SCREEN-L Archives

September 2004, Week 2


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 11 Sep 2004 07:32:27 -0500
text/plain (67 lines)
A call-in day to the US Congress is being organized to oppose new
legislation that would undermine the Betamax decision (INDUCE Act). The
call-in is scheduled for September 14, 2004, just a few days from now.

Here's how argues their case against INDUCE:

The Betamax VCR died more than 15 years ago, but the Supreme Court
decision that made the Betamax and all other VCRs legal lived on. In
Sony vs. Universal (known as the Betamax decision) the Court ruled that
because VCRs have legitimate uses, the technology is legal—even if some
people use it to copy movies. Of course, the movie industry was lucky it
lost the case against VCRs, because home video soon became Hollywood's
largest source of revenue. And the freedom to use and develop new
technology that was protected by the Betamax decision set the stage for
the incredible growth in computer technology we've seen in the last few

Hollywood is Trying to Kill Betamax

The Betamax ruling is the only thing that protects your right to own a
VCR, tape recorder, CD-burner, DVD-burner, iPod, or TiVo. It's that
important. But new legislation that's being pushed through the Senate by
lobbyists for the music and movie industries would override the Betamax
decision and create a huge liability for any business that makes
products which can copy sound or video. This legislation (formerly known
as the INDUCE Act) would essentially give Hollywood veto power over a
huge range of new technologies. And if they get this power, they'll
definitely use it: just as they tried to stomp out the VCR in the 70's
and 80's, the music and movie industries want to force all content to go
through their own restricted channels.

Is Congress Insane?

You might think so at first glance. Voters, technology experts, public
interest groups, and electronics manufacturers all oppose these efforts
to weaken Betamax. So why is it still happening? Because the major
record labels and the movie studios-- the same companies that opposed
the Betamax ruling-- make huge donations to the re-election campaigns of
the Senators who are sponsoring this legislation. And most members of
Congress assume this is a non-controversial issue, off the radar of most
voters. If they can please their donors without a big fuss, they will.
It's bad policy, but until we start making noise, it's smart politics.
Why We Need a National Call-In Day

We need to make sure Congress hears from the public. There's been plenty
of opposition on the internet to the INDUCE Act and its more recent
drafts. But this general dissatisfaction hasn't quite come together into
a real demonstration of how strongly people feel about protecting the
Betamax decision. At Downhill Battle, we've organized people to send
faxes to Congress before and there's been lots of emails flying around,
but telephone calls take it to the next level. A big, one-day
mobilization to swamp these members of Congress with phone calls could
make a huge impact on the debate. If you care about keeping Betamax
intact but haven't felt compelled to act before, now's the time to get

Jeremy Butler

Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite