Thursday, April 27, 2006

Congress Critters

Copied from the GuruNews letter

If you've read this newsletter for more than a few weeks you know my stance on both the entertainment industry and our "elected" Congress Critters. From the much-abused DMCA to the blunderbuss of RIAA lawsuits, the entertainment industry is using pre-purchased Congressmen and Representatives to turn each and every computer user and audiophile into criminals.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, authored in a Republican controlled Congress and signed by Bill Clinton, shows that this isn't a problem of political ideologies; it's a problem of politics in general. Voting for a national political figure is actually voting to put power into the hands of their corporate contributors. Couple that uncomfortable fact with the ignorance of most Critters on technological matters, or medical, environmental, scientific or economical subjects for that matter, and you have the makings of disaster.

It's been used to attempt to close down generic ink cartridge, toner cartridge and garage door opener manufacturers. Lexmark wants you to HAVE to buy their vastly overpriced ink cartridges instead of a sanely priced generic, after all. I'm absolutely certain .2 fluid ounces of black ink should cost $35, how DARE those generic companies!

It's also been mentioned in cases like the Intuit Turbo Tax fiasco from 2002, where Intuit thought it perfectly fine to secretly install the C-Dilla "spyware" on user's PCs, and more recently with Sony's notorious rootkit copy protection scheme, which installed software so secret you couldn't even find it. "Loopholes" in the law allowed the town criers who reported the abuses to avoid prosecution (this humble publication included).

And the ability for copyright holders to sue abusers for damages? The RIAA has sued everyone from grandmothers to 10 year olds for file sharing, evidence be damned. Just this week they sued a family that didn't even own a computer for sharing music ( Yup, that's some fine legislatin' there.

Instead of fixing this abomination by rescinding the DMCA the current Administration has authored a juicy little bill called the Intellectual Property Protection Act. Notice I said Administration. This bill wasn't introduced by some hand puppet in the Congress, no. This came straight from the White House. The IPPA will supposedly close the loopholes so that your antivirus company can be prosecuted for removing the invisible phone-home rootkit installed by Sony and YOU can be prosecuted by sharing the glaring secret that holding down the Shift key will prevent some forms of malware from being loaded ( You, my dear reader, can be made a criminal if you just make a copy of a CD you purchased to use in your car stereo.

This bill also provides provisions that allow the RIAA and MPAA to not only sue Mac users for being a KaZaA file-sharing node (Macs won't run KaZaA by the way) but also allow them to confiscate the "offending" computer. Kind of like a private police force, or militia. Land of the free indeed.

Did I mention that it raises the jail time for downloading a copyrighted movie to more than the jail time for downloading pictures of child sexual abuse (I can’t call it by name due to spam filters). What happened to the old “It’s for the children” mantra?

And for the ultimate in ridiculous, Attorney General Gonzales says that IP theft goes "quite frankly, to fund terrorist activities". Ummm… no. I'm not an attorney general, nor do I play one on TV and even if I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night I can't get my mind around that statement. Sharing music funds terrorism? More like sharing music is seen by the campaign contributing entertainment industry as bad, hence it must be stopped by any means.

The only politics I write about in this newsletter deal with technology issues so I'll just let that statement from Alberto speak for itself.

Folks, people who can't set the alarm on their digital clocks are being paid by Big Entertainment to write laws governing technology. People who think antibiotics are a must for combating a virus infection are writing medical policy. People who can't balance a checkbook are making decisions dealing with the economy. We can't continue as a country like this.

Sooner or later this has to stop, and we have an election coming up. It's time to read opinions from the different candidates and vote for the one that you can most agree with. No party line vote, no party loyalty at all, just vote for the right PERSON for you. Vote for someone who may actually bother to listen to the constituents and take their suggestions under consideration. I'm tempted to say if they're incumbent vote for the other guy but that's too sweeping a statement. The bunch we have in right now, from both parties, can't seem to differentiate their nether regions from a hole in the ground with both hands and a flashlight.

Yes, I’m a wee bit outraged…

Kevin Mefford, Editor

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