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Music Media

Million E-mail March 118

bmongar writes: " CNN is running a story on planning a million e-mail march to back legislation to make it legal to keep digital copies of your music." Maybe I'm just a skeptic, but I can't imagine this actually working. How many legislators read their own mail? Lick a stamp and mail an actual letter. It's harder to ignore. All this will do is knock down mail servers (you just know some jerk is gonna write a script and spam the hell out of them).
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Million E-mail March

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  • You forget, Slashdotters can't be away from their computers for the time it takes to mail a letter, or they might miss a redundant||unverified||pointless news item from slashdot.

  • Good point, if I had mods I'd mod you up. It is my story submission, and I based my brief on CNN's story. I wasn't intentionally misleading :).

  • While, no this isn't exactly 'free music', the service and the bill represent a good step towards true fair use. It is unfortunate that the music companies whish to throttle all fair use. If it was up to them they would charge 0.50-1.00 dollars PER listen, to net them a few million more a year. And that when you already bought the material in question.

    I can only hope this passes and we have a little more sanity in these laws. While email may not be the best way to get in touch with congress, we are talking about a digital format and digital media. What better way to show support. Hopefully it will all be tracked by or better yet a third party so there is a physical record of the volume of email. That is if there are enough of us that are not so apathetic that we can't type 2 lines and hit send. Most of our generation can't be bothered to even get up and vote, yet they complain about the state of the world.

    That my friends, has to change, and unfortunately it is not happening fast enough.

    Ok.. I think I am done with that rant :P

    On a personal level, I am very happy with and the ways I am able to promote my music, now if they would just approve new song uploads faster, I have 2 stuck in the queue!

  • Email is a very easy way to communicate - its far easier than every other way.

    If politicians get letters, emails, phone calls or faxes (anything) about an issue, they will listen. Spamming legislators may be a good idea.

    "Oh, we're getting a lot of action from the voting public via email - maybe we should listen."

    While politicians are very selfish and greedy, they listen. They will be forced to listen!

  • I wouldn't say that it's completely ineffective to email, but having been married to a former congressional staffer, I have to agree that a typed (or better, legibly handwritten) letter carries much more weight. That said, do something. Even a less-effective email is better than bitching to your fellow SlashDot members. I can guarantee that that's useless in terms of getting things changed.
  • All this will do is knock down mail servers (you just know some jerk is gonna write a script and spam the hell out of them).

    Well, that's not the way they're doing it. You type in a form and it finds the e-mail addresses for your local Reps and Senators for your state, and that's who it e-mails. It doesn't even tell you the addresses, although you could find them for yourself by searching the net.

    You see, all the e-mail isn't going to the same place.

    And, sure, someone could write a script to spam everyone in washington. So what. This campaign targets the congressment that represent each individual e-mailer. So my rep only gets e-mail from people in the dallas area, etc.


    Vote for freedom! []

  • by askheaves ( 207302 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @11:17AM (#743947)
    What if 1 million people sent an email connected with a $1.00 donation using paypal? Can a million dollars be ignored? Pretty nice lobby, if you ask me.
  • by Earthling ( 146872 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @11:03AM (#743948)
    Sorry, but that idea won't accomplish a thing. Congressional staffers don't have much regard for e-mail
    While not as effective as a good-old hand written letter, email is alot more effective than you seem to believe. Email has become the method of choice, replacing telegrams (I'm not kidding) for telling politicians what people think. It would be foolish to believe that your representative actually reads the emails he receive (or the letters for that matter), but his or her staffers will read, count and catalog them, and them report what's going on to their boss. And they pay heed to that.

  • would print out the letter and envelope, complete with the submitters home address, and mail it to the poor congressman (all at once...if done right..hehe.) This is possible. The US Postal Service is rolling out a new service called "NetPost Mailing on line". [] Basically, it combines printing, addressing and postage all in to one convenient system. According to their FAQ, it offers next day turn around. No idea on what the costs are going to be though.
  • The people that read the mail generally ignore mail from outside the Members district, and they also usually don't pay much attention to e-mail that doesn't contain a real, snail address that's in their district. Letters from people that can't vote for (or against) the Congressperson don't have much impact.

    Thus, snail mail is by far more effective, but make sure you're writing to your own Representative.

  • Consider that I've been receiving spam from the people who are selling email addresses, which have gone like this:

    5 million email addresses

    10 million email addresses

    20 million email addresses

    60 million email addresses (Are there really that many people on the internet?)

    The cheeseheads who spam for Stock Tips, Porn, Make $50,000, Get out of Debt, Off shore wealth... and lots of other BS, use how many of these email addresses?

    Assuming this all winds up in House email boxes (servers are NT and were crashing last time something like this happened) they will eventually read it all. (I get nice letters in the mail when I bother to include my snail mail address.) It'll take so long for the staffers to wade through it that MP3 will be long dead and buried, not from paying damages (which can be appealed) but from lack of new revenue.

    Chief Frog Inspector

  • Exactly what copyrights is violating?

    I have the right to make copies of any music I own, in whatever format I choose, for whatever personal use I see fit.

    The same applies to anyone else who owns a CD, tape, or vinyl.

    If I own Bubba Jones's Greatest Hits on CD, and so does my friend Joe, what is illegal about giving the MP3 that I ripped from my CD to him? He could have just as easily ripped it himself; he has the exact same media that I have. What's the difference?

    This is all that is doing. They buy one CD (according to the testimony I've read) and rip the contents. Then they make that data streamable. In addition, they keep a number of bit-sample checksums on the server to verify media. On the user end, you pop a CD in, and Beam-it compares your bit-saples to the samples they have on their end. If they match, they you're granted access to the MP3's from that CD. No unauthorized duplication, no savable data, nothing.

