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Consumer Technology Bill of Rights?

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the any-port-in-a-storm dept.

News 264

thrilliams writes "The WSJ's Walt Mossberg has a story about DigitalConsumer.org, a new lobbying group that's pressing for a Consumer Technology Bill of Rights. It would aim to protect the right to time shift and space shift media, make backups, allow for platform independence and translation between formats. Given the current DCMA/SSSCA climate, even these basic rights seem ambitious, but check them out and do what you can to support this nascent effort." There's also an NYT article on the SSSCA debate, with an unintentionally humorous quote from the head of News Corporation (which owns 20th Century Fox): "without copyright protection we will change our business models".

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264 comments

Speaking about Consumer Tech and Bill... (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162043)

Why no mention of the X-Box European Launch, Slashbots???

And yes, I DID submit a story.

Fist Sport.

Re:Speaking about Consumer Tech and Bill... (-1, Offtopic)

Fucky the troll (528068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162056)

I expect they'll have a story here eventually, but any MicroSoft news tends to somehow suffer delays here on Slashdot.

Re:Speaking about Consumer Tech and Bill... (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162092)

Funny how the Microsoft ads display just as quickly as the others though!

Re:Speaking about Consumer Tech and Bill... (-1)

trollercoaster (250101) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162060)


Hey, RB. Tomorrow is the start of the Islamic New Year. How do you plan to celebrate?

The FlopBox is Irrelevant (0, Offtopic)

ihoppancakes (561925) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162095)

Because it's not news. The flopbox has utterly failed in Japan. The worst console launch ever. The flopbox is wasting away in last place in the US on MS payouts to no name companies with all the major console houses either with no plans for future product for it or at most treating it as a cheap porting platform after the PS2 versions of their games have shipped. The flopbox is irrelevant. Or no more relevant than the Dreamcast is now. The PS2 and GameCube are all us in the console biz care about.

Re:The FlopBox is Irrelevant (1)

mirko (198274) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162123)

Actually, if you go to yahoogroups.com, you sometime get a popup window with a contest to win an xbox...
End on contest is on feb. 15th :-D
I hope their software are not so outdated.
I heard one need to *buy* a remote control to use the XBox integrated DVD !?
Are they crazy or what ?
So, well, I understand this box is not even worth talking about.

X-Box in Finland (0, Offtopic)

Noobie (516574) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162280)

Little off-topic..

You can find pictures of real X-Box here [datagulp.com] :) ( in finnish ).

And there is news [iltasanomat.fi] ( in finnish again ) about happening where people got their X-Boxes first in Europe. There were only about 10 people waiting for X-Box according to story. And one who won X-Box said that he wouldn't have bought that console anyway..

Yet more change-the-name anti-MS bashing (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162169)

Flop box is very amusing. I'd recommend "EX-Box" myself, as it allows for some Pythonesque humour.

It's still shifted more units than all the boxed retail copies of Linux combined.

Re:Yet more change-the-name anti-MS bashing (1)

ihoppancakes (561925) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162270)

Ok, too bad for Linux. ??? FlopBox PortBox Are the common developers terms for it. Of course there are an unending list of others out there. Too bad all that matters is how poorly it is doing versus the PS2 and GameCube. I'm sure the FlopBox is also managing to beat out the Dreamcast...

DigitalConsumer Fights Against Goat Sex Limiting (-1)

Big_Ass_Spork (446856) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162298)

DigitalConsumer Takes Up the Fight
Against Goat Sex Limiting in Congress
By WALTER S. MOSSBERG

A crucial debate is shaping up in Congress and in private industry about how freely you, the consumer, will be able to use Goat Sex in the future.

The record companies and Hollywood are scheming to drastically erode your freedom to use legally purchased Goats, and they are doing it behind your back. The only parties represented in the debate are media and technology companies, lawyers and politicians. Consumers aren't invited.

For about a decade, big sex companies, especially the goat hearders, have been lobbying Washington to recast federal copyright laws. At the same time, the bootlegging of goats for immoral purposes has become a huge phenomenon, even though the courts shut down the most famous means for doing so, the Goatse.cx online goat-swapping service. Gaping assholes are also being bootlegged on the Internet, though to a much smaller extent, so far.

So, these media companies have a legitimate problem. Unfortunately, they are trying to solve it with new laws and private-industry pacts that would build copy-protection mechanisms into every personal computer and digital recording and playback device on the market. That would mean severe limitations on the consumer's long-recognized right to unlimited personal, noncommercial use of legally purchased copyrighted materials.

These mechanisms would also likely have severe, unintended consequences for the free and open development of new sex technologies, even of the Internet itself. For instance, these copy-protection schemes might interfere with the free transfer of goat love. Also, consumers might refuse to buy new goat love, preferring to hang on indefinitely to the current, uncrippled models.

Thursday, a new group goes public to fight back on behalf of consumers. It's called DigitalConsumer.org (www.digitalconsumer.org) and was formed by Silicon Valley businesspeople who oppose the erosion of consumer rights and of sexual innovation. It aims to get Congress to pass a six-point Consumer Technology Goat Sex Law.

This Goat Sex Law wouldn't condone theft of goats or bar the industry from protecting itself. It would merely mean that in doing so, industries couldn't trample on the rights of honest consumers who buy sex with their goats legally.

In the new world sought by the media companies, you might not be able to buy a goat and fuck it on your PC. You might not be able to copy to your hard disk, or to a custom-made CD, the few songs you really like from a CD you bought. You might not be able to tape, or to digitally record, any TV program you like.

Already, record companies are putting copy protection on a few CDs, and more may follow. But that's nothing compared with the future they envision in which the PC itself is crippled to enforce copy protection. Modifying computers and other devices in this fashion is the topic of discussions between the entertainment and technology industries. It's also the goal of a new law contemplated by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D., S.C.).

Let me be clear about this. I strongly support the concepts of copyright and intellectual property. I support the right of artists and rights holders to be paid for their work. I oppose the theft of intellectual property. But honest consumers also have rights under the law.

