Tuesday, April 18, 2006
  Not against pirates, but against consumers, scientists, and legitimate competitors
Electronic Frontier Foundation reports on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
[Download a PDF of the EFF Report- 262K]

EFF ("DMCA") Report - Executive Summary:

Since they were enacted in 1998, the "anti-circumvention" provisions ofthe Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"), codified in section 1201of the Copyright Act, have not been used as Congress envisioned.Congress meant to stop copyright infringers from defeating anti-piracyprotections added to copyrighted works and to ban the "black box"devices intended for that purpose. 1

In practice, the anti-circumvention provisions have been used to stiflea wide array of legitimate activities, rather than to stop copyrightinfringement. As a result, the DMCA has developed into a serious threatto several important public policy priorities:

The DMCA Chills Free Expression and Scientific Research.
Experiencewith section 1201 demonstrates that it is being used to stifle freespeech and scientific research. The lawsuit against 2600 magazine,threats against Princeton Professor Edward Felten's team ofresearchers, and prosecution of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov havechilled the legitimate activities of journalists, publishers,scientists, students, programmers, and members of the public.

The DMCA Jeopardizes Fair Use.
By banning all acts of circumvention, and all technologies and toolsthat can be used for circumvention, the DMCA grants to copyright ownersthe power to unilaterally eliminate the public's fair use rights.Already, the movie industry's use of encryption on DVDs has curtailedconsumers' ability to make legitimate, personal-use copies of moviesthey have purchased.

The DMCA Impedes Competition and Innovation.
Rather than focusing on pirates, many copyright owners have wielded theDMCA to hinder their legitimate competitors. For example, the DMCA hasbeen used to block aftermarket competition in laser printer tonercartridges, garage door openers, and computer maintenance services.Similarly, Apple invoked the DMCA to chill RealNetworks' efforts tosell music downloads to iPod owners.

The DMCA Interferes with Computer Intrusion Laws.
Further,the DMCA has been misused as a general-purpose prohibition on computernetwork access which, unlike most computer intrusion statutes, lacksany financial harm threshold. As a result, a disgruntled employer hasused the DMCA against a former contractor for simply connecting to thecompany's computer system through a VPN.

About the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) :

Since its founding in 1990, EFF has consistently taken critical cases,challenged tough opponents, and achieved landmark victories. EFF hasprevailed in lawsuits against the federal government, the FCC, theworld's largest entertainment companies, and major electronicscompanies, among others. EFF has also beaten bills in Congress andpressured companies to respect your rights.

Read More on the EFF :
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