Your Lying Eyes

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24 April 2006

Yet More Copyright Protection!?

Via Drudge, CNET reports that an expansion of the odious Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) will soon be making its way thru Congress. Apparently the current act is not intrusive enough. The new act would apparently subject just about every citizen of the United States to imprisonment of 10 years at some point in their life:"The new language says nobody may 'make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess' such anticircumvention tools if they may be redistributed to someone else.." Sounds pretty comprehensive, doesn't it? But that is, after all, the goal of the federal government - to be able to arrest any citizen at any time. This bill would go a long way to establishing that.

The bill is authored by the Bush Administration, and fits in well with their general disregard for personal liberty. But you won't see the liberal media jumping in to defend the rights of ordinary Americans against greedy corporate America - because of course in this case they are greedy corporate America. But they're real quick to object when the Bush Administration violates the civil rights of foreign terrorists in foreign countries - but wiretaps and property-forfeiture for Americans who download a few songs - go for it! Most vile of all, AG Gonzalez is quoted as saying this law is needed because profits from copyright violations are used "to fund terrorism activities." You don't get much lower than that.

How important is protecting intellectual property? Let's look at artists before strong copyright laws were enacted vs. today. Literature - Dickens vs. Annie Proulx? Music - Brahms vs. John Williams? Musical theatre - Verdi vs. Lloyd-Weber? Sure, artists and writers deserve fair compensation for their work and should receive a royalty on the commercial distribution of their work.

But this is not what this is about. This is about large corporations seeking to control the entertainment and information business. They do not foster great or even good artists. Is a system that produces Madonna as a mega-star really providing any useful service to culture? How is it that some guy in Seattle can start up a blog and immediately produce more worthy prose than can be found anywhere but among a handful of published writers? How do we explain Razib of GNXP? Where do you even begin to compare the idiots who write for the Times' op-ed page (that they have the nerve to charge on-line for) to what Steve Sailer produces for free? (To be fair, with all its faults, the Times otherwise remains a great paper. It's the exception.)

Nowadays you can walk into bars across the country and hear bands every bit as good as what you can pay $75 to see in auditoriums. The bands that do make it to major labels and you hear on the radio are lucky to last more than a few years. Long after their music has ceased being broadcast their labels jealously guard these "treasures" - not because these obscure songs have any intrinsic value - but because they can't set a precedent and allow any of their "property" to leave their hands.

It's all one big crock - and just to preserve the profits of these media conglomerates, we will throw away our liberty. It's bad enough the compromises to our freedom that we have allowed to fight terrorism - here, we're doing it for what - so Sony/Time-Warner/Fox/Microsoft/etc. can continue to serve us crap every day?

And props to Matt Drudge for publicizing it.


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