Susan Crawford recently expressed well the sentiment held by many of us who oppose the FCC's broadcast flag technology mandate:
Don't do it. Don't let one industry (content, law enforcement, or telecom) control another (high-tech innovation) without a strong social consensus to do so.
In the same spirit, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA
) has just published a Declaration of Technology Independence
-- a document "codifying" the principles in the Betamax ruling
and warning the public against the content industry's hostile takeover of copyright's purpose. Writes CEA:
The debate is no longer just about piracy and profits. The unbalanced importance given to protecting intellectual property (IP) is stifling creativity and steering America toward a cold war on new technologies. For America to compete globally, the issues must be redefined, including striking the right balance between protecting IP and encouraging creativity and innovation.
We need to advance the fight against the unbalanced importance given to protection of IP and the increase in litigation against innovators. Public policies should encourage innovation and allow people to make full use of the opportunities provided by new technologies. IP issues need to be redirected to focus on encouraging and advancing creativity rather than on protecting existing business models.
Read below for the Declaration itself. (And thanks to CoCo blog via Freedom to Tinker: Clips for the tip.)
WHEREAS, The Supreme Court in 1984 held that it is legal under the copyright law to sell a product if the product has substantial non-infringing uses.
This Betamax holding paved the way for the introduction of revolutionary technologies enabling recording, storage and shifting of content in time and space without the prior permission of the copyright holders.
Technologies such as MP3 encoding, the PC, the Internet and digital and audio recorders have supported a creative renaissance that has enriched the content community, empowered consumers and helped establish the United States as the worlds economic leader.
Our nation attracts the world's smartest and most innovative people because our society embraces and encourages entrepreneurship. Our nation of immigrants has created the world's largest technologies and communication systems. Currently, our leadership in innovation is being threatened by the content industrys misguided attempts to protect intellectual property.
The recording and motion picture industries have often resisted, opposed or sought to stifle new technologies and products, despite the fact that these technologies transform markets and create new avenues for profitable content creation and distribution.
The influential content lobby has in many respects shaped the current state of copyright law. Copyright terms have been unreasonably extended so that the reporting of history itself is subject to permission. Makers of pioneering technologies are now routinely subject to expensive and time-consuming lawsuits that discourage innovation and impede U.S. companies from competing globally.
Moreover, false equations have been drawn between intellectual property and real property, noncommercial home recording and commercial piracy, and national creativity and sales of particular products and formats, such as CDs.
THEREFORE, as Americans concerned about preserving our rights of freedom of expression and striving to be leaders in advancing creativity, and who understand that new technologies promote and enhance creativity, communication and our national welfare, we hereby ask policymakers to:
Recognize that our founders instituted copyright law to promote creation, innovation and culture rather than to maximize copyright holders' profits, and that it can do this only if new technologies are not stifled and fair use rights are upheld;
Reaffirm the Betamax holding that a product is legal if it has significant legal uses;
Resist pleas by big content aggregators for new laws, causes of action, liabilities and ways to discourage new product introductions;
Re-establish the fundamental rights of consumers to time-shift, place-shift and make backup copies of lawfully acquired content, and use that content on a platform of their choice;
Re-examine the length of the copyright term and explore avenues for content to be reliably available for creative endeavors, scholarship, education, history, documentaries and innovation benefiting society at large; and
Realize that our nation's creativity arises from a remarkable citizenry whose individuality, passion, belief in the American dream and desire to improve should not be shackled by laws that restrict creativity.