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US Register of Copyrights Says DMCA Is 'Working Fine'

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the i-feel-a-lot-better-now dept.

Patents 224

Linnen writes "CNET News.com writer Anne Broache reports that the head of the US Copyright Office considers the DCMA to be an important tool for copyright owners. '"I'm not ready to dump the anticircumvention," [Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters] said in response to a question from an audience member who suggested as much. "I think that's a really important part of our copyright owners' quiver of arrows to defend themselves." The law also requires that the Copyright Office meets periodically to decide whether it's necessary to specify narrow exemptions to the so-called anticircumvention rules. (Last year, the government decided it's lawful to unlock a cell phone's firmware for the purpose of switching carriers and to crack copy protection on audiovisual works to test for security flaws or vulnerabilities.)'"

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224 comments

Duh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659267)

If you don't like the product then don't buy it.

Damn, there's a bunch of fucking complainers on this website.

Re:Duh (2, Informative)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659285)

Allowing unfair products to exist in this way encourages producers to make more of the same - eventually created a market where you *must* buy the product, for all choices suffer from the same problem.

Re:Duh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659375)

this is a lie and everyone knows it. at least anyone with brains. if you produce a better product it will win out and you can abandon the old standards. if this isn't true than open source is destined to fail.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659435)

No YOU'RE lying! Nya!

Re:Duh (5, Insightful)

cHALiTO (101461) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659651)

If that was true, marketing would be completely pointless.

Re:Duh (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659665)

if you produce a better product it will win out

Tell that to the guy who designed Betamax.

Re:Duh (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659889)

eventually created a market where you *must* buy the product

Well, "must" might be going a bit far. I mean, we could all just live without music or movies. Of course, we could also live without the internet, computers, electricity, running water, houses, and civilization in general. A person could technically survive living in the woods, gathering berries from the local plant life and things like that... I guess.

On the other hand, I think you're right that people won't always be given the choice of a "better product". There are situations where it is simply not in the best interest of a company to produce a better product, particularly when a single entity (or several colluding entities) control a market.

Re:Duh (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659589)

Do you have any idea how many products are never going to be made because of that stupid law or how much more money you are paying for the limited number of products that are being sold? Then again maybe you another industry plant? I have to wonder about that now since it has come out the Media Defender is using plants on these sites to try to quell disent. They are paid to watch for negative posts and react as quickly as possibly with post designed to bury and weaken their efects.

Re:Duh (2, Funny)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660315)

Unfortunately, existence of the product will leave future artists open to copyright infringment suits in perpetuity as voodoo witch doctors hired by Hollywood resurrect Sonny Bono so he can extend the copyright term in perpetuity.

Your ability or interest in "buying" the "product" is relatively irrelevant.

Re:Duh (2, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660361)

Damn, there's a bunch of fucking complainers on this website.

Yeah, and a lot more complaining because they aren't fucking. Big deal.




Why are you here?

Re:Duh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20660693)

go fuck yourself fucking fucktard
 
go suck torvalds dick

Who do they work for? (3, Insightful)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659279)

Thought the copyright office was to serve the people not an individual? Granted an author should get special treatment on something he has created, but at DMCA is about limiting fair use on "the people". So no, it's not effective imho.

Its a lie (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659489)

Granted an author should get special treatment on something he has created

These days, authors usually don't retain the copyrights on their works. Their publishers get them.

I don't know if this is true of bookwriting, but it is true of music. Also, chemical/scientific patents of any form are usually held by a large corporation that provided funding, rather than the scientist/engineer who created it. The same goes for most non-open-source software. Also, the wealthy production companies wind up owning the copyrights on movies....not the actors, musicians, painters, stuntmen, scriptwriters etc.

So....in general...the talent doesn't own the work, but rather the investor owns the work. Hence, it is the investor that gets special treatment (which seems to amount to control over the private property (hardware) of millions of consumers across the globe) So these laws do not protect the workers so much as the large businesses that pay them.

It's just another case of the rule of the rich.

Re:Who do they work for? (2, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659495)

Why? Why should an author get special treatment? If I make a toaster, I have special treatment only over that toaster. If I sell it to someone else, I revoke all rights and privlidges to control what they do with their new toaster. There is no reason books, music, etc should be any different.

Re:Who do they work for? (4, Insightful)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659563)

I agree. My point was if you made the toaster, at least you and only you should have the right to make and sell those toasters. But once someone buys the toaster it is their property, if they want to take it apart, hit it with a hammer, or use it for spare parts then it's their option as a consumer.

As long as I've been following these stories, it all comes down to people not really selling you anything anymore but a very restrictive right to rent something.

Re:Who do they work for? (2, Insightful)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660309)

"Why? Why should an author get special treatment? If I make a toaster, I have special treatment only over that toaster. If I sell it to someone else, I revoke all rights and privlidges to control what they do with their new toaster. There is no reason books, music, etc should be any different."

They're really not any different. If I wanted to, before I sold you a toaster, I could first make you sign a contract stipulating that you won't open to toaster, or won't replicate the toaster's design, or pretty much any other limitation I wanted to impose.

The problem is, you might resell the toaster to someone else without telling them about this restrictive agreement. They might think they own the toaster free and clear when you don't actually have the right to sell them the toaster free and clear.

Copyright does not prohibit free and clear sales. If I want to sell you a book and include the right for you to write your own similar book or make copies of it, I can. And if you don't want to buy a book knowing that you have to agree not to make copies of it, you don't have to.

