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Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA)

Passed in 1998.

In 1998, Congress passed and the president signed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which it claims updates copyright laws to address the realities of digital technology. Among other things, it criminalized the creation, sharing, or selling of any technology that can be used to defeat copy protection technology. CBDTPA goes even further, but there are many problems with DMCA as well.

Several cases have tested this aspect of the DMCA. Edward Felton was threatened with legal action if he released academic research pointing out problems with music-protection technology that is under development. 2600 magazine has been prevented from linking to source code for software (called deCSS) that breaks the CSS encryption of DVDs, but which also enables one to play a DVD under the Linux operating system. Finally, a Russian programmer, Dmitri Skylarov, was arested, and his company, Elcomsoft, is being prosecuted, for creating and distributing software to decrypt eBook files, enabling them to be copied and played on devices that don't support the encrypted format.

Another recent development related to DMCA implementation, the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP), a body appointed by the Library of Congress/U.S. Copyright Office, issued a set of recommendations for implementing mechanical royalties for streaming music over the Internet. Besides making it twice as expensive to stream music if you don't also have an over-the-air station, the new proposal seems to make it extremely difficult for a new business to break into internet radio. This will kill all the new and innovative net broadcasters, and preserve this new medium for existing radio stations, which is exactly the opposite of a policy that would encourage diversity of ideas and expression. Final rulemaking on this proposal is expected in May 2002.

Created by nbrigham
Last modified May 02, 2005 02:53 PM

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