Thursday, October 06, 2005

Defending Freedom in the Digital World

Technology is progressing at a rate faster than the collective IQs of our congressional representatives - our lawmakers - and those who fund them. Of course, I'm not talking about you and I, the tax payers who pay their salaries, I'm talking about the crooked lobbyists sent from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and other such organizations. Allegations aside, these lobbyists hold very strong influence over the laws that get passed that greatly effect both you and me and our attempt to enjoy the freedoms endowed to us by both the forefathers of this nation and the technological innovators around the world.

They are the reason we can't make copies of our DVDs and CDs (Copying a DVD breaks laws written into the Digital Millenium Copyright Act [DMCA], and CDs are being laced with Digital Rights Management [DRM] to keep them from being copied). They are the reason we can't burn files bought off of iTunes more than 5 times. They are the reason Napster as we knew it is gone. They seek to have the right to invade and delete content from our Personal Computers, TiVOs and MP3 players. Sure, they have valid points and seek to protect their property, be it material or intellectual, but, in many cases (read: all), they do not see the forest for the trees and force rights-infringing laws through congress unbeknownst to us.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson once said, "In politics, an organized minority is a political majority." The RIAA and MPAA are more powerful than us, the majority, simply because they are organized.

Enter the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The EFF a non-profit organization that gathers together lawyers, policy analysts, activists and technologists with the goal of protecting consumer rights. Says the EFF website:
From the Internet to the iPod, technologies of freedom are transforming our society and empowering us as speakers, citizens, creators, and consumers. These technologies are increasingly under attack, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense, protecting our civil liberties in the networked world. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990—well before the Internet was on most people's radar—and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today. From the beginning, EFF has championed the public interest inevery critical battle affecting digital rights."

I have often wanted to get involved, but I was never exactly sure what problems there were out there, or how to get involved in the first place. EFF makes that easy. If you go to their action website, they have a list of the current technological issues going through congress right now. From here you can get as much information on the bils and initiatives as you wish, and take action very easily. The EFF provides a form and a template letter for you. You simply fill in your information and click send, and it'll send the letter to your representatives and senators by email and fax, and provide you with the document in the event that you want to print it and snail mail it. It is truly simple, and a very worthwhile effort to protect the future of our freedom in this digital world.

In my opinion, some of the most important issues that they list are:So, Please do stop by and help carve out our future. It really bothers me when I have to jump through hoops just to copy a legally purchased CD onto my iPod. And the thought of CBS or NBC deleting content off of my PVR is absolutely ludicrious.


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