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Rep. Boucher Outlines 'Fair Use' Fight 327

Posted by Hemos
from the going-into-battle dept.
A reader writes "AtNewYork.com is reporting: U.S. Congressman Rick Boucher, moving to strengthen "fair use" provisions under federal copyright law, said he is introducing a bill that would essentially restrict the record industry from selling copy-protected CDs."
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Rep. Boucher Outlines 'Fair Use' Fight

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  • I guess that the RIAA contributions to campaigns to Democrats haven't been high enough lately.

    .
  • yahoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Patrick13 (223909) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:19PM (#3845253) Homepage Journal
    send that man a CD Burner!!!

  • by 7-Vodka (195504)
    He mentioned this in his last interview. It's amazing to me he's actually going through with it.
  • wether he has DSL or cable at home, and how many mp3s he has on his computer? :-) Personally however I would rather they be allowed to release poor quality CDs until people get so sick of them, they stop buying them. Why force them to release a product that people can actually listen to??? (I don't know how many people have complained about not being able to listen to copy protected CDs on various players......)
  • So. (Score:5, Funny)

    by FreeLinux (555387) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:22PM (#3845273)
    The Honorable Mr. Boucher will be branded either a nut case or a heretic by the rest of the house.

    The wispering in the halls of congress has already begun. "Didn't he get his check from the RIAA yet???"

    • Re:So. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jweatherley (457715)
      The Honorable Mr. Boucher will be branded either a nut case or a heretic by the rest of the house.

      Sad but true I'm afraid. However it is nice to see there is at least one US politician that knows the difference between copyright protection and copy protection; pity he won't make a difference. Even more of a pity for us Europeans who seem to be a test bed for all these copy^H^H^H^Hfair rights protected CDs. All power to him but I fear that the RIAA will get their way in the US and then force it on everyone else - and let's not even mention Palladium.
    • Re:So. (Score:2, Funny)

      by The Creator (4611)
      The Honorable Mr. Boucher will be branded either a nut case or a heretic by the rest of the house.

      I think the word is com^H^H^Hterrorist now.

    • Re:So. (Score:3, Funny)

      by Alsee (515537)
      Didn't he get his check from the RIAA yet?

      He sure did. He used it to buy a CD burner.
      Strangely he's the only congressman who only got one.

      -
  • Hmm.. anyone know Rick Bouchers district/contact info? I would love to write that man a letter.. and I dont mean a bad one, either.

    With all the negative feedback congressmen normally get from us, I think it would be a nice change if we actually wrote them something thanking and encouraging them for once...
    • by hether (101201) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:26PM (#3845305)
      http://www.house.gov/boucher/ [house.gov] is his web site
      and Ninthnet@mail.house.gov [mailto] is his email address.
      • I know that this does not directly lign up with his ideas, but I had to send him a word of thanks anyway. If anyone is interested this is what I sent him (it was going to be a quick thank you but as usual I went off on a writing rant):

        "Representative Boucher,

        Frankly, sir, you are my hero. I read about your ideas
        for a fair use bill to amend current copyright code
        at:

        http://www.atnewyork.com/

        and then subsequently your speeches and ideas at:

        http://www.house.gov/boucher/internet.htm

        In a world where corporate ideals, profit margins and
        politician pay-offs reign you are a very refreshing
        soul. The situation of the current music industry is
        sad -- music, by nature, has very little productive
        power and thus little value. As the economies of scale
        kick in prices of records and thus music should fall
        proportional to the amount that it sold. The problem
        with this classic model is, however, corporate profit
        margins fall too. To alleviate this the RIAA and large
        labels institute 'artificial demand' by hyping and
        advertising artists as well as restricting the number and
        price of CDs in the market (artificial supply). The former
        is completely legal and ethical and the latter is
        questionable but fair.

        Lately consumers have been able to seemingly bypass the
        artificial supply side and record labels refuse to drop prices
        to account for it (it is tough to get such things as mp3's --
        they take time to find as well as cost the distributor money
        in processing power, time and bandwidth and on top of that mp3s
        are by definition lower quality then CDs). If CDs were cheaper
        and adhered to the true supply and demand of markets, people
        would have no use at all for mp3s because CDs would be cheap
        enough that the processing power, time and bandwidth used for
        mp3s would be far more expensive then the CD itself and the
        added-value of the high-quality CD (vs. the degraded mp3) would
        be realized.

        The RIAA and large record labels refuse to let the market
        decide the price of their CDs. Furthermore, with the advent of
        the Internet artists have the ability to market directly to
        consumers -- that which the RIAA despises. The RIAA needs their
        artificial supply as well as their 'middle man' distributor and
        marketing status to maintain their profits. To keep that, they
        now lobby the government to restrict the rights of consumers
        (broken CDs, DMCA) and to legalize corporate vigilantism (flood,
        aka DoS, P2P networks and sue their customers) much like Carnegie's
        Pinkertons against labor not too long ago. Using the government and
        the restriction of the people's rights as a form of artificial supply
        is unethical and should be outright illegal.

