“Copyright holders would receive carte blanche to use aggressive tactics to stop the illegal distribution of their works on online services like Morpheus and Kazaa under legislation outlined today by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.).” – Washington Post, June 25.

The TeleRead take: “His bill would allow copyright holders to set up decoy files and use other techno-tricks like file-blocking and redirection to throw P2P pirates off the trail,” the Post reports, “but it would forbid those holders from employing tactics that would damage or destroy pirates’ own computer systems.” The words “carte blanche” might be overdoing it, in fact. But the bill is strong stuff, just the same. Hollywood’s is truly getting its money’s worth from the Minority at-large whip in the House of Representatives.

Even considering that Berman’s district is next to Hollywood and Burbank, he’s done a stellar job of sucking up to the entertainment establishment. Opensecrets.org lists $185,141 from show biz types through March 31, compared to a mere $95,100 from lawyers and law firms and $32,000 from real estate for the 2002 campaign. The $185K is a hefty percentage of the $863K total. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in Berman’s office and hear conversations between him and lobbyists. For more cynicism, see Slashdot.

What makes this situation even more fun is that Berman’s committe assignments include both Judiciary and Standards of Official Conduct. Young hackers, why fear the law or reprimands from peers (and we don’t mean just file sharers). When you’re big and strong, you, too, can buy your own congressmen and bring down any Web site you want. Problems with the laws? Hey, just pay up to change ’em. Your congressional friends even oversee the FBI. Oh, and within the Judiciary committee, they can sit on the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property,

By company or other organization, Berman’s top five sources of funds are Disney, $30,000 (how in character for The Mouse); AOL Time Warner, $28,050 (a fact for AOL to chew on next time its properties suffer hacker attacks); Vivendi International, $27,591 (maybe time to sell the entertainment properties and get back to the water business?); News Corp, $13,000 (one at least can admire Rupert Murdoch for his thrift compared to some of his rivals); and the American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees, $10,000 (so much for certain unionists as consumerists). This money came from either employees, members or political action committees.

Oh, and speaking of AFSCME, what’s Local 2929, Council 36, have to say about Berman? Will 2929, representing LA Library employees, keep supporting this friend of affordable content? In fairness to 2929 members, perhaps they didn’t entirely know what they were buying with the $10K.


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