Senator Refuses iPod; Fears It Might Influence His Pro-RIAA Views?

from the can't-have-divided-interests dept

Earlier this year, we noted that Senator Ted Stevens had been suggesting that his views towards the RIAA and copyrights might be changing… in part because he now owned an iPod. It appears that IPac, the political action committee formed to push for public interest cultural and technology issues realized that perhaps more of our elected officials need iPods. So, they began a campaign to raise money to buy Senators iPods, hoping that perhaps a few more would see the same light Senator Stevens saw. On the list was Senator Conrad Burns, who in the last year appears to have accepted just shy of $60,000 from the entertainment industry — putting him in 4th place on the list of who has received the most money from the entertainment industry. IPac (whose website is unfortunately down) did everything by the book and sent Burns an iPod — as a perfectly legal contribution valued at $316.94. Burns, however, can’t have any of that, and sent the iPod back, claiming he couldn’t accept it (found via Digg). Obviously, this is a bit of a publicity stunt by IPac, but it would be nice of Burns gave a more thorough explanation for the money he’s taken from the industry — and why he feels a little contribution from the “other side” for balance is problematic.

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Comments on “Senator Refuses iPod; Fears It Might Influence His Pro-RIAA Views?”

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flan4u (user link) says:

Re: I'd send it back too..

A bit off topic, but I agree. I don’t want a Hype Pod, I’d rather take another Archos. Mine was half the price of a Hype Pod, far more usable, far more durable, and no DRM restrictions! My Archos is still running strong after 3 years of hard use and abuse.

As for accepting gifts from players on both sides of the battle, I think they should all be returned whether objects, financial or promissory in nature. No one can truly be impartial when they accept gifts from from either side of the playing field.

DavidT (user link) says:

iPod is a personal gift versus a campaign contribu

Politics aside, he does have a bit of a point. $60k in campaign contributions may help him get re-elected but it doesn’t line his personal pocket. It might be beneficial to recieve more contributions (to say the least), but it doesn’t have the same stink of bribery as sliding cash under the table.

A gift to be used by the Seantor personally — legal or not — creates at least the appearance of graft or bribery. It’s something that the Senator himself gets to keep — just as a bribe under the table would be something he gets to keep.

That’s the reason why the President has to reimburse gifts over a certain value (the $ amount I don’t remember) that are sent to him personally, or send them back. It looks too much like bribery when an elected official recieves a _direct_ personal benefit from a gift.

Had the story gone the other direction (ie, that the RIAA was sending out personal gifts that went to line the pockets of Representatives) I’m quite confident that TechDirt’s editors would be screaming bloody murder and writing loaded headlines to the effect of “RIAA Bribes Yet Another Senator”.

If I were the Senator I’d have just given it to my staff, but I can see where he’s coming from.

SuperDave says:

Not so

iPAC sent the gift as an in-kind campaign contribution–the iPod can be used for legit purposes by campaign staff, such as listening to speeches by the senator or opponents, news releases, and so on. Campaign contributions don’t have to be things that can be “spent,” as long as they are useful.

If the senator doesn’t have enough imagination to see that, then all the more reason he should be replaced.

Bill Toner says:

Re: Not so

They could use the iPod as a research item to better understand the RIAA’s concerns, how legal internet music purchases compare to buying CDs in stores, convenience to the consumer, as well as issues of DRM making it difficult to listen to legally purchased music from one internet store on a competitor’s device.

I’d like my congressmen to actually research and understand what’s going on rather than simply vote with the highest contributor. But as they don’t even read many of the laws they vote on, I don’t expect them to research stuff like this to gain understanding of the market they’re passing laws on either.

DavidT (user link) says:

> iPAC sent the gift as an in-kind campaign contribution

Yes, of course they claimed that it was an in-kind contribution. But, really, do you think they’re going to sit there and transcode speeches to MP3 so that they can listen on the campaign bus? Or are they just going to load it up with MP3s and join the White Earbud Brigade?