Copyright law embraces the idea that consumers have the right to unlimited private use of legally purchased goats and gaping assholes. In simple terms, consumers are free to copy this material as long as they don't distribute the copies to others. A federal law, the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act, specifically confirms this freedom to copy music for personal use. However, the industry's latest plans would severely curb that right.

DigitalConsumer proposes that consumers be guaranteed certain rights to use digital content they have legally purchased. These include:

The right to "time-shift" audio or video content; that is, to record it for later playback.

The right to "space-shift" music or videos; that is, to copy material to blank CDs, multiple PCs, or portable players in different locations.

The right to make backup copies.

The right to use the content on any platform they choose: a Windows PC, a Macintosh, a DVD player, whatever.

The right to translate content into different formats.

In addition, the proposed Goat Sex Law would allow consumers to use technology to exercise these and other rights. If industry copy protection blocked you from exercising your rights, you could use technology to defeat that protection.

Already, the rights granted in the Home Recording Act are somewhat undone by another law, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The latter law makes it a crime to "circumvent" copy protection, even if that copy protection impairs your legal rights under the 1992 law.

If you want to preserve both the music and movies we enjoy, and your rights to use them freely, there are several things you can do. First, stop stealing music online, and stop condoning the practice. Second, boycott copy-protected CDs. Third, start paying attention to the coming fight over copy-protection, and speak up for your rights as a consumer.

what about the troll bill of rights? (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162052)

right to logged-in first post?

right to tell the mods what fags they are?

right to longer and wider pages?

Rights (4, Funny)

Indras (515472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162054)

Ooh, can we lobby for the right to bear portscanners?

Re:Rights (3)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162077)

You might laugh, but the last time I ran a port scanner over the net, I got an email from my (then) ISP telling me the use of portscanners was not allowed on their network, and if I did it again I might lose my account.

Re:Rights (2)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162087)

While the legality of portscanning can be argued all you want, you are on your ISPs network, and if they don't want you to portscan, then they can stop you.. After all, it's their network. If you don't like it, go to another ISP.

Well (1)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162099)

The ironic thing was, I was scanning a friend's network because he asked me to check for vulnerabilities in it.

Re:Well (1)

hagardtroll (562208) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162259)

Most 'Acceptable Use Policies' allow port scanning, or just about anything on a network with the PERMISSION of the scanned. If you really did have permission, than it wouldn't be a violation. If your ISP doesn't allow scanning by permission, then they are stupid.

Re:Well (2, Funny)

Silver222 (452093) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162303)

The ironic thing was, I was scanning a friend's network because he asked me to check for vulnerabilities in it.

I understand. Just last week, I did the same sort of thing. Went to the doctor and mentioned to him that a friend of mine has a burning sensation when he urinates. Funny thing is, the prescription is in my name.

Re:Rights (-1)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162142)

Portscanning is like brandishing. If you get caught doing either, you had better have a damn good explaination, or you are soon to be sexual ass-pussy in prison.

Re:Rights (2)

Clay Mitchell (43630) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162098)

You have no rights. Your abilities regarding watching movies and listening to music are "privileges" granted by the Media Conglo^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H the Congress of the United States. Any attempt to change, circumvent, replace or remove these granted "privileges" is a violation of the DMCA and SSSCA and are subject to punishment to the fullest extent of the law.

Re:Rights (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162166)

Should I take your sarcasm to mean that you think you have some right to watch movies? Is it an inalienable right, up there with freedom of speech or keeping arms?

consumer rights (2)

nehril (115874) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162264)

you have the right to remain silent. anything you say has already been used against you. anything THEY (tm) say is protected by copyright and will be used against you unless used in the properly licensed, non-transferrable manner dictated by THEY (tm) lawyers.

you have the right to spend millions of dollars to defend yourself from frivolous corporate lawsuits, to pay for the lawyer's suits.

really folks, until we have our own multibillion dollar lobbying force to buy our government back from the corporations, this will be a VERY hard struggle to win.

Re:consumer rights (1)

Indras (515472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162338)

Reminds me of another quote I heard once: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be misquoted and used against you..."

Yea, Yea for Pi-Day (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162070)

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375 10582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706 79821480865132823066470938446095505822317253594081 28481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381 96442881097566593344612847564823378678316527120190 91456485669234603486104543266482133936072602491412 73724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364 36789259036001133053054882046652138414695194151160 94330572703657595919530921861173819326117931051185 48074462379962749567351885752724891227938183011949 12983367336244065664308602139494639522473719070217 98609437027705392171762931767523846748184676694051 32000568127145263560827785771342757789609173637178 72146844090122495343014654958537105079227968925892 35420199561121290219608640344181598136297747713099 60518707211349999998372978049951059731732816096318 59502445945534690830264252230825334468503526193118 81710100031378387528865875332083814206171776691473 03598253490428755468731159562863882353787593751957 78185778053217122680661300192787661119590921642019 89380952572010654858632788659361533818279682303019 52035301852968995773622599413891249721775283479131 51557485724245415069595082953311686172785588907509 83817546374649393192550604009277016711390098488240 12858361603563707660104710181942955596198946767837 44944825537977472684710404753464620804668425906949 12933136770289891521047521620569660240580381501935 11253382430035587640247496473263914199272604269922 79678235478163600934172164121992458631503028618297 455570674983850549458858692699569092721

one has to wonder.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162081)

if they have enough money to "lobby".

All it needs (3, Insightful)

Apreche (239272) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162082)

All this bill of rights needs is some support from artists. If you get top name musicians and movie makers to support this then it's all good.

But there is one problem this still doesn't fix. For years and years the music industry has purposely not put out high quality recordings. CD quality is damn good, yes, but remember DAT? Know about DVD Audio? what's gonna be?

high quality recordings (3, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162186)

Unless you're an audiophile [slashdot.org] do you care how much better the sound quality could be? How many people find MP3 to be Good Enough(TM)?

