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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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RE: :p
By fic2 on 3/7/2007 7:04:24 PM , Rating: 3
Totally agree. If they ran book publishing you would have to buy a book to read at home, the same book to read on the subway/bus on the way to work, another copy to read at lunch, etc. And once you were finished with that "one" book you couldn't give or sale it to someone else to read.


RE: :p
By BladeVenom on 3/7/2007 8:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
And they would cost 10 times as much. Papers expensive, but paperbacks are cheap. Blank CDs are cheap, but music CDs are expensive.


RE: :p
By derwin on 3/7/2007 11:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
The thing I've gotta say about that is that a paperback book by John Steinbeck or a Shakspear play are worth probably far more than just 9 bucks, just like a great CD. I wouldn't mind paying 10 bucks (or 12 bucks, for 15, whatever you usually pay, but ten is easy to type when tired) for a Pearl Jam cd, or 10 bucks for any other great band's cd. I do mind however when a band like say The Strokes or The Backstreet Boys put out a CD and try to charge me 10 bucks for (not that I would buy either, but irreivant). What I am saying is that it is hard to justify paying 10 dollars for a piece of media worth maybe 10 cents if we obviously are not paying based on the quality of the music, just the mere fact that there is music on the media. By some people's logic, it could just be "Pip farting on a snare drum," and it would still show up in Best Buy for 10 bucks.
If you examine the correlation here, there is a zero correlation between CD price and quality of music, and a near 1 to 1 correlation between the fact that music produced by the Record Industry is on a CD and the price of it.


RE: :p
By PitViper007 on 3/8/2007 8:48:26 AM , Rating: 2
While I agree in principle with what you are saying, there is a little point to be made. What you consider "worth" the "10 bucks" to you, may not be to someone else and vice versa.

PitViper


RE: :p
By iNGEN on 3/8/2007 12:16:08 PM , Rating: 2
You are trying to account for taste. Which, as Justice Scalia put it, "That is not law. That is politics-smuggled-into-law."


RE: :p
By fic2 on 3/8/2007 12:49:59 PM , Rating: 3
What I find annoying is that CDs from 10/20/30 years ago are still $10 and usually more. I would probably rebuy the vinyl albums that I have as a CD if I could get them for something like $3-5. Why can I buy a movie that that has been out on DVD for 3 years for $5 but I can't buy a CD that has been out for 30 years for less than $10?


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