The Honorable Mary Bono
404 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
May 14, 2004
Re: H.R. 107 The Digital Consumers' Rights Act of 2003
Dear Congresswoman Bono:
I am a filmmaker and holder of/participant in several commercially valuable
copyrights. I also receive regular royalty payments for a written work
created by my deceased mother. I have made my living in industries that
depend on public respect for copyright for almost 30 years. I have
employees and property in both California and New Jersey.
I attended the hearing on the DMCRA earlier this week and was deeply
impressed by your passionate protection of my interests in the face of what
must have seemed an armada of pirates. The issues being debated are very
real to me. In fact, I am on all three sides of them.
1. I am a consumer and want protection from bait and switch, shoddy
materials, monopoly pricing, etc.
2. I distribute my own works and want their value respected.
3. I could not create my films without fair use.
Please allow me to explain. Fiat Lucre produces documentaries on social
issues. Our target audiences are lawyers and teachers. (Now you know why I
would sit through a hearing on copyright.) To make our programs we
interview the actual participants in controversial lawsuits, legal experts
and social commentators. To illustrate, demonstrate, question and refute
these 'talking heads' we try to show what they are talking about. This
often involves visual and audio quoting from other sources. For example, we
have excerpted bits from films by Ken Burns, the Discovery Channel, the
Disney Company and Buster Keaton. We have also used bits of audio,
newspaper articles, cartoons, music videos and Internet sites. I believe
absolutely that our uses do not harm the legitimate market for the works we
copy. I believe absolutely that our copying furthers public understanding.
I believe absolutely that seeking permission for our uses is a fool's
errand. I believe absolutely that without the ability to quote recorded
media we could not make our movies, let alone our points.
We live in a media-centric, if not media-based, society. Words alone do not
communicate every idea nor do they communicate as strongly as pictures and
sound. According to Secretary Rumsfeld, the recent pictures from Abu Ghraib
prison demonstrate this perfectly. As it now stands, the DMCA prevents me
from fully exercising my free speech right to argue other peoples'
interpretations of those images if they are presented on an encrypted DVD.
It prevents me from pursuing a legal and publicly valuable educational
business based on fair use principles.
Every creator knows that 'nothing is made from nothing'. We all build on
what has come before. Access to that material in a concrete way is
essential to the making of new things as well as the learning of old
techniques. The anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA prevents such
access and use. It only benefits the large multi-national media
conglomerates that use their monopoly to drive down the payments they make
to creators. The independent media creator is going the way of the family
farm because of the extreme power of these corporations under the DMCA. One
might even say it is anti-competitive not anti-circumvention.
Your late husband was a creator and I believe he would understand this. I
urge you to talk to song writers Don Henley, John Fogerty, Janis Ian, Chuck
D and Pete Seeger to find out how the DMCA protects a distribution business
model at the expense of creators because fair use gives us more than it
As for the loss due to piracy, there will always be some. The greater loss
is the public's respect (and resulting self-enforcement) for copyrights due
to excessive limitations on use of legitimately purchased works. The best
way to educate the public on the social value of copyright is to insure that
it gives them something of value.
If forced to choose between some piracy of what I create and not being able
to create it, I would pick the obvious. Please consider this and support
Representative Boucher's bill.
CC: Barton, Stearns, Shimkus, Otter, Towns, Stupak, McCarthy, Gonzalez,
Issa, Gallegly, Andrews, Boucher, Doolittle, Lessig, Shapiro, Swift, Jaszi,
> From: "Bergman, Barbara J" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Reply-To: email@example.com
> Date: Thu, 13 May 2004 13:42:34 -0500
> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: [Videolib] Copyright in the news
> CONGRESS REVISITS 'FAIR USE' RESTRICTIONS IN COPYRIGHT ACT
> A House subcommittee on consumer protection heard arguments
> on proposed amendments to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which
> imposed broad restrictions on bypassing technological "locks" on DVDs and
> music CDs and software programs. The amendments, sponsored by Rick Boucher
> (D-Va.) and John Doolittle (R-Calif.), would reinstate the provision for
> use" of such materials, even if circumvention of copy-protection software
> necessary for such use. The sale of pirated DVDs and other forms of
> infringement would remain illegal. "Without a change in the existing law,
> individuals will be less willing to purchase digital media if their use of
> media within the home is severely circumscribed," says Boucher. "In
> manufacturers of equipment and software which enable circumvention for
> legitimate purposes will be reluctant to introduce the products into the
> market." It's unclear whether the Boucher-Doolittle bill has much moment!
> um behind it -- so far, it has only 15 co-sponsors in the House, and there
> no companion Senate bill as yet. (CNet News.com 12 May 2004) For full
> see: http://news.com.com/2100-1025-5211674.html
> Copyright 2004. NewsScan Daily (R) is a publication of NewsScan.com Inc.
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