John C. Dvorak - PC Magazine
The United States' Bill of Rights, Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
So, exactly what part of "freedom of speech" don't you understand? That's the question you have to ask the members of Congress and the President who signed into law the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You also have to ask the courts, since they seem disinterested in real freedom of speech while simultaneously supporting pornography as somehow constituting speech. To me, speech requires vocal chords (though I'll accept written or braille words that can be read aloud by a third party). To me, this seems like a good narrow and workable definition. Meanwhile, we have yet another instance of a person merely talking aloud about copy protection, and suddenly this person is threatened with arrest for talking! What is wrong with this country that each and every citizen who sees this--allows this abomination of justice to stand? The police should never enforce this law. The District Attorney should never prosecute under this law. The courts should not command anyone to stand trial under this law.
The first instance of the abomination inflicted by the DMCA was the arrest of the hapless Russian coder Dmitry Sklyarov in July 17, 2001, for openly discussing some scheme Adobe had developed to protect eBook files (as if anyone even has an eBook). His crime? He discussed this methodology in public, was arrested, and put in jail! Mind you, this is in violation of an illegal law that Congress seems content to enforce. The history of this sordid event is an embarrassment to the country. The complaint itself was a horrible, muddy legalistic heap of mumbo-jumbo designed to obfuscate the obvious: The man spoke out loud, and exercised his right to free speech. See if your Congressional representative voted for this onerous law and fight to have him or her removed from office with all your might! Seriously. Why are we putting up with these idiots?
Just to review: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Note that the framers of the Bill of Rights made these particular rights first on the list.
ONWARD. So now we have the case of Princeton student John Alex Halderman. His crime? He discovered that by pressing the shift key while loading a copy-protected CD, he could disable SunnComm Technologies' CD-3 software, which was a form of copy protection to prevent people from copying the disk to MP3 format. Duh! So Halderman mentions this on his Web site. Boom! A violation of the DMCA. SunnComm was going to sue under the DMCA but backed off. I suspect that the case was too ridiculous to pursue and could have sunk the DMCA. Someone needs to arrest this kid now so we can get this absurd law into the open!
So now what we see discussed are dubious "fixes" to the DMCA. The most discussed is HR107, which is actually a law against labeling practices, and which happens to have a Scientific Research and Fair Use Restoration amendment to the DMCA. This is simply not good enough. Free speech does not need amendments to be acceptable and all right. It's part of the Constitution. Nothing needs to be fixed. Illegal laws need to be thrown out. Period. Why is this taking so long?
I'd like your opinion on this matter in this week's forum. Let's do a little research and put together a hit list of Congressional representatives who voted for and against the law. In 1998, it was unanimously passed by the Senate and then passed by the House with a voice vote. The time has come to track these people down and get them out of office. This is especially true for people like Howard Coble (Rep, N.C.), who has publicly supported the DMCA. I thought the Republicans were big supporters of the Bill of Rights? Guess not.