  • Even better, mail those bricks to a mason, and have them build a wall with them on a plot somewhere near the whitehouse... that would be helluva cool. That way the public can see the cumulative effect too.
  • It would be effective, but the congress has stop-gap measures in place to assure that they NEVER get too much email. Remember that Whitehouse "spam blocker" that got put up around the impeachment times? Or the congressmen who refused to get email and so blocked issues out? The fact is, they can shut down the email for a couple of days and our "million email march" is pointless, and that is exactly what they will do, too. Add to that the fact that some yahoo is going to write a script, and boom.. all of our email's are worthless, counted as "possible statistical error". Nah.. lick and stick a stamp, and BUY MUSIC FROM MP3.COM. They have an INCREDIBLE selection :)

  • "to back legislation to make it legal to keep digital copies of your music" Huh? At what point did this become illegal? If you buy the CD, then you are allowed to make MP3s of the songs.
  • There are a few reasons for this. The fact that it is "too convenient" is one of them. Also consider the fact that the reps I elect (from Florida) don't give a rat's ass what someone in Deleware thinks they should do. And with email there really isn't anything like a postmark to give evidence that the person writing has any impact on whether you get re-elected or not. So say a representative gets 4000 letters all from his district. That says something. 4000 emails from Alaska, Hawaii, Sweden, wherever don't really say much. And of course they aren't going to be arsed to try to determine where it came from by the ISP in the return-path, unless it was threatening.

    Oh, and of course there are also other reasons [] why email isn't going to carry as much weight as paper at least for a little while.

    Fist Prost

    "We're talking about a planet of helpdesks."
  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @03:31PM (#743957) Journal
    Hey all.

    I volunteered as a congressional intern my junior year in high school. If I remember correctly, one of my tasks was to read through e-mails sent in, summarize them in a couple of sentences, and forward that to the congressman's Washington office. I would then file the original in a large cabinet, in case it was ever needed in the future.

    Essentially, while a congressman/woman won't read each and every individual e-mail sent in, s/he will get the general idea. If a great number of constituents are concerned about an issue, a congressman -will- care.
  • Cynthia McKinney always sends a generic auto-reply, with no other followup. Mind you, since I'm a net taxpayer and reflect more light than she does, I'm sure I'm not terribly interesting to her (i.e., I'm not buying *anything* she's selling, so why should she bother?)

    Max Cleland never responds at all. I did see him when I was running the Peachtree Road Race (he was parked by the road trying to get votes - I mean, cheering on the runners), and asked him to answer his e-mail.

    Paul Coverdell used to reply, personally, to all my e-mail. He died. I've not tried writing to his replacement, Zell Miller.
  • No. I didn't know that. You cannot save a streamed audio file "just as easily as you can with Napster." Sure, it can be done, but it's not part of the mechanism and would require extra know-how and effort on the part of the user. That's the whole point distinguishing My.MP3 from Napster.

    Extra know-how? How hard is it to right click, and choose "save streamed file"? Thats all I have to do to save a streamed mp3 file with my mp3 player (PM123).

  • I had an open relay that got about 100 spam messages before it was closed. 8 of them were accepted by other machines, the reset were rejected.

    This may work becuase CNN is talking about it and it will close down the congressional email system which will get talked about. Once you get one congress critter saying to his pal "I got 20,000 messages today" and his pal says "I got 30,000", then its all a trip into ego land where it will not be ignored.
  • There are a ton of people out there who care, but don't care enough to write a letter so if you are planning to write one do this: write a petition and find everyone who won't write a letter and have them sign it. Congressional leaders react mildly to piles of mail, they react with attitude when there's a HUGE list of names they've got to deal with. This way those who won't write a letter still influnce the vote and it has an almost identical impact.
  • Who needs email! Just post a link to /. and /.-em! The /. effect should take care of business.
  • I realize that most legislators/ businesses/ whoever think paper means more. They are probably right in most cases. E-mails are easy fast and don't require a lot of thought. But since this is an e-topic it might be somewhat appropriate to generate e-noise over it. If you think paper is more effective, send a real letter, this doesn't preclude that, but maybe letting congressionals know the size of the internet community who have an openion on this topic might have some bearing.

  • Hmmm. I actually see an application for the CueCat here. Scan the UPC on the CD and send it to a site, say which just happens to have a giant database of MP3's on hand. When you do this, it unlocks the MP3's on that CD for your account so that you have access to them via the net. This then somewhat proves that you have ownership of the CD.

    Only one problem..."Can I borrow your 'Metallica' CD for just ONE second???"
  • Yes. Commander Taco is probably correct. Someone will write a script to "spam the hell out of them." The only thing is, that someone probably wouldn't even have thought about doing it if Taco hadn't mentioned the idea on Slashdot. :-)
  • hmm, now they're gonna get sued for spam, and DDoS attacks... stupid :)
  • If you really want your Congressional mail to be effective, handwrite it. Handwritten letters carry much more weight than typed or printed ones. (If your handwriting is basically illegible, you can attach a typed/printed transcript.)
  • Although it takes away the whole "marching" concept. It'd be cool to see a million web sites that we pro-MP3. Even if it were just a standard form HTML that everyone tack up on their personal web space.

    Sort of a more passive resistance. :) Yoda would be proud.
  • I agree with Taco that E-Mail is not the best way to do this. For instance, imagine 1 million "messages" are send out:

    Method 1: Some poor congressman gets his outlook inbox flooded.

    Method 2: Mail truck pulls up out front, and hauls 1 million paper letters up to the poor congressman's office (this would take a few trips back to the say the least!)

    Which method would infuence you more? If I were, I would set up a paper mailing opperation, where consumers can write their messages online. Once a message is recieved, would print out the letter and envelope, complete with the submitters home address, and mail it to the poor congressman (all at once...if done right..hehe.)

    This would cost maybe 1/2 million dollars, unless they can figure out some form of micropayment to pay for costs. 500 grand should be chump change for the ability to make a statement like that. Plus, how can you round up the news media to watch email being delivered. I bet if the letters were to be say, dumped in from of the congress, out of a dump truck, media would show up and report on the event, if alerted to it
    beforehand, other congressmen would notice, etc, etc.

    When I write my representitives, I do both, email, and snail mail. I send the email first, which includes something saying I am sending a snail mail as well, as it is said to carry more weight. This a) gets my message in front of them twice, and b) lets them think about giving more weight to email.

    Just my 3 or 4 cents...

  • that it isn't always possible to have a concerted mass snail-mail effort. A lot of the time, riders and amendments are tacked to bills at the last minute. In cases like that, it isn't possible to get snail mail to the guv'mint in time. E-mail is quicker, although it is more easily ignored.

