Uncle Sam: “Hands Off!”

Seniors Group Says Let Private Sector Decide

Statement By 60 Plus Association President, James L. Martin

The 60 Plus Association, representing thousands of seniors in all 435 Congressional districts, strongly opposes government intervention wherever and whenever it ought not be — and digital piracy and measures enacted to repel audio-video theft is one area where things are best left to the private sector.

Legislation like S. 2048 introduced in the 107th Congress by Senator Fritz Hollings, D-SC, is a prime example of government reach out of control. Our government has far more important things to be concerned about than the design of information technology that ultimately limits who may use what, where and when for legitimate personal benefit or enjoyment.

A consortium of consumer groups, think tanks, taxpayer organizations, businesses and associations that support protecting all forms of digital content is presently forming under an umbrella group aptly named, “The Alliance for Digital Progress.” The 60 Plus Association is proud to be among the core group. We recognize that as seniors purchase computers and other consumer electronics that daily close their information gap, free market initiatives will do more to protect intellectual property and actually promote free enterprise than any government-mandated anti-copying technology might do otherwise.

Collaborative efforts advancing what ADP is doing are the very building blocks that helped this country develop a hi-tech industry that is the envy of countries all over the globe. As a result, productivity, jobs and myriad consumer benefits result. Throw bureaucracy into that mix and we can watch lights going out in business establishment after business establishment as innovation is stifled, product performance is impaired and both business and entertainment ingenuity are stymied.

Let government enforce existing copyright laws already legislated that prescribe serious penalties for people who make illegal copies of digital content such as music, software and motion pictures, but leave the free market to do what it does best: initiate ideas, develop products and take them to market where consumers decide whether they fit the bill or not. We’re best able to figure effective measures around theft of intellectual property. Our senior citizens can then be free to help fashion acid tests for supply and demand, advancing what is worth embracing or what is not. Items like VCR’s, cell phones, computers and more recently, DVD’s — the single fastest media format in history — well-represent that sort of free market expression, and we’re all the better for it, including senior citizens. So 60 Plus says, “Uncle Sam, hands off!”