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Public Debate Between Valenti and Lessig 150

An Anonymous Coward writes "There will be a free public debate between Jack Valenti, head of the MPAA, and Lawrence Lessig, Stanford law professor tonight at 7pm in the Ames Courtroom of the Harvard Law School. This should be very interesting, especially if a lot of Slashdotters show up :)" It's actually on-going right now, though the quality of the webcast is terrible. There's also some sort of IRC channel for discussion.
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Public Debate Between Valenti and Lessig

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sometimes the only way to make one's point is to make it very, very crystal clear. Whether that means calling Valenti a cocksucker or smashing some Starbucks' up, I leave it to you to decide.

    The people who smashed up the Starbucks did a diservice to the PROTESTERS in Seattle. That is the video footage the media uses when they call the protests in Seattle RIOTS.
  • Look, you mark him down flamebait, but he's right.

    Slashdot articles from the last two weeks:

    1. Hey! Come to the Slashdot Party in San Diego in 4 hours!
    2. Hey! We're speaking at MIT tonight!
    3. Hey! There's a Linux Expo in Denver this weekend!
    4. Hey! Valenti's having a debate 36 minutes ago, you can still catch the tail end!

    Now, I know Slashdot's more a discussion group than a news group, despite the misnomer "news for nerds". Still, it would be nice to occasionally get a little advance notice of things. I live in Reno, so I actually could have been at that party if it had been posted, say, 48 hours in advance, instead of 4.
  • Besides, smashing up a Starbucks is "radical chic". It's for losers who actually think "Fight Club" is a good movie and for whiners who think Ikea is the scourge of the earth.

    It's possible to think Fight Club was a good movie without agreeing with the values of the main characters.

    Guess what else: I like The X-Files, despite the fact that I don't believe in paranormal phenomena.

  • So, it's not a problem if I can't incorporate a video clip into my schoolwork or teaching
    Actually, I don't think you're allowed to do that under fair use doctrine. You can excerpt text, but not pictures, IIRC. Here []'s a page about fair use.
  • I think he's using "fair use" to mean "view it in any way I want", not "use what I own in any way I want and as much as I want".


  • by EricEldred ( 175470 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @07:27PM (#741325) Homepage

    Just got back from the live debate--sorry if you missed it, but I did send a message to Rob last week.

    I asked a complicated question of Jack, and it flustered him because he didn't understand it--I think two-part questions exceed his short-term memory span. But pay no mind to that--the whole point was not winning the debate, but educating people about copyright and patent, or "intellectual property" as some persist in calling it. And Jack is doing a good job on his end; it's time we did a better job.

    My question was if it was "theft" for the owner of a bar or restaurant to evade paying royalties on public performances of copyright music. In the 19th century, two Parisian songwriters demanded that a cafe owner pay them for having the band play one of their songs--the owner declined--the songwriters went to jail--and the French law was changed.

    That would sound like "theft" to me, and would be appropriate under the natural rights theory of copyright like the Kantian theory that Jack earlier mentioned, and the later French Republican reinstitution of copyright. And I might personally agree that the authors ought to be reimbursed--I am not one who thinks that everything on the Internet ought to be free, or that musicians should not be paid, nor that copyright has been practically overturned by the Internet.

    The point is that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was passed only because U.S. bar and restaurant owners managed to get an exception, allowing them to escape payment. So when Jack dined at a nice Cambridge restaurant before the debate, he was listening to "stolen" music in his words. (In fact, a group of Irish songwriters have managed to sue in the E.U. to declare the U.S. in restraint of free trade, because of this very lack of "harmonisation," and the U.S. is now appealing--otherwise the U.S. may well be sanctioned.)

    Jack didn't see it that way, of course. He rapidly abandoned the natural rights theory of copyright, the only one under which it makes sense to say that a copyright can be "stolen" by someone else. He fell back on the statutory, utilitarian, theory of copyright that underlies the viewpoint of the Framers of the Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution, that Larry Lessig eloquently expanded on.

    So Lessig talked about the Copyright Term Extension Act suit (Eldred v Reno), and Valenti talked about Napster and and DeCSS. Still, the education about copyright went pretty well, I think.

    What is scary is that Valenti's talk about streaming movies over the Internet, and his ignorance of their complete denial of fair use, because of the DMCA, might come true. Then the only way people could have fair use would be illegal and go underground in some way. Then what becomes of copyright law--I think it doesn't matter at that point--and the courts don't have any guidance on how to decide issues, except to try to do some economic balancing, which will always favor those with the most money.

    But this trend to encryption and locking up things will at the same time destroy the movie studios, I think. Theaters, video rental stores, the whole business model of staged releases and so on, would be threatened. I would advise technologists in Hollywood to try to adapt the business model and make works more open and accessible and not fear "piracy." Instead, use technology to make products more valuable, and encourage consumers to buy more attractive and useful products.

    Jack if he had the chance to think about this might well agree. I really do think he is a decent guy and it is wrong to make fun of him. I just hope the people behind Jack, the technologists and the ones who control technology, can become a little wiser now and see what the Free Software movement has accomplished.

    Meanwhile, the lawsuits are going forward. A moot court at Harvard Law School Oct 2 (Monday) will prepare Lessig for the Oct 5 oral arguments in Eldred v Reno (to overturn the CTEA). Those arguments will be before the US District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. All are invited there to hear the real stuff.

    And the DeCSS case is going to appeal. It was a great pleasure to talk with Emmanuel Goldstein at this debate and shake his hand and encourage him. But it would be even better if more of us helped out in the OpenLaw [] group to help prepare the appeals brief in the DeCSS case.

    Right now the lawsuits are our best bet. But we must still continue trying to learn more about copyright and patent law and educate everyone we can, else Jack Valenti will be doing it instead.

  • Reading all these posts is like reading war vs. peace, they're all right.

    I suppose a good analogy would be like the old 17th century "pistol duels" where two 'gentlemen' could disagree as gentlemen and then settle the matter out in the field with a couple of single shot muskets at ten paces......

  • I just collected some photos from the debate. There were a lot of people milling around afterwards discussing the event. []
  • Don't steal my idea! I was thinking it'd be great if they could bring in a couple of foldup chairs...
  • No kidding! Listening to that stream brought me back to my ol' "Ham Radio" days. In fact, 40 meters sound better than that stream at most times.
  • No, he doesn't look like Colonel Sanders. It's obvious that he's "Papa Smurf".

  • It's also the only reason we ever saw the PROTESTERS doing their thing. Otherwise, we would have had some stupid blerb on page 13 of the paper that said "Idiots in Sea Turtle Costumes Picket WTO".
  • Maybe they should have hosted it on linux?

    Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80004005'

    [Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] Could not update; currently lo

    /groupchat/assigngroups.asp, line 26
  • by phutureboy ( 70690 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @03:30PM (#741333)
    I understand your angle, but there's something to be said for using reason and persuasion instead of drowning out your opponent and denying them freedom of movement and assembly. IMHO, using coercion to silence unpopular speech is wrong whether it's perpetrated by governments, corporations, or angry mobs of Seattle Non-Anarchists.

  • i just finished reading lessig's book "code" and was pretty psyched to hear about this debate. too bad he's debating someone who hadn't been relevant for 20 years.


