Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Josh Marshall says the Department of Homeland Security’s investigation of itself in the case of the runaway legislators “lacks, shall we say, Ricoeur's 'hermeneutic of suspicion.'”


He’s also got some good poop on the stalled search for Iraq’s banned weapons.

1:03:44 PM    comment []

Boucher: Congress won’t let Hollywood hack


Virginia Representative Rick Boucher says legislation allowing the recording industry to damage personal computers is highly unlikely to be enacted.


Boucher said he doubted that yesterday’s remarks by Sen. Orrin Hatch about targeting computers used for illegal file transfers signaled a legislative agenda. “I think he was expressing sympathy with the frustration felt by the recording industry,” said the 10-term Democrat, who sits on the House subcommittee on intellectual property, which last year euthanized the similarly-themed Berman-Coble P2P piracy bill.


“Mr. Hatch is chairman of the Judiciary committee, so we have to take his announced views seriously, but I don’t think this had serious legislative intent.”


Boucher says that any such proposal would find limited support. “Such a message would never be reported from committee, and if it made it past a filibuster in the Senate, we’d kill it in the House. The potential for targeting innocent computer users is enormous. It’s a nuclear option to a problem with other solutions.”


In a phone interview this morning with, Boucher called the debate over empowering corporate vigilantes “a small rearguard battle.” He says the Berman bill is “pretty well dead,” and that members of Congress are, by and large, figuring out the P2P issue.


He points to Apple’s new music service as the model for the future. “It proves that people will pay for permanent, portable downloads. The recording industry should not fool around and waste time, it needs to deploy a Windows version.”


At the same time, Boucher advises the recording industry to invest “real money” in a marketing campaign for the concept of copyright law. “$100 million is peanuts to them, and they’ve got the best communicators in the world. They need to be on TV and radio, with performers selling the value of copyright – it’s not a complicated message, but word is not getting through. People think it’s an antiquated notion, but the industry can explain why people should get paid for their work.”


Licensed downloads and increased awareness of copyright protections would yield “an 80% solution,” says Boucher. “You’ll never make everyone use the pay services, but this way the recording industry would make money hand over fist. They will find the Internet to be the most powerful distribution method they’ve ever seen.”


Congress is catching on too, he says, although progress is uneven. “I think it is very important that members of Congress who make judgments on this have a working knowledge of computers and the Internet,” he says. "Many do, but some members are technology-averse, including some, unfortunately, who are in positions of influence.” Hatch, he added, uses a computer.


Boucher represents a beautiful chunk of southwestern Virginia, which includes both his home town of Abingdon and Blacksburg, the home of Virginia Tech. He co-founded the Congressional Internet Caucus, which focuses on Web issues.

11:59:44 AM    comment []