perhaps companies that make CD Writers, blank CDs, stuff like that? Just a thought.
  • This is a good time to call or write your congresmen and give them an intelegent opinion about the DCMA.
  • Virginia's 9th district rep is Rick Boucher [] not "Dan" Boucher.
  • being that not everyone lives in VA, you may not have noticed Va. race to the political right, this guy has about a smuch chance retaining his seat as i do of winning it. Va. harbors some of the counrties worst anti consumer GOP'ers in the country, remeber this was the first state in the country to pass UCTICA.
  • It's possible that this guy is a bona fide honest person. He's a Representative, so he doesn't have much clout and therefore he hasn't sold his soul to satan yet. Odds are he'll switch sides when he becomes a Senator. It's sad to see. Maybe he and Billy Tauzin(R-LA) can get together and actually make life in the US bearable for free speech. All I know is that unless this guy has balls of platinum, he's going to flop with the rest of the Senate whores(McCain included).
  • It depends which corp -- the tech industry (if you hadn't noticed) has had a pretty severe dropoff in sales.

    So if you're selling PC's, hard drives, home LAN's, Broadband Crap, etc., or even operating systems, the wins that the entertainment industry have been chalking up are coming out of your hide. You want people to be trading big files over the internet -- it's in your interest.

  • & please don't forget to use a spell checker.
  • I especially like how he states that Fair Use is vital to our First Amendment rights. Corporations and Governmetn are time and time agian trying to limit the access people have to information (Mandatory Censorware, etc.). This guy almost makes me want to move to Virginia so I can vote for him. Regardless, he now gives us a precedent to write to our congressional leaders to ignore thier corporate paychecks and actually stand up for us for once.

  • by UltraBot2K1 ( 320256 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:29AM (#378624) Homepage Journal
    Now that one member of congress has taken a risk and stood up against the DMCA, we need to pledge our support and rally behind Rep. Boucher in order to encourage others to follow his lead. People here have good intentions, but posting your opinion on Slashdot will not make a difference, we need to contact our representatives directly and let them know that we are behind them completely. I urge everyone who reads this to send Mr. Boucher a congratulatory note to him here [mailto].

    As a Virginia resident, I'm happy to see our elected officials are doing their job and working for the people instead of pandering to corporate pressure. In addition to his stance against the DMCA, Rep. Boucher has also pledged himself to protecting all rights of Americans, and is an active supporter of the NRA and prayer in school. This man will certainly be getting my vote next election!

  • What about reverse enginering? I did not see a mention of that is his speach.
  • by eric17 ( 53263 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:31AM (#378626)
    I used to live in boucher's district, and basically there is no big tech there for him to be heholden to. He's just an intelligent guy with a backbone.
  • Boucher was the only Democratic nominee that I voted for last year and it was precisely because of his stand on issues of IP and the internet. He has always been forward thinking about technology and fighting for what is right.

    To the person who said that he has no hope at reelection obviously doesn't live in VA. He was just reelected and blew the competition out of the water. So I guess he is safe for a couple of more years anyway.
  • Senators are a much better deal for the money. Representatives are a bit cheaper, but you have to buy more of them.
  • If you must have an angle, think of this:

    If Boucher doesn't get votes, he can't get relected. Money only goes so far (xref Perot and Forbes' presidential bids).

  • I don't think so. It would seem that on this one issue Senator Hatch [] is also right. I know that at lest part of the reason for this is that Hatch is a musician and understands these issues as a result of that. Might be something similar going on with this guy.
  • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:41AM (#378633) Homepage
    As usual, [] has a per-sector breakdown [].

    He gets a decent amount of money from communications people (and Verizon, SBC, and BellSouth rank high on his list), but more from energy and finance. Virgina... hrm.

    Here [] is his home page. He doesn't list his committee memberships, but he's member of the Energy and Commerce [] one, which explains the energy and banking money.

    Here [] we see PAC contributions from computer equipment/services manufacturers. AOL, Intel, and so forth show up -- but these contributions are fairly minor. The National Assn. of Broadcasters did give him $7k via a PAC, interestingly. Whereas the MPAA didn't give much at all...
  • by Paul Bristow ( 118584 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:41AM (#378634) Homepage
    OK American citizens, it is time for your to stand up and be counted.

    Do you want government for the people, by the people or government for the corporations, by the corporations ?

    I spend enough time in the US to know that it is getting worse, not better. Do something. Those of us outside can only watch in amazement as you let your government do this to you.

    Freedom is lost by inches
  • The time has come for the motion picture studios to present a proposal along these lines to the manufacturers of recording equipment.

    Tellingly, he seems to view the world only in terms of the clash of corporate interests. Whatever happened to the citizens?
  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:42AM (#378636) Homepage
    It's not the first time he's been mentioned on Slashdot (At least in comments.) He also made a very good statement with his Music Owners' Listening Rights Act of 2000 [] propsal. Too bad this one got buried in committee [].

    He's really in tune with the /. community. Take a look at his picture... [] He really is one of us.
  • by RandomPeon ( 230002 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:43AM (#378637) Journal
    OK, this guy is the greatest politician, since, well, anybody.

    If you're a US citizen, especially from VA, email [mailto] him, tell him you love him. Congresspeople notice when they get loads of email in support or opposition of their position.

