[Linux-aus] [IP] Death by DMCA

Andrew Pam xanni at glasswings.com.au
Thu Jun 15 22:09:02 UTC 2006

IEEE Spectrum article - something else to show our politicians?


----- Forwarded message from David Farber <dave at farber.net> -----

From: David Farber <dave at farber.net>
Subject: [IP] Death by DMCA
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 07:09:14 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Monty Solomon <monty at roscom.com>
Date: June 13, 2006 11:51:34 PM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipient:;
Subject: Death by DMCA

Death by DMCA

By:  Fred von Lohmann and Wendy Seltzer
IEEE Spectrum
June 2006

A flood of legislation released by the passage of the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act threatens to drown whole classes of consumer electronics

In 1998, U.S. entertainment companies persuaded Congress to make dramatic
changes in its copyright code by passing the Digital Millennium Copyright
Act. The DMCA gave copyright holders new rights to control the way people
use copyrighted material and new protection for technologies designed
to restrict access or copying.  The movie and record companies argued
they needed these new restrictions to fight increased piracy threats in
the digital era.

In the eight years since the DMCA's passage, however, piracy has not
decreased, and hurdles to lawful uses of media have risen. The Motion
Picture Association (MPA), the international arm of the Motion Picture
Association of America (MPAA), estimated worldwide losses because of
piracy to be US $2.2 billion in 1997 and $3.5 billion annually in 2002,
2003, and 2004.

Meanwhile, entire consumer electronics categories have been wiped from
retail shelves. If three or four years ago you didn't buy a digital
video recorder that automatically skips commercials, you're out of luck;
that feature is not in such products today. Television executives
brought litigation that bankrupted the company offering DVRs with
these user-friendly features, because skipping commercials potentially
undermines their ability to sell commercial time.

You're likewise out of luck if you're looking to buy software that
lets you copy a DVD onto your laptop's hard drive; it's no longer for
sale, at least not in the United States. Even if you want to put the
movie you bought onto a pocket-size video and game console, such as
Sony's PlayStation Portable, which allows users to watch video stored
on flash memory or a miniature hard drive, you can't legally do so,
because you'd have to "rip," or decode, it to make the transfer-and the
studios claim that this action violates the DMCA.  When you rip a CD,
be it to an audiotape or an MP3 file, you're not breaking any laws. But
to rip a DVD you need to somehow get around the encryption technology
built into a standard disc, and since such circumvention is forbidden
by the DMCA, if you rip a DVD, you are breaking a law. Under the DMCA,
legality doesn't depend on how the copy will be used but rather on the
means by which the digital content is copied.

Now, in an even more vexing situation, U.S. entertainment companies are
successfully spreading the copyright code changes established by the DMCA
around the world. Laws similar to the DMCA now exist in Japan, Australia,
and much of Europe. At least nine additional countries, including Chile,
Guatemala, and Singapore have also been pressured to enact DMCA-like
laws as part of a devil's bargain with U.S. trade negotiators, who say
the copyright change is necessary to secure free trade pacts with the
United States that would govern all sorts of commerce. And in Europe,
the body charged with defining the European digital television standards
is mixing in content-protection obligations, responding yet again to
pressure from major U.S. movie studios.

Emboldened by their successes, U.S. entertainment companies are pushing
for another wave of even more restrictive legislation.  "Broadcast flag"
legislation could require that all consumer electronics devices recognize
protected television broadcasts and potentially refuse to copy them; a
so-called "radio flag" bill would prevent or restrict the manufacture of
hard disk recorders for digital radio; and an "analog hole" closure would
restrict the connections new digital devices can make with analog devices.

As the entertainment industry expands copyright law, the rising tide
threatens to completely wash away many types of innovative gadgets.



Archives at: http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/

----- End forwarded message -----

mailto:xanni at xanadu.net                         Andrew Pam
http://www.xanadu.com.au/                       Chief Scientist, Xanadu
http://www.glasswings.com.au/                   Partner, Glass Wings
http://www.sericyb.com.au/                      Manager, Serious Cybernetics

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