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Letters to the Editor

- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2007

New technology and first responders A few months ago, we never would have imagined that the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) would issue an order in a patent dispute that sets back the technological advances sought by the emergency response community. Yet, here we are ("Patent protection," Editorial, July 17).

In an emergency, every passing minute decreases the chances of, for example, resuscitating a heart-attack victim, rescuing a kidnapped child or containing the damage of a biological attack. But the ITC order, which goes into effect today, bans the import of handsets that improve the accuracy of a 911 caller's location.

Almost all the key emergency response and communications policy organizations — FEMA, the FCC, APCO, NENA, NPSTC and the National Association of Counties (NACo) — have joined the emergency response alliance ComCARE in speaking out against the ITC ruling.

We urge President Bush to reverse the ITC ban so that these important technological advances will be available to both the public and emergency responders.

RICHARD TAYLOR

Chairman

ComCARE

Washington

Executive Director

North Carolina Wireless 9-1-1 Board

Raleigh, N.C.

Jack Potter

Vice Chairman

ComCARE

Washington

Director

Emergency Services

Valley Health System

Winchester, Va.

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Imagine new technologies that could put into the hands of first responders, law enforcement officers and emergency management officials the ability to maintain communications in a major disaster, quickly locate victims of injuries or serious illness, track down criminals and terrorists in real time and better enlist the public's help in protecting our safety and homeland security.

Now imagine if our own government decided to block access to technological innovations that could save lives in the next September 11 or the next Katrina.

Amazingly, that scenario is not far-fetched. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) decision to block the importation of millions of new models of wireless broadband cell phones and handsets into the United States puts the latest advances in life-saving, anti-terrorism technology out of reach for those on the front lines in the battle to keep our communities and our nation safe ("Patent protection," Editorial, July 17).

President Bush has the authority to overturn this unreasonable decision, but the clock is ticking. If the ban is allowed to go into effect today, the implications of the ITC's decision are profound and perverse — terrorists overseas could actually get access to advanced cell phones that are out of reach to Red Cross volunteers or local firefighters in America.

The Bush administration should stop this harmful decision.

DICK ARMEY

Chairman

FreedomWorks

Washington

Music sharing and the Internet

Fred Reed's article "Illegal music sharing the norm" (Business, July 28) is long on criticisms but short on solutions.

No doubt, the Internet is an extraordinary tool that helps us experience, learn and communicate in ways that we could never have imagined just a few short years ago. Digital distribution platforms are the music industry's future. But no industry, including ours, can flourish if the same property rights that we defend in the physical world are somehow eviscerated in the digital age. Doing the right thing does not always mean doing the easy thing — just because the Internet makes the theft of creative works easy does not make it legal or right.

Mr. Reed compared efforts to fight piracy to the war on drugs. An interesting comparison, but nonetheless valuable — just because illegal narcotics are available does not make their use appropriate.

We recognize that there is no silver bullet to "solving" piracy. We will never eradicate online theft or convince every clever teenager to enjoy his or her music the right way. But just because there is no perfect answer does not mean we should abandon meaningful approaches that do make a difference. We cannot and will not sit idly by as an entire community of creators has its work looted.

Our job is to provide a strong foundation for the legal marketplace to thrive while raising awareness of the law. Our responsibility is to help protect the future foundation of the digital landscape, no matter how it evolves. Containment of what was formerly a hemorrhaging problem is progress. Within the past few years, as broadband penetration has grown exponentially, illicit peer-to-peer (P2P) music trading, formerly growing at astronomic levels, has demonstrated only modest growth. Imagine what the digital music landscape would look like had we done nothing, as Mr. Reed essentially suggests? The very promising traction that the legal marketplace has shown so far would have been suffocated in a continuing avalanche of illegal music trafficking.

Do we have work to do to engage today's children about why it's important to respect intellectual property? Absolutely. Before we undertook these deterrence and education campaigns, a whole generation was growing up believing that it was OK to steal. That's no longer the case. Now there is a broad understanding of the law and what you can and can't do on the Internet. That happens because we have a multifaceted approach that includes not only deterrence but educational programs involving students of all ages and vigorous promotion of all the exciting digital services that the record companies have partnered with to offer fans a hassle-free experience. We're not naive about the continuing challenges the industry faces, but we are bullish about the future and about the impact of our efforts so far.

Finally, as stalwart defenders of the First Amendment, we welcome all constructive criticism. But Mr. Reed criticizes without offering any alternative strategy. We can't afford that approach; we need to do all we can with the tools we can to make the marketplace work for fans and creators. We think we're on the right track.

CARA DUCKWORTH

Director of communications

Recording Industry Association

of America

Washington

Republicans, open your wallets

Just because it "sounds like a do-gooder program" doesn't mean it is a bad idea ("RNC announces support for Bono's poverty initiative," Page 1, Friday).

I dispute Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen's assertion that "relief around the world ... [is] not the business of government." A prime raison d'etre for government is to protect the security of its citizens. Inequality correlates with political instability, which contributes to threats against our security.

The realities on the ground of the developing word are that people "without boots" cannot pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They are ill with HIV/AIDS, which can be turned from a death sentence to a manageable chronic disease for about a dollar a day or, not treated, add to the estimated 12 million AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa.

They have uncomplicated tuberculosis, which can be cured with $16 in medications or, untreated, can appear in America and be treated for hundreds of thousand of dollars.

Their children have malaria, which takes a child under age 5 at a rate of one every 30 seconds. If they don't die, they are chronically anemic or disabled by cerebral malaria. A $5 insecticide-treated bed net can keep the biting mosquito at bay.

We cannot afford to let this become part of the partisan squabbles. Whether you are better persuaded by "do-gooder" arguments or "homeland security" arguments, we must come together and realize that it is in our own best interest to recognize and address the plight of half the global population existing on less than $2 a day.

DR. LARRY DONOHUE

Seattle