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Another DMCA Attack Looms 236

Posted by timothy
from the dark-and-stormy-legislative-sessions dept.
ndege writes "In this Wired article, Rep. Rick Boucher is finally ready to try and dismantle a key part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Boucher, a Virginia Democrat, said last July that he wanted to amend the DMCA to permit certain 'fair uses' of digital content, such as backing up an audio CD by bypassing copy protection technology. In an interview on Thursday, Boucher said he now has sufficient support from the tech industry, librarians, and Internet activists."
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Another DMCA Attack Looms

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  • Dmca (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mrdzone (562353)
    Maybe we can finnaly have someone on our side in fighting this battle, lord knows we need it since we can't very well talk about it ourselves wouldn't want to be prosecuted now would we.
    • Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Democratic

      Not to troll, but you do realize which party Boucher is from, right?
      • Re:Dmca (Score:2, Insightful)

        I think we need to reorganise the parties.

        ---
        All those who are for fair use on this side of the room.

        all those who are corprate whores on that side.

        ok, all the corprate whore....please step into that small enclosed windowless room with sound proofing foam on the walls and shut the big steel door with automatic locking mechenism on it.

        thanks,

        ok everyone else, back to business.
      • Re:Dmca (Score:3, Insightful)

        by adam613 (449819)
        Party affiliations are getting pretty twisted around with the DMCA. Sure, there's Mr. Boucher (D-VA), but there's also Mr. Hollins (D-Disney). The House still has a Republican majority. I vaguely recall Tom DeLay (R-TX) not letting an xxAA bill out of comittee recently.

        It's true that the Republicans are largely responsible for screwing up this country lately, but with this issue you need to pay attention to the person, not the party.
  • As someone who just got stung buying a no-copy CD (didn't notice the small print about not playing on MAC/PC), hopefully this will smack the record companies into being sensible (hah!).

    I'd return the CD, but the problem is that I bought it 500 miles away and the receipt's not around (it was bought while heading on a camping trip and we were in a supermarket getting supplies).

  • by Mikoca (577135) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:01AM (#3476211) Homepage
    A Petition to the European Parliament [eurolinux.org]. After you read all about it, of course, as the site provides.
  • Ammend the constitution. Make it part of our bill of rights. And for the love of God, REPEAL the DMCA!
    • by mpe (36238)
      Ammend the constitution. Make it part of our bill of rights. And for the love of God, REPEAL the DMCA!

      Probably not a very good idea. Because
      a) It dosn't need ammending, so much as being applied as written
      b) The most likely ammendments the current corporate backed bunch would make would include the removal of "limited times" from the IP clause and removal of the first ammendment.
    • I agree. That the DMCA was made into law in the first place, is a travesty.

      The clearest wrong is the limitations it places on our 'fair use' rights. Fair use, to me, means I *did* pay for the right to use some licensed work, let's say, an album of music. For that price, I expect to be able to listen to it; after all, that's why I paid for it. I would like to be able to listen to it indefinitely. In that case it seems obvious that I should protect the CD by copying it, shelving it, and listening to the copy. With my 3 year old around, the copy will probably be destroyed in short order, but I've still got the original, safely shelved.

      What is less obviously (to the common folk) a wrong and, infinitely more sinister, is that the DMCA has made it illegal to produce a 'circumvention technology'. And as poor Dmitry has discovered, it's very real. I take serious exception to the idea that a software technology should be deemed illegal. Certainly a person can do illegal things with software, but so can they with a small rock. Without exception, it is *not the tool* that commits the crime.
      • I take serious exception to the idea that a software technology should be deemed illegal. Certainly a person can do illegal things with software, but so can they with a small rock.

        They can do a lot more damage with an atom bomb than with a small rock, that's why possessing an atom bomb is illegal, while possessing a small rock isn't. Following that reasoning, at least some encryption circumvention software should be illegal. For instance, you shouldn't be allowed to circumvent the encryption that protects nuclear weapons launch and targeting systems.
        • Of course this is pretty much taken care of if you simply say that you can only circumvent for fair use. Most of us don't have a "fair use" for nuclear weapons, despite what some may think.
  • Personally I'd rather not get prosecuted for doing stuff that is legal in my country, just because american senators are paid millions by disney.
    Actually, to hell with the laws my country wants to copy from the USA too... I've decided to smuggle 300 kb crypto I've got to some free-speech advocates I know in america.
  • Finally... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GnomeKing (564248)
    I'm glad that someone such as boucher is taking this up seriously now

    However, I still feel that the only way to get the DMCA changed is to get joe public behind the changes... highlight to the non-slashdot reading public why and how their "right" of fair use of something they have bought is being taken away... Do that and the DMCA will have to be changed
    (of course... its not as easy as that - but nothing is)
    • by mikeboone (163222) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:27AM (#3476294) Homepage Journal
      I remeber a couple years ago there was a chain-type email going around warning people that congress was going to start charging $ to send email or something like that. It was pretty inflamatory, but looked somewhat legitimate by naming people and bill numbers (even though they were fake if I remember). I believe congress got tons of calls and mail about this issue.

