Dear Senator Dole:
I am writing in regards to HR 2391, which according to recent articles in The Washington Post and Wired News is a likely candidate to be “rammed” through congress in a lame duck session next week. The bill, by all accounts, is too strong a “remedy” for the harms it proposes to correct. It imposes a kind of martial law on the most trivial of copyright violations, making the government the policeman for a variety of “offenses” that are best handled in civil courts.
For example, the bill mandates up to three years’ jail time for simply carrying a camcorder into a movie theater with the intent to copy the film being shown. Why should this be a matter for criminal courts? Is the film industry so weak that it needs the government to protect it from potential pirates? As we have seen, the RIAA has used current law to sue thousands of copyright violators. Making prosecution of pirates a government responsibility will be costly, could violate individual rights, and won’t even help solve the problem, since most pirated movies come from insiders or foreign sources.
Perhaps the most drastic provision of this bill is the prohibition of commercial-skipping in recordings. This is the government telling me what I can do with my own property. Not only are commercials an annoyance, but many of them contain material that I personally find objectionable and wouldn’t want my children to watch. Now I am facing legislation which mandates that I watch them — when I own the DVD, when I’m showing it in my own home.
Senator, please don’t let the powerful film and recording lobbies ram this bill down America’s throats. It’s not right for me, not right for the state of North Carolina, and not right for America.
To the readers of Word Munger:
Now, send your own letters! The easiest way is to use the contact form at senate.gov, but I have heard that senators still pay more attention to snail mail and faxes. Feel free to copy whatever you’d like from this post: I am placing its contents into the public domain.
P.S. Yes, I sent one to Edwards, too. But I took out the “lame duck” part for him.