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CNN weighs in on DMCA issues

copyright protection or free speech problem?



11:58 pm on Apr 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The article uses the recent Google/Scientology/Xenu flap as a springboard to examine the issues in a broader context. With the headline: "Service providers as speech police?" CNN tips their hand on where they stand.

Though most removal requests are "within the realm of reason, ... a significant minority" misuse the provision, said Charles Kennedy, an Internet lawyer critical of the law. The copyright holder may never intend to follow through with a lawsuit, but decide to pressure service providers anyhow, he said.

Full CNN article [cnn.com]


9:54 am on Apr 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The DMCA can be a pretty rugged topic. The law is written in language that can be very hard to understand. People who tend to easily see conspiracies can get very worked up from second hand paraphrasing.

But something strange is going on here - and it's not just in the US. Similar laws are being proposed in many countries, all modeled after certain World Trade Oraganization (WTO) proposals.

The NY Times had a strongly worded article last summer concerning the now infamous arrest of Dmitri Sklyarov [nytimes.com], for circumventing Adobe's eBook algo.

Thus when the D.M.C.A. protects technology that in turn protects copyrighted material, it often protects much more broadly than copyright law does. It makes criminal what copyright law would forgive.

There is a reason that both CNN and the NY Times are wary of this law.

It's not only the stranglehold it may place on encryption research. It can be seen as an unacceptable limit on access to information. A step toward a dark day when the free libraries of the print age are replaced by "paid-only" access to the most important information.

CNet columnist Rick Boucher wrote a strong article in January this year. His title was "Time to Rewrite the DMCA [news.com.com]".

We need to rewrite the law for the benefit of society as a whole before all access to information is irreversibly controlled. In short, we need to reaffirm fair use.

A decade or so back, it was a cliche to say that information is wealth. I feel it's important to make sure that this newly recognized wealth - which digital technology makes so easily available - does not become hoarded and overly limited by the powers who already control so many other forms of wealth.

David Winer on ZDNet wrote his viewpoint of the recent Google-Scientology-Xenu flap [zrap.zdnet.com.com]:

We're getting the first real demo of a nightmarish scenario--a constitutional one, set up by the DMCA. And it looks like it's going to get much worse before it gets better.

A bill was introduced Thursday [March 21] in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Ernest Hollings and five other senators that would redesign all computers so that one of the two basic things they do is controlled by Congress.

I think there's some real important work here for tech professionals to take on. We must understand these laws and work to ensure that either they are sane, or they are changed. This is no time for an ostrich act.


2:39 pm on Apr 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I agree... and certainly this is the type of "legislation building" that those behind it hope those affected by it, wait too long to notice the implications to effectively lobby for reason.

This should be taken as a very serious wakeup call....


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