iPods and Senators

So it looks like the RIAA might have a tougher time than they thought pushing the Broadcast Flag and Audio Flag through Congress -- because the 80-something Senator Stevens has an iPod. And he doesn't want the RIAA messing with his fair use rights.

The iPod was a gift from his daughter. Apparantly, he's come to enjoy it and use it as many law-abiding citizens have, occasionally for lawful fair-use purposes. And that's fine, except to the RIAA. They want to put so many restrictions on technology that fair use is effectively destroyed. Here's a sample of their insanity:

Customary historic use

The RIAA defines any previous (legal) technological method of using audio and video as "customary historic use". And they want to make everything else illegal. Actually, that's not quite true. They also want to ban some things that do fall under customary historic use, such as the above-mentioned items in this list. And as EFF says:

Had that been the law in 1970, there would never have been a VCR. Had it been the law in 1990, no TiVo. In 2000, no iPod.

The RIAA is really, truly, the enemy of innovation.

A solution framework

The EFF article I mentioned above has an intriguing line at the bottom:

And God help the broadcast flag-makers if someone buys Senator Stevens a video iPod.

What would happen if someone gave him a video iPod -- would he be more acutely aware of the problems with Big Content's plan to take away nearly all our rights, except for the Right to Pay? What if someone turned him on to a free artist who sampled (quasi-legally) from the works of commercial artists, and then later told him the RIAA thinks it is illegal -- what might he think of the RIAA then?

You see my point now, I assume. Perhaps the most efficient way of preventing the RIAA from taking away rights is to introduce the lawmakers to these rights, then tell them the RIAA wants to take 'em away. This could involve hooking them on various fair-use-legal technologies and artists, and later sitting down with them and talking about the implications of restrictive legislation. I don't necessarily propose buying MP3 players for Senators. But it just might do the trick.

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