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United States

Congressman Boucher Responds 229

Posted by Roblimo
from the naturally-speaking- dept.
Okay, the answers to your questions for U.S. Representative Rick Boucher are in. No, his staff didn't write them. Everything you see here is straight from the Congressman himself. This is a nice bit of insight into legislative thinking about the Internet, and gives a little info on how you can help change laws you don't like, too.

1) Protecting our rights
by techmuse

The general trend since the Internet became a mass public resource has been for government to attempt to find ways to monitor people using it (Carnivore for example), to listen in on their communications (Key escrow), or to use the Internet as a means to remove consumer rights in favor of total control by businesses (DCMA). How do you feel about these technologies and laws, and how do you propose to keep the Internet a place where ordinary citizens can communicate and conduct business without giving up the rights that they have in the physical world?

Rep. Boucher:

There is a constant need for vigilance in the protection of the rights of Internet users. Several years ago as we were debating legislation of I co-authored to permit the export of strong encryption software from the United States, the FBI proposed an amendment which would have imposed the first restriction on the use of encryption software domestically. Specifically, the FBI's amendment would have required that every encryption product contain a back door which could be opened with a key held by a third party. This so-called "key escrow" requirement posed a major threat to freedom from the prying eyes of law enforcement for all Internet users. Working with other members of the House Commerce Committee who shared my opposition to the amendment, we succeeded in defeating the measure by the impressive vote of 30 to 10. I do not anticipate the key escrow requirement, or a similar key recovery requirement, being seriously debated by the Congress again. Nevertheless, we must continually work to protect the openness of the Internet and the rights of Internet users from attacks which may come from many directions, including law-enforcement, the copyright owning community, and those who would filter the Internet because of a variety of social concerns.

2) Copyright laws
by Chakat

Let me preface this by saying that I respect copyright, and feel that creators deserve a limited period of time to enjoy sole profits from their works. However, it's become obvious that special intrests have corrupted the copyright system to insure that they can receive sole benefits for long after our founding fathers intended. My question for you is twofold: How long do you feel is an appropriate amount of time for copyright protection, and is there legislation pending to fix the problem with copyright?

Rep. Boucher:

The recent extension of the copyright term by the Congress was wholly unjustified. The United States Constitution establishes a regime of intellectual property protection and specifies that exclusive rights in original works should be preserved for the creator of the works for a "limited time". I am concerned that the very wealthy copyright owning community, including motion picture studios, recording companies and publishers have seriously unbalanced the Congressional process in the creation and amendment of intellectual property laws with the result that the "limited time" concept has largely been forgotten. I'm particularly troubled by provisions of the digital millennium copyright act which threaten the long-established fair use rights of American citizens, and I am in the process of drafting broad-based legislation which will reaffirm traditional fair use rights for the users of information.

3) Why
by SpanishInquisition

in the USA is it legal to possess a piece of equipment designed to kill a human being but it's illegal to possess a piece of software designed to copy the content of a DVD?

Rep. Boucher:

The most troublesome provision of the digital millennium copyright act is found in section 1201 (a ) (1) which makes it unlawful for a manufacturer to produce a device which is "primarily designed" for the purpose of infringing a copyright. This provision is fraught with problems, not the least of which is the impossibility of knowing at the time a device which has multiple uses is manufactured whether a judge or jury will find at a later time that the device was "primarily designed" for an infringing use. More than 20 years ago, the United States Supreme Court in the Betamax case held that if a device has both infringing and non infringing uses, its manufacture is lawful due to the presence of non infringing uses. Section 1201 adversely affects that long-standing doctrine and will hinder the willingness of equipment manufactures to introduce devices which could potentially be used to infringe copyrights even if the device has many helpful non infringing uses. Eventually, a modification of this section of the code will be required.

4) How do you keep up?
by wmulvihillDxR

With the recent story on the flooding of emails to representatives, I want to know how you deal with that flood? Do you rate snail mail a higher priority than email?

Rep. Boucher:

Electronic mail receives the same dignity in my office that is accorded to every other communication which we receive. We prioritize our responses to incoming information based upon the urgency of the material not based upon the medium by which the communication was received. Accordingly, electronic mail has the same dignity in my office that is accorded to paper mail, faxes and telephone calls. Unlike many congressional offices which responde to electronic mail by regular mail, we respond to electronic mail over the Internet. My staff forwards to my desktop computer incoming e-mail along with a suggested response which I then edit and approve for delivery by electronic means to the constituent.

5) Taxes and the Internet
by Aggrazel

This year, in my home state of Ohio, the legislation introduced a "Voluntary" tax on Interenet purchases. That is, I can tell them that I purchased X amount of books online and they'll tax me accordingly.

Even though this tax is "Voluntary" I have been informed by my accountant that I have to pay this tax, reguardless. Thereby, my state is taxing purchases that were made "out of state" as it were.

My question is, how do you feel about taxation of the internet, specifically "Voluntary" ones like the State of Ohio has implemented?

Rep. Boucher:

Most states impose a "use tax" on purchases made by residents of the state from out-of-state retailers. The use tax is at the same rate as the sales tax imposed by the state on products purchased within the state. Accordingly, we all have an obligation to pay to the state in which we reside a use tax on all the items we purchase from out-of-state. The use tax applies whether we purchase the item over the telephone, through a catelogue order or over the Web. The State of Ohio through the device mentioned in the question is attempting to assert a collection mechanism for its use tax. There are no congressional proposals pending which would prohibit states from collecting use taxes on purchases made from out-of-state retailers. In fact, I doubt that such a proposal at the federal level would be constitutional. We are presently having a debate on the extension of the moratorium which expires this coming October on the imposition of taxes on Internet service providers and the imposition of any tax which has a discriminatory effect with respect to the Internet. I support the extension of the Internet tax moratorium. Some members of Congress are now urging that legislation be adopted which would facilitate the escrow of sales taxes on all out-of-state purchases, whether the purchases are made over the Web, by telephone or by catalog order. The proposal is supported by many states and by traditional brick and mortor retailers who do not have an interstate business. I seriously doubt that the Congress will give active consideration to this proposal at the present time; however, in future years, as electronic commerce occupies a greater percentage of all commerce, the proposal may gain added currency.

6) Taking back the 'Net
by RareHeintz

Much recent technology legislation - most notably the DMCA and UCITA - seem unreasonably skewed toward large corporate interests seeking copyright, patent, and licensing protections in the digital world they don't enjoy in the analog world. I don't think it's a secret to anyone that such legislation is all but purchased outright through campaign contributions and soft-money party donations.

Many American citizens, unfortunately, don't have sufficient education or interest to be able to assess how technology legislation affects them, their wallets, and the media they consume, and the mainstream media don't help them understand the technical issues, the legislative process, or the influence of money in politics any better.

My question related to this is: What can the more technically-aware citizenry do to steer the law back to a more reasonable course? How can we convince or coerce our elected representatives into replacing sane limits on copyright, sane policy toward retail taxation in digital markets, and a sane approach to regulating the Internet that recoginizes the opportunites and limitations inherent in the medium?

Rep. Boucher:

I am in the process of drafting comprehensive legislation which will reaffirm the fair use rights of the users of information and create a better balance between the copyright owners, who currently dominate the Congressional debates on intellectual property measures, and the users of copyrighted information. My measure will be strongly supported by universities and libraries throughout the nation. It will be strongly opposed by motion picture companies, the recording industry and book publishers. Our only chance of enacting our proposal into law will be through the formation of a broad grassroots effort nationwide. As a part of our grassroots effort, I am collecting the electronic mail addresses of individuals who will serve as "activists" on behalf of our measure. From time to time, we will call on these individuals to contact their member of Congress and encourage the legislator to support the passage of our bill or to assist us in defeating hostile amendments which are being offered by those who oppose us. I would encourage anyone interested in assisting our effort to send their electronic mail address to jody.olson @mail.house.gov

Jody is one of my staff members, and he will treat all information we receive in accordance with the privacy policy posted on my WebSite. I would also encourage interested individuals to contact their friends who share our goals and encourage them to forward their electronic mail addresses to Jody.

7) Overall cluefulness?
by update()

A few years ago, it seemed like legislation was being passed to regulate the Inetrnet without the most basic knowledge of how it works. One got the impression that legislators thought the Net is like television and that it would be straightforward for US laws to control its content.

Today, people may argue with a lot of the laws being passed but it seems to me that at least lawmakers now understand what it is that they're trying to control - that it's not television and that it's not inside the United States. Is that perception correct? Do most members of the House and Senate at least have a rough idea of what the internet is? Do all of them at least have a high-ranking staffer who does?

Rep. Boucher:

In 1996, I was one of two cofounders of the Congressional Internet Caucus. We founded the Caucus in the wake of the disastrous debate on the so-called communications decency act which was made a part of the telecommunications act of 1996. Those of us who opposed the communications decency act argued that it was impossible to implement given the architecture of the Internet and that it was unconstitutional on its face as an abridgment of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech. By a very narrow vote, the communications decency act was approved, and predictably the United States Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional by a unanimous vote of 9 -- 0. It was apparent from an observation of the debate on the communications decency act that most members of Congress did not understand the fundamental structure of the Internet and its capabilities and limitations. Accordingly, we formed the Internet Caucus as an educational forum to provide information about Internet functionality to members. We wanted to make sure that when future policy debates affecting the Internet are before the Congress that members would make their decisions with a sound foundation of knowledge about the Internet's capabilities and limitations. Today, the Internet Caucus has more than 145 members. It is the largest and most active Caucus in the Congress, and I am pleased to serve as one of two House cochairs of the Caucus. Each year, we host a variety of seminars on the current policy challenges affecting the Internet, and we present knowledgeable speakers who offer views, both pro and con, on the most important information technology policy matters we are considering. Our sessions well attended by members of Congress , and I believe that we have achieved the goal of ensuring that members make their decisions with adequate knowledge about the Internet's functionality.

8) Free Speech and Computer Code by IanCarlson

Congressman Boucher--

I applaude your questioning of some of the facets of the DMCA, and as a resident of Virginia, I am quite proud that an elected official from my state is one of the first to question these overly restrictive copyright laws. Your fight for the people will not go unnoticed.

I have a question pertaining to uncompiled code and freedom of speech. My understanding is that source code is just language, like that of an essay or poem. Essays and poems cannot (for the most part) be "banned" by the government as they are First Amendment protected speech.

How is it that high-powered organizations like the MPAA have won lawsuits against web sites that have done nothing more than make a link to uncompiled code? Aren't these sites and the programmers that wrote the code protected under First Amendment free speech?

Rep. Boucher:

I need to learn more about the precise circumstance in which links to Web sites that contain uncompiled code have been taken down pursuant to requests from the copyright owners. Unfortunately, I do not have sufficient information to answer this question of the present time.

9) Government playing catch-up, and losing.
by plastickiwi

DISCLAIMER: I am one of Rep. Boucher's constituents here in the ninth congressional district of Virginia. I've also voted for him five times. Consume the appropriate volume of NaCl.