All copyright law does is protect innocent third parties. It prevents you from selling the book to someone, claiming they can do whatever they want with it, when you actually agreed not to copy it.

In other words, it simply sets the default agreement when I sell you a book differently from the default agreement when I sell you a toaster. But it doesn't make other arrangements impossible.

Arguing that there shouldn't be a copyright is simply arguing that there should be a different default agreement. There's never any answer to how you protect innocent third parties without copyright.

Re:Who do they work for? (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660815)

If the author gets no special treatment, what happens to the offices that are overseeing that special treatment? What happens to the officials who work at those offices?

They get canned, that's what happens. And they're going to act against that.

This is a great little interview, because it makes no effort to disguise the fact that these laws exist to provide weapons to be used against us all. It disarms any claim that the organization might put forth to be working for the common good, and that's a powerful thing.

It gets worse. (4, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659527)

From TFA:

"It does bring attention to certain activities that maybe aren't so great," said the self-proclaimed "Luddite," who confessed she doesn't even have a computer at home. "In hindsight, maybe that's not such a bad thing."

And this person is in charge of copyrights?

You know, there's a HUGE difference between a book and a DVD.

Re:It gets worse. (2, Funny)

BetaRelease (110550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660017)

It wouldn't surprise me if they made her head of the USPTO. :(

Re:It gets worse. (5, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660319)

You know, there's a HUGE difference between a book and a DVD.

You couldn't be more right. When you burn a book, nobody can read it. But when you burn a DVD, EVERYBODY can! :D

Re:It gets worse. (1)

Jehosephat2k (562701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660727)

Which means that, for DMCA proponents, that DVD Burning=BAD and Book Burning=GOOD! Welcome to Amerika!

Who do they work for?-The individual. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659659)

"Thought the copyright office was to serve the people not an individual"

There is no "The People". Society is made up of individuals and for society to work like our founders intended. An agreement was made up amongst those individuals that had the skill, talent, and time to create. The beneficiaries were to be those that didn't have, time, talent, or skill. Make note that the individual has to prosper before "The People" can prosper. Serving "The People" without serving the individuals first is backwards and defeating behavior.

stupid slashdot 'editors' (-1, Troll)

tyme (6621) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659287)

That should be Registrar of Copyrights, not Register of Copyrights.

do you userstand the meaning of the word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659637)

or the intent of the word reguardless of the mis-overlooked-spelling?

the answer: yes you do, the point got across

now shut the fuck up

Re:do you userstand the meaning of the word (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659891)

FUCK YOU IDIOT

Re:stupid slashdot 'editors' (4, Informative)

Guanix (16477) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659789)

"Registrar" would make more sense, but check out this provision [cornell.edu] of the copyright code (17 U.S.C. 701):

All administrative functions and duties under this title, except as otherwise specified, are the responsibility of the Register of Copyrights as director of the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. The Register of Copyrights, together with the subordinate officers and employees of the Copyright Office, shall be appointed by the Librarian of Congress, and shall act under the Librarian's general direction and supervision.
So it seems that the copyright act itself refers to her as the Register of Copyrights. The Oxford English Dictionary contains this use as "register, n. 2":

a. The keeper of a register; a REGISTRAR. (In common use c 1580-1800.)

Re:stupid slashdot 'editors' (1)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660055)

Register, as in putting money into the corporate cash registers, is a more appropriate in describing the current balance of power within the copyright system.

It's correct, the word meaning has changed. (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660871)

As someone else points out register is right [slashdot.org] .

If that was the only word from US law with a tortured meaning, we would all be in better shape. The purpose of new speak, as Orwell understood it is to make sure no one would ever understand the language of the Enlightenment and documents like the US bill of rights. Simple words like "cruel and unusual", "limited duration", "shall not be infringed", "speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury" and "make no law abridging the freedom of speech" are widely missunderstood even when they are remembered.

Out of touch with reality (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659299)

Demonstrates how appointed bureaucrats are out of touch with the people.

In A Democracy this should have never happend (-1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659429)

In a Democracy this shouldn't have happened or at least shouldn't be still in effect, if only we could have the "Free Software" party.... But seriously, whenever some common action is being illegal (unauthorized copying) it should be loosened or repealed. and those who say "No One Will Write Software If They Aren't Being Paid For It!!!" should look at Linux, cleaner code, less system requirements, and if there were no legal problems with some of it (MP3 and WMA playback and drivers) it would overtake Windows in a year or two. However as long as our "elected officials" turn a blind eye towards the general public and more for the small minority with all the money, this will continue.

Re:Out of touch with reality (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659583)

Demonstrates how appointed bureaucrats are out of touch with the people.
Out of touch with everything, more like it. The DMCA is not working just fine. It's made criminals out of people looking to do no more than use the content that they lawfully paid for with the device of their choosing that they also lawfully paid for.

DMCA takedown notices are being used as a harrasment tactic for otherwise lawful and free-speech protected Web sites by folks such as the Church of Scientology.

The DMCA has allowed printer manufacturers like Epson to lock out all competitors in the field of ink supplies.

And, it continues to be a tool used by the clueless morons over at the MAFIAA to strong arm computer illiterate grandmothers and small children.

What, exactly, constitutes 'working fine' in any of the above?

Re:Out of touch with reality (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660283)

well, using your example, the DMCA is "working fine" for the Church of Scientology, Epson, and the MAFIAA.

Ohh wow (2, Insightful)

Zelocka (1152505) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659311)

This is surprising how? The government lives to increase its power wealth and reach. DMCA was great as far as the copyright office is concerned. If anything they want more of it and a couple new government agencies to enforce it The only way the DMCA is going away is the supreme court or congress (super unlikely).