    Whatever state you're from, you can make donations to his reelection campaign. The evil double AA's are probably already cutting a check to the GOP in Virginia to get this guy blown out of the water. But if the RIAA and MPAA can buy legistlation, we can too.
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:43AM (#378639) Homepage
    I think we're going to start seeing the backlash soon whereby the words 'well, c'mon, we gotta make money, so can you blame us' coming from the mouth of a corperation does not neccessarily gel with people. Something like Napster, which could be argued acts as a (probably over-engineered) sampling tool to determine what to buy, is used by everyone. I have a hard time believing that employees of the very compnies that are trying to deny fair use to the consumer dont use Napster (and consequently, will miss it dearly?). So, while historically we've seen big business types promoting the asshole-argument, those same bigwigs havn't been in the position of suffering thanks to their business decisions. (Eg: for drug companies, the people jacking the prices of the drugs arn't dependant on the drugs to save their lives). Now, if you work at a record company, or content provider, those very people go home, and their wife/kids/neighbours, and even possibly themselves, are bitching because they cant store a copy of something they OWN online, such that they can listen to it elsewhere without the bulk of having to carry the CD around.

    I know thats a little bit of an obfuscated argument, and may not be the case here .. but eventually you get to a point where so many people are affected by unsportsmanlike or uncivil big business practices that even those in the position of making the decisions have a first hand view of what they are really doing.
  • He almost touched upon reverse engineering.

    He talked about circumvention to infringe would be illegal, but it needs to be detailed.

    We need reverse engineering or there would be no way to have fair use in many cases.

  • You're right, I don't know where "Dan" came from. Fixed, and thanks for the link too.

    Jamie McCarthy

  • Rep. Boucher understands the necessity of getting back our traditional fair use rights - that much is clear, and very reassuring. Unfortunately there is a devil in the details:

    If a person purchases over the Internet copyrighted material, whether it is music or a video clip or text of some kind, and if there is the absolute assurance that upon transfer of that material to another party, that the original version of it which was purchased is destroyed. If that condition is met, then the first sale doctrine, in my view, should apply as certainly in the online world as it does in the physical world today.

    In a digital world, though, it is precisely the case that such assurance can never be offered...

    At least, not without just the sort of intrusive fair use-infringing infrastructures that he (thank heavens) has the courage to speak out against.


  • by HiroProtagonist ( 56728 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:46AM (#378645) Homepage
    I am a resident of Boucher's district, and let me tell you, if I could nominate this guy for President I would. He is the most honest, sane, forward thinking politician that I have ever run across.

    I feel privileged to have been able to vote for him twice!

    In short, every time I've written to him in regards to a civil liberty issue, a consumer rights issue, or a woman's right issue, not only has he given me an opinion (something I have NEVER gotten from another one of my congresspersons) usually he agrees with me!

    It's true, he does "GET IT".
  • A line in the address that I found confusing (third-to-last paragraph):
    The person could have his music archived on _____, and made accessible to him over the Internet at a time and place his choosing.
    Why the blank line? Did he mention a specific company, or was "_____" considered to mean "some random internet archive" by whoever transcribed the address?
  • This is a good time to call or write your congresmen and give them an intelegent opinion about the DCMA.

    He said intelligent. That means no "fuck da MPAA", no l33t sp33k, no "all your base" references, and whatever you do, ues a sppel cjecker.

    Seriously, let's keep in mind that whether or not a congressman is in someone's pocket, he won't appreciate being treated as though he is. Take a chance that yours wasn't bought in bulk, and be civil, intelligent, and do your best to sound like you're a white male Republican in your mid-40s, since that seems to be the tone of voice they're most likely to respond to.
  • So you missed the whole rest of the speech, where he was talking about how important fair use was to consumers? Even the proposal that you mention above is ultimately to the benefit of consumers, not big industry.

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:52AM (#378652) Homepage
    I used to think so too, but in a recent Hatch speech (was in a /. article not too long ago, use search), the language Hatch used was more along the lines of that he supports strong IP laws, and it was more of an appeasement measure, as in, we can't totally quash Napster, because if we do we'll drive the buggers underground, and won't be able to supplant it with a legitimate pay-per-use model.

    Hatch is not our friend.
  • Boucher has yet to even be tightly contested for his seat. He's popular in his district...oh wait..that's my district and I actually know what I'm talking about. This district is fairly liberal for VA, as it holds a large university and has a university culture. Boucher's not going anywhere anytime soon.
  • by Squid ( 3420 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @09:53AM (#378654) Homepage
    They just hadn't gotten around to paying him NOT to have this opinion. They should be remedying it soon.
  • not only if you're from the US.

    Our Canadian laws are often directly influenced by lawmakers south of the border. Just because you can't vote for him doesn't mean that you can't encourage him.
  • Yes, intellectual property is a form of property, but rather different than physical property. It is much easier to draw ownership lines around a car than an idea.

    The law correctly recognizes this difference, which is (I think) why "fair use" exists.

    After all, isn't throwing a fence up around an idea, and making sure that the fence also surrounds subsequent ideas stimulated by the original idea, also theft of a sort? That's the kind of thing that "fair use" is designed to prevent.

  • Why the blank line?

    Probably the transcriber couldn't understand the word.