Rep. Boucher,

Professor Clay Shirky spoke at length in a recent Slashdot interview about the desperate efforts being made by corporate interests to hobble the Internet. He noted that companies are so loathe to change their business models that they would rather bolt the existing business infrastructure onto the Internet than create a new business environment better suited to the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the online world. For example, Napster sent the recording industry into a tailspin because, despite billions in "e-tailing" investment, that industry still deals primarily in physical artifacts (i.e. compact discs) instead of pure data.

What, if anything, should the federal government be doing to assist the transition from "meatspace" business models to networked models? Should Congress, as Senator Hatch recently mused in the Napster hearings, actually go so far as to compel this transition through legislation (e.g. mandatory licensing of intellectual property)?

Rep. Boucher:

Every farsighted business will adopt a Web strategy both to enhance its own profitability and to assure its survival. The question relates to the music industry, and I will offer my views regarding the much-publicized debate about the availability of music over the Internet. I have long urged the recording industry to create its own Web sites upon which the most popular music will be made available for download over the Internet for a reasonable fee. Today, most of the music that is available for a fee on line is exotic. The popular songs are generally not available. The recording industry is still clinging to its traditional practice of selling music as a part of an album and making the CD which contains the album available through physical record stores or by mail delivery. The industry's strategy of attempting to sue out of existence every Web based music delivery service is doomed to long-term failure. The industry is simply going to have to go beyond its traditional practices and start making its highest value music available over the Internet. The failure of the record labels to do so has driven millions of American music lovers to Napster. When the music industry makes its most popular music available over the Internet for download for a reasonable fee, either through its own sites or by a licensing of Napster, it will enjoy a dramatic expansion in the market for music. The industry will be significantly enriched, and Internet users will have the convenience of being able to obtain immediately the most popular music for a reasonable fee. It is too early to predict the response the Congress may provide if the music industry continues to resist the Internet as a delivery mechanism. I can say however, with certainty that there are a number of members of Congress who share my view that the music industry whas been shortsighted in failing to realize the many benefits of the Internet as a delivery mechanism for music.

10) Just who is answering these questions?
by washirv

Rep Boucher,

I am interested in knowing who the actual person replying to these questions is. Does the representative answer the questions? Or does it go to his staff and come back with canned answers from his staff? Does Rep Boucher at least read the questions so he knows what Slashdotters want to know? Thanks

Rep. Boucher:

I have personally answered these questions through the use of the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software which I use on the computer at my home when composing text.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Congressman Boucher Responds

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Representative Boucher is clued in. No doubt he already knows about the /. effect. I'm guessing the jody.olson account is autoforwarding email to Orrin Hatch :-)
  • the DMCA and UCITA -- Congress passed these abortions

    Congress didn't pass UCITA. UCITA has been presented to state legislatures, and two of them -- Virginia and Maryland -- have passed it. As awful as UCITA is, states are almost certainly within their rights to pass it, as it's really just a clarification of contract law. (In short, the UCITA states that several specific provisions found in click-wrap contracts are enforceable under contract law, even without any signed or notarized agreement taking place.)

    Congress had no right to pass these laws in the first place, except for the occasional 10th Amendment nut.

    The tenth amendment neither expands nor contracts federal (congressional) or state powers. It just says that governmental privileges not explicitly granted to the federal congress and not explicitly denied the states, is granted to the states. Thus, it certainly doesn't expand the powers of the federal congress, as you suggest.

    "Don't worry, I'm writing a NEW law that sucks differently!"

    Rep. Boucher actually does want to amend the DMCA and reaffirm the fact that fair use trumps DMCA protections. Give him some credit -- what he suggests is a significant improvement over the status quo.

  • Maybe we here should cosider sending him $25 each (At least those of us who are US citizens). One of the reasons that the PAC's have so much clout is that they have money. If congressmen realize that appearing on slashdot will help them get re-elected they will be more likly to do intereviews here and listen to what we all say.

    And thank you Congresman Boucher for taking the time to talk to us here!
  • I was sugesting that people give money to the congressman's re-election fund. By US law only US citizens can do that. That is why I said for US citizens only.
  • That is I believe also Illegal. There was a major scandal here when the chinese government was giving money via 3rd parties to President Clinton.
  • Yes I have, and I have to a greater or lesser extent also looked at the systems in the UK, Canada, Israel, Mexico, and many others.

    In the UK and many commonwealth countries the commons has more or less total control of the goverment policy with very few check on it. If Tony Blair wants to do something there is not a lot that can really stop him. In Israel and many of the EU countries the need to keep a governing coalition together often results in small parties having power all out of perportaion to their size.

    Japan and Mexico have for many years been de-facto 1 party states. (Mexico seems to be getting over it). Much of the 3rd world is run by thugs and dictators who have managed to skim billions while their countries go to hell.

    So yes the US system has issues, but I'll stand by my assertion that its better than most of the others out there.
  • It has been tried, mainly in Israel, it works poorly. The Kennest (Parlament) is made up of a multitude of small factions which get much more power than they really deserve. A party with 5 seats (Out of 120) can have huge power becuase if they can leave the PM high and dry on a vote.

    I'll take our (the US) system. Its not perfect but its the best I've seen so far. (And I've looked)
  • The root of the whole problem is; when the technologists sold the recording industry on "digital technology" years ago, they told them all about the benefits, but apparently left out the one cruicial bit about information theory that says that you can't secure data transfers between two parties if one of the parties doesn't want it secured. It's a theoretical impossibility. Like honest politicians.

    So the recording industry jumped headfirst into CD's - cheaper to produce, but able to command a higher price because of supposed higher audio quality (than Vinyl). Pure profit was the lure, but they didn't know that they were letting the genie out of the bottle.

    So THEY say that nobody's forcing us to buy their CD's, nobody puts a gun to our head, so if we don't like the price, don't buy the music and shut up.

    I say, nobody put a gun to their heads and made them switch to digital technology. The unfortunate (for them) reality is, once data is digital, you can try to control it, but ultimately, authoritarianism loses in the end. Or hasn't anyone noticed how often drivers obey speed limits?
  • by jafac (1449) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:32AM (#337127) Homepage
    This man needs a big, heavy, spiky clue-stick, to whack the other representatives and other government officials with. Internet Caucus doesn't seem to be doing a very good job.

    I guess we missed another very important question. For US, the problem is, finding like-minded politicians to support. If Rep. Boucher is the ONLY one, well, that's kind of a desperate situation. We need to find or sway others. But if there ARE others, it would be nice to know who they are, so we know to whom we should lend our support.
  • Words don't always have just one meaning. From Dictionary.com,
    1.Robbery committed at sea.
    1.A similar act of robbery, as the hijacking of an airplane.
    2.The unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted or patented material.
    3.The operation of an unlicensed, illegal radio or television station.

    I reject those second and third definitions. What people are really talking about when they use those definitions is better described as 'copyright infringement' or 'violation of the FDAs guidelines'.

    There's another word in common use that I particularly dislike, which is 'racism'. Again from dictionary.com,
    1.The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
    2.Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

    I prefer to call this 'ethnic bigotry'. One reason is that it is more clear what is meant, but another is that it focuses attention on the fact that the bigotry is about ethnic differences. This is important to me because I believe that one of the things that makes ethnic bigotry possible is a deep-rooted belief that we are somehow significantly different from other humans.

    The word 'racism' helps promotes the idea that different ethnic groups are somehow different subspecies or even a different species altogether. This in turn can promote the very 'racism' that people are using the word 'racism' to discuss.

    It is my belief that there would be less 'racism' if we would stop calling it 'racism'. That is why the semantics are important to me. That is why I call it ethnic bigotry.

    We've seen another word widely misused: Hackers.

    'Piracy' is another such word. Accepting their use of the word empowers their agenda by promoting calculated emotional responses. Calling it 'copyright infringement' [or whatever is most appropriate for the particulars of the case being discussed] focuses the attention on the proper issues: the alleged crime of infringement and the relevant copyright law.

    Anyway, you are certainly correct. Words often have multiple meanings. That doesn't mean that we should accept the semantic manipulations of others without thinking about them.

    Memes are important. Know which memes you are spreading. Only share memes you agree with.

  • I'll take our (the US) system. Its not perfect but its the best I've seen so far. (And I've looked)

    Do you think the US system is getting better, getting worse, or staying about the same.

    Many of the complaints of people who live in the US are based on a perception that the US system is getting worse, that they had a good system and it is being damaged as they watch.

    You've looked, have you? Are you sure you aren't just jingoisticly assuming that your country has the best system?

  • I have heard this excuse used repeatedly, but unfortunately doesn't hold water on multiple levels.

    One, political speech is a sacred and protected right in our Constitution. The donation of money has been upheld as a form of speech. It is protected speech.

    Two, politics is one place where idealism can hold sway. A person or party who believes in something should stand on that platform and demonstrate a little leadership. In your child labor example, the factory owners can most certainly hire non-child labor. They use the "I gotta compete" excuse as just that: an excuse.

    Three, the flavor of campaign finance reform changed radically this election cycle as the Democrats raised as much "soft" money as the Republicans. Suddenly, Dems aren't the Finance Reform Firebrands they were a year ago.

    Four, if you think that our Congress REALLY wants less money to play with, try talking to them about tax cuts.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Money given to a person for political ends is political speech. Like it or not, that's what the courts have ruled. Money given to, say, a judge to make them rule in your favor is bribery. It is not political speech.

    I happen to also think campaign donations are tantemount to bribery, but that is because of the power that is ascribed to Congress. Take away the power for Congress to control so many aspects of our lives and business, the campaign contributions would dry up pretty quickly.

    Whether you agree with it or not, it's protected, as protected as flag-burning and other forms of non-verbal speech.

    If I wanted to give $10 million to the Libertarian party so they could run a proper campaign, why shouldn't I be able to do that? You're going to tell me a) how I can spend my money, and b) what forms of political thought I can support with it? No offense, but who are you to say?

    As for your second point, I think we've been derailed -- I'm not sure what you're saying. If you're complaing about "it's an excuse", I answer that here [slashdot.org].
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • You are trying to invent a universe where undesired actions are never beneficial, where good deeds are inherently rewarded and no one need be prohibited from doing anything. You are describing a Leibnitzian best of all possible worlds, because "in the long run" universal rational self-interest will create an acceptable equilibrium.

    I argue that my "best of all possible worlds" is just as valid as your "best of all possible worlds" where legislative fiat is always done in the best interest of all (which is provably wrong). The free market works because it takes into account the nature of man (inherent selfishness and self-interest), whereas legislation tends to not work because it assumes that the legislators are working for the public good. This is sometimes true, sometimes not, and is where we get things such as the DMCA.

    Or as he also said, "markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent." The current wireless technology environment is a crystal-clear example of the problems of a completely bottom-up approach towards regulatory mechanisms, and it's one of the least damaging ones.