  • What they should do is put up a page where you can enter your name & address, and perhaps customize the message. Then when you submit, they print it, put your name & address on it, and drop it in the mail.

    Probably less of an effect than regular letters, but definitely more impressive than just plain old email, and not a bit harder for the average joe to do.

    Of course they WOULD hae to pay for something like that out of pocket, but then again, there may be a number of people interested in the law being passed who wouldn't mind sponsoring the project.

  • I worked for different politicians in several "districts" around the country. Politicians ignore email only when demographics tell them to. For example, a state assemblyman in California or North Carolina is much more likely to pay attention to pile of email, then a legislator whose allegiance is to Kansas.
  • Wouldn't even have to do that. Take a cuecat and a notebook computer (or a pda with a keyboard port) to the music store and scan every barcode there... (or do the low-tech solution and write them all down on paper and key them in when you get home).'s solution of having you insert the CD into your computer means that at least one of your friends had to buy it (even if they returned it later).
  • "How many legislators read their own mail? Lick a stamp and mail an actual letter. It's harder to ignore"
    >BR>How many Legislators have their secretary's print their e-mail and hand it to them? Have at it, I say!

  • by jaa ( 22623 )
    remember this [] Slashdot story, regarding this [] Suck article?

    "the Internet's collective response to one well-nigh apocalyptic decision after another has unfortunately been the same as the Internet's collective response to just about everything: posts, lots and lots of posts. Discussions and cries of hypocrisy and malformed analogies have consumed megabyte upon megabyte of masturbatory rage and self-indulgent self-righteousness.

    Which, of course, accomplishes exactly nothing...Lawyers rule the world. And don't you forget it."

    another e-crusade, great.

  • Unfortunatly, $.02 isn't the cost of producing a bag of mail to a legislator. If each letter costs $.33 and a lb. of letters is 20 individual letters (rough guess), thats $6.60 per lb. Now, lets say you've got a bag weighing in at 50 lbs. That's $330 of mail that may not even be worth anything because a legislator already has his mind made up because he has already been bough out by 'lobbiests.'

    Democracy taxes the citizens. Literally. You must pay a tax on EVERYTHING. Including *attempts* to voice your opinion to lawmakers.

  • I've got a DAT recorder. I've been digitally reproducing my CDs for years now.

    All sigs are meaningless.
  • Just make a standard form letter that represents the issue, which I can print out, sign, and mail off. What could be more effective?

    Tyranny =Gov. choosing how much power to give the People.

  • ... do nothing but wait until Napster and move to Canada?

    ... send emails from US-based ISPs?

    ... create hundreds of snail mail letters, smuggle them into the States, and mail them?

    ... pat myself on the back for not being American?

    ... whine about being forced to depend on US laws for many of my internet needs?

    ... make my own non-US MP3-sharing site and hope I don't get extradited?

    Someone tell me what I can do. Depending on my politicians is bad enough -- and now I need to depend on politicians that I didn't elect and of whom I can't expect anything.

  • Email does work, but due to the volume they receive it takes longer. If you want fastest results, don't bother to call or mail your rep in Washington DC. They keep local offices in home districts which you can walk right into or call or even hand a letter to. Look em up in the phonebook.

    Chief Frog Inspector
  • FUCK!!

    This is the fifth post and it's already redundant!!

    Look, see right up there in the story, where Rob suggests that you should lick a stamp and send off your letter?? Remember people posting this exact piece of advice on EVERY SINGLE political story to hit Slashdot, ever? Notice that the first thirty or so posts that got moderated up all say "why not send snail mail?"

    I don't need to hear you all repeat Rob's advice like mindless drones! And, besides, it's the million email march! Women didn't generally show up to the million man march because they thought it would get the point across better!

    Arrgh! You people!
  • Actually sending the million emails may be somewhat less effective than it sounds. However, the publicity of CNN *covering* the sending of a million emails is likely to draw attention, so it is not completely ineffective.
  • Definately lick a stamp instead. I remember an interview with one of Washington State's congresspeople from ~ a couple years ago. (Patty Murray? I'm not sure which it was.) She indicated that in general congresspeople receive huge stacks of communication which are essentially exactly the same. These come in through phone messages (including FAX), e-mail, and paper letters. Since most stuff essentially boils down to "I'm for X" or "I'm against X" as opposed to genuinely new ideas or information your messages essentially end up as tally counts for/against topic X. When these tallys are generated, the delivering media are treated differently. At the time e-mail was relatively new - I'm sure these numbers have changed now. Essentially, they counted a real, paper letter as essentially 10 points. A phone call counted about 5. e-mail counted 1. Her justification for this: e-mail is easier to send and phones are easier to dial, therefore more people can do it. This means that you don't necessarily feel as strongly if you send an e-mail and congress treats it appropriately. ___ I know I can't spell.
  • While I agree that an email to a congress person is not as effective as a snail mail, an email on this issue says something that a snail mail can not. The law being considered came about because the internet has gone main stream. Enough people use the internet that issues regarding internet, and its use are effecting politics. Its time to tell the congress people that the time is coming (if not already here) when the internet has a direct effect on politics. An email says 'this is an issue about the internet, so I am going to use the internet to express my feelings about it.'

    My suggestion is to join the 'Million E-mail March.' Send the email, but don't send a form E-mail. Remember, they hate form letters just as much as we do. Send them a well thought out email, in your own words. Be polite, clearly state your feelings about the subject, and make it clear how you feel they should vote. Then Send them a snail mail that talks about how you feel email is not as influential as it should be. Say something to the effect of:
    I recently sent you an email about &lt insert your issue here &gt. I feel so strongly about this issue that I am following it up in snail mail because I am concerned that your office does not take email seriously enough. I feel email and the internet are the best way to reach and communicate with you constituents. By using the net you can listen to how your constituents feel about particular issue that are going on today. By using this valuable resource you will be able to better represent your congressional district.

    I have enclosed a hard copy of my previous email regarding &lt insert your issue here &gt.
    If enough people send a letter like that we might actually bring government into the internet age.

    And on this issue make sure you state that you feel the same way about books, movies, and other audio formats. It would be a shame to be allowed to make MP3 copies but not wave files.
  • What if you got one million people to sign up for PayPal? Even better at $5.00 each.
  • Certainly though's current method is insufficient since it only demonstrates momentary possesion.