Re:Ohh wow (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659509)

I would argue that it works fine because the DMCA serves the media conglomerates to the detriment of all consumers.

Let's suspend the notion that there is an element of destruction in government for a few moments. It's a whole lot easier to have, at the bare minimum, a discussion about government and how it could possibly serve consumers.

Re:Ohh wow (1)

yoder (178161) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659571)

"The government lives to increase its power wealth and reach."

No, certain people within government do this. Coincidentally, there are also certain people within large corporations and industries who do the same.

Does he actually know what the Digital Millenium (2, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659411)

Harrasment Act is ?

either not, or he is paid well. by whom, you know.

DMCA is indeed working fine! (5, Insightful)

prxp (1023979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659415)

The assertion is absolutely correct. DMCA is working fine.
DMCA was designed to protect copyright, and it is protecting it.
The question we should be asking ourselves is whether or not copyright (the way it is righ now) is protecting public interest.

Re:DMCA is indeed working fine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659657)

"DMCA was designed to protect copyright, and it is protecting it."

And all those bogus DMCA take-down notices that YouTube gets are doing good job of protecting what?

Re:DMCA is indeed working fine! (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659689)

The assertion is absolutely correct. DMCA is working fine. DMCA was designed to protect copyright, and it is protecting it.

Oh, well that's good news. I thought there was still a ton of copyrighted material floating around the Internet. Silly me. Because that was part of my objection to the whole thing, that not only did it limit the ability of people use use copyrighted material, but also that it didn't really do much to prevent copyright infringement.

Re:DMCA is indeed working fine! (2, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659745)

Yes, a lot of people think that you must have your head up your ass to make a comment like that, which is absolutely untrue. Coming the from head of a department that is dedicated to copyright holders, the DMCA is a very good law. From the perspective of certain senile, song writing Utah senators, it should be obvious that the DMCA is a step in the wrong direction, a bandaid at best and a laughing stock to those from the other side.

Incorrect (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659953)

Incorrect in at least two respects:

First, the DMCA was designed not to protect copyrights, but to extend them... far beyond what was allowed by law before.

Second, it is not "working fine". I think most people agree that it has done a shitty job of "protecting" anything except Corporate interest in a defunct business model. Further, it has hurt the market, consumers, and industry in general. If you want to know how, see the "unintended consequences" report on the eff.org website.

Copyrights were established to encourage the arts and sciences, in order to further the public interest in these fields. Those are the words that were used when the laws were first established. Copyrights were allowed for a limited time, so that people would have an incentive to create original works. After that, the public gets them. But the main interest has always been that of the public! The problem was that the public could not just take what others created, because then individuals would have no reason to do the creating. Copyrights were a compromise.

Today, certain copyright laws exist in the interest of not the public, but of private interests who want to preserve those rights and profit from them forever. That is NOT in the interest of the public, and was NEVER the idea behind copyright or patent law. Until now.

The DMCA and similar laws passed since were always bad ideas. I would say that they have outlived their usefulness, but I think it is obvious now that they were never really "useful" to society in the first place.

Re:Incorrect (1)

prxp (1023979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660417)

Yeah, I'll give you that, I should've used "extend" instead of "protect". I stand by the rest.

Re:DMCA is indeed working fine! (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660185)

The DMCA does not protect copyrights, it simply expanded their scope to include things like copy restriction technologies. In fact, protecting copyrights with a law makes no sense anyway: copyrights are established by the law, and should be protected by the courts, as they were for decades before the DMCA was signed into law.

Re:DMCA is indeed working fine! (2, Interesting)

prxp (1023979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660489)

You're absolutely right. I should've used "extend" instead of "protect".

Re:DMCA is indeed working fine! (3, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660305)

You're sort-of right.

There is a clear admission here that DRM is allowing copyright holders to "protect" themselves from things they should not be allowed to claim as rights in the first place. Thus the exceptions in the anti-circumvention clauses. But aren't the exceptions themselves proof that something is broken? Should we have to "crack" a technological security measure to do something that the government has admitted we have the right to do?

This is a paradox that presents it self frequently with government regulations and mandates. It is often desirable for one reason or another (note: I said desirable, not "right", or even "a good idea"). Unfortunately if you mandate something, generally you should do some regulation to balance out the market changes you've created. Similarly, if you add a regulation, you may have to add a mandate to balance out the market. An example could be something like buying insurance. It's desirable to mandate people purchase insurance. Once the mandate is in place, the prices skyrocket without a regulation to keep prices in check.

The same is true for the DMCA, and copyright regulations. If you prevent people from bypassing technical limitations which protect copyright, you should have a corresponding mandate preventing copyright holders from using the technical limitation to claim other rights that they wouldn't normally have. In other words, people who implement DRM should be mandated to guarantee the public's rights just as it uses the technology to enforce theirs. It isn't enough to simply allow cracking in those cases. They should be forced to do things like have the protections expire when the copyright expires, and provide clear, documented methods for fair-use.

What's with the "linuxsucks" tag? (1)

padonak (687721) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659419)

What does this tag have to do with anything?
Is this a new crapflooding technique?
It seems to appear on some of the previous articles too...

Re:What's with the "linuxsucks" tag? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659833)

No, its just there because linux sucks.

Re:What's with the "linuxsucks" tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20660375)

'haha'

The True Legacy of the DMCA (5, Interesting)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659423)

I think that's a really important part of our copyright owners' quiver of arrows to defend themselves.

