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The Consumer Technology Bill of Rights

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This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.
Mission Recent changes to copyright law have been used to deprive consumers of their traditional, well-established "personal-use" rights with regard to the digital media they legally acquire. As a result, consumers are hurt, innovators and entrepreneurs are hurt and the capital markets are hurt. DigitalConsumer.orgís goal is simply to restore the balance of copyright law so that artists and creators can prosper while citizens have reasonable flexibility to use content in fair and legal ways. We are a consumer-advocacy group working to preserve a consumerís personal-use media rights. We are not asserting new rights, but only working to retain those that consumers have had for two centuries. We are pursuing and intend to have passed into law a "Consumer Technology Bill of Rights" which positively asserts a citizenís personal use media rights. Clarifying 'personal useí benefits the citizen by preserving existing rights that are being threatened and it helps to preserve the innovative technology environment that this country thrives on.
Examples of the consumerís rights being taken away
  • You buy a CD but can't take it to the gym. The Audio Home Recording Act legalized our right to copy music for personal use -- for example, making a tape of a CD to use in a Walkman. But new copyright legislation makes it a crime to extract music from copy-protected CDs.
  • You pay for cable but you aren't allowed to use your VCR. In the Betamax case, the Supreme Court ruled that making a copy of a TV show was a legal, non-infringing use of broadcast content. But new HDTV standards will make it illegal to copy a digital broadcast without the permission of the TV station.
  • You buy a DVD but you can't watch it the way you want to. It seems obvious that users should have the ability to fast-forward and rewind movies as they see fit. But new copyright laws threaten that right: it is a crime to sell a DVD player that would allow a consumer to fast-forward through the ads at the beginning of a DVD!
  • You own an electronic book, but you can't lend it to your son at college. Your right to lend a physical book is protected by the "first sale doctrine." This law doctrine states that purchasers of copyrighted works such as music or books have the right to dispose of the works in any way that they wish: they can sell them, loan them, rent them, or give them away. But new copyright laws criminalize all of those activities for digital content such as electronic books.
Examples of the threat to innovation
  • Media companies have always fought innovation with litigation -- the VCR, the MP3 player, etc. The same new copyright laws that threaten fair use rights also give media companies much more powerful tools to threaten innovation.
  • New copyright laws also threaten innovation beyond the realm of consumer electronics. Onerous restrictions on a practice called "reverse engineering" make it more difficult to build competitive software products. Numerous industry leaders have already spoken out about the threat to software engineering.
Consumer Technology Bill of Rights The Consumer Technology Bill of Rights is a positive assertion of a consumerís personal use rights. These rights arenít new; they are historic rights granted in previous legislation and court rulings which have been eroded over the last four years been whittled away. These include:
  • The right to "time-shift" media. For example, recording a television show and watching it later.
  • The right to "space shift" media. For example, copying a CD you have legally acquired to an MP3 player for listening at the gym.
  • The right to make backup copies of media. For example, backing up your CD in the event the original is destroyed.
  • The right to use legally acquired media on the platform of your choice. For example, watch TV on your iMac or listening to music on your RIO MP3 player.
  • The right to translate legally acquired media into comparable formats.
  • The right to use technology in order to achieve the aforementioned rights.
We will WORK WITH Washington to have our proposed bill passed into law in order to protect the consumer, to protect innovation, and to defend older laws.
Founding and Management was founded started in 2001 by Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer, two of the co-founders of the Internet portal, Excite, Inc.
Support and funding is privately funded through donations. The organization has gained the respect and financial support of consumers and Silicon-valley based businesses.
Contacting Web:
Tel: (650) 322-7122
Fax: (650) 322-8318