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Excessive restrictions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act may be a thing of the past if U.S. Representative Rick Boucher has his way

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is making its stance very clear on digital copying: Allowing users to make copies would "legalize hacking," it says. However, a new bill in the U.S. Congress aims to allow consumers to copy and safely play digital material that they legally own, and to protect user rights for consumers of copyright material. The bill also aims to protect fair use in hardware devices, which The RIAA is strongly against as of this moment.

Under the Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship (FAIR USE) Act, users will be allowed to copy material they own, but will also be granted exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. According to the FAIR USE Act, consumers will be allowed to make limited copies of copyrighted material for personal purposes as well as for reviews, news reporting and education. Additionally, manufacturers and service providers will not be held accountable for what customers do with their devices and services.

"The fair use doctrine is threatened today as never before," said U.S. Representative Rick Boucher. "Historically, the nation's copyright laws have reflected a carefully calibrated balanced between the rights of copyright owners and the rights of the users of copyrighted material. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) dramatically tilted the copyright balance toward complete copyright protection at the expense of the public's right to fair use," Boucher added.

A snippet from the FAIR USE doctrine reads (PDF):
The court shall remit statutory damages for secondary infringement, except in a case in which the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that the act or acts constituting such secondary infringement were done under circumstances in which no reasonable person could have believed such conduct to be lawful.
The RIAA has already shown its disdain for the proposed bill.  "The difference between hacking done for non-infringing purposes and hacking done to steal is impossible to determine and enforce," said the RIAA in a statement.

Late last year, Congress previously ruled that users are no longer allowed to rip DVD movies to their iPods, even if they own the movies legally. What the RIAA emphasizes is that some manufacturers may be creating devices that are intentionally easy to hack, circumventing the onboard protection measures, so that the "feature" may be attractive to end users.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which has stood against the RIAA in many cases, the FAIR USE Act would help consumers who are being sued for wrong doing when they have not committed any crime. "The bill would loosen the grip of the DMCA, which restricts circumvention of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions even for lawful uses," said the EFF in a statement.

Since its implementation several years ago, the DMCA has been viewed by many as being too restrictive, both on consumers and on manufacturers. Many compare their current collection of DVD movies and music CDs to their old video and audio cassettes. Copying and making backups were normal everyday practices that millions did. The RIAA's stance is that digital copying has significantly impacted music sales in a negative way. Research proved that the RIAA was making unfounded claims -- while sales of actual physical CDs dropped, overall sales of music has risen tremendously.

Boucher is also an advocate of Net Neutrality and U.S. patent reform.

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Don't hold your breath ...
By Ajax9000 on 3/7/2007 6:25:24 PM , Rating: 4
That one congressperson is thinking reasonably is wonderful.

That lobby groups will persuade congress as a whole to kill this is pretty much a given. :-(

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By AMDfreak on 3/7/2007 7:02:29 PM , Rating: 5
We have the power to not let that happen (ideally). Every single person that agrees with the FAIR USE Act should tell their Representative. Send an e-mail, write a letter, make a phone call, then tell your friends to do the same. If enough of us do it, then maybe they'll see just how fed up people are with the DMCA.

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By Polynikes on 3/8/2007 11:17:28 AM , Rating: 4
See, theoretically that's the way it should work. Sadly, most people are too lazy to bother contacting reps in government. Plus, there's the chance a lot of them just plain won't listen. I can't even get a response from a state legislator. I'm sure the boys at the federal level care even less.

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By umerok on 3/9/2007 11:44:34 AM , Rating: 2
It depends on your state. One of California's Senators, Dianne Feinstein, actually sent me something back when I contacted her about Net Neutrality. Even though she's against it, she still took the time to formulate a response, which counts for a lot in my book.

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By glennpratt on 3/10/2007 1:36:15 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting. Every time I've written a letter (or even form letter from the internet to my reps (I'm in Texas) I've gotten a response. While I'm sure some/most are form letters, at least I know someone formulated a response.