    Well, unless you want a police-state, that's as good of proof as you're going to get. Besides this method of circumvention requires repeated and obvious breaking of the law by the consumer - the consumer is more likely aware that he/she is breaking the law when giving a CD to a friend so that friend can listen to the CD on These same people are not so aware they are breaking the law when they simply download a file on napster.

  • I love when moderation works so well! Someone decided that they had moderator points but they did not need to read the slashdot FAQ. My original comment was rated a "2" because of my +1 KARMA BONUS! I have high Karma, so I get a little extra point! Of course, another theory is that I was moderated down for a VERY BLATANT spelling error. What the hell is a "surver" anyway? STUPID ME, STUPID ME, STUPID ME. What is this little "Preview Button" thingy for?
  • "It's really frightening. starts a campaign to send emails, and all of a sudden, we get all these emails from kids at UAH. They just kept on coming! It's like they had some kind of denial of service thing going on, but by email! We didn't think that many people in Alabama had computers."

    Haha! Is that a crack on Alabama? ... I say send em email AND snail mail AND phone (though script triggered phoning might get someone in some hot water and backfire ...)

  • Well... sense this is for the freedom of mp3s, everyone with a mic should use them to make a mp3 of them saying that they support it, and email it to the rep.... it would solve the whole "effort" thing.

  • by Icebox ( 153775 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:34AM (#743990)
    Have they checked into partnering with Microsoft on this project?
  • The average person will know about this action from his/her TV, not from /. Napster and MP3 are hugely popular among people who don't even use them just because of the media attention. However, if the action really brings down mail servers, the context of the coverage will be negative.
  • Well, it needs some work, but I like it in concept.

    Boucher said the kind of technology developed by and made legal by
    his bill would allow music buyers to listen to their stored-up songs in their car
    once satellite Internet access is perfected, in their office or from a friend's
    computer. The bill would only apply to music that is sent, or "streamed," not
    music that is downloaded.

    Unfortunately, that's the same thing. If you stream music to me, I'm downloading it, and there's nothing that says I'm not saving it to disk as well...

    "Copyright owners lose nothing by virtue of the technology is using,"
    he said. "It frees the Internet user to obtain the music he already owns over the

    Well said. We've been saying this for a while: it's all about control. It's good that legislators are starting to notice this as well.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by Lancer ( 32120 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:35AM (#743993) Homepage
    All I've read and heard about having an impact on legislators tells me that snail mail is most effective, then comes telephones, and only then e-mail. It's far too easy to ignore e-mail, but bags of letters (which imply more effort on the sender's part) make a statement.

    My $.02...

  • Ummm... does anyone know where I can buy lickable stamps these days? I can only find the adhesive-backed ones now

    Ok, back on topic...

    Just because a lot of them were born before the transistor, doesn't mean they don't read their e-mail. In many cases their aids will print it out for them, since many are a bit old-fashioned by slashdot standards, but they'll still read it. If they get so many that they don't have time to read them all, that by itself might send a message. Any aid worth his security pass would have the brains to tell his boss that they are coming from different people. Maybe they'd send out snail-mail asking for confirmation, but hey, they do have "franking" priviledges, so if they're suspicious, they could check without terribly hassle. Don't think they'll dismiss this out of hand. Maybe one or two, but there are a lot of them who will listen. Bipartisan sponsorship always helps, too.

    Note to those who may participate:

    Don't just send their stock letter. Personalize it. Make sure you keep the part that actually mentions the name of the bill, but aside from that, redo it in your own style. The skeptics may be convinced if they get a million DIFFERENT e-mails. Watch out on the RIAA flaming, unless you can find a really polite way of doing it.
  • by WombatControl ( 74685 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:35AM (#743995)
    Sorry, but that idea won't accomplish a thing. Congressional staffers don't have much regard for e-mail, as anyone can send it without much work or thought.

    If you wanted to send a real message, send a good-old fashioned snail mail message. From experience, nothing's more intimidating than seeing a very unusually large stack of letters from your constituents in your offices. A full mail box just doesn't have the same effect.

    That being said, the idea is really a good one, just the methods are not the most effective.
  • Yeah, I've been sending email to my legislators, too. So far, the only "response" I have received is (obviously, since I have received the same message multiple times) an email autoresponder, and that from only one of the three (two senators, one representative). But I don't really consider it a response to my email. Here it is, in its entirety (sans header):

    Thank you for contacting my office to express your views.
    I believe that all citizens should become involved in our legislative process by letting their voices be heard. I appreciate the time and effort that you took to share your thoughts. One of the most important aspects of my job is keeping informed about the views of my constituents, and I welcome your comments so that I may continue to represent California to the best of my ability.
    Again, thank you for your correspondence.

    Gee, no really, thank you.

  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:35AM (#743997) Homepage
    Of course, is involved in this... go here [] and write a letter to your representative and senators...
  • by rkent ( 73434 ) <rkent@pos[ ] ['t.h' in gap]> on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:35AM (#743998)
    Hrmph. Maybe we should just send a million emails to instead, telling them how stupid this campaign is and urging them to start a real letter writing campaign instead.

    Come to think of it, why do we need a corporate sponsor for this? Let's just start the real letter writing petition. I'm sure slashdot readers can generate 10s of thousands of letters, anyway, if not a million.

  • Haha! Is that a crack on Alabama?

    Maybe. Dunno. But I speak highly of UAH. I should, considering the position I hold [].

  • Let's just start the real letter writing petition...

    Er, start a real letter writing campaign. How do you use that preview thingy again?

  • How do you know what politicians like? Do you think they actually read their own mail? Get real.

    I assume you're talking about handwritten letters when you say it takes longer to write letters than emails. Realistically, for letters that are to be taken seriously, most people will type them...on computers...running Windows...and print them on inkjet printers.
  • Do we really want to send in that many letters? I rarely get passionate about anything, but the battle over MP3s makes my blood boil (I'm for MP3s, I'm one of the good guys). I think if you are interested enough to take action, take all three avenues. Write a letter, write an email (which takes no time at all), and the try to find a phone # and call while you're playing Quake 3. Imagine you're waxing your senator instead of some guy from Idaho...
  • Useless. Politicians like paper - documents, real letters from the post office. E-mails are easy to make, and easy to disregard. A letter, for whatever reason, leaves a lasting impression.. moreso now because it takes TIME to write a letter, and it's a subconscious thing - if you took time to write it, they should take the time to read it. It's only fair. And not only that, but it holds certain psychological value. Our consitution written online means less than the Real Deal. The ideas are the same, but the impact is not.

