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DC LUGs To Protest DMCA 70

Serge Wroclawski writes: "The LUGs in the DC area are protesting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on Tuesday. The press release concerning the protest can be found online as well as an actual copy of the DMCA (with commentary availible)." If you're in driving distance of Washington D.C., consider showing up to respectfully make your opinion known to the lawmakers. Slashdot's timothy (yours truly) will be there as well, so look for a followup on later on Tuesday.
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DC LUGs To Protest DMCA

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hey, all you need is an acronym, as shown in the article title.

    "MGM to be held at DC and LA, to protest DCMA and DeCSS, info available on IRC, and FTP.
  • I live in Chantilly, Virginia and plan on going to the protest. (Mind, I'll have to rig high explosives to the alarm clock to insure I get up in time.) I thought it might be cool to trundle downtown via the Metro with some fellow protesters. What do you think?

    I'll [mailto] be wearing a "Byte Me" sweatshirt, so I shouldn't be easy to miss.

    Cheers,

    Mark

  • The DMCA, and now the UCITA, are simple examples of the market regulating itself through the legal use of lobbying. MHO this is a good thing, since more government intervention can only lead to a socialist-like stifling of the market, which is bad for everyone concerned.

    So "socialist-like" intervention is a good thing when it's driven by industry, but it is bad when driven by consumers? What he DMCA and UCITA represent are the efforts of a portion of one industry to manipulate the government into giving them an advantage over other businesses and over the consumer. It is a perfect example of Nazi style socialism (as opposed to Marxist style socialism).

    This is *not* the way free enterprise is supposed to work.

  • Will the moderator in question please post anon. and tell us how a first post that is a first post can be considered redundant? Troll, yes. Flamebait, yes. Overrated, yes. All of those are defensible positions. One might, by performing certain mental gymnastics, even justify "interesting", "insightful", "informative", and "underrated". But how do you see it as "redundant"? How?
  • The point being that rather than educate the general public you'd prefer to alienate them instead and convince them that they need stuff like the DMCA to protect them from the likes of you?
    If you forgot the smiley face at the end of what was intended as sarcasm, then, as Emily L. used to say on SNL, "nevermind".
  • Have you gotten and exercised moderator privileges recently? You could be getting chewed up in meta-moderation. If not, you still aren't the only one suffering from unexplained karma evaporation lately.
    I think the new system calls for treating trolls and flamebaiters *better* than everybody else : )
  • I understand that a truly huge rally would attract much more attention. And if someone wants to organize one, more power to them -- I agree it would be a good idea. But for now, this protest was done on fairly short notice with no budget and it *is* attracting a reasonable amount of attention. The goals of this protest will have been met if we get on the local TV news and get our our message locally. Consider it a first step.

    Regards,
    David C Niemi
  • I completely disagree. The DMCA is pretty clearly unconstitutional, but it takes many years and much pain and suffering for such cases to get to the Supreme Court, and by then a new attack on our liberties will be underway. The DMCA is in a comment period right now, so NOW is the time to act.

    David C Niemi
  • If you are considering coming but are annoyed about wearing black and white, be reassured you will be welcome wearing whatever you want, whether you are a Linux user or not. The "black and white" theme is just an idea for attracting attention, and we'll see how it works; but what's really important is that you show up.

    DCN
  • Very good points. As I was reading I also came to the conclusion that the DCMA was specifically designed to overturn the 1984 court case. What I'm not sure of is whether the court(s) will allow it to succeed or not -- and we all know that the issue really comes down to money vs. constitutional rights on this one.

    "Regarding economic value as a touchstone, ..." I'm not sure if the idea of advancement OR economics is more important either.

    The more important argument seems to have been that the copyright holders could not prove that a VTR (Video Tape Recorder) would cause substantial financial damage in the form of copyright infringement before the courts should get involved. They couldn't, and so Sony won.