  • The whole doctrin of "fair use" was absurdly generous to begin with. The fact is, intellectual property is a form of property, and any law that gives strangers usage rights to one's property over-extend legitimate government authority.
    I'd strongly disagree with that. Intellectual propery is a social contract to encourage creation. If you read the constitution:
    "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" (Article 1, Section 8).
    There are two key points here: The first is what I put in bold. The purpose for intellectual property is to encourage it's creation, because there's a broader benefit for society. We all benefit from the creation of art, and if we can make a way so artists (and scientists, for that matter) can make a living.
    The second point is the 'limited time' part. Copyright currently (I believe) life plus one hundred years. That is, effectively, a 180 year copyright. That's in no way limited. Copyright has gotten out of hand.
  • by Eric Seppanen ( 79060 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @10:05AM (#378666)
    To be kind, I'll say that it's great to see someone from congress say clearly that the DMCA does severe damage to fair use that ought to be corrected.

    Unfortunately, he doesn't even touch on some of the more important parts of the DMCA, and he seems to live in a fantasy-land when it comes time to suggest actual alternatives.

    When he speaks of section 1201 (the anti-circumvention portion of the DMCA), he only speaks about the part that makes it illegal to circumvent, and he arrives at the correct conclusion: it's stupid to make circumvention illegal without looking at the underlying purpose.

    But he completely misses the fact that even if circumvention itself were legal, it would be impossible in a practical sense as long as circumvention devices are illegal. If the device-ban remains in place, it matters not whether fair use is allowed as a defense: the tools will be illegal to distribute, so they will remain out of reach for institutions such as libraries and schools.

    And suggesting that Macrovision is the correct model for digital content protection doesn't make any sense. Either devices will be able to copy content or they won't. Only devices that allow copying will allow fair-use copying, and devices that won't allow copying will harm fair use. His view that including watermarking recognition code in all digital recording devices will somehow permit fair use is illogical. How is a recording device supposed to determine whether I am copying "The Matrix" for ten of my friends, as opposed to recording five movie scenes for my college special-effects class?

    Mr. Boucher: technology cannot determine whether a user's copying is fair use or not. Let's not pretend that it can. You have to decide whether you're going to support the media giants' control of the end-use of their content, or support unimpeded fair use by the public. The two are not reconcilable, not by technology, and not by law.

  • I actually just called his office in DC, to express my delight with his statements. When I asked the chick who answered the phone if she knew where I could get some warez and shit, she gave me an url. This dude is hard core.

    Seriously, tho, I did call his office to express my satisfaction, and the chick who answered the phone was quite nice. The Rep used to be a lawyer and she says that he is quite interested in fair use and the DCMA. This URL [] is a lit of his technology significant statements, letters and bills. Interesting reading.

    If you are a constituent of Rep. Boucher's (Live in Southwest VA, 9th District) it is even more important that you call, as he doesn't work for us, he works for you.

  • And the corps dont like it. Well, when they cut off ppl's rights, or what they perceive as their rights, then ppl will ignore them. I mean really, are the big companies going to go into every computer in the world and try to limit what is on them. No. It is too late to build the tech with limitations in it. We already know how to encode and transport sound, text, and video. We have the technology. Realistically, they cannot stop what is out there, only slow it. Sure they can shut down napster, they can kill sites, but can they kill all of the ftp's? can they really stop it? No, they can limit it. Make it a little harder to get. They can not stop it.
    IMHO the laws are stupid and take our rights away in the courtroom, but in the real world it does not matter if they pass laws now. Except maybe to corporations that want to capitalize on the popularity of these things. Maybe if they had defined the limits before the digitizing and transport tech was out there. But it is like building a dam after the entire plain is flooded already. What are you going to do? Pump the water back out?
  • Under the terms of the DMCA, isn't Rep. Boucher a circumvention device himself, attempting to undermine the law the content providers bought, which effectively controls access to their goodies? I'm concerned that Judge Kaplan may restrict our access to this guy.

  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @10:06AM (#378670) Journal
    I bet this guy would be interested in hearing from /. members on this and other issues. Michael and Roblimo, go to it!
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @10:07AM (#378671)
    It's rather ironic that he talks of software-purchasers rights when Virginia, the state he's representing, was the first to pass UTICA which strongly limits those rights.

    Now, I realize that UTICA was at the state level, DMCA at the federal level, so he most likely never saw word of UTICA's passage through Virginia's state gov't, much less participate in it. But this would seem to strike at a higher level in that beyond those of us that care, UTICA hasn't made a blip on the federal radar.

    It's odd that software companies took the state-by-state route to pass 'their' law, while Hollywood went at the federal level. Both DMCA and UTICA, in the end, are doing the same thing: limiting valid rights of the end user by restricting fair use. Maybe it was just a timing issue...

  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @10:10AM (#378673) Journal
    He's not perfect, however. Read this section, emphasis mine:

    There is a way to protect copyrights in digitally broadcast TV programs, and to permit TV viewers to make copies TV programs for home use. The model is contained in the current law. It is Section 1201(k) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. And that provision was adopted with respect to recording of analog television broadcasts. The section requires VCRs to respond to macrovision, copy protection technology, and to block copying of rental movies that are encoded with the macrovision marking. In exchange for this statutory mandate, TV viewers are granted the right to make unlimited copies of broadcasts that are made over the air, and one copy for time shifting purposes, of premium television programming, which may only be aired one specific time.

    So he IS in favor of at least some MANDATORY copy protection. To me this seems like a violation of certain fair-use rights! Still, he's otherwise on target.

  • by yankeehack ( 163849 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @10:10AM (#378674)
    Remember, this is the same guy who sponsored the Boucher bill which allowed the mere public onto the Internet in 1992 (the bill which changed the NSF use policy). The elder Bush signed it into law in November of 1992.

