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Congressional Anti-Piracy Caucus Formed 631

questionlp writes " reports that three members from the House of Reps has formed a caucus that aims to stop piracy and make for stronger IP laws. One of the members of the caucus: helped author a note last fall to 74 fellow Democrats assailing the Linux open-source operating system's GNU General Public License as a threat to America's 'innovation and security.'"
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Congressional Anti-Piracy Caucus Formed

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  • by craenor ( 623901 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:17PM (#5995619) Homepage
    200 years after people stop raiding other people at sea, they try to put a stop to piracy. Next they'll be cracking down on cattle rustlers...
    • by r3dfiv3 ( 673369 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:36PM (#5996075)
      i think its funny how a rep from wash, whose district includes ms headquarters, comes out in favor of ip laws and against linux. i wonder how much that cost balmer.

    • Actual, genuine high seas piracy is still a very serious problem in many parts of the world, particuarly the Persian gulf, SE Asia, and thanks the the drug trade, parts of the Caribbean. cy _report.asp
  • oh, i get it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by edrugtrader ( 442064 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:18PM (#5995627) Homepage
    so free as in beer is like free as in campaign fund raising money from the riaa...
  • oh no!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:18PM (#5995628) Journal
    They're going to outlaw piracy! Soon it will be illegal for me to have all of my MP3s and DIVXs!

    oh wait.....

    • Re:oh no!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:37PM (#5995752) Journal
      They're going to outlaw piracy! Soon it will be illegal for me to have all of my MP3s and DIVXs!

      No Linux and gnu either.

      After all Linux is just a pirated version of SCO Unix according to AL GORE attorney David Bios. These senators are paid for by Microsoft and Disyney.

      Linux is the only os that does not incorporate drm copyprotection so it must be stoped.

      Lets get together with a few ignorant and corrupt politicans educate them about this pirated Unix then only SCO has permission to write courtesy of Microsoft lobbiests.

  • by Coffee Warlord ( 266564 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:19PM (#5995635)

    Congressman Wexler has added to his holdings, having purchased a yacht to go along with his mansion.
    • Re:In Other News (Score:5, Informative)

      by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:26PM (#5995684)
      Here's information about Wexler's main contributors [], and here's information about Smith's []. It looks like Smith is the one getting the yacht, since his #1 contributor by industry is the computer industry. Which makes sense since he's the one who wrote the note attacking linux.
      • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:29PM (#5995701)
        In fact, Smith's main single contributor [] was Microsoft!
        • by IO ERROR ( 128968 ) <> on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:38PM (#5995754) Homepage Journal
          In fact, Smith's main single contributor was Microsoft!

          This is not surprising, since his district, the Ninth District of Washington, is where Microsoft is. I am not surprised that he is representing their interests.

          I wouldn't be surprised if the other Congressmonkeys behind this were being financed by the movie and record industries.

          It isn't time to spam your Congressmonkey yet. They haven't DONE anything, or even proposed to do anything yet. When they actually start doing something, then it will be time to act.

          • by SLot ( 82781 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:54PM (#5995835) Homepage Journal
            It isn't time to spam your Congressmonkey yet. They haven't DONE anything, or even proposed to do anything yet. When they actually start doing something, then it will be time to act.

            I disagree - if you happen to be a constituent of said Congressmonkeys, you are paying their salaries, and you therefore should complain often & loudly when they do anything that you don't feel represents your interests.

            American way and all. :)
          • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:21PM (#5995980)
            Haven't done anything? Did you read the article? Smith went on a smear campaign against Linux. Wexler co-sponsored the bill that would have legalized computer sabotage by the entertainment industry. Now they are going to waste taxpayer money and divert resources badly needed in other areas to defending us from "piracy." While forming a caucus is not the end of the world, the caucus will be the most significant voice in the congressional debates over these issues, and it behooves democracy for citizens to demand that other perspectives be represented on the caucus.

            Also it's one thing for Smith to represent MS's interests as the representative from that region, but it's another to act as their hired PR flak.
          • It isn't time to spam your Congressmonkey yet. They haven't DONE anything, or even proposed to do anything yet. When they actually start doing something, then it will be time to act.

            ERROR, while I appreciate that you recognize the need to issue corrospondance, your perception of timing is dead wrong. By the time your congressman has "done something" he will have already picked sides, requiring a much LOUDER voice for any significant sway. Best to be the first heard on _any_ issue you care about.

          • by dbrutus ( 71639 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:42PM (#5996113) Homepage
            No, it's not time to spam them (not ever, really) but it *is* time to get them to lay down markers. Some questions I wish every Congressman and Senator was on record:
            1. Do you think the present copyright terms is too short, too long, or just right
            2. Copyright and patent are in the Constitution to "advance the progress of the arts and sciences". Is present policy the best we can do? If not, how should the rules be changed to do better?
            3. What's the maximum amount of time "limited terms" can last when it comes to patents and copyrights before terms are essentially permanent and the Constitution is violated?

