FC: Essay on CBDTPA: "Hollings, Valenti, and the American Techniban"

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Tue Mar 26 2002 - 22:32:49 PST

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: Events: Cato spam panel TODAY, EFF dinner 4/16, Big Brother awards"

    Politech archive on CBDTPA:
    Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 07:59:58 -0500
    Subject: Hollings, Valenti, and the American Techniban
    From: Richard Forno <rfornoat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Morning, Declan - FYI.
    The full version with hyperlinked references is available at
    http://www.infowarrior.org/articles/2002-03.html, if you're interested.
    Hollings, Valenti, and the American Techniban
    Richard Forno
    25 March 2002
    (c) 2002 by Author. Permission is granted to quote, reprint or redistribute
    provided the text is not altered, and appropriate credit is given.
    Summary: Discussion of the latest (and controversial) piece of
    entertainment-industry legislation designed to screw the law-abiding
    citizens of the Net.
    The United States is engaged in a war against oppressive regimes run by
    ignorant fanatics barely able to comprehend the intricacies of modern
    society. Through actions favoring the ruling class, secret midnight deals,
    and restricting public distribution of information, citizens in these
    societies are unable to evolve and live as productive members of the
    international community. In Afghanistan, this was evidenced by the
    philosophy and practices of the now-defunct Taliban. Unfortunately, this
    fanaticism has spread to the United States and evidenced by the rise of the
    American Techniban.
    The American Techniban are led by Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-SC) who
    serves as the duly-appointed Congressional mouthpiece and elected puppet of
    the entertainment industry cartels, having received nearly $300,000 in
    campaign funding from Hollywood since 1997. Known in some circles as the
    'Senator From Disney,' Hollings also bears a striking resemblance to a
    younger Jack  Valenti. (Valenti, for those unaware, is CEO of the movie
    industry's lobby group and the founder of America's Techniban movement.)
    Brainwashed by the Gospel of Valenti, the American Techniban's goal is
    simple. Under the guise of 'preserving America's intellectual capital' and
    supported by the funding of the entertainment industry cartels, they seek to
    sustain the entertainment industry's Industrial Age business model (and
    monopolies) in the modern Information Age - where such models are rendered
    obsolete by emerging technology.
    According to Techniban Leader Senator Hollings, the lack of 'ubiquitous
    protections' has led to a 'lack of [high-quality] digital content on the
    Internet - apparently he doesn't believe that consumers are interested in
    any 'high-quality digital content' outside of what is produced by the major
    entertainment industries. Forget the garage band in Miami or the two
    teenagers producing an hour-long movie describing adolescent depression shot
    with Dad's camcorder during Spring Break, or WashingtonPost.Com. Hollings'
    interpretation of the Gospel of Valenti is that if a digital content didn't
    come from an entity supporting the entertainment industry cartels it must
    not be a worthwhile product.  Unfortunately, many folks are of the belief
    that since we don't require such 'security' measures for handguns (something
    that can kill people) so why have such measures on electronic media which
    educates and entertains them?
    Last week, despite significant protest from the Internet populations and
    on-the-record promises to delay any formal Senate action on the matter,
    Hollings introduced the controversial and draconian legislative proposal
    entitled the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act
    (CBDTPA). This proposal is essentially a renamed version of Hollings'
    original Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) from early
    2001.  (bill summary and full text) It should also be noted that with the
    exception of one executive from Intel, every person invited to testify on
    the proposed CBDTPA was from the entertainment industry....there were no
    artists, musicians, producers, or consumers invited. So much for this being
    a 'consumer-friendly' bill.
    Conspiracy theorists argue that the 'short name' for the bill was done to
    confuse the public and other legislators...after all, it's difficult to
    argue against something neither you nor your audience can pronounce.
    Political analysts believe Hollings' introduction of CBDTPA was done in a
    grumpy response to his counterparts in the US House recently passing the
    Tauzin-Dingel bill on telecommunications industry reform, several portions
    of which Hollings vehemently disagrees with.
    Simply put, CBDTPA outlaws the sale or distribution of nearly any electronic
    device and computer operating system unless it includes government-mandated
    copy-prevention restrictions. Think of it as the federal government
    mandating how, where, when, and for how long you can own or read a book at
    the time you purchase it at Barnes and Noble or check it out of your local
    This is the latest episode in a two decade-old argument made by the
    entertainment industry. From the early days of the VCR, to cassette tape
