As an entertainment news and reviews site we are keenly interested in, indeed directly affected by, copyright politics and have been following these issues since our inception in August. We are deeply gratified to find the mainstream media attending to the matter as well, and after taking the media industry’s point of view as received fact on copyright matters including file-sharing, consumer fair use and the like, the consumer perspective seems to be entering the equasion.
There was the very fine recent AP story by Anick Jesdanun on the DMCA and the just concluded public comment period in which Blogcritics participated, and I just got off the phone with my local Cleveland Plain Dealer personal tech writer who is working on a similar story.
Rob Pegoraro, the Washington Post personal tech writer, has now concluded that matters of copyright politics were the most important developments in the computer business in 2002:
- On the one hand, movie studios, record labels, software developers and others pointed with justified alarm to a culture of theft on file-downloading services. Not all of the people sharing files were doing so for casual research, nor were the victimized parties all faceless, amorphous multinational conglomerates.
On the other hand, the biggest copyright holders forgot to offer a viable response to this problem.
….Still others found the existing laws wanting and so asked for sweeping new legislation — such as the “Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act” that Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) and several sponsors proposed in March.
That law would have mandated that virtually every hardware manufacturer or software developer build a federally designated copy-prevention standard into their products, with disobedience by manufacturers or tampering by users punishable by jail time.
….Behind the Hollings bill and other Orwellian copyright-protection proposals lie two contentions that are toxic to the rights of citizens. One is that copyright holders’ rights (specified by the Constitution as limited in time and extent) might trump the rights of anybody else. Another is that digital content is more dangerous than analog content (a foolish assertion when one can easily digitize any analog content with widely available hardware).
I still hope to see some faceless, amorphous multinational conglomerate compete with piracy on the one ground where it can win — not technology, politics or law, but economics. People are cheap, but they’re also lazy, and I believe time-starved consumers will pay a fair price for an easy, usable download.
Hey, that’s what Sony’s president just said also. 2003 is going to be interesting.