    So, if anyone is supposed to be clueful about these sorts of things, I would expect that it would be Congressman Boucher from VA.

    Before I forget, there is also another Boucher in Congress (Missouri? I think), which is why the references to a DAN Boucher came about.

  • by luge ( 4808 ) <slashdot@tie g u y . o rg> on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @10:12AM (#378675) Homepage
    If I still had moderator points, I'd move this one up.
    Every once in a while, politicians do actually take stands on things that they really believe in, especially when their constituencies don't really care one way or the other. (I mean, it's not like he is Sonny Bono and depends on entertainment industry votes for re-election.) I say kudos to Rep. Boucher... I'm sending his re-election campaign a check as soon as I can find an address to send it to :)
  • AOL's operations are in the Washington, DC suburbs. Rick Boucher's district is the Ninth, which is a large chunk of southwestern Virginia including the New River Valley (Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Radford). That area is a self-proclaimed "technology corridor" and contains Virginia Tech, and all the technology initiatives VT has been sponsoring. Hell, Blacksburg's the most wired place in the state, more so than any of the bigger cities or even the DC burbs.

    I doubt the Republicans will be able to throw Boucher out anytime soon, he's been representing that area for a long long time and wins in landslides every two years. He's also fairly conservative for a Democrat, and has brought a lot of stuff home to his district (of course, we all know that bringing home the pork trumps party lines most of the time). I'm a conservative Republican and I've always liked Boucher, actually. I don't agree with a lot of his views, but he's got tech issues nailed better than just about anybody in Congress right now.

  • DEFINITELY. One politician isn't going to do much on his own. We need to call/write (remember: BY HAND, normal letters do much more good) our congressmen and tell them that we agree with Boucher. The responses MUST be intelligently written, or they will be ignored. We've scored a small victory, hopefully this is just the start of them.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @10:18AM (#378684) Homepage
    Boucher seems to be more clueful than most. I wish that there were more Congressmen that were at least at that level.

    But he's not entirely palatable.

    He has a misconception that Congress granted the right to make recordings of TV shows, and that there was a string attached in the requirement that VCRs have Macrovision. He is of course wrong - that right was already present, and definitively stated as such by the Supreme Court.

    He's in favor of extending Macrovision-like controls throughout most consumer electronics. This is generally not a great idea, as those of us who have had legitimate need to copy content from Macrovisioned media, or who have even simply wanted to use VCRs as pass-throughs know. Automated systems cannot accomodate the wide range of legitimate needs that are out there. (e.g. musicians that want to copy songs they hold the copyright to, parodies, quoting, etc.)

    Congress hasn't got the right to take them away, and then pretend to grant reduced versions of them back again. Such rights are inherent at a lower level than Congress can operate at. Whether they claim to recognize the existance of Fair Use is irrelevant; it derives from the Constitution.

    How he thinks that his first sale system would be implemented is beyond me. It's totally unrealistic, and clearly recognizable as such. Next we'll be defining pi as 3 again....

    He doesn't seem to be thoroughly familiar with a statutory exception to copyright that Congress DID grant: 17 USC 117. Incidental copies of media that are necessary to the operation of a computer program probably are covered by this. Given that there's no difference between programs and data anyway, it would be a nightmare to try to draw a line. I think that determining the legalities of caches is not very difficult, and is best left to the courts.

    As for the backup thing (the other half of that section of law) I can't even figure out the reason for it.

    And he'll have to be careful on his mp3 law. Making mp3s and retrieving them across a network is already legal. Making them for other people for that purpose is where a law needs to step in, and I'm not sure from what he said that he realizes this.

    Like I said, he's a lot better than most government officials. But let's not get complacent. Copyright law is thorny just to think about, given the principles, rights, grants and balances involved. I think that in trying to do good, he's very likely to do ill, and very strict attention and a lot of thought needs to go into any bills that actually get into Congress. I'm not seeing enough of that here for me to feel comfortable.

  • With regards to this statement:

    "As a fourth matter, current law permits a computer user to make backup copies of software, so that the program can be restored in the event of a hard disk crash. But current law does not prevent an archival copy to be made with data that is associated with that program. A change in the law would be required to allow the back up copy of data associated with the program to made. Often times the data is the most valuable component, and a complete back up by a prudent person would encompass the data as well as the software. In fact, it might encompass the data in lieu of the software. That is the more typical example."

    This should be expanded, in my opinion, to include MANY generations of backups of that data, NOT a SINGLE COPY. I, for one, backup all critical and personal data that is on my hard drive on a weekly basis, and those weekly backups are archived. I keep four generations of these weekly backups (one for each week in the month), and a PERMANENT monthly backup for each month. Am I breaking the law?

  • Oooo. A lawyer with some brains and some integrity?

    Nah, can't be. :-)
  • by Roblimo ( 357 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @10:21AM (#378690) Homepage Journal
    Good thought -- but politicians haven't made the best interview guests on Slashdot so far. Maybe I'll call the man's press secretary and see if I can set one up, as long as you realize that the answers we get are likely to have been written by staffers, not the Congressman himself.

    - Robin
  • I agree. If you live in this man's district read some of his papers and let him know what you think.

    Its amazing to see a congressman who actually DOES get it.