        Your ideas for your proposed bill are the most logical, direct and
        coherent that I have heard thus far on this issue. I congratulate
        you, sir. It gives the consumers and the artists their rights and
        freedoms and lets the 'middle men' freely compete as they should.
        The benefactors of the RIAA should not be the center -- artists and
        consumers should and the RIAA's benefactors should be hired at will
        as a marketing or distributing agency just like in every other
        industry. Our government is a tool of the people to ensure our
        rights, freedoms and the pursuit of happiness. It is not a tool
        of the corporations to ensure profits that will later "trickle down"
        to the people. A corporation is legally a person but can not vote.
        Too many legislators forget that but you, sir, have not and I thank
        you."
  • by Steveftoth (78419)
    I guess that the only solution that americans believe in anymore is to legislate the crap out of everything. Making sure that no independent thought occurs anywhere.
    Not that this is all bad, but do we have to legislate what should be common practice by the record companies. The real solution is simple, if you buy a cd that you cannont play and cannot return, call the company that you bought it from and annoy them.
    • by Temsi (452609)
      Well, the problem is a little deeper than that. The problem is mainly unregulated corporations running rampant. If they can get away with something legally, they will, no matter how unethical it is.
      So, to protect the consumer, laws need to be put in place to keep the corporations in line.
      Remember what Milton Friedman said: The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders.
      Since that's the corporate mantra, this is exactly why we have laws that prohibit certain abuses of power, such as insider trading. Corporate America has demonstrated again and again that it WILL go as far as legally possible to make a buck.
      You can call Sony HQ as often as you want to, but in the end, they won't care about one guy calling them a hundred times (might even get a restraining order), but they will listen to the might of thousands of people not buying their products... or if that fails, a law forcing them to behave.
    • Actually, the case is usually that they legislate the crap into everything, but your point it taken.
  • Data CDs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by papasui (567265) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:23PM (#3845280) Homepage
    While the bill indicates that this will effect the music industry is there any clause that allows other companies in the computer industry to continue their copy-protection?
  • by MxTxL (307166) <mlutterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:23PM (#3845283)
    Sure, i don't know how he feels on a variety of other issues, but his stand on tech issues makes him president material in my book.
  • unfair restriction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niloroth (462586) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:24PM (#3845289) Homepage
    I fail to see how it is a good idea to ban the sales of copy protected CDs. The record comapnies are more than free to sell them as such, and I would hate to see the even more legislation from the government telling companies what they can and can't do, especialy when it is in a situation where no harm can come to the users of the products. The Libertarian in me cringes at this idea.

    However, doing something like simply mandating a truth in advertiseing plan, so that CDs that are copy protected are labled as such, and ones that aren't are the only ones that can carry the Compact Disk logo would be a fine comprimise. And would also I think let the market police itself.
    • As long as the labels are clear and prominent. None of this "Sony Music Trax" in clear plastic small print on the back of the box.
    • Pre DMCA world: certainly. they can sell them, and we can try to rip them under fair use laws

      Post DMCA world: ban them. If:
      -you can't reverse engineer them for fair use
      -fair use is still "guaranteed"
      then
      -they should be illegal.

      • I agree with this. If they want to place legal restrictions on us, it's fully reasonable for us to impose restrictions on them in return. When they complain about it, someone in power should point out that it's only fair, and they always have the option of asking for the DCMA to be repealed.
    • Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KFury (19522) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:41PM (#3845405) Homepage
      My concern is with the kind of transaction record companies are making with consumers. When you buy a CD, are you buying the physical product, or are you buying a license to listen to the music?

      If we're buying the right to listen to the music, then we should be able to listen to in in other forms, MP3, etc.

      If we're buying the physical product, then the RIAA shouldn't be trying to tax record stores on sales of used albums.

      Basically, they can't have it both ways.

      the mot disturbing thing though is the ambiguity. There's no EULA to clickthrough or read, and I doubt the average consumer knows whether they're buying a CD, or buying the music on the CD. It makes a big difference.
      • Amen.

        I've always been a bit miffed that I can drop $16 on a CD (or, back in the day, $8 on a tape), and then have it scratched (or eaten) the following day, and need to essentially purchase another license for it.

        Of course, if I'm just buying the media itself, and not merely a license, then I must be free to distribute the music as I see fit. :)

        (Certainly, this isn't what the record companies intended.)
      • Re:Rights (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sangui5 (12317) on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:33PM (#3845788)

        I've always viewed it like this: when you get media, there is a "basic" license intrinsically and inseparably tied to that media. The basic license grants you certain rights, including but not necessarily limited to:

        1. the right to use
        2. the right to resell/lend
        3. the right to backup
        4. the right to "space-shift" (legalese for changing the format)

        The official view of the courts is that if the transaction has the quality of a sale, then it isn't licensing at all (they've also pretty much said that everything that's happened in any consumer store thusfar has had the quality of a sale). Thus, if it "feels" like a sale, then you have, if nothing else, the right of resale, lending, and space shifting (these rights have all been ruled on).

        The courts have not specifically ruled on any of the other rights *I* feel you have (that I know of), but (so far as I know) a pertinent case hasn't come up. It would seem pretty silly that you didn't intrinsically have the right to listen to a CD you've bought, though. And I'm also pretty sure that copying for archival purposes is protected by copyright law as well. So, 2 of my 4 are official, one is common sense, and, well, look # 4 up.

