DMCA 2.0?

Whoever said that things couldn’t be any worse is probably eating his/her hat right now. CNET News is reporting that there are proposals to expand copyright restrictions on the DMCA.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Such additions would include coverage on devices or software that have the ability to circumvent copy protection (AKA DRM – Digital Rights Management), and willful copyright infringement.

Lamar Smith, a Republican politician, has introduced this piece of legislation on behalf of the Bush administration who wrote it. Not surprisingly, the RIAA also backs this legislation. Other people that back this legislation are the SIIA (Software and Information Industry Association) – whose board of directors include representatives of Symantec, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Intuit and Red Hat.

During a recent episode of TWiT, one of the hosts commented on how broad the legislation is, and how it could prove to be a chilling effect for end users as well as cause some problems for lawyers.

One part that is particularly interesting is the willfulness to commit copyright infringement. Even an attempt to “commit copyright infringement” could lead to the individual being behind bars for ten years. The question is, what qualifies an attempt? Would being in the progress of downloading copyrighted material qualify? Would performing a search qualify? Would talking about it qualify?

One might point out that if these new laws get put in place, Sony BMG would be able to legally pursue anyone that stated that the rootkit DRM opens up large security holes in consumers computers. While this may serve up as a chilling effect, one may wonder how any forms of spyware or adware would come into play with these potential new laws.

While Big Four record labels have gained a temporary step forward on these issues, the long term effects are already being widely debated. Some companies that operate under a Creative Commons licensing scheme have expressed optimism over the potential positive effects of the content they produce. One pointed out that as the large companies restrict their content, their content would enjoy a much more relaxed environment. He even goes further and mentions how companies with the most successful content protection schemes also went out of business while companies that had their products the most pirated are also the most successful. While there might not be any statistical backing to these comments, a simple search on a file-sharing network might just support that claim.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

1 Trackback or Pingback

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: