Fair Use or No Use at All

It should come as no surprise that the multinational corporations that run the film industry are very eager to prevent ordinary shmoes like you and me from having permanent access to their properties. That is understandable and even, to a certain extent, acceptable.

But in recent years, they have taken their obsession with control a little too far. When a high-ranking officer of NBC can say, with a straight face, that people with TIVO or VCRs who fast-forward past commercials are "stealing" from the network, things are a little out of hand. (It might be nice if someone pointed out to the whoremasters -- excuse me, the gentlemen -- from the networks that the airwaves are, in fact, a publicly held commons and their access is based on a license from the government on behalf of the people.)

As you probably know, in the name of fighting piracy the studios and their minions in Washington would like to make it impossible for you to copy movies and television programs for your own private use. To that end, they passed and enacted draconian legislation, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which severely curtails the fair use doctrine. I won't bore you with the details of this act, but I refer you to the most excellent people of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and their support for a bill currently being offered in the House, H.R. 1201, the Freedom And Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act (FAIR USE Act).

If you go here, you can send a letter to your Representative urging support for this bill, which would undo some of the most onerous sections of the DMCA.

Do it now.
The videotape you save may be your own.

And consider joining or donating to EFF. They are doing good work in areas that will have an impact on what and how you see electronic media for decades to come. (I'm a dues-paying member but this is a completely unsolicited plug.)