            These are questions that are more open ended, are likely to be answered more thoughtfully absent a bill and a recent campaign contribution, and would be useful in future campaigns because it would allow the other party to criticise an officeholder if he later sold his vote for money. At that point, it's not some obscure issue that most normal citizens don't care about but going back on your word and being untrustworthy. That kind of damage is to be avoided if possible.
            • Okay so let's put them on record...

              I think one of the biggest problems with our present political system is that no real issues ever get discussed or debated. Even in the televised debates all the questions are preapproved by the campaigns. What if there was a list of questions, a bit longer than your three that every candidate had to answer if he/she wanted to actually get elected? What's really attractive about this is no matter what your politics are (as an individual voter) you'd most likely want t

        • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:53PM (#5996165) Homepage
          Adam Smith [] (L-ECON) would not be happy with Adam Smith's (D-WA) manipulation of the free market through the passing of artificial governmental regulation.
  • by plemeljr ( 250971 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:19PM (#5995637) Homepage
    Where is the Fair Use and Consumer Rights Caucus?

    Oh yeah, there is none.
    • by yanestra ( 526590 ) * on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:37PM (#5995749) Journal
      Where is the Fair Use and Consumer Rights Caucus? Oh yeah, there is none.

      Possibly it's a problem of the American democratic system? The parties need to get their money from somebody, and that "somebody" is definitely not: The People.

    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @01:13AM (#5996703) Homepage Journal
      FUCRC ??

      [tries to pronounce acronym]

      Oh dear...

  • by cyt0plas ( 629631 ) * on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:21PM (#5995653) Journal
    - "It's the end of the world as we know it."
  • Turn it all off (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Christianfreak ( 100697 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:21PM (#5995655) Homepage Journal
    a note last fall to 74 fellow Democrats assailing the Linux open-source operating system's GNU General Public License as a threat to America's 'innovation and security.'

    Turn it all off then. Vast portions of the Internet run on Linux, FreeBSD (even though it isn't GPL) and especially Apache. Maybe we should all pick a day and turn it all off, at least in the US it would probably bring traffic to a halt. THEN maybe they will reconsider making stupid laws regarding the choice of one's operating systems!
    • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:34PM (#5995728) Homepage Journal
      What about my up time on Netcraft []!!!!

      This is a secret ploy to get all those 600+ day people to reboot. Well I'm not buying.
    • by FFtrDale ( 521701 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:57PM (#5995850)
      How about dropping the Linux, Apache et al. servers (that one Personally Owns or is responsible for) from the Net on the day that the Congressional RIAA Caucus holds its first meeting? They've imposed draconian laws about unauthorized computer access and are trying to fix as law the ability and legal right for copyright owners to crack our computers and break things in the course of their fishing expeditions. Now they're forming a conspiracy of elected officials to cripple the cutting edge in an effort protect their outdated cronies. It's time to show them whom they're dealing with. They've forgotten whose minds created the realm they presume to rule, and they've deluded themselves into forgetting whose hands keep it all running. Bad employee! No more time in Congress for You!

      • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:27PM (#5996024) Journal
        It is amusing when petty brick and mortar governments think they can play on our digital turf. Perhaps it's time we showed them that the nation of geeks is joining the UN. The US is not the most powerful nation in the world, it is not the greatest super power at all. The cyber nation is the most powerful superpower, the leaders aren't elected, they earn their stake with blood, sweat, and too much damn caffiene!
      • The problem here is that the congresscritters have heard
        from Microsoft, and Microsoft knows how to be persuasive.
        Open-source advocates know how to be persuasive too,
        so the Congress needs to hear from us.

        Everyone shutting off their Linux machine for a day won't
        help. Everyone writing to their congressentity on the same
        day would make quite a bit of difference, especially if those
        letters are polite, concise, and well-thought-out.
        • by knobmaker ( 523595 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @11:17PM (#5996267) Homepage Journal
          Everyone writing to their congressentity on the same day would make quite a bit of difference, especially if those letters are polite, concise, and well-thought-out.

          What would, I think, make the most difference would be to write to Smith and tell him that if he persists in his unAmerican campaign against opensource software, you're going to send money to anyone who opposes him in the next election. And then follow through, if he doesn't change his position. A website devoted to taking donations for that purpose, and reporting unfavorably on Smith's activities would be a good thought-provoker for Smith. When next year rolls around, it would be a good time to remind slashdotters with a little fun money what Smith stands for. Could be a substantial source of anxiety for Smith.

        • by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @01:04AM (#5996677) Homepage
          Everyone writing to their congressentity on the same day would make quite a bit of difference, especially if those letters are polite, concise, and well-thought-out.

          Looks like someone just fell off the turnip truck.

          In America, only two things really matter to a politician: power and money. Slashdotters don't have any of the first, but together they do have some of the second. Of course, there's no way these scumbags will buck their sugar daddies no matter what the provocation (skeletons, closets, connect the dots on your own), but you *could* use the money to back whoever is opposing the slimeballs in the next election.