        In any case, by the doctorine of first sale, the RIAA can't restrict by legal means the used CD market. Nothing has been said about technological means, though, and it sounds like Rep. Boucher wants to restrict the use of technology to limit such things.

        Interesting note, but the doctorine of first sale stems from a case where a book publisher included a "EULA" in the front of their books, forbidding their sale on the secondary market. The court ruled that the interest of the publisher in that particular copy of a protected work ended after they sold it the first time, and that they couldn't limit what happened to it afterwards. So, by some stretch, there is precident for EULA's not having legal force.

        • Re:Rights (Score:4, Insightful)

          by crimoid (27373) on Monday July 08, 2002 @08:05PM (#3845995)
          You're right on. Perhaps a few modifications:

          1.) the right to use for any means persuant to the remaining rules
          2.) the right to resell/lend the original as long as backups do not exist
          3.) the right to duplicate as backup in any format
          4.) the right to use the backup as long as the original is not in use

          I think that would satisfy any "fair use" issues for all parties that care....
          • Re:Rights (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Sangui5 (12317)

            I sort of intended my list to be a set of irrefutable minimums. So, it only included things that either a) there's explicit precendent for, or b) are utterly common sense. While I'd agree that your 4 are more complete and palletable to me, finding arguments to restrict them is easier.

            I like to think about how the "intrinsic" license can interact with other, separate license agreements. The GPL, for example, somewhat assumes my 4. Nobody at the FSF is going to be mad at me if I use GPL software without agreeing to the GPL (although they'll be pissed if I redistribute it).

            Consider some piece of commercial software with a EULA. I believe that I can refuse to accept the terms of the EULA, and use the software under the intrinsic 4. However, there may be some benefits to accepting the EULA (much as you must accept the GPL in order to copy GPLed software). Consider StarCraft. I'd be willing to admidt that use of the official BattleNet services is conditional on accepting the EULA. However, single player, LAN games, and games hosted on 3rd party sofware (bnetd) are, IMHO, fair game even without accepting the EULA.

            Now, as to the validity of giving up any of the intrinsic 4 in exchange for extra rights, I don't know. That seems to me to be one of those things where the lawyers will tell you it's "very interesting" (lawyerspeak for $1000 a day plus expenses), and probably rightly so. I'd like to think that the intrinsic 4 are irrevokable and can't be signed away (just as you can't sign away the right to bring a malpractice suit against a doctor, for example). But it isn't as clear-cut to me.

            Just some random musings.

    • by Titusdot Groan (468949) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:44PM (#3845421) Journal
      Copyright protection is a privledge extended to writers and muscians in order to incite them to create content. It is not a right.

      I have no problem with record companies distribution copy protected cds if and only if the copyright protection extended to them for these works is then withdrawn.

      Somewhere along the line the original intention of intellectual property laws such as copyright and patents has been lost. Somewhere along the line some people started to think of them as rights.

      I really hope legislators like Boucher can restore balance and some semblance of sanity.

      • by DustMagnet (453493)
        Thomas Jefferson actually wrote [uchicago.edu] that it would be wrong if people treated ideas as property. So the "original intention of intellectual property laws" seems sort of an oxymoron, but then terms like piracy and theft don't really make much sence either. I think pirates used to kill people.
        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:18PM (#3845644) Homepage
          No, pirates used to board ships and (without any violence) make copies of any original manuscripts they found aboard, then sail off with their booty to the nearest printing press to sell copies in every port. The sea-bound authors, realizing they wouldn't have exclusive access to their works any more, would then kill themselves. Pirates killing people is a just a myth, and the current usage is completely acurate. No really. :)

          Nice link, by the way. I like the way that Jefferson man thinked. Maybe he could write up a few guidelines on how to run a democracy? That would be helpful. :)

    • I see this fight as somewhat analogous to the Macrovision (The copy proection technology that makes copies of tapes fade in and out and make them fairly unwatchable) on VHS some years back. While I'm not familiar with the legal isses surrounding it, I do see the end result -- many video tapes are sold with Macrovision copy protection, and it's not marked anywhere. I can see this being used as a precident in terms of evaluating copy protection on CDs. Is it really worth the fight to prevent copy protected CDs from entering the marketplace? We all know they are fairly easily defeated, and sales of such CDs will suffer once word gets out about their inferior quality, so why bother?

      Record companies still aren't using it on very major releases (such as the Eminem Show), which makes me wonder if they are really concerned with this hurting their sales. If so, the market has already spoken.

    • Hardly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FreeUser (11483) on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:02PM (#3845514)
      I fail to see how it is a good idea to ban the sales of copy protected CDs. The record comapnies are more than free to sell them as such, and I would hate to see the even more legislation from the government telling companies what they can and can't do, especialy when it is in a situation where no harm can come to the users of the products.

      For the same reason the electronics industry is restricted from selling equipment which blacks out the radio reception in an entire building or neighborhood, or will tend to overheat wiring and start fires.

      Copy protected CDs destroy expensive equipment, such as Macintosh computers and some high-end CD players. Banning their sale is minimalistic Consumer Protection, something is country is in sore need of, and something which is utterly appropriate for the government to be doing. Not everyone can be an expert on everything.