    The free market does not promise success nor solvency, and I never claim that it did. Government control does claim that and it does not fulfill its promise.

    Which wireless market are you talking about? Cell phones, wireless data, pagers, 2.4 gigahertz? You give a too general example without specifics.

    The fact is that banning whale oil makes whale oil more expensive, which incentivizes alternatives.

    ... and also makes the black market trading of whale oil highly profitable. Go find a cocaine dealer and ask if he has a hard time finding buyers for his product.

    Again, from a game theory perspective alone, it will be more beneficial to kill the whale (remembering that careers and lifetimes are finite, and that *scarcity creates value*) unless that cost is made greater than the cost of developing alternatives. It just *happened* that alternatives were developed to whale oil, there was nothing necessary about human history that made it necessarily the case, and it is only laws against poaching ivory that keep the market for ivory for exploding to such an extent that only the most desparate are willing to poach. (Do you think that deregulating the market for elephant ivory will result in an protecting the elephant? If so, you are possessed of a faith that I can only describe as religious.)

    First, I'm not talking theory, but practice. In practice, market forces are more effective than legislation.

    Let's take your ivory example. Yes, I do believe that deregulating the ivory market will result in the protection of the elephant. First, to quote you, "*scarcity creates value*". Illegal ivory is scarce, thus valuable. *Legal* ivory (grown for the purpose, just like cattle for beef) is not nearly as scarce, and thus less valuable.

    If ivory is deregulated, there will be ranchers in Africa breeding elephants for their ivory. (Breeding them, I might add, to increase the size of their tusks and decrease their overall size (increasing elephant density))

    You might think my belief is "religious", but I can only ascribe your belief as "insane, possibly clinically retarded", because trading in ivory *is* illegal -- and yet poaching continues, and the elephant population continues to decline. To continue to believe in the power of legislation is moronic.

    I invite you to spend time in a truly unregulated society, like many in the third world, before you wax too enthusiastically about it.

    To call the Third World unregulated is also intellectually devoid. The Third World has nothing BUT regulation, by the government or the army (frequently these are one and the same).

    Going back to the original point, campaign finance reform essentially removes the inflationary pressures on the political process, because in any market where there is a competition between different agents for a limited resource (political loyalty), the agent that has more to offer will win. To turn an old phrase, one person/one vote has been supplanted by one dollar/one vote, and dollars are not distributed evenly or fairly.

    You're creating a philosophy around a bumper sticker (one dollar, one vote). If we banned ALL money from the political process, do you think that will eliminate the influence of the monied from the political process? The exchange of money just changes location.

    For proof, I offer "soft" money itself. The "campaign finance reform" of the Nixon era (where they capped personal contributions as $1000) forced the "special interests" to contribute to the general party fund instead of individual candidates, creating the "soft" money problem we have today.

    Suddenly, rather than buying Senators and congressmen individually, the "special interests" could buy the Democratic and Republican parties both by contributing to the parties rather than individual candidates.

    So, you ban "soft" money. You just move the "special interest" influence even deeper underground -- lobbyists going to Senators and offering lucrative speaking fees after they retire, for example, or offering to build offices in the representative's district -- not eliminate it. You're deluding yourself if you think otherwise. Whereas I have NO faith in the inherent goodness of man, I say "make Phillip-Morris succeed in the marketplace, where at least they have to *convice* me to smoke Camels".


    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • I've avoided ad hominems. Sad you can't do the same.

    Hrumph. I stand by my words, and your subtle attack on my character doesn't concern me. You should strengthen your argument instead.

    Your requirement that all legislation be one hundred percent effective is a straw man. I argue only that it often creates better situations than the absence of legislation. Laws against murder have not stopped murder, and in fact murder continues unabated. Does that mean that laws against murder are ineffective?

    And you've just constructed a man of straw yourself. I do not argue that a law must be 100% effective. I argue that market forces produce the same effects as legislation (in certain situations -- your laws against murder are an excellent example of an exception), only with quicker, cleaner and longer lasting results, with less intrusion on our freedoms.

    There are restrictions against poaching because poaching is a preexisting problem. There is legal harvesting of ivory, incidentally, yet poaching remains profitable.

    Wrong. There are laws against poaching because there are people who don't like the idea of hunting elephants for sport and genuinely believe in the power of legislation to stop unwanted actions. The fact that the laws against poaching don't stop it, whereas free and full trade in ivory WOULD mean nothing to you, apparently.

    There is some legal harvesting of ivory. This is NOT the same as full and free trade. There is legal harvesting of marijuana at the University of Mississippi (or, there used to be, some years ago). This does not alter the market forces, because it is legislatively limited harvesting. Try again.

    The very existence of elephants (in a natural habitat) requires the continued existence of large areas of undeveloped land.

    And you didn't read my post. Granted it was long winded, but you can't just read a couple of paragraphs and think you know what I said.

    The African elephant is an ecological nightmare -- you are right in that they need a lot of land, because they leave a path of destruction behind them. A herd of elephants is a real problem on the African savannah. However, if ivory is desired, and the trade in ivory was not restricted, Africans could "grow" ivory through the selective breeding process, where the elephant gets smaller, but the tusks are larger. The wild elephant is left alone, as there is a ready supply of ivory at competitive market prices.

    I'll explain it again, if you still don't understand. You may not like the fact that elephants would be raised for their ivory (as cattle are raised for their meat), but that's irrelavant. I don't like Mara Liasson's opinions, but that doesn't give me the right to stop her from speaking.

    But huge blocs of wealth would not be giving money to candidates if they weren't getting something in return. All you have to do is follow the money and look at the legislation: the DMCA is a fine, fine example.

    We're so close to agreement here -- are campaign contributions basically legalized bribery? I'm hard pressed to disagree with that. How do we change that?

    You say, make the contributions illegal. I say, take the power to legislate outside of constitutional boundaries away from the legislators.

    You didn't answer my point about the money going underground in other, less obvious ways (such as speaking fees or book deals). Your plan to make the contributions does not solve the problem of influence peddling. My plan does. Which is the better plan?
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • by rho (6063)

    Whew -- I'm getting the idea that you're as worn out with this as I am... tell ya what, you can have the last word, if ya want. I've really enjoyed this thread (tho, I'll bet other /. readers have long ago skipped it...)

    To summarize: in all honesty, I dunno about poaching. In the past, yes species were hunted to extiction. It is likely that we won't do so now, since we've had some 50-100 years of conservationist thought cultivated. I leave that as an excercise for the reader.

    I disagree with your giving ANY animal "rights". I have no quarrells with your giving them deferential treatment based on some sliding-scale, but, in my world view, animals can't have Rights any more than they have Responsibilties. But that's an entirely separate argument.

    Stigmatizing the accepting of campaign contributions does not work either. If you'll remember, John McCain, the Campaign Finance Reform poster boy, was a member of the Keating Five (w-a-y back in the S&L bailout). The Keating Five were spanked pretty darn well. Who remembers that John McCain was one of them? I guess I'm the only one who remembers. I've never heard the media mention that fact.

    I believe McCain's reform platform is an attempt to re-badge himself as a reformer and not out of any idealism: but, then, I'm a die hard cynic.

    But, here again is a place where we'll agree to disagree. The important thing is that we do agree that there is too much money in politics. We disagree on the way to eliminate it.

    Maybe we can let the market sort it out? :)


    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Okay, better way of saying it -- Congress has no right to *regulate* these, based on my reading of the Constitution.

    Congress has a few, well defined functions. Beyond those, it is encroachment upon the States, or the people.

    The reason we have a Constitution is to prevent the "law-making body of my/our land" from declaring themselves God/King-For-Life (or other silliness).
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • by rho (6063) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @10:04AM (#337149) Homepage Journal
    6) Taking back the 'Net by RareHeintz Much recent technology legislation - most notably the DMCA and UCITA - seem unreasonably skewed toward large corporate interests seeking copyright, patent, and licensing protections in the digital world they don't enjoy in the analog world.
    [SNIP]
    Rep. Boucher:
    I am in the process of drafting comprehensive legislation which will reaffirm the fair use rights of the users of information and create a better balance between the copyright owners, who currently dominate the Congressional debates on intellectual property measures, and the users of copyrighted information. My measure will be strongly supported by universities and libraries throughout the nation. It will be strongly opposed by motion picture companies, the recording industry and book publishers.[snip]

    Let me summarize -- "This law sucks." "Don't worry, I'm writing a NEW law that sucks differently!"

    I must say, I wasn't terribly impressed with the Rep's answers, and I understood when I read the last question's answer. I wondered why the pablum I was reading sounds so much like the junk I hear from Washington, and now I know why -- Boucher was giving a campaign speech, as if he forgot that Slashdot is read by an international audience and not by constituents.

    Don't get me wrong -- every now and then there was a nugget of clue found in his answers, but for the most part I was not filled with confidence.

    Let me tie this in to the current D.C. obsession, Campaign Finance Reform. Our jackleg elected representatives in the Senate are arguing over who gets to give money to political candidates. They have successfully dodged the question of "Wait a minute. Big corporations may be giving you guys money, but I don't see you people turning it down. Mostly, I see you standing around like toilets with the lid up!"

    Let me tie this back to the DMCA and UCITA -- Congress passed these abortions and certain groups caught on fire over it. Now, we've got people like Boucher saying that they'll pass new laws to make it better. What I don't hear, though, are people saying that Congress had no right to pass these laws in the first place, except for the occasional 10th Amendment nut.

    Fixing bad legislation with more legislation is as stupid (and backward) as, oh, I dunno... letting lawyers make laws?

    Please remember this: When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • by GypC (7592) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:49AM (#337151) Homepage Journal

    Have you ever read 1984 by George Orwell? Do you know how recently the last 2 definitions came into use and who coined the usage?

    My point being that "piracy" is a propagandist's term that is used to subconciously influence a person's thinking about copyrights and fair use. Likening the sharing of copyrighted information to murder, rape, and armed robbery is just a little over the top, IMHO. I'm trying to undo some of that damage. With the short absurdist rant I hope to awaken readers into questioning the usage of the term piracy in the context of sharing information. It probably doesn't work but it serves to amuse me (I'm easily amused).

    Carry on.

  • The reason that any given legislator pretty much has to take the money, is that their competitors are taking the money. Elementary game theory: the only way to end the practice is to categorically stop everyone from taking the money.

    Regulations against behavior such as this are needed when there is no incentive for voluntarily restraining oneself from that behavior, and in fact such restraint puts one in a competitive disadvantage. Viz: the original English child labor laws, which were put into effect at the behest of factory owners who wanted to end their practice of child labor, but simply could not afford to do so as long as thier competitors continued to use child labor.

  • If donations of money are considered speech, then bribery would be protected, and wouldn't be illegal.

    As far as the "gotta compete" excuse, it isn't an excuse: it's a fact of the market. If campaign spending didn't work, people wouldn't do it.