  • Valenti seems to keep repeating "I have no idea what you're talking about."

    I think this is half the battle, and something that us geeks don't really get -- we're fighting people who have no idea what this is all about.

    If they understood the technology, I'm sure most of the anti-napster and anti-decss people would change their minds.

  • "I'm not aware that we're doing any locking." Hmm, then what's this DeCSS thing about?

    "I don't know of any detrimental effects that come from the protection of peoples' intellectual property." So, it's not a problem if I can't incorporate a video clip into my schoolwork or teaching?

    "This has nothing to do with free speech." Sure it doesn't.

    This guy's such a shill.

    - A.P.

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @03:42PM (#741337)


    The Contenders: Richard Stallman, Lessig, and Eric S. Raymond

    The Incumbents: Valenti, Hilary Rosen, and and Unknown!

    Watch tonight as the righteous Freedom Fighters square off against the Evil Empire in a Tag Team Match To the Finish

    Tonight at 8/7 Central, exclusively on slashdotted servers!

    I couldn't help it.. I just had this vivid imagery of the RIAA and MPAA in some kind of warped WWF arena...


  • That's not neccessary. Congress understands Valenti's position just fine. His arguments are quite well stated with the campaign contributions.

  • ok, I deserve that. But why did I have zero problems with Netscape?
  • Those were Valenti's words, not mine.

    Jack if he had the chance to think about this might well agree. I really do think he is a decent guy and it is wrong to make fun of him.

    I think this is his effectiveness. Don't think that he doesn't know it either. He was an actor after all. He plays that "ol' country boy" theme for all it's worth, and that gravelly voice is soothing to listen to.

    Just too bad he has to "knife" the constitution with his ignorance.

    He'd make a great friend otherwise.

  • Lets all try and show some respect for the MPAA even though they are the "enemy". Espousing radical rehtoric only hurts the cause.


  • I found it funny how similar Valenti's description of Napster mirrored the definition of the World Wide Web. "Now why would anyone want to share files with two million users he's never met?" Let's go find Tim-Berners Lee and lock him up for providing the distribution medium for Napster software. :)
  • BG turned his back on the very same institution on which Lessig relies for his livelihood.

    Actually Lessig taught last year in Berlin, and moved to Stanford Law School this year. Mr. Gates in fact has given a lot of money to build and equip a new computer building at Harvard, not far from where the first computer at Harvard was built, and not far from the debate. The Berkman Center where Lessig worked and his own office had a number of Microsoft Windows Intel computers when I visited, although Lessig himself seems to be naturally a Macintosh type. I don't believe Lessig has any bias against Bill Gates or Microsoft--he teaches students the law as best he can, and his brief to advise Judge Jackson was a model of impartiality.

    Lessig has publicly stated that he thinks the *government* should be involved in making software

    Read his book, "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace," and you will learn what he really thinks. He thinks there is a place for laws with technology such as the Internet, for example to protect the public domain and give incentives for new works to be created. He refers to Jefferson--who if he was a "liberal" in your sense was nevertheless a radical one.

    And Lessig is doing a lot more than that old story about being master in the Microsoft case. He is leading a lawsuit to overturn the Copyright Term Extension Act, Eldred v Reno. The trouble is that Jack Valenti considers that law already bought and paid for, and didn't respond to that suit during the debate--instead, preferring to talk about Napster and other cases in which the difference is not that clear between Lessig and Valenti.

    I think the debate was productive. It gave Valenti a chance to enter the lion's den and talk about copyright policy with some smart people, some of whom may go to work for him. The side representing Free Software should be as bold and persuasive. But it's hard unless the comments stick to the point and unless they refrain from confusing personality and appearance with real views and understanding.

    But you don't necessarily have to believe me--he's my lawyer, and doing a fine job, I say. For further information about Larry Lessig, see his Stanford web page [] and his older Berkman Center page [], where you can read many of his works online and comment on them.

  • It seems we've slashdotted the WebCast. When submitting the form and attempting to view the WebCast, I get a message about all chat groups are full. *shrug* Maybe they'll release a video after the live WebCast, or a slashdot member will provide a very good report on the debate. *hint hint, clue clue*
  • Dr. Who can never be late...just climb into that big red British phone booth behind Harvard Square and...view the archived webcast...or be there in person...after all it's a movie.

    Hey, wait!--it's not a Hollywood movie--what will that do to our balance of payments!

    I enjoyed the Tibetan food at the fair and then got a front-row seat at the debate...the red notices were all over Harvard announcing the event.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The webcast will be available on DVD... (Not for use on your Linux machne, mind you...)
  • Lessig: mumble mumble mumble mumble, crackle crackle crackle

    Valenti: I have no idea what you're talking about

  • Does any one think that Valenti looks like Colonel Sanders?

    Laine Walker-Avina

  • I only caught the end of it, but here's basically how it went.

    • Jack Valenti repeatedly compares DeCSS to a burglary tool. He also says that he supports Fair Use as long as it's done in a way that he approves of, like getting a DVD from a library.
    • Lawrence Lessig asks Jack things like: if, hypothetically, there was a system that could restrict Fair Use on DVDs, would he oppose it? Jack's response was invariably "I don't know what you're talking about."

    This repeated a few times.
    No more e-mail address game - see my user info. Time for revenge.

  • I've managed to get in on the tail end of the debate on the 14.4k feed.

    Valenti insists he supports fair use, but only when the technology and the laws are changed to only allow proper compensation for the holders of IP for each viewing. Lessig has been questioning about whether libraries lending out DVDs of recent movies would still count as fair use. Valenti contends that everything he is pushing would still allow libraries to lend DVDs for single viewing, but only when the protections are in place to make it illegal or impossible for a library patron to make a copy, just the same way it is currently illegal to copy a book you check out of a library.

    Then there was some stuff I missed due to congestion (I'm on the wrong side of the atlantic for this)

    Lessig finished up with a question about putting EULA clauses in books or other media to prevent fair use or criticisms, but before Valenti could answer the moderator called for an end to the debate.

    Valenti has the smooth, friendly look of an experienced speaker, he doesn't hide behind the podium, he moves around as if he controls the room. Lessig never moved from behind his podium, he seemed a little on the defensive.

    It would have been nice for /. to get this posted earlier, but that would have made the /. effect even more severe.

    the AC
  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @03:50PM (#741351) Journal
    Of course he's a shill. He's the head of the MPAA. It's his job to protect the revenue stream of the MPAA members at any cost.

    Out of one side of his mouth, he blathers about free speech and art whenever a crusading Representative, Senator or lobbyist launches another broadside at the violence and sex in many current movies.

    Out of the other side, he screams piracy whenever someone brings up fair use and interopability. Apparently, redirecting a DeCSS stream to XMovie, or sending it to your (large) hard drive to be played by an MPEG-2 player later is hacking, evil, and should be punished by jail time or massive fines, because a Legit DVD Software Player is coming Real Soon Now (sorry Intervideo, I know you're working hard, I don't mean to attack you, but until the product comes out, it's still not available, and Valenti shouldn't be able to use that argument without questioning it.) And questioning the MPAA's motives isn't "free speech", it's condoning piracy, and should be silenced. You shouldn't even be allowed to link to pages with the software, Kosh forbid you have a copy yourself.