Try not to make excuses for this type of lobbying just because you support the politics involved. It’s a gift that COULD be percieved as improper. Yes, it is perfectly legal. I fully admit that it’s perfect legal. But the perception is strong that the Senator (or his staff) is going to pocket the iPod and use it for personal use since the odds of it being used for campaigning are slim-to-none. It COULD be used to campaign, but it WON’T be. Thus it’s a reasonable decision to return it. Not the one that you or I would make, apparently, but not newsworthy either.

JimmyJam says:

Re: Re: Re:

Term limits are simply a way to legislatively ensconce constituent laziness and voter apathy. They are far from a solution to problems with a political structure.

Making it legally mandatory for experienced persons to leave their posts doesn’t make a lot of sense. Would you only want to be operated on by a new, inexperienced doctor? Government is a real occupation that requires real skill and real experience. Forget for a moment that term limits are essentially unconstitutional (save for the 22nd Amendment).

You want change in your government, you vote. That’s our responsibiliy as members of a democratic republic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Could you be

To number 10.

I’m just guessing here, but I get the distinct feeling that you are a …. Democrat. Just a hunch seeing as how you want to believe the republicans are ‘evil politicians’ because they take corporate donations.

All politicians take corporate donations for their campaigns. If you do not realize this you are either very sheltered, blinded by your views, or simply stupid. A quick look at should get the point across.

Now that we got the obvious bias out of the way, Burns did receive about $234k from the music/movie industry, roughly three times what Stevens did. (Both republicans). But just to bring back democrats take money from corporations also; Washington Senator Cantwell accepted about $20k less than Burns from the music industry.

Finally with regards to not accepting an iPod because it was a personal gift. The job of all elected officials is to represent the people that elected them. In this case there is a rather large group of people screaming at the top of their lungs that our politicians are out of touch with technology and as such cannot adequately make decisions regarding laws towards it. One way to solve this is to expose them to the technology that is affected by their decisions.

Some would argue that it becomes a personal bias if they are a fan of the technology, well couldn’t you also argue that it’s a bias of ignorance if they’ve never been exposed to it? The simple idea that they’re unwilling to try something means their views are closed and that they should be replaced regardless.

trollificus says:

Re: They will be replaced...

[quote Jonathan G]

They will be replaced… by Jonathan G. on Apr 25th, 2006 @ 5:27am

…Time is on our side (yes it is). The old guard is dying or retiring. Give it time, and the technologically proficient members of our generation will make it into these positions of power.[/quote]

Oh. And then??

I’m pretty sure I heard similar sunny predictions about the eventual ascencion to positions of power by members of the enlightened Hippy Generation. People probably looked forward to seeing the last of the “Horse-and-Buggy” politicians too.

But Power selects its own.

From whatever generation and of whatever degree of technical proficiency, those who attain power are marked, a priori, as people who have the desire for power. And that similarity crosses all historical and cultural lines. Expect more the same…

But keep the optimism. It’s free.

DreadedOne509 says:

Is there such a thing as a “has-not-yet-been-bought-politician”? Every single one of our elected politicians has been bought and paid for by someone (place your corporate ad here).

The few that actually have morals are the minority and can’t get squat done anyways. It’s only a matter of time before they too become corrupt.

Yes, we have time. And so do they.

Natholin (user link) says:

WTF are you talking about.

“Term limits are simply a way to legislatively ensconce constituent laziness and voter apathy. They are far from a solution to problems with a political structure.

Making it legally mandatory for experienced persons to leave their posts doesn’t make a lot of sense. Would you only want to be operated on by a new, inexperienced doctor? Government is a real occupation that requires real skill and real experience. Forget for a moment that term limits are essentially unconstitutional (save for the 22nd Amendment).

You want change in your government, you vote. That’s our responsibility as members of a democratic republic.”

No term limits would be a way to put a stop to the.

You vote for mine I vote for yours bulling that goes on.

And if you argument held any wait then the why do we change the President, I mean hell why would you want to get rid of a perfectly able person who can get things done. Why not keep the president indefinitely.

Because if you did that then you would have the same shit you have in the Senate, and the house, buddy voting.

Man do you even know what you are saying.

These people hate each other on camera and then go out to lunch and shit together after wards. It is all a game.

Clue says:

Windbags & Congressional Experts

Those of you inventing an ethical dilema or any appearance of same by these guys accepting a video iPod – do your homework or at least gather SOME fact before defending these complete frauds.