I usually listen to music in the car. Between road noise, wind noise (especially in summer when the windows are down), and engine noise the sound quality is never going to be that good anyway.

We need sensationalism (5, Interesting)

weave (48069) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162088)

Our problem, is that we need to hype up our side like the other side does. We need to convince Joe Public that eventually they will no longer be able to "tape" their favorite shows. And that may not be that far off, when VCRs switch to digital from analog.

Think about all the public alerts that have been passed around the net that still cause headaches for government agencies, like the "FCC banning religious programs due to Madilyn O'hare" or the infamous modem tax issue or the $2,500 area code 809 phone calls.

Someone with a lot of literary skills needs to come up with some sort of alert that claims that those bastard liberal media companies and those liberals in Congress (I said sensationalist) are trying to take a way your right to record your TV shows by mandating that all future electronic devices contain copy protections to allow people who make shows to disable your ability to record them without paying for them. Include refs to digitalconsumer.org too. Then put the ole "We need to stop this right away, send this to all of your friends" line, details about the bill, and urge people to contact their congressman.

Make this issue so poisoned that no elected official will get near it. Remember, the public are sheep and the reason corporations give so much money to candidates and the reason that is so influential is that people are elected by the strength of their campaign ads. But in the end, it's people who vote, not companies. So if enough people get up in arms about this, the elected (and elected-wannabees) will stand up and take notice.

Re:We need sensationalism (5, Insightful)

Lonath (249354) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162112)

Someone with a lot of literary skills needs to come up with some sort of alert that claims that those bastard liberal media companies and those liberals in Congress (I said sensationalist) are trying to take a way your right to record your TV shows by mandating that all future electronic devices contain copy protections to allow people who make shows to disable your ability to record them without paying for them. Include refs to digitalconsumer.org too. Then put the ole "We need to stop this right away, send this to all of your friends" line, details about the bill, and urge people to contact their congressman.

But this is true. Those other things aren't. There's no need to be sensational. You just have to tell the truth: they want total control of all you see and hear so that they can make you pay-per-use and so they can control new entrants into the marketplace.

I especially enjoyed the part (from the NYT article) where CAMCORDERS will have to recognize digital watermarks. You see, they aren't concerned about piracy...they're concerned about COMPETITION and they want to have control over what you produce with your own camcorders/microphones/cameras ...so that you only get to release things if they're approved.

Re:We need sensationalism (4, Interesting)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162132)

The public are not sheep, just badly informed by the media conglomerates. Perhaps you should try informing them instead of insulting them.

Re:We need sensationalism (3, Insightful)

Quimo (72752) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162177)

Individual people are smart. Its when you start trying to comunicate to them in large groups that that informing them becomes a problem. In this situation we need to use some sensationalism to inform them that there rights are being taken away. That being said how could we do this with most of the major media outlets under the thumb of the Corporations.

Re:We need sensationalism (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162311)

Individual people aren't necessarily smart about technology issues, though - most people are willing to just take whatever Silicon Valley and Redmond give them, and be happy with with they got. These are people who can't set the clock on the VCR that you're saying won't be able to tape anything, remember? I think that you do have to have the sensationalism to get their attention, just like the nightly news has story leads like "A common household item could kill you. Details in a few minutes, but first the weather!". You have to get people hooked with "Congress is trying to stop you from taping Buffy" and then break the actual technology issue into bite-sized pieces.

Re:We need sensationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162221)

The public for the most part _are_ sheep.

Re:We need sensationalism (1)

LatJoor (464031) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162322)

When treated individually, people are not sheep at all. However, when you consider mass trends, it becomes much easier to generalize them in this way. While people's individual decisions may be made thoughtfully, most people are not interested enough to make any decision at all about many things. Thus, the most natural thing to do is to just follow along with mass opinion on that issue. This is not hard to observe on a large scale. The statement "people are sheep" is not an insult, it's simply an observation about mass psychology.

Re:We need sensationalism (4, Insightful)

lynx_user_abroad (323975) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162155)

Someone with a lot of literary skills...bastard liberal media companies...

There's an old addage from the newspaper business which is very applicable here: Only a fool would start a publicity fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

If you want the media companies back in line, unplug your television and start talking to people about something other than SouthPark for a change.

Re:We need sensationalism (1)

MrZaius (321037) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162249)

Pretending indiference to the media would be counter-productive.

If we didn't care about/care for what the media offered us, their paranoia and excessive controls would be irrelevant.

If we stop using their product, why would they care if we bitch and whine about the controls? And why would Congress?

There's no way that just the readers of /. can put large enough force against the govt and Hollywood through boycotting or ignoring these companies rather than continuing to buy the stuff and cry at the top of our lungs.

Re:We need sensationalism (2)

weave (48069) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162265)

There's an old addage from the newspaper business which is very applicable here: Only a fool would start a publicity fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

Ironic, considering the source...

If you want the media companies back in line, unplug your television and start talking to people about something other than SouthPark for a change.

.... and start downloading your episodes from alt.binaries.southpark instead. That'll show em! :)

Re:We need sensationalism (1)

hagardtroll (562208) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162299)

The newspaper industry doesn't have the clought it used to. Advertising revenues and subscription penetration is down nationwide. I used to work in that industry. Believe me, they are as vulnerable as ever. No news story can have the impact that a viral email (Send this to 10 friends) can have.

Unfortunately most viral emails are used to spread falsehoods and lies. Nowadays we have truthorfiction.com, etc. to help straighten that out.

But by all means a well crafted insightful and inciteful email would do a lot to help the cause of consumer rights.

At least they have the first step down good (4, Funny)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162094)

"We may be stupid but we're not idiotic." - Peter Chernin, president of the News Corporation.

Step 1, Admit that you have a problem.

Re:At least they have the first step down good (1)

bpkri (566306) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162120)

Well - yes, a first, small step finally.

