The Government's Common Sense Flag
It's not every day that I can say the following: "Something the government did actually made me smile today." With the political climate in a most dismal state and with the consumer losing out on almost every front (i.e., from the "video games kill" stories to the RIAA), it was really nice to see that somebody on Capitol Hill has a brain.
[...] It began with committee chairman Senator Stevens and Senator Inouye, his Democrat counterpart, declaring, as with all good anti-piracy measures, that Something Had To Be Done, and that Congress should pass the flag as soon as possible. The agenda seemed set. In the face of it, those who objected to the Broadcast Flag--technologists, librarians, and civil libertarians--were forced to spend much of their Congressional time requesting narrow exceptions that might lessen its damage.
And then, a voice from heaven, disguised as New Hampshire's Republican Junior Senator John Sununu, asked the question that should be asked at every meeting: Do we need this mandate at all? What he said to back this up follows:
"The suggestion is that if we don't do this, it will stifle creativity. Well...we have now an unprecedented wave of creativity and product and content development...new business models, and new methodologies for distributing this content. The history of government mandates is that it always restricts innovation...why would we think that this one special time, we're going to impose a statutory government mandate on technology, and it will actually encourage innovation?"
So if Sununu didn't speak up, a bill that defies the government's logic... no... logic itself, would pass? Come on, give me an example of a restriction that encourages creativity. Anyway, this was my favorite bombshell of the article.
The second revelation, dropped into the later discussion of the RIAA's audio flag, was that Senator Stevens' daughter bought him an iPod.
Holy shit, no no, don't tell me that a senator who is passing legislation against something actually received the something that was receiving the legislation? Okay, that made little sense, but let's clear that up. So the RIAA was definitely trying to appeal to those who didn't have a clue what any of this stuff was, and when somebody finally picked up the technology they were restricting, they didn't really want to restrict it anymore. Let's check this next snippet, I love the part where the RIAA loses it's cool... like, they're not used to losing already.
And when [committee chairman Senator] Stevens (the guy who actually wanted to push this through because they, HAD to do something) asked whether with the audio flag in place he would be able to record from the radio and put the shows onto his iPod: that's when the RIAA's Mitch Bainwol really began to sweat. [...] With that simple question, the octogenarian Senator encapsulated arguments about place-shifting, interoperability, and fair use that would have taken whole federal dockets to explain a few years ago.
Excuse me while I laugh my ass off. I can just see the little gnomes at the RIAA screaming "damage control! damage control!" Finally, the young hero from New Hampshire totally rips the pants off the whole situation.
Even more damning was Senator Sununu's follow-up question, in which he asked if, post-flag, the Senator might record three songs from the radio today, and listen to only one of them again tomorrow. Of course, under the RIAA's proposed controls, you may not: this is "disaggregation" in their language. This flag, which was sold to Congress to impede piracy, appeared to be designed primarily to control and inconvenience law-abiding, ripping, mixing, modern-day Senators.
First I'd like to thank the EFF for posting this lovely story. Sure the article was bias, but I surely welcomed it. Not only has this made my day, it has given me faith that in the next decade more senators like Senator Sununu will come up the ranks and fight with what's effective - common sense. Not only that, following the old rules of "don't knock it before you try it" could do wonders! Am I asking for too much? Hell yeah, but I think it's worth asking for. I wish this could have happened when the police started blaming video games and not parents. Wait, I mean, when parents started blaming video games for their kids behavior and not their shit parenting. Without getting too far off topic, I'd like to say that this is what happens when I start talking politics - take it with some fresh lime. Finally, I'd like to enter the weekend with this:
And God help the broadcast flag-makers if someone buys Senator Stevens a video iPod.