May 12, 2004

DMCRA hearing impressions

I've been listening to the DMCRA hearing, having it playing in the background like radio, via webcast, as I do other things (some people listen to Howard Stern, some to NPR ... I'm listening to "The Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act" hearing - isn't the Internet great?). Note thus the following is meant to be impressionistic, rather than journalistic. I was not taking notes, nor listening with rapt attention.

It would great if everyone could just take a loyalty oath at the start and thus get beyond the endless querying about whether they believe in some sort of heretical radicalism. Something like:

"I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party. I pledge allegiance to copyright, and to the intellectual property system for which it stands, one compensation, responsible, with property and profit for all."

That is, one deep issue is the conflict between the controls sought by the industry, and the effects those controls have in terms of inhibiting fair use in practice. This is a complicated problem. And it's a waste of time to go around "Are you some sort of Commie?" (paraphrased, not literal) all the time.

Lessig vs. Valenti is like a cage-match :-). Lessig makes a great case to my ears, and I'll join the cheering section here (2-4-6-8, who's net copy-great, Lessig!). I'm not sure how well it goes over with those not already in the choir, though. Quite a few of the hearing audience seemed to me to be willing to grant the industry the benefit of any doubt. Strategically, fighting "pirates" with "fair use" seems unbalanced (hence the search for the "loveable hero")

Robert Moore, of 321 Studios, was surprising strong and good in his testimony. He did an excellent job of fielding many hostile questions well.

The MPAA and RIAA people don't like techs - they complain much about Hacking! Hacking! Hacking!

I'm biased, but I think technologists have something to say here. For example, Jack Valenti (mis)quoted Ed Felten. Even if this hearing was only about consumer issues, a prominent subject was whether it was possible to make usage restriction technology which somehow only permitted fair use. And what wins if that couldn't be done.

I'm really biased, but when they discussed whether or not fair use was being served by the Library of Congress Rulemaking about DMCA Exemptions, I definitely thought I had something to say!

Listening to these hearing is probably bad for me. It's always a tug to do more net-activism. Except that'll likely kill me, at least metaphorically, and probably literally, from stress.

[Update: Recommendation: See Matt Rolls a Hoover for hearing notes, excellent unpaid, I mean "citizen", journalism (thanks Derek)]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in copyblight , dmca | on May 12, 2004 04:29 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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