          That's your only real option. Sponsor someone less evil than the person currently in office and hope he doesn't bend over and invite MS/the RIAA/the MPAA to give him the shaft once he's in office and safe from your wrath.

          Damn, it should be required that you boys and girls work for a congressman for a year, preferably while in high school. If the congress critter doesn't turn you off by trying to fuck you at every opportunity, his/her other activities will be more than enough to throw you off your feed for life. I *guarantee* you that.

          Unless, of course, you want to be a sleazy criminal sell-out just like them. Or a drug-addict, alcoholic, deserter like our President....

    • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:30PM (#5996040)
      Headline: "'Open Source' Hackers Shut Down Internet, Demand Control of Congress"

      I can't imagine Congress ever outlawing Linux, but if there was anything that could bring that day closer, this is probably it.
  • Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:22PM (#5995656)
    These men have just become my three favorite people to hate, along with our non-president Bush.

    Here's some addresses for you to do with as you please; normally I'd recommend writing them as I usually do, but their corrupt stupidity compels me to not care if you DDOS them, spam them, or whatever:

    Rep. Robert Wexler []

    Rep. Adam Smith []

    Rep. Tom Feeney []

    Oh, and if you haven't already, try joining the EFF [].

    Corporatism getting way out of hand. It's getting scary as hell if you ask me.
    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JanusFury ( 452699 ) <kevin,gadd&gmail,com> on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:31PM (#5995711) Homepage Journal
      Those are great resources, but honestly, saying Bush isn't the US president makes you sound like you're in denial. Bush was elected because of how the political system here was designed, not because he 'cheated'. You should gripe about the system behind his victory, not some imaginary crime committed by his campaign. And pretending he's not the president isn't going to keep him from being re-elected, so I suggest focusing on the legitimate reasons to dislike him instead of imaginary ones. For example, his appointment of ashcroft. Who would want to re-elect bush if they knew a man came with him who is trying to create a police state? That's the kind of arguments you need to make to win people like me over, otherwise you're just preaching to the choir.
      • Re:Well... (Score:3, Informative)

        by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
        He wasn't elected, but rather selected. The Supreme Court refused to allow a final count of the ballots, and sealed them. The vote was as near as it was because of force, fraud, etc. But both sides engaged in it. It's just that Bush has friends that were considerably more skillful (and better placed) than the Democrats were.

        But you are correct, this is a part of the traditional US voting practice. The Democrats of Chicago under Mayor Daley were particularly nortorious for it. This part just isn't usu
  • Please, voters act! (Score:5, Informative)

    by killthiskid ( 197397 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:22PM (#5995659) Homepage Journal
    Wexler co-sponsored a bill last year, backed by the major record labels, that would authorize copyright holders to disable PCs used for illicit file-trading. He also serves on the House Judiciary subcommittee that writes copyright laws.

    Will the people of the 19th Congressional district of Florida vote this moron out of congress, PLEASE!!!


    The rest of the America

  • by eightball01 ( 646950 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:22PM (#5995660)
    If you're in one of those states with the congressmen mentioned, send them a letter. Not that the bastards can or will read it, but maybe with enough letters saying that Open Source isn't the problem, they'll start to get a damn clue.
    • by Old Uncle Bill ( 574524 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:39PM (#5995762) Journal
      Uh, I think they only read letters from constituents that also contain $100,000+ checks in the envelope.
      • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:33PM (#5996067)
        In all coldness, I think you have identified the problem. People who share your ideology do not have the financial resources to compete with the people who oppose you.

        I mean, once you accept that politics is bought and sold to the highest bidder, that's the bottom line isn't it? Ideology lost. Oppression had more money.

        The trouble is, that's not really the whole story. The rest of the story is, people ARE writing, lawmakers ARE reading what they wrote. People ARE voting. Lawmakers ARE being legitimately elected. People are participating in the political process, and they are active in political parties.

        The current government isn't simply bought by a few corporations in the absense of any other force. Rather, (and this is the hard part to swallow), the current government exists because it overwhelmingly represents the will of the people who suffer it. I choose to believe that it is also due largely to the abstinence vote, but I'm not so sure.

        I'm afraid it's possible that the dissenting opinion really is a small minority, and that most people are not only satisfied, but adamantly in support of the status quo. I'm not talking about the President here, that's just one piece of a very large system. I'm talking about the overall status quo.

        What if the government really does represent the will of the people? After all most people are pretty square...
    • by shivianzealot ( 621339 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:44PM (#5996120)

      If you're in one of those states with the congressmen mentioned, send them a letter. Not that the bastards can or will read it, but maybe with enough letters saying that Open Source isn't the problem, they'll start to get a damn clue.

