Harvard Law Professor Charlie Nesson has been fighting to get the Tenenbaum v. RIAA trial streamed on the Internet. In its argument against this request, the RIAA has claimed that:
"[The video footage] will be readily subject to editing and manipulation by any reasonably tech-savvy individual. Even without improper modification, statements may be taken out of context, spliced together with other statements and broadcast (sic) rebroadcast as if it were an accurate transcript. Such an outcome can only do damage to Petitioner's case."
The idea of Internet users remixing the RIAA lawyers' words into subversive and biting political satire sounds like a great idea. So, why don't we see if we can do the same thing with some of the rather extreme positions expressed at the recent FTC DRM town hall meeting.
As some of you may have heard, the US Federal Trade Commission recently held a town hall meeting to discuss issues related to Digital Rights Management technology. While the talks went on for an entire day, the most interesting (and heated) discussions happened at the "DRM in Action" panel, in which I participated. Also there were Prof. J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan, Rashmi Rangnath, a staff attorney at Public Knowledge, Debbie Rose, an intellectual property fellow for the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), and Patrick Ross, co-founder and Executive Director of the Copyright Alliance.
The FTC taped the entire session, and has made it available via online streaming video. To make things a little bit more viral video-friendly, I've downloaded the entire session, cut it up into smaller videos for each speaker, and uploaded them to Vimeo. Since the videos were recorded and made available by the FTC, they are (I believe) in the public domain, and thus this re-distribution should be kosher.
While all of the speakers were interesting, it was Debbie Rose whose testimony blew my mind. Before she went to work for ACT, Debbie worked as as a Counsel for the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet & Intellectual Property, and played a major role in drafting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The DMCA is of course the very same law that is a perpetual thorn in the side of many researchers and innovators.
I've included a few of Debbie Rose's choice moments before on the DRM panel here. They're less than a minute each, and will be sure to cause a strong reaction (laughter, tears, or perhaps a simple WTF???).
I have uploaded all of the videos to Vimeo for your viewing/viral embedding pleasure (see below). If you're interested in downloading the videos in a format that is more mashup friendly, a 200Mb .zip can be downloaded here.
The contest works as follows. People of the Internet are free to download these videos, edit the footage, and mash them up with anything else (remember your fair use rights). Upload the resulting videos/songs to the video/media/whatever sharing site of your choice, and then write a comment to this blog post with a link to your entry. To make things easier, if the content site offers tagging functionality, please tag your entry with "ftc drm mashup".
On June 1, 2009, the contest will end. In the days that follow, I will judge the entries, and pick the three that I find to be the most awesome (factors include the level of humor, creativity and impact). I will donate $100 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the name of the 1st place winner, $50 in the name of the 2nd place winner, $25 in the name of the third place winner, and then $1 each in the names of the next 23 best entrants. If I don't get any/enough submissions, I will still donate $200 to the EFF.
If you really want your name to be associated with my $200 donation, but you don't want to make a mashup... leave a comment in this blog post, and I'll include it anyway.
There are some absolute gems amongst the videos, and you are by no means restricted to using the videos of Debbie Rose's (I just happen to think they're the funniest, and so I've highlighted them).
This contest/activity is not affiliated with or sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I just happen to think that they are awesome.
Likewise, this is not something I am doing with the consent/approval of my employers at the Berkman Center -- this is being done in my own time, wearing my own hat. If for some reason someone dislikes what I've done and decides to lawyer-up, please send the cease and desist letter directly to me, and not to the Berkman folks.
I am not making any money out of this contest and the the $200 is coming out of my pocket. This is simply an activism related activity.
Finally, I am not a lawyer, and nothing in this blog post should be read as legal advice.
This video contains just the footage of Debbie during the longer back-and-forth discussion which the next video shows in full.