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Congressman Hollywood Wants To Make DMCA Tougher 228

Posted by Zonk
from the who-elects-these-guys dept.
Stormy seas writes "Congressman 'Hollywood' Howard Berman (D-CA) used a House subcommittee hearing today to express his view that the DMCA was in need of a rewrite. In his view, it doesn't go far enough. During his opening remarks for a hearing on the PRO-IP Act, Berman said that the DMCA's Safe Harbor needs further scrutiny and that it might be time to make filtering mandatory. There's more: Berman also 'wants to examine the "effectiveness of takedown notices" under the DMCA, and he'd like to take another look at whether filtering technology has advanced to the point where Congress ought to mandate it in certain situations.'"
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Congressman Hollywood Wants To Make DMCA Tougher

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  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @03:06PM (#21687081) Homepage Journal

    And to think, I was happy when the Democrats took control of Congress back in November.

    Meet the new schmucks, same as the old schmucks.

    • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @03:07PM (#21687111)
      Best Gu'bmint money can buy....

      Cash or charge please...
    • by east coast (590680) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @03:13PM (#21687169)
      Meet the new schmucks, same as the old schmucks.

      There is a saying in poker: If you look around the table and you can't tell who the sucker is... it's you.

      Why do we still think that we can swing between two parties that are the same in so many ways and have real change? Who's the real schmuck in that case?
      • That's why my "campaign" during the coming year will be "A vote for a third party is a vote for choices that matter." I'd like to oust the schmucks in power and force somebody to pay more than lip service to the good of the public (and not just what the richest 1% of the public SAYS is good for the public.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thosf (981274)
      This only helps THE "REAL" PIRATES:

      Although articles abound (expecially those originating from the offending industry) claiming huge losses because of the so-called "piracy" in the music industry, it also was absent the reasons why downloading is so popular.

      First of all, the "music" (a loosely used term) that the music industry foists upon us - the genre called "(C)rap" - is not very popular outside of the audience that has an intellect that is easily overwhelmed by common cockroaches. So who in their

      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:23PM (#21687528) Journal
        Because we all know that the price of burning a CD is all that is put into making a record.
        • by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:43PM (#21687830)
          Seriously. Any accounting model that doesn't take into account the labels blow and hooker fund is fundamentally flawed.
          • Seriously. Any accounting model that doesn't take into account the labels blow and hooker fund is fundamentally flawed.

            Rumour has it that those expenses are listed under more pedestrian line entries like "Catering" and/or "Fruit and Flowers".

            As such, they become tax-deductible expenses!

          • by MojoRilla (591502)
            You totally stole my joke. []
        • by Retric (704075)
          Reread what he said. I suspect their actual product cost is about 10 cents each. At an average retail price of $19.95 for a music CD - of which about 25 cents is for artist royalties - that leaves about $10 profit for the recording companies after the wholesale costs are subtracted.

          Anyway, if the CD costs 25c and the music costs 25c then what's left? Promotion and distribution which is what RIAA members do. They find "talent" promote that "talent" and distribute the product. The real reason you get so mu
          • They find "talent" promote that "talent" and distribute the product. The real reason you get so much crap music is the Universal, Sony etc are really good at convincing people to care about fake "artists" and the "crap" they produce.
            They don't even do that anymore. They put out the schlubs and let the masses chose the processed crap. Sure, there's a choice, but they're all still shills.
    • by KiltedKnight (171132) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:11PM (#21687316) Homepage Journal
      And you are surprised by this ... how ?

      The vast majority of elected politicians have been in their offices for so long, they don't know what it's like to live in the real world under the laws that they have created, modified, or otherwise butchered. They're protected from these things. Then, every November, we go back only to send the same clowns right back in or send a clone in who may or may not be wearing the same letter (R or D) on his or her jacket. Once they get there, they're all the same... not really trying to do their jobs, but doing just enough to make sure they get all the special interest money to get reelected.

      What will it take for the "middle" to finally get out there and say, "Enough is enough! We're tired of the status quo and want someone who has personal integrity and will do the job we sent him there to do"?

    • by Kelson (129150) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:18PM (#21687428) Homepage Journal
      Considering that he's been representing the same district since 1983, I don't think the Republican/Democrat shift had much to do with this bill.

      And since his district includes parts of Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, it's likely that anyone who replaced him would be just as favorable to the film industry.
      • by Thuktun (221615)

        Considering that he's been representing the same district since 1983, I don't think the Republican/Democrat shift had much to do with this bill.