      Better yet: Even if you don't live in one of those states, send the congresscritters a letter. You generate the impression that this is not a throw-away issue for which a stance can be sold to the highest contributor, but rather there are many people for which have a vested interest, which in turn has a relation to their own political interest regardless of state boundries. And you won't be lying

      ...though on that note, you don't _need_ to specify which state you're from... or country...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:23PM (#5995670)
    Since Free Software is immune to piracy, it would put all these piracy fighters out of a job. So they gotta fight it.
  • Fine.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:24PM (#5995674) Journal
    ...Let them do whatever they want to IP laws here. Shut down every server that hosts MP3s and DIVX movies. I'll just go to Korean / Dutch / Nigerian Servers and download the stuff. And I don't care what kind of copy protection they mandate. There's always a way through the analogue hole. Great waste of my tax dollars.
  • by 403Forbidden ( 610018 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:30PM (#5995706)
    If The Simpsons have taught us anything it's that Caucases are nothing more than a bunch of poorly inked drawings who congo line around a mountain lodge yelling "caucas caucas caucas!"

    Just like congress too.. always resting on their laurals.
  • Democrats... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arazor ( 55656 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:33PM (#5995725)
    A Democrat leading the charge to outlaw Linux and open source AGAIN! I am saying this as a registered democrat before someone marks this as flamebait. And I note there is at least 1 republican involved in this my point there really is no diffrence between the major parties.

    Just dont know what to do... EFF ACLU all good and well but there is no way in hell they can ever match the funds that MS MPAA RIAA et al have...

    I guess its true if voting really made a diffrence it would be illegal.
    • Re:Democrats... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HBI ( 604924 )
      As soon as you say ACLU I differ with you.

      Too much defending the weird instead of defending the righteous cost the ACLU any chance of my support.

      See how strange politics is?
      • Re:Democrats... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:14PM (#5995941) Journal
        But the U.S. Constitution is there to protect the wierd. The conformist and majority opinion doesn't need protection, by definition.

        The basic rights apply to all -- not just the mainstream. Voodoo and animal sacrifices are just as protected as Baptists and televangilism.
  • by miu ( 626917 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:35PM (#5995732) Homepage Journal
    ...blamed P2P networks for spreading illegal forms of pornography, while another fingered universities as hotbeds of widespread--and felonious--copyright infringement.

    Men engaging in perversion with architecture are hardly qualified to complain about internet pornography.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:37PM (#5995748)
    Adam Smith 1700's: "Letting people choose how to spend their money is the way to stimulate the economy."

    Adam Smith 2003: "But we can't let them choose Linux."
  • we can stop this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JanusFury ( 452699 ) <kevin,gadd&gmail,com> on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:39PM (#5995758) Homepage Journal
    We can stop this, you know. All this idiocy can end. Intuit's about-face proves that even the big powerful companies will listen when enough people speak up.

    We need to write our senators, our mayors, our governors, our friends, our coworkers - even the president. The more loud we are, the less they will be able to deny what we're saying.
  • by Kefaa ( 76147 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:41PM (#5995775)
    In the absence of an opposing view, your representatives believe what they are told. Tell them differently.

    Be concise, polite, and specific. If we can /. a website we should be able to make a point in DC.

    Contacting your Representative -- The Easy Way []

    Don't wait. Do it now or don't whine about it later.
    • by MsGeek ( 162936 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:20PM (#5995971) Homepage Journal
      Unfortunately, my vote doesn't count because these people are representing me in DC:
      • Howard Berman, Representative
      • Barbara Boxer, Junior Senator
      • Dianne Feinstein, Senior Senator
      All three are 0wnz0r3d by the RIAA, MPAA, and Big Media.

      No, I didn't vote for Berman in the last election. I swallowed hard and voted for the Republican candidate, because he seemed to be genuinely concerned about eroding Fair Use rights.

      I don't know what's going to happen when Berman, Feinstein and Boxer are up for re-election again. Usually the Republicans run Religious Right-sponsored, Orange County-friendly candidates at the Senatorial level here in California. I can't support someone like that. But Feinstein and Boxer make me sick. Berman does too, but I think he's gotten enough heat from geeks in his district (they do exist) to where he's not going to try anything so stupid as a "Son Of Berman Bill".

      I live close enough to Hollywood to where it's a lot like living in Adam Smith's district in Washington State. This is a company town and Big Media is the company. Resistance, it seems. is futile.

  • ARRR! (Score:3, Funny)

    by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:46PM (#5995796) Homepage Journal
    Shiver me fuckin' timbers, matey...they say they be crackin' down on piracy. Hoist the mains'l! We best make sure they not be preventing Cap'n Torvalds from doin' what he wants with his ship...
  • by jefu ( 53450 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:51PM (#5995821) Homepage Journal
    another fingered universities as hotbeds of widespread--and felonious--copyright infringement.

