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Amendment To Kill Broadcast and Audio Flags 64

Bruce Perens writes "Senator John Sununu is proposing an amendment, H.R.5252, to strike both the broadcast flag and the radio flag from this year's U.S. telecommunications bill.

If the amendment does not pass, we will be faced with mandatory DRM in video and audio devices, and with a prohibition on the use of Open Source software for such devices (because it can be modified to remove DRM). Time is short, the committee markup of the telecommunication bill is proceeding now in Washington and it's important to show your Congressperson that there is constituent support to remove the broadcast and audio flags. Please see the alert and please use the information there to call your Congressperson today."
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Amendment To Kill Broadcast and Audio Flags

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  • by kb1cvh ( 88565 ) * on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:37PM (#15593402) Homepage Journal
    If you are a US Citizen, if you want to influence your Congresscritter,
    it's probably best to write if you can rather then call.

    As snail mail takes a long time to get to DC and must be scanned and disinfected, etc,
    I find that writing a letter and faxing it to the Congresscritter's office is the best
    way to proceed.

    Of course, if you can't get the fax off right away, a call is better then nothing.

    Senator Barbara Boxer of California's fax# is 213-894-5042

    Of course, your mileage may vary.

    Have a good Field Day
    73 de Peter
  • by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:39PM (#15593407) Homepage
    I really hope there's somebody with a lot of money that can buy this bill through.

    The broadcast flag has zero use to the average american, and is nothing but a means of control as to what can be done with broadcast signals in favour of the media corporations. We've acheived a Marxian nightmare, a truly capitalistic soceity ;) Our politicians aren't even hiding this anymore, they're in the pockets of corporations, and that's that, get bent, if you don't consume you're obviously a terrorist, or a left-wing nutjob.

    To quote Lewis Black, "politicians and corporations have been in bed together our whole lives, they've just stopped hiding it."

    Bah, I think I woke up on the wrong side of this democracy. >={
    • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) * on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:48PM (#15593459)
      We are never going to be done with copyright holders trying to hijack the legal system to lock up content. Look at how they screamed bloody murder about piano rolls, radio, tv, tape, cassettes, vcrs, etc etc etc. They will never stop. Compare that to the world before they got all legalistic; content was still produced, and by people who wanted to produce it, not factory clones.

      What we need to do is let them have their locked down sandbox, build a concrete fence around it, a concrete roof, and concrete underneath to. Padlocks, hell yea, let them lock up their content as tight as they want.

      They will be inside, snug as a bug in a rug. We will be outside where they can't get. Outside is a lot bigger than inside. Inside can't expand and will in fact suffocate.

      Then we can do what we want with our non-copyright content, mix and share to our hearts' content, and their copyright lockdown will prevent them from using it. They are welcome to their corporate factory culture, and good riddance.
      • by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:58PM (#15593527)
        I'm suddenly reminded of Wonko the Sane [wikipedia.org] from Hitchiker's Guide to The Galaxy.
      • Dude, I'm with you (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2006 @01:22AM (#15594891)
        I've been saying this, too, for a long time.

        It's time to move the classic "locked automobile hood" DRM analogy to a better analogy, one about supermarkets.

        Let them have their freaking DRM. All it is is a fence they are building around their own content. The more they can distance their infected content from my sources of content, the easier it will be for me to acquire content that is not infected.

        The content world has become like a string of interconnected weekend supermarkets. In the past, before connectivity, you could stop at your local supermarket on a weekend and get a free sample or two of some food that some company was hosting. Nah, it wasn't all that much food, just a niblet or something to munch on while you shopped, but it was a small tasty free morsel.

        With the Internet, now you can sample free niblets simultaneously from every supermarket in the world. You can fully sustain yourself on free samples (free content), nibbling all day long, and never need to buy any groceries ever again.

        That's what has changed. And with DRM, they can't win. The more they infect their product with DRM, the more valuable the uninfected stuff becomes. Sure, I enjoyed the Star Wars movies in English more than the Star Wreck Pirkinning movie in Finnish. But I didn't enjoy the Star Wars movies that much more. I could easily learn to live with a world of Pirkinnings.

        So DRM no longer scares me.