  • You are trying to invent a universe where undesired actions are never beneficial, where good deeds are inherently rewarded and no one need be prohibited from doing anything. You are describing a Leibnitzian best of all possible worlds, because "in the long run" universal rational self-interest will create an acceptable equilibrium.

    Like J.M. Keynes said, "in the long run, we're all dead. Or as he also said, "markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent." The current wireless technology environment is a crystal-clear example of the problems of a completely bottom-up approach towards regulatory mechanisms, and it's one of the least damaging ones.

    The fact is that banning whale oil makes whale oil more expensive, which incentivizes alternatives. Again, from a game theory perspective alone, it will be more beneficial to kill the whale (remembering that careers and lifetimes are finite, and that *scarcity creates value*) unless that cost is made greater than the cost of developing alternatives. It just *happened* that alternatives were developed to whale oil, there was nothing necessary about human history that made it necessarily the case, and it is only laws against poaching ivory that keep the market for ivory for exploding to such an extent that only the most desparate are willing to poach. (Do you think that deregulating the market for elephant ivory will result in an protecting the elephant? If so, you are possessed of a faith that I can only describe as religious.)

    I invite you to spend time in a truly unregulated society, like many in the third world, before you wax too enthusiastically about it.

    Going back to the original point, campaign finance reform essentially removes the inflationary pressures on the political process, because in any market where there is a competition between different agents for a limited resource (political loyalty), the agent that has more to offer will win. To turn an old phrase, one person/one vote has been supplanted by one dollar/one vote, and dollars are not distributed evenly or fairly.

  • I've avoided ad hominems. Sad you can't do the same.

    Your requirement that all legislation be one hundred percent effective is a straw man. I argue only that it often creates better situations than the absence of legislation. Laws against murder have not stopped murder, and in fact murder continues unabated. Does that mean that laws against murder are ineffective? Your reasoning is specious. There are restrictions against poaching because poaching is a preexisting problem. There is legal harvesting of ivory, incidentally, yet poaching remains profitable.

    Your claim that ivory would be harvested profitably omits a number of variables, including the relative profitability of land use and the relative costs of . The very existence of elephants (in a natural habitat) requires the continued existence of large areas of undeveloped land.

    Your description of the 3rd World is unrealistic. Essentially, the "governments" are not stable public organs, but simply the infrastructural organs of the most important classes in those countries, except in a few exceptions such as Venezuela (and yes, Venezuela is befuct too, but for different reasons.) The fact is that in practice the 3rd world is much less regulated than the 1st world is - including regulations against graft and extortion.

    Do I think it is possible for legislation to be imperfect? Of course, just as it is possible for products to fail. But huge blocs of wealth would not be giving money to candidates if they weren't getting something in return. All you have to do is follow the money and look at the legislation: the DMCA is a fine, fine example.

  • Poaching will continue as long as it is more profitable to poach than not to poach. If natural market forces do not depress prices enough to make poaching profitless, and there is no a priori reason to assume they will, then only continued laws against poaching will have any effectiveness.

    Historically, species that are hunted without restriction have gone extinct. The passenger pigeon, (nearly) the bison, the bears of Europe, whales - the idea that some sort of equilibrium exists by strictly market forces is unsupported. It will always be profitable to *someone* to kill any given specimen, more profitable than not killing it. Note that I'm not against hunting per se: I know some of the best conservationists in the world are hunters. I'm critical of the completely unsubstantiated claim that an absence of any regulations on hunting will preserve species.

    I oppose the raising of elephants for ivory for the same reasons that I oppose whaling - not just because they are Cute Awe-inspiring animals, but because they are species that are intelligent enough and behaviourally sophisticated enough that I am inclined to give them some sort of rights, rights I would not be inclined to give horses, cows, or chickens, or even dogs. (African grays, the great apes, and some octopi I also put in this category.) Harvesting ivory in a non-destructive way is possible without violating these rights, but not the sort of elephant-ranching you are describing.

    It is likely that some influence peddling will continue. The hope of one-hundred-per-cent money-free political processes is unrealistic. The idea is to stigmatize it, to make any known case of it subject to hearings and the associated embarassment, instead of the thriving industry it is now. In Europe, most of the stuff we take for granted would be considered a horrible scandal.

  • I saw Rep. Boucher on Saturday at a local "Town Meeting", as I'm a constituent. More on that in another post, as I want to specifically address the patent issue here.

    Boucher's aides handed out a pamphlet titled Congressman Boucher: Annual Congressional Activities Report for 2000, (the content of which is very likely available on his website), the last page of which contained this item on "business method" patents:

    In October, I introduced comprehensive legislation to change the process for the award of business method patents. At present, patents are being awarded for entire concepts of doing business, such as using the Internet to solicit charitable donations or using the Internet to conduct international commercial transaction. These broad patents are contrary to the original intent of the patent law. They restrict rather than stimulate innovation by foreclosing entire fields of commerce to competition. My legislation to reform the practice of patent awards will be debated in 2001.

    I realize this doesn't specifically address "software patents" and the amazing idiocy we've seen from the USPTO regarding, e.g., Amazon's One-Click(tm) shopping. However, it does point out that, in general, Boucher is committed to realigning legislation with the constitution and the original intentions of the founders. As with his above deferral on the DeCSS issue, I suspect that he's not been "hit in the face" with the specific issue of idiotic software patents yet, but will study it and try to correct imbalances when he understands it.

  • > Would *you* vote for an ambivalent politician?

    Of course not. I'd sure like to interview one though.
    --
  • Given the high level of clue he displayed in his other answers, I would like to hear his informed opinion on this one.

    Yes, it really is refreshing to see someone who is part of the government actually having a brain and using it well. Also good too that when he didn't feel confidently informed to answer, he didn't just guess at it. If only more people (government or otherwise) would think like that.

    I hope everyone is taking note of answer #6:

    I would encourage anyone interested in assisting our effort to send their electronic mail address to jody.olson@mail.house.gov

    --
    Delphis
  • by OWJones (11633) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:24AM (#337162)
    ... I was very impressed by was his willingness to admit that he didn't know the answer to one of the questions, and that he'd have to research it more before answering it properly. Many politicians (democrat, republican, even independents) would have simply tried to create a response appropriate for the target audience. While I did get the impression that the Congressman was kind of glossing over some of the finer points presented to him, I was glad to see he actually has an interest in exploring the issues.

    I was also very pleased by his statements about needing to educate other congressmen about the internet and technology. I get the impression that a lot of politicians gain support for their measures either by PR manuevering or by interesting backroom tactics (witness some of the trickery surrounding campaign finance reform [cnn.com]). Education is power, especially in issues surrounding technology. We just need to "empower" more reps.

    Even though he may be a politician, I get the impression there's at least one person on the Hill that's slightly clued in. Good luck, Congressman.

    -jdm

  • I'm also impressed by a politiician that bothers to learn the facts and admits when he doesn't yet know the facts about something. If only I had someone here with similar traits I'd be forced to actually start voting. I'm tempted to move just so I have someone worth voting for. Would Rep Boucher consider running for President? :)
  • by Silver A (13776) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:49AM (#337166)
    Almost every answer has some reference to a way he's voted on a bill, a committee he's chaired, a piece of legislation he's working on, etc. In other words, constant reminder's of the work he's doing in Washington.

    That's because that's what he does. People are asking questions about political topics, and about how the internet and the law intersect. It's one thing for me or you or T. J. Rodgers or George Gilder to say "the law should say this". Rep. Boucher ought to be telling us what he's done about it, not just what he thinks about it. Otherwise, he's just another pundit. He's authored this bill, gotten that one passed, and educated a bunch of his fellow Representatives about the internet. Gosh, that's pretty useful stuff to know, and it's what I'd want to hear from a Congressman in this forum.

  • 1) Protecting our rights

    It sucks that the government and corporate interests are using the Internet as an excuse to erode our privacy, free speech and fair use rights, don't you think?

    What you said. I agree with you completely.

    2) Copyright laws

    It sucks that copyright has been twisted into something our founding fathers never intended, don't you think?

    I agree with you completely. I am deeply concerned about this, and am writing up something on this topic that may or may not further your specific agenda, and that may or may not ever be debated in a committee.

    3) Why

    did you guys ever pass 1201 (a ) (1) that makes a mockery of fair use?

    1201 (a ) (1) makes a mockery of fair use. What a shame.

    4) How do you keep up?

    I sure hope you don't give email short shrift.

    Emails to my office are tallied on an "Issue/For/Against" spreadsheet just like snail mails.

    5) Taxes and the Internet

    My home state is trying to collect sales tax on mail-order purchases!

    You should have been paying those all along, you scofflaw!

    6) Taking back the 'Net

    It sucks that big money is using the Net as an excuse to erode our privacy, first amendment, and fair-use rights. Don't you agree?

    I'm not afraid of their dollars! But if they win, it'll be because you guys didn't take a stand. Email jody.olson @mail.house.gov to participate in this grassroots campaign I have conveniently created for you.

    7) Overall cluefulness?

    The day before yesterday, none of you Washington lawyers had a clue. Do you now?

    We try. We learn. We rely on the Supreme Court to catch our mistakes.

    8) Free Speech and Computer Code by IanCarlson

    It sucks that big money is using the Net as an excuse to erode our privacy, first amendment, and fair-use rights. Don't you agree?

    Tell me more. I'm listening.

    9) Government playing catch-up, and losing

    It sucks that old-fashioned businesses don't want to go to the effort to adapt to a new market opportunity, don't you think?

    I agree with you completely. That's just what I've been saying to them when they come by with their donations.

    10) Just who is answering these questions?

    Hello? Is anybody in there?

    Every one of these questions has been addressed with a lovingly hand-crafted paragraph from my stock-responses portfolio. And we mean that sincerely.

    :-)

  • Technically, he only has to address the concerns of his district and constituents. The fact that he was willing to take the time to express his viewpoints for a forum which is primarily not composed of his constituents demonstrates that he went above-and-beyond, and I applaud him for it. Not to mention actually admitting that he didn't have enough info to have a position on something - a pretty rare trait in any public figure. Bravo!

  • They've been so far behind the 8-ball for so long that I'm coming to believe that they don't think that they have any value to add.

    This is a seriously wrong supposition on their part, but I think that it's what they believe. It would explain why they keep playing dog in the manger. The only way I can think of to get them off the point is to demonstrate to them how wrong they are. This requires some mucicians who are popular, and a business organization that has a workable model to make it work.

    I'm no business man, so I can only guess at what could work. But how about: MP3's that end with a 1-2 second add for a web page, where quality versions of the music could be ordered. Or a site where one can custom order quality versions of the songs that one is interested in burned onto a good quality CD. (Quality would be important here!) Etc.

    Note: Yes, people could chop the ad off of the MP3's, but those have to be seen only as advertisements. MP3's are highly compressed and have poor sound quality. What you are selling is quality music and customized arrangements onto a CD. The more successful this was, the more successfult it would become, as the range of songs available for adding to the CD increased.

