Thursday, May 27, 2004

NEWS - Plundering Civil Rights

News.com reports that Orrin Hatch has done it again. Dubbed "the PIRATE act," S.2237 (inane acronym and all) represents the new lows to which the RIAA and its ilk have sunk in their quest to make everyone else do their dirty work for them.

Apparently, the RIAA and it's meat-puppet, Senator Hatch, think that big media is too poor to continue enforcing its own copyrights. Now, they want the Justice Department to do it for them.

And it seems that when it comes to intellectual property, insanity isn't limited to the Republican party. Patrick Leahy had this to say:

Federal prosecutors have been hindered in their pursuit of pirates by the fact that they were limited to bringing criminal charges with high burdens of proof. Prosecutors can rarely justify bringing criminal charges, and copyright owners have been left alone to fend for themselves, defending their rights only where they can afford to do so. In a world in which a computer and an Internet connection are all the tools you need to engage in massive piracy, this is an intolerable predicament.


So it's not enough that the No Electronic Theft Act (at least it's acronym doesn't spell something goofy) allows the Justice Department to file criminal charges against large-scale file swappers. Now the RIAA wants the government to bring civil actions.

The fact that prosecuting teenagers on felony charges isn't high on the Justice Department's to-do list hasn't deterred the RIAA from its quest to make us taxpayers shell out the money enforce its copyrights. The PIRATE act would require the Attorney General to come up with a plan to ensure enforcement in six months.

For once, maybe it's a good thing that Ashcroft is so fixated on wasting our tax dollars prosecuting pornography.

The whole idea of the PIRATE act is appalling. I wish I knew how much money the entertainment lobby paid to Hatch and Leahy to make them sell out like that and try to pledge public money to enforce purely private rights.

Burdens of proof have nothing to do with the reason the Justice Department doesn't bring criminal copyright infringement actions. The government doesn't sue people for copyright infringement because there are things like the education, health, and domestic security to pay for. And that doesn't even begin to account for the military.

We have a huge deficit that's getting bigger and bigger. Bush is slashing benefits for military personnel even as he's asking them to stay in the field longer and longer. File traders just aren't all that important.

Nobody else gets to have the federal government protect their intellectual property. The RIAA shouldn't either.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

SCHOOL: Thesis Defense!

So tomorrow morning, I need to defend my thesis. Wow. I have yet to actually receive feedback on the paper, which addresses the free speech implications of the use of copyright law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to censor critics of electronic voting software by claiming that the reproduction of software code and company memoranda constitutes copyright infringement.

Wish me luck!

Friday, May 21, 2004

NEWS - New Site, CURRENT EVENTS - The Lesser Evil?

So here I am. I got tired of the constraints placed on me by AOL Journals, and I still can't force myself to go the way of the livejournal.

So let's get things started. Wired magazine reports that SBC workers have gone on strike. The Communication Workers of America finally walked out today at 12:01AM. Apparently, the latest proposal just wasn't good enough:

Wages and pensions

Our wage proposal provides for wage increases.

Specifically, our proposal calls for the following wage adjustments:

    1st year: 4 percent lump sum. For Technicians, that's an average of $2,328. For Operators, it comes to an average of $1,581

    2nd year: 2.5 percent base wage increase

    3rd year: 2.5 percent wage increase

    4th year: 2.25 percent wage increase with a cost of living adjustment

    5th year: 2.25 percent wage increase with a cost of living adjustment

The proposal also includes pension band increases in similar ranges and addresses some particular concerns unique to our SBC East region.

Health care

As you know, health care is our single fastest rising cost — an expense that rose to nearly $3 billion in 2003 for the 700,000 employees, retirees and dependents covered under SBC health care plans.

Our health care proposal provides continued coverage under SBC's excellent health care plans with no monthly contribution required and copays of only about 10 percent of the total cost of health care, far less than what most Americans and all SBC managers pay, and a small increase over the 4 to 7 percent of the total cost that CWA-represented employees currently pay.

The impact of the proposed copay increases would average only about $35 per month.

Some of the specific elements of the proposal include:

  • Office visit copays at $15 in 2005 and 2006; $25 in 2007 and 2008; and $30 in 2009.
  • Emergency room copay at $50 in 2005 through 2007, and $75 in 2008 and 2009
  • A three-tier drug plan starting in 2005 at $10 for generic drugs, $20 for formulary drugs and $40 for nonformulary brands for prescriptions filled at network retail. Mail order copays for the same years and classes of drugs are $20, $40 and $80, respectively; mail orders provide triple the supply of medication at only twice the copay. Maximum increases have been set for each of the subsequent years of the contract.
  • Note: Copays which are already higher by contract will not be reduced.

With the modest cost sharing of less than 10 percent and no monthly contribution, this compares very favorably with national averages. On average, most Americans with health insurance pay about 38 percent of the cost of their health care and 90 percent of those with company-provided health care are required to pay a monthly contribution.

Employment security

The union requested, and we agreed, to return the issue of job offer guarantees to the regional bargaining tables. At the regional tables, we will remain committed to the proposal we had presented at the national table of a guaranteed job offer in the state in which an employee works if the employee's job is surplused. Essentially, this means no layoffs for three years.

Our national proposal still contains strong elements enhancing job security.

For example, we propose utilizing union-represented employees for future new technology work such as Fiber to the Premises, WiFi, Video, DataComm and DSL Technical Support, as long as the labor agreements for this work are competitive on wages, benefits and overall costs with those of outside contractors.

We also propose a mechanism that would allow qualified surplused employees to move to wholly owned subsidiaries before those subsidiaries hire from outside.

Sounds pretty damn good to me. Quite frankly, it's a hell of a lot better than the package I'm getting from my employer, Lexis-Nexis, and I went through four years of college and three years of law school to get where I'm at. This just blows my mind. I wish the terms of my employment were this good. It just makes me wonder whether collective bargaining has crossed the line.