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[Fwd: Bleak future looms if you don't take a stand.]
From: Sandy Harris <pashley _-at-_ storm.ca>
-------- Original Message -------- Subject: Bleak future looms if you don't take a stand. Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2002 18:41:39 -0800 (PST) From: "Jay D. Dyson" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Reply-To: email@example.com (Defcon Stuff) Organization: Treachery Unlimited - http://www.treachery.net/ To: DefCon Stuff <firstname.lastname@example.org> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1 Courtesy of Rick Forno. http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/2922052.htm>http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/2922052.htm Bleak future looms if you don't take a stand By Dan Gillmor Mercury News Technology Columnist This is a quiz about your future. It's about how you view some basic elements of the emerging Digital Age. 1. Do you care if a few giant companies control virtually all entertainment and information? 2. Do you care if they decide what kinds of technological innovations will reach the marketplace? 3. Would you be concerned if they used their power to compile detailed dossiers on everything you read, listen to, view and buy? 4. Would you find it acceptable if they could decide whether what you write and say could be seen and heard by others? Those are no longer theoretical questions. They are the direction in which America is hurtling. Media conglomerates are in a merger frenzy. Telecommunications monopolies are creating a cozy cartel, dividing up access to the online world. The entertainment industry is pushing for Draconian controls on the use and dissemination of digital information. If you're not infuriated by these related trends, you should at least be worried. If you're neither, stop reading this column. You're a sheep, content to be herded wherever these giants wish. But if you want to retain some fundamental rights over the information you use and create, please take a stand. Do it soon, because a great deal is at stake. The offenses against the public interest have been piling up, one after the other, but we've been acting like the proverbial frog that just sits there in a pot of water slowly brought to a boil. The frog gets cooked because it doesn't realize what's happening until too late. The most recent outrage, detailed elsewhere on this page by my colleague, Mercury News Staff Writer Dawn Chmielewski, is the music companies' scheme to control Internet radio or murder it if they can't. Net radio provides the variety and value that broadcast radio, so dominated today by a few behemoths, has almost utterly lost. Now it's going to disappear, if the greedy souls who dominate commercial music have their way -- just one more whack at the public interest to preserve the untenable business models of well-connected corporations. What can we do about all this? I'd been hoping that Congress would come to its senses one of these days, and mitigate the damage it has done with laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As prescient critics warned, the law has been abused by the entertainment crowd and its craven allies in the technology business to threaten scholars, curb free speech and even incite outrageous prosecutions. I'd been hoping that lawmakers would see the danger of market concentration in telecommunications and media. No luck there, either. I'd been hoping that the courts might intervene. But courts are more political than we learn in our third-grade civics classes. Federal judges are nominated and confirmed by politicians who only occasionally peek out of the pockets of the special interests. Again and again, with few exceptions, judges are upholding laws that trample on tradition and rights. There's no simple, all-encompassing solution to this dismal situation. Fighting for the public interest will involve work on a variety of fronts. It's essential, for example, that we put pressure on Congress and keep it there. Tell your U.S. House representative and U.S. senators that you want real competition, not cozy oligopolies or worse, when it comes to telecommunications and media -- and that further industry concentration is unacceptable. Tell them you don't want to wake up in five years and discover no more than two or three ways onto the Net -- at least the truly high-speed connections we'll find essential once they're actually available -- in your community. Tell them you don't think it's right that one company should be able to own all or most of the major media outlets in your community. And insist that they reject anything resembling legislation introduced last week by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C. This favor to the entertainment moguls would lead us down a control-freak path of putting copy protection in every digital device. Tell them you don't want your PC to be neutered into an expensive DVD player. And tell them you don't want the Internet, the greatest enabler of free speech in history, to be reduced to online television. You can find your member's office in your local phone book, or on the Web (www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html), or by calling the main number at the Capitol ( (202) 224-3121). Maybe Congress will listen, though the record so far is bleak. It's still worth your effort to try. I'd also like to hear your ideas on what we can do, individually and collectively. There is a place where we can all make a difference, right now. Let's send a message to a key member of the entertainment cartel -- the music industry -- and send it in a language the industry can grasp. So, here's my line in the sand. I've bought my last CD from any major label or independent label that puts copy protection on any of its music. I have a fine collection of older music, some on CDs and most on now-ancient vinyl LPs, which I'm moving gradually to digital formats so I can play them back on various devices including a CD player that can understand MP3s. I'm looking for online music from new artists who aren't afraid of this medium, people who will give me value for my money. Here's my message to the record industry and its allies: I'm not a thief. I'm a customer. When you treat me like a thief, I won't be your customer. Enough is enough. Dan Gillmor's column appears each Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday. E-mail email@example.com; phone (408) 920-5016; fax (408) 920-5917 -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.0.6 (SunOS) Comment: See http://www.treachery.net/~jdyson/ for current keys. iEYEARECAAYFAjyejmkACgkQGI2IHblM+8ElYgCfUrGIrDQFe3mWUtXgyFYHpmoy SywAnjve4ldIpMO18d2UoQr4OhkyzzaS =v2Ca -----END PGP SIGNATURE----- -- For (un)subscription information, posting guidelines and links to other related sites please see http://www.flora.org/dmca/
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