This afternoon, you can watch me on TechTV's The Screen Savers. Then tonight, I head into the DNA Lounge in San Francisco to defend your right to free speech and parody on the Internet as I go toe to toe with Barney in a celebrity boxing match brought to you by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Chilling Effects project.
If you're in or near San Francisco, and your value your rapidly diminishing rights of free speech and free expression, I encourage you to come and check it out.
However, if you can't be there, for whatever reason, here is a copy of the speech I'm giving tonight.
"Copyright law is a good idea. It allows actors, writers, and musicians to create and own intellectual property, and hopefully derive a living from their creations.
As an actor and writer, I have a personal stake in making sure that Copyright law is enforced. If I can't own the works I create, then I can't feed my family.
The music labels, publishing houses and studios who release our creative works would have you believe that unless we strengthen copyright laws, their clever euphemism for eroding your rights to parody and free expression, all artists will suffer.
Don't you believe them. As a negotiator for the Screen Actors Guild, I have firsthand experience with these men who claim to care so greatly for artists, and I call shenanigans. The greatest danger to musicians is not Gnutella. It is the label. The greatest danger to actors and film makers is not DeCSS. It is the studio. These corporate masters care little for the artists who are filling their 4 car garages with new Porsches and filling their private jets with fuel and "hostesses."
What they do care about is controlling how you listen to music, or watch movies, and, increasingly, how you discuss and react to our creations.
Copyright law was best described as "a balance between expression that the owners can control and expression that is left open to the commons."
Right now we are facing the complete destruction of that delicate balance. Corporations, and their congressional lap dogs, are doing everything in their power to ensure that the "expression left open to the commons" is forever removed, leaving only "expression the owners can control."
That is a truly terrifying statement, which bears repeating: "expression only the owners can control."
Do you want your freedom of expression controlled by a studio, record label, or multi-national corporation? Do you want Sony's goons kicking in your door because you dare call Shakira SUCKira? Do you want Paramount to have the right to tell you that you can't write that Star Trek fan fiction you've been working on while your wife is asleep? You know, the one where you're the captain and Counselor Troi is giving you a "special session?" Do you want Best Buy telling you that you're a criminal for expressing, on your website, your opinion that, "Best Buy sucks?"
Of course we don't. We all value our freedoms of expression and our rights to satire and parody. Can you imagine a world without "The Onion," or "Satirewire?" Area Men everywhere would be slienced. I don't want to live in that world.
Corporations know that they're wrong. They rightfully fear the Internet, and those of us who know how to use it. They don't like it when we step outside of the narrowly defined, consumer culture they've created for us.
They have seen "expression left open to the commons" running counter to "expression that the owners can control," and rather than respect our rights, they are working feverishly to destroy that all-too-delicate balance.
Corporations regularly abuse copyright law to silence dissent. Best Buy, Wal*Mart and Starbucks have all sent Cease and Desist letters to angry consumers who feel that they've been ripped off, and, like me, taken their case to the public via the Internet.
So they are shoving money at congress, and sending lawyers after us.
Our fundamental rights are under attack by a terrified cabal of corporate monsters, who have bought and paid for the DMCA and CARP, and I say that the erosion of our rights stops right here, right now.
I will continue to parody public figures and cherished icons.
I will state, on my website, in 100 point flashing red type on a blue background: "Barney sucks! Best Buy sucks! Sony Sucks! Microsoft sucks, Bill Gates is the anti-Christ and John Ashcroft can kiss my ass!"
I will promote artist's rights. I will educate, enlighten, and empower. I will write, call, FAX and email congress.
Copyright Law is not a tool of repression granted to an unaccountable corporation by a corrupt congress at the expense of an ignorant public.
It exists to protect and promote artists. Don't ever forget that.
Tonight, we are ignorant no longer, and as ignorance goes, so goes complacency. The EFF has created an online library where you can research your rights, at chillingeffects.org. Get online, get educated and get involved.
Individually, we can get angry. Together, we can, and will, make a difference."