I couldn’t care less about Harriet Miers, and if she becomes a Justice at the American Supreme Court per se, but there is one issue where I do care a lot, and that is copy right law. Does this, by all accounts very nice Lady have the intellectual firepower to come to a halfway sensible position, when SCOTUS is ever presented with nonsense like this: (it turns out that this link doesn’t always work*, so here’s the second paragraph at least):
- Copyright term extension is a very fitting memorial for Sonny. This is not only because of his experience as a pioneer in the music and television industries. The most important reason for me was that he was a legislator who understood the delicate balance of the constitutional interests at stake. Last year he sponsored the term extension bill, H.R. 1621, in conjunction with Sen. Hatch. He was active on intellectual property issues because he truly understood the goals of Framers of the Constitution: that by maximizing the incentives for original creation, we help expand the public store-house of art, films music, books and now also, software. It is said that `it all starts with a song,’ and these works have defined our culture to audiences world-wide.
- Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. I invite all of you to work with me to strengthen our copyright laws in all of the ways available to us. As you know, there is also Jack Valenti’s proposal for term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress.
This from Representative Mary Bono, from a speech before the House of Representatives on October 07, 1998.
That’s right, this is not, repeat not, a joke. Sonny Bono, the male half of Sonny & Cher and later Representative Sonny Bono, had pushed through the extension of copyright protection to 95 years after the death of the originator/copyright holder. Like his widow states in the quote, he really had wanted copyright to last for ever. While this might seem ludicrous, it is no more ludicrous than the notion that it might be illegal to use the CDs you bought and own the way you want to, and that the concept of ‘fair use’ might be soon basically dead and gone. The recording and movie industries will soon have seen to that — in the European Union it is already illegal to convert the songs on a music CD to MP3-files if said CD is in any way copy-protected (I’m not quite so sure about the DMCA, though).
While paying royalties to Julius Caesar’s heirs for reprinting ‘De Bello Gallico’ probably won’t be necessary, for the new law certainly won’t be applied retroactively (I hope), I have no doubt that this ‘forever-minus-a-day’ copyright will get through Congress sooner or later. Too many Representatives and Senators are beholden to the media industry for that not to happen. If that law survives the scrutiny of SCOTUS, the United States will insist that the rest of the world should follow suit, and the round-heels running the EU will only be too happy to comply, being in the pockets of the same industry themselves.
So, to get back to my original question, does that nice Ms. Miers know how to respond properly to this kind of sophistry, or doesn’t she?
* It’s a pretty ‘longstanding’ link, so I’m surprised that it would time out now.