Yes, and they have been using those arrows to shoot consumers and researchers full of holes. Look at how the DMCA has been used in practice since its inception: suing makers of compatible garage door openers, suing manufacturers of printer ink cartridge refills, suing university researchers, and basically causing substantial legal hassles for anyone that the copyright holder doesn't like (most of the cases are eventually thrown out). Meanwhile there are still 1-2 dollar DVDs available at flea markets, bazaars, and on street corners just about everywhere, downloads are still going full tilt, and legitimate customers are being harassed while the commercial pirates are not even inconvenienced. The bottom line is that we, as a society, have paid a high cost for this DMCA without achieving any noticeable progress towards the goals that it was designed to address. The DMCA clauses which make reverse engineering illegal under any circumstance which is not specifically granted an exemption for fair use need to be repealed. The burden should be upon the copyright holder to prove that the specific instance of reverse engineering is being used to infringe their copyright, not upon the reverse engineer to prove that whatever they are doing is not infringement.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (5, Interesting)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659829)

A very passionate, and one sided view of the current situation. This is to be expected, because generally, you never hear the other side of the coin. The general 'internet view' is that copyright is evil, that the DMCA is only ever used by evil corporations owned by villains, and that the consumer is some mere innocent victim of evil corporate greed.

But this is *not* the whole story.

I'm a content creator. I make small downloadable PC games. Nothing big time or fancy, but it *just* pays the bills. Like anyone who produces content that can be representated digitally, I often encounter people pirating the stuff I make. When you work long hours for a year to make a game, and take your own cash and hire artists and other contractors to provide work for you, all 'on spec' hoping to one day make the investment back, finally produce some original content, and release it for sale (with a demo, a very liberal end user licence, and no intrusive DRM), and then you find some people deliberately copying the game and distributing it for free, you are NOT a happy man. Some of these people go out of their way to constantly reupload the pirated stuff, despite polite requests, and numerous attempts to get it removed. They actually go *out of their way* to try and wreck your business.
Like everyone, I have to pay the bills. I'm not a big evil corporate entity. If my games sell well, I can afford a holiday, If they don't, I'm not going anywhere, and fingers crossed, I can still pay the rent. Quite a few small software devs are in a similar position.
So how does the DMCA help?
The DMCA means that if I find someone sharing illegal copies of stuff, there is a well-understood and documented procedure to get that stuff removed. I've issued a number of DMCA requests, and they have mostly been successful (Don't kid yourselves the piratebay give a rats ass about content providers). I'd wager the *vast* majority of people who complain about abuse of the DMCA have never actually seen what's involved in issuing a takedown. I have to provide my real address, phone number and email address, identify a *specific* file that breaches, AND state that I am claiming that it infringes, knowingly on threat of perjury if I am wrong. This generally has to have a proper signature and be sent by fax. No anonymous web forms here.

You do not issue a DMCA request as a small time author unless you are damned sure that there is a clear-cut case of copyright infringement. Without the DMCA, it would be harder for me to get pirated content removed, and harder for upload sites and ISPS to verify I am the legit copyright owner. The DMCA simplifies and organises this process.
Have some big companies abused the DMCA? you bet they have. Does the fact that in a few cases the law has been abused and stretched to do bad stuff invalidate the whole basis of it? No way. The DMCA is absolutely necessary. People who file misleading DMCA takedowns should be prosecuted for it. And people who knowingly breach the DMCA by distributing other peoples work without permission deserve to be prosecuted too.
I will get modded down and flamed to death here at slashdot for giving the other side of the story. Nobody ever sticks their head above the parapet and challenges the idea that the DMCA is bad, but I feel it needs to be said. Unless you are an anarchist / communist who believes copyright should be abolished, then you have to accept that we need a law that spells out the way in which copyright can be enforced. It's not perfect, no law is, but right now, the DMCA is that law, and it's better than nothing. Most reasonable people who find that they agree that 99% of DMCA takedowns are entirely justified. The media, especially at slashot and digg and boingboing focuses 100% on that tiny abusive majority.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660025)

The problem isn't that the DMCA itself is entirely bad, it's just that even the good parts are abused.

For instance, I run a website that deals entirely with user-created content. It used to be that companies or individuals (Bobby Prince comes to mind) would threaten to sue us. Now, they have to fill out a DMCA takedown form.

Of course, we've all heard about Viacom and Youtube.

The real problem is that the DRM provisions were also added by the DMCA. DRM is very much anti-consumer.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660047)

I think you should have posted this in response to the "Has it Ever Worked? comment. Placing it here doesn't make sense, as you're talking about takedown notices and the parent comment was talking about the anti-circumvention clause.

Responding to "DMCA clause A is inherently bad and should be repealed" with "DMCA clause B is beneficial" is a non-sequitur at best.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660119)

The DMCA is a reasonably complex law that does a number of things. Some of them are largely good, like the takedown notice process with its liability shield for hosting companies. Some sites miss-implement this takedown procedure, but the procedure itself isn't too flawed overall. Other parts - like the anti-archival / anti-research thing are not socially acceptable at all.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (2, Informative)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660657)

don't get me wrong, using the DMCA to complain about people making backup copies, format shifting, using a song as a backing track in a youtube video, posting sheet music transcriptions you made yourself, re-printing song lyrics etc etc, is all totally and utterly mental, and I have no sympathy for companies that try to enforce that shit. In fact, they probably annoy me more than the average slashdotter, because as well as being evil and stupid, that sort of stuff paints all copyright holders to be assholes, and weakens the argument for a reasonable enforcement of copyright.
The DMCA is not perfect, and it's abused. It also does some good stuff, and nobody mentions that.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (3, Insightful)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660177)

> I will get modded down and flamed to death here at slashdot for giving the other side of the story.