    I must admit, that as one who does not follow popular music, I may have guessed wrong as to what the business could offer. Perhaps sound quality isn't important. But I never used to feel that way, and I truly doubt that people who like the music feel that way now.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • You take a public apologia as an accurate statement of his goals? I tend to be reluctant to accept such pronouncements unless there is substantial supporting evidence.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • All of that is true, but...

    the only way short of revolution to get rid of a bad law is with another. I would frequently prefer one that just says ... "Well, that was a bad idea, let's take it back and start over.", but I've never seen or heard of that being done. Given that, a new law that essentially overwrites the old one is the next best choice. It's always a bit dangerous (some pieces of the old law tend to get left behind), but it may be the best that can be reasonably hoped for.


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • I don't think its the case itself he does not understand, the court cases involving the mpaa and decss where widely publicised. What I believe he meant was he did not understand the details between associating code with free speech.

    But I could be wrong
  • "...information to answer this question of the present time. "

    Seems he doesn't know enough to review what Naturally Speaking is typing for him, though. ;-)

    All snide remarks aside, thanks to Rep. Boucher and /. for showing that we do have someone in high places that understands.

    Soko
  • by augustz (18082)
    It's rare to be given an "in" on legislative action, so lets take it.

    For those that skimmed, send your email address to jody.olson@mail.house.gov

    We can make a difference...

  • Its not that the music industry has failed to realize this. Its that they will not take advantage of it until they can assure they will have utmost control in the new medium. They could've started sellign MP3s years ago, but they feared that without control, piracy would run rampant (and it probably would).

    Piracy is only piracy if copying is necessarily stealing. I have no time for arguing with people of the gimme gimme gimme generation who believe everything should be cost-free, but it's so easy to see how you could solve the on-line music distribution problem that it's frankly not funny. In a recent column, [pbs.org] Robert X. Cringely pointed out that it would be a comparatively trivial matter to end up charging for music copying by just slapping a tax onto every blank CD-R and CD-RW sold that could be distributed to artists and recording labels according to their total "burning share", which you could estimate via reasonable statistical sampling of on-line traffic or polling. Yes, there are always weirdos who will buy an extra 80 gig of disk just for the sheer thrill of not paying for what they use, but they aren't going away in any event.

    But for the vast majority of cases, everybody can get paid, if everybody agreed to do this. The problem, of course, is that record labels probably have zero long-term incentive to participate in this, since a world that distributes music primarily on-line is a world that really doesn't need the value-added services of record companies. Music retailers could be in an even worse bind.

    And I don't know how you solve the political problem to get the recordables tax passed in the first place.

  • I've been thinking about a voting system for a while that would work somewhat like that.

    It requires secure and untraceable voting over the net, so it's not likely to happen any time soon.

    I envision a system where you could vote on any individual measure, or proxy your vote to someone on one vote, a range of issues, or everything.

    Someone could accept proxies or not, doing so would make their votes public. Someone wanting privacy wouldn't accept.

    Someone with proxies wouldn't know how many, or who. Just a rough number (~100, ~10Million, etc) and that would be averaged over the last week or so, to prevent someone from forcing people to proxy and then being able to check. Votes cast by someone with a proxy would be made public for twenty-four hours before being counted, to allow people who had proxied to be able to withdraw their vote before it was counted, if they felt it was used improperly.

    Voting would be done after reading a short blurb about the issue and relevant facts. There'd be a quick test (that you could keep taking until you passed) that you'd have to answer before voting. Just something to slow down knee-jerk reactions to something seen on TV.

    I'm picturing that the blurb would contain the plain wording of the issue, the legal wording, and the views of a few paid editorialists on all sides of the issue. The test wouldn't be like "This bill will prevent kiddy-port (y/n)" but "This bill will make it illegal to a) take nude pictures of children b) posses same c) sell/profit from same." and "John Doe fears this bill with cause X because of Y. (True/False)" where John Doe is one of the authors of the editorial. The idea is to make sure that someone knows the facts, and the opinions on both sides, not to try to influence them either way.

    The constitution (and similar documents in other countries) would be protected by having a much higher threshold of votes needed to change, and a mandatory waiting period after which the vote again needs to pass. (IMHO the constitution *never* needs to be changed NOW, if there's a serious problem it'll still be there in five years when the vote comes up again, and people will still support the change.) If nothing else, it gives the jews time to move out before the next Hitler comes to power.

    To enforce a consistency of action, things like foreign policy would require less votes to pass if they followed the status quo, more if they reversed a past policy. (The vote to continue a law or policy would be easier, the vote to revoke one would be a bit harder.) This way we wouldn't provide foreign care one day, revoke it the next after a Rush Limbaugh rant, reinstate it the next, etc. (But if we DID vote to revoke it, that would be the status quo and it'd take less votes to keep that.)

    Then my last change would be to make proposed bills invalid if they covered two unrelated subjects. Riders are one of the most misused features of the US legal system and Canada's (where I live) isn't far behind.

    On a seperate topic, I'd make laws expire. That way if a law lost support it wouldn't stick around forever. Nobody is going to risk their political neck by removing anti-sodomy laws, but if it expired 25 years after being passed unless voted back in, it'd just gradually die out. Certain laws (murder, theft) would be so hot-button that they'd always get renewed. I'm not sure how I'd work this, so I've left it as an asside - a good idea, but one that needs work.
  • Idiocy has been upheld by the courts before. Giving someone money isn't speech. Ask a policeman to reconsider giving you a speeding ticket. That's speech. Give him a $20 and ask him again, that's bribery. So why is it okay if you hand him a cheque for $20 million and say that it's for campaign funds? Paying ANY money to a politician is bribery. The person paying should do time for bribery, the politician accepting should do time for treason - they are subverting their nation.

    As for the child labour laws... Sure, maybe the moral thing to do is quit the business instead of employ children. But how does that protect children? All it does is give the greedy exploiters a monopoly. Changing your business practices and paying five times more for labour is just another way to go out of business.

    Laws like that are for a reason. You can't compete by playing nice, but you don't want to play dirty. So you pass rules forcing everyone to play nice. You might have had to sink to their level to get the rules passed, but at least you're doing it with a purpose. The ends don't always justify the means, but sometimes they do.
  • by WNight (23683) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @07:42AM (#337188) Homepage
    I agree, that's a lousy idea. It assumes that the only use for blank CDs is to burn music.

    Actually, I don't give a shit about music. I have about 20 MP3s.

    This system is obviously designed to enrich the already wealthy, the musicians who are easy to find in the stores. The payments (in countries where this is already in place) are based on the number of CDs sold. This doesn't help the small artists whose CDs aren't available and whose fans often turn to piracy from lack of decent alternative.

    If the music-centered assholes would pull their heads out of their butts for a minute, they'd realize that not much of the copyrighted material being burned to CDs is music. Most, I'd imagine, because CD burners work on computers, is computer software. Certainly, when I look at my circle of friends 90% of the copied CDs are software, 80% games, 20% OSes and Apps. Maybe 5-6 CDs each are music, tops. (With MP3s so small, a person can have their whole collection on a few CDs and still have 100 CDs worth of music.)

    So for this system to even begin to be fair, it'd have to pay producers of software, of clip-art CDs, etc. Music is such a small part of it that I'd be tempted to leave them out of it.

    And even if we did do this system, the 'obvious' answer would be to just give all this money to Microsoft. After all, they claim more in losses to piracy each year than any other software company makes.

    But that doesn't help any of the companies actually hurt by piracy. Microsoft makes $900 office suites, no kid I know if going to buy one, if they copy MS Office it doesn't cost MS a potential sale. But small companies sell software from $10 to $50, the range where unauthorized copying could replace a sale, even for starving students.

    So these systems are fatally flawed because they measure losses by CD sales. I know six people who have unpayed copies of 4Dos, a shareware util than afaik you can't even buy on CD; the company wouldn't make a dime from this scheme. Ditto with music. B. Spears would get a bit richer, nobody else except the RIAA would see a dime.

    And this would all be subsidised by people like you who write your own data to CDs. I wonder if the people who advocate this idea would support you sending in a directory listing (to show that it's your content on the CD) and sending you a check for the CD-tax that you're entitled to...

  • by Rupert (28001) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @10:55AM (#337190) Homepage Journal
    No, the MPAA vs. 2600 case is all about DMCA and the clauses relating to circumvention devices. No trade secrets were involved. You are probably thinking of the several DVDCCA vs. Doe cases.

    --
  • by Rupert (28001) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:08AM (#337191) Homepage Journal
    I need to learn more about the precise circumstance in which links to Web sites that contain uncompiled code have been taken down pursuant to requests from the copyright owners. Unfortunately, I do not have sufficient information to answer this question of the present time.

    Could the interview organizer please send Rep. Boucher some links to the MPAA vs. 2600 case? Given the high level of clue he displayed in his other answers, I would like to hear his informed opinion on this one.



    --
  • "Congress had no right to pass these laws in the first place"

    I don't understand. Congress is the law-making body of my/our land. Why don't they have the right to pass laws? If they don't pass laws...who should?

    Could you please explain that statement?
  • Words don't always have just one meaning. From Dictionary.com [dictionary.com],
      1. Robbery committed at sea.
      2. A similar act of robbery, as the hijacking of an airplane.
    1. The unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted or patented material.
    2. The operation of an unlicensed, illegal radio or television station.
  • Sigh: Boucher's my current rep, and having read his responses here I'm even happier I voted for him last election. Too bad I'm leaving the area...

    Any politician that can admit in a public forum that he or she doesn't know enough about an issue to discuss it is a real keeper. Add to that the work he's done over the past years and I'd rank him with Tom Campbell as one of the most clueful politicians out there.

    Eric

  • Iceland had a similar system in the middle ages. Citizens were able to choose their chieftain (gothar). Gothar were able to vote in the council, and could transfer their authority as they wished. Citizens were able to choose the gothar they were allied to with few obligations. For more on Medieval Iceland, see David Friedman's writings. His article Private Creation and Enforcement of Law: a Historical Case is a little dense (as a journal article) but readable. You can also check out some usenet responses he wrote at http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Libertarian/My_Posts/Ice land_Anarch_FAQ1_reply.html [best.com]. Also, Danny Yee has a review of the book Medieval Iceland [dannyreviews.com].

    P. E. de Puydt suggested a similar system of government in the 1800s, which he called "panarchy". De Puydt envisioned a system of non-physical political divisions which people could "emigrate" between without changing physical location. De Puydt was suggesting a blueprint for the government of Belgium. You can read his tract "Panarchy" online [freenation.org] (also here [optionality.net]. You can read introductions by contemporary authors here [freenation.org] and here [optionality.net]. Roderick Long of the Free Nation Foundation [freenation.org] wrote a piece on Virtual Cantons [freenation.org] influenced by panarchy and the Swiss government.

    In case you're wondering, I would love such a system! I wish I could vote for Mr. Boucher.

