by Ruben I. Safir
Following the recent successes of NYLXS and NYFairuse in pursuing our contacts and lobbying efforts in Washington DC, NYFairuse has created an outline for a new bill which we hope to get written and to push through Congress. Over the last quarter, Free Software has faced many political hurdles, many of them threatening the legality Free Software on privately owned computers. Questions have been raised on the hill about the need to protect digital television broadcasts from copying, and new initiatives have been presented to both the Commerce subcommittee and the Intellectual Property Subcommittee in the House of Representatives. Because of the pressure being put on the Hill by NYLXS, the EFF, and other organizations, Congressman are no longer giving this a free pass on the Hill. They are now starting to challenge media companies on their never ending push to lock down computers and to spy on the public.
NYFairuse is ready to take this fight to the next level, and we are sponsoring a Fair Use Bill designed to empower the lawyers in court against unjustified attacks on civil liberties. The Fair Use Bill, in rough outline, will explicitly state that Fair Use is an extension of the 1st and 4th amendments of the Bill of Rights. In addition, it denies the right of copyright holders to interfere with the property rights of consumers through digital means without a written and signed contract between the parties. Most importantly, it defines legally the term "stake holders" in copyright law as the general public.
We hope to have this Bill written in the next few months, and can use help in this matter from a lawyer. NYLXS hopes to fund this process. The basic outline is as follows:
Consider it a Digital Bill of Rights for the New Millennium:
The legislation to be drafted will accomplish the following main stream objectives which all reasonable people can expect:
-All copyrights to individual scores, writings, and recordings will be returned to the original artist after a period of 10 years.
-No technology can be deployed which spies on, wiretaps or discloses privately owned information which is stored on digital devices by any government agency or private 3rd party without the issuance of a publicly pronounced and disclosed warrant limited to a specific criminal investigation.
-All copyright cases must prove, prior to a judgment of guilt, proof that the actions in question did not infringe on Fair Use, and the individuals rights under the 4th and 1st amendment of the Bill of rights US Constitution.
-Ownership of all physical media, and devices to read such media, is the sole property of the purchaser of the media, without an expressly negotiated and signed contract between both the copyright holder and the purchaser.
-No technological software or hardware method can be deployed in a digital product and made available for normal retail sale which inhibits, in any way, the full enjoyment of the property by the purchasers, regardless of any agreement between the designer of the hardware or software products. Such agreements are null, and not contractible.
-Copyright is an exception to Fair Use as it limits the ability for individuals to enjoy their private property and express themselves with the use of such copyrighted materials. Fair Use is a doctrine to be based on the 4th and 1st amendments of the US Constitution.
-Individuals have the right to express themselves to others about the means, mechanism and workings of all digital devices, including but not limited to, discussion on how to make fair use of media, how to improve such devices, or to reverse engineer all such devices and the algorithms which are used to help them display, copy or run media.
We need to get as many big guns on this as possible and then relentlessly campaign, actively working to elect supporters and vote out incumbent opposition. In fact, we should look to defeat, not just the proposed spyware legislation, but also defeat Senator Hollings
Remember that all politics is LOCAL.