    <hillbilly-congressman-paid-off-by-who-knows-who-v oice>
    You know them durn-gum universitees. Teech them commoners bout thinking fur thumselfs and next thing you no they'll start ackshully doin it. And decidin thay kno better than the nice folx in Dizney and Mycrosponj that pay us. Next thing ya no they'll want to vote me out of offis. Time to cut funding for eddication. Put the extra moneee into congresshional pay razes and tacks cuts for the RIAA and MPAA - thats the tikket, afffer all we kin see how there hed executives are all goin browk.
    </hillbilly-congressman-paid-off-by-who-knows-who- voice>

  • by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:56PM (#5995848) Journal

    I really wish that politicians would clairfy their positions more often. What exactly does "make for stronger IP laws" mean?

    Harsher punishment maybe? Well, we don't need that for copyright law. At 5 years + $150,000 fine per violation, I would say the opposite given that rapists in America serve an average of 5 years.

    Maybe they mean longer terms on copyright. Oh, wait, that's already at creators lifetime + 90 years. Effectively eternity in the computer industry. No need to increase that unless Eisner can come up with some more bribe money [].

    My guess... another round of overly broad, unenforceable laws that makes everyone a criminal which they will selectively enforce. That is supposed to be illegal, isn't it?

  • Is anyone surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by csguy314 ( 559705 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:57PM (#5995851) Homepage
    I don't think anyone should be surprised by this. The US government has always vehemently supported protection of IP laws.
    In fact the US has heavily subsidized the research of major biotech companies, like Monsanto, with billions of tax payer dollars. But none of the profits ever get back to the public.
    The US even refused to sign an international treaty on preserving the biological species of the world. Then Assistant Secretary of State for Environment, Curtis Bohlen, said the treaty "fails to give adequate patent protection to American companies that transfer biotechnology to developing companies" and "tries to regulate genetically engineered materials, a competitive area in which the United States leads". (New York Times, April 26, May 24, 1992)
    US companies make billions of dollars a year because of IP, and they are the ones funding political campaigns. So why should anyone be surprised that the government is so adamantly promoting stricter laws that will benefit the governments benefactors?
    • by hayden ( 9724 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @03:41AM (#5997095)
      The US government has always vehemently supported protection of IP laws.
      Not always. In the early days the US was quite happy to rip off European IP (although it wasn't called that then) to advance their industry. They only started caring about protecting IP once they had something to protect.
  • by porkface ( 562081 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @09:58PM (#5995856) Journal
    No political system is perfect, but in my opinion, Linux gives us some of the greatest aspects of both Socialism and our "free market" economy.

    Let's face it, Microsoft is scared because they don't feel they can compete. What could be a greater sign that Linux encourages competition? Just because Linus isn't the richest man on Earth, doesn't mean Linux doesn't aid our economy.
  • Hurrah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:03PM (#5995885) Journal
    [...] three members [of] the House of Reps has formed a caucus that aims to [kill open source software and fair use in the name of "stopping piracy"]


    Up to now the RIAA/MPAA/Microsoft/etc.-corrupted congresscritters have been pretty much anonymous. When they weren't actually introducing a bill you couldn't tell them from the general crowd of congressional dupes.

    Now we will have an explicit way to track the congressional ringleaders and target them for defeat - in primaries and general elections.

    Hot DAMN!

    (Ask anybody who helped take out Roberti, Roos, or Foley how a grass-roots movement works.)
  • FEC in focus (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:04PM (#5995889) Homepage
    Check out - Rep. Robert Wexler received contributions from the following PACs (among others):
    1. AOL-Time-Warner

    2. ASCAP
      Micros oft Corporation
      Walt Disney
    He's taken money from the very people that his legislative plans will benefit. Can any sane, rational person honestly believe that this is not a conflict of interest? This is not right, and it's symptomatic of the legalized bribery that is the core problem of the American political system.

    Furthermore, the contributions from the PACs listed above don't constitute anywhere near the majority of his campaign funding. He's a democrat, and most of the PAC contributions are from labor unions. The larger part of his campaign expenditures were thus paid by organizations that purport to represent workers - sometimes also known as consumers. Despite this, he is acting as the lapdog of the content industry. As Mark Twain said, an honest politician is one that stays bought.

    Wexler thus fails both the idealistic and pragmatic tests for honesty. I submit that he needs to be tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail.

    • Re:FEC in focus (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheSync ( 5291 )
      Yes, but Wexler SUPPORTS [] campaign finance "reform." Which shows what an empty topic it truly is....

      I applaud the recent passage of campaign finance reform, which bans the use of soft money and will begin the process of returning control of the federal government back to the people rather than the special interests. I sponsored the House version of this bill, which bans all soft money donations to the national political parties -- that means large unregulated donations from corporations, labor unions, and

    • Re:FEC in focus (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <[xptical] [at] []> on Monday May 19, 2003 @11:03PM (#5996215)
      OK, I'd like to make a comment about how "corporations" are buying politicians. Yes, Microsoft and Disney gave money to a politician in exchange for "better" IP laws. We see that as a perversion of our political system.

      I have a slightly different view.

      MS and Disney represent a large body of people. These people depend on Office and Mickey to provide them with a paycheck. These people then spend their money in Florida and Washington which creates jobs for other prople. MS and Disney hope these laws will boost their profit. That, in turn, will keep the economy in their areas firm.

