D.C. voting rights bill isn’t willful Constitution breach

John Salsgiver should read both the “blood-bought Constitution” he references and the actual text of the DC Voting Rights Act before firing off letters such as “We the Sheeple” to The Hill (April 26 letter regarding April 20 article, “House Dems secure win on D.C. voting rights bill”).

The Constitution grants Congress authority over the District “in all Cases whatsoever.” Constitutional scholars from both sides of the aisle have testified before Congress that this clause gives Congress the authority to grant the District a vote in the House of Representatives. Whether or not this is constitutional is something the courts will ultimately need to decide, but his claim that the Constitution was “willfully violated” is quite a stretch.

I also take issue with Mr. Salsgiver’s claims that it won’t be long before demands are made for two voting senators for the District — and his questioning if we can “smell the desperation” of Democrats looking to get three extra electoral votes from this bill.

I’m not sure what Mr. Salsgiver smells, but I don’t think that it’s desperation for electoral votes. I would remind Mr. Salsgiver that the 23rd amendment to the Constitution granted the District of Columbia the three electoral votes he fears so much back in 1961.

I would also remind the reader that the DC Voting Rights Act would grant an additional congressional district — and thus another electoral vote — to the state of Utah. It doesn’t take Charlie Cook to figure out that Utah will likely be a Republican state in 2008. This is hardly the sort of legislation that would be passed by desperate Democrats.

Washington, D.C.

Let’s not create an innovation-free zone

From Michael Petricone, senior vice president of government affairs, the Consumer Electronics Association

Tom Giovanetti properly portrays the debate over intellectual property protection as a careful balancing act (“First, do no harm to the intellectual property system,” op-ed, April 25), but then tips the scales in favor of copyright holders by favoring severe limits on consumer rights and technological development.

Unfortunately, Mr. Giovanetti’s “solution” creates an innovation-free zone for digital content distribution. Many innovative companies are understandably unwilling to risk potentially billions of dollars in liability under the Luddite-friendly Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which has been used like a hammer to crush nascent technologies that could provide artists and musicians new revenue opportunities. It’s no wonder Giovanetti thinks the DMCA is working “remarkably well” — it has chilled new technologies that would force legacy content producers to alter old business plans and actually address their customers’ demands. The same industries that nearly sued the VCR out of existence are still looking to block innovation that challenges them to adapt and change.

Instead of criticizing leaders like Congressman Boucher who seek to reform the DMCA by protecting consumers against such attacks on their digital freedoms, we should embrace legislation like H.R. 1201 that would restore fair use rights for consumers. The DMCA is a weapon against technological progress, and restoration of balance will only benefit consumers, innovators and American competitiveness.

Arlington, Va.