There is this constant state of "battle" between consumers and corporations that has been going on as long as I can remember. Used car salesmen try to put the screws to the little guy, and a lot of people end up taking it on the chin. Gas prices rise for no good reason, but we still pay the price because we think there is little we can do about it. Movie prices rise to $8 or $10 a ticket, but like lambs to the slaughter, we keep handing over our hard-earned cash to "The Man". It looks like no matter what they throw at us, when it comes to entertainment, we have no will-power at all.
But thanks to the digital world, big corporations are taking it upon themselves to tighten the thumbscrews and take advantage of our ongoing complacency. Normally, I'd expect consumers to sit back and let it all happen because they are so busy with trying to eek out an existence on this Big Blue Marble they have time for little else. However, things are getting way, way out of hand, and it's put-up or shut-up time, ladies and gentlemen.
I've been writing about these topics off and on now for months, and things don't seem to be getting any better. I've been asked repeatedly, "What can we actually do to help?", and I have struggled with that question. I have suggested writing to our representatives, and have even written a letter to my own Senator. I have tried nudging where I can by pointing out the most extreme actions of entertainment companies, but ranting can only go so far. It's time to take the bull by the horns and take some more advanced steps towards getting their attention. That is what this article is going to be about. We are going to deal not just with the RIAA, but the MPAA and major software makers. We are not going to just "Talk the Talk", but this time, it's "Walk the Talk" time. Hang on for the ride...
First Stop: Organized Resistance
I realize individual protests only go so far, and with that in mind, I have been looking for organizations that have the right mix of attitude and professionalism, and I finally think I have found one. This group is not about piracy and not about "sticking it to the man" but addresses the issue of consumer rights in a mature, intelligent way. It may not be as "grass roots" as some may prefer, but it is a great place to start.
The organization I'm talking about here is DigitalConsumer.Org and they seem to be on the right track. Their initial mission statement is simply "Protecting Fair-Use Rights In The Digital World.” They are advocates of a Consumer Technology Bill Of Rights and with the endorsements of some impressive industry leaders, they hope to educate, inform and stand tall with the consumer in taking on the corporate juggernauts.
Their page is simple and well designed, with links to relevant happenings in Congress and other areas. It contains some helpful background material and even a "Get Active" link that helps guide you in the process of getting involved. They also have the full text of their proposed Consumer Technology Bill Of Rights and some information about this insane new law being proposed by industry lackey, Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina. If you thought the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) was bad, just check out the CBDTPA (formerly the SSSCA, now the "Consumer Broadband And Digital Television Promotion Act"). I think we all know just how bad things can get when the government starts getting involved, so please visit the site.
One other site that I have been guided to is the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They seem to be a much larger group with a much broader focus, and their site is jam-packed with links and information. I have not checked out the site in-depth yet, instead saving it for a future follow-up after getting feedback from FiringSquad readers and exploring it to a greater degree. If you have any more information, please send it on to me. You may also wish to put it in the comments area for other readers.
Many voices speaking as one can have a much larger impact than individual complaints. For example, one or two mosquitoes may not bother you, but a swarm of them coming down on your campground is darn sure to get your attention and get you to act. It is that "group mentality" that I hope will make the difference.