Nice job, there's now a smouldering crater where that straw man used to be. As far as I know, the conventional wisdom on Slashdot isn't that copyright should be abolished completely, or made unduly hard to enforce. Many of us are copyright holders.

Speaking only for myself, I object to the DMCA because it lacks concrete provisions protecting fair use; academic analysis, review, parody, copying for backup, time-shifting, transfer to other media. I submit that a copyright law which lacks those provisions is deleterious to the public interest far out of proportion to how much it might benefit copyright holders like yourself, and that it should be scrapped altogether until such time as a suitable law can be adopted.

We might even have an interesting debate on that point, i/e the relative value to society of strict copyright versus fair use. But to characterize the landscape of this issue as "Support the DMCA or support widespread, bald-faced piracy" is disingenuous.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660273)

I had a look at your games, they look pretty interesting. But there's no unix version so they're useless to me. You'd probably sell more games if they were cross-platform.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660567)

I had a look at your games, they look pretty interesting. But there's no unix version so they're useless to me. You'd probably sell more games if they were cross-platform.

They don't even run under WINE, or at least not the one I tried a while ago.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660687)

Indeed. I stupidly wrote my own engine, rather than using a pre-made cross-platform one, and I'm used to it now. The games do slowly get ported to the mac at least.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660445)

IOW, are frightened by the idea of sending out a normal demand letter than any other citizen interested in protecting their interests against an adverse party is expected to do. You are so frightened by such a prospect that you think you need some over reaching draconian measure that tends to be abused in order to stifle fair use, reverse engineering and legitmate and useful university research.

Fortunately, your industry did fine fending for itself before the DMCA and game developers such as yourself.

You have more to fear from EA than some swapper kid.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660645)

You do not issue a DMCA request as a small time author unless you are damned sure that there is a clear-cut case of copyright infringement.

Or unless you're blatantly lying. Creation scientists have issued takedown notices to youtube to remove *public domain* videos about them. And they WERE removed. Protesters' accounts were cancelled.

DMCA simply means that whoever has the most money, wins.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (2, Informative)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660759)

all US laws amount to that. But the DMCA means that if you knowingly do this, you are basically in a clear cut case of perjury and can have the book thrown at you. That's a good thing. The DMCA specifically reads the riot act to people who issue false claims.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660741)

Unless you are an anarchist / communist who believes copyright should be abolished

It looks like you are using loaded language in a pejorative way, and inaccurately too.

If anything is "communist" in the copyright debate, it's the idea that the rest of society should have their freedom restricted in order to subsidise your game development. State-granted monopolies are not a normal feature of capitalism.

Most reasonable people who find that they agree that 99% of DMCA takedowns are entirely justified.

Which hasn't got anything to do with the parent comment or the subject of the article, which is the anti-circumvention part of the DMCA, not the takedown part of the DMCA.

Re:The True Legacy of the DMCA (1)

renehollan (138013) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660753)

The DMCA clauses which make reverse engineering illegal under any circumstance which is not specifically granted an exemption for fair use need to be repealed. The burden should be upon the copyright holder to prove that the specific instance of reverse engineering is being used to infringe their copyright, not upon the reverse engineer to prove that whatever they are doing is not infringement.

There are two problems here: First, a judge comparing a claim of "infringement" against a defense of "fair use". All fair uses infringe on what the copyright holder might wish. So, let's re-word that considering that the lack of a fair use is what constitures legal infringement. A fair use, therefore, is a valid defense against a claim otherwise (i.e. infringement).

The second problem is whether a use is fair. The law, as written, makes all uses that are not explicitly established as fair, as infringing. This is wrong. The law can establish uses that are definitely fair, for example, though legal precedent where such uses are found to be fair by the courts, or are defined to be fair, by statute, and this makes a defense of such a use as fair easier. However, this does not mean that other uses are not fair.

A fair use is one that does not substantially diminish the copyright holder's ability to exploit their work for profit. Parody, criticism, archival of entire works, or small exceprts of larger works, have all been found to be fair uses. The legal bar may be higher to establish that a new use is fair than to simply establish that the use in question is one that is already recognized as fair (the classic example is the Betamax decision, which found that so long as a use does not break existing law, it does not matter if it facilitates illegal activity: copying copywritten videotapes is not criminal -- distributing the copies is). This is sensible, of course, since many things can be used to commit a crime: just about anything that can be thrown can be thrown at someone.

As far as anticirvumvention is concerned, what should matter is intent: is the intent to infringe (where a fair use can not be established), and has reasonable care been taken to not facilitate infringement? In many places, leaving one's car unlocked and unattended is illegal: it facilitates car theft, joyriding, and other nusances. The case for requiring firearms to be kept secure is even stronger.

All that should be necessary of a user of copywritten material, or a provider of circumvention tools, that they exercise a reasonable effort to protect the copyright holder's interests.

People Running System for large profits (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659443)

Say system works fine.

News at 11.

Marketing Tagline for US Gov't: (5, Funny)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659465)

"The US Gov't. Defending international megacorporations from our citizens since 1787."

And In Other News... (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659539)

The fox declares that the henhouse is doing just fine.