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By Gatt on 3/7/2007 7:07:58 PM , Rating: 1

The comprimise is going to be the ban of P2P software that allows a user to upload anything he wants.

That's the root of the problem anyways, no one cares if people make copies for themselves, no one cares if people make a copy or two for friends. The issue is (On some sites) hundreds of thousands of downloads from one copy.

It's really not a question of if, it's a question of when it'll happen.

But this will pass, especially with election years coming up.

By Soviet Robot on 3/7/2007 9:51:27 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, if the RIAA and MPAA had the ability to catch everyone who made a legal backup copy of a cd/movie they own or made a copy for a friend, we would all be sued.

By Lazarus Dark on 3/8/2007 12:05:30 PM , Rating: 2
The riaa would arrest your newborn child if they could just for the potential that it may rip a dvd in fifteen years to the gen12 ipod.

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By NoSoftwarePatents on 3/7/2007 7:45:37 PM , Rating: 2
It won't fly-while I would support such a thing, most of the friends I have don't care about consumer rights, and couldn't be bothered into writing/calling a senator. Most of my friends are non-technical, which helps to explain this a little.

Until you have some event that sinks deeply into the mind of the AVERAGE person where they can see the issue affecting them personally, don't expect much of a response from the voting masses. The only hope is if content companies are forced to fight other companies, but in the case of the DMCA, there was support from content providers and non-content providers like Microsoft along with lots of senators and including former president Bill Clinton.

Blizzard Entertainment loves the DMCA, for example and will use it anytime and any way they can, like many companies do-even if it is technically not correct (like using the DMCA to try to silence a critic). All those millions of people who play WOW, are basically supporting a company that likes the DMCA and they'll use some of that cash to keep their wishes the corporation speaks while the voters do not, nor care.

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By Zelvek on 3/7/2007 11:04:16 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunaly that is very true so I say that those of you who do care should instead write a letter with a patition then get your friends to sign and send it off to your rep. Or print out multipule copies of the letter and get your friends to sign those and send them out.

PS I say those of you who care because I am a Canadian and so cannot do anything to sway your congressmen. But I do care because laws like this affect other countries as well. Groups similar to the RIAA use laws like the DMCA to help convince their countries government to pass stupid laws like the DMCA. Therefore a law like this would reduce how convincing they are.

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By jconan on 3/8/2007 12:07:21 AM , Rating: 2
2nd that. Everyone who cares should call or have their friends call in to their Congressman and ask them to support this bill. Isn't this is what freedom is about.

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By dgingeri on 3/8/2007 1:33:07 PM , Rating: 1
How is Blizzard using the DMCA at all? I have seen no evidence at all of this. Some details are all I ask for.

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By dgingeri on 3/8/2007 6:23:17 PM , Rating: 2
no reply, Zelvek? You have no details on this?

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By Zelvek on 3/8/2007 8:10:13 PM , Rating: 2
No and seeing as how it was NoSoftwarePatents and not I who said those comments about blizzard I fail to see as to why I should have any sort of response?

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By NoSoftwarePatents on 3/8/2007 11:08:52 PM , Rating: 2
Here ya go!

(this is the "resolution" to the above link)

Just google "Blizzard DMCA" and you'll see how much they love it. Note-Blizzard Entertainment is one of the few ESA members who actively uses the DMCA, so this is pretty specific to Blizzard Entertainment.

NOTE-I do not play, legally or illegally World Of Warcraft and have no interest in it (yes I have seen it, and I have friends who play it-often). After the BNETD incident, I quit buying their stuff as a form of personal protest. THE FROZEN THRONE is the very last purchase I will ever make from them...

RE: Don't hold your breath ...
By theslug on 3/10/2007 1:41:22 PM , Rating: 2
How about basing your purchasing decisions on the quality of the software instead?

I don't see any wrong-doing. In that first link, it sounds like they had a valid reason for suing.

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