Howard BermanHere’s a suggestion for TeleBlog readers, or at least those in the L.A. district of a greedster-friendly congressman named Howard Lawrence Berman. Give his office a friendly call (202-225-4695). Ask in a civil way if, as asserted, he’s among the villains behind one of the nastiest anti-fair-use bills that the RIAA has ever bought. Use more polite language, of course.

Whatever the case, a Berman role in the bill certainly would be in character for a congressman who, for the 2005-2006 election cycle, probably has been among the top recipients of money from the entertainment industry, with at least $122,900 sent his way so far. Short of his opponents being Nazis or Klansmen, here’s a fellow many Netfolks in L.A. might want to vote against even if he really isn’t a prime mover behind this particular outrage. Hollywood may be an industry town, but it’s also a music-fan town.

OK, via IPac, here are the gory details of the obviously Hollywood-financed plot to jack up the price of your music:

This will be a busy week in the House–Congress goes into summer recess Friday, but not before considering the Section 115 Reform Act of 2006 (SIRA). Never heard of SIRA? That’s the way Big Copyright and their lackeys want it, and it’s bad news for you.

Simply put, SIRA fundamentally redefines copyright and fair use in the digital world. It would require all incidental copies of music to be licensed separately from the originating copy. Even copies of songs that are cached in your computer’s memory or buffered over a network would need yet another license. Once again, Big Copyright is looking for a way to double-dip into your wallet, extracting payment for the same content at multiple levels.

Today, so-called “incidental” copies don’t need to be licensed; they’re made in the process of doing other things, like listening to your MP3 library or plugging into a Net radio station. If you paid for the MP3 and the radio station is up-to-date with its bookkeeping, nobody should have to pay again, right? Not if SIRA becomes law. Out of the blue, copyright holders would have created an entire new market to charge for–and sue over. Good for them. Bad for us.

Once TeleBloggers find out the truth, maybe they can have a little fun and try this out on our comatose American media.

The Faustian deal: I don’t care if Berman has generally been a good-guy liberal. I’m a lifelong Dem lib but am sick and tired of seeing my brethern think, “Oh, it doesn’t matter if they sell out the Net. They’re so perfect in other ways.” Enough! We had eight years of this under Clinton, and I’d suggest that Netfolks think long and hard before using the Net to empower even the worst of the RIAA-bought pols. The good news is that the Net is replacing radio and TV as Medium One. The old Hollywood business models won’t count as much as before.

Related: Slashdot discussion.


  1. Thanks, Richard. I’d love to hear the EFF’s side. Here’s a snippet from The Register–as The Truth Seeking goes on:

    Section 115 reform is only “the worst bill you’ve never heard of” if you don’t understand mechanical copyright or compulsory licenses, insist on taking words and phrases out of context and garnishing them with heaps of paranoia. And most of all, forget the fact that it’s an opt-in arrangement for a specific kind of digital media distributor – not for you or me. That’s some Oops.

    The fact that the Section 115 reform amendment is opposed by the Recording Industry Ass. of America president Cary Sherman should demolish the belief that it’s a dark and terrible conspiracy by large copyright holders. In fact Sherman is opposing 115 reform precisely because it brings the EFF’s desired solution much closer to reality. The EFF proposes a statutory license in all but name – the same flat fee model, but one that comes about through a miraculous epiphany of voluntary agreement. Through kumbaya, rather than Congress, if you like.

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