      So someone needs to write up an inflamatory email about not being able to listen to your CDs anymore, due to Senator Smith and his bill S.9876. Then we just start forwarding it to everybody, and let them get on their congresscritters.
      • I remember that email, and I think this is a great idea. I think it should be carefully crafted and proofread before being released into the wild, perhaps as an open source project :)

        I'd certainly be willing to help. I'm not really up on the particulars, so I don't think I'd be the one to write the initial document, but I do know a bit about editing for maximum impact, and I'll certainly forward it to everyone that I know.

  • by TechnoLust (528463) <kai.technolust@gm a i l . com> on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:08AM (#3476231) Homepage Journal
    Copyrighted music was already protected under copyright law. Fair use was already protected under other laws. Why do we keep writing and amending and rewriting laws that do the SAME THING as previous laws?

    The only thing the DMCA did was make it hard on cryptographers, security analysts, and researchers to do their jobs and report their results. You want unbreakable crypto? (Well, that will likely never happen, but do you want it to be so hard that it isn't worth the effort?) Then honest people have to try to break it and report on it's strengths and weaknesses. If you pass a million laws saying you can't circumvent encryption, someone in another country where our laws don't apply can still do it. People in America who aren't going to obey the laws anyway can still do it. And people who wouldn't steal the music, but just want to break it for the challenge will still do it.

    It is illegal to steal cars, but "slim-jims" are legal, why? Because they can help you get your car open if you lock your keys in. Shouldn't it be legal for me to make a backup copy of my CD in case I drop the original in the lake while on my boat? With the DMCA as it stands, if that disk is copy protected, it is ILLEGAL for me to do that.

    • by mpe (36238)
      Copyrighted music was already protected under copyright law. Fair use was already protected under other laws. Why do we keep writing and amending and rewriting laws that do the SAME THING as previous laws?

      Maybe there are other areas of legislation which need looking into. But everyone is too busy messing around with "supercriminalization" type destractions.

      The only thing the DMCA did was make it hard on cryptographers, security analysts, and researchers to do their jobs and report their results. You want unbreakable crypto? (Well, that will likely never happen, but do you want it to be so hard that it isn't worth the effort?) Then honest people have to try to break it and report on it's strengths and weaknesses. If you pass a million laws saying you can't circumvent encryption, someone in another country where our laws don't apply can still do it. People in America who aren't going to obey the laws anyway can still do it. And people who wouldn't steal the music, but just want to break it for the challenge will still do it.

      Or possibly for the less abstract purpose of seeing if uss of the encryption system (a lot of potentially strong encryption is let down by a poor implimentation) is actually worth bothering with in the first place.

      It is illegal to steal cars, but "slim-jims" are legal, why? Because they can help you get your car open if you lock your keys in.

      There are places where so called "burglar tools" are illegal. Even though it is perfectly legal to break into your own house and these often apply to lockpicking tools, which are of little practical use to most burglars anyway.
      • In all cases that I know of "burglar tools" are legal to have, but you always need to be prepared to explain why you need them if they suspet you might commit a crime.

        In other words if you own lock picks you should keep them at home and hidden except when you are dealing with a situation where you play to pick a lock (presumabily legally).

    • repealing the DMCA at this point is to difficult.

      basicly what Boucher wants to do is make it a law with no teeth.

      "cant do the stuff with circumventions crap, but CDs and E-Books [mabye DVDs :-)] can not have copy protection crap so that people can excercise their fair use rights"

      somthing along those lines would make the law pointless since it basicly would say

      "bad to circumvent, however, digital media can not have copy protections"

      so if there is nothing ti circumvent, you can not break the law :-)
      • "so if there is nothing to circumvent, you can not break the law"
        Except that what this would *really* do is allow us to make backups, and watch DVDs on Linux, while still sending people making a living out of counterfiting CDs and DVDs to jail. This would let us enjoy our "fair use" rights, while truely criminal action would remain actionable.
    • Wrong. Fair use is not protected in any laws. It originated as a judicial precedent in rulings on copyright. That precedent was used to justify the Audio Home Recording Act (which legalized mix tapes, basically), but there is still no one law that protects (or even defines) fair use.

      That one fact alone justifies this bill. Getting a concept of fair use into law would be a *very* good thing.
      • Hence the "Protected by other laws" statement in my original post. The AHRA protects fair use of certain things (like mix tapes, as you mentioned) but there are others which protect other things. If the AHRA is a law, and it protects "fair use" by making mix tapes legal, then your first sentence is wrong. Just because no laws use the terminology "Fair use" does not mean it is not protected.