        The scarier thing is this Net non-neutrality stuff. I think the powers that be finally "get it", they realize that DRM by definition won't work so they want to cripple our access to all of those free supermarket samples so we will begrudingly accept their DRM-infected product. DRM is a fence they are building around themselves. Who cares, really? But Net non-neutrality is a fence they can still build around other stuff. That's a problem.
        • The scarier thing is this Net non-neutrality stuff. I think the powers that be finally "get it", they realize that DRM by definition won't work so they want to cripple our access to all of those free supermarket samples so we will begrudingly accept their DRM-infected product. DRM is a fence they are building around themselves. Who cares, really? But Net non-neutrality is a fence they can still build around other stuff. That's a problem.

          (Just echoing this point as a way to give it a complement.)

        • If you stop fighting, who will fight for you?

          You really believe you are here to drink Mountaindew, stare in a PC-screen, then a TV-screen and then a movie-screen and have some beers in town?

          If you're going to let a bad idea win without fight, you better have a good retort when they improve and make DRM better and better, and people are content because they get doped down.

          It is always easier to kill a bad sprout, than having to redo the whole garden later.

          I'm lazy, that's why I'm active NOW.
    • More like "In a corrupt society..."
    • by Anonymous Coward

      We've acheived a Marxian nightmare, a truly capitalistic soceity

      No. If this were capitalism, the government wouldn't be forcing vendors to support this flag and the market would sort it out. The problem is not capitalism, the problem is that the USA is no longer a democratic republic, but an oligarchy [wikipedia.org].

      Seriously, corporations can legally bribe politicians and nobody really gives a damn because people use the weasel-word "lobby" instead of "bribe". WTF?

      • Go on believing this is new. It makes you look naive.

        As soon as you come up with a way to prevent people in power from being powerful, you'll solve the problem.

        (this is not an endorsement of any current situation, just a cynical but realistic look at the world.)
      • by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:49PM (#15593772) Homepage
        I'm sorry mate, but we haven't been a democratic republic since Lincoln, I compell you to find elected officials that have come from anything but wealthy means in the past 100 years.

        It's a sparse list.
        • There is a current congressman,I don't know the name, who grew up as the son of a poor farmer in the south.
        • I can think of three 20th Century Presidents right off the bat: Harding, who had been a typesetter and printer; Truman, who was (among other things) a farmer and a haberdasher, and Johnson, who among his many other odd jobs was a seasonal migrant fruit-picker.

          And then there's Carter, who not only came from a background of peanut farming, but who was also possessed of (and by) quite possibly the most dysfunctional family on the face of the earth.
        • I'm sorry mate, but we haven't been a democratic republic since Lincoln, I compell you to find elected officials that have come from anything but wealthy means in the past 100 years.

          Eh, House Majority Leader Tom Delay was a pest control technician. I think that means he caught raccoons and poisoned termites for a living. A decent position for an American Dream case, despite what later happened to his career (he could have avoided that).

          Of course, when you come from such a background the MSM leave no oppo
  • by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <earthforce_1 AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:39PM (#15593409) Journal
    I have already spoken with two members of Parliament and raised this issue with people I work with. But I feel helpless to stop the numbnuts running the show south of the border, and once it passes there, the rest of the world will be pressured to "harmonize" or we will be stuck with US-legal crippled consumer electronics in our stores.
  • by Warthog9 ( 100768 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:40PM (#15593414)
    It boggles my mind how persistent RIAA & the MPAA are in trying to get this put into law. I understand how much of an advantage it would give them but grief there is this thing called 'fair use'. I explained the broadcast flag to my mom once, what it would mean and it's implications. She looked up at me, and said 'thats the dumbest thing I've ever heard, you mean to tell me that they would be able to prevent me from recording stuff that I'm unable to watch at the time they show it at?!' and promptly wrote her representatives lambasting the thing. It's a pity no one will introduce a law to outright ban the idea of the broadcast flag.
    • by Selanit ( 192811 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @09:26PM (#15593943)
      You can't ban ideas. It's pointless. As an example, passing a law stating "The idea of open source software is hereby banned" would NOT cause people to suddenly forget the concept of open source. Legislating thought just doesn't work.

      As for their persistence in seeking broadcast flag legislation, it's not at all surprising. Suppose you're in a group of businessmen. The group's goal is to make its members more wealthy. One way to do that is to increase the output of the entire society that you live in - basically, make the pie bigger so that everyone (including your group) gets a bigger slice. But that's really, really hard to do, and the group's efforts would probably cost more in time, money, and energy than they would get back as a result.

      The other way to achieve the goal is to try to re-divide the existing wealth so that your group gains more. The pie doesn't get any bigger; but your group gets a bigger slice. This is much easier, and your group gets 100% of the benefits, so it makes more sense to direct the efforts of the group in that direction. Of course, the fact that YOUR group gets MORE of the pie, means every OTHER group gets LESS. But you don't care about those others. They're not in your group. Let them fend for themselves.