      You may or may not like IP for philosophical reasons. You may not like MS or Disney for philosophical reasons. You may belive that these laws will be ineffective and, therefore, a waste of time. But you cannot blame these companies for trying to keep their source of income strong.

      There is no way you can say that MS and Disney giving money to a politician in not in the best interests of the companies, it's employees, or the surronding economical region.

      • by MunchMunch ( 670504 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @11:29PM (#5996340) Homepage
        "These people depend on Office and Mickey to provide them with a paycheck. These people then spend their money in Florida and Washington which creates jobs for other prople. MS and Disney hope these laws will boost their profit. That, in turn, will keep the economy in their areas firm."

        Trickle-down intellectual property law?

        Trickle-down freedom?


      • Re:FEC in focus (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cc_pirate ( 82470 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @12:02AM (#5996481)
        Sure buying votes is in the best interest of the companies. Just like buying judges is in the best interest of the mafia. We despise and revile the latter as a complete perversion of the Justice system. Should we not despise and revile the former as a complete perversion of the Legislative system?

        Of course we should. Bribing officials who make policy for all of us so that SOME of us get a better deal is just WRONG.

        That you could possibly think it is acceptable says a lot about how completely fscked up America and our system of government is.
      • Re:FEC in focus (Score:5, Informative)

        by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @05:40AM (#5997357)
        MS and Disney represent a large body of people.

        Wrong. MS and Disney are owned and controled mostly by a very small number of people (Bill Gates, et al.) That's who they represent.
        Corporations act in the interests of their shareholders. Corporations are not controlled via popular elections. They are not part the democratic system, and should kept the hell out of it.

        Look at it this way: How the hell can you have a functioning democracy, when one person with resouces far beyond those of most people (Bill G.) can contribute as much of his money as he wants to buying influence?

        These people depend on Office and Mickey to provide them with a paycheck.

        This argument is silly for a million reasons. For one, how do you know that MS is the only possible way these people could be employed? If MS was dissolved tomorrow, would everyone just stop using computers?
        Two, how do you that this is the best possible why these people could be employed? Perhaps there is another way things could be organized which would produce more.

        Arguments like this are a last resort of those who don't want to see change.

        But you cannot blame these companies for trying to keep their source of income strong.

        This statement is silly too. As long as a company is working to increase it's profits, they shouldn't be held accountable for anything they're doing? This pure idiocy.

        Here's an example:
        A nuclear power company has all these spend fuel rods they need to get rid of. They discover the cheapest way to do this, and increase their profits, is to buy a law that allows them to throw it out with their normal trash.

        This is clearly wrong, but all the arguments you gave support it. The power company is represented, speaking for all those people you think they speak for. The power company stays afloat, so everyone who works there can keep their jobs. And all they're doing is trying to increase their profits, they're blameless right?

        Your biggest failure is to consider the costs to society of these company's actions. There is no Wildlife Corp, that can buy influence to preserve our wilderness. There is no Public Domain Inc. which fights to get works placed into the public domain.
        Yes, there may be citizen's groups that fight these things, but the money they get is not anywhere near the value of the damage they have to try and prevent.

        Take my power company example above. Can you figure out the problem? The damage to society is not being accounted for. There is no automatic reverse contribution to take this into account. And don't say the people should take care of this reverse contribution, either. That would be impossible. It would require every person in the country to be informed about every law that was going to be passed, and donate accoringly.
  • Don't forget... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jerk City Troll ( 661616 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:06PM (#5995899) Homepage
    as soon as the EFF Action Center [] writes a report... utilize their service to send your representatives a letter expressing exactly how you will feel and how you will vote. Keep an eye on it!

    Remember, as always, strength in numbers. And don't forget to donate to them an the ACLU.
  • Map (Score:3, Informative)

    by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:12PM (#5995932)
    Here is a map [] of the area of Florida that Wexler represents. If any of you live in this area please do us all a favor by writing and faxing Wexler about our concerns.
  • by fudgefactor7 ( 581449 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:12PM (#5995935)
    But this sort of thing wouldn't happen if congress wasn't corrupt as hell. Amend the 22nd Amendment to equally apply to Congress. It's only fair.
  • by aerojad ( 594561 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:14PM (#5995943) Homepage Journal
    So where's the caucus to keep these "watchdogs" from over-abusing their powers, jailing kids who accidentally mention the words "Harry Potter" somewhere online, or threaten to shut down universities' internet connections during finals because one of the professors may have a file that might be illgal according to some law.

    You know, protection from overbearing abuse, the rules that this country is based on... where's the caucus to protect people and their rights?

    Since when did people only apply to people who were located in large office towers and made millions a year, scamming average people for all they are worth.
  • by KrispyKringle ( 672903 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:18PM (#5995961)
    What's sort of interesting here is not that Congress is concerned about piracy. In some sense, they of course should be. What gets me, though, is that save for a few large copyright holders like Disney and their kin, creative IP (to differentiate from technological or scientific IP, as in patents) represents a very, very small fraction of the revenue from companies which innovate with software, hardware, and other technology.

    When, as it often is (think Verizon v. the RIAA or DRM being forced on TiVos, MP3 players, and so forth), technology companies are at odds with media companies, it is pure fallacy to proclaim that it is the media companies' concerns that best represent American innovation (especially when this "innovation" is merely another teeny-bopper or an animated mouse from the last century).

    Congress, I have long admitted, follows the money. But the money, in this case, is not with the IP companies but with the technology companies. Does Intel want to build chips with integrated DRM? Of course not; such a move is not inherently profitable. Does Verizon want to be responsible for its subscribers' piracy, or Panasonic for the exact digital copies made with their MP3 players?

    Congress is behaving here as irrationally as the RIAA themselves (an organization so clealy ignorant and terrified of technology that they couldn't profit from it as the Apple iMusic store is now doing). IP controls go both ways; an incentive for innovation, when overly broad, stifles anything new. Intellectual property controls are certainly necessary, to some degree, but, as framed in the Constitution, to promote innovation in the arts and sciences, never to stop it.

  • by ucla perry wong ( 674530 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:20PM (#5995967)
    With all the non-sense laws that our government comes up with regarding technology, wouldn't it make sense to form a group of knowledgable and experienced individuals to lobby against these laws?

    I'm sure that slashdot can bring a real life political slashdot effect. Maybe it's something worth thinking about, or perhaps starting ;). We all know that our normal politicians can't get it right. I think we can!

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:23PM (#5995990) Homepage Journal
    Looks like the Crongressional Dip$hits are at it again.
    Perhaps they'll decide to save on legislature time and just try to roll the DMCA and the Patriot Act into one and just go ahead and lock up anyone with any sort of recording device as a Terrorist Threat.

    Ya ya ya... I have zero faith in our government to ever not have it's head so far up it's ass when dealing with anything that is even remotely related to the tech sector or individual rights as opposed to corporate self interests.

    Somehow, I have a feeling I'm not alone there.
    Anyway, time to toss some moolah to the EFF, because they're gonna need it.

    Pass the hat.
  • by MisanthropicProggram ( 597526 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:25PM (#5996010)
    In today's Wall Street Journal, there was an article about SCO claiming that Linux is using UNIX (SCO's) code. By the way, SCO just signed a licensing deal with M$. Now, we have this caucus assailing Linux amoung other things.

    Is M$ starting some sort of a campaign against Linux?

    Or, is it just other's paranoia about U.S. security?
  • Congress (Score:4, Funny)

    by di0s ( 582680 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [719tobbac]> on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:32PM (#5996055) Homepage Journal
    ... should have a little sticker on the side that says "Hollywood Inside".
  • by Ryan Amos ( 16972 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @10:51PM (#5996154)
    That RMS is the next Osama bin Laden? In that case, he's already got the foot-long beard down.. Now all he needs is a turban.
  • by chris_sawtell ( 10326 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @11:13PM (#5996250) Journal e_w=on& ine
  • Grow Up and Fight! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supaflah ( 626661 ) on Monday May 19, 2003 @11:22PM (#5996295)
    When will you people grow up?
    Copyright protection laws (including Anti-Piracy) are great for Free Software!
    Is copyright law was enforced 100%, 80 percent of the world's computer users would have been Free Software users by now.
    $600 for MS Office? I don't think so.
    If you don't like paying for music- don't support corporate artists.
    Form a band of your own, for daemon's sake!
    I've been generating my own music (i'm a techno freak) for years. And guess what, ambient music is easy easy easy to make on your own.
    Breaking rules is for kids, Making rules of their own is for adults.
    The more you rant about Freedom and Piracy, the more power to the establishment to link Free Software and Piracy.
    I didn't go to see the Matrix. I haven't bought a Music CD in 5 years. Grow up and Fight!
  • by Sri Ramkrishna ( 1856 ) <> on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @02:46AM (#5996938)
    If you want people to listen to the EFF, start becoming memebers. Let EFF say that they represent a million people who would be very upset if a law that introduces stronger IP laws that affect fair use.

  • Shadowrun (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ahaldra ( 534852 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @05:06AM (#5997277) Homepage

    This discussions seems to be more or less wrapped up and writing your Congressman and / or voting different seem to be good options. So all that's left for me is to throw in some comment.

    Everytime I read about Big 'Cons heavily influencing laws [] that undermine basic human rights and invalidating democratic structures [], in order to grow bigger and bigger, I only wait for the awakening of magic in 2012.

    It's as if everyone in power in this world read the shadowrun books and thought "wow, thats a great world to live in".

    The US needs to reform their electoral and governmental system fast or they'll be run down the drain by all these corporate whores.
    That's what bothers me most with the eff and aclu: they just take the conservative approach of "everything has to stay the way it is" instead of calling attention to the things that IMHO need serious fixin.
    If you look at the eff's site [], the news section is just full of battles in jurisdiction but on the legislation side of things, it's just "state has passed this, congress has passed that".

    Where is the support for a legislative proposal that actually strengthens consumer/citizen/human rights?
    Where is the proposal for a system that allows for more than two parties to gain power?
    Where is the continous lobbying effort to keep the politicians in line with common sense?

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @05:15AM (#5997299) Journal
    Sorry, I know I misread it at first glance, but it really does fit. They want to know everything you're watching and listening to, and it's pay-per-view.
  • Strange blaming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pofy ( 471469 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @05:16AM (#5997303)
    "...blamed P2P networks for spreading..."

    I always thought that in US, in general the argumentation was, for example, "guns doesn't kill, people do". So how come when it comes to copyright infringement and such, it is always the tool that is the cause, and not people.
  • by yaphadam097 ( 670358 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @05:41AM (#5997359)

    From the article:

    The concerns of the thousands of Americans whose livelihoods depend on intellectual property protection are not being fully debated or addressed

    What about the concerns of millions of Americans whose livelihoods depend on free access to technology? Open source software creates jobs, because it creates the opportunity for someone with an idea to build a business without having to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in software. For instance, I have started a software development business that I would not have been able to afford to start without free software:

    1. My server is a dual PIII running Gentoo Linux (savings: Windows 2000 Advanced Server $999)
    2. I use JBoss 3.2 and Tomcat 4.1.24 for my J2EE applications (savings: Weblogic $90,000)
    3. Emacs for code development, Dia for modeling, Ant for code generation, compilation, and deployment (savings: JBuilder Enterprise $3,500)
    4. CVS for source control and change management (Savings: Starteam, couldn't find a price but I know it's in the thousands)
    5. MySQL database server (savings: Oracle 9i $40,000)

    I am sure I could come up with a couple hundred thousand more if I really thought about it. The point is that I don't have the money for any of that. If things go well I plan to hire several developers over the next year or two. That's as many as ten jobs that wouldn't exist if it weren't for free software.

    Seriously, the argument that free software is "A threat to America's innovation and security," makes about as much sense as the one that says that giving rich people a tax break will lead to more jobs. They neglect to mention that the vast majority of the jobs are with large companies that already pay almost zero taxes. Most of the tax cut goes to rich people who will stow it away so that they are richer rather than companies with any significant number of jobs or middleclass taxpayers who do the bulk of the consuming that drives the economy.

    What these people need to do is get a clue. The record companies are going to go out of business if they keep doing things the way they have always done them. Since when is it good business to whine and moan until someone legislates away our freedom rather than innovating and coming up with a viable new way to make money? The reality is that these businesses have to change their way of thinking or they will die. The only real question is how much pain can they put the rest of us through before they do finally die. Can they successfully destroy the American way of life first? They're trying.

  • 1984 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cackmobile ( 182667 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @06:27AM (#5997443) Journal
    These sorts of articles are coming out faster and faster everyday. I never used to worry about it but now I am really starting to sweat. Its not just in the US where they are doing it. A lot of comments here say we will move offshore. Where are you going to go. ITs ahpopening in Australia and in Britain. While the majority of the population sleeps throuugh life, getting their news from sources that don't report things like this, they are tightening the screws. 1984 should be mandatory reading.

    BTW Guns are not the answer. Peacefully protest is. Do you really think that the citizens of the US could beat the US Defence force.
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @06:44AM (#5997465) Journal
    I guess we always needed a luddite caucus. If you can't beat the Unibomber, join 'em, I suppose. Congressmen calling for the stunting of technology -- how quaint.

    I suppose they would have opposed the invention of the piano roll, too -- and that victrola, what a threat! The audio tape, the video tape and now the P.C. Ironically, it was these technologies that made the companies that build these Congressmen's campaign warchests.

    At the end of the day, the market does a far better job of deciding what technologies the world need than does the Congress. Amazing how supposedly "conservative" congressmen don't think twice about regulating industries they don't understand to protect the interests of businesses they do. Alas, the one being regulated by them is the one driving our economy.

    Distinguishing between the technologies and those who exploit them wrongly is the identifying feature of these doofuses. These guys would ban credit cards as forms of lockpicking tools because they can be used to jimmy open some old doors. We already have laws making copyright infringement illegal -- we don't need new ones to make criminals of other people who don't infringe and who make useful, important technology, just because some special interest group doesn't want to be vigilant or change business models to one that can succeed in the twenty-first century..

    Luddites unite! Since we are already going to double the debt in the next few years, why not also wreck the economy?
  • So what? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bendebecker ( 633126 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:19AM (#5998320) Journal
    "The concerns of the thousands of Americans whose livelihoods depend on intellectual property protection are not being fully debated or addressed,"
    They are already ignoring the concerns of the millions of americans who livelihoods don't depend on intellectual policy, why care about another few thousand?

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson