There Is No Cat

A huge orangupoid, which no man can conquer

Friday, May 24, 2002


The EFF has set up a blog to cover their talks with Hollywood about Hollywood's attempts to gut fair use and cram an extreme view of copyright down the throats of everyone in the world. Part of this attempt goes under the seemingly innocuous name of the "Broadcast Protection Discussion Group", and the EFF is talking to this group to, well, I don't know what they hope to accomplish, because frankly, the objectives of Hollywood and those of the EFF are seemingly completely at odds. I guess EFF is trying to get some technology company to stand up and tell Hollywood that what it's asking for is insane, impossible, and likely to bring the peasants to their doors with pitchforks and torches if it ever comes to pass.

Cory Doctorow has posted an article about the effects of what Hollywood is hoping to accomplish. What they're calling for will make fair use merely a fond memory. It will make the Betamax decision of the Supreme Court that allows you to tape a TV program to watch later an aberration of the past. Past attempts at copy protection founder on the shoals of analog reproduction, where you can bypass any protections simply by bypassing digital reproduction; you can record a CD by passing the speaker output into your computer rather than ripping directly from the CD for example. You can tape a movie by aiming a camcorder at the TV screen that's showing it. Hollywood's control freakery extends so far that they want legislation that mandates copy protection in analog-to-digital converters, a basic technology that has uses so far afield from entertainment as to make their insistence on crippling it potentially a serious imposition on the world economy.

I read stuff like this and I just shake my head. There was a strand of thought during the Cold War that the effort of fighting each other was making the Russians and Americans inevitably more like each other; the Americans were more controlling and totalitarian than they would have otherwise been, and the Russians more democratic and free than they would have otherwise been. These proposals remind me of nothing so much as the mandatory licensing of photocopy machines in the Soviet Union in the Bad Old Days. Except this isn't in the service of keeping government in power; it's in the service of extending the profits that a few multimegaconglomerates make at the cost of very basic freedoms. The Cold War is over, but the momentum doesn't appear to have stopped. I don't know, is it worse to lose your freedom of speech to a bureaucrat or to a mouse?

This is really chilling stuff. The President (of Disney), he is insane.

Posted at 8:35 PM


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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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