Jack Valenti talks to Dan Gillmor
We went around and around and around on a key question, namely how Hollywood thinks it can protect its films and TV shows from being copied on the Internet while not disrupting people's current ability to time-shift programming and otherwise enjoy what are known as ``fair use'' rights. In the end, he said without fully answering the question, people will have the same rights tomorrow as they have today -- and that preserving those rights is precisely what the entertainment industry has to work out with the technology industry.
He was adamant, however, that technology gear in the future -- including personal computers -- will have to be modified to prevent people from making unauthorized copies. This stance has angered many users of technology and worried some in the industry as well.
That's putting it mildly, Dan. Copying is what computers do. They don't have good concept of 'authority', especially as JV & co can't define it clearly in any case.
Another problem for the entertainment companies is what they're calling the ``analog hole.'' This recognizes the fact that human beings are not digital, so digital programming has to be converted to a format, known as analog, that we can see and hear. If digital programs have copy protection and then are turned into analog formats, the copy protection will be moot, he noted.
Shades of Oedipus and Lear - wilt thou rend thine eyes from their sockets, Mr Valenti?
Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up an important copyright issue of a different kind in a case called Eldred vs. Ashcroft (www.eldred.cc) -- asking whether a recent law extending copyright terms is constitutional. Hollywood, especially the Walt Disney Co., has been among the biggest boosters of these extensions, for obvious reasons.
Well, said Valenti, just read Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to ``promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.'' There's no ambiguity, he said; ``limited'' is whatever Congress says it is.
Been there, done that, made the T-shirt.
Lets look at it another way. Can you defend Hollywood movies as 'Science' or 'useful Arts'? Please enumerate their uses.
Can you explain how coloured celluloid is 'writing or discoveries'?
Constitutional literalism cuts both ways, Jack.