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August 31, 2004
The Willful Blindness of Jack Valenti
Engadget has launched a weekly new feature: interviews with those who shape the world of gadgets conducted by journalist JD Lasica. The first interview is with the MPAA's retiring president Jack Valenti (The Engadget Interview: Jack Valenti).
What is really scary about this interview is the profound ignorance, or is it, perhaps, "willful blindness" Valenti demonstrates.
Unclear on How Cryptography Works
I have said, technology is what causes the problem, and technology will be the salvation of the problem. I really do believe we can stuff enough algorithms in a movie that only the dedicated hackers can spend the time and effort to try to plumb through those 1,000 algorithms to try to find a way to beat it. In time, well be able to do this, because I have great faith in the technological genius thats out there.Has Never Heard of 17 USC 107
There is no fair use to take something that doesnt belong to you. Thats not fair use. If youre a professor in a classroom, you show Singing in the Rain to your class. You can fast forward it, and theres no performance fee for that. Thats fair use. Now, fair use is not in the law. People are taking fair use and changing it to unfair use and claiming that its fair use.Doesn't Realize that the MPAA Opposed TiVo to Go
So there are no restrictions that Hollywood wants to place on what people can do with media on their computers?
Thinks Digital Things Last Forever
Well, I cant tell you that. We have to see what the technology can provide.
When you go to your department store and you buy 10 Cognac glasses and two weeks later you break two of them, the store doesnt give you two backup copies. Where did this backup copy thing come from? A digital thing lasts forever.
Read the whole interview.
There are some interesting comments on the Engadget site and Slashdot hosts a vigorous discussion (Jack Valenti: The Exit Interview). Techdirt wishes Lasica was a little harder on Valenti (Jack Valenti... Misunderstanding The Digital World Right Up Until The End).
UPDATED 0655PT, 0745PT
Digitalmerging.la (The Jack Valenti Syndrome):
I think what we are seeing here is an industry full of fear at facing the changing times. And the fear is either so intense or it has gone on so long, or both, that it has been internalized. That's how you get interviews like the one Valenti gave. The disruptive technologies that are coming out have forcibly ripped control away from the established gatekeepers and has left them without a response. Or at least a response that is effective. Tech Law Advisor
points to some other Valenti interviews (Valenti's Notable Quotables
Freedom to Tinker (Valenti's Greatest Hits):
Even ignoring the technical non sequiturs ("stuff ... algorithms into a movie"; "infect a movie with ... circuitry"), this is wildly implausible. Nothing has happened to make the technical prospects for DRM (anti-copying) technology any less bleak.
We can only hope Valenti's successor stops believing in "technological magic" and instead teaches the industry to accept technical reality. File sharing cannot be wished away. The industry needs to figure out how to deal with it.
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