        Also, I am not saying this bill is not justified, or even that it is not needed. It is certainly a step in the right direction. However, I think the DMCA should be completely repealed and all the Congressmen who voted for it should be smacked with a wet trout.

        • The congressmen and Clinton, who voted in the DMCA, the current congressmen and Bush, who happily let it stay on the books, and the RIAA should be locked up.

          "Circumventing" their locks should be made illegal.
      • Kind of, but not really. Check out this [cornell.edu] link to see why.

        Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107 of the US Code first defines what fair use is, and then states that for these cases (which fall under the definition of fair use) that use of the copyrighted work doesn't infringe on the copyright. You're technically right about fair use not being protected by law per se, but your post implies that it's only a judicial precedent. It's not - it's a clearly defined escape clause in copyright usage.

        Of course, IANAL, YMMV, ROLLIN HAND, but it's worth noting that there already exists a "concept of fair use" in the law. Legislation like the DMCA usually comes about when people don't know and/or understand the laws they already have.

      • Wrong. Fair use is not protected in any laws. It originated as a judicial precedent in rulings on copyright. That precedent was used to justify the Audio Home Recording Act (which legalized mix tapes, basically), but there is still no one law that protects (or even defines) fair use.

        And yet, Congress seems to treat it as such. The text of the DMCA itself specically refers to fair use rights in chapter 12:


        `(c) OTHER RIGHTS, ETC., NOT AFFECTED- (1) Nothing in this section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use, under this title.

        (See full text of DMCA [loc.gov] here.)
        2600 argued from this point in their defense, as I recall.
    • Why do we keep writing and amending and rewriting laws that do the SAME THING as previous laws?

      Job security. Also, try replacing 'laws' with 'software'.

      • Shouldn't it be legal for me to make a backup copy of my CD in case I drop the original in the lake while on my boat? With the DMCA as it stands, if that disk is copy protected, it is ILLEGAL for me to do that.

      Strangely enough, it isn't. It's illegal for you to create or traffic in (i.e. make available to others) the tools to do it, but it's not illegal for you to obtain them or even to use them. That's one of the things that's so screwy about the DMCA, it targets the supply and not the use (like that's been working so well in cutting down on the amount of untaxed^H^H^H^H^H^H^H illegal drugs coming in to the country).

    • Copyrighted music was already protected under copyright law. Fair use was already protected under other laws. Why do we keep writing and amending and rewriting laws that do the SAME THING as previous laws?

      The hopscotch played by the DMCA is that it doesn't attempt to directly legislate away the core concept of fair use, BUT it prevents the technological means to enact fair use. It's like deciding to do an end run around the NRA by making a law that bullets are illegal; guns are fine, you just can't use them. The loophole that the DMCA takes advantage of is that while fair use has been deemed legal, no given vendor is required to supply the means of exercising this legal activity. The DMCA perverts this even a bit further by making it illegal to try to get around direct attempts by vendors to prevent fair use. I don't think legislation by Boucher should necessarily have to re-state the legality of fair use; more the the point, it should probably state a requirement that fair use be provided for by vendors.

      .

      • Hmmmm... just had a thought:

        CD and DVD encryption is a circumvention device for getting around our fair use rights. such devices should be made illegal.

        companies should not be required to manufacture devices that provide the ability to fair use, that's an open market that will fill on its own, and such requirements would be more nationalization than i think we want.

        rather companies should be prevented from disallowing other companies to create fair-use devices.

        wasn't Philips doing something about this too? how's that coming?
    • Copyrighted music was already protected under copyright law. Fair use was already protected under other laws. Why do we keep writing and amending and rewriting laws that do the SAME THING as previous laws?

      Copyright law protects copyrighted stuff--and it also allows for Fair Use, which is a time when you can infringe on someone's copyright and actually have a defense in court.

      The DMCA deals with *security devices*, which is something else entirely. It's like the part of the law that makes picking your neighbor's lock *and not opening the door* illegal.

      It just so happens that the DMCA does this by making *all* lock-picking illegal, even if you want it so there's no key to your door.
    • Remember that the big problem with the DMCA is the anti-circumvention provisions. The rest of it is relatively uncontroversial and in many respects welcome.

      One of the actions of the DMCA was to make proxying legal for the first time. Previously it was legally the same as republishing. Now it's understood that you have to cache copies and resend them as part of the operation of the web. Repealing the DMCA would make proxying illegal again.

      Another is that the DMCA made legal the temporary installation of copyrighted software for the purpose of maintenance. So thanks to the DMCA, if you have a legal copy of Norton Utilities, you're allowed to use it on someone else's machine to fix it so long as you delete the copy when you're done.

      All pretty good stuff, apart from chapter 12.

  • Joy and exultation! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chardish (529780)
    Finally, there's someone who thinks we should be able to do what we want to do with the music and movies that we buy!

    I always assumed that those "CDs" we buy were kind of on indefinite loan from the media companies, so there would be no way that we would be able to decide how to use them! What a glorious future lies ahead of us!

