Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Son of DMCA

OK, this is going to get geeky. You've been warned...

Most people who aren't technogeeks for a living (or a hobby) have never heard of the Digital millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Sold to the 18 people in the US that paid any attention to it as an update to our copyright laws to cover new digitally-created media, it turned out to be a huge giveaway to groups like the MPAA and the RIAA (double *spit*). Not only did it make it illegal to steal digital movies and digital music (ignoring the fact that it was already illegal), it made it illegal to even have "tools" that could be used for this.

It's also been misused to squelch competition by companies such as Adobe and Lexmark, as well as a tool by all sorts of companies to squelch news of which they don't approve.

Basically, the DMCA is just Bad. (If you want more details than I've got time to write about, check here.)

Anti-DMCA forces have worked for years to get the worst parts of the DMCA "fixed". Congress, however, has apparently decided that us proles haven't been screwed over sufficiently the DMCA isn't strong enough and it needs to be strengthened. News.com reports that they are readying the Son of DMCA, which will create classes of forbidden software, expand federal wiretapping, make it a crime to even try to break any copy-protection scheme for any reason (as a bonus, it's a federal felony) and create civil asset forfeiture penalties for any equipment used to violate the law.

Don't get me wrong. I don't advocate theft. However, theft of music, movies or any other digital property was illegal even before DMCA. What is happening is that the big media companies and their pressure groups, who by the way donate big money to politicians, are being given carte blanc to go after anyone and everyone they believe might even be considering violating a copy right.

Don't forget, these are the people that tried to have VCRs made illegal and the mindset that lead to the Sony rootkit fiasco of a few months ago. Oh yeah, and they don't believe in the "fair use" doctrine, either.

But it'll be OK. They do believe in price-fixing.
Edit: In one of those weird events of synchronicity, Jennifer Granick has an interesting article on a closely related topic that touches on things like the DMCA. And the Freeholder may have a new magazine to subscribe to.)

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