Using Bees To Effect Vengeance

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Monday, March 25, 2002
The Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (or CBDTPA) has been introduced into Congress, and it's a doozy. Essentially, "any hardware or software that reproduces, displays or retrieves or accesses any kind of copyrighted work" will have copy-protection mechanisms built in, by government mandate. That means MP3 players, computers, CD players, Palm Pilots, CD burners, TVs, etc.

Why? Because as Sen. Fritz Hollings, the bill's primary sponsor, points out, ""any device that can legitimately play, copy or electronically transmit one or more categories of media also can be misused for illegal copyright infringement. " This is true. But rather than say to media companies, "Wow, that sucks for you guys, you better figure out a business model that accomodates the way people really want to interact with music, films, and text in the digital world [i.e. easy access to everything, all you can eat, for one flat rate] rather than selling one work at at time", Hollings etc. -- aided by generous donations, of course -- have decided to restrict the ability of citizens to use perfectly legal technologies because they could be used to make lots of copies. So much for "fair use" rights.

What happens if you tamper with or attempt to disable the copy protection on your computer or PDA or Mp3 player that you've legally purchased and in fact own in order to make copies of media that you've legally purchased and in fact own? Five years in jail and a $500,000 fine.

This is ridiculous. As someone at the recent PC Forum said, "People are having their citizenship taken away and replaced by consumership." has the scoop on how to fight the CBDTPA.

As last night's Oscars showed, we sure loves us some Hollywood. That Halle Berry sure seems like a nice, pretty lady. But making a Hitchcock-like directorial cameo was the festering head of MPAA lobbyist Jack Valenti, gurning and mugging in Errol Morris's gee-isn't-Hollywood-magical--you-need-us-you-know-slap-on-the-back film that opened the show. Valenti was alarmist and dead wrong when he said that video was going to destroy the movie industry. He's sounding the same alarms about the Internet now, of course, and he's wrong again. And the scary thing is that our insatiable lust for celebrity conveniently blinds us to the unseemly power that media conglomerates -- the celebrity-enablers -- are amassing over our daily lives. We exist to consume their content, and if we start getting uppity by sharing files online, they bring the hammer down and start calling in those favors, all the while shoving more celebrity gossip, starlets falling out of dresses, right-on uplifting sentiment, and vicarious emotion down our throats until we're well and truly sedated and we've happily conflated consumer choice with individual rights once and for all.

But Reese Witherspoon looked nice, didn't she?


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