    By my (non-lawyer, by the way) reading is that DeCSS doesn't create or prevent piracy, it actually expands the market just like the Betamax and VHS VTR's did. So by this test, the deCSS code should be legal, and if a court case rules that it is, the DCMA is DEAD. [We all agree -- pirated copies of DVDs, CD-ROMS, etc are not acceptable or legal, right?]

    Okay, now for a one or two minor disputations with your points: "Congress not only can do things in its listed powers, it can do anything that is reasonably connected to advancing those exercises of power."Not quite. My reading is that the Founding Fathers recognized that the legislatures in many European countries were quite corrupt, and made a strong judiciary a foundation of our governmental system as a counterbalance to it, with the goal of protecting fairness in the rule of law. So Congress cannot advance it's powers in an unlimited matter unless the Supreme Court sits on its hands.

    "Hence, the DCMA. (Whose likely valid constitutional basis is the Commerce Clause.)"Not a disputation of your point, but so far the court cases have been trade secret and/or copyright clause related. I'm curious as to this interpretation of the DCMA's constitutional foundation.

    "They could avoid the constitutional issue (free speech vs. copyright) by using the "fair use" part of the statute. That day may well be gone.

    Absolutely brilliant point, the expression of which has been like an itch in the back of my mind which I couldn't quite scratch.


    "The good news is that this is a pretty first-amendment-friendly Supreme Court." Yeah, but slow to act (designed that way), too. "See the statute isn't fair. It isn't SUPPOSED to be fair. And it isn't clear that the Constitution requires it to be. Agreed, but the Bill of Rights is designed to promote justice and liberty for all of us -- not just the megacorps.

  • it's attitudes like that that make lawmakers afraid of us.

    They should be afraid [maniacal laughter receding in the distance...]

    But really, I don't think that's the right approach. Lawmakers deal in power and tend to understand power better than anything else (not that it's saying much, I know). Consequently, *begging* them for something is not a good way to get it. Getting their back to the wall and *demanding* it, usually works much better. You still have to be civilized about it, though...

    Kaa
  • to respectfully make your opinion known to the lawmakers.

    Can I skip the "respectful" part? I won't throw bricks at them or anything, but I was taught that lying is bad...

    Kaa
  • > [Aside: The slashcode is out there, and would make a great basis for a site devoted to
    > announcing political protests, for anyone who wants to start one ...]

    I've considered doing this. My idea was to have a single site that would centralize "geek conscience" issues such as the DVD boycott, the Amazon boycott, the etoy/eToys debacle, etc, etc. It could be used as a resource to coordinate protests such as this at the same time that it would be a good resource to point non-geeks to. I can't count the number of times I've had someone invite me to a movie, only for me to say, "Sorry, I'm boycotting", and then have to explain over and over and /over/ again. I figured it would be very, very helpful to have a site that could be used as a central repository of information in as much or as little detail as a visitor wanted. Kind of a "okay, what's this all about" all the way down to "I'm boycotting Mattel, what products do I need to avoid now?"

    Unfortunately, I'm overcommitted when it comes to time to begin with. Mrf. If anyone is interested in bouncing ideas for this project back and forth, email me and let me know.
  • You're right -- I wish I'd posted this with more notice. :( On the other hand, the alternative was not to put it up at all. Since the issue's timely and this protest will be in the nation's capital, "putting it up" won.

    [Aside: The slashcode is out there, and would make a great basis for a site devoted to announcing political protests, for anyone who wants to start one ...]

    timothy
  • My idea was to have a single site that would centralize "geek conscience" issues such as the DVD boycott, the Amazon boycott, the etoy/eToys debacle, etc, etc.
    I've been considering putting up a general "corporate misbehavior" discussion site that would cover these and other corporate crimes - sweatshops, pollution, corruption, and the like. I've even registered the domain "corporatebastards.com" to use for the site.

    But I haven't come up with the copious spare time to do much with it. (Although I'll probably use the PHP discussion code I've been developing for my unreasonable.org [unreasonable.org] site, so maybe in the big picture there is some progress.)

