Jack Valenti: “The VCR is to the American film producer . . . as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone”

I just uploaded the complete text of Jack Valenti’s infamous 1982 testimony to the House Subcommittee on Courts, Civil liberties, and the Administration of Justice.

This originally came from Cryptome based on a hardcopy version. There appear to be a number of obvious errors in the transcription, but still interesting to see in detail just how wrong Hollywood gets technology.

MPAA’s “Human Error”

Once upon a time, the MPAA told a fairy tale that 44 percent of its domestic losses due to piracy were due to college students. It used that fairy tale to push policies and legislation targeting colleges and universities.

But now — oops — due to “human error”, it turns out that at best the correct total was 15 percent, and realistically the MPAA’s figures are more flexible than a Bush administration spending plan.

Anyway, I guess I’m just going to have to put down to “human error” those hundreds of gigs of  Divx files. How was I supposed to know “The Matrix” was still copyrighted? I guess we all make mistakes once in awhile.

More Nonsense from Boing! Boing!

Cory Doctorow makes the ridiculous claimthat,

. . . shut down the Lokitorrent site (Xeni’s post from yesterday), they hijacked the domain and put up a snotty note that included the phrase “You can click, but you can’t hide.”

That follows on Xeni Jardin’s posting yesterday, which quoted reprinted speculation that the MPAA had hijacked the domain name,

Many Boing Boing readers wrote in today to express dismay at the MPAA’s decision to replace shuttered filesharing sites with their own content. Reader Brad Clarke says, “Taking down a site is one thing but putting up their own content has GOT to be illegal. He’s to hoping they finally went too far.”

But if they would actually bother to read the news stories they link to, the explanation is likely a lot less dramatic,

The Motion Picture Association of America said Thursday that it had won a quick court victory against LokiTorrent, and was launching a new round of actions against other online piracy hubs. The data provided by the onetime file-swapping hub would provide “a roadmap to others who have used LokiTorrent to engage in illegal activities,” the trade group said.

. . .

As part of the court order, the site’s operator was asked to pay a settlement fee of close to $1 million.

Unless Xeni Jadin and Cory Doctorow have evidence that MPAA hijacked the domain — which they should certainly disclosed if they’re goig to go around making these sort of charges — a more likely explanation is that the folks behind LokiTorrent cut a deal with the MPAA to turn over the entire site. Losing a court case and facing a proposed $1 million settlement fee has a way of doing that to people.

MPAA: It Would Be Against Consumers’ Interests to Back up DVDs

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Virginia) has introduced a bill that would amend the DMCA to explicitly allow consumers to do things like make backup copies of DVDs. But Fritz Attaway, executive vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America says it would not be in the best interests of consumers to make backup copies of DVDs,

There is no right in the copyright law to make backup copies of motion pictures, so the whole argument that people should have the right to make backup copies of DVDs has no legal support whatsoever.

It’s against consumers’ interests to permit devices that make backup copies because there is no way that a device can distinguish between a backup copy for personal use and making a copy for friends, family acquaintances or even selling on the street corner.

Apparently it is in consumers’ best interests to have to buy additional copies of a DVD if the original refuses to play.


Recordable DVDs New Target of Hollywood. Liza Porteus, Fox News, May 10, 2004.

Plugging the Analog Hole

No, this isn’t alt.sex.stereos, it’s even worse — it turns out the Motion Picture Association of America is intent on proving correct every paranoid Slashdotter and Lawrence Lessig devote with a proposal to regulate analog-to-digital converters. Cory Doctorow is all over this at the EFF’s Consensus at Lawyerpoint blog. According to Doctorow:

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed the “Content Protection Status Report” with the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, laying out its plan to remake the technology world to suit its own ends. The report calls for regulation of analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), generic computing components found in scientific, medical and entertainment devices. Under its proposal, every ADC will be controlled by a “cop-chip” that will shut it down if it is asked to assist in converting copyrighted material — your cellphone would refuse to transmit your voice if you wandered too close to the copyrighted music coming from your stereo.

Don’t take his word for it though, read the MPAA’s report (PDF) right from the Judiciary Committee’s web site which reads, in part,

In order to help plug the hole, watermark detectors would be required in all devices that perform analog to digital conversions.

I don’t like to swear here, but this warrants it — Holy Shit, do these people realize what they are proposing? Do these morons even think through their idiotic proposals? Doctorow highlights some of the problems,

Virtually everything in our world is copyrighted or trademarked by someone, from the facades of famous sky-scrapers to the background music at your local mall. If ADCs are constrained from performing analog-to-digital conversion of all watermarked copyrighted works, you might end up with a cellphone that switches itself off when you get within range of the copyrighted music on your stereo; a camcorder that refuses to store your child’s first steps because he is taking them within eyeshot of a television playing a copyrighted cartoon; a camera that won’t snap your holiday moments if they take place against the copyrighted backdrop of a chain store such as Starbucks, which forbids on-premises photography because its fixtures are proprietary works.

And that’s for starts. This is the sort of proposal that I’d chalk down to paranoid Slashdotters if it weren’t there in black and white on the Senate’s site. This proposal is the consumer electronic version of Mutual Assured Destruction — if the MPAA succeeds in that dream it will mean a complete end to the sort of consumer electronics American consumers are so fond of.

This proposal is simple insanity. Better to just ditch copyrights outright if this is the alternative.