    recorders, floppy disks, computers, and now the Internet, the Hollywood
    moguls continually belief that emerging technology spells doom for their
    profits and ability to deliver 'quality content' to the American public.
    According to some reports, in 2001, videocassette rental and sales totaled
    about $11 billion and exceeded box office receipts by over $2 billion.
    Ironically, the VCR is the same device once referred to by Jack Valenti as
    the 'Boston Strangler' that would decimate the film industry. Funny that
    both he and the American film industry are still around and profiting beyond
    the Dreams of Avarice.
    Under the unpronounceable CBDTPA, anything that can record or store digital
    information must be equipped with copy-prevention technology. Thus, under
    CBDTPA, nearly all existing electronic devices such as personal computers,
    mainframes, camcorders, servers, MP3 players, home stereos, VCRs, car
    stereos, pocket calculators, wristwatches, cellular phones, microwave ovens,
    CB radios, cameras, electronic thermostats, CD recorders, photocopiers, fax
    machines, televisions, and rectal thermometers - would become illegal. Got a
    computerized pacemaker? Better have it switched out for a
    Techniban-compliant one and pray your HMO will cover the costs as
    non-elective surgery.
    One can only drool at the prospects of dealing with the black market in such
    uncontrolled technologies...if it's a question of looking out for terrorists
    and drug dealers or smugglers of unrestricted hard drives and MP3 players,
    where do you think US Customs will focus its efforts? Will blank hard disks
    become a prohibited import item like Cuban cigars?
    The most striking aspect of CBDTPA (and its cousin, the still-controversial
    Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998) is that both automatically outlaw
    what might be done by someone, and not what actually is done. Both
    initiatives presume the citizen guilty until proven guiltier, not in the
    eyes of the court, but by the pre-emptive whims and desires of corporations
    seeking to maintain control over consumers and their crumbling Industrial
    Age business models. In essence, they pre-emptively criminalize what MIGHT
    happen, as opposed to what DOES happen.  (e.g., Knowing how to kill someone
    is not by itself illegal; but committing murder is, and being proven to have
    done so carries harsh penalties.)
    Such a concept is not hard to belief. Reportedly, Microsoft is working with
    Intel and AMD to create a new feature for future processors that will work
    with Microsoft operating systems to enforce corporate copyright interests,
    something partially-completed in Windows XP's Media Player.  Should this be
    completed, Microsoft would be in a position of considerable power - more
    than today - over the majority of electronic content processed by electronic
    devices and computers. It should be noted that Microsoft already holds a
    patent on a computer operating system that incorporates the copy-prevention
    technologies that the entertainment industry so desparately wants to inflict
    on Information Age citizen-consumers. Securing their software? Looks like
    the only thing Microsoft wants to secure are its corporate profits by
    aligning with Hollywood.
    According to some reports, America's domestic spending on computing
    technology is over $600 billion a year, while Hollywood generates a measly
    $35 billion to the national economy. CBDTPA would effectively compell a
    huge, dynamic industry - comprised of large and small companies,
    individuals, and academic researchers - to redefine itself simply to
    preserve the obsolete business models of the American entertainment
    Unfortunately for Americans and the people of the world embracing the
    digital environment for any and all lawful purposes, the goals of the
    American Techniban - brainwashed by the Gospel of Valenti - run contrary to
    everything the Internet stands for. CBDTPA and the American Techniban
    represent a fundamental threat to the future of modern information society;
    their goals are to effect electronic martial law on all information
    resources and implement draconian measures on today's information society
    for no other reason than to satisfy the profiteering desires of the
    entertainment moguls desperately trying to save their crumbling Industrial
    Age business models.
    It's high time that the entertainment companies learn that if they treat
    their customers as criminals, they'll not only have fewer customers, but
    many more criminals to contend with. How's that for economic growth?
    Further Reading:
    Forno - National Security and Digital Freedoms: How DMCA Threatens Both
    (#2001-05 from July 2001)
    EFF: Congress Calls For Public Participation on Digital Music Issues
    MPAA 2001 US Economic Review (Adobe PDF) showing upward trends for revenue
    across the board
    DigitalConsumer.Org Online Petition - Stop CBDTPA
    POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
    You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
    Declan McCullagh's photographs are at http://www.mccullagh.org/
    To subscribe to Politech: http://www.politechbot.com/info/subscribe.html
    This message is archived at http://www.politechbot.com/
    Politech dinner in SF on 4/16: http://www.politechbot.com/events/cfp2002/

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Mar 27 2002 - 01:52:55 PST