Is this the first try at something like this? Or the first try to REALLY do something, something that MIGHT be of some use?
Although i have my doubts - isn't it already too late? Many things have been discussed, copy protection, DMR already built into the hardware - is there any chance to stop it now?
Well I hope for the best for us all :) Seems that europe is slowly heading down the same way. :(
By the way - if I have the right to copy something, and am hindered in it... what would happen if I tried to fight for that right? Are there any stories about this having happened in the US or in Europe?

Re:At least they have the first step down good (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162172)

Well, I'm sure that the content providers would say that you are only purchasing a "licence" to view the video or listen to the CD. If you don't agree to the terms of the "license", then don't purchase it.

Broadcasting Intel Design Secrets! (3, Insightful)

snkline (542610) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162102)

But Mr. Chernin of the News Corporation suggested that matters might be different if the tables were turned. "Let's say I decide to broadcast on my network the code for how to make Intel chips or Microsoft software," he said. "I think they'd find a way to stop it."
I don't think so. Intel and Microsoft wouldn't do anything if News Corp. told people how to make a microprocessor or a word processor. Now if they somehow got ahold of MS code and boadcast it, well that would be illegal now. What is the difference. The fact that computers can be used illegally does not mean those companies are facilitating it, whereas CNN broadcasting MS code IS facilitating illegal activity.

Re:Broadcasting Intel Design Secrets! (1)

alkali (28338) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162206)

Even worse, imagine if the US Patent & Trademark Office kept detailed descriptions of patented Intel technologies in its public records [delphion.com] .

broadcast Microsoft software? (3, Insightful)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162247)

But Mr. Chernin of the News Corporation suggested that matters might be different if the tables were turned. "Let's say I decide to broadcast on my network the code for how to make Intel chips or Microsoft software," he said. "I think they'd find a way to stop it."

And because Windows XP is the heart of Microsofts business model, Microsoft has obviously devised a way to completely stop piracy of their operating system.

And as you can see today, they've been completely successful.

Re:Broadcasting Intel Design Secrets! (1)

LatJoor (464031) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162361)


The fact that computers can be used illegally does not mean those companies are facilitating it, whereas CNN broadcasting MS code IS facilitating illegal activity.


The problem is not that "CNN broadcasting MS code" would be "facilitating" illegal activity. In fact, it would BE illegal activity. That's just the point. Actually committing an illegal act (i.e. giving away someone else's "IP") is different from simply providing tools that could be used to do so.

Add to the list... (5, Insightful)

jlower (174474) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162108)

From the story...

If you want to preserve both the music and movies we enjoy, and your rights to use them freely, there are several things you can do. First, stop stealing music online, and stop condoning the practice. Second, boycott copy-protected CDs. Third, start paying attention to the coming fight over copy-protection, and speak up for your rights as a consumer.

These are all well and good but the fact is, a vast majority of consumers aren't even aware of the problem or the proposed solutions working their way through Congress. They won't know a thing about this until the mad rush is on to purchase the last few non-DRM protected PC's.

So, I would add - Fourth, Tell everyone else about these three steps! Tell your parents, your siblings, your cow-orkers, the people in line next to you at the store, and so on. Put blurbs on your web pages and yak it up the other customers at the video/music stores.

As large as the /. community seems to be, it is insignificant to the people pushing and passing the new laws. Everyone needs to know, everyone needs to complain. We are the ones who know, we are the ones who need to shout from the rooftops.

Bill of Rights (5, Informative)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162110)

Don't know if this will get Slashed, so here it is:

Bill of Rights, as found at http://www.digitalconsumer.org/bill.html [digitalconsumer.org]

1. Users have the right to "time-shift" content that they have legally acquired.

This gives you the right to record video or audio for later viewing or listening. For example, you can use a VCR to record a TV show and play it back later.

2. Users have the right to "space-shift" content that they have legally acquired.

This gives you the right to use your content in different places (as long as each use is personal and non-commercial). For example, you can copy a CD to a portable music player so that you can listen to the songs while you're jogging.

3. Users have the right to make backup copies of their content.

This gives you the right to make archival copies to be used in the event that your original copies are destroyed.

4. Users have the right to use legally acquired content on the platform of their choice.

This gives you the right to listen to music on your Rio, to watch TV on your iMac, and to view DVDs on your Linux computer.

5. Users have the right to translate legally acquired content into comparable formats.

This gives you the right to modify content in order to make it more usable. For example, a blind person can modify an electronic book so that the content can be read out loud.

6. Users have the right to use technology in order to achieve the rights previously mentioned.

This last right guarantees your ability to exercise your other rights. Certain recent copyright laws have paradoxical loopholes that claim to grant certain rights but then criminalize all technologies that could allow you to exercise those rights. In contrast, this Bill of Rights states that no technological barriers can deprive you of your other fair use rights.

Needs an addition (4, Insightful)

Zot (90080) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162151)

7. The rights previously mentioned cannot be hampered by technology.

I'm There! (2)

ScumBiker (64143) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162113)

I for one really like this idea. My intentions are to fully support the organization [digitalconsumer.org] and it's idea of a consumer bill of rights. We've needed something like this for a long time. Who the hell does Hollywood think they are, standing in the way of progress? The sorid history of Hollywoods past tells us a lot about the enemy. Think about the "starlet pools" they used to keep around (not that I'd mind diving in...) for "casting". Even in the '30s and '40s they were hosing people with shitty contracts. The music industry was actually worse back then than Hollywood. How can we expect them to change now, especially since we are literally threatening their existence. Of course they're going to fight! All I can really say is, I hope we can win, because the future looks pretty bleak, what with the RIAA Stormtroopers and the MPAA KGB knocking on our doors, demanding we turn our equipment over.

Good job in aiming this at the general public (2, Informative)

Blue23 (197186) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162114)

Reading the story and the points, they seem very much aimed at getting the general public interested, as opposed to the smaller band of people currently involved who understand the effects of the DMCA and SSSCA. The language they use and what they are lobbying for are specifically things that consumers understand and want, as opposed to the more esoteric and ideal-oriented problems most of the /. crowd can understand and has been rallying against.

