How far will politicians go to protect business interests
At what point does a business' rights end and personal rights begin? It's a question that congress will have to ask itself a number of times during the next decade, as the concepts of what individuals want to do and what business feels is good for them, collide.
One of the topics that has recently appeared is that of DVDs and what can and can't be done with them once a person has purchased the disk.
Most people know about the controversy over people who take DVDs they bought to a video shop and then have the violence, language and sex edited out. There has been a raging controversy over this, with the artists who have produced the movies saying people don't have the right to change their work. However owners say that since they own the DVD shouldn't they be able to do what they want with it?
For me, it's a no brainer. As long as the person who owns it doesn't change it, make copies and resell it, it's his to do with as he wants as long as the use is within the law.
But wait a moment, there is now more of this type of thinking coming out of media land.
Some entertainment gurus, you know the guys who live in New York and Los Angeles that control and finance the movies, say that people using their "chapter" button to skip through trailers or advertisements on DVDs at home are destroying their business. They say that those features on a DVD are part of their business model, and consequently their profits, and that people doing that could destroy the movie industry. They want legislation to make it illegal for you, in your own home, to skip through these truly educational and entertaining features. They want you to watch something you don't care to see or have already seen on five other DVDs before.
Gee, isn't there something about individual rights that keeps us from having to do that?
But let's say that kind of legislation is passed by congress. I know what you're saying to yourself; it would be unenforceable, unless of course the movie industry had a way to track it and could send out the "skipping police" to arrest you before you finished watching the flick. But humor me and let's just follow this thinking to it's natural conclusion.
Once that type of thing is law, the legal profession would extend it's arm and it's reach would affect you're life beyond the world of videotape and DVDs. Soon there would be no more turning down the television during commercials so you can yell at your kids about their dirty room or how they need to do their homework. If you are watching a program that the network has spent the money to produce, surely you should be obliged to watch what pays for it?
Next, and this is a good one for those of us at the paper, if you are reading a magazine or a newspaper, you will have to read every ad in the publication. Just think, our salespeople could go out and tell advertisers, not only that 12,800 people read every edition, but that 12,800 people read every ad each time the paper comes out.
And what about junk mail. The poor people who send that to you spend a lot of money printing, packaging and mailing it. Shouldn't you be obligated to read about the latest in widgets and wudgits, even if you have no use for them?
As we all know ridiculous is no reason to not to try to do something, and no place in our country takes that to heart more than Washington D.C. In fact it's almost a creed there, so we can expect something to come of this, even if that something is a bunch of nothing.
So now let's see...how can I make it so everyone that picks up a paper has to read my column each week while at the same time sending me $10 in the mail?