In Patrick Ross' commentary below, TPM=technical protection measures,
aka anti-copying mechanisms.
I think Ross is misguided, irresponsibly overstates the alleged harm of
permitting circumvention for fair use, and ignores the documented
problems caused by the DMCA. A more rigorous free-market approach is here:
But nevertheless, the Progress and Freedom Foundation is an influential
think tank with many fans among Republicans on Capitol Hill. (PFF
recently hired Michael Powell's legal advisor, for instance, and its
board is primarily former Reagan administration officials.) No wonder
DMCA reform is going nowhere.
Here's a surefire way to stifle innovation
By Patrick Ross
Published: October 6, 2005, 4:00 AM PDT
...A well-meaning U.S. Congressman, Rick Boucher of Virginia, is the
author of the legislation in question. He first tried to make
circumvention of copy-protection mechanisms legal back in 1998, when
Congress was debating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. His effort
to amend the bill failed.
Since then, he has been continuing his crusade through standalone bills;
his version in this Congress is HR-1201. Boucher claims that digital
rights management (DRM) on DVDs, CDs and other mediums can stifle fair
use. The U.S. Copyright Office largely has disagreed in DMCA review
proceedings, but Boucher nonetheless persists...
But if HR-1201 becomes law, every consumer could legally hack any TPM by
claiming fair use, and as fair use isn't codified, there would be as
many definitions of it as there are consumers. Consumers would be
legally sanctioned to break their contracts with the content provider.
No sane business operator enters a contract in which one party has the
right to disregard its terms at will, but that's what HR-1201 permits.
That hated TPM would disappear from the market, as there's no reason to
employ a lock if everyone has a legal right to the key. But as TPM
leaves, so do the digital offerings that come with it...
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