    Forget the million e-mail. Slashdot the USPO.


  • Here's an idea: why not set it up so that one can go to's web page and automatically send a fax to one's favorite legislator?

    I mention this because this is the same tactic used by the ACLU, and I *always* get a reply from a fax. I can only imagine that this also generates a lot of real paper, too.

    The Tyrrany Begins.... []

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:54AM (#744005) Homepage Journal

    bmongar wrote: back legislation to make it legal to keep digital copies of your music.
    And CNN wrote:
    The bill would amend federal copyright laws to make it legal to create a digital copy of a recording, known as an MP3 file...

    These are very poor and misleading summaries. It is already legal to make digital copies of stuff that you own.

    What really wants is to make it legal to transmit a song to someone who has proved that they already own it. i.e. they want to legalize a royaltyless service.

    These overly-simple summaries are dishonest, IMHO, because they make it look like the new legislation would grant some very basic consumer rights that we don't already have, when in fact, it would really just grant a very subtle right that's business model wants.

  • by monkeydo ( 173558 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:54AM (#744006) Homepage
    I case anyone actually cares what the bill [] says, it states that you aren't violating a copyright if you make copies for the purpose of providing "personal interactive performance" The bill then defines "personal interactive performance"

    "As used in this section, the term "personal interactive performance" means the performance of a sound recording and the non-dramatic musical works embodied therein by means of a digital transmission and includes any digital phonorecord deliveries associated with such transmission, provided that the transmission is received only by a recipient who has provided to the transmitting organization proof that the recipient lawfully possesses a phonorecord of such sound recording and who has conveyed to the transmitting organization a specific request to receive the transmission of the performance."

    Ther is nothing in this defenition, or elsewhere in the bill that says the user can't record the stream (although it doesn't protect it either). It also dosen't define what constitutes "proof that the recipient lawfully possesses a phonorecord of such sound recording."

    Certainly though's current method is insufficient since it only demonstrates momentary possesion.

    Is there anyone here that really belives no one played their friends CDs from

  • Er... No, it isn't. It's "faxes"...
  • Well it certainly doesnt hurt any. You cant post computer code on the internet just because you own it. And if people are suing you for doing what you want with stuff that YOU OWN, then it might be usefull for congress to pass a law saying that you are alowed to do what you want with music you own. Then the RIAA has no grounds to sue you on.
  • I don't know if it's just me, but I see an alarming trend of things here on slashdot... "Evil topic! We must stop this! We need to get the people involved!", but nothing ever happens... and now when there is a clear chance to do something, and the path to take action has been mildly facilitated, we sit back and say "this isn't goign to accomplish anything."

    I know, I'm probably wrong, because only the highly motivated people will actually do anything... and those people are the vocal ones... but... *sigh*
  • As awlays, the media finds the dumbest possible way to explain the technology news... make it legal to create a digital copy of a recording, known as an MP3 file, after first proving ownership of the music. Consumers would then be able to send that file over the Internet and listen to the digital copy from a remote location. Isn't it the archiving of music that the bill will make legal? And isn't the whole point that a business will create and store the digital copy instead of a consumer? And upon proof of ownership, won't the consumer be able to access the file, rather than send it?

    Great job dumbing it down, CNN. Perhaps you can tell us about an extremely dangerous program called DeCSS that allows vicious pirates to make illegal copies of DVDs?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Based on a few things I've read lately (including the Napster lawyer in Wired), the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) makes noncommercial distribution of copywritten material legal. At this point, it's mainly up to lawyers in these cases to make the right argument to a judge. If the AHRA was written well enough, the Napster lawyer should have no problem convincing a judge that they are in the right. The same argument should theoretically work for (Of course, totally seperate issue is the fact that a lot of the judges in these big tech cases are totally ignorant of the technology that are judging, and therefore can't properly apply the law in the first case.)
  • I wish the person who submitted a story that was selected could have mod points at least on that particular discussion. Oh well. Maybe I'll send Rob a million emails asking for this right.
  • It doesn't even tell you the addresses, although you could find them for yourself by searching the net.


    I type my zip code into this page [] and it sends me to this page [] listing my Representatives and Senators. I can now send them a form letter on one of the Profile []His email address! [mailto]

  • I don't have a lot of time for this right now, but this needs to be said, and this topic is probably as good as it gets.

    This is how a Congressional mail operation works. There are slight variations office-to- office, but this is what you need to know in terms of influencing Congress.

    An average Senate office receives approx. 2000 letters, and 500 e-mails each week. Each day mail is and sorted by interns into issue areas and then distributed to Legislative Correspondents. These LCs are usually 23-25 years old, and have a basic grounding in the issue area they are covering. It is their job to read the e-mails for nuances the interns may have missed, group them together, and write responses.

    The responses are then given to a Legislative Assistant. (LAs, 25-50 yrs, (hopefully) experts on their area, usually superior in knowledge to the private sector experts who populate think tanks, universities, and lobbying firms. Most DC lobbyists and think tankers are ex-LAs. These are the people who write a vast majority of what comes out of Congress) They edit and approve them. In the mean time, the mail manager (sometimes also the SysAdmin) totals up the mail by area of concern and e-mails a report to the legislative and executive staff, including the Senator, once a week.

    This is where you influence the process. If the office receives 5000 letters this week instead of 2000, the staff will tend to notice and take note of what issue the constituents are concerned with. This is combined with phone calls received, both in DC and in the State offices, to detect groundswells of interest in a particular issue. These groundswells are rarely detected. Most people just don't care enough. A well-organized and motivated group can therefore have quite an effect if they can truly deliver the numbers.

    E-mails: I have stressed on /. before how important it is to write a paper letter and not e-mail. This is the relative regard with which each type of competition is held:

    >Paper letter: The holy grail. Most offices have a strict policy of responding to every single paper letter they receive, not matter how bizarre (trust me), and losing or missing more than a handful can cost an LC their job. All letters are logged and read.

