Contrasting Views on Consumers' Rights in Washington DC

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If you follow the news as closely as I do, you might have seen these items mentioned last week while they were still pending:

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced, with bipartisan support, a severely wrongheaded bill called the "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act" (enter "S.2560" online here). If passed, it would amend copyright law to criminalize anyone (data backup software developers, peer-to-peer websites, etc.) who could profit from "inducing copyright infringement." This bill is a new low – and that's saying something – for posturing about "protecting children" while its real intent is the restriction of consumers' fair use rights inherent in their legally purchased property.

(Fair use is a well-established copyright doctrine that allows certain exceptions to the don't-copy/don't distribute rules that Hatch and his funders would like to make absolute. Check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation's website for more information. The EFF examines many important subjects that are largely ignored by the mainstream corporate media; they also do a great job of explaining how legislation like this affects our everyday lives.)

At the other end of the spectrum, Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA) has introduced the "Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act" (enter "HR.107" online here) that would protect fair use rights by requiring copy-restricted CDs to be so labeled, and by amending the most onerous provisions of the DMCA. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act essentially made it illegal to circumvent copy protection. The travesty of this law is evident in several cases of jailing computer programmers [Dmitry Sklyarov] and silencing computer science researchers [Ed Felten] under the guise of protecting copyrights. The real goal, as usual, is protecting profits.

There is an increasingly clear demarcation between two schools of thought (not always aligned with political parties) in Washington DC: one that is pro-freedom and pro-citizen, and another that is pro-restriction and pro-special interests.

Call or write your Congresscritters, and let them know where you stand. (While you're at it, register to vote! Corporations may count the ballots, but we still get to cast them...)

Thanks for reading.

Quote of the Day:

"Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics. [...] For every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation."

Theodore Roosevelt ("The New Nationalism," 1911)

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on June 27, 2004 11:07 AM.

batting .500 with letters to the editor was the previous entry in this blog.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" is a flawed film that MUST be seen is the next entry in this blog.

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