    What a fscking mess. I don't expect the MPAA to gain any sense any time soon, but all of this (the 2600 lawsuit, the Johansen arrest) could have been avoided if the MPAA had thrown Linux/*BSD users a bone by at least going after people who use the software for piracy instead of the software and the programmers.
  • Is this just a set-up to make look Ivy-League law professors look good?

    Headline: "Industry Shill Has-Been Actor Versus a Professional Debater"

    Heck, they even posted Valenti's perjurous testimony before Congress and the DeCSS trial (where he contradicted himself under oath).

    Can we look forward to David Boies versus Ray Romano next? (I don't mean to pick on Ray, but he just admitted to Charlie Rose on Friday that he pretends to use the computer on TV because he's never opened the PC he has at home.)
  • by naen ( 134991 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @03:55PM (#741353)
    The webcast has been archived here. []
  • A lucid argument will go further then "calling Valenti a cocksucker." Mosty people already side against the MPAA because the MPAA sides against common sense. Law makers however, will dismiss us on the surface -- remember, they hold the real power.

    theres never anything wrong with showing respect ... The bigest problem with this country (the US) is all the small minds walking around thinking they know everything about anything and whats best for everyone

    Moderators: I'm disapointed in you for +'ing this guys reply, and not the original message.

  • by mwillis ( 21215 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @03:58PM (#741355) Homepage
    Did anyone read the DVD trial excerpt on page 28 of October's Harper's Magazine?

    In it, Martin Garbus grills Jack Valenti in the 2600 DVD case (which Valenti won). In it, Valenti answers "I don't know" or similarly more than 30 times in a row. The guy did not have a clue about the case he was pressing. A typical exchange:

    Garbus: Do you know what a DVD burner is?
    Valenti: I'm not sure -- I've heard the term, but I really don't know what it means.

    This is probably online somewhere, so if anybody knows a link, please post it.
  • Wow, finally got a /. account..

    Valenti looked like such an idiot. I think I'm scarred for life after watching that..
  • Me: "I don't recall." --Ronald Wilson Reagan, Iran-Contra hearings

    AC: Don't forget: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

    The "I don't recall" ushered in a new era of courtroom defense. Reagan showed that there was a perfectly viable defense that was neither "No" nor "I plead the Fifth". It's always been there, but this case opened the floodgates to use that tactic.

    The AC's quote was a pure fabrication; Clinton decided to redefine 'sexual relations' instead of owning up to the fact that he did. In short, he lied, and that's a whole 'nother ball of wax.

  • Throughout the whole 'debate', Valenti would always avoid the question. If lessig, the moderator, or one of the people in the audience would ask a question about valenti's personal views about something, he would point out a court decision or a law as his answer. I also found it funny that Valenti says he totally supports 'fair use', but at the same time he says he supports giving rights to people who obtain copyrighted material only if the copyright holder gives it to them. What a crock.
  • My company does visual effects for films, and we make our own films, too. It's surprising to me just how few of my colleagues consider the future of the industry, most of use are too busy on our current projects to worry much about what is going to happen in a few years, when the bandwidth and storage problems inherent in sharing movies go away completely.

    I do worry about it, and am pretty pessimistic. The movie business has nowhere near the margins of the music business, the margins are on the order of 0-10% instead of 40% or so. This gives the movie business much less leeway, box-office profits for movies will be destroyed much more quickly when NapsterForMovies makes its debut. Another reason for the quicker demise of the current movie profit model is that Napster et. al. has taught the current generation of 14-24 year olds (who by 50% of the movie tickets) that copyright is obsolete.

    Things are not quite so bleak, though, when you look at the big picture for where movies make their money. While the domestic movie box-office this year will be around $4 billion (of which the studios get half, sharing it with the theater owners), I've heard reasonable reports that movie merchandising, and other ancillary ways turning movies into money, brought in something like $100 billion last year. Last year was a good year for that, but it shows that things might not be so bleak, after all.

    This will dramatically change the ways that movies are made, and which movies are made; once the revolution happens. It might make sense to give movies away, it might even make sense to pay people to go to movies, if that increases the market for the merchandising.

    Every other model I've thought about for continuing the movie business once it's trivial to download movies seems to fail immediately, but I'd love to hear other people's ideas! Gotta feed the kids, after all.


  • For those WWF fans the MPAA RIAA team is otherwise known as

    Right to Censor

    Yes they really are a tag team.

  • Another reason for the quicker demise of the current movie profit model is that Napster et. al. has taught the current generation of 14-24 year olds (who by 50% of the movie tickets) that copyright is obsolete.

    Quit making us pay 8, 9, 10 dollars or more to see a movie and you'll end up with more profit in volume.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • Wow, what a mismatch. If I were someone of Valenti's intellectual, um, stature, I'd make it a point not to debate any law professors. Not that I agree with Valenti's position, but his arguments can be much better stated by someone who understands them.
  • Ok, its over now, and I missed the whole thing.

    Was anyone recording it? Transcribing it at least? Post a link to either of those and I'm sure you'll get +5 Informative :)

  • Now that it's over, catch the archive: utu reofip/archive.asp []
  • Somebody please do a parody of it, and post it here! I'd do it myself, but I'm too lazy to do it right now. It's too late to be Karma whoring on a Sunday evening.
  • he screams piracy whenever someone brings up fair use and interopability. Apparently, redirecting a DeCSS stream to XMovie, or sending it to your (large) hard drive to be played by an MPEG-2 player later is hacking, evil, and should be punished by jail time or massive fines, because a Legit DVD Software Player is coming Real Soon Now

    But this isn't that slightest bit relevant. Whether or not a licensed player is available for Linux shouldn't be relevant at all, since this is a matter of making fair and personal use of DVDs. Even when LinDVD is released, I will still support DeCSS every bit as much because LinDVD will still prevent any type of fair use just like any other player.

  • I just caught the last half-hour of the debate, and Lessig's last point to Valenti was an extremely poignant one. It's unfortunate that Valenti chose to ignore it.

    Lessig was trying to get Valenti to define "fair use" in response to Valenti's assertion that "fair use" constitutes only what the author explicitly authorizes. To paraphrase, Lessig asked that if he wrote a book and that book included an agreement that by purchasing that book, you agree not to criticize the book, would writing a review of that book violate "fair use" of that work, to which Valenti replied that if such he bought such a book he would turn around and review the book to give the author a "kick in the butt". Lessig's follow-up question was if a person purchased a movie (presumably on DVD or some media type protected by the DMCA) and then proceded to watch the movie on a player that was not authorized by the author, does that go beyond "fair use" of that media. At which point, Jack essentially said "Oh, look at the time! Got to go!" (Paraphrased, but essentially accurate.)

    Unfortunately, this tells us nothing new. Media producers are more concerned about maintaining absolute control over their works than they are the principles of fair use. I hope that a transcript of this talk is up soon so that it can be quoted more correctly than my paraphraseology. ;)

    - Stealth Dave

  • Valenti was allowed to move around and articluate because he had his own personal lapel mic. He kinda dominated the place by intruding on other people's space and staying away from his podium

    Lessig, in contrast, had a (poor quality) wired mic, hence he couldn't move around. Luckily, he made up for it 100 fold by actually making good points and having good debate.