        And since his district includes parts of Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, it's likely that anyone who replaced him would be just as favorable to the film industry.
        ...but without the 24-year tenure in Congress giving him chairmanship of a critical committee.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mpe (36238)
        Considering that he's been representing the same district since 1983, I don't think the Republican/Democrat shift had much to do with this bill.

        Anyone who has been in politics that long is virtually guarenteed to be completly out of touch with the real world. What's needed is something a long time lines of "no person can be in public office longer that 5 years in any one decade and no longer than a total of 10 years in their lifetime". Upping the minimum age of US Senators to 60 probably wouldn't be a bad
    • Are you surprised? I mean, seriously, this didn't just start after they got the majority in Congress.
    • by Zordak (123132)

      And to think, I was happy when the Democrats took control of Congress back in November.
      Boy were you naive. These guys believe in equal opportunity. They have bought representation in both parties.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by bendodge (998616)
      If only Ron Paul would get elected and put a stop to such nonsense.
    • by phutureboy (70690)
      Meet the new schmucks, same as the old schmucks.

      Ah yes, the Republicrats and Demopublicans. Someone remind me again what the difference is between them?
  • by Runefox (905204)
    And here everyone thought that the potential Canadian bill was going to be bad. Government-mandated content filtering... Where have I heard that before?
    • In every dictatorship you've ever studied?
  • His view? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 427_ci_505 (1009677) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @03:07PM (#21687097)
    His view that the DMCA is in need of a rewrite? Has he been getting letters from his voters / constituents that the DMCA needs to be tougher?
    If not, then why is he pushing for greater power?
    (In an ideal world, corporations are not constituents. People are)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RedDirt (3122) *
      I suspect the notes from his constituents appear in the memo fields on his campaign contribution checks. I'm just sayin'.
    • I guess he got letters from his campaign contributors that the DMCA needs some beefing up.

      Wait... you don't really believe that "by the people for the people" thing, do you?
    • Re:His view? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kelson (129150) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:07PM (#21687256) Homepage Journal

      Has he been getting letters from his voters / constituents that the DMCA needs to be tougher?

      "The representative from Hollywood" isn't just hyperbole. He represents the 28th congressional district in California [], which includes [] parts of Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. People in the film industry are his constituents.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I have a friend who lives in Berman's district. My friend is a very liberal Democrat, and even he refers to Berman as "the poster boy for the RIAA." It's well-known in his district that if you aren't registered as a Democrat there's no point in asking him for help, regardless of the circumstances. Unless you're a member of his party, he not only won't help you, he won't even be bothered to answer your request.
      • Re:His view? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:18PM (#21687438) Homepage
        ...which also includes the people that setup the buffet table on the set.

        Not everyone in the industry is a mogul.

        Allowing the fat cats to get all megalomaniacal because they
        are all getting hysterical about "evil pirates" and such does
        nothing to help 99.9% of the people in Mr. Hollywood's district.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AeroIllini (726211)
          The caterers do not get royalties. Stop confusing the conversation.

          The vast majority of the people who work on a film set (caterers, electricians, photographers, camera crew, hairdressers, costume managers, props masters, set builders, etc.) are all paid up front. They do a job and are paid for it, just like any other contractor. Once they are finished, they receive no more money.

          If your film does not make money because you priced it high and no one wants to buy it, it does not affect these people. Does the
        • by Moofie (22272)
          Yeah, but why would the congresscritter pay any attention to the ones that don't have any money?
    • His view that the DMCA is in need of a rewrite? Has he been getting letters from his voters / constituents that the DMCA needs to be tougher?

      I suspect that the MPAA/RIAA lobbyists regularly tell him that the DMCA needs to be re-written every time they make a contribution to his campaign re-election fund.

  • Scary thing is... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shadowruni (929010) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @03:10PM (#21687143) Journal
    The scary thing is, is that this is very likely to pass. As many personal freedoms that the DMCA stepped all over it was passed with a 100% vote. Since no one wants to be seen as soft on crime, I predict this one will too. Quite sad actually as some parts of the current contradict the Home Recording Act of 1984(I think that's when it was passed). I hope the ISPs fight this tooth and nail and get it killed on the universal filtering provision and someone points out that the phrasing of what he wants is similar to China's Great Firewall.

    • As many personal freedoms that the DMCA stepped all over it was passed with a 100% vote. Since no one wants to be seen as soft on crime, I predict this one will too.

      I know what you mean, voting against anything anti-crime is usually election suicide.

