Posts Tagged ‘ quotes

A Response To Senator Schumer

So this article by Cringely is a good read and finally prompted me to finish this article that I’ve been meaning to write after receiving a response from Senator Schumer about the PROTECT IP Act (more on this later).

A lot of people see and recognize the problem [of having no new frontier] but few have a solution. Personally, I think the US is partially fucked because the frontier that we could have gone into (or rather, should be currently exploring), the internet, has been blocked off by nonsense patent laws (why do you think this We The People petition is so popular – Direct Patent Office to Stop Issuing Software Patents), insane copyright/trademark issues, and overall government corruption that caters to lobbyists pushing for stronger “IP” laws in both the US and other countries. And no, that is not hyperbole. I really do mean the US government is corrupt in the sense that they cater to lobbyists. Of course people always suspected the power of lobbyists but it wasn’t until Wikileaks came about that these sources of corruption have become so public and have been revealed in a timely (meaning the issues are still relevant) manner.

Specifically for the topic at hand (IP laws), Wikileaks has shown that the US gov’t has strong armed some countries into implementing stronger DMCA laws and other IP related changes (e.g., Wikileaks Cables Show Massive U.S. Effort to Establish Canadian DMCA). Case in point: ACTA (signed by the US very recently) and PROTECT IP – both of which are horrible for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Hence why most promising startups are moving away from the US and the trend is happening faster than I predicted because of these idiotic laws/lawsuits. But do our representatives listen to us? Do they see the downward trend in the industry and realize why it is happening (the developers, myself being one, state it quite clearly)? I’d venture to say no because this is the scripted response I got from Senator Schumer when he replied to my email several months after Protect IP went to vote (sent in at the same time I wrote my article on PROTECT IP):

Dear —–:

Thank you for your contacting me in opposition to S.968, the PROTECT IP Act. Like you, I believe that consumers should have access to a vibrant and innovative online community to discuss their ideas and opinions. At the same time, we must not let the internet become a haven for intellectual property thieves.

The threat to intellectual property owners over the internet is clear. Every year, the US Chamber of Commerce estimates that copyright theft costs our nation about $58 billion in lost output, 373,375 in lost jobs, and $16 billion in lost employee earnings. These numbers present an unacceptable burden to US businesses. In addition, companies may be less likely to innovate because their products may be stolen by intellectual property pirates, creating a drag on the US economy.

The PROTECT IP Act addresses the problem of intellectual property theft online, but it also contains important due process protections to ensure that legal activity over the internet is not disrupted. As you may know, the PROTECT IP Act would allow the Department of Justice to file a claim against a website that 1) has no significant purpose other than engaging in or facilitating copyright infringement, circumventing technology controlling access to copyrighted works, or selling or promoting counterfeit goods or services; or (2) is designed, operated, or marketed and used to engage in such activities. A judge would have to find that a website is intentionally violating intellectual property rights of an American entity before he could issue an order against that site. I believe PROTECT IP Act would provide law enforcement and intellectual property holders additional tools to protect American intellectual property from websites while still ensuring the constitutionally protected rights of free speech and due process. The PROTECT IP Act currently is awaiting action on the floor of the Senate, and I will continue to monitor this bill as it moves through the Senate.

Thank you for contacting me on this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can ever be of assistance to you on this, or any other matter.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator

Please do not respond to this email. To send another message please visit my website at http://schumer.senate.gov/SchumerWebsite/contact/webform.cfm . Thank you.

Ouch! Talk about being paid off to spew shit that he doesn’t know anything about. The original mail I wrote to him was similar to my old post on PROTECT IP except without the profanity and stripped down to the most important factual points. His response doesn’t address a single argument I put forth and relies on “statistics” that were created by lobbyists strictly to push their own agenda. If you read the actual source of those numbers (here you go for your reading pleasure), you will see that they are based on very poor premises such as (and I’m only posting a few):

  • Some of their inane premises, specifically:

    1. Internal estimates of piracy losses compiled by each of the copyright industries.
    2. Confidential estimates of piracy losses developed by others on behalf of individual copyright industries.

    4. Sales data by country and physical piracy rates for recorded music from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

    Seriously? Would you trust a study that uses non-biased data AND data whose methodology for being produced isn’t even revealed? It’s like writing your thesis without a bibliography and claiming yourself to be an unbiased expert in the field. Yeah, I think my professors would have flunked me if I tried pulling that on them.