    • [Sometimes the only way to make one's point is to make it very, very crystal clear. Whether that means calling Valenti a cocksucker ]

    Um, excuse me RadicalMan, but calling Valenti a cocksucker (or smashing a Starbucks) isn't much more than flipping a dictator the bird as he's driving along in a limo.

    Get fucking real. If you're sick of the passive-aggressive "civil disobedience" as you (seem) to claim: then it's gonna take more than name calling and "Starbucks" bashing to get your point across.

    Besides, smashing up a Starbucks is "radical chic". It's for losers who actually think "Fight Club" is a good movie and for whiners who think Ikea is the scourge of the earth.

    Sorry to bust your bubble, RadicalMan. (tee hee)

  • Uh...Valenti is the head of the MPAA and all, I think he should be the one with the advantage.
  • They actually tried this in Canada. But they couldn't prove that every CD blank sold would be used to pirate music. The tax was overturned.
  • Lessig's follow-up question was if a person purchased a movie (presumably on DVD or some media type protected by the DMCA) and then proceded to watch the movie on a player that was not authorized by the author, does that go beyond "fair use" of that media. At which point, Jack essentially said "Oh, look at the time! Got to go!" (Paraphrased, but essentially accurate.)

    I'd like to see Jack Valenti tied up to a tree, hanging from his hands and feet all wrapped up, whereupon the good folks who finally served up some justice respond to Jack Valenti's whining, "When you gonna lemme go! I demand you lemme go right this instant!" with, ""Oh, look at the time! Got to go!"

    I'd laugh like Hell at this, then go for a good pepperoni pizza and a nice quiet evening of hacking code.

  • No offense, but 0-10% margins may well be true at the box office, but add in pay-per-view, video/DVD rental, transmission over premium tv channels, transmission over free tv channels, and sales of video and DVD and I think that any decent film is going to make a lot of money for a long time to come. Hell, Bladerunner is still earning millions even 20 years after release. Sure, it didn't make any money at the box office, but it's made a lot since. And ok, DVD/Video sales may well be hit if on-line sharing kicks off for movies - but people still buy computer games, they still buy CDs, they still buy books. The sales will continue, they'll just be a little harder to get.

    Make better deals with the distributors and don't sign away the on-going long-term royalties. Then you will be able to break even, or maybe make a profit (and break-even should be fine, if your salary is big enough).

  • This will dramatically change the ways that movies are made, and which movies are made; once the revolution happens. It might make sense to give movies away, it might even make sense to pay people to go to movies, if that increases the market for the merchandising.

    Unfortunately, I would think this only works for special-effects blockbusters aimed at kids and teenage males. I can't imagine the merchandising from Titus or even Being John Malkovitch amounted to much.

    However, I think you may be overly pessimistic. The television has been with us for 50 years, and the video recorder for 20 or so, and movie theatres have never been doing better (at least in Australia, don't know about the states). The movies provide better picture and sound than even HDTV will, and they offer the social aspects of a night out that the TV simply can't match. Eventually, though, I suspect that broadband carriers will start subsidising content (including movie) production, to encourage downloads. The more people wish to download, the fatter pipes they can sell.

  • Professor Lessig may be able to weave a web of sophistry, but many of his arguments don't stand up to critical thinking.

    He uses the VCR as a reason to invalidate the DMCA because Valenti was proven "wrong". In actuality the reason why said technology hasn't damaged the industry is because of two reasons: a) it takes long to copy a video tape and quality degrades; and, b) anti-pirate measures such as macrovision.

    The situation with DeCSS and DVD is such that the release of this circumvention software could result in easy copying and distribution of movies online when it becomes viable for relatively large communities because the internet allows you to share material with not just your friends, but any anonymous person.

    I can attest to this as I have a very good divx copy of romeo must die that is 700 megs. Full screen it looks pretty damn good (albeit being a bit grainy), as the original resolution is 640x384. All it takes is one person to make a copy of the dvd and thousands with interest to distribute by trade (e.g., napster) according to their own self interest. That said, I had to have connections to get this movie (namely someone with an ftp server with several extremely large hard drives). Napster is a company that profits off such a shared model.

    When asked if some people on napster should have the ability to transfer files to millions, Lessig says paraphrased "in some instances". He doesn't elaborate further, but I can not think of very many instances where legal file trading is occuring.

    A ethical counter-argument is that channels of advertising music (radio, tv) are in complete control of these companies, therefore word of mouth is the only alternative. Napster destroys this barrier and provides the consumer with an extremely large collection of music to help with buying decisions. The dilemma here is that users of napster aren't buying music in any significant numbers -- therefore this argument is invalid. However, bands and record companies wishing to build a reputation could probably provide alternative models.

    Further on he asks whether it is about control as it seems the RIAA would rather sue and maintain control than negotiate a deal where legal tagged files would be transferred. At a glance, in his context, it sounds like he makes some sense, but when you think about it, there is no reason to be transferring files on napster if legitimate versions are available directly from company web sites.

    Lessig then moves on to which implements technology termed "space shifting". That is, prove you have a cd and then use it from anywhere you like. As a customer of the classical channel on I have noticed that they take several measures to prevent people from listening on multiple streams at the same time, especially with more than one IP address. That said, you can still create multiple accounts and "beam" (randomly reads sectors on a cd) a music cd up to, therefore allowing multiple users access to the same cd's simultaneously. Of course, this is pretty much the same as me physically making a copy with my cd burner, so I think that the inner logic of this argument holds extremely well for fair use -- providing measures are taken so that piracy is not a common occurence.

    However, the counter argument is that the owners of the music should retain control over how their work is distributed. Space shifting technology circumvents this right; I don't see it as particularly valid, but there might be concerns about companies springing up and offering a similar less robust service. It's questionable whether a third party should be able to help you execute your fair use without the investigation and blessing (i.e., licensing) to ensure that these technologies are safe. Take the imaginary situation where we extend this to DVD. Let's say I can "beam" DVD's up to a service and then they stream the movie back. My friend in Israel can now watch the movie if I give him a login and password, providing I am not tryin to stream it at the same time. Is space shifting ethical in this situation? How about if I remove the third party and stream directly to this person? Is that lending in fair use? I would probably say no, as it is a dangerous slippery slope.

    They might be able to argue that is not a distribution medium but a tool of fair use, defined as so because no money changes hands for the the actual music as it was already paid for in cd form.

    In the case of the third party, technology still convolutes the issue because there is no absolute guarantee that each person actually has a copy of the CD. So we either, a) extend fair use to the third party an allow lawsuits to ensure piracy does not take place; or, b) outlaw such behavior without permission and have all these companies negotiate licensing schemes which keeps control in the hand of the original copyright holders as to how their material is distributed. Is it fair to force (a) just because some of these companies are extremely rich? But is it fair to subvert a new means of fair use with (b)? This is the dilemma.

