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LinuxPlanet: .comment: Bought and Paid For

Oct 03, 2001, 13:01 (31 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dennis E. Powell)
"When I say "feel-good legislation," I mean it follows a long line of laws enacted to impart the impression that the legislators are doing something while in Washington and not back home tending their shops and farms as the founding fathers intended. We see it all the time. When there is a notable shooting, legislators rush to make guns in the hands of criminals even more illegal, disregarding that if laws entered into it, the shooter wouldn't have been shooting in the first place. No matter what happens, there is someone in Congress ready to rush forth with some dimwitted legislative "solution" that will accomplish nothing. This effect is even more pronounced when the legislation is requested, perhaps in a note with a $50 bill wrapped around it and the sly suggestion that there's more where that came from.

In this case, the legislator has decided, with help from companies who have given him tens of thousands of dollars, that the copyright law is not sufficient; that the abominable Digital Millennium Copyright Act is not enough; and that instead it must be made impossible to undertake such acts as might deprive these companies -- Microsoft, by the way, is into Hollings for $6,000 -- of every penny they can get. Like all such legislation, it presumes that everyone would be a criminal, given the chance.

This monstrous abuse of legislative power arises from the popularity of digital content including, chiefly, motion pictures and music. But it applies to all digital devices and content, including PCs and software. And therein lies the rub insofar as Linux is concerned. The bill, if passed, would not just preserve copy protection and make its removal illegal -- it would actually forbid anything that isn't copy protected, according to some readings; it is as difficult to clearly follow as it is to follow the marble-mouthed Hollings when he speaks."

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