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  1. General
    1. Are you opposed to copyright protection for digital works?
    2. Do you support illegal copying?
    3. So what's the problem?
    4. Isn't the whole point of copyright to protect the rights of authors?
    5. What are some examples of the balance that used to exist?
    6. What are some examples of this shift in the balance of copyright?
  2. Copy Protection
    1. You're joking, right? Of course I can make a copy of a CD or record a TV show!
    2. But how can they stop me from copying a CD?
    3. Can't I always make analog recordings?
    4. Don't we need these "anti-circumvention" laws to protect creative works?
    5. But how do you prevent illegal copying if you allow circumvention technologies?
    6. I don't see what legitimate uses circumvention technology could have. Isn't it just a tool for hackers who want to steal content?
    7. So what can we do about this problem?
  3. The DMCA, SSSCA, and CBDTPA
    1. What is the DMCA?
    2. What's wrong with the DMCA?
    3. What is the CBDTPA (formerly known as the SSSCA)?
    4. What's wrong with the CBDTPA?
    5. Don't these new laws already provide exemptions for fair use?
    6. Couldn't we fix things by adding better exemptions to existing laws?
  4. The BPDG
    1. What is the BPDG?
    2. How would the BPDG's rules work?
    3. What's wrong with the BPDG?
    4. But doesn't the BPDG represent a consensus?
  5. Miscellaneous
    1. Do fair use rights for consumers harm the content industry?
    2. Do fair use rights for consumers harm artists and creators?
    3. Do anti-circumvention copyright laws harm innovation?
    4. But I thought the DMCA had a special exemption for reverse engineering?
    5. Do copyright laws affect libraries?
  6. Alliance For Digital Progress
    1. What is the Alliance for Digital Progress?
    2. Why did DigitalConsumer join ADP?
    3. Some members of ADP support copy-protection technology. Has DigitalConsumer sold out?
    4. How will this impact DigitalConsumer's position on fair use?

1. General

1.1 Are you opposed to copyright protection for digital works?

Definitely not! We believe that copyright is a crucial part of our information economy. It protects artists by making sure they receive compensation for their creations, and it benefits citizens by making sure that it is worthwhile to create new works.

1.2 Do you support illegal copying?

Of course not! We believe that artists should have the right to control the distribution of their works.

1.3 So what's the problem?

The problem is that copyright protections have become too strong. For the past 200 years, legislation and court decisions preserved a careful balance between the need to protect the rights of creators and the need to protect the rights of citizens. Sometimes those rights come into conflict, for example when a reviewer wants to quote a passage from a novel or when a TV fan wants to record a show in order to watch it later. In the case of such conflicts, citizens were often given reasonable flexibility to use legally purchased content in a convenient manner.

However, that balance has been dramatically shifted by recent copyright laws. Today, citizens have practically no legal rights to use content that they own. We simply want to restore the fair and reasonable balance that served us for two centuries.

"Copyright, when well balanced, encourages the production and distribution of the raw material of democracy. But after more than 200 years of legal evolution and technological revolution, American copyright no longer offers strong democratic safeguards. It is out of balance."

Representative Rick Boucher: "The time, in my opinion, has come for the Congress to reaffirm the fair use doctrine and to bolster specific fair use rights which are now at risk."

1.4 Isn't the whole point of copyright to protect the rights of authors?

Protecting the rights of authors is one very important purpose of copyright. But copyright also has another purpose, arguably more important than the first. This second purpose is, according to the Constitution, "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." Historically, the courts have kept those two purposes in balance, but that balance has recently shifted.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor writing for the Supreme Court in Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 US 340,349. "The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but '[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.' To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work. [...] This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art."

1.5 What are some examples of the balance that used to exist?

Decades of legislation and court rulings built up a series of "fair use" rights for ordinary citizens. For example, the Audio Home Recording Act made it explicitly legal for people to make copies of music for noncommercial use. Similarly, in the Betamax case, the Supreme Court ruled that recording a TV show for later viewing was a legal, non-infringing use of the content. And the "first sale doctrine" made it legal to sell or loan copyrighted works that you legally purchased.

However, recent legislation has invalidated each one of those rights.

The Audio Home Recording act stated that citizens could not be held liable for infringement when the copied music for personal use.

A summary of the Betamax case. "The Supreme Court reversed the Appeals Court decision on January 17, 1984, supporting the District Courts notion that the alleged infringement fell under the idea of Fair Use."

"It is of great concern if, as we see happening, new technology coupled with protections contained in the DMCA and trends in licensing lead to a regime in which all access to information is tightly gated. In a digital world, First Sale could lose its historic meaning and people, and the libraries that serve them, would effectively lose the protections the doctrine provides."

1.6 What are some examples of this shift in the balance of copyright?

There are many examples. It's obviously legal to lend a physical book to a friend, but copyright restrictions on electronic books make such lending illegal. Making a copy of your own CD for personal use was legal in the past, but it is no longer legal if the CD has been copy-protected (and the record labels have announced their intent to copy-protect all future CDs). Recording a show to watch later used to be legal, but with new digital TV standards, such recording will only be legal if the TV station explicitly gives you permission (and broadcasters have already announced that they will not allow recording of "premium" shows). In certain cases, it can even be illegal to fast-forward through advertisements at the beginning of a DVD that you've purchased!

"DMCA proponents use the act to restrict your fair-use rights under copyright law: among them the right to read or view your own copy of the media, the right to sell a used book, lend it to a friend, or check it out of the library, and even the right to re-read a book without paying an additional fee. One of the earliest e-books was a textbook that expired and became unreadable at the semester's end, so that the students would not be able to resell it at the college bookstore."

"Israeli security company Midbar said Tuesday that it has released more than 10 million copy-protected CDs in the United States and Europe."

"While the current proposal is limited, watermarking technology ultimately could wind up barring consumers from copying their favorite shows or movies off the air, as they are routinely able to do with VCRs or digital video recorders such as TiVo."

"But now, Disney has crossed the line. Every DVD has an initialization track required by the spec that cannot be avoided. It plays automatically before the main menu appears. This track is usually used solely for the standard FBI anti-piracy message, and by some studios to run their animated logo. The DVD of Disney's Tarzan uses this track to force the viewer to endure ads for the better part of five minutes before anything else is shown."