    Seriously: I would love to see someone write a '2084' that would show what the world would be like if all this copyright and consumer rights stuff got out of hand, and fell into the hands of the corporations...

    -Evan
    • Seriously: I would love to see someone write a '2084' that would show what the world would be like if all this copyright and consumer rights stuff got out of hand, and fell into the hands of the corporations...

      Richard Stallman's already made a pretty good start [gnu.org] at one, at least with respect to electronic books. I would like to think he's had a significant role (along with Adobe shooting themselves in the foot) in preventing that evil fair-use disabled crap from catching on.

    • I don't remember the name of the author, but this was the story. It was posted to either /. or k5 as I recall.

      Reposted WITHOUT consent of the author; if anyone reading this is or knows the author, please let me know.

      ****

      A Letter From 2020

      Dear Me,

      I'm not sure if reading this letter is illegal. I thought it only fair to warn you; it might be better to just destroy it.

      The actual writing has been a bit of a chore. Word.NET isn't what it used to be. Even Microsoft.NET couldn't afford to patent everything, so whilst I can do Find, there's no Replace anymore. One good thing about having only one legal operating system is that it's very stable. I'm glad they never update Windows.NET; anyone can live with three or four crashes a day and the hourly rent is less than I pay for my apartment.

      I try to remember what it was like when I was a kid but it's really difficult; the world has changed so much since then. I found a paper book the other day that described the rise and fall of something called the "Internet". It started out with people putting up links on computers so that they could follow the link and read things on other computers for free. After it got to be popular, companies started to create machines with lots of links that you could search to find things of interest. But someone put up a link to something illegal and got sued and had their machine shut down. This happened a few times and people started to take the links off their machines. The search engine companies were the first to go and without them, you couldn't find anything. Eventually no one put up links anymore because the legal risk was too great. The important thing is that it reduced terrorism. I'm not sure how it could have worked anyway. Anything I write on my computer or any music I create gets stored by Word.NET and Music.NET in encrypted formats to protect my privacy. No one but me, Microsoft.NET and the National Corporation can read or hear my stuff even if they could link to it.

      I shouldn't admit it, but sometimes I go to certain places and speak to the subversives. I know its wrong but their warped views on things have some kind of morbid fascination. For example, I spoke to someone who claimed to be a historian the other day. She had courage all right, admitting to an illegal activity like that. I hadn't understood why it was illegal until she explained. History, she told me, gives you context. You can compare today with some time in the past; ask questions like, "are people better off", "look at the different forms of doing business", "compare corporate records or the rights of citizens" (I think she meant employees).

      But what interested her was that future generations will know nothing about us; all our records and art are stored digitally, most of it will simply disappear when no one rents it anymore -- remember the sadness when the last digital copy of Sgt. Pepper was accidentally erased? And the data that does survive will all be encrypted and in proprietary formats anyway -- even if there were historians they'd have no right to reverse engineer the formats. I can vaguely remember that people used to have physical copies of music and films, although I'm not sure how that was possible, or what the point was when we can rent whatever we like from the air interface. I don't think it matters that those who come after us can't read our writings or hear our music or see our films; these things are temporal anyway, if no one rents them then they can't be worth keeping.

      The saddest subversive I met claimed to be a programmer. He said that he was writing a program using Basic.NET. He must have been insane. Even if his program worked he wouldn't be allowed to run it. How could one person possibly check every possible patent infringement in a program they wrote? And even if he hadn't infringed he couldn't sell it without buying a compatibility license from Microsoft.NET and who could possibly afford that? He had said something about gippling the software, which apparently means giving it away, but mad as he was, even he knew that under WUCITA that would be illegal.

      These subversives really don't seem to understand that a few restrictions are necessary for the sake of innovation. And progress has been made. We don't have spam since most people can't afford an email license due to the expensive patent royalties. Our computer systems all have the same operating system, user interface and applications so everyone knows how to use them, and although they crash and don't work very well, we all know the limitations and can live with them. We have no piracy of intellectual property since we rent it as we want it and have no means of storing it.

      It was the USA that showed the world the way of course. First the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, then more and more software patents. The Japanese followed suit. The Europeans were a problem, which is only to be expected, with their anti-business un-Christian socialist tendencies. Fortunately, common sense prevailed, helped along by the good old dollar I've no doubt and they accepted both software patents and a redefinition of copyright to suit global corporations. Once the USA, Japan and Europe had uniform intellectual property laws to protect our corporations and our way of life, everyone else had to play ball or they couldn't trade. The result has been that every algorithm and computer program and every piece of music and film (after all music and film can be put into digital form and are therefore a form of software) have been patented. No more variations on Beethoven (unless you've got the patentees approval). No more amateur participation in music or film which might risk lowering standards. No more challenge to established business and business practices.