    Can we clone him and have the clones run for the rest of the seats in Congress? :)

    (Yes... I know that we would have to find some way of transfering his brain-patterns also... but just go with it for now)
  • I've already sent off my email of thanks, but if you really want to make the point- you want to go here [] and make out a check to the man. It doesn't have to be big- mine will probably only be 10 or 20 bucks. But you can bet that the RIAA will be bankrolling his next opponent- so the time to support him is now, not just with words, but by putting your money where your mouth is.
    BTW... this isn't just for VA residents. Any American who cares for and agrees with what this guy thinks should send in at least a token donation, and make it clear exactly why you are donating. It is sort of sad that this is how the process works, but it is, and complaining about it is useful but not not change things until it is too late for this particular cause. So... go write that check, and write it now.
    P.S. Hiro, this isn't aimed at you but at others. Make sure you vote for him in 2002, though :)
  • Those very same people draw in seven-figure incomes, plus bonuses. Do you think they worry for one *moment* about spending an extra twenty bucks for a second CD for the car?

    The executives of big businesses are living in a reality *completely* disconnected from the one that you and I are familiar with.

  • But Paul, so easily we forget, by Law, corporations ARE people. The corp prefix is the same as in corpse...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I feel privileged to have been able to vote for him twice!

    Vote early, vote often!
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @10:29AM (#378699)
    I'll assume that you're trolling. There are many different opinions expressed on Slashdot. Reading and posting to Slashdot does not mean you're necessarily some kind of hippy communist/anarchist/socialist *nix guru who wants to free all the information. If so, you wouln't have made your post in the first place.

    Quote: "The fact is, intellectual property is a form of property, and any law that gives strangers usage rights to one's property over-extend legitimate government authority."

    You're looking at it backwards. Intellectual property is an artificial construct. Heck, the idea of all "property" is artificial when you get down to it. In the jungle, property is whatever you can hold on to and defend. In the jungle, you can't do a darn thing about someone using your ideas, stealing your livestock or freely copying your jungle music. (Although you could steal the livestock back if the theif didn't kill you and your family.) Heck, the United States wouldn't have existed unless it was fought for. We gained independence with bullets and blood, not with a nice table setting, tea, biscuits and a handshake.

    Nowadays, we live in a civilisation. Governments define what rights individuals have wrt property and subsequently help you out with defending it (land records, deeds, police, armies, copyrights, patents, etc.)

    Let's look at fair use. First of all, fair use is not stealing. In fact, when you really do violate copyright laws you're not stealing, you are technically "infringing" on the creator's copyright.

    The idea behind fair use is that we acknowledge that copyright laws grant artists a (supposedly) limited time monopoly on the distribution of their works. This allows them to recoup their costs and make a living. However, we, as patrons of the artist, are able to enjoy the art/music in any way and place as we see fit (so long as we are not violating copyright laws and mass distributing the works).

    This is why it's ok for someone to copy a CD to a tape and listen to it in their car, or rip the tracks to one's mp3 home stereo. You're doing it for your own convenience and personal use.

  • Somewhere near the end of his sentence, he said "citizens" and you heard "consumers". Think about that for a bit.
  • Given that there's no difference between programs and data anyway, it would be a nightmare to try to draw a line.

    Maybe... but does anyone know of a program that takes the data from an ordinary CD and produces music from it? If it can convert a Data CD into a WAV format and then play it, so much the better (since it would presumably play Audio CDs as is, and therefore argue that all CDs are the same. They are all programs/music.) Might backfire though and have all CDs banned via the RIAA :)
  • If I recall correctly, the timespan of a copyrighted work originated by a corporation (a "work for hire" like a Hollywood movie) is now 90 years, recently extended by the Sonny Bono Act from 70. The fate of the company has no bearing on the duration of copyright.
  • In the speech, he makes several references to CEA. This is the Consumer Electronics Association (formerly CEMA - VCR makers, among others, and among the backers of the Home Recording Act). Check this link [] (story dated 2/28/01). The actual story is brought up in a popup by javascript, and I don't know how to get the link. How obnoxious. Anyone?
  • I wish I had a media clip somewhere of this, but on the news a long time ago (perhaps before the WWW), I saw a Sonny Bono speech where he blasted Tipper Gore and her cronies, for the attempts to censor such hardcore rap artists as NWA and 2-live-crew. I remember he read some of his lyrics from his last album (Soldier of Love I think the song was), and then made the point that if 2-live-crew or NWA or Tupac Shakur, or anyone in the rap business had used those exact same lyrics in one of their songs, that everyone would've been after them for the violence effect, just because they are rap people. For that, I certainly applauded, though I don't really know anything else about Bono's career as a politician.
  • I've heard a MIDI song that was actually the source code of DeCSS. It was certainly unusual, but not the worst thing I've ever heard.

    What I meant was a more overall restatement of the fact that any set of data may be acted upon as data or as instructions. Most people here might not consider C to be executable without being compiled into a binary in the way that Perl is. But there's nothing that prevents people from writing software that does that. Or from designing a processor that uses C as a machine language. It's just difficult and inefficient. Someday it will no longer be difficult or inefficient, and our rules should not assume that this will not be the case.

    If, for instance under the DMCA, DeCSS programs are treated as verboten, but source is not, what happens when someone eventually writes a program that accepts English as instructions and doesn't need to compile? Saying the instructions becomes illegal.

