Taken w/o permission from TechKnow


(Or, is that a tidal wave on the horizon?)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, it never ceases to amaze us

how hoaxes can travel around the Internet at the speed of light, while

things that constitute a real threat to the ‘net seem to sail right on by

most Internet users.

For a long time, nowhere has this been more true than with issues

surrounding copyright and so-called “intellectual property.” But it seems

that at long last, the greed of certain corporate entities has become so

overbearing that these issues are being forced to the forefront of

consciousness. Personally, we don’t feel it’s a smart business move to

treat the demographic that comprises the majority of your customer base as

common criminals. But then, nobody ever accused anyone in the

entertainment industry of actually caring what their customers think. As

long as we buy their product, they couldn’t care less if we hate their guts.

But maybe things are starting to change. For starters, PC World asked the

question, “Could making an MP3 mix of your favorite songs and recording Sex

in the City on your PC or VCR turn you into a criminal? That’s exactly what

consumer advocates are warning, as Washington and Hollywood gang up on the

issue of digital copyright and piracy.”

But here’s the significant part: The PC World article also noted that a

hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 14 “was a coming-out

party for DigitalConsumer.org, a consumer group that aims to protect fair

use rights to save, copy, and move movies and music you own. Cofounder Joe

Kraus testified alongside representatives of entertainment firms and

technology companies [and] warned the committee of the dangers of the

overbroad and overbearing copy protection being advocated by some

lawmakers, as well as by the movie and music industry.”

PC World article: Battle Intensifies Over Right to Copy




As it turns out, DigitalConsumer.org isn’t the only new organization that

has a bone to pick with the copyright office. Save Internet Radio! is an

organization that is attempting to save streaming audio on the Internet

from its impending death. Many folks use Internet radio and audio streams

to get them through their work day, and are understandably upset with the

notion that the greed of a few copyright holders could cause virtually all

audio streams to disappear from the Internet forever.

The Save Internet Radio! web site explains itself this way:

America’s fledgling Internet radio industry continues to react in shock to

the recent Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (“CARP”) decision that

Webcasters should pay “performance rights” fees to record labels that are

so high that they are currently more than 100% of most Webcasters’ gross


The royalty rates are perceived by most observers as so high that they will

effectively kill Internet radio as an industry if they’re accepted by the

U.S. Copyright Office. (The Copyright Office will decide whether to accept,

reject or modify the rates and terms set forth in the report within the

next 60 days.)

The purpose of this website is to help concerned individuals have a voice

in trying to encourage the U.S. Copyright Office to reject the CARP

recommendation — or Congress to amend the Digital Millenium Copyright Act

(DMCA) — in time to prevent the industry from being effectively shut down.

Save Internet Radio!


Finally, there is this odd item from the Village Voice: It seems that a

New York Post entertainment reporter was given an assignment to write about

a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against the Walt Disney Company in 1991

by Stephen Slesinger Inc. The latter is a company that owns merchandising

rights to Winnie the Pooh, and claims it has been cheated out of millions

in royalty payments.

The Village Voice article alleges that Disney executives were so upset with

the article (which talked about court documents that revealed “that a judge

fined Disney $90,000 last year for destroying documents that might or might

not have been relevant to the case”) that they used their influence with

the newspaper’s management to have the reporter fired. So much for freedom

of the press!

When Disney Complains, Sack the Reporter

Who’s Afraid of Mickey Mouse?


Now here’s the point: The last we heard, the United States government was

still supposed to be a government “of the people, by the people, and for

the people.” Yet it seems that when the subject shifts to matters of

so-called “intellectual property”, the people (and what we think about all

this) are totally ignored. Only what the big corporations think seems to

matter. Well, it’s about time that “we the people” let our members of

Congress know what we think about all this copyright nonsense (we’d use a

stronger word, but kids might be reading this). Check out the above

mentioned web sites and do what you can, or before long they’ll be trying

to collect royalties from us for our very thoughts!


By Michael Swaine

The shameful legacy of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act:

* Compact discs that can’t be played in computers or even some CD players

* A visiting Russian programmer put in prison for giving a technical talk

* A magazine sued successfully for publishing a link to a Web site

* A US professor threatened when he tried to publish the results of his


* E-book licenses prohibiting the reader from reading the book out loud

* Click-on licenses making it a violation even to criticize the contents of

the work

* Undermining public respect for the law

Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA-9th District) has called for Congress to

rewrite this seriously flawed law. I suggest that we all let our

representatives know that we want the DMCA rewritten or repealed before it

further erodes our rights.

[From “Swaine’s Frames” at WebReview:]


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