Jack Valenti Does Not Smell Like Teen Spirit

The frighteningly prolific Cory Doctorow — Outreach Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and chief poobah of the excellent Boing Boing weblog — has a must-read article in this week’s issue of TidBITS. His article, “Can the Digital Hub Survive Hollywood?”, is a concise overview of the outrageous legislation the entertainment industry is lobbying Congress to pass — legislation which is intended to completely cripple both the PC and consumer electronics industries, all in the name of protecting Hollywood’s precious bodily fluids.

The problem with trying to raise awareness about these shenanigans is two-fold. For people who don’t have the technical chops to comprehend the underlying issues (which is about 99 percent of the U.S. population), the whole thing just sails over their head, and gets filed under “So what?”

But if you do understand the technical issues, it couldn’t be more obvious that the entire legislation is just completely and utterly wrong. It’s like something out of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. The problem is that when you try to enlighten the masses, it’s hard to craft an argument that doesn’t rely on technical issues that most people neither understand, nor want to understand.

This is not an issue of controversy — it’s an issue of ignorance. No one is in favor of this legislation other than a bevy of entertainment industry fat cats in Burbank. Anyone who understands it is opposed to it; the problem is that almost no one understands.

So instead of trying to explain it yourself, just point your friends to Mr. Doctorow’s TidBITS article. It’s not that he’s dumbed the issue down — he’s simply done the hard work of making a smart argument in terms that anyone can understand.