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Big media wants bills for more punitive enforcement, new media, internet firms, and activists fight back

Many senior justices complain the copyright system in the U.S. is "broken", with the law struggling to deal with a new digital reality in which information is more easily shared.  

Software copyright is often used (or abused) to try to prevent customers from modifying (jailbreaking) devices they legally own -- actions that violate provisions of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) [PDF], which modified Title 17 of the U.S. Code.  Another topic of controversy is backup copies.  Industry officials argue that the DMCA is explicit -- no backups are allowed -- and insist customers should simply repurchase content if their physical media is damaged.  Copyright law has also been at time abused to take down legitimate websites, sometimes even as an anticompetitive tactic by rivals.

U.S. Copyright Office chief Maria Pallante called on "Congress to once again think big" and enact copyright reform, crafting "the next great copyright act."

Congress building
Congress is taking up copyright reform -- but which way will its reforms go is the pressing question. [Image Source: U.S. Congress]

At a celebration of World Intellectual Property Day at the Library of CongressU.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (D-Virg.) called on his House colleagues to heed the call, remarking:

The Internet has enabled copyright owners to make available their works to consumers around the world, but has also enabled others to do so without any compensation for copyright owners. Efforts to digitize our history so that all have access to it face questions about copyright ownership by those who are hard, if not impossible, to locate. There are concerns about statutory license and damage mechanisms.

Federal judges are forced to make decisions using laws that are difficult to apply today. Even the Copyright Office itself faces challenges in meeting the growing needs of its customers - the American public. ... The goal of these hearings will be to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age.

This may be a case of being careful what you wish for.  Big media has paid a tremendous amount of campaign donations to members of Congress.  For example, between 2005 and 2011 large media interests paid members of the U.S. Senate $86M USD -- roughly a tenth of all their campaign costs.

Bribe under table
Big media is slipping Congress loads of cash in hopes of more punitive copyright policy.
[Image Source: i-Sight]

Thus any copyright reform may come in the direction of furthering big media's dream goals, such as instituting stiff penalties for customers who use software to crack digital rights management and burn backup copies.  This is certainly one debate to watch closely in coming months.

As for Rep. Goodlatte, it's hard to tell where his interests lies.  He's received large donations from Google Inc. (GOOG) and Pandora Media Inc. (P) on one side of the fence, and from Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) on the other side of the fence [source].  Thus he may be about as close to an unbiased party as you get in Congress these days, given that the special interest payouts (may) have balanced each other out.

Source: U.S. House Judiciary Committee

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By Ammohunt on 4/25/2013 11:26:10 AM , Rating: 2
Copyright owners really need to do some serious market research to get in touch with the consumers of their products. Examples such as Game of Thrones where HBO was happy to keep it an exclusive subscriber only to have is be the most pirated show in history. I feel the only reason it turned up on iTunes for the second season what because of that stigma and not because HBO had any modern idea of its market.

EA and giant entertainment software companies still refuse to believe their consumers do not want DRM Simcity anyone? There is also price point; $60 a game invites pirates or excludes a huge segment of casual gamers. Services such as Stem have proven that good games at an affordable price ~$30 builds market share and builds return customers and actually i feel discourages piracy i.e. why pirate a $10 game?. It also allows older copyright material to be re-monetized cheaply creating side revenue streams which ultimately can result in taking the stress off of always having to deliver a big named title.

RE: Fools
By HoosierEngineer5 on 4/25/2013 11:55:59 AM , Rating: 1
I won't allow any company to tell me if/when I can use any 'licenced' content I have purchased. In the last few years, I have purchased all my games from

I have had WAY too many problems with companies' DRM getting in the way of being able to use the content (that includes you, Valve). It's just not worth it to me.

RE: Fools
By bug77 on 4/25/2013 12:26:15 PM , Rating: 2
Eh, big media makes tons of money while they are allowed to control distribution. From their point of view, there's no reason to relinquish that control. The most profitable course of action is to maintain the status quo. And they're a business, not a charity, so...

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