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March 22nd, 2002

Congress Takes It Too Far

It’s 2004. You’ve just downloaded the latest CD by PM Dawn, back after a remarkable absence with an album dubbed “their greatest ever” by Time. You pony up the $20 for the entire album. You listen to it on your computer, and you think it’s the best. So, you think, “I’d like a CD version for my car.”

You drag files over to your CD drive and… oops! An error message pops up. “Sorry, but you are not allowed to have more than one copy of this CD. For reference, note the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act of 2002.” What? What’s this?

Senator Hollings of South Carolina unleashed the warm-and-fuzzily named CBDTPA yesterday on Congress, and it is without a doubt the thinnest-veiled moneygrab in the history of America. So what does it do?

The CBDTPA makes copy protection an area mandated by the FCC. All devices which record anything digitally must utilize copy protection that is authorized by the FCC. That includes devices and media we use today such as, oh, computers, televisions, stereos, MP3 players, PDAs, PVRs, DVD-recordables, DVDs, CDs, MDs, SmartMedia and CompactFlash cards, digital cameras, digital camcorders… anything that does anything digital.

The implications are harsh. While the CBDTPA claims it offers a fair use clause, there is no way anything passed will support a consumer’s rights. For instance, the Wired article mentions recording from television will be permitted – but will be limited to a one-use copy. One-use! Imagine if you recorded something to watch later, and found that you could only watch it once. Gee, think that’ll kill TiVo?

This bill is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous and controlling attempt to control consumers’ rights yet. If you wanted proof that Congress not only doesn’t get it, but also wants all the money it can get, this is it. The big corporations are in control, and this bill will equal the end of digital devices as we know them.

I’m angry. I’m very angry. Join the EFF. Write to your Senators. Boycott those who support this crap bill. Take it to the web, take it to the streets – get the word out.

This country was founded on the idea that all people are created equal. Over the past few decades, we’ve been told that only the people with the money matter. Let’s remind those in power that the people who matter are us, and stop this crippling piece of legislature. -pm

Posted in Miscellaneous

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