      However, doing something like simply mandating a truth in advertiseing plan

      I too would very much like to see a return to Truth in Advertising. Unfortunately, the courts have ruled the corporations are the same as living, breathing human beings, with all of their rights (but none of their vulnerabilities). This has been explicitly extended to include freedom of speech that is no more restricted than individual speech (go figure), so there is little if anything that can be done to coerce a company, much less a cartel, into not misrepresenting their incompatible disks as CDs.

      If they want to sell a new, incompatible medium, they should be required to change its physical format such that it cannot accidentally be put into equipment it will damage. Requiring such disks to be 6" in diameter, instead of 4.5", for example, woud probably be sufficient.

      The Compact Disk logo is a trademark issue, but frankly it is too subtle for most consumers to recognize, so while Phillips will likely not allow such copy protected CD-resembling media to bear their logo, the customer will likely only become aware of that discrepency after their incompatible drive has refused to play the music they purchased (at best), or has been damaged or destroyed by the disk.

      This is not acceptable, and I am frankly amazed that anyone could argue that caveate emptor would be at all an acceptable standard of behavior, much less regulation, for something like this.
    • by Quarters (18322) on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:03PM (#3845520)
      One of the main tennants of his argument is the fact that the government mandated a tax on blank music recording media because the music industry was (supposedly) losing so much money to illegal copies. Now they are still collecting the blank media tax and selling copy protected CDs. Boucher feels (correctly, imho) that if the user pays the blank media tax then they should be able to make legal copies of the CDs they have purchased.

      Basically, the music industry wants it both ways and he is willing to stand up and say, "Wait a second here!"

    • I fail to see how it is a good idea to ban the sales of copy protected CDs. The record comapnies are more than free to sell them as such, and I would hate to see the even more legislation from the government telling companies what they can and can't do, especialy when it is in a situation where no harm can come to the users of the products. The Libertarian in me cringes at this idea.

      The problem is that you just can't produce a CD that cannot be copied -- in the end, it's all just little ones and zeros.

      What you have to do is convince or force (laws, lawsuits, etc) the hardware and software people to make it hard to copy the bits using their hardware. This, in turn, means that we start dictating what innovations a very big industry (computer equipment) can make to protect the interests of a much smaller industry whose business model is on borrowed time (recording).

      That makes me cringe, personally.

    • I know taking impressions of libertarianism from /. is like taking impressions of Christianity from a snake handling cult... But I still thought libertarians were about -freedom- and thus against excessive government regulation, not about being against government regulation for its own sake. I agree with this legislation much as I would agree with legislation which stated clearly that contract terms that remove freedom of speech (eg "if you use our product, you can't write negative reviews of our product") are unenforceable. I personally don't see preventing those with large amounts of power and money from stripping rights from those who don't to be an unreasonable exercise of governmental power...
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:17PM (#3845627) Homepage Journal
      My understanding, last time I met with Boucher, was that part of this is a truth-in-advertising bill. It would require that DRM-restricted material be clearly labeled as such. I haven't seen the text yet.

      I got to introduce Boucher and RMS.

      Bruce

    • situation where no harm can come to the users of the products

      If you don't consider being ripped off harm, why don't you post your real name, social security and bank account numbers?

      Didn't you hear what happens when you shove an RIAA special into a Mac? I've heard scattered reports of other kinds of damage to audio systems as well from the noise bursts. The Libertarian in me cringes at this idea.

      Well, tell him to pull out and get lost, and I hope for your sake he was wearing a condom. And listen to people with common sense, not Libertarians in the future.

      With respect to use of the Compact Disk logo, that's a matter of convincing Phillips to enforce the use of its trademarks... because they've said publically that they do NOT consider copy-protected CDs to be CDs within the use of that trademark. For that, a law isn't necesary.

      You should check into the rest of the law as described. Modifying the DMCA and restoring "fair use" to something that can't be circumvented via new technology is a very good idea.

    • by seaan (184422) <seaanNO@SPAMconcentric.net> on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:32PM (#3845766)
      I fail to see how it is a good idea to ban the sales of copy protected CDs.

      One simple reason, copy protected CDs make a mockery of the 1992 Digital Recording act. The RIAA already got the benefits (SCM added to DAT etc., blank media tax), and now they are trying to get away with not living up to their side of the bargain -- consumers have the right to make digital recordings of digitally recorded music.

      This is also the reason they should amend section K of the DMCA - the MPAA clearly broke the spirit of the deal. Both laws were written without anything to enforce the industry to live up to their side of the bargain, and they naturally want to fully exploit the law as it is currently written (I'll forgo detailing both industry's lack of ethics).

      Since both parties have clearly shown loopholes in the existing laws (making a killing in the process), it is time to close these loopholes and force them to observe their side of the bargain. What have you got against closing loopholes?

      PS: The subtext of this comment is a mock-libertarian stance, the record companies ought to be able to do what they want, and the market should deal with it. This ignores the fact that government regulations and rules are already very, very, involved (like the definition of copyright). This thinking that the current laws we have now are "natural", and the market can correct any problems with them is at best simplistic.