Stevens has no scruples accepting various entertainement industry corporate jet time – at around $10,000 per hour one might worry that could be slightly more an issue than say, a video iPod. Stevens doesn’t find a steady stream of entertainment perks, music, movies, VIP access to events and paid junkets to any of same, too morally questionable for his fine character.

Please – if you think a video iPod is even remotely a blip on ANY Senators ethical radar, you’re either making up your own facts or trying to defend a doomed and easily disproven theory. Read the congressional records, GAO records, or any of the publicly available FACTS on the actual laws and the enthusiastic sidestepping of same our reps find for them – on BOTH sides.

And don’t be one of those crying about your rights (gone) when Stevens and his crew continue to pervert the law, common sense and ethics by making you the criminal and keeping RIAA’s blatant greed machine fat at your expense.

I’ve already seen posts by several of you on this thread whining about your persecution, rights etc under Apple and other MP3 threads. Who do you think is pushing these laws through?

It’s easier to pick a side of the fence to be on when you bother to get the FACTS instead of making it up as you go and declaring The World According To You as Fact.

Never Voted For But Unfortunately Represented By S says:

Whatever it take's to get paid

Burnsy is a crook to the bone. He also took near $160,000 from Jack Abermoth. When Abermoth got in trouble he tried to donate the money to a Native American nonprofit organization, but they refused his dirt money. Hopefully We will get him out of Washington this fall. Wish Montana luck, thank you.

Anonymous Coward says:

To #16: Hey fancy pants, improper use of the word “ensconce.” Also, there is a REASON we have term limits. if you cant understand it, Im sorry, but it’s for ignorant and short-sighted people like you who are so quick to change the Constitution that this rule is in place. If term limits were abolished, you could bet your ass Bush and his cronies would find a way to cheat their way into the office for another 4 years–regardless of what the majority of America wanted. In fact, he’s already mentioned interest in this very change. KEEP ALERT PEOPLE.

Riteousness says:

Graft or Gift?

I think Clue hit it on the head. If you think that the $60K that Burns accepted was all in cash you’re blind, stupid, or both. Just because the number is reported as a dollar figure doesn’t mean that’s how it was contributed. There are a lot of golf trips and other junkets (concert tickets?) that get rolled into that number.

Tell me how a round of golf in the Bahamas is used to pay for campaign ads.

How about you pull your heads out of your … er, um, the sand and take a look around once in a while.

By the way, since 1990 the entertaiment industry has given about $75 million more to Democrats than to republicans. (about a 68/31% split)

And Mr. Kennedy and Mr. (er Ms.?) Clinton are the top two.

Chris says:

Did anyone else notice that the author mentions Burns received $60K from the “entertainment industry”… that’s nice to make your case stronger but the RIAA only represents 2K and the largest donator associated with music was Clear Channel at only 9K! In fact over 40K of that 60K is representative of the telecommunications industry!

Don’t misunderstand me, I hate the RIAA and what they are doing to their own customers… in fact I dislike most big business, but if you’re going to try to put out a convincing argument, generalization in this topic hurts your case.

Andy Bright says:

Ted Stevens

I reckon I write and email Ted Stevens roughly twice a month to complain about the existing DCMA and now to protest the revised version due to hit Congress this year.

I realise that this is pretty futile, but the hope is that eventually, if you consistently tell someone about the injustices of such a law, he will eventually see the light.

I’ve also tried to sway him on a a theory that perhaps a royalty based system, similar to the way radio works, where every radio sold contributes to a collective pool of money that is divided between the music industry was applied to the internet, we could allow free downloads of music and movies without worrying about moral or legal implications.

Needless to say I get no replies.

Ryan_in_montana says:

honestly, what is the problem...

..with sending this guy an iPod? The recording industry can contribute 60k to his “campaign fund”, but a consumer group can’t send him an iPod for research? They didn’t send the iPod as a bribe, they sent it so that he could actually use the technology that is at the head of the RIAA’s concerns. Or I suppose only one side of the story should be heard? Ridiculous.

Burns didnt return it because he thought it might be considered a bribe, he returned it because he didnt want to impact his 60k in funding from the recording industry. End of story.

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