Thursday, May 13, 2004

The proposed Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act

Big news? I have no time to really dig into this at all (studying for finals). But I will at some point. Anyway, maybe one of these days it will be legal for people to utilize fair use rights - such as archiving a DVD. The general feeling seems to be that the DMCA goes a bit overboard. We'll see if this amendment to it goes anywhere.

Sponsors described the proposal as a consumers' rights bill for digital media that would allow consumers to bypass encryption locks built into DVD movies by Hollywood to prevent copying. Such encryption schemes are increasingly common in music and movies.

Supporters of the change complained the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits consumers from using specialized software to bypass such electronic locks, even when making copies of discs only for their own personal use.

Similar legislation was introduced during the last Congress but went nowhere.

There has to be some sort of balance between consumer rights and those of the copyright industry - how lopsided that balance is is what this fight is all about. There are plenty of people out there who consider the passage of the DMCA (as well as the Copyright Term Extension Act, a.k.a. The Mickey Mouse/Bono law)to have been a gigantic wealth transfer to the copyright industry at the expense of consumer's rights and the works available to people via the public domain. On the other hand there are some copyright owners out there that are losing serious money due to P2P and pirating. And guess which side has the most expensive lobbyists in Washington?

I don't personally know how this balance should be achieved, but I sure as hell know I'll be backing up and archiving any media I purchased if I feel the need - we should all be legally able to do so. I don't think that there is any legitimate reason to evicerate or seriously weaken the fair use laws on the books now by allowing what are essentially work-arounds or loopholes for copyright owners to exploit. Obviously the feeling is that it isn't really the guy at home making an archive that is the real problem for copyright owners but that's how it effects me...

AP, C|Net, and Fox "News."

Via Slashdot.

Update: more at CopyFight and Interaction Law, and Wikipedia among others.


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