Sen. Fritz Hollings is the Anti-Christ

I’ve just figured it out. Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-South Carolina) is the Anti-Christ. He’s the guy that just introduced the CBDTPA (Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act) into the Senate. He wants to make the tech industry and their employees responsible for the entertainment industry’s continued success with an antiquated business model. Think I’m a little harsh with my “Anti-Christ” crack? I don’t think so. This bill is pure evil and Senator Hollings name is on it as the author. That makes him the author of pure evil.

“Justin,” you might say, “lay off the hyperbole.” It isn’t hyperbole. This bill, if it ever becomes law will cause you, the hardware designer, and you, the programmer, to include a prescribed method of copy protection on any piece of hardware of software that is capable of reproducing anything that could be copyrighted. Remeber that “Hello World” demo program you wrote it one line? Hunh, it just jumped to 50 lines to include the prescribed method of copy protection because someone copyrighted that phrase years ago.

“The definition will cover just about anything that runs on your computer — except maybe the clock,” said Tom Bell, a professor at Chapman University School of Law who teaches intellectual property law.

Then Bell paused for a moment and reconsidered. “There’s a risk you could say it covers things like even a digital clock program on your computer,” he said.

According to the CBDTPA, any software with the ability to reproduce “copyrighted works” may not be sold in the United States after the Federal Communications Commission’s regulations take effect. Even programmers who distribute their code for free would be prohibited from releasing newer versions — unless the application included federally approved technology.

There are both civil and criminal penalties you can face if you screw up and don’t abide by this law and they aren’t light penalties.

Anyone violating the CBDTPA would be subject to statutory damages ranging from $200 to $25,000 per violation. An irked content owner would have a quiver of legal arrows to aim at a violator: Search warrants, impounding or destruction of equipment used in the illegal activity, plus attorney’s fees, reimbursement for lost profits and actual damages.

That’s not all. Anyone who ignores the CBDTPA’s prohibitions — and does it for “commercial advantage or private financial gain” — would face the same criminal penalties that once threatened the Russian hacker Sklyarov: up to a $500,000 fine and five years in prison.

There is also some enforcement measures in the bill that I’ll reserve comment on, not because I’m currently without opinion but I’m sure as soon as you read the article you’ll have exactly the same “punched in the gut” reaction that I had to them. There are also export and import restrictions that will essentially firewall the US off from the rest of the world. Bye-bye world-wide collaboration on open source software.

Now, I’ve never been one to advocate anything but the high-road in political campaigns but this has upset me enough to wish to find evidence of Senator Hollings personally renting out storage space to Brent Marsh with full knowledge of what would be stored there. Senator Hollings must be defeated. Maybe someone can find the pictures of him actually in bed with the Mouse.

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