=Blue(23)

the quote was in the NYTimes (4, Interesting)

K7001 (472671) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162125)

for those without NYTimes accts:

Jonathan Zittrain, an assistant law professor at Harvard, pointed out in a recent New York Times editorial that what Eisner's really saying is that the most dangerous threat to his industry is the American consumer. If that's really the case, what Eisner needs to do is rethink his business model rather than look for a way to outsmart his customers.

which really sums it up for me

Death to Real Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162127)

The right to translate content into different formats.

Gimme that ol' MPEG format,
gimme that ol' MPEG format,
gimme that ol' MPEG format...
It's good enough for me.

Without copyright protection we will change ... (2)

RNG (35225) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162130)

Without copyright protection we will change our business model


And how exactly is this is bad? First of all, no corporation on earth has a guarantee that their business model will remain valid. To assume so, is a guarantee of (future) failure.


Given the quality and (lack of) originality of most the stuff that comes out of major studios, I would be more than happy for them to change their business model. Maybe they could actually produce something I wanted! Then again, maybe their new business model will be to stop producing anything at all. This will allow them to control distribution and prevent piracy :-)

Re:Without copyright protection we will change ... (2)

swb (14022) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162239)

First of all, no corporation on earth has a guarantee that their business model will remain valid.

...In an open and fair market.

Which is why Media Interests have purchased the best legislation that they can that enshrines their business models and profitability in laws that ensure that their business models and organization don't become invalidated by changing technology.

This seems to be an unfortunate trend everywhere -- once you get some measure of success, you use your money to purchase the force of law to guarantee your success into the future.

Re:Without copyright protection we will change ... (1)

Frequanaut (135988) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162366)

"First of all, no corporation on earth has a guarantee that their business model will remain valid."

Well, unless your the US steel industry or one of the Baby bells or the automotive industry or the defense industry or ...

Second of all, your first of all is wrong if you have enough money for congress are deemed critical to the infrastructure of the country.

Copy of the Rights (1, Redundant)

ScumBiker (64143) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162137)

Here's a copy of the Bill of Rights [digitalconsumer.org] they're touting:

1. Users have the right to "time-shift" content that they have legally acquired.

This gives you the right to record video or audio for later viewing or listening. For example, you can use a VCR to record a TV show and play it back later.

2. Users have the right to "space-shift" content that they have legally acquired..

This gives you the right to use your content in different places (as long as each use is personal and non-commercial). For example, you can copy a CD to a portable music player so that you can listen to the songs while you're jogging.

3. Users have the right to make backup copies of their content...

This gives you the right to make archival copies to be used in the event that your original copies are destroyed.

4. Users have the right to use legally acquired content on the platform of their choice....

This gives you the right to listen to music on your Rio, to watch TV on your iMac, and to view DVDs on your Linux computer.

5. Users have the right to translate legally acquired content into comparable formats.

This gives you the right to modify content in order to make it more usable. For example, a blind person can modify an electronic book so that the content can be read out loud.

6. Users have the right to use technology in order to achieve the rights previously mentioned..

This last right guarantees your ability to exercise your other rights. Certain recent copyright laws have paradoxical loopholes that claim to grant certain rights but then criminalize all technologies that could allow you to exercise those rights. In contrast, this Bill of Rights states that no technological barriers can deprive you of your other fair use rights.

This is one of the most sensible things I've seen online for quite a while.

Legally acquired? (4, Interesting)

SkyLeach (188871) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162148)

If you tag Legally acquired onto the end of each line then all the RIA and MPAA have to do is make it illegal to acquire the media without waving that right. Rights are waved all the time in agreements.

Also, all they have to do is make it illegal to acquire video via a recording device to defeat the space-shift/time-shift scenario.

I think the bill should make it illegal to require that a person give up any rights to consume media. Of course it would be ignored just like the fact that it is illegal to *require* a person to give you their SSN, but then the company isn't *required* to give you a loan unless you do either...

Re:Legally acquired? (4, Insightful)

grid geek (532440) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162214)

Rights are waved all the time in agreements.

The British system is better, consumers are not allowed to give up their statutory rights even if they sign an agreement, if it is to their detriment. e.g. If you have to sign a contract stating you will not rip a cd to mp3 after purchasing it the company couldn't sue you if you did as you have the right to back up digital media for personel use. Its actually more likely the record company would be investigated for monopoly/anti-trust practices. But then we limit the amount of money politicians can spend and recieve. 1 UK National election costs less than a single Senate seat. it

would be ignored just like the fact that it is illegal to *require* a person to give you their SSN

This would also be illegal in the UK under the data protection act, the only people who can request it are employers (since we generally pay tax at source rather than have to do our own accounts). Businesses here can only get the mimimum data they need and you can refuse to divulge anything else e.g. travel passes can include address detail in case they are lost (and the company likes you to fill this in for a variety of reasons); however, you don't have to even supply the companys with your real name providing you pay upfront rather than in arrears.

Waving rights in the EU... (1)

Numen (244707) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162296)

Aye, but one must remember, that while it's relatively easy to wave consumer rights in many US States, it's very hard to wave consumer rights in the EU (certainly the UK), and indeed to attempt to mandate such is itself often illegal.

It's for this reason that so much product legalese is followed by "this does not effect your statutory rights".

In the UK if the consumer has rights, the vendor cannot make them wave them, no matter what the consumer may have signed, their rights are still intact... contracts do not supercede the law of the land, and [if] the rights are by act of Parliament not act of corporation X... Parliament wins =)

I remember having an argument with my bank over copies of statements and the data protection act, tangental I know... "I don't care what your policy is on the data protection act, I'm waving and an act of Parliament under your nose, which carries a little more wait than your written policy"... I got what I wanted.

