- Are you opposed to copyright protection for digital works?
- Do you support illegal copying?
- So what's the problem?
- Isn't the whole point of copyright to protect the rights of authors?
- What are some examples of the balance that used to exist?
- What are some examples of this shift in the balance of copyright?
- Copy Protection
- You're joking, right? Of course I can make a copy of a CD or record a TV show!
- But how can they stop me from copying a CD?
- Can't I always make analog recordings?
- Don't we need these "anti-circumvention" laws to protect creative works?
- But how do you prevent illegal copying if you allow circumvention technologies?
- I don't see what legitimate uses circumvention technology could have. Isn't it just a tool for hackers who want to steal content?
- So what can we do about this problem?
- The DMCA, SSSCA, and CBDTPA
- What is the DMCA?
- What's wrong with the DMCA?
- What is the CBDTPA (formerly known as the SSSCA)?
- What's wrong with the CBDTPA?
- Don't these new laws already provide exemptions for fair use?
- Couldn't we fix things by adding better exemptions to existing laws?
- The BPDG
- What is the BPDG?
- How would the BPDG's rules work?
- What's wrong with the BPDG?
- But doesn't the BPDG represent a consensus?
- Do fair use rights for consumers harm the content industry?
- Do fair use rights for consumers harm artists and creators?
- Do anti-circumvention copyright laws harm innovation?
- But I thought the DMCA had a special exemption for reverse engineering?
- Do copyright laws affect libraries?
- Alliance For Digital Progress
- What is the Alliance for Digital Progress?
- Why did DigitalConsumer join ADP?
- Some members of ADP support copy-protection technology. Has DigitalConsumer sold out?
- How will this impact DigitalConsumer's position on fair use?
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.
Of course not! We believe that artists should have the right to
control the distribution of their works.
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
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."
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."
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
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
"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."
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
"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
"Israeli security company Midbar said Tuesday that it has released
more than 10 million copy-protected CDs in the United States and
"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."