  • by werdna (39029) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @01:59PM (#337200) Journal
    Unfortunately, while this gentleman has said all the right things, he has come off as being a little too biased towards the Slashdot community. I felt like I was listening to a "typical politician", even if that politician is perhaps refusing lobbies from entertainment corporations (it sure sounds like it).

    Take a look at the roll calls for the DMCA. There really are no "typical politicians" taking the view Boucher espoused.

    Before you can make a change in the Congress, you need to get some foothold, any foothold for your ideas. Kudos and hats off to Rep. Boucher, who not only seems to espouse the correct view, but is already taking meaningful action in support of those views.
  • What is astounding to me is that the music execs can stick their heads that far up their asses. The eventual failure of any protection scheme they would like to create is obvious, yet they seem to keep finding a new snake oil salesman to peddle the illusion.

    Funny, when I'm in Chinatown, I see no black market CDs that are also available in stores. Most of the "piracy" is movies not on video yet, and a few grey market DVDs (i.e. legally released elsewhere, legal to resell here, even if they don't like it, e.g. Crouching Tiger). To me this is perfect proof that the best defense against "piracy" is value.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • About movies and broadband... I think it's a good thing that we have DiVX ;) on our side, but "broadband" as it stands now is hardly able to deal with the filesizes of even highly compressed movies... normal users may go once or twice to download something overnight, but it's just not CONVENIENT... it's worth it to go to Blockbuster instead and pickup anything you want in 5 minutes (Blockbuster Video does offer some good deals for DVDs if you have a player). Also, I have a DSL line, but 90kbps is a rarity for me. That said, once it only takes an hour to download a movie... which, if it's 1.2 GBytes, would require the capacity of 5 typical DSL lines running full speed for an hour straight (and I've never seen that happen ever)... people will start to think about doing it. But that's a lot of money to pay for an illegal activity... it's still quicker to go to Blockbuster, and Blockbuster (or for that matter, Cable TV) still has them beat if they charge more than 3 dollars for such a download... and the availability of the Internet overall prevents a large amount of such fast downloads. It would take a LOT for fast movie downloads to become reality, and the benefits aren't there yet. By the time it gets here, the movie industry will charge a decent amount for it probably, and we'll all be happy. They're not as evil as the RIAA...

    I agree about the MP3 thing. The industry does not have their act together on digital downloads. But, like I said before, it's just cause they never want it to happen... regardless of whether or not you would like it to be available.

    Oh, and your English is fine.
  • by brianvan (42539) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @10:59AM (#337204)
    I agree wholeheartedly.

    Here's some ideas I'd like to add to this:

    - The music industry is all about making money - too much money. The reason why they won't put music on the Internet isn't that they were waiting for a control system for what would be a profitable distribution method... it's because it would turn upside down their entire system of ripping off everyone. First of all, too many middlemen in the business would be left out of the picture with Internet sales, and if they ever took off, there would be murder among current bedfellows. Second, considering the ways that the money is currently distributed to certain parties, it would be ultimately very hard to replicate that with MP3 downloads: let's assume that you're cutting out the unnecessary middlemen and that only the people who are actually involved in every step of the recording and distribution process are getting paid. There's still a lot of pieces of the pie to cut up, and it would be more difficult to do it with MP3s - considering that now we have downloads tracked, transactions recorded, and people to be paid. The math is the same, but the payments are more difficult to make. Third, the market for online downloads is smaller than you think. All those people on Napster who say "Well, I wouldn't have bought the CD anyway" wouldn't be buying it for cheap online either. Piracy is still a tiny fraction of real-life sales, but that means so would be online purchases - so they haven't been missing out on a big market, but they're trying to squash out anything that might be up and coming. And finally... they charge so friggen much for a CD nowadays, that to match the profitability of real-life sales, MP3's would be ridiculously expensive. And that's for something that's of lesser quality, of less convenience (you need to sit at your computer and play them on crummy speakers... and MP3 portable/car players are not ubiquitous or cheap like CD and cassette players are), and that has less added value (a CD has liner notes and a case, at least).

    - In terms of the business, the music industry is a very slow moving beast... and a very willful one at that. They already have a successful (albeit highly immoral) distribution system, they do have complete control, and their main business is their PROMOTION monopoly as well as their distribution monopoly. Online downloads are very bad for them in a number of ways. First of all, yes they would lose control... but as long as you make money, that's okay I guess. That's what the movie industry had to settle for, and although they profited greatly from more convenient content distribution methods (VHS, DVD, even television), they still fight those battles every step of the way. Remember, they tried to sue VCRs out of existence... half the studios wanted to go with DiVX instead of DVD... and they fought television with a number of technical methods (widescreen, 3D, giant rumbling theaters, etc.). Next, if the current distribution system (of price gouging) is doing great for them, not only would they not do anything to defeat it (offer MP3s as well), but they'll fight anything on the outside that tries to. That's good business, except when you're paying off Congress to pass laws to kill off competitors... which has been happening since the days of payola and the beginning of rock and roll. However, assuming they sucked it up and assumed loss of control a bit, and if they found out that they would make more money with MP3s... here's where they get killed. The record industry is all about promotion. They do not just sit there and press CDs all day and sell them to the stores... the clothing industry does that. The record industry, however, takes someone like Britney Spears and puts her on billboards, on the radio, in magazine articles, on MTV, on Saturday Night Live, etc. It's what they offer in exchange for being a slimy business. Online distribution methods may lead to mass online promotions, however... and there's nothing that kicks them in the gut more than to see N'Sync lose sales to a talented artist on an indie label. What they really want to do is keep people offline altogether... I mean, the porn industry is massively available and present online, and they've embraced computers every step of the way. The music industry? Well, unless the artist knows enough about the web to insist on a really good website, all you'll get is a fluff homepage with a few images and tour dates for any given artist. Usually such sites are way out of date, as well. They can't control online promotions like they can in real-life (cause Joe Shmoe can't build anything like the Virgin Megastore, but he can make an online store and info site that looks and feels much better than anything the record industry can cook up) and they'd rather not see people get into the act of getting online for any aspect of music.

    The problem now is that they control the distribution by law, they control the music by contract, and they control promotions through massive amounts of money and ability. If the general public really catches onto digital online music, they lose distribution control, they may not be the promotions juggernaut that they are currently, and subsequently no one will want to sign recording contracts with them because it would be better for artists and consumers alike to distribute and promote the music online. Therefore, their entire business would collapse, and either they would have to change their business or get out of business. You think any of those fat cats want to risk that?

    Granted, it's a risk, not a certainty. Online movie distribution isn't taking off anytime soon... it's not feasible. The movie industry has a very strong prescence online (better than the music industry anyway) and they're making more money from it. But they can't sell movies online because no one can download them.

    Then again, at this point we definitely have proof-of-concept. Music is feasible to pass around online... look at Napster... and the value of real-life legit music distribution products just plain sucks. It costs more to listen to a one-hour CD than it does to go see a two-hour movie in a theatre (or similarly, for two times the price of a CD, you get a DVD movie that is twice as long, has pictures and sound, is of high quality, and has extra features - deleted scenes, director commentary, trailers, soundtrack videos, etc. That's still a better value). Never mind if you buy something that sucks... the fact that you paid for it at all is still frustrating. Thinking about what you enjoy alone, the value is always greater. Having "American Beauty" (favorite movie released last year) on DVD is still ultimately more satisfying for me than having "The Marshall Mathers LP" (favorite album released last year). And I paid the same amount for both. In comparison, downloading "The Marshall Mathers LP" on MP3 (about a week before it came out, might I add) was great for me; downloading a VCD rip of "American Beauty" (which took HOURS) wasn't really worth it at all, and I deleted it. For the record, I downloaded BOTH before I owned either one; but I still have the MP3s for "The Marshall Mathers LP", which shows you how the legit copy/online value ratio is tremendously greater for full albums than movies. Don't get me started on singles, even...

    Anyway, one day I'll have a DVD burner and a OC-3 connection to the Net, and things may change. But not greatly so. Assuming I had that now, and I downloaded "American Beauty" in 20 minutes in DVD format before it came out in theaters, and burned to DVD... I believe I still would have bought the DVD as well. Because I did that with "Marshall Mathers", and no one got screwed. But the point is, I still would have gotten more for my money in that situation. Which is why the movie industry won't really be in trouble... but the record industry is in BIG trouble if anyone gets a leg up on them in any way.

    And I think that time has almost come... the revolution isn't too far away, condsidering once they shed some blood, it'll stir up the appetites of the artists (who hate them), the consumers (who hate them passionately), the lawmakers (who are annoyed with them), and their business competitors (who REALLY want them DEAD, considering all the shit they've had to deal with for the last century). Once it starts, it'll be over pretty quickly. And, everyone else will be left standing, but they won't be. Everyone's had enough of them.
  • Come on, people! Let's do it!

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • "Look at the actual differences between GW Bush and Al Gore. This is what would happen to every election race if you ignored the region."

    Yes, look at Bush and Gore. This is what the *current* system gives us. I ranted about this around election time, but the problem is, although the electoral college was originally meant to normalize minority and majority power (majority power is dampened, minority power is boosted) it's actual implementation has done the *reverse*. Most states (all but, like, 2?) have a winner-takes-all electoral college. The does the exact *opposite* of protecting the minority from the majority. In fact, if you have a 0.001% lead you win the WHOLE STATE. The minority is screwed and the majority is amplified. This leads to ridiculous scenarios of campaigns ignoring vast vast numbers of the population, while catering to a few states in which they can tip the balance ("swing" states). So I guess my point is that you'd be exactly right, if the current situation wasn't already so screwed up. Since it *is* so screwed up, a more global/accross-the-board representation might actually have the benefit of consolidating minority groups accross states in which they would lose entirely due to winner-takes-all. If the electoral college worked as it was envisioned we would need such a thing, because people would be *proportionally* represented within their geographic region. Since they're not, the EC is worthless and/or harmful, and thus global (proportional!) representation might be better than the current situation.
  • by Hard_Code (49548) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:41AM (#337209)
    Sheesh, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth" and all. Be grateful this guy is up there dispensing clue instead of mongering legislature for campaign contributions.

    Would *you* vote for an ambivalent politician? "Every day I will fight for you, unless of course somebody persuades me not to!"
  • I'd say this guy's worth a couple of hundred Dianne Feinsteins.

    Note to California voters: we need senators and congressmen who understand the net. Feinstein has been on the wrong side of EVERY issue related to our rights online.

    -jcr
  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @04:57PM (#337213) Journal
    Blame Al Gore for the blank tape tax. It has nothing at all to do with the BetaMax decision.

    When Tipper wanted to have her little kangaroo court about "obscenity" in rock and roll lyrics, (which she did, in Al's committee room), the RIAA rolled right over and traded freedom of speech for the blank tape tax. If people were PAYING ATTENTION, that should have ended Al's career right then and there.