  • Just to add my .02, I'll be there, even if it's just to check out the turnout. I'll be snapping digital camera pictures like a monkey on crack, so if the slashdot folks will be kind enough to post a link to them, I'll send one when they're done. I know there's been a dress code dispute, but I can't resist wanting to wear my copyleft "total world domination" shirt either. *grin*

    I've had limited success dropping in on my favorite congressperson/senator, but I suppose it's worth a try. Anyone else from Indiana? (hahaha)

    If anyone has any questions about directions/places to eat/whatnot, feel free to give me an email. I'm only here for the semester (student), but I'll do my best!

    -Rav
    ravenium at bigfoot.com
  • I agree 150%. We need a massfull showing,a huge rally. In person, where cameras are there
  • As the other reply said, this is about dressing nice not about dressing as penguins. The idea behind this protest is that the members are well dressed and respectful. The people and press will judge us based on how we appear. If we look professional then they'll treat the issue seriously. If we look like we don't "care about how we look" then neither will they. There isn't a dress "code", but it's a strong recommendation to look clean and well dressed. I will be there in black jeans and a white shirt (though maybe a clean t-shirt). I don't dress in suits, and neither do many of the other people organizaing this protest. If you go- please do try to put on a good face for the public and press, it will help get our point across. - Serge Wroclawski
  • Absolutely,

    I strongly suggest other cities do similiar events. The nice part about being in DC is that we're so close to the "impoortant" buildings and people, but that doesn't mean that protests in New York, LA, Chicago etc won't matter.

    And I especially encourage people in other countries protest as well. This is a US law, but I fear and suspect that it will become an international problem.
  • This is the fault of the people planning the protest. We all have full time jobs and school etc. To make a really detailed planned protest takes a lot of time, and by that time, the DMCA would already be old news.

    But if someone wants to make _another_ protest, go ahead.

    What's more helpful now is to make signs etc though so we can pass them out.

    - Serge Wroclawski
  • Is this limited to the U.S. (ie can't you be 'had' when you operate from abroad) ?
  • It makes me SOOOOO angry...

    On one hand I want to abide by copyright laws and not steal/pirate information that doesn't belong to me,
    but,
    on the other hand the large corporations (DVD, Music industry, etc.) are raping us and stealing our right to innovate, so that they can make money.

    I guess that's capitalism.
    Anyone want to move to the Catskills backwoods with me?
  • The "elastic clause" expands the other powers, but you still need one to attach it to. Congress could say it was necessary and proper to protect copyrights, and it would probably fly, but isn't as dead-bang a winner as the commerce clause, IMO.
  • Well, sure. Sony v. Universal Picture Studios is important. It was a very criticized case at the time, ESPECIALLY FOR IT'S THEORY REGARDING FAIR USE. Personally, I think the "substantial non-infringing use" analogy was the stronger basis, legally.

    #ifdef FAIR USE

    17 USC 107, Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include--

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

    #endif

    The Supreme Court used that balancing test to defeat the copyright holders. This was the industry's reaction to that case. It was crafted specifically to overturn the case. It is supposed to be inconsistent with the case.

    Regarding economic value as a touchstone, you have to ask yourself what the Constitution means there. Does it mean that: "If some portion of a statute does not advance the sciences and the useful arts it is unconstitutional", or does it mean "Congress has to sincerely believe that it is advancing the sciences and useful arts." I think that it has to be the latter... who is the Supreme Court to decide whether a statute is advancing those things?

    What really swallows up a bunch is the "necessary and proper" clause. Congress not only can do things in its listed powers, it can do anything that is reasonably connected to advancing those exercises of power. Hence, the DCMA. (Whose likely valid constitutional basis is the Commerce Clause.)

    The courts have always had the "fair use" part of the statute to use so that they never really had to decide between copyrights and the first amendment. They could avoid the constitutional issue by using the "fair use" part of the statute. That day may well be gone. The good news is that this is a pretty first-amendment-friendly Supreme Court.

    It is a really scary statute. The only reason it is flying is that 100% of the hardware manufacturers are on board with 100% of the copyright holders. They both make money as long as "authorized" means "part of the cartel to divide up consumers' money."