  • Every download = 1 lost sale. Yeah… sure. You wish. There isn’t a single economist that believes that to be the case. There are so many reasons that this cannot be true, it’s mind boggling to see them use this assumption (e.g., some of these people don’t even have the disposable income, some wouldn’t even bother looking at media X because the cost is greater than their desire to check it out, etc.)
  • The double counting of losses using multipliers, taxes (counted in multiple ways), and the icing – employees’ lost earnings. Yeah right, like they would hire more people or give raises if piracy suddenly disappeared. Production of new works wouldn’t suddenly require more people nor would they suddenly start producing additional works – and this is giving the kind assumption that they produce things which they don’t because the RIAA, etc. are just representatives for production companies. The industries themselves, specifically the artists, see very little of the money that is collected. And that isn’t even accounting for how little money the RIAA, etc. seems to get.)

Being an optimist, I thought that my well thought out letter would have elicited a better response. It saddens me to see the direction my nation is going and worse yet, the time I take to read and understand these issues is probably 100 times more than the amount of time Senator Schumer puts into understanding these issues. This is disappointing on two levels:

  1. Senator Schumer is our representative and it is his duty to do what is best for America. I have yet to see a good argument as to how this would benefit anyone other than the richest people in the US.
  2. As someone who is fairly well read in this field (I’m primarily a web developer so this is a crucial part of my industry), I would assume Senator Schumer would need to put in a lot more effort to understand the nuances of these issues to fully comprehend the effects that will result from pushing for things like PROTECT IP.

I know our Representatives can’t possible dedicate time to all issues, but they shouldn’t allow themselves to be spoon fed complete bullshit from lobbyists. Our Representatives can always abstain from voting on an issue that they are not knowledgeable in. It would show better judgement (patience is a virtue after all, so take your time to do your due diligence), result in fewer knee jerk decisions, and perhaps (yes, remember I’m an optimist) allow for more sensible laws. So Senator Schumer, I put in my time, how about you put in some of yours?

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Cold Dead Space

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Remember hearing that quote growing up? Teachers, coaches, and principals loved spouting that line to impressionable young kids as an alternative to “Try your best!” Of course children aren’t the smartest people in the world, and real life tends to lack the inspirational speeches that help explain the parable of the day.  Thus, the proper meaning of this phrase is often misunderstood. I implore any adults reading this to stick with simple, unmistakable phrases like “Try your best!” instead of attempting to sound super sophisticated. Why? Well for one, why are you trying to impress a children with your smarts? You can tell them that the sun is the size of a quarter and they’ll believe you. More importantly, quotes can easily be misunderstood and result in a very shitty childhood. Case study: me.

I grew up thinking this phrase meant “Always aim to be the best.” Being the dumb, straightforward kid I that I was, I never thought twice about this piece of advice. I poured my heart and soul into everything I did and always aimed to be #1. This meant studying like a madmen for tests, spending endless hours on academic projects, and training my ass off in sports all the while thinking that the only thing standing between me and first place was the amount of effort I put in. Watching television only reinforced the idea that hard work leads to results. Even the dumb people on those shows had a hidden talent for something, and eventually hard work will allow them to blossom and acheive something amazing. Yay! Drinks all around! Cheers!

Well fuck all of that! The results of my efforts? I landed on the moon a grand total of one time and that was only after all the competition in my grade decided to skip ahead to varsity while I stayed behind.  Apparantly, I wasn’t good enough for varsity. Oh, and if that single victory wasn’t soul sucking enough, my name was misspelled on the award. A permanent reminder that my victory was empty. The rest of my formative years can be summed up as a decade of floating in the cold dead space “among the stars.” Still, I kept believing that I had some sort of hidden talent that was yet to be revealed. That is until I made my way into a national competition and experienced first hand the difference between hard working talented people and hard working normal people. I squarely fell on the normal side.   No amount of hard work will ever close that gap.  This episode promptly shattered my confidence and competitive drive.

Now if someone had explained to me that “Shoot for the moon” did not mean “Gun for number one,” then I’m sure I would not have been disappointed by all of those non-first place finishes. Of course all of this despair could have been avoided if adults just used the simple phrase “Try your best.” This would have had the same effect of pushing me to work hard but without all of the soul crushing disappointment. So this is a hearty “Fuck you!” to all adults who have uttered this phrase without the proper explanation. Please remember to use the KISS principle when speaking with children and keep it simple, stupid!

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