    Programs are currently special in that they are very clear, precise and formal instructions. The predefined vocabulary and grammar are intended to help make it precise, often with the added benefit of being terse. This is no different than mathematics or physics. Indeed, it's quite similar to law itself. (wherein ambiguities are there often to function as ORs)

    Trying to draw lines around these is futile, and will have seriously detrimental effects on society. Alternatives need to be developed, and we must reexamine the need for such systems, in whole and in part, altogether.
  • I transcribed the address from my pocket tape recorder. I couldn't make out the word. It was a luncheon address, and there was background noise. I'm sorry for the confusion.

    David Carney
  • I have to take exception to his resolution. He wants to pass more legislation to resolve the problems in the DMCA. I fear that more legislation would just create more confusion over just what is and is not legal. I'd much prefer him to speak about amending the current code to strike the parts of the DMCA that over-reach.

    If you think comparing licenses is hard, wait until you try to decipher whether or not you can loan your DVD to a friend.


  • The problems with Perot and Forbes' went beyond money. Or maybe not. They simply didn't have nearly enough.

    In my mind, a vote for any third-party candidate is a waste, (I voted for Nader anyway) because, in the minute chance that they DID get elected president, they still have a bunch of pissed off Republican and Democratic congressmen and governors to contend with. You think gridlock is bad now? Basically, not only would Perot have had to buy his way into office, he would also have to buy enough congressional seats.

    I don't think even Bill Gates is *that* rich. You can buy lots of legislation, but a wholesale revolution and uprooting of the two-headed monster is much more costly than that. you can fight the system, but truly winning?
  • by lblack ( 124294 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @11:27AM (#378727)
    No, corporations in America are most certainly not people, and should not be confused with them. Chief Justice Marshall, in his 1919 decision of Dartmouth vs. Woodward gave U.S. law its definition and perception of corporations. To paraphrase, they are nothing more than a creature composed of law, and as such should have no rights greater than even the most common of human lives, nor should they be permitted to threaten or dominate those lives. (Full decision here [] While it is true that corporations have, in effect, been discovered to act as a "single immortal entity" (thus avoiding some nasty tax issues when the CEO dies, etc), they do NOT have the rights of people. Falling into the state where you assume that your government has already forgotten about you is going to result in just that. You, as a human being, still have rights, but they will be ignored by corporate-payrolled politicians until such a time as enough people stand up and say that "This is enough". So, start standing. Apathy isn't going to do anything except make your life worse. You won't be heard unless you speak. Speak. Write congress, join initiatives such as the ACLU or any of the sattelite organisations surrounding it. Take an active part in your community. Read about the law. Understand what's happening, and do it in a more informative way than reading a Newspaper. Everything you need is out there, you just have to be willing to find it. This includes other people who feel exactly the same as you do. When enough people yell, they can make the world shake. -l
  • He is saying that current law allows you to, as an example, make a backup copy of the Quicken CD (the install CD). What it does not allow is a second backup copy of the program (the install program) to be made and stored with the data, which is probably backed up to another HD or tape. It is a particularly important question as a large amount of data is stored in a proprietary format and without the originating program it is essentially useless.

    He brings up an interesting point, one that always makes for an excellent argument in the class [] I teach:

    Good backup policy for many production servers is to make tape backups of the entire hard drive on a daily basis to a different tape each day. Several days of tapes are retained in the event that one is corrupted. Indeed, many tape drives are designed to switch tapes automatically. Is this legal under the license terms of the software, does it violate copyright law, is it fair use, and how would the case proceed in court? (The software in question is usually something with a very restrictive license)

  • You think gridlock is bad now?

    You say that as if it's a bad thing. Gridlock is good. It means that the politicians aren't messing things up.

    If only we'd had total gridlock when the DMCA was voted on...


  • I don't like the idea that if I record a program for time shifting I can only view the copy one time. Yeah, I record it and later sit down to watch it only to have to break up a fight between my childern. I better be able to rewind the tape and replay what I missed. Or I watch it and then my wife comes home later and wanted to see it. I better be able to play it again. And if I record off a pay per view, well it better be mine forever, since I paid for it.
  • The link i posted was only a temporary search result.

    You can find the original text for the bill here: [] Look up the phrase "music owners listening rights" (Sorry about that.)
  • This is a very small step. What he seems to propose are more "exemptions" under current Copyright Law. While I would welcome these changes rather than live under the current situation, they are not enough.

    Copyright Law needs to be completely overhauled; the law's concepts were formed at a time when the Printing Press was a huge capital investment. Today's "Printing Presses" (e.g. the Web) are common place. Current Copyright Law cannot deal with this notion of creating (copying) value for virtually nothing.

    Consider the article at LWN - here [].

    In as much (or little) as his proposed changes do, they endorse the current Copyright Code - staked out by IP Lawyers for IP Lawyers.

    I repeat: we do not need new exceptions to current Copyright Law, we need new Copyright Law.

  • Amen, Brother!

    I became quite worried when he started mentioning Macrovision and endorsing some kind of Digital Rights Management. Devices cannot determine intent, certainly in no legal sense.

    As I mention in a separate post, we don't need more exceptions to current Copyright Law, we need new Copyright Law (stike the old one from the record) and return to the idea of "...promoting science ... and the useful arts". In my view, anything less is failure.
  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @12:33PM (#378749) Homepage Journal

    I don't really know anything else about Bono's career as a politician.

    Six words: Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act [].

    All your hallucinogen [] are belong to us.
  • Has anyone read DMCA Section 1201(f)? I just recently noticed it, and it appears to claim that it is legal to reverse-engineer software products that you have legaly obtained a copy of, for the use of interoperability.