    See the statute isn't fair. It isn't SUPPOSED to be fair. And it isn't clear that the Constitution requires it to be.

    But the vast majority of people are sheep. If those who understand what is going on don't get large numbers of ordinary people motivated to protest, it will continue. Since the vast majority of people are reasonably happy with the price of DVD's and players, It will probably continue.

  • I'd like to add an amplification or two.

    Enumerated Powers and Fundamental Rights - You are absolutely right. There are fundamental rights in the Constitution in addition to Congress' enumerated powers. Congress has the power to collect taxes. The Constitution protects against racial discrimination in laws. The power to collect taxes is subject to not just taxing a racial minority.

    The Courts - Yes, we have an independent judiciary (among other checks and balances) to prevent any branch or combination of branches from exerting too much power. On the other hand, the Supreme Court only takes the political branches on when it sees fundamental constutional rights at stake. Even then, it does everything it can do dodge such a fight. The Court does not want to oppose self-government unless it really, really has to.

    Constitutional Basis for DCMA - You are also right that the Founding Fathers were suspicious, and only gave Congress enumerated powers. To pass a law Congress has to find a power that allows that particular law, otherwise, no go. The patent and copyright clause limits Congress to giving rights for a limited time. The DCMA section on copyright protection systems is not for a limited time. Can't be the copyright clause. The Commerce Clause is pretty much Congress' broadest power, and does cover this, so I'd guess that would be the basis for what enumerated power Congress was asserting. Congress' powers related to trade secrets, such as the Economic Espionage Act, are Commerce Clause laws.

    That said, the Constitution does not outlaw unfair things per se. It isn't to promote liberty and justice -- it establishes procedures for government. There are certain, and very few, substantive floors it sets on democratic principles. Free Speech is among them, though I don't think anyone REALLY knows that the first amendment means.

    If I'd written the law, I'd have written it to say that if you decode the data and do unauthorized things with it, or distribute decoders that allow/facilitate or are trivially modifiable to allow/facilitate misuse, you are toast. Actually, on that basis DeCSS itself is toast unfortunately, because (as I understand it) DeCSS deposits the decoded data on disk without restriction or post-viewing deletion. On the other hand, fixing it to avoid my rule wouldn't be hard. Fixing the code to avoid the "you have to be licensed" rule is impossible.

    Also, we all might be worrying too much about the DCMA. After all, no court of appeal, much less the Supreme Court, has spoken on the DeCSS case yet.

  • I wasn't saying that we shouldn't protest, only that it be civilized, because when they get afraid of us, they use it as a justification for putting more controls on things.
  • No offense, but it's attitudes like that that make lawmakers afraid of us. Respectfully is the way to go.
  • I wasn't all that familiar with the DMCA, so I visited one of the provided links to brush up on it. When I got there, I took a look at the link to the DVD CCA law suit. It seems to me that the DMCA is not at fault here. As the FAQ states: "The DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) clearly states that "reverse-engineering on the basis of interoperability" is legal." so why is it that people are so upset. The DMCA seems to be the same as any other copyright act out there, protecting the owners of the copyright from people who intentionally illegaly misuse products. The guilty ones here are the corporations who are trying to bend the DMCA to their distorted views of reality. I know I'll probably be blasted for this post, but come on, deep down we all have to agree that some form of copy protection must be allowed to exist.
  • I understand what you are saying, but we can't punish the smaller corporations, which are the ones that are really hurt without these copy protection acts. Big business can usually cover their losses. I think that the courts are the ones that need to make sure the big corporations don't abuse the copy protections acts. If this case would go to court and the judge seeing the obvious, then big corporations will think twice about suing for this kind of garbage. Anyway, thanks for not ripping me apart. :)
  • I think that they do realize this but as of now, our government is run by corporations, and whoever can buy the most votes, and when a large, important corporation like the MPAA starts throwing their weight around, our goverment is going to listen.
  • This is funny.... The legislators that worships competition and freedom of choice passes a bill giving the monopolistic companies an advantage.. When do the politicians learn that co-operation is the best way ahead, and not a future where huge corporations dictate the public on what to buy, wear and eat?