      I don't see why the poster does not remember libertarianism applies to individuals as well! The companies have already rigged the games with rules and regulations that take away individual rights. Where does he get off that this is a totally natural process. If you scrap the current copyright laws, and (somehow) manage to design them fairly, than I could appreciate a "let the market take care of it" stance. Meanwhile, I'm glad Rep Boucher is not waiting for this mythical time and is taking steps to close loopholes that rob the citizenry!

  • I love him (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg (306625)

    I love him, and I want to have his babies. I want to be his meat puppet of love.

    And the scary bit? I am not joking. This is the one elected representative who gets it, who's prepared to stand up and say so, and is not buying the line that what's good for big shareholders isn't necessary good for us.

    The worst part? I'm not a US citizen, and so I'm not supposed to be allowed to donate campaign contributions. And yet, strangely, Hollings can take money from any US business that he likes. I despair.

    • There is no law against a citezen giving a campaign donation. You may donate up to a certain limit, I think it's $1000, but he can take limitless money under the table from corporations. The "gifts" corporations give our legislators are bribery, pure and simple.
  • by jerkychew (80913) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:26PM (#3845301) Homepage
    I recently renewed my drivers license, and was asked if I wanted to register to vote. My first instinct was to decline, because I don't feel like I'm informed enough to make a good enough decision regarding my elected officials.

    I changed my mind, however, and registered. I'm glad I did. The whole mess with DRM has really opened my eyes to how much big business controls politics nowadays. Representative Boucher is a breath of fresh air in this soap opera, and I applaud his efforts.
  • But...
    I love you Sen. Boucher.
  • It seems that webcasting royalities are set by the US copyright office. Sorry if it's been discussed before, but isn't it the function of a free market to set the royalty rates themselves (owners v. users of the copyright)?
    • Well, not when the mighty music industry decides it would be better for them that the world greatest democracy set them. They would then had listened to the voice of the people. The government is controlled by the people.
    • Here's why [cornell.edu].

      Basically, if the record companies were not subject to compulsory licensing, they could pick and choose which stations may play their music. They would control radio broadcasting outright (rather than through mergers and payola).

      With compulsory licensing, any station can play any music, so long as they comply with their side of the license.

      The current problem is in updating the license to handle the new reality of back-room Internet broadcasters...

    • Blockquoth the poster:
      isn't it the function of a free market to set the royalty rates themselves
      In a truly free market, the marginal value (= price of the last one produced) for a digital work would be essentially zero. Once you sell the first copy of a song, you can't sell any more, since market forces will drive the price down to as close to zero as you can imagine.

      The bugaboo is, if the marginal value of a song is zero and it has significant one-time costs (recording studio, band rental, etc.), then no rational economic operator would ever produce music, since no one could make money back from it.

      To entice creators to publish their creations, the government sets in and artificially props up the marginal value of the song, by establishing a legal monopoly and granting the "right" to copy the song only to one entity (who may therefore charge more than 0 for the song). As far as I'm concerned, since the government is creating the value, then the government can legitimately limit it, in the public interest.

  • Nonsense. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:28PM (#3845321)
    Just repeal the DMCA.
  • by Junta (36770) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:29PM (#3845324)
    I think it is good to see SOME sort of recognition of fair use. However this stops short of really saying fair use is a 'right', it is more along the lines of not kicking the ass of people just trying to do fair use stuff. What *I* want to see is some sort of penalty imposed on companies who take measures to restrict fair use in dominant standards, such as DVDs. All these so-called copy protection schemes make the right to exercise fair use a moot point, if successful one cannot exercise these rights. There are already laws in place to cover illegal copying. Of course, currently it isn't econmincally feasible to use that path as they should, so there is an issue... Chasing down the mechanisms that *could* be used for copying is wrong, as is trying to prevent the ability to copy altogether...
    • Fair use isn't a "right." It's a doctrine which restricts a restriction on rights: that provided by copyright. IANAL, but who cares.
      • That's a very good point. Fair use is just part of the bargain that is copyright law, which also isn't a right. It's a deal between content authors (or the megacorps that own them) and the people. But it's a deal that is ultimately supposed to benefit the people, and only them. The benefit to the authors is only in the context that making money off content in theory causes more content to be produced, which is good for the people.
        • If it's expressly guaranteed by law, doctrine, or jurisprudence, then it is a right.

          It may not be an inalienable right, but it is still a right. That's what having the force of
          law protecting you MEANS.

  • by rutledjw (447990) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:31PM (#3845338) Homepage
    and write your Reps and Senators! Remember that a massive letter writing campaign kept Hollings' bill from getting out of committee. If we get going on the same response with this bill, all the better. We may help provide a backbone to our "elected officials" to stand up to the big corporate dollars.

    Remember, RIAA and the rest of the Horsemen of the Apocalpse aren't going to stand by. They'll fight this thing with every dollar, lawyer and lying press release they can dream up.

    This could be a HUGE momentum swing. Let's take advantage of it...

    • by joepa (199570)
      This could be a HUGE momentum swing. Let's take advantage of it...

      Excellent point... if the 'Slashdot Effect' can bring most websites to their knees, we might be able to actually get some attention from the US Congress (or most any other major decision-making body) if the community would just initiate and follow-thru on a letter-writing/e-mail campaign (for this and/or another worthwhile cause).