    What this means to Linux DVD Players: If someone is willing to find the CSS decryption routine in PowerDVD, we can link it as a .so, and legally distribute a method to interoperate PowerDVD and LiViD. (Or your favorit Linux DVD player)

  • I've already sent off my email of thanks, but if you really want to make the point- you want to go here and make out a check to the man.

    Not making fun of your post, but your statement above makes me envision the sad state of this country. IOW, you want to be heard, then you have to pay. You want to REALLY be heard then pay a lot. Sort of takes the "public" out of "public official".
  • by stubob ( 204064 )
    that's on my personal "top ten most misspelled words list." oh well, you get the idea.
  • If schools are going to allow students to lead prayers and such on school grounds and/or during school hours, then they had damn well better be prepared to defend the rights of students practicing minority religions from the less tolerant students. Schools have a VERY bad track record of preventing violence and harrassment of "different" students.

  • What's funny is that I just wrote to a congress-man (Orrin Hatch) about an idea regarding Fair Use.
    The crux of it went like this:

    Since Fair Use is laid out in the US Code, people know what people have a right to do with a work. However, there's no companion legislation saying that the people MUST have the right to be able to do that. I pointed out that without that little bit, you get the mess we're in now, where in people have all sorts of rights to take sections and criticize etc., but that there are artificially induced technical limitations that prevent them from doing so.
    Has anyone else had this thought? Has anyone else voiced this to their Congress Critters?
  • You answer your own question. The only thing more influential than corporations is that which corporations cannot provide - votes. He's probably the first (well, arguably Hatch was the first) politican to understand what a huge voting issue copyright reform/fair use is going to become in sebsequent months, especially if Napster really does go down in flames. Certainly he won't be the last. With something like 50 million Americans - one out of every six - having downloaded an MP3 at some point, I surmise that you will see a lot, lot more pols jumping on the bandwagon. There are only a few other issues with popular recognition of this magnitude, and chances are you've heard of them: abortion, education, healthcare, etc.

  • by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2001 @01:17PM (#378768) Journal
    Rich Boucher is my representative. Actually, he's been listed as one of the most influential people on the internet, right up there with Tim Berners Lee. I've sent him a few emails about several slashdot topics and he's always had a real reason for fighting things like the DMCA -- for the benefit of his constituents. Hell even the republicans down here vote for him.


  • Write him a polite, respectful letter explaining what you believe to be the flaws in his reasoning. Then suggest alternatives. Don't be antagonistic, we need allies in Congress if we're going to have a real chance of fixing copyright laws anytime soon.

  • If that's the case, he needs your contributions.

    We should get the EFF to donate funds to representatives who display such obvious enlightenment. If they get elected, they can spread that enlightenment far and wide, particularly within the government where it is so badly needed. That means we should donate more to the EFF so that they can support representatives in this manner.

  • There's a good point. I think few people will argue against the civil rights movement, or reform of alcohol prohibition. If there had been gridlock THEN, it would not have been good.

    That there is gridlock NOW, is probably a good thing because the overall political climate of this country is not progressive. Unfortunately, when we have gridlock bad laws (like DCMA) get passed, BECAUSE of gridlock - they don't take the time to adequately review and debate issues, because they want to obfuscate and pass the law as quickly as possible. That's exactly what Boucher (boo-shay?) said happened when he tried to protect the fair rights issue. It got gridlocked to death. So progressive legislation suffers, well-funded crap like DCMA under the guise of "globalization" (trade liberalization) gets passed like a drunk Canadian hockey player's beer fart.
    Also, in the name of perceived "efficiency", BECAUSE of gridlock, we have terrible policies in place like the War Powers Act, and "Executive Orders", and "States of Emergency", to allow things to happen in a timely manner when congress can't address issues because of gridlock. This bypasses our constitutional government, and definately opens the doors to tyranny. These policies have been abused (Clinton was THE poster-child for abusing Executive Orders). Although I DO think that the Line Item Veto was probably a good idea. (another anti-gridlock tool).

    So I think that while gridlock may be a good thing, it's a bandaid for a far worse problems. If it didn't limit our constitutional right to free association, I'd fucking outlaw political parties so people would have to choose candidates based on their stand on issues, and candidates would have to state those issues, and their records would have to match their stances. And we wouldn't have to watch power brokers juggling huge blocks of votes on issues, we'd have actual real debate.
  • Can we clone him and have the clones run for the rest of the seats in Congress? :)

    Fraid not. As large portions of the human genome are patented by biotechnology companies, you'd have to do something funky like splice in reptile DNA or something. And then we'd just be back to standard politicians.

    And what's worse, they might start breeding.


  • He doesn't have a wife called Bianca does he?



  • Name one example other than this where a politician has acted purely on principle (as opposed to party/personal politicking, special interest pandering, pork, or quid pro quo favors).

    Senators Robert A. Taft and John LaFollette, but that was a long time ago.

  • The issue of rentals, however, is a thorny one. The existance of a rental market implies that there is some impediment to you making a copy of the thing you rented. If it is trivial to make the copy, then the rental market is likely to destroy the purchase market. Imagine for a moment that Blockbuster rented audio CD's for $1.00 a day or something. What do you think it would do to the market for CD's? It would probably completely destroy it. Some people would still buy the CD for the printed materials. But, a lot of folks would rent the CD and rip it to MP3 for a buck instead.

