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2. Copy Protection
Unfortunately, those activities are no longer legal. Or to be more specific, such activities are illegal unless the content provider gives you permission. For example, the record company might say that making a copy of CD is illegal, but they may offer to provide you with low-quality digital tracks that can only be played on a single computer. (That is the approach taken by some existing copy-protected CDs.) The important point is that rights that used to be unconditional are now only granted to us at the content provider's discretion.
One of the critical pieces of the new copyright legislation is something called "anti-circumvention". In the language of copyright law, "circumvention" refers to the act of foiling any copy protection that a CD or e-book might have. What's shocking about the new copyright laws is the fact that they make it illegal to distribute any technology that might be used for circumvention, even if that technology could also be used to exercise your legal rights!
For example, you have the legal right to possess a copy of a song in order to play it in your car stereo; but if your CD is copy-protected, it is a crime to circumvent the copy-protection in order to make the copy. So your right to possess the copy is useless because you have no way to exercise it. Anti-circumvention trumps your fair use rights.
By making circumvention technologies illegal even when they have legitimate uses, the new copyright laws place us at the mercy of the content companies. Even if we have a theoretical right to make a copy of a TV show, we have to circumvent copy protection in order to exercise that right. The circumvention is illegal even though we're performing the circumvention for legal purposes! This loophole gives the content industries unprecedented power over how citizens use information, and it dramatically alters the balance that our laws used to preserve.
You can today, but you may not be able to if the entertainment industry has its way.
Digital copy protection works only on digital content, so today it is possible to convert digital content into analog form, thereby evading copy controls (for both legal and illegal purposes). But a stated goal of the MPAA is to convince Congress to require all media devices to include "watermarking" technology. This technology would be able to detect copyright information even if a song or movie has been converted from digital to analog and back again. A device with watermarking support could therefore prevent all forms of copying, even simply putting a microphone in front of your speaker!
No. Even before circumvention technologies were outlawed, it was still illegal to steal music or movies. Many legal scholars believe that the DMCA goes too far in attempting to prevent theft.
For example, Napster would have still been shut down even if circumvention technology was legal. (Ironically, Napster used the DMCA in its defense -- the very same copyright law that criminalizes anti-circumvention!)
We could just as well ask how we prevent other crimes such as jaywalking, tax fraud, or even murder. Society prevents dangerous activities by passing laws that make such activities illegal and by punishing people who break the laws.
In contrast, the recent copyright legislation attempts to prevent dangerous activities by criminalizing all technologies that could possibly be used in a dangerous way. To see how strange this is, consider what would happen if we took a similar approach to preventing murder. Guns can be used to commit murder, so of course we would outlaw them. So can knives; no matter that there are plenty of legal uses for knives, it's the illegal ones that matter so we would have to ban them too. While we're at it, cars can be used to escape from the scene, so we should outlaw cars as well... You get the idea.
2.6 I don't see what legitimate uses circumvention technology could have. Isn't it just a tool for hackers who want to steal content?
Definitely not. There are many legitimate uses for circumvention technology. For example, law professor Lawrence Lessig notes that circumvention technology could be used to allow blind readers to extract the text from an electronic book so that the text can be read out loud. Other legitimate uses include moving a book from one place to another, listening to a song in your car stereo, or saving a television show to watch it later.
Circumvention is also critical for the pursuit of research. Scientists are unable to expose flaws in computer programs if copy protection prevents them from examining the computer code. And scientists cannot research encryption if the act of researching becomes a crime.
We are proposing a Consumer Technology Bill of Rights for digital content. This bill is a positive assertion of the rights of citizens to use content that they have legally acquired. Our Bill of Rights will not make it any easier for criminals to steal digital media. It will not deprive artists of the rights to their works. It will simply restore the rights that we citizens used to have before the passage of the DMCA.