      I suppose that the follow-thru always seems to be the difficult part, though.
  • If this guy's some kind of changelin'
  • You can't really write law that restricts only a single technology. Even if they did, there is a matter known as the "spirit" of the law which is often more far reaching. This is why we can't restrict the right to free speech of unpopular opinions without endangering our own free speech.

    So if they are successful at the "copy protected CD" legislation, the DVDCCA issues are also in danger under such law guaranteeing 'Fair Use' in law. I honestly don't think this action will get too far. The politicians are far too well paid by interests who would prefer to deny Fair Use to their consumers.

    If. by some miracle, something preventing such protection is enacted, it could grow into something quite powerful indeed.
  • A better solution is to restrict the RIAA from using the term "CD" for these so-called "copy protected" discs that break from the red book specification. Pass laws to force the industry to call them "PDs -- protected discs" and let the market forces decide. Maybe Joe Consumer is willing to forego fair use for the right price point?

  • by The Creator (4611) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:33PM (#3845358) Homepage Journal
    "I'm just a little perplexed to understand the rationale for this. There
    will be a very heavy cost that the industry will pay when copy-protected CDs
    are introduced," Boucher said.
    While conceding later that copy-protected CDs aren't against existing law,
    he said their introduction wouldn't even impact the music piracy the music industry is
    trying to stop. Instead, the move will "anger millions of their
    best-customers who have become accustomed of making copies [of CDs] for
    their own use,"


    Aha! so his legislating against copy protection to PROTECT the industry. Dammit when are we gonna get some politians who are on our side?

    On a more seriours note:

    which is allowed under "fair use" provisions of copyright law.
    He said he would introduce legislation that would essentially codify
    "fair use" provisions of copyright law (that have been implied but not necessarily guaranteed). He also wants to ease up some of the more copy-restrictive provisions of the 1998 Digital Milennium Copyright Act, whose pay-per-use provisions on copies he has criticized as a threat not only to "fair use," but to innovation, idea exchange, even First Amendment guarantees on free speech.
    ...It's like you don't even know what to say man... ...when they like... ...get it.

  • More Legal Issues? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Caradoc (15903) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:36PM (#3845374) Homepage
    I don't think any new laws are going to fix any of the problems. Look at what's going on with Microsoft lately... Slashdot published a story about the meeting scheduled between the Phoenix Linux Users Group and the Maricopa County CIO to talk about the purchasing guidelines and potential for Open Source, but it looks like Maricopa County won't be "disbarring" Microsoft as a supplier, despite the clear legality of doing so after Microsoft's lost legal battles on the "monopoly" front.

    After about two hours (8:30AM to 10:30AM) I left the meeting with a much better feeling about my local County government - at least in the IT/IS groups.

    Linden Thatcher, the CIO for Maricopa County, struck me as quite literate in the issues that were raised.

    About 5% of the County IT/IS budget goes to Microsoft products, a vast majority of those being the 12,000 desktops they support. According to the statements Mr. Thatcher made, most of their "server-side" applications run on a mix of HP-UX and System V, with some apps running on Websphere.

    There are currently a couple of internal projects running Linux/Apache to provide document publishing.

    Mr. Thatcher has read "Ender's Game," and met Orson Scott Card (thank goodness we've got SOMEONE in the hierarchy who is not only literate, but READS!)

    The Phoenix Linux Users Group people who showed up were very polite, and there was only one person in the crowd who seemed to be almost violently "anti-Microsoft."

    Good meeting. But I still don't have any hopes that new laws are going to fix any of these problems.
  • About "Fair Use" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:46PM (#3845431) Journal


    Although I am all for letting the users (buyers / market) to decide whether or not something is worth to be purchased, methinks it will be a VERY BAD LAW if there is any restriction on the selling of the "copy-protected" CDs.

    Why ?

    Simply because, in the spirit of "FAIR USE", the producers of the CDs should have the right to enjoy the "FAIR USE" of the technology employed in the "copy protected CD".

    The only thing that I think is important in all these things is that THERE SHOULD NOT BE ANY LAW PROHIBITING ANYONE FROM rendering the very technology that have been employed in the "copy protection" scheme useless.

    And that's the gist of DCMA - it makes EVERYTHING, or EVERY IDEA of creating NEW TECHNOLOGIES making existing ones useless ILLEGAL.

    Copy-protected CDs are NOT the culprit. It's the BAD LAW (DCMA and friends) that is hurting everyone.

    One bad law doesn't deserve another. We have enough bad laws already.

    • We need both. The only way to counteract the DMCA is by legislative means - and a law like this will supercede at least some of the worst parts of the DMCA. But it sure will be nice to have Fair Use codified in the law, rather than just residing in common law judicial decisions where it was before the most ill-conceived piece of legislation ever knocked it out of the water.
  • by sterno (16320) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:48PM (#3845442) Homepage
    In the article, I found the following paragraph rather interesting:

    While conceding later that copy-protected CDs aren't against existing law, he said their introduction wouldn't even impact the music piracy the music industry is trying to stop. Instead, the move will "anger millions of their best-customers who have become accustomed of making copies [of CDs] for their own use," which is allowed under "fair use" provisions of copyright law.

    So, if indeed they are angering millions of their best-customers, then why does he need a law. Seems logical that by doing this they will be hurting their own bottom line, and thus will be disincented to do it. Having said that, I'm happy to see this kind of legislation because I think copyright is getting sorely out of balance.

    I have been fortunate in that my obscure taste in music has kept me away from CD's with copy protection schemes. If I do someday pick up a CD with a protection scheme, then I will handle it very simply.

    I will rip it as I do with every CD to 192Kbps MP3. If it fails I'll spend some time trying to find hacks that will get it to rip successfully. If no hacks solve it, then I will return the media as unusable and demand my money back. If the label doesn't want my money, I'll just go find other musicians to listen to, thanks. If they all go to unbreakable copy protection systems (hahaha!), then I'll just hum along with the voices in my head I guess.

    If they don't want to sell me music in the form that I listen to I guess I just won't listen anymore.
  • RIAA/MPAA donations (Score:3, Informative)

    by LordNimon (85072) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:52PM (#3845461)
    Does anyone know where I can learn how much money my elected representatives have received from the RIAA, MPAA, and other pro-DMCA companies? I'd like to write letters to my Congressmen asking them to support Boucher's bill, but I want to include this financial information to let them know that I know.
  • We need to support this man!

    You can find his statement on Fair Use here [house.gov]

    And his official web site can be found here [house.gov]
  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:55PM (#3845478) Homepage Journal
    Rick Boucher [house.gov] - Virginia-9th, Democrat

    Committess
    * Committee on Energy and Commerce
    * Committee on the Judiciary

    Sub-committees
    * Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property (Judiciary)
    * Energy and Air Quality (Energy and Commerce)
    * Telecommunications and the Internet (Energy and Commerce)

    I never even heard of the NetCaucus [netcaucus.org] but he seems to be majorly involved with Internet and Government. Wonder who else is belongs to this caucus and "Gets It"...

  • by g4dget (579145) on Monday July 08, 2002 @06:55PM (#3845479)
    Copyright was created to encourage the dissemination of creative works, works that would fall into the public domain after some period.

    Copy-protected CDs don't hold up their end of the bargain because the work can't go into the public domain (more likely, it will simply become inaccessible after a few years as the DRM technology changes). Therefore, any content published on copy-protected CDs should not be subject to copyright protection: if people break the copy protection, they should be able to redistribute the content freely.

    The legal power and protection of copyright should be reserved for content that is actually published and that will eventually be able to fall into the public domain.

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:14PM (#3845592) Homepage Journal
    There seems to be a fundamental misinterpretation running through many of these threads. The gist of it is that the US government shouldn't be legislating in copyright-related areas, as the marketplace should sort things out on its own.

    The correlary to this view is that copyright law (which extends all the way back to the US Constitution) was established primarily to protect those who create and distribute creative works. In fact, it was created as a compact between average citizens and those citizens or organizations that were provided with copyright protections.

    The underlying goal of this compact was to strengthen the culture of the United States for all its citizens. The underlying goal was never to provide special protections for copyright holders in some sort of vacuum of privelege.

    Interestingly, in their primer on copyright [riaa.org], the RIAA neglects this vial information. As usual, they cite the rights of the copyright holder, without pointing out that those rights are mirrored by specific and explicit rights given to the general public as part of the copyright compact.

    The RIAA essentially constitutes a cartel, and as such when they decide to endorse computer-damaging CDs or other nonsense, it's not simply a matter of consumer choice. Unopposed, the RIAA will get what it wants. What it wants in this case is to deny you and me the right to exercise our end of the copyright compact.

    As we're seeing now with WorldCom, Enron, et. al., even though the Congress is generally overly-lenient with big business, from time to time the politicians realize that it's in nobody's best interests for these people to be given free rein.

    I for one am happy to see at least one member of Congress who is willing to stand up and make this an issue. Cynics will call it grandstanding, or proof that he didn't get enough money from the music industry, and so on. But I see it as proof that the American political system can work.

    As others have pointed out, it's not enough to steal songs via Limewire all day in a "protest" against the RIAA. Sometimes you have to *gasp* get to know the issues [eff.org], vote *double gasp* and stop whining that the system doesn't work.

  • by peterdaly (123554) <petedaly.ix@netcom@com> on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:23PM (#3845684)
    Here is my email to him, have you sent one yet?
    --------

    I am a computer professional who lives in Central Upstate New York. I just wanted to let you know I have been very impressed with the views you have expressed recently regarding fair use of recorded music, and CARP.

    In addition, I am strongly against many of the restrictions imposed by the DMCA, and am in favor the the modifications you propose. The current DMCA has very little to do with protecting copyright and very much to do with having absolute and complete control over the consumer. Without correction, I believe we are on a course to a world where we are unable to possess a copy of any digital IP, and will be charged every time we want to access it. This is very anti-consumer, and has nothing to do with the reasons "limited" copyright was ever granted.

    I would like to thank you for the views you are expressing, and would like to let you know I support you in what I have heard so far. I look forward to reading your soon to be proposed legislation. I will most likely be writing my representatives in support when the bill is released and numbered.

    I wish you represented my district so that I could give you my vote next time around.

    -signature with complete mailing address-
  • I just wanted to point out that here's someone that looks like a decent individual, who is not beholden to the RIAA, and since we know that he won't be getting a big check from them, he could probably use some campaign support. I don't live in his district, but you can contribute to Congressman Boucher's re-election campaign at http://www.boucherforcongress.com
  • It's obvious Sen. Boucher fails to understand that the RIAA's undertaking steps to protect American CDs from copyright infringment is a thoughtful action by the responsible corporate sector of our economy toward preventing terrorists from profiting from the piracy trade. They're acting in our best interests, can't you all see that? Boucher and the rest of you rabble-rousers should get out of the way and let our congress, the administration and the corporate sector protect our country before another attack occurs.

  • by oliverthered (187439) <olivertheredNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:44PM (#3845875) Journal
    I don't know how this didn't make /. but BGM are apparently withdrawing stock of 'Elvis V JXL' (currently high in the UK charts) to boost a 'kiddie pop' [bbc.co.uk] record in the charts.

  • Keep an eye out for it and post when you find out the bill number and perhaps the name. We can't tell our Congressmen and Senators how to vote if we can't tell them what it is we want them to vote for.
  • by mesozoic (134277) on Monday July 08, 2002 @07:58PM (#3845969)
    I wrote Rep. Boucher a while back to tell him how pleased I am that a Congressman is finally standing up for consumer's fair use rights. While some have argued in the past that explicitly defining 'fair use' may open up some loopholes later down the road, as technology progresses, leaving it undefined right now makes it legal for the recording industry to continue to sandbag its customers.

    However, I've taken a look at what Boucher is proposing, and it's ambitious. It covers a lot of ground. Admittedly, these are topics that do need to be addressed, but the more you cram into one piece of legislation, the more ammunition you give its opponents. I worry that a select few pieces of this bill might face such strong opposition that the bill itself gets plowed into the dirt.

    Of course, I'm just being rationally pessimistic. I truly hope this goes through; it will be a step in the right direction.
  • Boucher for UberGeek (aka President)
  • This guy wouldn't happen to be related to Jello Biafra (aka Eric Boucher) would he?
  • by mr_zorg (259994) on Monday July 08, 2002 @10:12PM (#3846593)
    Most people here seem to agree that this is "a good thing" and I second that opinion. I wonder, though, if by extention of this one can hope that they'll "get it" when it comes to the subject of encrypting DVDs and (as they'd like to do) HDTV transmissions? One can hope. It's odd that he's focusing on copy protected CDs, which is a relatively recent development, where as copy protected DVDs have been around since day one (5 years). What's the difference, logically? For that matter, what about copy protected VHS tapes (ala Macrovision)? Why, suddenly, does it matter that they're doing it to CDs? I'm not sure I get it, but that's our government for ya!
  • by Lethyos (408045) on Monday July 08, 2002 @11:41PM (#3847058) Journal
    I figured one way to help this along would be to at least write in and voice my support. Here's a letter that I composed to him this evening...
    I read this article: http://www.atnewyork.com/news/article.php/1381471 this evening and learned about your move towards increasing fair use rights. I wanted to write and voice a show of support for this action!

    In recent years, media technologies have become increasingly advanced, with content spreading to more and more people through a variety of channels. With this progress, we have seen greed-driven corporations work hard to deprive consumers of fair use rights. Their lobbyists have pushed legislation like the DMCA that cripples technological development. Subtle mechanisms such as CD copy protection, CSS for DVDs, and so forth, limit legitimate consumers from using the content they rightfully own in legal ways. Recently, we have seen Microsoft rally corporate support for its Palladium initiative, which will stifle innovation and fair use with nearly unbreakable DRM technologies (not to mention shattering the choice of what software can run on new computers).

    All of this paints an image of a bleak future. While much effort is being put forth by advocates of freedom, little has been accomplished in blocking these attacks on fair use. It's exciting to see a law maker take a stand against assaults. While I live in
    <Insert Your State Here> it's still in my interests and the interests of many other people to support your cause. What is the best way that I - and perhaps others outside the state of Virginia - can support your bill?

    Thank you once again for your efforts!
    It may not be much, but it's a little bit. If a lot of people send in letters like this (and then actually follow up with money, time, whatever), it will produce a great message for Washington.
  • by Ogerman (136333) on Monday July 08, 2002 @11:57PM (#3847120)
    It's pretty simple from a plain economic view. People make bootleg copies when the legit ones are too expensive. Stop the price-fixing and so-called "piracy" will evaporate overnight. Would Napster ever have become popular if full-length albums were $4 on CD and $2 online in a lossless format? Not likely. Would street vendors be peddling movies if legit copies were $5? Heck, would anybody even rent movies if they were that cheap to buy? And imagine if all profits from album sales went to the artists. This is what we need to aim for--not a half-hearted set of fair-use guidelines for the current overpriced content that exists today. Furthermore, we need a sort of "anti-DMCA" that requires all copyrighted works to be plaintext and entirely unprotected by copy controls. But alas, hollywood has decided that they should set ridiculously high prices to make room for several unneeded middlemen. And in defense of these high prices, they've pushed for more legislation in attempt to rein in control of the disgruntled masses. This is not what copyright was intended to be.

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