Has It Ever Worked? (5, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659599)

I know the general opinion of the DMCA here on /. (and I tend to agree). That said, I have a question I wonder if anyone can answer. We hear lots about DMCA abuses (partly due to the standard thoughts on it). Can anyone point to one or more big cases where the DMCA helped and the person/people wronged would have been without recourse before the DMCA that aren't abuses?

Every time I hear about the DMCA it is being used to do something stupid or flat out illegal under the act (after all, just claim it as a reason for anything and many people will back off). Is anyone actually using it successfully and correctly where it provides a tangible benefit from before the act was enacted?

I think that is the litmus test of if it really was useful or good.

But as long as the RIAA/MPAA/whoever else get to "use" it to fix "problem" then it is "working."

Re:Has It Ever Worked? (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660191)

There is one giant benifit that the DMCA provides: It makes hosts not liable for user-caused copyright infringement as long as they respond to take-down notices. This is what makes sites like YouTube even legally possible.

My understanding is that two small changes would make the DMCA much less obnoxious:

  1. Clear and enforcible penalties for fraudulent/inaccurate takedown notices.
  2. The removal of the anti-research / anti-archival provisions.

Re:Has It Ever Worked? (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660209)

And if you RTFA, the woman want's to change the one part that does work: the safe harbor/takedown provision. Grrr.

Re:Has It Ever Worked? (4, Insightful)

Darkforge (28199) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660471)

Can anyone point to one or more big cases where the DMCA helped and the person/people wronged would have been without recourse before the DMCA that aren't abuses?


It's important in cases like these to differentiate between the DMCA's take-down/"safe harbor" rules and the DMCA's anti-circumvention provision.

The take-down rules probably ARE a reasonable balance between copyright holders and ordinary joes; certainly that's YouTube's position. Under the DMCA take-down rules, YouTube can't be sued for hosting illegal material, but rather the copyright holder (e.g. Viacom) has to send take-down letters specifying exact material to be removed. Users get notified that their material is taken down, and are allowed to send counterclaims to defend themselves. /. posted a story about this working earlier this week: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/13/2028206 [slashdot.org] .

It's not at all clear what would have happened in that case without the DMCA; the DMCA came into existence partly to make it clear/formal what should happen when people violate copyright online. In a material sense, I don't think YouTube could exist unless the DMCA existed, in the sense that I don't think they'd have big investors (e.g. Google) willing to risk their money without the DMCA's safe harbor provisions. (Without the DMCA, YouTube could argue in court that they ought to be treated as a safe harbor, but they'd be on considerably shakier grounds.)

The anti-circumvention provision is the one that totally sucks. That's the provision that says that you aren't allowed to develop and distribute tools to circumvent DRM. (It's also the one that impacts researchers the most.) The point of that provision is simply to discourage people from developing and distributing DRM cracks. Since it's supposed to act as a disincentive, you wouldn't expect to find a big public "example" of it working; you'd expect fewer cracks to be developed and for those cracks to be criminally penalized when they are made available.

Re:Has It Ever Worked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20660809)

The funny thing about law is the people who respect it will. Those who do not are going to do what they want to anyway. So how exactly does making something 'wrong' help protect copyright?

What I mean is lets say company X creates awsomeo DRM. I want to watch my movie on something else and could create software to do it. Yet being a law abbiding citizen I will not. Yet there are others out there with less morals than I who will do it anyway. So how did the law stop them from doing it? Answer it doesnt and it will not. The companies have ended up in an arms race against the 'pirates'. One they will not win. They have to win every time. The 'pirates' only have to win once.

I agree with them... (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659603)

Seeing as the US federal government was bought and paid for by large US business, I would agree that they have no problems with it. Meaning, the core issue we are facing is not what they think, but rather the current situation we are in. The Feds decision to lower the funds rate today backs this up even more... Help the market fat cats, and leave it to the basic consumer to pay more for everything...

Quoting the body of the article (1)

Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659635)

the head of the US Copyright Office considers the DCMA to be an important tool for copyright owners

I didn't realize that the Defense Contract Management Agency dealt with copyrights. Obviously, the US government is even more screwed up than I originally thought...

Come on, you can't have it both ways! (1)

Creamsickle (792801) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659653)

What do you want copyright industry, DRM or DMCA? Right now, we the consumers live in the worst of both worlds, and the RIAA and their cronies aren't getting what they want either. The system is obviously broken. DRM has been an unmitigated failure, there isn't a single DRM system that can't be bypassed, and customers hate it. But because of the DMCA anti-circumvention people are not able to publicly challenge crappy DRM by making tools for Joe Blow to break them.

So we have the worst of all possible worlds, the makers of DRM fool around pretending that their broken DRM still works and spread fear that if a publisher releases anything without their DRM it will be instantly stolen. But their DRM is already broken!

It's turned a simple clean purchase into a complicated 'license' where the user is getting totally screwed over.

It's caused a massive loss of sales. All the sales they could have had if they hadn't gone the DRM route are lost. It's going to take them a long time to recover.

It's led to fake claims, a person making a DMCA takedown claim does not need to show any evidence that they are the copyright owner and because the DMCA claim is made to a third party, there is no interest in that third party ensuring the claim has even the basics of legitimacy.

Dumb shit has been slotted in as copyright clauses, like the UK's no parallel imports, so I can't import Vista from the US (not that I have any desire to mess with that monster), even though it's a quarter the price, because it's been made an offence under a copyright statute! Now everyone if claiming copyright to block imports of their products from cheaper markets and UK consumer is getting screwed over paying inflated prices.