    -jcr
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:51AM (#337216)
    > this guy's obviously more in touch with these issues than 90% of the rest of Washington, and we need more reps like him up there, but all his answers read like so much political-speak. Almost every answer has some reference to a way he's voted on a bill, a committee he's chaired, a piece of legislation he's working on, etc. In other words, constant reminder's of the work he's doing in Washington.

    Well, first off - yeah, this is how reps start talking after a while.

    But with respect to Rep. Boucher - "Getting It" isn't his job - his votes on bills and his committees he's chaired, and the legislation he's worked on - that's his job.

    And if he continues to vote and make law in a way that's consistent with Getting It (and if his answers to the Slashdot piece are any indication, he does indeed Get It), then he's doing things about the problems we plebes are only able to rant about on /.

    > if he'd just answered the questions, instead of trying to show us how hard he's working at every opportunity.

    I'll play Devil's Advocate here for a minute - there are plenty of people in the world who Get It. But there are very few out of the 600-odd folks on the hill whose actions actually form the basis of the laws about which we rant who Get It.

    I'd much rather have him Getting It and influencing the direction of those laws through committee work than saying "All Your Base Are Belong To Us!" to impress the Slashdot crew ;)

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:41AM (#337217)
    Without getting into MPAA vs. 2600, I have to give Rep. Boucher credit for this.

    You saw it on Slashdot first. A politician, when presented with a question to which he didn't know the answer, admitting it instead of spin-doctoring about how "whatever the guy was complaining about must be wrong, and I'm here to help" in order to butter up the constituent.

    I'm sure folks here will inform you of the details of the case - I just wanted to say I appreciate your candor in saying "I don't know" when you didn't know something. This is the first time I've ever heard a politician start a sentence with the phrase "I need to learn more about..." and actually sound believable.

    I'm impressed. Really. (How do you express in ASCII that you're not being sarcastic when you really are impressed by something?)

  • That would be very interesting, but I don't think it would happen. Despite the often vast disagreements between /. posters on issues like taxes, abortion, capitalism vs socialism, etc, we almost universally agree that the DMCA is a huge steaming pile of poo. I have yet to see any coherent defense of it written by a technically clueful person. What that says to me is that the DMCA proponents have no interest in even attempting to convince the technically adept that it is anything other than a blatant power grab and an elimination of fair use and first sale rights. Instead, they realize that they will have much more success by writing checks to Congressmen and demonizing their opponents as thieves to the general public.
  • It's dangerous for a politician to make a firm stand on particular details of any issue, even though that's what people want. That's because people rarely agree on all the little details. What if someone said, "I support KDE over Gnome as a Linux desktop environment" instead of just "I support a linux desktop environment"? You've just aliented half of your potential support!

    Its clear from the interview that he really is thinking about his answers (some of them). He just knows when to keep his mouth shut about the details.

    -Ted
  • Only then, when we can sway the fence-riders, will we make a stand.

    Worst part about fense riders is watching them leap to the other side over a fat stack of cash.

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • by Cplus (79286)
    my bad
  • by Cplus (79286) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @11:50AM (#337230) Homepage Journal
    It's always seemed to me to be a sure sign of intelligence when someone openly admits to a lack of knowledge or informed opinion. Sometimes it's nice to have someone say, "Wait, start from the beginning, this is important, I want to get it all."

  • The story I remember liking about some of the ancient Scandinavian legal systems, is that an entire tribe would get together annually and someone (the "keeper of the laws"?) would speak aloud, BY MEMORY, the entire set of laws for the tribe.

    Anything that they couldn't remember, wasn't a law anymore. Needless to say, their laws tended to be quite a bit simpler & common sense than those of the US legal system.
  • here (hîr)

    adv.

    At or in this place: Stop here for a rest.
    At this time; now: We'll adjourn the meeting here and discuss remaining issues after lunch.
    At or on this point, detail, or item: Here I must disagree.
    In the present life or condition.
    To this place; hither: Come here, please.

    adj.
    Used for emphasis after a demonstrative pronoun: Which word? This one here.
    Used for emphasis after a noun modified by a demonstrative pronoun: this word here.
    Non-Standard. Used for emphasis between a demonstrative pronoun and a noun: this here word.

    interj.
    Used to respond to a roll call, attract attention, command an animal, or rebuke, admonish, or concur.

    n.
    This place: "It would be difficult from here, with the certainty of armed gunmen inside, to bring him out alive" (Howard Kaplan).
    The present time or state: We are living in the here and can only speculate about the hereafter.

  • It does answer the question: The part I put in bold had "to concur" - I think that should do it.

  • Daddy, why can't I marry my dog? I love him!

    Actually, if you look at it logically, a standard marriage is the union of one representative from each of the genders of the human race. So if a man can legally marry a man, why not two men? Or three? Or indeed, their dog?

    Now, this may sound like I'm against gay marriages but I'm not. My contention is that the state should stay the hell out of peoples personal lives. If people want to marry, it's a personal thing between them and their religion (if applicable). Whatever you may claim happens spiritually, I am still an individual human being and so is my wife. I don't see that government has any reason to see things any differently

    Rich

  • Word.

    Excel?

    Rich

  • Some of the other values I think they could add:
    • Lyrics, either as a separate file, or interseresed in the MP3 data.
    • Biographical notes associated with teh band's production of the song/album.
    • Membership to band's official website (run by the label)
    • Mailing list for concert, album, etc. info related ot the band.
    • Discount (via unique ID so it can't be used more than once) on concert tickets.
    • Discount on merchandise from the band (i.e. T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, etc.)

    Imagine, when you buy an MP3 or an MP# album from the label's site, you're credited with the purchase your account gains access to all resources related to it. Thus, as a true patron of the band/label (i.e. not a pirate), your time/money has opened more resources to you that you can't get elsewhere (at least not all of them).

  • by Trinition (114758) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:16AM (#337249) Homepage
    the music industry whas been shortsighted in failing to realize the many benefits of the Internet as a delivery mechanism for music

    Its not that the music industry has failed to realize this. Its that they will not take advantage of it until they can assure they will have utmost control in the new medium. They could've started sellign MP3s years ago, but they feared thatw ithout control, piracy would run rampant (and it probably would).

    Their flaw is in seeking ultimate and flawless control. It doesn't exist. They might think they will find it, but when they do, and they use it, it will be defeated. Then they'll be even more sore because theyw asted all of their R&D dollars on a gate that is now swinging wide open. Furthermore, they'll hen kick themselves for all of the revenues they missed out on while they were holding out for the fabled flawless control system.

    As I've said many times before, the best way to defeat piracy is in a battle of value. Make the legit content more valuable (by value-added features and services and affordable cost and easy access) than the pirated content (difficult to track down, unreliable quality, no value-added features and services).

  • I am not a member of this man's constituency as defined geographically. But I'd consider him as a representative, if possible, given his responses here. (He may well disagree with me on everything else, but oh well.)

    In the same way that businesses are feeling the effects of the global audience that the 'net brought into existence, isn't it possible that governments are going to have to deal with the same contraction?

    That is to say, how much longer will we have to pick our representatives in government based on geographical location? Sure, I live in a specific city in a specific county in a specific state in a specific country, but I don't feel completely connected to the government here.

    I would feel much more connected with a representative in government that shared my background and outlook based not on my location on the Earth's surface but rather on philosophical and moral grounds.

    Then maybe I wouldn't have to cringe every time I think about Jesse Helms being one of my Senators. ;^)

  • While I am not a US citizen (I currently live in Canada), I must say that rep. Boucher has impressed me with his opinions regarding the internet, and the way he deals with his constituents.

    I'm certain that it has been said many times before, but what the US needs, and far more, what the world needs are people like him. He has a clear grasp of the technical aspects of our society, and understands the possibilities and the limitations of the Internet and of the other aspects of our computer age. While they are not 100% complete, he is the only (or one of the very few) people who knows enough about the computer industry (the Napster fenomenon being just one example), the recording industry (with its push to control everything under the sun that can be copyrighteable) to be able to make sane decisions. And if he does not know the facts, well at least he's willing to learn more.

    Far too many people get elected without having even the least bit of knowledge in those areas. And of course, they cannot make valid decisions based on their experience. The result, we all know: the DMCA and the like.

    So I must say this. Congratulations, Mr. Boucher! In all sincerity, I would vote for you if you would run for the House in Canada.

  • by HerrGlock (141750) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:10AM (#337260) Homepage
    The gentleman voted against the 'back door' requirement from the FBI. That's the important thing for me. Export of encryption restrictions are BS as well.

    So, I wonder if he really is for the common use of encryption with personal e-mail, personal web pages etc.

    It seems he has not looked into the whole DCMA thing though but tries to give generalities about it's use and incorporation. Let's keep on him for positive ability to decompile for fair use.

    Watch his voting record before you take any of this interview to heart though, remember he IS a politician.

    DanH
    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • by evilned (146392) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:34AM (#337264) Homepage

    While I enjoyed seeing the responses of someone who understands the problems involved with our current copyright situation, I would really like to see a supporter of the DMCA answer questions on this site. I want to see someone respond to the questions this law has created from a perspective out side the standard slashdot "DMCA SUCKS!". Considering that most major news outlets are owned by companies that are strongly pro-DMCA, the debate about it in the mainstream was woefully lacking, and the coverage here was definately skewed toward the anti-DMCA stance.

    On the other hand, asking a pro-DMCA person to respond to questions on slashdot is a bit like inviting Ghandi over for a steak dinner. The invitation wont be accepted. I think the DMCA is a piece of garbage, but I still would like to see a different perspective on it.

  • I'd like to know how these particular questions were chosen. My impression of the question-selection process was that ten or so questions would be selected from the highest moderated (i.e. +5) potential queries.

    While this peer-review process may have merit, I've noticed many of the chosen questions overlap (how do you feel about the DMCA, corporate influence...), in addition to being quite nebulous.

    What I find peculiar is that, despite Mr. Boucher's pioneering efforts to reform the patent practices of the U.S. PTO (including co-sponsoring the Business Method Patent Improvement Act [house.gov] of 2000), none of the questions chosen even mentioned software or business method patents. At least one [slashdot.org] of the potential questions from the +5 pool specifically focused on these topics (allright, I admit I wrote it).

    Sincerely,

    Vergil
    Vergil Bushnell

  • Robert X. Cringely pointed out that it would be a comparatively trivial matter to end up charging for music copying by just slapping a tax onto every blank CD-R and CD-RW

    Depending on where you live, this is already done. The US taxes 'music CDRs', and other countries such as Canada (and Germany?) tax almost all blank media, including hard drives. The 'tax' I'm referring to here is of course meant as compensation to artists for copying of their works.

    that could be distributed to artists and recording labels according to their total "burning share"

    You mean you actually think the RIAA would be so generous as to distribute extra money among its associated artists? Fat chance. They have shown in the past that it is their profits that matter, and not those of the artists which literally provide their lifeblood.

    And I don't know how you solve the political problem to get the recordables tax passed in the first place

    Same way you get laws like the DMCA passed. Buy yourself some Senators and Representatives, and it'll be a breeze.