    Anders Ebbesen
  • On one hand I agree, but on the other, I don't... When they see a group of demonstrators they'll think of you based on the clothes you wear: Nice Clothes: These people might be interesting to have a conversation with. Worn Clothes with holes: Oh, well, it is probably just the usual hippies smoking cannabis, nevermind them..

    Anders Ebbesen
  • nothing screams protest like a bowl of hot grits poured down the pants. thank you.
  • Montana: Where the men are men The women are men And the sheep are scared.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know this view is going to be unpopular here on /., but I personally think that there has been too much fuss over the DMCA. I mean, yeah, the DeCSS thing is a fiasco, but in the end everything will balance out.

    The DMCA, and now the UCITA, are simple examples of the market regulating itself through the legal use of lobbying. IMHO this is a good thing, since more government intervention can only lead to a socialist-like stifling of the market, which is bad for everyone concerned. And while the DMCA is somewhat prohibitive, it will become less so as time goes on due to the self-regulation inherent in our country's laws. In a couple of years time we will all be wondering what the fuss about this was.

  • That's what we really need.

    New XFMail home page [slappy.org]

    /bin/tcsh: Try it; you'll like it.

  • I thought the DMCA had already been passed. Will the protesters be asking for it to be repealed, or what?

    Still, anything that provides a counterweight to lobbying by the copyright industry is welcome.
  • Interesting response, and also quite predictable. Unfortunately the exceptions for reverse engineering are so narrow as to be useless, and are not preventing the MPAA from suing over DeCSS. Please see my more detailed commentary on the DMCA at:
    http://www.tuxers.net/dmca/dmca-notes.txt

    David C Niemi
  • We could always block the entrance to the Capitol building in DC so Congress would be trapped inside, but...

    If only I could make a site which would have premade letters to Congress about the DMCA and other geek issues (and the ability to send them directly by email or maybe fax), and was able to make this a highly-visited web site by both geeks and non-geeks, then we could be one step closer.

  • > When do the politicians learn that co-operation is the best way ahead

    Never. Because co-operation is the best way ahead for the public, but exclusiveness is the best way ahead for themselves.

    --
  • > while the DMCA is somewhat prohibitive, it
    > will become less so as time goes on due to
    > the self-regulation inherent in our country's
    > laws.

    That is a nice way to look at it, and so far the market has regulated itself very nicely. Unfortunatly the market doesn't just happen to regulate it's self. As the saying goes, it takes all kinds. Maby the DMCA/UCTIA was started with good intentions, and went bad. At least someone made an effort to protect content makers.

    Now that the law is made, it is our (the consumers) job to fight for our right. I do agree that (mostely) America's legal system is a good one, but this kinda thing has to be fought to get into court and balanced out. I personaly think that (like in the DeCss case) it would be in our best interest to loose early and often so that it goes to the Spreme Court were it can be ruled as unconstitutional.

    What these guys are trying to do with a protest is to avoid the whole sticky court thing altogether, and get it ballenced out quickly and fairly without paying lawyers and tying up the (already congested) court system.

    So, to make it short: Protest good, apathy bad.

    Chris Constantine
  • We need to get the NLUGs (Nashville) to March down Music Row where all of the record companies have offices. I'll help!
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @05:50AM (#1176559)
    > I know I'll probably be blasted for this post, but come on, deep down we all have to agree that some form of copy protection must be allowed to exist.

    Not me; I think you're being perfectly reasonable. But let me back up and put a different spin on something you said:

    > The DMCA seems to be the same as any other copyright act out there, protecting the owners of the copyright from people who intentionally illegaly misuse products. The guilty ones here are the corporations who are trying to bend the DMCA to their distorted views of reality

    The rich and powerful always bend the laws to their own advantage, and of course they have much more bending muscle than Joe Consumer does. The only solution is to reject any proposed laws that are too easy for them to exploit. Such as the DMCA.