Re:Come on, you can't have it both ways! (2, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659791)

What do you mean you can't have it both ways? They are getting it both ways. And to turn to a different metaphor, so are we.

> the UK's no parallel imports, so I can't import Vista from the US

Laws like this, and measures like DVD Region Coding a flagrant violation of WTO rules against artificial trade barriers and market segmentation. Not that the rules were ever intended to protect us. I laugh to even think that was ever the intent.

Come on, you can't lose it both ways! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659901)

"It's caused a massive loss of sales. All the sales they could have had if they hadn't gone the DRM route are lost. It's going to take them a long time to recover."

Interesting. Were these sales "lost" the same way "illegal downloads" are a "loss"?

Re:Come on, you can't have it both ways! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660329)

Um, you have to have it both ways. DRM and the DMCA go hand in hand. The DMCA prohibits circumvention of copyright protection measures. DRM is those* copyright protection measures. Without DRM the DMCA is nothing at all. DRM is technically impossible to do securely, so without legal measures (the DMCA) DRM is nothing at all.

*I can't figure out how to make subject and verb agree in that sentence

Of course that is what they wanted. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660439)

Of course that is what they wanted! Do you think it is coincidence that industry implemented DRM and lobbied for the DMCA at the same time? Don't be silly! Once they had DMCA, they could implement draconian DRM, and they thought the market would have to follow.

They did not want one OR the other, they wanted both, because they thought they could force people to continue following their outdated business model. Hint: Some industry old-timers actually thought they deserved to continue making outrageous profits, just because they had been for so many years prior.

However, they should have listened to a few smart people who told them, even then, that this plan would not work in the long run.

Now, will somebody please get it through their heads that IT DID NOT WORK on audio, and the writing is on the wall: it is doomed to fail with video, too! But they have kept trying...

Re:Come on, you can't have it both ways! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20660591)

I want it all for free. It is out there on the 'net and I should be able to download it. If someone has it, they should share. This will eliminate the hegemony of corporate greed that tules the world right now.

Everything should be free, right now! There are plenty of people out there without enough money to buy stuff the rich people have all the time. I want mine, and I should have it. We are living in an age of plenty and it is plenty that I want. I should have it, so should you.

I want it ll, and I want it all right now!

Unintended Consequences (5, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659731)

If you want a partial list of how the DMCA has been abused, and other damages it has done even when it was not being abused, visit eff.org and find their report "DMCA: Unintended Consequences". Everybody should visit the site regularly, anyway.

I might disagree with the EFF in one respect, though: I do not believe that ALL the negative (from a consumer point of view) consequences were unintended. On the contrary, I think that industry lobbied Congress to put some of those provisions in there, with full knowledge of what it would do.

Here is the link (2, Informative)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660421)

Here is the link [eff.org] .

Re:Unintended Consequences (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660477)

I might disagree with the EFF in one respect, though: I do not believe that ALL the negative (from a consumer point of view) consequences were unintended.

Yes, but that's the only way the govt's gonna buy it. If the EFF says these consequences were intended, they could be sued for libel, or whatever it's called. It's one of those things we all know are true, but nobody can legally say they are, like that the CIA killed Kennedy and such.

Re:Unintended Consequences (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660509)

I agree, that was my opinion as well.

Prime Example (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659753)

Prime example of why the copyright laws are borked - arrows aren't used for defense. They're used for offense. If that's the sort of analogy being thought up by those in power, if gives you an idea of their mindset...

Re:Prime Example (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660145)

I like your analogy, but unfortunately your facts are not quite straight. At least in a warfare context, arrows are generally more useful for defense than they are for offense. The main reason is that they can easily be fired from cover, which is not usually a useful offensive tactic. That is why castles had merlons, crenels, and slits in the walls: to give cover but still allow firing of arrows. Firing arrows from OUTSIDE the castle, as offense, was much less effective. Defensive use of the longbow was also the reason personal armor became obsolete.

Re:Prime Example (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660559)

> The main reason is that they can easily be fired from cover, which is not usually a useful offensive tactic.

This is remarkably silly.

If they can be fired easily from cover then they can also effectively used in a mass formation.

Some armies (calvary) were even rather fond of firing them at a full gallop.

I like that... comparing the DCMA to an arrow in a Mongol's quiver.

Also, bows are not just limited to battles like Agincourt.

Re:Prime Example (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660379)

You obviously don't play Civilization [civiv.com]

Bush appointee? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20659783)

Just curious, is this U.S. Register of Copyrights, "Marybeth Peters" a Bush appointee from the RIAA or MPAA or some other industry with a conflict of interest, by any chance?

Bush has a sordid history of doing this at the FDA, NASA, and elsewhere.

I heard Bush even chose his VP running mate from industry and then the guy pushed for a war on bogus grounds that ended up benefiting his former company.

Normally I think the headlines are inflammatory... (5, Interesting)

zenyu (248067) | more than 6 years ago | (#20659823)

I this case just the opposite, also mentioned in the article she dislikes the only good parts of that heinous law, the exemption that allows Google search, MySpace, YouTube and most of the internet to exist. Initially she only liked the anti-first-amendment clauses of the DMCA, but she "came around" on the part that allows her to decide whether it's legal to watch a DVD.

FYI She still opposes DVD watching and she is a self-proclaimed Luddite and doesn't own a computer.

That someone who doesn't own a computer has been put in charge of regulating the high tech sector of the second largest economy in the world frightens me to the same level that the horse lawyer put in charge of terrorist and emergency response did after the Katrina fuckup.