Re:Legally acquired? (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162367)

There are some rights that you can't waive, though - for example, you can't really sell yourself into slavery in the U.S. even if you wanted to. Such a waiver would not be upheld by the courts. So this is sort of a case like EULAs; we just need the courts to clarify that you really can't waive such a right, so any agreements based on such a waiver are void.

What a shame (3, Interesting)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162150)

Microsoft: if you punish us, we will have to stop producing Windows


News Corp: without copyrights, we'll have to change our business model


I feel so sorry for all these 'poor' companies...

Re:What a shame (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162343)

I have this overwhelming urge to take them up on the deal. Too bad my state attorney general is a big wuss :)

Donations? (2)

raygundan (16760) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162156)

Sounds good to me. I was all ready to send 'em some cash, but surprisingly, I couldn't find a donations page. I suppose I'll just have to mail a check the old-fashioned way.

I certainly hope they succeed. This is precisely the sort of effort I have been wishing the EFF would take, but they seem to concentrate solely on 'defensive' measures. (defending people who are accused under silly tech laws rather than pressing for good tech laws)

Definitely try it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162159)

However, we may be facing a problem far greater. A flaw in our society that runs right to the core, which leads to an end-game of total and unrecoverable corruption.

Total corruption you say? Consider this. At this point in history, the Bill of Rights is considered passe by even the citizens it protects. For day to day life, much of it no longers exists already. 1st,2nd,4th and others, are on their way out in a real way.

I'm at a loss for words as how to summerize. Maybe "The wheel is still turning, but the hamster is dead." I think that works, because most people continue to think that things are as good as they ever were, and keep bumbling along smiling, watching their sitcoms, and sports programs, and keeping their mouths shut and playing along like good little boys and girls.

Re:Definitely try it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162193)

Sorry to reply to my own post. But here's something that crystallizes the thing abhout the wheel turning and the hamster is dead.

How many cars did you see driving around with those made-in-China flags?
that's like a macabre display of the living dead. Unthinking zombies who survive on nothing but symbolism.

My own submission (2, Interesting)

Gabrill (556503) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162161)

Included is my submission to the effort 8) Corporations may be the noisiest and most money throwing lobbyests around, but please don't mistake that for the best interests of Americans. I've heard a lot of arguements that say anything that makes a large corporation more money is in the best interest of the 'economy'. Please don't let the 'economy' (ceo pocketbooks) supercede my basic rights to use the media I buy in legal ways. Please don't make me buy 5 different media players, each with their own license, to install in my car when one can be translated to and save me space and electricity. Currently I have 3 different mediums in my living room. A computer to play recorded shows via an All-In-Wonder, a VCR deck to play old tapes, and an X-Box to play DVD's. The computer makes recording easier with the Guide+ software. If licensing on media wasn't so ludicrous I could archive my poor VHS collection to a computer format on cd and save these aging but precious copies that I rightfully paid for. I'm afraid that this will soon be illegal, and yes undo-able with new features that take macrovision and apply similar features to any copying media. It is a ploy to force consumers to re-buy their entire media library as the old one degrades past useability. Corporations will say the the interests of the 'economy' require this, but they are merely criminalizing the restoration and preservation of our own bought and paid for media. And as well I have read and agree with the form letter which follows: As a constituent and an ardent consumer of digital media, I write today to urge you to support a Consumer Technology Bill of Rights, and to express my concerns about the recent trend toward allowing one-sided copyright laws to eliminate my Fair Use rights. Historically, our country has enjoyed a balance between the rights of copyright holders and the rights of citizens who legally acquire copyrighted works. Generally speaking, rights holders have the exclusive right to distribute and profit from artistic works. Consumers like me who legally acquire these works are free to use them in most noncommercial ways. Unfortunately, this balance has shifted dramatically in recent years, much to the detriment of consumers. To prevent further erosion of my rights, I would like to add my voice to DigitalConsumer.org in calling for a "consumer technology bill of rights". It is simply an attempt to assert positively the public's personal use rights. These rights are not new; they are historic rights granted in previous legislation and court rulings that have over the last four years been whittled away. Under the guise of "preventing illegal copying" I believe Hollywood is vilifying their customers - people like me - and using the legislative process to create new lines of business at my expense. Their goal is to create a legal system that takes away my long-cherished personal use rights and then to charge me an additional fee to regain those rights! Copy protection, especially to prevent overseas piracy for illicit sale, is an important issue. But before Congress considers yet another change in the law at the behest of the copyright holders, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to protect my Fair Use rights. Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter. Sincerely, Justin Mahn

Endorse this (1)

bpb213 (561569) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162167)

DigitalConsumer.org needs some sort of donation program or something. Hollywood needs to be fought with money, and not just words. we need cable advertisements, news advertisements, movie preview ads? ;) Hollywood can reach many millions of people, we need that ability too. I dont want to look forward to a tommorow when i cant build a athalon 7 system because by then hollywood had mandated to congress that even the processor should enforce DRM (yeah, i know thats impossible anyway, but read the analogy)

A suggestion (2, Insightful)

Windcatcher (566458) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162176)

Of course the major reason all of this is happening is piracy. I submit that piracy isn't the cause of the problem, but a reaction to the fact that content simnply costs too much. We all know what happens when you are a content producer (e.g. musician, writer, software producer): to get your product distributed, you have to sign a contract with a distributor that grants them exclusive rights and lets them have the lion's share of the revenue. Distributors all consider this standard, and they also know that content producers have no choice but to to acquiesce. Anyone following the Bioware/Interplay fiasco knows what the game software industry is like--about the only way for a content producer to make any money anymore is to find a buyer for their company. It's the same with books and music. Ultimately the problem is that distributors with exclusive agreements are local monopolies, with the ability to charge a price far above where the supply and demand curves meet. The result is either abstention from buying their products or piracy. If music CDs cost $100 a piece, let's face it--NO ONE would buy them legitimately. At $22 a piece the effect is the same, just not as severe. My suggestion is to CHANGE CONTRACT LAW. Exclusive distribution arrangements and incentives should be classified as anti-competitive and make illegal. The incentive, from a content producer's standpoint, should always be in the direction of more distributors. Smaller distributors should be able to cut costs and undercut their competition by offering a producer's product to the consumer at a better price, thus garnering greater sales and revenue for the producer and themselves. Some distributors will survive, but the ones that don't suddenly start paying attention to their cost-revenue curves won't--just like in any other industry. The only real danger would be if distributors tacitly agreed not to "go after" each other's clients, but I feel that any distributor that didn't take every aggressive measure to undercut its competitors would quickly find itself sued by its stockholders. Greed will always be there, the trick is to make it work FOR the consumer instead of against it.