      The broadcast flag legislation is a perfect example of this kind of group logic at work. A small group (5 major music companies, a correspondingly small number of movie studios) seek legislation that gives them higher income and protection from a perceived threat to their business. The fact that everybody else in the society has to face the consequences of that legislation is fine with them. From their point of view, that's not a bug - it's a feature.

      For more details, I refer you to "The Rise and Decline of Nations" by the late economist Mancur Olson. [wikipedia.org]
      • You can't ban ideas. It's pointless. As an example, passing a law stating "The idea of open source software is hereby banned" would NOT cause people to suddenly forget the concept of open source. Legislating thought just doesn't work.

        Of course you can't ban ideas, but you can prohibit implementing those ideas. That's most likely what the parent was getting at.

        Anyway, how about this:

        "The Right of the People to Fair Use of works of intellect shall not be abridged."

        ?

        • Anyway, how about this:

          "The Right of the People to Fair Use of works of intellect shall not be abridged."

          ?

          Errr ... how about what? The quote you've given there doesn't appear to actually be from anything. The language looks vaguely constitutional; but nothing like this quote appears in the Constitution. And a Google search for "Right of the People to Fair Use" turned up nothing. So ... what's the question you're asking, again?

          • I was suggesting using that language -- that I came up with (which is why it's not "from anything") -- in a law that would ban the broadcast flag, as Warthog9 originally proposed. I rephrased it so as to take your objection about banning ideas into account, and asked if you had any other reasons why it wouldn't be suitable.
  • by ZaMoose ( 24734 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:43PM (#15593432)
    Sununu is a SENATOR, therefore it's highly unlikely that ANY ammendment he proposes will be "H.R."-ANYTHING. Senate legislation is preceded by an "S." in almost all cases, while House Resolutions get the H.R. moniker.

    Unless the submitter was just using poor grammar and was saying that Sununu was proposing an ammendment to the combined bill that will be worked on by both Houses of Congress.
  • Actually... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by SlickMcSly ( 800954 )
    According to the article, if the Amendment DOES PASS WE'RE IN TOUBLE. Quite a suspicious mistake.
    • Yes, indeed the problem is if this DOES pass: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadcast_flag [wikipedia.org] Sry for the wasteful post, just wanted to make sure ppl don't calling in SUPPORTING this crap.
    • Just a second... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by r00t ( 33219 )
      You eliminate one amendment with another, don't you?

      The bad amendment is already there. Thus we need to pass an amendment to get rid of it.
    • Re:Actually... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, if the bill gets passed without being amended, it's a bad thing. The amendment, which we want to be passed, amends the bill to take out the harmful stuff. So we want either the amendment to be passed or the bill to not be passed. Either is fine, but the latter is not likely, which is why the amendment being passed is so important.

      And for the person who modded the parent up: please actually check if a correction is true before modding something informative.

  • by 2.7182 ( 819680 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:51PM (#15593478)
    Wonder if Sununu's fired now ?

    (think about that sentance)
    • Is there going to be a "First palindrome" trend on Slashdot now ?


      Doc, note I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.
    • Beat this (Score:2, Interesting)

      by 2.7182 ( 819680 )
      SATOR
      AREPO
      SATOR
      AREPO
      TENET
      OPERA
      ROTAS

      Under palindromes the Encyclopedia Brittanica has the following to say about the above:

      This Latin palindromic square found on a Roman wall in Cirencester Eng., and in Pompeii may be translated: "Arepo the sower holds the wheels with care." As late as the 19th century it was graven on amulets and charms and laid upon pregnant women to ensure safe delivery. Like the sign of the fish (an acrostic: Greek ichthys,"fish," happens to have the first letters of the Greek words for
  • by Urgru ( 139637 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:18PM (#15593634) Homepage
    H.R. 5252 is the House telecom bill, sponsored by Rep. Barton. It's been passed by the House and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee for consideration. The Senate Commerce Committee is marking up the Barton bill ... sort of. It's common practice in Congress to take a bill from the other bodt, strike everything after the enacting clause, and insert new text. This is important because the House and Senate can only go to conference to resolve differences on a piece of legislation that both have passed.

    The very first thing the committee did at markup was strike everything and insert text derived from S. 2686, a bill introduced by Senators Stevens and Inouye (the chair and ranking on the committee, respectively) earlier this year. The text they're working from isn't identical to S. 2686, because the members and their various staffers negotiated changes after that bill was introduced, but it is much more closely relatved to the Senate bill than the House bill that they're supposedly amending.