    Another main theme Professor Lessig espouses is copyright terms. He mentions proposals from industry that would have copyright last forever. Copyright was originally only supposed to exist as a means to ensure a decent profit and then fall into the public domain. The current state of copyright is that it lasts effectively forever in terms of viable use; that is, unless it is, for example, an important piece of literature. One side idealogically would have it that copyrighted materials should fall to public domain within a time because there are barriers to information, ideas, and entertainment - given the original copyright owner had actually made a profit. But what of the author who isn't discovered or understood for twenty years? The other side would have it that as long as there is a demand for intellectual property, it should be available for profit. But how about that book written several hundred years ago? Should those that inherit the deed to copyrighted material really have valid control? The longer the space in time, the more absurd it seems. Professor Lessig has an extremely hard hitting point, mentioning that disney -- the same company who had copyright lengths increased -- has used public domain stories in several of their movies, including but not limited to Pinochio, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Aladdin, and Snow White.

    But then he goes on to recommend 14 years as an optimal copyright expiry date. Again, what about the author who isn't discovered for 20 years? I do agree on moderation but each specific industry has different needs (exempli gratia, software versus the movie)

    Jack Valenti, on the other hand, doesn't have much to say at all.
  • I was thinking Ernest Borgnine.
  • the counter argument is that the owners of the music should retain control over how their work is distributed. Space shifting technology circumvents this right

    Lessig's point throughout the debate is that traditionally (and constitutionally), copyright holders have not had complete control over distribution and use of copyrighted materials. They have distribution rights, but those rights are limited. Copyright holders have the right to publish and to sell published works, but they do not have any right to control the use or distribution of the work after that point (the right of first sale). I can buy a book and do just about anything I want with it other than republishing. I can give it away. I can sell it to somebody else. I can photocopy a chapter (not the entire book) and give it to a friend. I can write my own book and quote passages (provided I give credit to the original author). The copyright holder has no right to stop any of this use or redistribution, whether he approves or not. The music companies may not like me to have a convenient way to listen to listen to music from multiple locations (they want me to buy a separate CD for each location), but that doesn't mean they should have the right to prevent that. They have the right to prevent me from republishing the work, but not all distribution is classified as publishing.

    Lessig has made the point in some of his writings that copyright holders do not own the works they create -- it is public property. What they "own" ( a bad word in this case, but I'll use it anyway) is the exclusive right to publish for a limited time. That is the extent of their rights, despite the congressional attempts to extend copyright. Fair use will often reduce the profits that would be available to copyright holders if the principle did not exsist and publishers had unlimited rights, but the potential for profit should never be used as an excuse to circumvent the constitution or deny ordinary citizens their rights.

  • ...and the same has been said for president clinton. Anyone who is in bed with government uses this kind of argument in debate or interogation. Why - because it saves your ass. It was interesting to me that Valenti either said "I have no idea what you're talking about," or he dodged the questions Lessig was asking by answering him with a sermon of how stealing is wrong or what the law of the land is. Of course this all depends on what the definition of "is" is. He very seldom answered the questions asked of him.

    I would tend to agree with the parent post to some degree that Valenti is smart and chooses to act like an old money tycoon with no concept of how things work outside his oilfield. I'm sure that when it comes to technology, he is not very techno-inclined, however, he is not completely illiterate either. He has obviously chosen to protect the interest of his wallet and the industry he leads rather than be "fair" to the consumer. Only time will tell if our rights to fair use will be upheld or destroyed through draconian laws like the DMCA.
  • Yeah, there'll be a video. Of course, you can't view it under Linux without breaking the DMCA and going to jail for the rest of your life. &ltgrin&gt
  • Valenti is much worse than a shill. He's a clueless hatchet man. He was involved up to his eyeballs 20-25 years ago with the whole Dita Beard / Richard Nixon / ITT / Argentina campaign financing scandal. He was the president (or CEO I don't remember which) of good ol' ITT back then. He is the epitome of slick and sleaze. He's one of those "Why do I need a limousine everywhere I go? Just because I am who I am" kind of guys.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The people who smashed up the Starbucks were probably on the payroll of the WTO, in order to make the peaceful protests LOOK like riots.

  • I just finished watching the debate, if you could call it that. It seemed as though Jack Valenti responded to every question with:

    • Well I'm surprised that people are finding it so difficult to accept one simple fact: If an artist creates a work, be it poetry, a movie, a book, etc., he or she should be able to protect that work...
    • I don't know what you're talking about!
    • Well I need a lawyer with me to answer that. (At one point Lessig responded "Ok, I'll be your lawyer then" which was pretty amusing)
    • You should obey the law, and since the DMCA says that is illegal...

    He still managed to get a lot of applause and laughs out of the audience. I was a bit disappointed with that since the audience consisted mostly of *Harvard Law School* students...

    I have a question that I've been wanting to ask supporters of the DMCA. I submitted the question during the debate, but they didn't have nearly enough time to address it (They barely answered any of the questions submitted online at all). How do you think they would respond to this:

    Many technological devices that are employed to protect copyrighted works are based on mathematical theorems. If a mathematician makes a purely mathematical discovery that inadvertantly facilitates circumvention of a technological protection mechanism, should this mathematician be vulnerable to legal retribution and should it be legal to disseminate his discovery?

    -The One God of Smilies =)

  • You can skip the first 30 minutes of sound checks and zoom practice. Nice that they got the archive up so fast, but it would have be nicer still if they'd trimmed that first part out.
  • by hysterion ( 231229 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @04:13PM (#741384) Homepage
    Garbus: Do you know what a DVD burner is?
    Valenti: I'm not sure -- I've heard the term, but I really don't know what it means.

    This is probably online somewhere, so if anybody knows a link, please post it.

    It's here. []

  • by BrotherPope ( 8102 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @04:17PM (#741387)
    I am astounded by the nerve of Jack Valenti, who repeatedly defended his positions merely by pointing out that Congress saw fit to grant him gawdlike powers to the detriment of fair use. "If you want to change it... call your congressman." he repeated often. Sure, they may not like the level of violence in his wares, but don't be fooled.. Jack has much better access to them than you'll ever enjoy.

    Back during the GOP convention, Jack threw a party for the rich and powerful that Roll Call listed [] like so:

    The real action will heat up at Latin Night at Shampoo night club (417 N. Eighth St.). Plenty of stars should show up for this "sizzling" fiesta billed as "the hottest party of the convention." The event is hosted by Valenti and the MPAA; Walt Disney; Viacom and Seagrams-Universal Studios; America Online, Inc.; and Time Warner and will honor Foley and the Entertainment Task Force.

    This is the party where Dick Armey made a naughty joke that made headlines a few months back. If it weren't for his mistake, that small blurb might have been the only the the press bothered to mention this party. Why bother the sheep with news that their lawmakers are easily bought off with parties?

    Every time I hear Jack or one of his flacks suggest that the laws are being made in the interest of the 'vast majority of Americans', I want to vomit. Sorry, Jack, but those laws are only truly benefitting the minority you belong to: The ones with access to the powerful. It's just that most Americans aren't quick enough to catch you at it.

    Until this system of legalized bribery is brought to an end, we will continue to be called a thieves every time Jack gets caught with his hands in the cookie jar.
  • I just returned from the debate. It was a lot of fun, although a good fraction of the audience looked bored (were a bunch of law students required to attend this for some course?) I only saw two DeCSS T-shirts []. I didn't see Emmanuel Goldstein until he stood for the questions - seeing him there pretty much made my day!!

    On Valenti: This guy is dangerous. During the first half of his "introduction" I was sitting back in my chair with a big smile on my face. I was thinking, this guy is a dinosaur. Noone in this young audience will buy any of his crap. But the truth is, unless you know A LOT about the issues (DeCSS, for example), he doesn't come across as THAT unreasonable (a little unreasonable, sure). The problem is, he makes only reasonable sounding statements (like he's "in favor of fair use") and when pressed into a corner he completely evades the question. He is 100% in favor of "fair use" but as some other posters have already pointed out, his idea of "fair use" is any use in accordance with whatever restrictions the owner of the copyright imposes. If the MPAA releases a DVD under terms which state that you can only view it between 3 and 8 am, then watching the movie at any other time would be using it unfairly. He never explicitly said this, of course, but this was the impression I got after reflecting on his statements regarding "fair use". I was also very disgusted with his repeated arrogant statements to the effect that the American movie industry is God's gift to the world.

    On Lessig: I had never seen him before. I had very high expectations because of all the good things I had heard about him, but he fell a little short. He was very hesitant at the beginning. During his introduction I was worried that there would be no debate, since he didn't seem to disagree with anything Jack had said. Lessig was in friendly territory (with this audience) and he knew it - he should have gone for the jugular earlier. It didn't really get going until late in the debate when Lessig just interrupted Valenti and explained why intellectual "property" is not property. So although he built up his momentum slowly, he did land some powerful punches, and I'm very glad to have this guy on our side.

  • Politicians only pay attention to the views of people who they think vote. They spend a great deal of time and effort figuring out exactly who in this country is voting so they'll know who's ass they have to kiss to stay in office. Right now senior citizens vote more than any other age group. That means that whether the Republicans or the Democrats are in power, the interests of senior citizens will always be respected.

    Prime time TV specials don't ammount to squat. You want your senator or congressman to know what you think, call them or write them. Tell them you're a registered voter, even if you're not, and that these issues are very important to you.

    Ultimately we are solely responsible for the state of affairs in government and the things that the government does. Why? Because the government is run by the people we hire to run it. If the government is corrupt, it is because we made it so. If it is oppressive or easily swayed by lobbyists for corporate interests it is because we hired people who would be easily swayed.

    Don't like how the MPAA, RIAA etc. are working to extend the copyright laws to mean content control? It's to each us to change it.

    Lee Reynolds
  • Let me first apologize for being hazy on the exact definition of copyright.

    Although I am still grappling with a third party running a service that allows you to exercise your fair use.

    Perhaps I should read the case and ruling for the recent precedent setting case.
  • . . .or on my HDD?

  • And furthermore, even if the law claimed that Fair Use didn't exist, or restricted it tightly, it wouldn't matter; Fair Use is a construction of the courts first and foremost. We get it no matter what Congress says.

    Histocially, this is quite true for Copyright cases -- fair use was a creature of the Courts, used to modify the harsh language from the 1909 Act, which was not codified by the Congress until the 1976 Act, which simply took the then-existing case law and wrote it into the Act, complete with a prescription that doing so would neither strenghten nor weaken the careful balance established by the Courts.

    Now if only the Courts would apply like principles to the other portions of Title 17, particularly anti-circumvention.
  • He uses the VCR as a reason to invalidate the DMCA because Valenti was proven "wrong". In actuality the reason why said technology hasn't damaged the industry is because of two reasons: a) it takes long to copy a video tape and quality degrades; and, b) anti-pirate measures such as macrovision.

    There are more than those two reasons, those are just the most tangible ones.

    The reason VCR's didn't damage the movie industry is that they were smart enought o adapt to it. They learned that they could defeat pirates by making the movies too cheap (by value, not money) to pirate and increasing merchandising.

    Why pirate movie that you could rent for a couple of bucks? Why spend 90 minutes copying a movie when you could just rent it again on your way home from work for a nother couple of bucks? It is a lot of time and effort to use a VCR to steal. It is not a lot of time and effort to watch a movie legally by renting a tape.

    That is how the movie industry survived VCRs. In fact, its how they managed to grow after VCRs.

  • Mr. Valenti argued many times that tools that enable crime, at leastw ith their primary use, are illegal. Thus, DeCSS is illegal because it's only use is to circumvent encryption, a technological measure, which is illegal under the DMCA.

    In the Sony vs. Betamax case, the judge ruled that even though VCRs could be used for illegal purposes, they were OK because there was substantial legal use.

    However, I think if you were to look at guns, you could say that they are primarily used to commit murder. Sure, you see the occasional bit news footage where a citizen defends himself with their own gun, but that is only amongst hundreds of bits of footage where people are robbed and killed with guns.

    So, shouldn't guns be illegal by Mr. Valenti's reasoning (and that of many courts)?

    Too bad the constitution guarantees us the right to bear arms. Also too bad that the AHRA guaranteed us the right to fair use.


  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @04:26PM (#741403) Journal
    A colleague noted:

    Valenti insists he supports fair use, but only when the technology and the laws are changed to only allow proper compensation for the holders of IP for each viewing.

    These words don't mean what Valenti thinks they mean. The plain text of the Copyright Act provides that fair use is not infringement, and hence no compensation for holders of IP would be proper.

    This is the entire point of "fair use." Imagine that I had to pay a royalty to write a review of a recently published albumn.

    As noted, these words don't mean what he thinks they mean.
  • Like Celebrity Deathmatch [] -- it would be fun to see a razor-fan lowered into the ring while Rosen and Valenti are in it. I'd even give them the copyright on it.

  • Moderators: I'm disapointed in you for +'ing this guys reply, and not the original message.

    Clearly, you don't understand moderation.

    Moderation is intended to bring the signal out of the noise, not to turn a discussion site into a dogma site.

    For example, if this was the '50s, and we were having a discussion on racism, a good moderator would moderate up the best arguments both for and against racism. They would moderate down penis birds, "me toos", claims that CmdrTaco is a homosexual, etc.

    Of course, it doesn't work that way, and moderators tend to moderate what they like, i.e. "Linux Rules!" gets a +1, and "Linux Sucks!" gets a -1. But posting stuff like "You should have moderate this guy down because my idea is better" only makes the problem worse. What moderators should do is moderate them both up, if they're intelligent and on-topic, and let the reader decide which one is correct.

    Don't be disappointed in the moderators for bringing out interesting points instead of squashing them because they're not what your parents taught you was true.

    I certainly do not argue with the point that clashing with Valenti on logical grounds is important. In fact, it's everything. But making it clear that we are also extremely dissatisfied with the RIAA, and not just arguing on some theoretical logical ground they can easily ignore, is also important.

    Come on, man.
  • He provided voice work for the "Freakazoid!" cartoon, playing, naturally, himself.


    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • by Sydney Weidman ( 187981 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @05:51PM (#741411) Homepage
    but there's something to be said for using reason and persuasion instead of drowning out your opponent and denying them freedom of movement and assembly. IMHO, using coercion to silence unpopular speech is wrong whether it's perpetrated by governments, corporations, or angry mobs of Seattle Non-Anarchists.

    John Stuart Mill said that "Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement." As you say, the same rules hold for government as for the protesters. When governments ignore rational arguments and behave like barbarians, citizens with differing views must resort to despotic measures. Many people felt that the WTO and other meta-governments have descended into barbarism by

    • Promoting international free trade at the expense of environmental protection
    • Promoting international free trade at the expense of workers' safety
    • Failing to answer these charges in open debate

    The protests in Seattle were necessary because rational political discourse had failed to bring about any changes in the way the WTO carried on its business. In so far as they ignore reason, so far shall protesters treat them as barbarians.

  • Jack Valenti []: 284

    Hilary Rosen []: 142

    Ric hard Stallman []: 650

    Eric S. Raymond []: 4260

    Lawrence Lessig []: 186

    CmdrTaco: 388 []

    RIAA []: 1090

    MPAA []: 892

    : 3390 []

    ;DeCSS []: 504

    : 191,000 []

    : 39,200 []

    ... Not looking good for the home team...

  • by Veteran ( 203989 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @05:59PM (#741415)
    The technique is properly called a "plausible lie". It is actually perjury, and it is a felony. The reason people get away with it is that it is very difficult to prove that plausible lies are lies.

    Since technical people tend to be more honest than 'people people' we tend to tell the truth on the stand. Does this get us in trouble? Oh yes. The legal system assumes that one side lies one way, the other side lies the other, and that a jury will find the truth which is somewhere between those two extremes.

    Of course that means that anyone who tells the truth is at a great disadvantage in a court of law; since the jury will try to find the truth between the two sides claims - the slant is away from anyone who tells the truth and toward those who lie.

    This means that the system favors lies over the truth; that is why "I don't know" is an effective tactic in a court of law. As a lie "I don't know" carries more weight in the MPAA's favor than Mr. Valenti telling the truth:

    Attorney: "Did the MPAA ask the Norwegian police to harass the teenager who released the DeCSS code"

    Mr. Valenti's possible answers:

    The truth: "Of course we did, we have the money, and the power that money gives us. We wanted to intimidate the kid and anyone else who threatens our position of wealth and power."

    Plausible lie: "I can't recall."

    Which one do you think he is going to use?


    The law; 100's of millions of lines of code, not one line of which has ever been tested to see if it works.

  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @06:04PM (#741416) Homepage Journal

    Jack Valenti is smart. Don't think for a minute that he can't follow your logic or reasoning. He chooses to act dumb.

    Top five things "I have no idea what you're talking about," really means:

    • #5: "I have no formulated soundbite that benefits me in this argument."
    • #4: "I have no research studies that refute your assertions."
    • #3: "I have no compunction against ignoring your logic for now."
    • #2: "I have no interest in giving you anything you can quote later."
    • And the #1 reason:
      "I have no reason to answer you truthfully."

    "I don't recall." --Ronald Wilson Reagan, Iran-Contra hearings

  • From the debate we get to make our case get heard. Also we get to talk to the "man" about our concerns. I hope good things come from this.
  • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @02:50PM (#741420)
    To go straight to the webcast, go here: pch at/manual/ []
  • by Chiasmus_ ( 171285 ) <ayatollah_hyperb ... om minus painter> on Sunday October 01, 2000 @02:51PM (#741422) Journal
    I disagree with you.

    The American push toward "polite civil disobedience" is, in my opinion, somewhat silly. Did the English stop Hitler from entering Poland by politely explaining that they disagreed with his policies? Did the Seattle Anarchists drive the WTO out of the U.S. by politely stating that they disagreed with the WTO's imperialistic international policies?


    Sometimes the only way to make one's point is to make it very, very crystal clear. Whether that means calling Valenti a cocksucker or smashing some Starbucks' up, I leave it to you to decide.
  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @02:56PM (#741426) Homepage Journal
    Posted at 7:36PM EST.

    There will be a public debate at 7PM...

    Wow. I'm glad to see that Slashdot is capable of telling time. Hmm, 7PM. That would have been 36 minutes before the story was posted. Methinks we missed a bit of the webcast here. C'mon, you've got to have a clock when you post these things. I've got a cool little clock applet running under Gnome - it helps me attend classes on time. Even if you are in another timezone when you posted this, you still should at least think about what time it'll end up being. Unless it was 7PM GMT in which case you really dropped the ball.

  • That link is amazing. Search for the word "don't" --it comes from Valenti's mouth on the witness stand more times than I can click "next"

    He doesn't know what the hell is going on or admits to much of it.
  • Im listening to the beginning of this debate, and the moderator says "ok jack, why dont you introduce yourself" He then proceeds to go on an at least 10 minute screed about not stealing with quotes by lbj, occams razor, etc. He then kisses harvards ass. Rants about napster,more screed about not stealing. choice quote "just because its on the internet, its not free" realizes finally that its an introduction, not a speech, and decides to go on for a few more minutes about MPAA. "we [US motion pictures] are hospitably recieved by every country on the planet" Im sure Iran would beg to differ. Finally he says, internet good, but only if we can make money off of it, not if it competes with us. Thats him introducing himself. sheesh.

    This whole thing is about capitalism vs communisim. If somone can produce something for less than you, then you either change or go out of buisness. Thats capitalism. When the government regulates a market to artificially inflate the price of a product, thats comunisim ( ok loose definitions on both of them, dont flame me) The point is, the MPAA has competition now, just like netscape had competition when microsoft started giving IE away for free. Only this time its the public that is going to either ultimately change the MPAA or drive them out of buisness. Somehow i doubt that the MPAA will go out of buisness, but they have to change, and nobody likes to change when theyre making money.

  • yeah, look at this;

    2000-09-27 01:59:24 Jack Valenti vs. Lessig: the debate (articles,internet) (rejected)

    I know that they can only post a certain number of stories a day, but they could have squeezed this off the main and put in "YRO you rights online" I forgive the guys on this though. I'm sure that there are some who are tired of the whole DeCSS thing, and think that slashdot has become "all MPAA all the time". What I can't understand is why this wasn't on CSPAN2. This is far more interesting than some of the drone book authors they have on there (in my very biased opinion :) )

    Still, it was fun seeing ol' Jack pull out the 'occam's razor' and call us all thieves, and us ranting about his funny looking hair behind his back on the chat channel.....

  • Perhaps if we all just listen to the audio it won't be so slashdotted....something to remember in the future
  • by iElucidate ( 67873 ) on Sunday October 01, 2000 @03:01PM (#741444) Homepage
    Lessig, Stanford law professor and Berkman fellow, will argue that copyright should not be expanded, and that consumer freedoms must be allowed in the arena of fair use, etc.

    Valenti will talk about how good the DMCA, et. al. is and why we need it.

    The webcast will be archived on the Berkman site so that you can watch it later. So far, the discussion has been very interesting. Valenti is being an idiot as usual, but that is to be expected.

  • by fluxrad ( 125130 )
    the webcast appears to be full-up on several of the links i've tried.

    on the lighter side. you can't help but feel sorry for jack valenti on this one. I mean, this guy is gonna get smacked around like a red-headed step child. In all honesty, it's kind of sad when you see a little kid get the shehot beat out of him by a bigger, more muscular kid. (even if the little shit is trying to screw all the other kids by making them pay excessive amounts of money for movies, etc.)