    And knowing the way the lobbying system runs the USA, it's a fair bet that "the guilty ones" managed to buy the legislation in the first place, and did so for the express purpose of bending/exploiting it. Indeed, they don't have to do much bending with this one, because it pretty much spells out what they want.

    Ditto for UCITA, though the corporate meddling is much more transparent.

    --
  • by molog ( 110171 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @05:57AM (#1176560) Homepage Journal
    Ok, let's do it. I will help organize. Email me at epurvee at yahoo dot com. If people have more experience in this sort of event then I will leave the leadership to them but I will put in my time to help out. What we need to do first is get a group of us volunteers and work out the hierarchy of our responsibilities. Once that is done, we can decide on a date for the protest and work on other details. Let's do this.
    Molog

    So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

  • by meckardt ( 113120 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @06:21AM (#1176561) Homepage

    I just took time out to actually read the DMCA. First, let me say, I agree that it is a bad law just because of the intent of the chief backer's, the music industry. That said, I would like to state that the first thing I see is a glaring hole that will allow the decryption technology that it is aimed at to be continued to be available:

    Paragraph 1, and its subparagraphs, tells us that "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title". Right. This is the part that we're all up in arms about. But read on to paragraph 2: "No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that... has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title..."

    Isn't one of our chief complaints that DMCA will lock up an otherwise useful technology? Doesn't this part of the law open the door right back up? I read it as saying that decryption technologies that might be used to decrypt music files are still OK, as long as that is not what you use them for.

    Just my take.


    Gonzo
  • I took the time to contact my representatives, have you? Make sure they understand the issues!

    Included below is the response I received from Senator Grassley (R, IA):

    • Thank you for taking the time to communicate with me. As your Senator, it's important for me to hear from you.
    • I appreciate hearing your concerns about the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and ongoing litigation against software developers who had decrypted the DVD Content Scrambling System information for the Linux operating system.

      As you know, the DMCA implements the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties by amending the copyright laws. The legislation was the result of intensive negotiations between the interested parties and enjoyed broad support of the constituencies it affected. The DMCA is an attempt to balance strong and effective measures to deter piracy of copyrighted works, while allowing for fair use of protected materials in the digital age.

      I understand that you specifically are concerned that the DMCA criminalizes any attempt to reverse-engineer the encryption of copyright media. You should be aware that the DMCA provides for a number of specific exceptions, including an exception for reverse-engineering. The U.S. Copyright Office explains that section 1201(f) of the DMCA "permits circumvention, and the development of technological means for such circumvention, by a person who has lawfully obtained a right to use a copy of a computer program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing elements of the program necessary to achieve interoperability with other programs, to the extent that such acts are permitted under copyright law." Moreover, the language of the DMCA explicitly states that nothing in the law shall affect the fair use of protected works. The Senate Judiciary Committee's Report on the DMCA made clear that "the fair use doctrine is fully applicable in the digital world as in the analog world." I believe that it is apparent from the language of the DMCA and its Committee Report that devices such as VCR's and computers will not be rendered illegal by this legislation. The sole purpose behind the DMCA was to outlaw the widespread piracy of copyrighted works, and not to outlaw devices like VCR's or computers, or their legitimate use by consumers.

      Copyright owners have a legitimate concern about the ease in which digital works can be copied and distributed through the internet. Because the copyright industry is one of our largest and fastest growing economic assets, it was important that Congress enact strong legislation to implement the WIPO treaties and set a high standard for other nations to follow so that the rampant piracy of U.S. Copyrighted works can be stopped. Nevertheless, Congress may consider whether modifications to the DMCA are necessary. Rest assured, I will keep your views in mind if and when the Senate reviews legislation which would amend the copyright laws.

      Again, thank you for contacting me. I appreciate hearing your views and urge you to keep in touch.