      BUT - I think this might just be the one real counterexample, because this is a situation in which you can make a compelling case that this isn't anti-crime, but anti-citizen crap. If I'm an incumbent and someone points to that and calls me anti-crime, I'll

    • by cgenman (325138)
      This reminds me of how one can send child porn unsolicited to congressmen, and the recipient is liable for steep legal penalties. In this particular case, how would Berman react if he were sent a dozen MP3's only to have his computer seized?

      Sometimes I wish congresspeople would think about the consequences of their legislation before they make them. Sometimes I wish people would show them.
  • Congressman 'Hollywood' Howard Berman (D-CA) used a House subcommittee hearing today to express his view that the DMCA was in need of a rewrite. In his view, it doesn't go far enough.

    So the story is that yet another Congressman is proving himself to be an idiot. If he makes enough noise, he'll probably be indicted in a few years for some sort of unrelated wrongdoing. Welcome to the world of politics. Next time elect a better representative. Or even better, get involved and run for yourself. While I don't al

    • by Stripe7 (571267)
      His constituent's are the Hollywood crowd, so he is voted in by the bloc of voters there. Everyone else in the US gets to pay for for the laws he creates. We pay in extra taxes for the enforcement of those laws, we pay in the higher cost as our ISP's have more government mandated software/hardware monitoring requirements, we pay in reductions in freedoms those laws restrict due to their overly broad scope. Does he care? no. It is up to everyone else to make sure the representatives of their districts kill t
  • by explosivejared (1186049) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (deraj.nagah)> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:07PM (#21687254)
    a bill that could boost statutory damages for copyright infringement

    I'm pretty sure damages are about steep enough as it is. Something $250,000 per album is the metric I think. Correct if me I'm wrong, that's just what I've seen suits for ip infringement go for (RIAA). I sincerely hope this guy does not get his way. With breaking net neutrality and introducing content filtering on the table I worry for the future of the web.
  • Hey, I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:08PM (#21687274)
    The DMCA needs a rewrite, direly.

    But I fear the agreement ends here.
  • Filtering the internet will be ready for prime time when ignoramuses like him are filtered from occupying any position of power.

    In other words -- never.
    • by Colin Smith (2679)

      Filtering the internet will be ready for prime time when ignoramuses like him are filtered from occupying any position of power.
      So much for the wisdom of crowds...

  • Speaking as a former Angeleno... Are there enough geeks in Berman's district to call his office and get him to reconsider? Given the small number of people who vote in congressional elections if he doesn't back down, are there enough geeks in his district to get him punted out of office? Oh damn, it's a presidential election year.
  • How about not letting any copyrighted stuff at all be transmitted over IP? That would make sure that unauthorized copying isn't done, and would make the internet TONS faster as the tubes are emptied.....

    (hopefully everyone can recognize this as satire)
    • Yes, the satire runneth over.

      So we need to be running more encryption. IPsec might be the simplest to start with. And web sites can go with HTTPS (HTTP redirects to the HTTPS). Let them dream of filtering that. It will be hard enough (and horrendously expensive) to have ISPs do the filtering on all TCP connections. While limited encryption (e.g. no pre-shared key or PKC to authenticate the peer) would be vulnerable to MitM attacks, it would be many times more expensive for ISPs to deploy that kind of

    • Considering that everything anyone produces is copyrighted when its produced (in the USA anyway) that wouldn't make much alllowed. And yeah I know it was satire, but we could be going in that direction anyway.
      Empty tubes for teh win!
  • by pseudorand (603231) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:19PM (#21687474)
    Pardon the tinfoil hat, but this is clearly a ruse to force ISPs to put in a Chinese-style, government-controlled way to limit free speech. Even if you don't have any interest in stealing the crap that Hollywood and the record companies spew out, you should be very concerned about this bill. I've sent my representative and both of my senators the letter blow. Feel free to copy and modify it as you like if you'd like to write to congress as well.

    Dear <Fill in the blank>,

    I understand that the House Judiciary Committee recently introduced the PRO-IP act. I've read that Representative Berman of California has even discussed a congressional mandate of filtering technology. (

    As a computer programmer, I generate intellectual property and I am all for tough laws to protect my rights. However, as a citizen, I am far more concerned about laws that force companies to raise their prices without benefiting their consumers (which is simply the equivalent of a tax on everyone that's spent on projects benefiting only a very few) and my personal freedoms.