    So ... Sununu has an amendment to the substitute that would strike the flag language. His amendment is NOT H.R. 5252.

    Anyone crazy enough to want to listen to the Senators do their thing can hop onto the committe website [senate.gov] and read Sen. Stevens' opening statement, or listen to the markup. It's a realplayer video stream captured from internal Senate TV, but is actually audio only (no cameras were in the room). The markup starts near the 23 minute mark. Opening statements from the various members last until an hour and 20 minutes in, at which point the markup starts in earnest.
  • Too Late? (Score:4, Funny)

    by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:32PM (#15593692) Journal
    I read the article. It said this was going to be done "tomorrow." Since tomorrow is a Saturday, I checked the date.

    June 21st. Two days ago.

    So "tomorrow" would appear to have been yesteday--no Star Trek reference intended.
  • seriously, are there any alaskans in the house? is ted steven's blatant chasing of pork the only thing that keeps him in the senate? how the fuck do you guys keep voting for him? the dude [wikipedia.org] has been in office since '68!

    i hope when he's up again in 2010, alaska has the good sense to send the drama queen packing. (hulk ties so you know he means business? come on....).
  • Ugh. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @09:03PM (#15593850) Homepage Journal
    There should be a size limit on legislation.

    If you can't say it in less than a thousand words, it should be broken into seperate bills.

    Of coarse, then they would adopt german-style words...

    Indistinguishable, Internationalization, Incomprehensibilities are nothing compared to DONAUDAMPFSCHIFFAHRTSELEKTRIZITAETENHAUPTBETRIEBSW ERKBAUUNTERBEAMTENGESELLSCHAFT
    • There should be a size limit on legislation.
      If you can't say it in less than a thousand words, it should be broken into seperate bills.

      Here's a good alternative:

      The Downsize DC Read The Bills Act [downsizedc.org]. This bill would actually force Congress to utter every single syllable of every single law they pass. This alone would stop things like the USA PATRIOT Act and the DMCA from getting passed. The RTBA would also require a public comment time period between the reading of the bill and the actual vote, so no

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday June 23, 2006 @09:15PM (#15593895) Homepage Journal
    HR 5252 is the telecom bill with the broadcast and audio flag text that we have a problem with. Mr. Sununu's proposed amendment does not have a number. The link from Public Knowledge gives proper information.

    Bruce

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2006 @12:02AM (#15594630)
    Just let the broadcast flag be mandatory, and then say in the court that even binary code is not a sufficiently tamper-resistant way to implement DRM (see the "Copy protection" section on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD_Audio [wikipedia.org] for the past history) and thus should not be allowed. This will surely kill the entire DRM industry, because they will be left with no tools to implement their wishes legally.
  • by Cicero382 ( 913621 ) <clancyj AT tiscali DOT co DOT uk> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @05:33AM (#15595398)
    Does anyone know how this might affect people in the rest of the world?

    Just point me (us) in the direction of an information source.

    I have to say that I have worked in the US*; I *like* the USA and its people, and it saddens me to see even your basic freedoms being eroded. In the theatre of human affairs, this is trivial, I suppose. But still.

    *In the 1980's when you were still free - and more free than anyone in Europe. (No, I'm not trolling, I really feel that)
    • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @07:23AM (#15595591) Journal
      Directly, this shouldn't affect the rest of the world. However if it passes it will likely lead to the same sort of global creep that always stems from the US putting its foot down. (and historically, any dominant superpower.)

      In time, the ex-US industry will follow suit in order to sell into the US. Once mandatory DRM is entrenched, the US will start to put friendly pressure on its allies in the EU--not too hard these days with Blair leading the dominant power in western Europe. One country then another will start to implement similar laws, until enough of them have done so that the EU will formally insist all member nations comply with a base-level policy, to be implemented however the country sees fit. Most will implement something stricter because they don't want to be the target of "loose laws lead to piracy" rhetoric. Eventually the US will point to the EU's now-tighter laws, and insist that they lock down their own laws further, "in order to align ourselves with international standards."

      Looked at copyright laws lately? Same crap, different name. The key is that they lawmakers and industry leaders don't want the people to control the content. It's as simple as that.
    • What would happen is consumer electronics companies would offer 2 versions of their products, and sell one as crippled for America. That's in a perfect world. The alternative is they make one product for everybody.

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