    So what is the tradeoff that needs to be made here? One answer is that manufacturers should be allowed to employ copy protection in their products ala Macrovision. This would probably lead to most media products having some form of copy protection. This road seems to be where we are headed at the moment. Unfortunately, this path seems to result in a loss of fair use rights on the part of the consumer.

    Another possibility is to only allow copy protection on products which are produced for rental purposes. So, the tape you rent from the video store has macrovision, but if you buy it from a retail outlet you get an unprotected version. This seems like it could be an OK balance. Unfortunately, it could lead to products which are not available or are prohibitivly expensive in their non-rental form. I can see the media giants moving all of their inventory into some sort of "rental" scheme and dropping the non-copy protected purchase version entirely. I'm not sure I like that possibility.

    The third possibility is to ban copy protection which in any way infriges on fair-use rights. Works which are released in a form which denies fair-use rights have, IMNHSO, no right to any protection under copyright law. This would probably have the effect of prohibiting all copy protection because, as others have mentioned, it is possibly (probably?) impossible to mechanically determine if a copy is a fair use copy.

    Of these three, I myself prefer the third. But that's because I'm largly a consumer of IP, not a producer or distributer. The reality is that option 3 is not going to come to pass unless something is done to reassure the media giants that they are getting something out of it. The question is, what could they be offered? We have to realize that the best we can hope for is that our Congress-critters will listen to both sides in the debate. One possibility would be to allow and encourage the watermarking of media files with serial numbers. The watermarks couldn't be used to prevent copying. But, if a song was being distributed illegally the watermark could be used to try and track down the original purchaser. Another idea would be to make it easier to track down and prosecute anyone who was making copyrighted material available illegally. Perhaps a light but significant fine could be levied against people who put Metallica songs up on Napster. Sort of like photo-radar driving tickets. Pay your $50 or whatever if you get caught leaving your Dr. Dre songs on your anonymous FTP server.

    So, I ask everyone, what is the tradeoff that we are willing to make? We can't really expect the media giants to give up anything if we aren't willing to give up something also.
  • I really can't disagree with that. It is a pretty sad statement. At the same time, while working to change it (you could contribute to Common Cause [], for example) one also has to play within the rules. I mean... if we wait until campaign finance reform is enacted to take action on copyright reform, guess what- the MPAA will already be leasing you your own soul.
    To put it another way: yeah, the system sucks. But it is our system: hating it doesn't change the way it works, nor does it change the fact that it has very serious consequences for the way we live our lives. So... we'd better work with it, even while trying to change it.
  • I'm assuming EFF is a 501(c)3 (read 'your contributions are tax deductable') organization. They'd instantly piss away their tax-exempt status if they start giving money to political campaigns, or even just strongly advocating one candidate over another. (Education on the issues, though, is another matter.)

    However, donating to the EFF is always a good thing.
  • This sounds bad until you realise that there is only one RIAA and 20 million or so Napster users.

    Even people that don't use Napster might agree with his views.

    I think $40 million ought to help him get re-elected.

    Large contributions only matter to politicians because so many voters base their choice on what TV ads they see.
  • Well, the problem is that case law has established that the preamble "To promote the progress of science and useful arts.." doesn't constitute a limit on the Congress's power to grant copyrights. IANAL but I take this to mean that the preamble may state the purpose of the provision, but apparently Congress is empowered to grant copyright for other reasons in situations that don't promote the progress of the useful arts. In fact, Congress can apparently grant copyrights in a manner which is clearly detrimental to science and the useful arts. That this power makes a travesty of the Constitution is evidently not a constitutional issue.

    The only solution, therefore, is political, not legal, short of a constitutional amendment. The question is whether you will be on the side of James Madison and the framers on this one, or on the side of the supporters of DMCA who are cracking the Constitution.

    In any case, the poster is making a more fundamental assertion which is independent of legal or constitutional issues -- that there is a fundamental human right to intellectual property, and this includes the right to limit the ways which people benefit from your ideas. The only way to deal with such radical viewpoints is at their root. You either believe this, in which case the fact that the irrelevance of the preamble to the copyright clause is a fortunaate accident, or you don't, in which case it is a grave misfortune.
  • Why do you people even worry about it so much. Oral and Anal sex are illegal in VA too. It doesn't stop anyone from doing it, same with any stupid restrictions like this. They just won't work, because no one cares if your wife views the tape or not.
  • What prevents anyone from praying to their god now?
    School can't sanction prayer, can't foce people to pray, can't provide money and space for ORGANIZED prayer but it can nto prevent someone from saying hail mary before a test either.
  • The existance of a rental market implies that there is some impediment to you making a copy of the thing you rented. If it is trivial to make the copy, then the rental market is likely to destroy the purchase market. Imagine for a moment that Blockbuster rented audio CD's for $1.00 a day or something. What do you think it would do to the market for CD's? It would probably completely destroy it.

    Well, yes and no.

    I don't know in your country, but in mine [], libraries are allowed to lend books (of course) and audio/video material (CD, video tapes, etc.) In almost any significant city there are public libraries where you can borrow CDs free of charge. Yet that did not kill the market for music commerce. Every year, several records sell more than a million copies (in a potential market of 60 million people).

    BTW, notice that I live in a country where IP rights are a fundamental right. Maybe that's a proof that strong IP protection (for authors, at least) is not absolutely incompatible with fair use.

    Thomas Miconi
  • I always wondered who -RepRick- was on Napster.....


"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas