Fred meets Sam
Sam Farr, the Central Coast's representative in Congress (Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, mostly), put on a "town hall" meeting in Watsonville last Friday night. There were perhaps twenty citizens, including some young activists. Talk was around the economy, Bush, housing, the economy, Bush, Iraq, airport searches, the TIPS program (DOA according to Farr).
I announced my concern that his colleagues are in cahoots with Hollywood, extending copyright and threatening to take control of our computers and other electronics. His response: the party line about piracy, American companies suffering losses to worldwide larceny, we have to do something. He called Howard Berman a good friend who he respects tremendously--they're on the Judicial Committee together.
I talked afterward with a staff member, who seemed more interested in having a dialog--he admitted ignoragnce of the issues, only recently recognizing that something's happening because of the KPIG situation (the internet radio innovator is located in Watsonville). I left my statement with him; he promised to be in touch.
Here's the statement:
I am pleased to read in your latest newsletter that you oppose using the so-called war on terrorism as an excuse to limit our rights and freedoms; and that you support building a more positive image for the United States through an enlightened foreign policy.
I note with dismay, however, that many of your colleagues support limiting our rights and freedoms with restrictions favored by the entertainment industry: restrictions on fair use of copyrighted materials, expansions of copyright terms, control of software and hardware on our computers and in our televisions and radios and CD and DVD players.
It seems that Hollywood (as represented by the MPAA (Motion Picture Assoc. of America) and RIAA (Recording Industry Assoc. of America) wants complete, unlimited, perpetual control of not only content but the means of delivery. And they want Congress to guarantee their profits under an outdated business model by destroying or prohibiting innovative business models. In the long run, Hollywood will die out if they don't adapt to new technologies; but in the mean time they're taking away our rights, one by one, bit by bit--and Congress is a willing partner.
The list of proposed and enacted laws limiting our rights is long:
DMCA, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which expanded copyright, curtailed fair use, and criminalized security research;
The Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, which guaranteed that none of Disney's cultural contributions would reach the public domain in our lifetimes;
The SSSCA, originally floated as an anti-terrorist act, then morphed into the CBDTPA (Computer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act), which would further extend copyright, criminalize fair use, and grant entertainment giants' complete control of how, where, and when we watch and listen to their output;
Representative Berman's Peer-to-Peer interdiction act, which authorizes entertainment companies to hack into private computers, an act that the USA Patriot Act characterized as terrorism, and made punishable by life in prison;
Hearings before the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group, which deliberately excluded interested parties from the Electronic Freedom Foundation and open source software interests;
The CARP ruling, which effectively killed internet radio, including a local innovator of the new medium, KPIG.
I quote Tom Poe regarding the BPDG:
"If we look at the recommendations that are being presented to Congress to use in drafting legislation to protect copyrighted material transmitted over the Internet, we find that severe restrictions will have to be placed on computers and devices used by the general public, as part of a legislated mandate to quell "piracy" in the words of the Entertainment Industry. The RIAA, MPAA, large corporations such as Intel, Microsoft, Sony, and others, are seeking to control how information is distributed. In their opinion, the need to remove legacy computers from the world is paramount to successfully utilizing the Internet as a medium to distribute movies, records, and "quality content", another words game being promulgated by these special interest groups."
I want to know your position on these attacks on your constituents' rights and freedoms, and what you're doing about it.