    >Phone Call: You will generally get to speak to a Staff Assistant (receptionist/LC trainee). Office have one of two policies, either they tally the opinion of each caller and send it to the mail manager for inclusion in the mail report, or they take down the persons issue and information, and respond to the call as they would a letter. Very few offices will give you a call back from an LA, that's what the Staff Assistants are there for. This is partially self preservation, if the LA's were that accessible, they would never get any other work done (I know, you may like that idea, they certainly don't.)

    >E-mail: Up until the last year, usually ignored. Now, maybe a third of the offices print out the e-mail and respond like a regular letter, the other 2/3 either continues to ignore them or simply tallies them like phone calls. Before you get all excited about "they print out e-mails", these people are not luddites (ed. >and no, Katz, the Luddites were not noble in any way), all mail goes out under the Senator's signature. Until we have an effective system of e-signatures not office will be able to respond officially by e-mail. That being said, there is not excuse for any office not treating e-mails as regular mail.

    There is one crucial point here. Offices will only respond to their constituents (people who they represent.) It is generally always possible to tell where paper mail comes from. This is not the case with e-mail. Unless you include a full return mailing address, you will not receive a response, and you message will not be counted.

    >Petitions/Post Cards: Many groups organize mass mailing campaigns with pre-printed postcards or petitions. Many rather questionable lobbies, and some that are outright fraudulent, use these methods to make their members feel that they are being heard. Other people try to make money by setting themselves up as an intermediary between themselves and Congress, is a modern, e-mail based iteration of this problem. The fact that e-mail makes it easier to prepackage this kind of contact is one of the reasons that it will take time for e-mail to be regarded on par with written communication.

    Most petitions and post cards, if they are even looked at, are logged and disposed of. If they are logged, they are listed on a separate line on any mail report (ie. We have 800 letters on MP3, 500 on Social Security, and 1200 on H1-B, we also received approx 1500 postcards on the following subjects...)

    The thing to remember is this, the people in Washington are not stupid (I know that may be hard for the average /.'er to believe, and sometimes I don't believe it myself.) They have seen every effort to hack the system, and have devised appropriate responses. You will not find an easy way to get around the requirement that many different individuals from all over the country write, call and visit their individual Congressmen and Senators if you want an effective lobby.

    A million e-mail march sounds lovely, but if it is a million e-mails, all coming from the site, with form letter language, without names and return mailing address, the entire effort will be dashed against the rocks of a system designed to respond to only honest, organized grassroots action.

    I would like nothing more than to see an organized group of techs making noise and being heard on the issues we all rant about on /., but this looks like another false start. For the community, I am going to try and write a more organized, more extensive, and more lucid guide to action toward the end of the year. Hope this is helpful for now.

    A couple of other things.

    don't worry about taking down a members mail server. All offices are behind a central mail server for the entire House or Senate. It would be fairly hard to take these servers down (though the SysAdmins manage to do so on a regular basis ;)

    I'm sure has some professional DC based advice on organizing this campaign. I sure it will look quite impressive on that lobbyist/lobbying firms record. That doesn't mean it will be effective. To the average lobbyist, the ultimate effort is one that generates a lot of "sound and fury, signifying nothing." If it looks impressive, but doesn't win the day, you can bet the clients going to be back for more. It is a system that rewards a lack of progress. But more on that later...
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @11:14AM (#744016)
    I agree with the posters that typing a letter on a piece of paper is better in terms of impact. However, you can go ahead fax the result and still get their attention. Seeing the fax machine melt down is just as effective as bags of mail (faster and cheaper delivery too, and the sudden onslaught can make it look like a revolt is in progress). Phone calls to the office are also a good way to get a legislator's staff to tell him/her "hey, people are worked up about this."

    I have some personal experience with this. A friend of mine is in PR and she had a client who wanted to really call attention to a local city issue. By recruiting as few as 100 people to write letters, call, and fax, she got the entire city council buzzing about the sudden citizen uprising. You need a surprisingly small number of people to leverage your issue to the top of the agenda.

  • Legislators, for the most part, do listen to their mail.

    As the author states, it would get spammed by scripters -- either bored script kiddies or pros hired by the music industry to trash the process. This could do more harm than good.

    Legislators need to know that the requests come from legitimate sources, in their district, that will remember their legislative support and, in retuen, support that legislator in the future. They don't want astroturf or people out of their districts.

    It would be far better to *ORGANIZE*. This means getting several influential people behind it -- from a variety of backgrounds, with an eye towards a long term winning strategy for individual freedom -- not some dot com's freedom to rip people or corporations off.

    This would be a many pronged attack -- through newspapers, radio, the web, etc.

    Individual freedom to back up, restore, transfer and even (to a limited extent) share IP or copyrighted material, because libraries share IP and copyrighted material, as is already done in other forms of media (my family shares DVDs, videos, books all the time, the library loans it out, etc) so limited IP or copyright violations, for personal use are clearly legal. This sharing needs to expanded and protected on the net.

    This is how orgs like the AMA and Sierra Club do things. They do it with forethought, strategy, publicity and big names to back it up.

    That's the problem with the net -- everything is instant gratification in your face. No one considers long term strategies, alliances, etc.

    To me, the EFF, FSF, ACLU should all be working together on a coherent strategy to free both code and binary content within, say, a 5-10 year time frame, placing responsibility for copyright violations where it belongs -- on the individual, not a conduit.

    There should be more exposure in the main stream media to people with an interest in freedom on the net, regardless of their background. Alliances need to make sure there is a "give and take" process -- one hand needs to wash the other.

    Any such plan should make it a easy 2-3 minute processs for an individual to get a web-based, persoanlized form letter emailed or displayed to them, complete with a second sheet that has the appropriate return address and target legislator address as well.

    Just add a envelope and a stamp, and it's a no brainer, under 2 minute process.

    This kind of thing needs a group of intelligent, relaxed, long term strategic thinkers. Not too easy to find on the web or involved in computing, but there are certainly a few jewels that could be leveraged.
  • That's a great idea! I might actually start submitting stories again. Right now: no karma, no moderating your own stories, nothing. It would at least allow someone the power to say "Read the fscking article, you moron!" As long as we're asking for new features, I'd like to able to filter by moderation but not necessarily score. Like, filter all flamebait but not all 0's (since AC's are often quite funny).
  • I don't need to hear you all repeat

    Computer, tell me what Rob said again, I can barely hear the letters on the screen.

