Sunday, January 22, 2006

Remember, No One Expects the Inquisition

I'm glad to see our friends in government are taking cues from the geniuses at the majors when it comes to advancements in technology. In addition to the Republicans wanting to roll back the culture to pre-Scopes trial intellectual standards, destroy privacy and civil rights, and generally bending over for anyone with a big checkbook, the idiocracy are once again looking to pass The Broadcast Flag.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this genius piece of legislation has a serious impact on the future of digital music:

You say you want the power to time-shift and space-shift TV and radio? You say you want tomorrow's innovators to invent new TV and radio gizmos you haven't thought of yet, the same way the pioneers behind the VCR, TiVo, and the iPod did? Well, that's not what the entertainment industry has in mind. According to them, here's all tomorrow's innovators should be allowed to offer you:
"customary historic use of broadcast content by consumers to the extent such use is consistent with applicable law." Had that been the law in 1970, there would never have been a VCR. Had it been the law in 1990, no TiVo. In 2000, no iPod. Fair use has always been a forward-looking doctrine. It was meant to leave room for new uses, not merely "customary historic uses."

Sony was entitled to build the VCR first, and resolve the fair use questions in court later. This arrangement has worked well for all involved -- consumers, media moguls, and high technology companies.

But that's not all! This legislation will also put satellite radio under the control of the FCC, where it will be subject to the same rules as traditional radio. (Watch out all you Stern fans!)

Besides extending the hand of government deeper into free speech, this new exercise in legislative hooey does about as much good to prevent piracy as those levys the Army Corps of Engineers did to defend New Orleans from the relentless onrush of Katrina.

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