A good opportunity as any....... (0, Offtopic)

Ride-My-Rocket (96935) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162184)

To address the myraid of issues concerning consumers' rights in the modern age. Digital copyrights are an obvious issue, with the whole Napster/RIAA/P2P stuff that's going on these days. And privacy is another one -- I would argue that all email lists should be opt-in, so that consumers can explicitly choose who has the right to contact them. Of course, I doubt that would ever fly -- spam has existing in snail format far longer than the electronic version has, so there's probably not enough reason there to limit it.

I also think this would be a perfect time to nail Microsoft's shoes to the ground, in terms of how they bundle new modules into every subsequent release of their operating system. Their most recent gripe is that the OS is so closely bound to each of its (formerly standalone) components, it would ruin the OS if they had to split it up. I think it should be every consumer's unalienable right to be able to select which pieces of discrete functionality exist on their computer. Every other softwar manufacturer on the planet has an uninstaller program to go along with their install -- why should Microsoft be any different?! If they want to go ahead and bundle their stuff together, that's fine -- but they would also have to design it in such a way that I could remove Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player, if I so chose.

Finally, I think that spyware should be made illegal -- or, at the very least, every installer of spyware should come with a simpified explanation of what information will be transmitted to where, under what conditions, and for what use. Violating those rules should be grounds for stiff penalties and the purging of all offending information -- so if a company sells data to a 3rd party without the consent of the user, A) they're liable for it and B) the company which obtained that information is obligated to erase it. Hell, make it a telescoping fine, for repeat offenders -- first infraction, $xxx per violation; second offense, $x,xxx per violation; etc.

But of course, all this is but a pipe dream -- the very thought of our representatives in this country siding with the people, and not Big Business, is laughable at best. Or do we need to look any further than the recent decision to postpone requiring the auto industry to clean up its act?

another 'bill of right'? (1, Flamebait)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162188)

WHAT THE FUCK? Does every freakin group in this country need it's own goddamn 'bill of rights'? What next? The 'motorist bill of rights'? Perhaps a 'ass pickers bill of rights'? This is getting disgustingly STUPID!

Mod me down, you know I'm right.

Re:another 'bill of right'? (2)

Silverhammer (13644) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162347)

Mod me down, you know I'm right.

No, you're not.

Sure, the phrase "bill of rights" has been co-opted by every group of simpering, blood-sucking "activists" under the sun, but this time it is extremely appropriate. Why? Because this bill of rights was composed to remind people of the real, honest-to-goodness constitutional "fair use" rights that the media corps are trying to take away.

Yes, you heard me. Constitutional. Article I, Section 8. Look it up.

My favourite quote! (5, Interesting)

ProfBooty (172603) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162195)

That brought an angry retort from Andrew S. Grove, the chairman of Intel. "Is it the responsibility of the world at large to protect an industry whose business model is facing a strategic challenge?" he said in an interview. "Or is it up to the entertainment industry to adapt to a new technical reality and a new set of consumers who want to take advantage of it?"

It is nice to see a more "mainstream" opinon which echos the sentiments of slashdot posters. This really is the core of the issue: Media companies don't want to deal with the new dynamics as to what people (the "consumer") want to do with the content that they percieve they own (i.e. i bought it in the store, i can do whatever i want with it). I don't see how digital rights should be any different than rights in the analog world. Asides from preceieved quality issues, all the move to digital has done, is make it easier for people to do stuff that they had done previously, i.e. the new term "space shift".

In my younger days i "spaceshifted" a record or cd to a tape or MD to listen to in my walkman or in my parents car. How is this any different than when I download a copy of a cd i own to my mp3 player?

The question I have, is who has more lobbyists? The hardware or media industires? That will probably be the deciding factor.

Re:My favourite quote! (2)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162282)

Yeah, I agree with the points that are made here: An industry that thinks its business model should be unchanged during a technological revolution is just pathetic. One remark, though:

The question I have, is who has more lobbyists? The hardware or media industires?

Well, the hardware industry is quite a lot bigger, isn't it?

However, this means that we need to be very careful about how we talk to people about this. Right now, we can say "look at how these huge record companies are screwing artists and consumers alike!" And there is a lot of truth to it. However, getting the largish hardware industry on the matter means that RIAA, MPAA and the like can say "look at how the huge hardware manufacturers are screwing the poor, idealistic artists for their own profit!" You know, we should be concerned that there may become so truth to that as well, in which case the tables are turned.

Rights vs. convenience. (2)

heroine (1220) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162198)

You want to give up the convenience of wireless, pay per view, video on demand, media organization, plug and play, one touch recording, ease of use, so you can shift time? You need to give before you can get. If you want rights, use a PC and do it yourself. Don't expect major electronics companies to give you maximum convenience with full rights.

Re:Rights vs. convenience. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162222)

The SSSCA targets computers and peripherals rather explicitly.

Re:Rights vs. convenience. (3, Insightful)

ArtDent (83554) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162266)

Start paying attention.

According to the SSSCA, a PC is an interactive digital device, and as such, it must be neutered according to government-created specifications. If an SSSCA-like law is introduced and passed, there will be NO technology available to enable you to exercise your rights.

I think this is Consumer Technology Bill of Rights is an excellent idea.

