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Electronic Freedom Foundation



  Sunday, August 4, 2002

Janis Ian on music distribution

Musician Janis Ian ("At 17," "Society's Child") has made quite a stir recently with her contention that file-sharing music on the Internet is actually good for the artists and for sales of the music. Read about it here: "Janis Ian" [Daypop Top 40]

8:04:08 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

From the "I wish I'd said that" file:

Benjamin Franklin. "Never confuse motion with action." [Quotes of the Day]

7:59:30 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

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:

Representative Farr:

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.

Thank you.



7:45:54 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

Getting Congress' attention

With all the legislative proposals to wrap up your computer in a big red ribbon and hand it to Hollywood and Redmond to use as they will, it's been plenty discouraging. Too many proposals to fight all of them, too much apathy among the citizens of this country, too many distractions, to much ignorance in Congress, too much FUD and misinformation.

But I continue to write letters and send faxes to my Congresspersons: Boxer, Feinstein, and Farr.

Sadly, Feinstein is clearly clueless, or worse, in Hollywood's pocket--as a co-sponsor of CBDTPA, she's beyond hope. And even her staff doesn't read her mail--they look at the subject, and reply with boilerplate. I wrote in support of the Ninth Circuit Court's decision to keep "God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance, and she wrote back to say she agreed that it was an awful decision! Hopeless.

Boxer is almost as bad: when her office replies, it's also boilerplate. Not to mention that writing Senator Boxer puts you on her mailing list--I had to write back to explain spam.

Representative Farr is the best of the bunch--at least he has the right perspective on many important issues, including the "war" on terrorism, war with Iraq (against), the economy, Bush, corporate evil, and so on. But he's wrong on copyright extension, wrong on Berman. But I'm not giving up on Sam Farr--I think he's educable, and his staff seems responsive.

Next up: Fred goes to Sam Farr's "town hall" meeting in Watsonville.



7:29:59 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

He's baaack. . .

Yeah, ok, I know it's been like six weeks since I made an entry here. It's been a busy time, plenty to think about, a lot on my mind, and none of it's made it into writing here on the blog. But stand by, it's not like I haven't written anything.

7:19:12 PM    Questions? Comments? Flames? []

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