      I'm crazy to have written I know. But I am so happy in the world and I remember how unhappy I used to be. I wanted to somehow pass back to you the knowledge that its all going to be okay, that the world really is getting better.

      Sincerely,

      Mark.

      ****

      end repost.

      -Kasreyn

  • by Lothar+0 (444996) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:11AM (#3476241) Homepage
    Boucher believes that people should be allowed to circumvent technological protection for research...

    What sort of research? That which shows the actual encryption schemes to be worthless (ala Edward Felton), or the type of research that requires circumvention so that work can be done?

    In my case, my research as an academic partly relies on downloading anime from the Net since my topic concerns how anime fan subculture interprets it. This requires some circumventing of "anti-piracy" devices somewhere down the pike. I'm not intending to be thrifty through illegal activities. Rather, there is just no way I as a broke grad student can afford to even rent, let alone buy the anime without going into the hole to do a good research project. Hopefully, Boucher's amendment will cover cases such as mine as well as those the 1992 Fair Use Act intended to cover.
    • there is just no way I as a broke grad student can afford to even rent, let alone buy the anime without going into the hole to do a good research project.

      Bullshit!!

      If this is really legitimate research go apply for a grant and use the money from that to buy (or rent) anime. Part of grad school is learning how to get funding to support your research. When I was in grad school if I needed some software for a research project, I would include it in a grant proposal and get funding to purchase it, I wouldn't go pirating the software. I'm sure other media and material (e.g anime DVDs) in other disciplines is handled the same way.

      • My university is currently undergoing severe budget cuts right now. Tenured professors are having enough trouble as it is getting research dollars. Assistantships are being cut. My own department doesn't even know if it can admit any more graduate students this year. I have virtually no chance of getting grant funding to do this given the current conditions, so I stand by my statement that you have quoted.

        But aside from that, unauthorized copying of copyrighted work is supposed to be allowed for research and educational purposes. That is part of the fair use doctrine, but the DMCA prevents that by default.
      • Anime subcluture includes fansubs, interpretation and subtitling of Japanese-only releases. These are products that aren't yet on DVD or VHS, and aren't in Region 1 yet in any form. To that end, if he needed to grab a couple of episodes of Full Metal Panic (damn, that kicks ass) and see what the fuss was about, more power to him. This is a product that is relevant to his research, and literally is unable to be obtained otherwise. (And don't go making illusions to research with illegal drugs -- apples and oranges)
  • by JLester (9518) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:14AM (#3476248)
    As a constituent of Boucher's, I sent an e-mail to him after his CNet interview a couple of months ago thanking him for his support of fair use for digital media. He sent a very nice response detailing how fair use rights for digital media is one of his highest priorities. His fair-use rights included custom compilation CDs and circumventing technological protection measures in order to archive or excerpt material. The last part really covers almost anything we've been worried about.

    He also stated that the potential to penalize and prosecute individuals who excercise such rights is an affront to First Amendment protections, a harm to consumers, and inhibits the creation and public use of intellectual property!

    To say I'm glad to be represented by him is an understatement.

    Jason
  • by Spackler (223562) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:16AM (#3476256) Journal
    The best thing you could do for the DMCA, and copyright law in general, is to go down the hall and beat the crap out of Senator Fritz Hollings!

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @09:35AM (#3476665) Homepage
      • The best thing you could do for the DMCA, and copyright law in general, is to go down the hall and beat the crap out of Senator Fritz Hollings!

      That's a pretty atavistic attitude. Civilised people (even you colonial fellows) have evolved much more genteel methods to settle disputes: we debate them. It's simple and elegant: you pay someone to tell you what to say, you pay someone to tell the press what you said and how they should report it, and if all else fails, you pay someone to change the law to make you right. Er, wait, or perhaps that's the problem. Maybe you're onto something after all. ;)

    • That might take some doing.

      Before getting to Hollings, he'd have to get through Hilary Rosen, Jack Valenti, and Mickey Mouse; each of whom guards Hollings' office 24/7.

      I've got $50 on Mickey.

  • by jhines0042 (184217) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:16AM (#3476258) Journal
    What follows is the thank you letter that I received from Congressman Boucher for writing him about this subject.


    Congress of the United States

    House of Representatives

    Rick Boucher

    9th District, Virginia

    NINTHNET@mail.house.gov

    HTTP://www.house.gov/boucher/

    May 3, 2002

    Thank you for your kind expression of support for my efforts to prevent the erosion of fundamental fair use rights in the digital era.

    Please be assured that reaffirming the rights of consumers to exercise legitimate fair use rights is among my highest priorities. From such routine practices as making custom compilation CDs of lawfully-acquired songs for personal use to more advanced actions such as circumventing technological protection measures in order to archive or excerpt material for research and educational purposes, the American public traditionally has enjoyed the ability to make convenience and incidental copies of copyrighted works without obtaining the prior consent of the copyright owner. The potential to penalize or prosecute individuals who exercise such rights, or who create or publish software and devices which facilitate the exercise of individual fair use rights, affronts First Amendment protections, harms consumers, and ultimately inhibits the creation and public use of intellectual property.