    ---
    The AOL-Time Warner-Microsoft-Intel-CBS-ABC-NBC-Fox corporation:
  • I guess my expectations were perhaps skewed a little. Reading his responses, it seemed more like I was reading the canned, speech-writer answers of a candidate debate. But your right, if he hadn't given examples of his work, we'd all been crying about "put your money where your mouth is" and such.
  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:28AM (#337272)
    But it seems like Representative Boucher was more interested in garnering some votes than anything. Don't get me wrong, this guy's obviously more in touch with these issues than 90% of the rest of Washington, and we need more reps like him up there, but all his answers read like so much political-speak. Almost every answer has some reference to a way he's voted on a bill, a committee he's chaired, a piece of legislation he's working on, etc. In other words, constant reminder's of the work he's doing in Washington.

    Maybe this is just how representatives start talking after a while, I don't know. I do know that I would have been more impressed if he would have just answered the questions, instead of trying to show us how hard he's working at every opportunity.
  • Hawaii legalized gay marraiages

    Only until the judicial decision was overturned by a ballot measure thanks to a large number of brain dead members of the general public (trusting the majority is like hoping for a benevolant dictator. I say we start engineering a better human, cause we, as a species, are too f*cked up to have any hope as we stand) who were swayed by ludicrous adverts (Daddy, why can't I marry my dog? I love him!) paid for by hundreds of millions of dollars poured into the campaign by the Morman church and the Christian Coalition, neither of which have more than 3% of the state population represented. Personally, I think outside monies on ballot measures should be banned...

    Sorry for the rant, but at the time this occured, I was a political cartoonist in Hawai'i, and saw firsthand what was happening, and at that point, I stopped believing in democracy. At least democracy in which telivision adverts are legal. There isn't much of a connection, even tentatively, between gay marriage rights and pedophilia. Just a little note... the man in charge of the anti-gay marriage campaign, a year earlier, had been under investigation for spousal abuse. Healthy, natural union indeed...
  • If people want to marry, it's a personal thing between them and their religion (if applicable). Whatever you may claim happens spiritually, I am still an individual human being and so is my wife. I don't see that government has any reason to see things any differently

    I agree, absolutely. I'm a social libertarian. The problem is, the majority aren't, and a little at a time works... but not the whole flood.

    Actually, I don't entirely agree. Six men and nine women, sure, why not. The dog? I doubt the dog got much of a chance to defend itself in the matter, and while private actions between consenting adults (I don't believe children have the inherent ability to consent to something like that with an adult, and with teens it's borderline. Experience counts for a lot.) should be none of the state's damn business, what is done to a nonconsenting sentient (and I suspect dogs are, while not even remotely sapient, borderline sentient, eg, aware enough of themselves and their surroundings to recall suffering with associations, rather than just imprinted instinctive reactions) is, and must be, the business not only of the state, but each and every citizen of said state. If a bestial rapist (or any other sort of rapist) used "marriage" as a defense of his (or, occasionally, her) crimes, I wouldn't have any qualms about jailing, lynching, or otherwise sensoring him in a manner in accordance with the regional laws, and to hell with his personal belief system... I count female circumcision as such a crime, fwiw.
  • Exactly! My wife's best friend's mother is the secretary of one of my State's Reps (whom I can't stand, nor her for that matter :o) told me they set up a web form to submit emails and that the person's address was required to submit an email. In this particular office, a couple of interns would read through every mail and verify that at the very least the street existed in that town before they included it in any briefing, summary, or passed it on to the Congressman.

    I doubt however, that very many congressmen bother with that though.
  • 8) Free Speech and Computer Code

    Rep. Boucher:

    I need to learn more about the precise circumstance in which links to Web sites that contain uncompiled code have been taken down pursuant to requests from the copyright owners. Unfortunately, I do not have sufficient information to answer this question of the present time.

    A politician admitting there's something he doesn't know? Oh, this one's a keeper... ;-)

  • No, I'm not really saying that he himself is pandering. I just think we need to find more men "opposed" to the idea of Fair Use and "convert" them (how, I'm not entirely sure).
  • by Fervent (178271) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:10AM (#337286)
    Unfortunately, while this gentleman has said all the right things, he has come off as being a little too biased towards the Slashdot community. I felt like I was listening to a "typical politician", even if that politician is perhaps refusing lobbies from entertainment corporations (it sure sounds like it).

    What we need is to get congressmen who are divided. People who don't know which way to vote on the issues, and gradually change their minds through clever arguing and factual information. This gentleman is a first good step, but he sounds like the nerd who's always been a nerd. Has never really been introduced to the "revelations" involved with thinking outside corporations when it comes to the internet. Only then, when we can sway the fence-riders, will we make a stand.

  • Is Dragon actually usable for day to day communications then? How much editing would be needed for a text of that lenght or would dragon get it down pat almost correctly at the first draft?

    I write a lot, and it sure would be a lot nicer on the RSI to use a dictation system. I tried IBM's version a couple of years ago and it really wasn't up to the job all though a good effort. Has dictation come a lot further since then?

  • Having a congressman who is cluefull probably is useful. I do not know of any district where there is in fact a geek/programmer representative to Congress. Many are more often business types, compared to technology types. So for a Rep to take the time to get up to speed is encouraging.
  • it serves to amuse me (I'm easily amused).

    Then you are also 'amused' (as i am) that Politicians have begun to call constituents and citizens 'consumers'. Much the same idea I think - and very telling of our social climate.

    Read .sig - see you in 3 weeks

  • Gaaah... You say:

    It seems he has not looked into the whole DCMA thing though but tries to give generalities about it's use and incorporation. Let's keep on him for positive ability to decompile for fair use.

    He says:

    The most troublesome provision of the digital millennium copyright act is found in section 1201 (a ) (1) which makes it unlawful for a manufacturer to produce a device which is "primarily designed" for the purpose of infringing a copyright. ...

    He's quoting sections at you. It looks like he's devoted some time to the DMCA, or at least looked it up in response to the question.

    Rupert's post above is right. The guy seems a little more informed than Y.A.Policitian, and if someone got him clued on the whole DeCSS [cmu.edu] thing, he would take issue with the ruling. Having an amicus curae from a congress-man couldn't hurt either...

  • by reimero (194707) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:13AM (#337296)
    I don't know if he will read this, but I, for one, am pleased that he took the time out of his busy schedule to address a few of the concerns of the Slashdot community. Come what may, it's nice to see American-style representative democracy at work.
  • I agree. Compared with the crap answers we have gotten from some other interviewees, Boucher had a lot of useful stuff to say.
  • Above, Rep. Boucher refers to Jody as a "he," not a she. :) Also, Rep. Boucher obviously knows that the online community is one worth standing up for. But this is one way to demonstrate the power that community has. A representative from Virginia, in the space of a few hours, getting a pledge of support from people of all 50 states is a pretty incredible prospect. Talk about grassroots democracy-- demonstrate here that a representative in any state can post his views online, gather a group of like-minded individuals, and send them off to gather their like-minded friends so that there are people in every state lobbying their local representatives. Behold, the power of the Internet.
  • What an injustice! This guy is obviously the most clued-in member of congress and even he has no idea what his law is doing! This will be great fodder for debate if Lessig and Valenti ever throw down again. I can see it now: "Well Larry, I'm just a simple country boy, I don't get it either, by gosh..."

    Bryguy

  • by TWX_the_Linux_Zealot (227666) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:34AM (#337313) Journal
    Send to her! Get your LUGs and UUGs and SAGEs and whatever else computer group (we'll even take the MUG people) in for this! We're much better off if we get several million people in on this, it'll be much more obvious by the numbers alone that we actually have a position and are not some group of apathetic weaklings that are willing to be tromped over!

    "Titanic was 3hr and 17min long. They could have lost 3hr and 17min from that."
  • Followup is a great idea. Though what I was impressed with is that he didn't try to answer the question with bullshit that thought we would want to hear.

  • A big part of American Democracy (at least in theory) is 'minority rights' Having regional representatives with regional influences helps protect minority rights.

    It would be nice if you could vote for any senator, but the trouble is that the only people who would get elected would meet the lowest common denominator. Look at the actual differences between GW Bush and Al Gore. This is what would happen to every election race if you ignored the region.

    Hawaii legalized gay marraiages, California leagalized medicinal marijuana. There are more than a few states where Ralph Nader could probably become govenor. But once you spread these ideologies across the whole US, the interests of the minority get ignored and swept under the rug.

    Trolls throughout history:

  • My question made it! I feel cooler than I've felt since last Thursday...

    More seriously, kudos to Rep. Boucher for his candid answers and for Getting It. I, for one, will be getting on his "activists" mailing list, as well as dropping him a personal thank-you note.

    OK,
    - B
    --

  • by RareHeintz (244414) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @09:48AM (#337319) Homepage Journal
    You bring up an interesting point, but OTOH, we are in fact asking the man about that very work. I mean, committees and voting on bills and writing legislation are what the man does, and that's why he was courted for this interview in the first place. I don't think it should come as a surprise that his answers to our questions about technology legislation should get into specifics like this.

    OK,
    - B
    --

  • by bahtama (252146) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @10:32AM (#337323) Homepage
    In other news, it has been reported that a human being has been the first documented case of being slashdotted.

    Jody Olson, staff member for Congressman Boucher, had his email listed on the popular site, Slashdot. Along with the email, the site was told they can change the world by emailing Jody and signing up to be an activist. Immediately, Jody received tens of thousands of emails, which are automatically printed for archival purposes.

    Jody was subsequently buried under 3 tons of papers, making him the first know fatality from the Slashdot effect.

    But seriously, I would hate to be in his shoes right now. In addition to lots of email addresses, I am sure he will get a couple of those goatce links...

    =-=-=-=-=

  • by dachshund (300733) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @10:11AM (#337330)
    Make the legit content more valuable (by value-added features and services and affordable cost and easy access) than the pirated content (difficult to track down, unreliable quality, no value-added features and services).

    I guess you and the Rep. agree on more than you think, because that's exactly what he said in his response.

    As far as control, the music companies have had several years to realize that they have absolutely no control over the current media (CDs). Any fool can rip an MP3 straight from a high-quality digital source and distribute it. Napster's shown us that. Therefore, any industry solution would be an improvement, no matter how flawed the technical or legal mechanisms protecting it. Even distributing raw MP3s wouldn't make them much worse off than they are now.

    The truth is, the music companies have categorically rejected every proposal to create a secure distribution channel. They've done this in the face of some of the best minds in the security industry devoting their efforts, and in the face of the beneficial (to them) findings in the DeCSS case so far.

    As a coda, it would be worthwhile to point out that so far the old-fashioned distribution methods of the recording industry have worked largely in our favor. Imagine trying to argue 'first-purchase' rights if we couldn't actually own our own music? That's the next logical step that the recording industry will take, and it will move us out into some uncharted legal territory (bad for us, good for them.)

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