    Arrgh! You people!

    Right you are! I suggest we form a Million-Man-Reply in protest of this boneheadedness.

    Oh, and arrgh, too.

    Chief Frog Inspector
  • Yeah. Fortunately, computers have the capability to print real letters, and I have no fear that we're big enough windbags to each type up 5 or 6. But that whole thing about running to the post office after it prints... I just don't think we could motivate the troops quite enough. Er, wait:

    Hey! Linus Torvalds will be appearing in person at [insert name of your post office]!! Right now! Don't forget your letter!

    Heh. That should do it. And it's posted on slashdot now, so you know it's right.

  • While I agree that snail mail is, unfortunately, more effective, I maintain that an email campaign is a reasonable option. The campaign is likely to draw a larger number of respondants as an email effort, due to the ease of email.

    However if you are genuinely concerned, why not send both email and postal mail? Print it & stick it in an envelope, if you're convenience-inclined. Otherwise, format it nicely, toss some nice letterhead in the laser, and away you go.

    At any rate, I generally frown on responding to the call of a corporation to lobby on its behalf. Nevertheless, if your views are similar, this may be an excellent opportunity to exert your influence among your peers. Certainly all the other corporate entities have their lobbyists firmly in place. Perhaps we can create a bit of an impact, simply as a body of constituents who are concerned over legislation. It would be about time.

    Of course, we could always just send tiny bottles of tabasco.

    "The not a suicide pact."
  • Insightful? <sigh>

    Now everyone knows if sends music to a "listening device" that happens to be your computer, you can save it in a file just as easily as you can with Napster.

    No. I didn't know that. You cannot save a streamed audio file "just as easily as you can with Napster." Sure, it can be done, but it's not part of the mechanism and would require extra know-how and effort on the part of the user. That's the whole point distinguishing My.MP3 from Napster.

    I find it interesting how the article attempts to make look like it's less of a copyright violator than Napster, when in fact Napster is not even violating any copyrights outright and is!

    Napster facilitates copyright violation by its users. MP3.Com violated copyright by its implementation of My.MP3...users of My.MP3 are not themselves (if using the service ethically) violating copyright. Please tell you can see the distinction.

  • I live in canada so I dont know if this is a case of culture difference.. perhaps not all democracies are alike but when I email my federal representative (my MP) I get a response. It might take a week or two but I get it. They work for you. If american politicians have lost that concept they should get out of office. I get the pleasure of seeing all the American political commercials and I gotta say your system is kinda funny. Grown men paying thousands of dollars to go on tv and bash their collegues. That dubbaya guy is even funnier because he's so 80's politician.
    If your representative doesnt support electronic communication with his/her constituents, just think how they'll fuck up IT in office. It's a sign of technological ignorance if you ask me. Maybe they get email bombed or spammed or whatever... but they don't have first grabs at their snail mail either... someone is paid to filter through it and make sure important shit gets to Mr. politician. My email about the problems with copyright in canada got read by my politician and replied to me. Thats his job. If he didnt do his job no one would vote for him.

    btw... I remember watching a story about Gore a couple years ago that was a "day in the life of the Vice President" type documentary.
    This guy is wired. Maybe he spit out some dumb words about inventing the internet (like why the hell would you say something like that) but he knows his shit. If you guys want to evolve ya gotta go with this guy. And his "email reading" got a reasonable amount of his day. I couldn't care less if Ross Perot was running your country but american presidential campaigns are interesting none the less.
  • I have emailed my representative on a number of occasions, and they do read them. The thing that I don't understand is why send a snail mail reply when they could just reply to the email. Maybe it's that whole photocopied signature thing. Can't do that on an email I guess. hehe.

  • Maybe I'm just a skeptic, but I can't imagine this actually working. How many legislators read their own mail? Lick a stamp and mail an actual letter. It's harder to ignore. All this will do is knock down mail servers (you just know some jerk is gonna write a script and spam the hell out of them). I hate to break this to you but a few months back when we were all in an uproar about the Welfare Reform Act I did something I had never done before: I (and probably everyone I spammed with instructions on who and how) emailed my congresswoman. Do you know what happenned? A few days later I was pleasantly surprised to find a written response in my snailmail box. Later that day my phone rang and most of the people called and reported that they too had been recipients of a snailmail reply. Not very long after that /. runs an article to the effect of how certain rather objectionable portions of the Methamphetamine Control Act had been removed.I gotta say I felt proud when all that happenned. Don't dis the system like that because when voices speak and take action (like emailing your elected officials) things can get done. How about ecouraging the community to participate in this and discouraging the malicious ones from messing it up for all of us?
    Note to self: IF s/N ratio>=facts(old news + /. $authors)
  • :Politicians like paper That's green...

    We're bought and sold for corporate gold
  • Both you, and AC responding to you, are off the mark.

    What if you don't own Bubba Jones's Greatest Hits CD, and neither does your friend, but you have mp3's you found on the net and you give copies of those files to your friend ? Is that illegal ?

    What if I own a CD, and I rip it into mp3's, or heck, just burn a straight copy with my cdrw, and then give that to a friend who never has and never will buy that CD ? Is that legal ?

    You can download Title 17 [] and read it for yourself. The truth is, it is legal so long as you don't take any money for it, or otherwise do anything commercial with it.'s requirement that you have the CD is just confusing the issue. I think that they were trying to insert some air of legitimacy, or buy off the RIAA in someway, because they are actually a commercial entity, and so they fall under much stricter rules. Napster got it right by just distributing the software to do it with, but in this day and age you can't actually make money writing software. ( That's a bit of an overstatement, but you can non-commercially copy software like napster or windows also; even better, if you tried to sell napster, the free linux versions would be ported to windows and offered for free. )

    If you think about it, it is certainly legal to do what is doing, and not charge money. You can set up a server and allow people to upload their songs and download them from other places later. It's when you charge for it that you get on the shaky ground.