Re:Rights vs. convenience. (1)

joereda (249548) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162352)

This posting makes no sense? However, giving up (to name a few) pay-per-view, media organization, and plug and play would probably not be a Bad Thing.

Make a better product (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162201)

The only way the record companies will survive against the new technical world is to build a better product.

Take for instance records. I collect old records, they sound unique every time I play them. Most importantly though, they were produced with care. I own "dark side of the moon-pink floyd" it came with posters and stickers. It is truely and wonderful "product".

The record companies have seems to believe that they have created the music and so don't need to do their job of producing a good product.

Laws will not stop the hordes of people from copying CD's. Lets face it, many of the people here copy mp3's.

The record companies are essentially pissing into the wind.

My english here is probably terrible, but I saw Ozzy last night and i'm hurting. (btw seeing your favourite band in concert is a great way of supporting the band. More money in their pockets than CD's)

-Sleepy Fan Guy

Amen, Brother! (DigitalConsumer.org) (5, Informative)

eples (239989) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162202)


Joe Kraus, founder of Excite and co-founder of DigitalConsumer.org, is scheduled to testify before Congress today - his testimony is online [digitalconsumer.org] and is excellent.

Software/hardware developers are for piracy? (2, Interesting)

actor_au (562694) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162218)

From the Article(NYT one)...he(Eisner) suggested that they (MS Apple, Intel ETC) had failed to develop adequate protection for digital media because piracy helps sell computers.
Microsoft et al aren't even able to develop decent anti-piracy measures for their own software and hardware(Multi-Regional DVDs etc) why should they bother to work on another companies problems when they can't beat their own?
Also the very idea that pirited songs and ripped movies help to sell computers is stupid. At most it forces some people to go get a better video card, start a broadband account and get a bigger screen and speaker set.

Call it the Fair Use Protection Act (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162236)

Because "FUPA" is fun to say.

FUPA!

Games are flourishing despite piracy (2, Interesting)

janimal (172428) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162238)

Why isn't anyone using this argument? I think I read somewhere that the video game industry is bigger than hollywood, and they don't seem to b*ch nearly as much, while their medium is solely computers. They can deal with it, why can't Hollywood/RIAA?

More Pi Day! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162244)

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.pi .should .not .have .more .than .one .line .of .numbers .because .it .is .only .one .number .after .all .and .to .make .it .look .like .a .paragraph .would .be .dumb .pi .should .not .have .more .than .one .line .of .numbers .because .it .is .only .one .number .after .all .and .to .make .it .look .like .a .paragraph .would .be .dumb .pi .should .not .have .more .than .one .line .of .numbers .because .it .is .only .one .number .after .all .and .to .make .it .look .like .a .paragraph .would .be .dumb .pi .should .not .have .more .than .one .line .of .numbers .because .it .is .only .one .number .after .all .and .to .make .it .look .like .a .paragraph .would .be .dumb .pi .should .not .have .more .than .one .line .of .numbers .because .it .is .only .one .number .after .all .and .to .make .it .look .like .a .paragraph .would .be .dumb .need .to .make .it .a .bit .bigger .so .it .is .all .on .one .line .just .a .bit .more .is .all .we .need .need .to .make .it .a .bit .bigger .so .it .is .all .on .one .line .just .a .bit .more .is .all .we .need .need .to .make .it .a .bit .bigger .so .it .is .all .on .one .line .just .a .bit .more .is .all .we .need .need .to .make .it .a .bit .bigger .so .it .is .all .on .one .line .just .a .bit .more .is .all .we .need .pi .should .not .have .more .than .one .line .of .numbers .because .it .is .only .one .number .after .all .and .to .make .it .look .like .a .paragraph .would .be .dumb .pi .should .not .have .more .than .one .line .of .numbers .because .it .is .only .one .number .after .all .and .to .make .it .look .like .a .paragraph .would .be .dumb .pi .should .not .have .more .than .one .line .of .numbers .because .it .is .only .one .number .after .all .and .to .make .it .look .like .a .paragraph .would .be .dumb .pi .should .not .have .more .than .one .line .of .numbers .because .it .is .only .one .number .after .all .and .to .make .it .look .like .a .paragraph .would .be .dumb [pi.org]

More Pi Day! <-- WRONG!!! (-1)

Big_Ass_Spork (446856) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162336)

BASTARD!!!!

May you die of herpes-related complications, you page widening, enjoyment leeching piece of shit!

OK People... (1, Insightful)

BigChigger (551094) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162267)

Get of your collective asses, join this group and the EFF, and contact you congress(wo)man.

Sitting here making witty, stupid "first post", or other "insightful" posts does no good at all. Email your friends and family. Discuss this with your coworkers or fellow students. Get up and get moving.

BC

If the tables were turned? (3, Insightful)

RAVasquez (318309) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162273)

But Mr. Chernin of the News Corporation suggested that matters might be different if the tables were turned. "Let's say I decide to broadcast on my network the code for how to make Intel chips or Microsoft software," he said. "I think they'd find a way to stop it."

It's called a "lawsuit." That is, you sue whoever leaks proprietary code when they do it. It doesn't mean you cripple your hardware or software on the off-chance that somebody could do it.

I swear to God, these media types must blow their noses by committee.

OK, but... (1)

thormodr (563987) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162310)

I agree with all of these rights of the consumer... How does Napster/Morpheus/Kazaa etc. fit into this? The Bill of Rights does not seem to cover them. Can anybody come up with a justification for them other than "Nothing can stop technology!" or "Let's screw the monopolistic and evil corporations!"?

DigitalConsumer.org's making it easy.... (5, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162329)

To contact your Representative and Senator. Go to http://www.digitalconsumer.org/fax.html [digitalconsumer.org] and fill out your name, e-mail address, and Zip code. Then they'll fax a pre-made letter (which you can alter if you'd like) to your two Senators and your Representative (based on your Zip code). Very important since many people are concerned about this stuff, but balk when it's time to actually write and send a letter.
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