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • I assumed any attractive idiot with a star on the Hollywood "Walk of Fame" was an actor.

    You are right. He's always been a shill. (Well, since his time as a military pilot.) But anyone who has read Jack's "LA Times" piece on DeCSS or seen his testimony knows he was hopelessly overmatched here.

    I especially remember his defense of Pres. Clinton on various talk shows during the Monica debacle. Maybe he can use the same arguments in the unlikely event that any of his perjury ever catches up to him.
  • "And what methods are being used to determine how many Napster users are buying music?"

    Rofl, oh please. I know hundreds of people who use napster. None of them buy music. If they do, it's because they can't find it on napster in any decent bit rate.

    "Judging from the number of people who seem to think that VCD is still a fine format, quality must not be at the top of everyone's list"

    That's because VCD groups primarily only release movies currently in the theater. DVD rips exceed this and offer pretty good quality.

    That said, years ago I remember downloading braveheart and Ninja Scroll as a 100 meg vivo movie. Quality was fucking amazing for internet video back then. And yes, these were copies of VHS tapes - the internet does change the arena, especially if technologies such as napster are allowed to grow rampantly.

    "The author who is discovered after 20 years of writing has hopefully written some nice works during that time, and can "

    That's the thing. Let's pretend my name is, hmm... Kurt Vonnegut (used only for effect - Kurt Vonnegut in no way endorses me remarks). In the 60's I wrote a book called 'Slaughterhouse Five'. In the 70's I wrote a book called 'Breakfast of Champions'. Neither were extremely popular except for the last 20 years.

    "make money from something other than writing"

    I am not a millionaire. I am a writer. A writer writes. Oh sorry, I should have been running a business all these years instead. Stupid me.

    "write more works that would now sell because the author is presumably at least mildly famous"

    Sorry, as the Valenti battology went: "Congress is with me on this one"

    "suffers for the benefit of the only people who stand to significantly help it"

    Oh really.
  • Too bad I missed it. (I was busy setting up my LinuxPPC box.)

    I would have enjoyed asking him if any of the technologies that he and the other AAs out have opposed since the introduction of the player-piano roll there have, in fact, been prevented.

    I would also have liked to ask him if he enjoys living in the kind of totalitarian regime where his will is enforced to protect his woefully inadequate preparations for the inevitable onslaught of intelligent attacks against his equally woefully inadequate encryption schemes.

    I would also have liked to ask him is he actually thought he lived there? 'Cause I sure don't!

    Then I might have asked the Luddite to kiss my ass.
  • Valenti was allowed to move around and articluate because he had his own personal lapel mic. He kinda dominated the place by intruding on other people's space and staying away from his podium

    I'm told he was given a lot wine to drink at dinner and nobody would give him the combination to the men's room before the debate. They said it was encrypted and covered by the DMCA.

    Or maybe it was because they didn't give him a box to stand on behind the podium.

  • I was at the entire debate. I'd say Valenti adopted as a strategy ignoring a significant portion of Lessig had to say, not because he's an idiot but because he knows he just can't debate on that level. I think Valenti "gets it." He certainly understands the implications of DRM, watermarking etc, but he plays dumb and tries to keep the discussion focused on things like artists' prerogative and the right to benefit from one's work, American, apple pie kind of stuff that will sell well in Congress and in the court of public opinion. I'm not so sure, however, that he fully understands the fact that technologies like DRM have internal logics of their own and are going to be pushed much farther, by the very companies he represents, than even he might think.

    No one is going to support a sales and distribution model in which instead of paying for a tape or a DVD you pay for a secure download and in which you keep paying when you want to watch it again, when you want to lend it to a friend, when you want to excerpt it for a review, if that model is described plainly and in immediate contrast to an alternative model that doesn't impinge on fair use rights. Valenti understands that, so far as I can tell. So of course it's in his interest to disguise matters.

    He said in his introductory remarks that the MPAA has set up a "Digital Strategies Deparment" and is about two weeks away from hiring someone to run it. Within a year the Digital Strategies Deparment hopes to have in place a set of technologies -- encryption, DRM, watermarking -- that manufacturers and the movie companies will be able to use to offer downloadable movies "at fair, reasonable, sensible prices." It's going to be interesting to see what comes of that effort, although even in a year broadband access won't be widely deployed enough for it to have a huge effect. There will probably be a vast marketing effort on the part of the companies selling the "content" and the "trusted" hardware to get people to overlook whatever restrictions on fair use come along with what the MPAA develops.

    Even though he is trying to argue a losing case, Valenti is a good speaker. It's easy to imagine him putting on a very persuasive show in front of a Congressional committee. And unfortunately, his constant appeal law as it's currently interpretated, or to court decisions which have initially taken the side of the MPAA and similar groups, is going to work with a fair number of people who think that whatever is law is necessarily right. Lessig understands tha law, copyright law, has been going for some time in a direction that is not right, but the fact that that means he's arguing against certain statutes and certain court decisions will make him seem some like some kind of radical to law-and-order types, in Congress or in the public at large. Valenti understands the distinction between near term law and longer term right as well, it seems, but of course it's in his interest to cling to the legal protections he's got as long as he can, until a restrictive set of technologies can be deployed, mooting some of the matter.

    That Valenti was being evasive and constantly trying to change the subject when he knew he couldn't argue on the merits was abundantly clear in front of the audience at the debate, especially with Lessig pressing him. But I fear his tactics could be much more effective on the "98 or 99 percent" of people he said would be willing to accept the kind of thing the Digital Strategies Department is working on if it's "fairly and sensibly offered," or on the politicians and their staffers who will be making the laws, or on the judges who will be evaluating them.

    It's going to be vitally important to make clear to people what's at stake--how much of the intellectual commons is at risk of being fenced off for profit.

  • That's the really scary thought - that he is just "the mouth". I mean if it was just Jack, ok then. But it's not. It's that Sony VP saying they're going to stop at nothing to protect their copyrights (whatever that means to them now). It's like they got there own 'little cult' of thou shall not use unless we say so when. It's their hired engineers who are not thinking about just "40 bit encryption" but "128 bit encryption" for the next generation of HDTV players.

    That's the one big impression that I got from the debate. How utterly intransigent Valenti's position is (thus the MPAA's too). It is apparent that there is no 'room' for negotiating. He couldn't bring himself to concede any point. The best he did was "talk around" debate points.

    "If you want to change the law, you have to go to congress to do that" Jack Valenti said, almost in a smug way that was like he finally had bought the copyright law he always wanted.

    Just too bad that we don't have the thousands of dollars to buy off congress like he does.

  • After the debate is about when the story will be posted once more.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes, It might have been better to hear about this before hand. That way we could hire out one of those airplanes with a banner, and fly it around the building saying "Get DeCSS at URL http://www.........." Does anyone know J. Valenti's future speaking engagements?

    ps. Guess I picked the right day to wear my shirt []

  • What, me?? No, no, I'm far too much of a coward.

    This is why Slashdot needs a militia. I mean, what kind of Commander is CmdrTaco, anyway??

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.