Where do they find these people? Is it the same type of process by which they find jurors who have never seen or heard any news for years for high profile cases? Ms. Peters, have you even read a book? No. Have you ever seen a computer? No. Have you ever visited a library? No. Do you know what a library is? My papa said it's a den of reds! Yes quite correct, now the next question, do you know what a Television is? No. Are you sure? Yes. Ms. Peters, you're HIRED! But I'm just here on a field trip.. Never mind that, you are now in charge of the technology sector of our economy. Make sure you listen to this guy from the RIAA and this other guy from the MPAA, don't worry they will tell you exactly what to do. Yes, Sir Chaney, Sir! Whatever you say, Sir!

Re:Normally I think the headlines are inflammatory (1)

chazzf (188092) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660773)

Sir, you overlook the fact that not one horse was reported drowned in Hurricane Katrina!

Re:Normally I think the headlines are inflammatory (3, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660861)

What's even scarier is that she's been serving in this position since 1994. That's over thirteen years of copyright policy advice to Congress (part of the office's job description) from a person who doesn't own a computer.

DMCA Protects the Little Guy (3, Funny)

sakusha (441986) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660063)

Yes, the DMCA works great, some people may object when it is used en masse by large corporations, but it is the most effective tool for the little guy. Content creators have always had trouble protecting their rights without expensive, protracted lawsuits. But I've regained control of my own copyrighted materials, quickly and simply, merely by filing a DMCA notice. I've helped other "little guys" do the same.
Copyright works for content creators, and the DMCA covers my back. I like the DMCA.

Re:DMCA Protects the Little Guy (2, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660211)

But DMCA notices are also the most abused aspect of DMCA law, by the little guys. It is TOO easy to send unsupported "takedown notices" against innocent parties, and penalties for doing so fraudulently has seemed to be lax or missing altogether.

It is great that it has helped you some, but the current situation with DMCA takedown notices is "guilty until proven innocent", which is downright unAmerican.

Re:DMCA Protects the Little Guy (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660263)

What I was getting at is: okay, the DMCA has protected you a little bit... but at what cost to the rest of us? I think the majority opinion is that the cost has been too high.

Re:DMCA Protects the Little Guy (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660403)

Really? Because I can think of plenty of copyrighted material from the 80s that was produced by little guys (who eventually became big players, but still): the GNU project. In fact, all GPL'ed apps are protected by copyrights, and had the same level of protection before the DMCA was ratified. And don't claim that GPL'ed code isn't worth "as much as" some other copyrighted material; here is a list of companies that make a LOT of money from sales or support of GPL'ed code:

  • Red Hat
  • Canonical
  • Sun
  • Microsoft
  • Novell
  • IBM

And there are MANY more. In fact, all of the companies on the list got to where they are (with the exception of Canonical, they are all valued in the billions of dollars) without the DMCA. As an example, Red Hat is worth ~$4bn and has only ever marketed GPL'ed code, and was started by some guy in his basement. You can claim music is different, but it really isn't: there is probably more demand for software than there is for music, especially since so much software is involved in the production and playback of music.

No offense, but if you actually NEED to use the DMCA in order to make money on your content, then maybe you should spend more time trying to improve the content itself, or take a second look at how you are using the content to make money. You are right, copyrights protect content creators, but the DMCA hurts content consumers.

Re:DMCA Protects the Little Guy (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660491)

You're missing the point. Sure copyrighted material had the same protections before the DMCA. But it was difficult to enforce those rights. Now it's easy. And it's easy to defend against a false DMCA action, it's all part of the process as defined in the DMCA itself. Sure a Red Hat or an IBM has a platoon of lawyers ready to protect its rights, but I don't.

Re:DMCA Protects the Little Guy (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660729)

I wouldn't say that it is easy to defend your rights now, considering the extraordinary amount of material currently available on P2P networks. Neither the RIAA's army of lawyers nor the DMCA have been effectively at preventing P2P filesharing. Notice that none of the RIAA's artists are in the poor house as a result, and notice that the RIAA is still turning profits -- record profits -- even while P2P usage was growing.

You can't really argue that Red Hat got to where it is because of an army of lawyers; the company started with no lawyers. Red Hat became big and gain that platoon of lawyers because they were producing higher quality software than their competitors, and because they had and continue to have a more flexible business model. I know amateur musicians who, while not millionaires, are making a decent amount of money on their music, through concerts, t-shirts, etc. More creative ways to make money on content are simply more effective than a slew of laws that people either aren't aware of, or are aware of but simply ignore.

Awful simile alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20660613)

"I think that's a really important part of our copyright owners' quiver of arrows to defend themselves."

Please can somebody tell her that the MPAA is not a motherfucking elf?

Unforseen Consequence (4, Insightful)

tehcrazybob (850194) | more than 6 years ago | (#20660743)

The problem with the circumvention clause, at least to me, is that it disallows an activity which seems to me as though it should be perfectly legitimate.

I want to buy a DVD, take it home, and rip it to my hard drive, then store the DVD itself in my closet. Then I want to stream it to the media center connected to my TV. That is to say, I want to give them money and then use the video in my own home. I don't want to share it with friends, I don't want to sell it, and I don't want to waste my bandwidth sharing it with the world. I just want to watch it without having to deal with the physical disk.

Alternately, I could buy a movie download. But then I would still want to use my own media player, not whatever software they thought I should use, so I would still have to circumvent.

However, thanks to the anti-circumvention clause, I might as well skip the money-to-them part and just pirate my movies. I'm breaking the law either way.
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