    So if you join this campaign to legalize what is doing, realize what you are arguing for. Your current rights may be extensive enough that you shouldn't feel threatened by a judgement that has to pay royalties. Do you really care if goes out of business, as long as no one challenges your right to gnutella ?

  • For a total of $1USD and 5 minutes (the time it takes to come up with a witty remark to this post) you can do the following:

    1) Write your senator a letter supporting changing this legislation. (time=3 minutes, especially if someone sets up a form letter)
    2) Print that letter and put it in an envelope with a stamp ($.33USD + $.05USDenvelope) (15 seconds, depending on printer)
    3) Revise the "Dear Senator" to "Dear Congressperson" and reprint and reenvelope ($.38USD again)
    4) Copy email body from Staroffice to Pine and email a copy to your senator, and email a separate copy to your congressman.(10 seconds+/- depending on your cooridination)
    5) Drop the letters in a mailbox (time determined by proximity to mailbox)

    And then you will:
    A) Have covered both bases in case someone takes down the email server.
    B) Have not had to write a whole hell of a lot.
    C) Have just upped the ante on your Congressman and Senator during an election year.
  • "But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

    From the standpoint of congressional action which led from Arpanet to Internet, his statement is essentially true, although he may have somewhat exaggerated his role.

  • Exactly what copyrights is violating?

    I have the right to make copies of any music I own, in whatever format I choose, for whatever personal use I see fit.

    That's right, you do. But MP3.Com does not have the right, as a commercial entity, to facilitate your right by creating copies of non-licensed materials. THAT'S how MP3.Com violated labels' copyrights. (Of course $25,000 per CD in punitive -- not compensatory -- damages is ludicrous.)

  • You can also send faxes as well as letters... Something more visible than an Email.
  • Listen, you whiny. I've been seeing your sig all over the place now. If you hate your karma so much, then get a new account.

    P.S. Didn't you see the checkbox that says "No Score +1 Bonus" when you post a comment? Quit whining, jeez.


    (posted at +2 so this loser hopefully sees it)
  • by karzan ( 132637 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:40AM (#744037)
    I know several people who have done a lot of work in offices of political figures and can say that there are people who sit around going through every letter and probably every email sent to them. The way it works is they have a spreadsheet with all the "issues" listed, and for each issue that keep a tally of the opinions received.

    Of course, totally aside from that, the flood of email is going to bring down mail servers and piss people off, which may have the opposite of the desired effect.

    Unrelated to that, I find this quote from the article a little strange:

    The service differs from the music-sharing Web site Napster, which faces legal challenges of its own, because it merely sends the music to listening devices, such as a computer or a wireless music player. Napster lets users download an actual computer file and make copies of it.

    Now everyone knows if sends music to a "listening device" that happens to be your computer, you can save it in a file just as easily as you can with Napster. I find it interesting how the article attempts to make look like it's less of a copyright violator than Napster, when in fact Napster is not even violating any copyrights outright and is! Perhaps this is an attempt to dissociate with the "infamous" Napster...

  • I've worked on a campaign or two in my time (and I'm only 30 here people!) growning up in West Virginia - for Sen. Byrd - and what I can say is the most effective way of getting any politician's attention is (1) a real letter (do not use a form letter), and (2) play the game once in a while.
    Everyone here is so bitchy and moany about the government doing this or that, that you haven't stopped to think why. You need to partake in the discussions with the elected leaders, give some time or money, show up to town hall meetings and basically be involved. There is more to life than MP3s, and Quake 3, and doing the cool things that we like to do will sooner or later will come up for a vote somewhere - so have your say and input or shut the hell up.
    Sometimes the apathy here really sucks.
  • On a couple occasions, I've written well-thought out emails to congressmen. In particular, I remember receiving an exceptional snail mail response from Rep Sensenbrenner (WI) about the U.S. policy towards Mir. I've also received a good response from Senator Gorton (WA).

    Neither of these responses were form letters. I still agree that snail mail can make a more "physical" impression. If you have the time I recommend it. But don't assume that all the members of Congress are technically inept. A lot of them do get it, and enjoy the advantages of email as much as the rest of us. Sending them a thoughtful email is certainly better than no feedback at all.

    Best regards,

  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:58AM (#744047) Homepage
    Scan the UPC on the CD and send it to a site, say which just happens to have a giant database of MP3's on hand

    That's a good idea, but what do you do about tiny companies who don't have a UPC to use? And, as :CueCat and the modern retailing industry have shown, UPC's are terribly easy and cheap to make. CD's, however, to burn an excat copy is much much harder. (You need to copy the CD's ID number & track information exactly to use This was fairly difficult from what I've heard.)

    Having a real CD in hand implies that at least one person got a hold of a real CD.
  • WASHINGTON--Congressman Bud Cramer (D, Ala.) couldn't believe it. "This is scary. All these emails!" An staffer who wished to remain anonymous stated, "It's really frightening. starts a campaign to send emails, and all of a sudden, we get all these emails from kids at UAH []. They just kept on coming! It's like they had some kind of denial of service thing going on, but by email! We didn't think that many people in Alabama had computers."

  • Even better! copy 3 pages with the same message, tape them together, and hit send. it will eternally send the fax as a loop!

  • by dr_eaerth ( 149359 ) on Friday September 29, 2000 @10:41AM (#744056)
    Maybe I'm just a skeptic, but I can't imagine this actually working. How many legislators read their own mail?

    None. For example, take Senator Murkowski from Alaska, the senator responsible for the failed pro-spam bill you'll find quoted at the bottom of much of your spam (this is called being "murked"). Not suprisingly, he got lots of complaints about the bill.

    The senator got sick of the outcry against his awful attempt at legislation. Now every single email to him goes into the bitbucket, not even read by staff.

    Do you think any other legislators would react differently to complaints about their incompetence? Send them a million emails, and even if they read their email now, they won't any longer.
  • ..snail mail would be much more effective.

    But I'd wager part of the "grandeur" of's effort is the hilite the whole "internet" aspect of it all. I mean, how can you push a new frontier using old world habits and technologies?

    I think by pushing the online methods of communication, would hope to indicate that this whole internet thing is different, is very real, and doesn't want to be ignored.

    Will it be effective? I'm not judging that. I'm just playing devil's advocate in coming up with reasons why an email rally could be a good idea.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.