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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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In case anybody else was wondering...
By slashbinslashbash on 3/7/2007 10:10:57 PM , Rating: 2
Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va.

DT, take note!

RE: In case anybody else was wondering...
By Spivonious on 3/8/2007 11:03:33 AM , Rating: 2
I was about to say something. Isn't what slashbinslashbash said the proper way to refer to a Congressman in a news article?

By KristopherKubicki on 3/8/2007 3:19:23 PM , Rating: 2
Party affiliation has strict guidelines in the AP styleguide -- though when to use them is not as strict.

DT is not a political site, and I generally try not to introduce material that raises bipartisan discussion.

RE: In case anybody else was wondering...
By Hawkido on 3/9/2007 11:53:03 AM , Rating: 2
I am glad you also posted Boucher's other pet bills.

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

Because the way Congress works is he will put this bill up and tack the other 2 on with it. Net Neutrality is a double edged sword. I will have to read up on U.S. Patent Reform.

If this does become a bill we will need to read it carefully to see how many Trojans get in the Wooden Horse, so we will know if we want it in the gates.

Man, am I ready for Line Item Veto; or, if you fear the Line Item Veto is too much Presidential Power, Single Purpose Bill Legislation, which would limit the number of topics that Congress can put on a bill to a narrow field of legislation.

By darkpaw on 3/9/2007 3:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
Single purpose bills would be the best thing they could ever do to actually get government moving. The number of amendments that get tacked on to any given bill today is insane, and in the end nothing gets done because enough people will object to something about anything.

Sadly, as long as the money keeps flowing in to accomplish nothing, our political process will not change.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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