DMCA: Draconian Copyright Policy
Posted by Eric on May 23, 2009
Real has long argued during this case that its software merely enables DVD buyers to make legitimate copies of their legally purchased discs—this would theoretically fall under the fair use guidelines in US Copyright Law.
The case boils down to Real asserting that their product is protected by “fair use” while the MPAA argues that fair use provisions are irrelevant since the DMCA is legislation independent from other governing copyright laws.
It would be a nice and certainly unexpected surprise if the court rejects the MPAA’s case. The DMCA is a rather pernicious set of laws that, more or less, prevents even the process of bypassing any digital protections on copyrighted work. In Burkhart’s and McCourt’s book Digital Music Wars, the authors detail how the DMCA is so stringent that it makes it illegal to even “traffic” (i.e. share) any information that could lead to bypassing a copy protection. The law has had deleterious consequences in technological, academic, and artistic innovation and basically prevents anyone from doing anything. Ever.
The DMCA is bad public policy. But so long as Congress is on Hollywood’s and the record industry’s payroll, legislative correction seems unlikely. We can at least hope that the court will weaken some of the Act’s more onerious provisions, resulting in a welcome win for consumer’s rights.