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United States

Journal Journal: A letter to my U.S. Senators regarding SSSCA/CBDTPA

On March 25, I sent a letter to my U.S. Senators expressing my opposition to the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA), formerly known as the SSSCA. I've included the letter below; if you'd like to copy any part of it for your own letter to your Senators, please feel free. (I recommend not copying the signature unless your name is also "Adam Smith".)

Helpful links:

  • Find your Senators' addresses here.
  • The EFF's Action Alert for the CBDTPA is here.
  • Tips from the EFF on contacting your elected officials can be found here.

If you do write to your Senators, and you found this post to be at all helpful, feel free to post a comment here, which will give me a nice warm fuzzy feeling. Comments and suggestions are also welcome.

March 25, 2002

Office of Senator Edward Kennedy
315 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Kennedy,

As one of your constituents in the state of Massachusetts, I am writing to express my grave concern over the recently-introduced Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (S.2048, sposored by Sen. Ernest Hollings.) I believe this bill will harm both consumers and technology industries, especially within Massachusetts.

The intent of the bill seems to be to require manufacturers of electronic equipment and computer software to include "Digital Rights Management" technology in all products. By doing so, the bill would assuredly cause the prices of consumer electronics, including computers, to increase. At the same time, the DRM technology would reduce the usefulness of these devices for those who want to make copies of legally acquired content for their own personal use. Thus, under the CBDTPA, consumers would be paying more money for less powerful equipment.

Furthermore, requiring DRM in all electronics and computer software will make business more costly for high-tech firms. The effects of this cost increase will fall disproportionately on smaller firms, especially start-ups. It's these small companies that most often drive innovation in technology. By harming small companies and start-ups, the bill in question would retard innovation in high-tech industries, weakening America's strong position in the global technology race. This is a special concern for Massachusetts, which is home to a large concentration of high-tech companies.

I understand that the entertainment industry thinks it needs DRM on every electronic device in order to protect its profits. However, I don't belive Congress should take action to protect an industry that has shown no interest in adapting itself to a new technological reality. I certainly think it would be foolish to risk the health of a strong technology sector in order to prop up the fat cats in Hollywood.

I have yet to see a public statement from you or your office regarding this bill. For the reasons I've outline above, I strongly urge you to oppose it. I would appreciate hearing your position on this issue.


Adam Smith

(An identical letter was sent to Sen. John Kerry.)

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