    As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Internet Caucus, my work in Congress focuses on the intersection of the Internet and other technologies with our nation's intellectual property laws. I intend to introduce various legislative measures which will protect fair use rights, and your expression of support for these efforts with your Congressional representatives will be most welcome.

    I appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me. With kind regards and best wishes, I remain

    Sincerely,

    Rick Boucher
    Member of Congress

  • by Qwerpafw (315600) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:17AM (#3476261) Homepage
    The inherent issue here is not actually copyright law, but the failure of the political system.

    Here we have an issue that is disliked by everyone that knows about it, and fundamentally runs against several precepts of the constitution (and the original idea behind copyright law).

    Yet it is law. Why? Because it allows media companies to increase their profits. Yet even that is debatable. A better description of the DMCA is that it allows media companies to think that they are increasing their profits.

    And because of the money involved, these companies have a bunch of cash to blow on lobbyists. Media companies are very very large, and, as a result, have an enormous financial intrest in Washington.

    So only the little guys are left. Librarians, Internet activists, and some tech companies (some. Microsoft seems to back the DMCA. Most try to be DRM neutral.). The problem is that the little guys don't have enough cash to buy the best politicians. Yes, buy politicians. So we have to find semi-honest politicians who agree with the cause. Which is near-hopeless.

    Of course, the ban on soft money should help, but the underlying problem is the same. Washington is dominated by corporate interests. The only real fix is to make digital rights management and the abhorration that is the DMCA a public issue. Only then will people look at a politicians record vis a vis copy protection come november. And only then will justice finally be done.
    • MSFT definately backs the DMCA. Laws such as this mean that their proprietary media formats are more attractive to the entertainment industry. Too bad we may all have to buy Windows to listen to music.
    • So we have to find semi-honest politicians... Which is near-hopeless.

      Well duh!
      LOL

      -
    • It is absolutely not true that everyone who knows about the DMCA dislikes it. It completely depends on who's telling them about it. As a picketer on the streets I was able to convince 95% of the people I talked to that the DMCA is a bad thing. But I'm sure if I was pro-MPAA, I could have done exactly the opposite.

      This is a complex enough issue that the great majority of people don't know enough to form a confident opinion and therefore can be easily swayed by whomever is telling the story (unlike a more clear cut issue, such as abortion).

      This is the same problem with most of these technical issues, the average man in the street doesn't understand enough to be a good judge, or juror. This apparently applies to many politicians as well.

    • Media companies are very very large, and, as a result, have an enormous financial intrest in Washington.

      They aren't nearly as large as the hardware manufacturers and the telecom and ISP industries (which stand to lose BIG TIME if the Internet and PCs are neutered). The ITAA [itaa.org] is on our side on this issue - and they represent FAR more money than the RIAA [senate.gov] and MPAA [uscourts.gov] combined.

  • DMCA is worthless (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Iberian (533067)
    All that this will do is stop a few of those who lack computer literacy the ability to copy their cd's to their hard drive. It is obvious that any sort of protection will be overiden by the technological elite from either America or somewhere else in the world. With the growing use and increased user friendliness of computers anyone who is smart enough to rip a cd will be able to find the crack online.
  • "such as reading an encrypted e-book on another computer" - or in a OS not that don't have a sanctioned reader...

    other fair use: backup. I still remember when software used to come in floppy disks and CD-ROM was just a rich boy gadget. most of the software came with a cluse in the EULA stating that it was ok to make copies of the floppies and install the software from the copies, in order to protect the original disks from being damaged. ahhh the god ol times...
  • Out of interest... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 26199 (577806)

    Has anyone ever had an audio/data CD stop working on them? I haven't... and certainly have never felt the need to back them up.

    So is this 'right to back up' as in 'right to copy and give to all my friends'? Or is it 'right to back up' as in, 'we will not be controlled to that extent'?

    I can agree with the second... the DMCA goes too far... but the first, well... get over it, you can't expect to get everything for free...

    And remember, the important things in life are free.

    • by chacha (166659)
      1. Instead of hauling CD's back and forth between home, car, and work, I can make an extra copy to leave in my car if I so choose.

      2. My apartment was broken into last year, and the thugs took my roommate's entire CD collection, including some albums that she will probably never be able to replace. You better believe I started making back-up copies of my CD's after that happened.