    The success of the Internet is entirely due to the ability of telecom providers to do their job: facilitate communication. They are not liable if a telephone or internet connection is used for committing a crime. The actual criminal is. As a consumer, I don't want to pay more for telecommunications because hollywood is too cheap to pursue legal action against pirates. After all, I don't ask the government to pay to put an alarm system on my home or car. Hollywood should bear the expense of protecting their intellectual property and pass that on to their customers so we all pay for the cost of producing movies and music based on how much of it we consume.

    Furthermore, I have a much deeper concern about a congressional requirement for filtering technology. It is simply one more step towards a totalitarian state of big government with too much power. In America, we enjoy freedom of speech and press not only because our constitution mandates it, but because the free market has created the technology to facilitate it. Unlike in other countries such as China or North Korea, the government simply can't restrict speech because no one in America would obey such unconstitutional laws or policies. If the government puts in place a system that can limit what information can flow freely over the Internet, we're simply one law or government policy away from destroying the first amendment. Free speech is far to important to the American way of life to wait for the courts to declare such a thing unconstitutional.

    Whether the technology is there or not, please vote against any legislation that attempts to mandate that internet service providers and/or telecommunications companies filter the information they are charged with transmitting on behalf of their customers. Such a policy would be devastating to both our economy and our democracy.


    Adam Carheden
  • Congressman Berman® went on to say that C-SPAN(TM) has been granted an exclusive license to cover Congressional proceedings©, which includes all audio, video, textual transcripts and brainwave emanations©, should any someday occur.

    In other© news, C-SPAN(TM) has issued a press release(TM) supporting this as "double-plus good legislation®", and promising to do its part to aggressively defend its intellectual property, including all recordings and the C-SPAN(TM) logo from unauthorized
  • "Congressman 'Hollywood' Howard Berman (D-CA) used a House subcommittee hearing today to express his view that the DMCA was in need of a rewrite. In his view, it doesn't go too far enough.

    Fixed it for the Congressman.
  • Once again... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gillbates (106458) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:35PM (#21687708) Homepage Journal

    Politics is the enemy of technology.

    It seems that the priorities of our politicians lie not with expanding the market for new technologies and benefitting the whole of the United States, but rather, with protecting the outdated market models of a few dominant players in the industry. It occurs neither to the politicians nor the industry that there is a lot of money to be made by embracing technology. If you want examples, look at Google. Look at Microsoft.

    But instead of the RIAA and MPAA embracing technology, building new markets, and experiencing the stock-increase-frenzy of being the Next Big Thing(TM), they seek to expand copyright law, stifle the market, and strangle the industry. And when their efforts don't produce the increases they seek, what do they do? Blame piracy, of course!

    Of course the artists are starving; the record companies don't know how to sell music!

    And we're slipping farther along into becoming the technological backwater of the first world. Truly sad, that technology is being vilified for the evil that can be done with it, rather than the good that it already does society.

    It must be nice to have a job where you can always blame your poor performance on the actions of others.

  • he better clean it up. No one likes a sloppy whore.
  • dear washington dc (Score:3, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:49PM (#21687942) Homepage Journal
    you frequently scold the technocracy in beijing on limitations on personal freedoms who act in the name of the "harmonization" of society

    you frequently scold the theocracy in tehran on limitations on personal freedoms due to the need for a "virtuous" society

    you frequently scold the autocracy in moscow in limitations ono personal freedoms due to the pressing need for "strength" in society

    well, at least those assholes pretend to be working for the common in man in their evil propaganda

    pray tell, when you sublimimated your understanding of what the founding father meant in the founding documents of this country to become a whore of a corporatocracy, did you even blink?

    a corporation is an all consuming machine. it will destroy our culture by putting toll booths on every derivative of every utterance possible if they could with their legions of lawyers. in order to make one penny more

    but there is more riches in this world than corporate coffers. cultural riches: books, music, movies. our shared cultural inheritance

    and you can't even sing happy birthday without owing someone something

    fucking h christ, this wrong

    i'm not talking to you, mr. whore of the corporatocracy in washington dc, you're already bought and sold, a slave. you're unredeemable, pointless, corrupt. a waste of effort

    i'm talking to you, average american in the street: fight back against these corporations, use every technological and socially disruptive means at your disposal. corporations are giant sucking vampires, that will mindlessly encroach more and more on our public domain, and they will not stop until even every single thought you possess has a price tag on it

    bring the fucking corporations down, bring them to heel, break them. bring them to respect OUR shared cultural space. they will not do it. their paid whores in washington dc will not do it. only we can do it, the citizens the founding fathers had in mind, which aren't even considered in the decision making halls in washington dc anymore apparently on questions of media and its rightful relationship to our consumption as our shared heritage