      Sincerely,
      [ Signed: Chuck ]
      Charles E. Grassley
      United States Senator

    Many of the mistakes that Grassley makes are fairly evident in the letter (re: piracy and fair use); I've already sent a clarification of course.

    The important part that I saw was his statement "I believe it is apparent from the language of the DMCA and its Committee Report that devices such as VCRs and computers will not be rendered illegal by this legislation." -- it's up to you to show them that they have been!

  • Ever wonder why the DCMA really got passed? And whether the Supreme Court will ultimately find it to be constitutional? While researching I found this [and I am not the only one, the Harv ard Law website also has the case online [harvard.edu]], (Bolding of certain areas of text, known as emphasis, is mine)
    An explanation of our rejection of respondents'
    unprecedented attempt to impose copyright liability upon the distributors of copying equipment requires a quite detailed recitation of the findings of the District Court. (skipping some VCR/TV specific content, resuming where the reason for rejection is given) even the two respondents in this case, who do assert objections to time-shifting in this litigation, were unable to prove that the practice has impaired the commercial value of their copyrights or has created any likelihood of future harm. Given these findings, there is no basis in the Copyright Act upon which respondents can hold petitioners liable for distributing VTR's to the general public. The Court of Appeals' holding that respondents are entitled to enjoin the distribution of VTR's, to collect royalties on the sale of such equipment, or to obtain other relief, if affirmed, would enlarge the scope of respondents' statutory monopolies to encompass control over an article of commerce that is not the subject of copyright protection.
    Hmmm...It seems that according to the Supreme Court, I can watch copyrighted content which I have copied for my own use with a technological device, doesn't it? How about this one:
    ...the noncommercial character of the use, and the private character of the activity conducted entirely within the home. (Slight skip of TV only related content) "Even when an entire copyrighted work was recorded, the District Court regarded the copying as fair use
    "because there is no accompanying reduction in the market for 'plaintiff's original work.'"
    The first section referred to receiving "free" signals, but once I have paid for a license to view a DVD in the privacy of my home, I have the right to do so for free...unless it's on a machine not pre-approved for the purpose, apparently. (No DVD decoders have been licensed for Linux that I know of) The second part says that if I am not reducing the commercial value of the copyright owners (AKA piracy), copying an entire work is fair use.

    One more, the most important of all:

    Article I, Sec. 8 of the Constitution provides that: "The Congress shall have Power ... to Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."


    The monopoly privileges that Congress may authorize are neither unlimited nor primarily designed to provide a special private benefit. Rather, the limited grant is a means by which an important public purpose may be achieved. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors by the provision of a special reward, and to allow the public access to the products of their genius after the limited period of exclusive control has expired. "The copyright law, like the patent statute, makes reward to the owner a secondary consideration.
    So if you haven't yet decided whether the DCMA is worth fighting against, consider these arguments. Join the fight to make sure that the entire DCMA is thrown out as an unconstitutional infringement of our rights. [4 good ways (?), contacting your congressional representatives, media exposure where available, boycotting the studios, and by financially supporting the EFF.]
  • by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @05:14AM (#1176564) Homepage Journal
    This is good, but we need protests done in other cities (like Silicon Valley, where the DVD lawsuits are taking place)

    If only done in Washington, DC, the US government won't get the picture and just ignore it on the basis that the rest of the population has no problem with the DMCA.

    And don't forget to submit your comments to the Library of Congress too (Deadline's the end of this month)
  • by molog ( 110171 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @05:22AM (#1176565) Homepage Journal
    When ever we hear about these protests, it is always "Tomorrow, show your support!" or "One week from today, show your support!" Honestly that isn't enough time to prepare. I would love to take part in making our voices heard to the lawmakers, but 3 LUG's just isn't enough to even be noticed. We would need > 10k people to even get a headline. This is something that needs to be planned months in advance with everyone knowing about it, getting hotels reserved, or putting in the comp time at work or letting your boss know you need vacation those days. I'm sure that if we had a little time to organize that something could be put together. I would be willing to help with such a task if there was interest.
    Molog

    So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

  • by Diamond Slicer ( 39462 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @05:56AM (#1176566) Journal
    One of the reasons we never hear about protests like this ahead of time is because the Geek community is fragmented. There are a few central hubs in the commmunity like RMS and Slashdot - but they are too busy to go all out and organize something of >10k.