      3. I've copied tracks on to my computer so I can just play them without having to get the CD out.

      I, for one, actually OWN a legitimate copy of every CD I have. That doesn't mean I don't need or want an extra copy for myself. Not everyone who is against copy-protection is stealing music, which is what lovely folks like the RIAA seem to forget.
      • I, for one, actually OWN a legitimate copy of every CD I have. That doesn't mean I don't need or want an extra copy for myself. Not everyone who is against copy-protection is stealing music, which is what lovely folks like the RIAA seem to forget.

        no, the RIAA did not forget. You are just "collateral damage," they have no problems screwing you over in order to (try to) defeat the average college student with 10 gigs of mp3z. Sort of a "collective punishment" scheme.

        it's important to fully understand their position in order to fight it.
        • by Steve B (42864)
          no, the RIAA did not forget. You are just "collateral damage," they have no problems screwing you over in order to (try to) defeat the average college student with 10 gigs of mp3z. Sort of a "collective punishment" scheme.

          You're cutting them slack they don't deserve. They want you to have to buy an extra copy if the first one is damaged/stolen/whatever. If this were not the case, they would replace first copies at cost when presented with proof of original purchase.

    • I've had a number, mainly due to a bad CD drive that did annoying things when presented with SafeDisc copy protection (ironic, isn't it?) My copy of dungeon keeper 2 is now useless and I'll have to buy a new one at some point. My Diablo 2 CD has a nasty scratch right in the middle of d2music.mpq, resulting in all kinds of problems. The rest of my games I have made backup copies of, and I also download noCD cracks for them so I can leave the original CDs alone - a fully legitimate usage of noCD cracks, yet they are a violation of the DMCA.
    • Well, actually, the first thing I do when I buy a CD is to immediately rip it to high-quality Ogg/Vorbis. Since I do not have a stereo, but I do have a reasonable quality Philips sound system on my PC, and I like making themed playlists, I would definitely be affected by any laws that would take away my rights to make personal copies, whether directly or indirectly.

      Thats one of the reasons why Im willing to fight the European Union Copyright Directive, as I dont laws like the DMCA enacted in my home country (The Netherlands, in case anyone wants to know).

      Mart

  • by RandomPeon (230002) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:46AM (#3476366) Journal
    In the US of A, it is perfectly legal for any American to purchase any politician. You don't need to be from Virgina to contribute [boucherforcongress.com] to Mr. Boucher's reelection efforts. I'm sure certain [riaa.org] nefarious [mpaa.org] organizations [bsa.org] will fund his opponents. Do your part and keep this guy from getting crushed for standing up to legalized racketeering.
    • by Rinikusu (28164) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @09:14AM (#3476513)
      My question is, why haven't we done this already? Why don't we have a political action group? For example, Senator Hollings is in SC. Even though we may not be from SC, we can sure be pissed off at what he does. So, why don't we start a group that targets Sen. Hollings and contributes to his opponent's campaigns, media campaigns, etc, to educate HIS constituency of the things he's doing to screw EVERYONE over? What's to stop someone from buying up billboard space in downtown Charleston, SC and putting up ads that read "Sen. Hollings thinks YOU are a criminal" with maybe a link to a website with a rational, well reasoned point by point explanation of the son-of-SSSCA (forgot the new version) and why that means the consumer is a criminal. And Etc. We may be few across the states, but together, we may get people out of office and then Congress will realize that they, once again, serve the PEOPLE, not corporate "interests". Think of it as concentrated firepower, m'kay?

      • What's to stop someone from buying up billboard space in downtown Charleston, SC and putting up ads that read "Sen. Hollings thinks YOU are a criminal" with maybe a
        link to a website with a rational, well reasoned point by point explanation of the son-of-SSSCA (forgot the new version) and why that means the consumer is a criminal.

        Dude! You can't click on a billboard.

      • Rinikusu said
        My question is, why haven't we done this already?
        It has been my observation that while there is a lot of collective angst on the internet and on Slashdot, very little of that energy is turned into a productive solution. People feel too powerless to affect the giant political machine of the United States -- and who could blame them? Any time that I have written to my senators, it has changed nothing. Any time that I have spoken up even in local government, it has changed nothing. It could be that it's because I live in a region dominated by conservatives, but even so I would hope that reason (MY reason.. heh) would win out. Maybe the majority does want a draconian government to rule them with an iron fist...

        </pessimism>

        I guess we keep trying, though.

        -Sou|cuttr
        • I guess we keep trying, though.

          That's all you can be doing. Valenti has been lobbying [mpaa.org], with cash money, for over 100 years (or at least he looks like it). To think that something will change without consistent concerted action is the dream of a junkie. Stay firm, keep working, and never, ever, ever give up.

          It's the only way to win.

      • What's to stop someone from buying up billboard space in downtown Charleston, SC and putting up ads that read "Sen. Hollings thinks YOU are a criminal"...

        If it's within 30 days of a primary or within 60 days of a general election, the new Campaign Finance Reform [freedomforum.org] law stops you.

        (Sorry for the hijack--actually I think a "GeekPAC" would be a good idea--but this hit on one of my pet peeves. The good news is that First Amendment challenges to the law are already being mounted.)

      • My question is, why haven't we done this already? Why don't we have a political action group?

        Check out GeekPac [thelinuxshow.com].

      • In the US of A, it is perfectly legal for any American to purchase any politician. You don't need to be from Virgina to contribute

      But US of A laws like the DMCA and it's hellspawn children have international impacts (under the Berne Convention [cornell.edu], and in the ways they effect provision of content coming out of the US of A). Given that, it's highly frustrating that "Corporate contributions or contributions from foreign nationals are prohibited by law.". All I want to do is to give the guy some money, anonymously. Would that hurt so very much?

  • Now you can see why GWB and his ilk are lobbying to make human cloning illegal. If it were to be legal, Rep. Boucher would be the first one I'd want cloned... about 435 times (one per seat in the U.S. House Of Representatives).

    Seriously, this guy has more of a clue than half my coworkers. And I'm a software engineer.
  • by Exedore (223159) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:51AM (#3476389)

    I'm not yet daring to hope that anything substantive comes out of this, but anything that helps draw more attention to the injustices of the DMCA has my full approval. It seems that whenever I mention this law to non-tech friends I get blank stares. Maybe they think that "DMCA" is one of the Beastie Boys [virtualave.net] or something, I dunno.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say, "Go git 'em, Ricky! Sic 'em up, boah!"

  • Hopefully this will get enough press that we will all know just when Rep. Boucher will be moving against the DMCA, so that the rest of the Senate hears the voice of support for Rep. Boucher at once. All the webmasters in the techie world should remember to keep an eye one this one and post regular updates, our best hope here is to stay united.
  • What is fair use though? How far does fair use extend and where do it limits end? That seems to one part of the problem, because there is no rule of thumb of what constitutes fair use. In seems to be in the same boat as justice, in that it's definitely a good thing to have but its a loose principle so there is no concrete definition to determine what is just and what isn't.

    Looking on the Internet there are plenty of documents (example 1 [utsystem.edu], example 2 [stanford.edu]) that define fair use in academia, but are they such definitions in regards to personal use?
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @09:31AM (#3476635) Homepage
    That'd be a huge mistake. Laws last longer than technologies do. There will come a time when "CD" is extremely primitive and inefficient. Meanwhile, the rest of the law remains in place?

    It would be amazing to see "Fair Use" in the law books instead of being merely a part of court precedence though.

    It's time to flood congress with intelligent opinions. I think this political activism thing is actually working for us. I think even politicians WANT to do the right thing if only they people they represent show they care and are watching.
  • by GypC (7592)

    Now that we have the librarians on our side we are unstoppable!

    But seriously, librarians are well educated and man do they know how to research. They are valuable allies for any cause...

    • by hyphz (179185)
      Better than any of those, libraries have the most amazing reputation with the public possible.

      Do something that hurts pirates (or can be framed as hurting pirates)? Folks cheer. Do something that hurts fair use? Folks go, "'Wha?". Do something that hurts computer wizards? Folks ignore it. But do something that hurts LIBRARIES? Pitchforks at dawn.

      There have been articles I've seen before that stated that copyright mavens feared a confrontation with libraries because of their reputation...
  • When Rep Boucher's bill gets close to Congress, I'll actually send a letter, on paper, to my U.S. House representative indicating that this little grass root voter wholeheartedly supports Boucher's legislation and cares very much about this issue.

    I suggest you do [house.gov] the same. People that care enough to write a coherent letter get counted. However, it doesn't work quite like Slashdot, though. You won't get modded up to +5 Funny for sprinkling baby powder on the letter.

  • Young lawyers, there's no need to be down
    I said, young lawyers, pick yourself off the ground
    I said, young lawyers, cause your in a new town
    There's no need to be unhappy
    Young lawyers, there law where you can go
    I said, young lawyers, when you're short on your dough
    You can use that law, and I'm sure you'll find
    Many ways to sue a good time.
    Its fun to sue with the D.M.C.A
    Its fun to sue with the Dee-Em-See-A
    It has lots of legal cahces for lawyers to enjoy
    You can hang out with all the MPAA-boys
    Its fun to sue with the D.M.C.A
    Its fun to sue with the Dee-Em-See-A
    You can sue them till they're sucked clean
    You can, off their money, have a good meal
    You can sue them well whenever you feel
    Young lawyers, are you listening to me
    I said young lawyers, what do you want to be
    I said young lawyers, you can sue in your dreams
    but you've got to know this one thing
    No lawyers, does it all by himself
    I said young lawyers, put your put your pride on the shelf
    And just go there, to the D.M.C.A
    I'm sure the MPAA lawyers can help you today
    Its fun to sue with the D.M.C.A
    Its fun to sue with the Dee-Em-See-A
    It has everything for young lawyers to enjoy
    Lots of nice little legal toys
    Its fun to sue with the D.M.C.A
    Its fun to sue with the Dee-Em-See-A
    .
    .
    .

"Trust me. I know what I'm doing." -- Sledge Hammer

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