  • by fallen1 (230220) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:51PM (#21687958) Homepage
    of all the FUD and bullshit Howard Berman spews. Personally, I'd like to see laws requiring EVERY dollar a senator or representative gets - regardless of the source - accounted for. If they can't account for it with a clear paper trail then they get fined - $250,000 per dollar unaccounted for. Grandma sent you $10 for Christmas but you can't find the card that came with it? I'm sorry Howard, that will be $2.5 million dollars payable to the United States of America to relieve the tax burden on the middle class. If they have to have a personal accountant keep track of all of it, then they pay for it out of their salary AND the salaries of all those serving in the House or Senate are frozen for 6 years - so no pay bumps to cover hiring that personal accountant.

    I say we squeeze them so tight they literally crap themselves when they take "campaign contributions" from big business. I say we make the task of keeping track of all that "soft" money and other contributions so onerous that it will be more than it is worth -- for the most part. I say we, the people, take back our country (for those of us who live in the USA) and make the politicians once more SERVE the people and not their own self-interest, pocketbooks, or corporate greed.

    I know this will probably never happen, at least not in my lifetime, but it is a nice dream to have.

    Here is a parting quote I found interesting many years ago (and still do):

    As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.

    Commissioner Pravin Lal
    "U.N. Declaration of Rights"
    • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
      Right now, I can start a campaign for a candidate. I can then dump millions of dollars into that campaign. All of this without ever *giving* the candidate a single dollar.

      In short, your plan sounds good but it just won't work.
  • To paraphrase a certain rebel princess:

    "The more you tighten your legislation, Berman-Hollylord, the more consumer dollars will slip past your fingers."

    See, the more problematic it becomes to use music the way WE want, the less the desire to purchase said music becomes.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:01PM (#21688102) Homepage
    Can someone in the US please go whack this gentleman with a clue stick, or a real stick as applicable.

    Someone needs to explain to these people that mucking about with the core infrastructure on the presumption that every single action is likely infringing is just asinine.

    Would this same congressman want that all cars have a breathalyzer interlock, because there could be drunk drivers? Or, have us prove that we're not about to commit wire fraud every time we dial the phone? Or, how about ensuring that every time you drive near a school zone you prove that you're not a registered child molester? Because, that's the level of burden he's placing on the industry with these laws.

    The problem with these legislated methods of making the ISPs responsible for monitoring everything we do on the basis that some small subset of people are doing something illegal; is, that only that subset of people are doing something illegal. You can't realistically but the burden (and cost) of DRM and content filtering on absolutely everything onto everyone else.

    The overwhelming majority of us aren't in the middle of stealing your damned movies or music; don't overburden the entire system (at someone else's expense) as a dragnet. If you think someone is infringing, go ahead, chase them, but we can't force the entire infrastructure of the internet to be built around protecting the interests of a few large companies.

    This is trying to get the wishes of these big media companies paid for at taxpayers expense. Though, since apparently the US is pondering adding a copyright enforcement agency, maybe that battle has already been won.

  • Hollywood Showdown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:09PM (#21688262) Homepage Journal
    OK, I expect the Representative from Hollywood to demand even more special privileges for Hollywood - that's what they send him there for. And I expect the Reps from the rest of the country to slap him down - that's the other 299 million of us send them there for.

    What I'd really like to see would be a Congress enforce the Constitution, which says Congress can infringe our rights to free expression only to promote science and the useful arts by securing for limited time exclusive rights of authors to exploit their own work. Since exclusivity is at its lowest utility to protect motivating return on investment as it ever was, and free dissemination is at its greatest utility, I'd expect that limited time to be the shortest in history, at most its original 14 years, if not eliminated entirely.

    But then I guess Hollywood Berman would have nothing to do.
  • As if the DMCA isn't dumb enough [].
  • Just take away all our computers, and we only get terminals with all our data stored on our ISP while it actively scans every file we access. If its encrypted using an unauthorized method, just contact the new IP cops and have them arrest the end user.

    If they have any file that even remotely could be in a violation of some IP law somewhere in the world ( wto remember ). arrest the end user
    If they search for a forbidden word or subject or try to access forbidden knowledge, arrest them.
    If they try to access a

"What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite." -- Bertrand Russell, _Sceptical_Essays_, 1928