    What someone needs to do in order to have an effective protest - is to set up a webpage - something like the ElectroHippies page that Protests the WTO and contact major websites that Geeks visit. An mailing list should be started so people can subscribe - find out details and contact other local geeks. (Even though this may sound like dilbert) Committees need to be formed with people in charge of transportation and like.

    Now - why the above will probably never happen. We Geeks (at least a fair amount of those on /.) are computer oriented so a DoS attacks like the one the ElectroHippies staged on the WTO would appeal to us far more than standing on some corner holding signs. Furthermore many of us (judging by the responses to the articles that were posted about the elections) don't have faith in Congress any more. We simply face the facts that because we are not a all-godly lobby so we will not ever influence joeblow senator/representative.

    I hate being pessimistic - so I'll end on an upbeat note. This year (at least in the US) is an election year. Many politicians will be going back to their home states and campaigning. If a politico should come to your area and hold a forum, go ask him his/her opinion on the DCMA. The protest comming up is one I cannot attend (due to limited finances and distance). However, I should like someone to run a webcam (anyone know if one is gonna be up?) and I will tune in (from work). I would also be willing to snail mail the politicians that live in the area around me.

    The above poster also said that this protest would get no media attention... WRONG! I bet it gets a fair amount - when was the last time that white color enginneers/technicians protested at the White House? - At least on the Net it will be covered.

    SIDE NOTE: - Someone should see if we could get some Enginneers Unions and like to protest it also - the unions (at least the one at Boeing) seem to have a fair amount of power.
  • by HBergeron ( 71031 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @08:23AM (#1176567)
    As long as you are taking the time to come out and do some Rah Rah (the term of art for a group of people 10-10,000 rallying on the Capitol grounds,) Why don't you actually schedule time to come in a see the congressional staff - the people who wrote the DMCA in the first place. One poster had mentioned hitting representatives at town halls in their districts and states. While this should not be discouraged, the end result will be the member going back to their staff, asking "have you heard many complaints about the DMCA" and when the answer is no, filing you away as a crackpot. Yes, the MPAA and RIAA are here, so is the Patent Bar lobby, but none of them are grassroots organizations, they represent business interests, and they are treated as such (for better and worse).

    AIPAC (the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee) is often ranked as the most effective lobby in Washington by other lobbyists and legislative staff. Every year they bring 3-4000 members to Washington for a 3 day conference. This includes a "Hill Day" when members "storm the hill", groups going to the office of their own Congressmen and Senators. Offices will never say no to meeting constituents in DC. The AIPACers sit down with staff and push their legislative agenda for the year. Backing up these visits is the other end of AIPAC is a very intelligent, thoughtful group of academics who can supply supporting material for any pro-Israel argument a member or hill staffer would like to make. This small group is located in DC, they understand how to make material relevant to the legislative process, and they know the members.

    The point of this is, I know the tech crowd has some roots in the ex-hippies of the 70s and early 80s, and barricading the doors of congress (as suggested by one post) seems like a effective idea. Most techs are very intelligent, if not eloquent, individuals. The web is the single most effective tool for political organization we've ever known, and it's your domain. Organize and communicate. When you come to DC or NOVA, make time to meet with the staff of your Senator or Congressman. Maintain lists of members, rank their votes on issues - know who your friends are, stay in touch with the staff. Once you have the business card of a Senate LA, you can call or e-mail that person at will (or at least until you make a nuisance of yourself - be professional). Stop whining that Congress won't take a personal interest in you, take a personal interest in Congress.

    If you truly believe that the government is out of your reach and it doesn't matter what you say, why bother to even come and protest? You should be hiding from the black helicopters by now. If you want to get something done, get involved, grok the system, and work it.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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