A Critical View On The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

A Critical View On The Digital Millennium Copyright ActOctober 28, 1998: the US Congress gives the green on what it will soon become the cornerstone of the American copyright law – we are talking about the DMCA.

An interesting post by the Electronic Frontier Foundation discusses the harmful effects of the DMCA; on that regard, both legislators and the public agree that the act is having unprecedented results on consumers.

Moreover, EFF’s latest update to the “Unintended Consequences: Fifteen Years Under the DMCA” points to how content owners abuse the DMCA, leading to disastrous effects on free speech, competition, innovation, and research.

EFF’s white paper also highlights how DMCA’s prohibition on bypassing digital rights management (DRM) and “other technical protection measures” offered the opportunity to bluster scientists and content creators, and how it harmed not just businesses but also consumers and their rights.

“It is great to see the new awareness of the issues with cell phone unlocking, but phones are just the tip of the iceberg of problems the DMCA has created,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said.

“It kills aftermarkets, interferes with legitimate research, and squelches creativity in new media.”

Here are the paper’s highlights, as seen on EFF’s official website:

• In 2010, Sony sued a group of researchers, including hacker George Hotz (a.k.a. Geohot), who had helped expose security flaws in the Playstation 3 that would enable users to run Linux on their machines again — something Sony previously supported but then tried to prevent.

• In 2011, Sony threatened the Norway-based website Gitorious.org, an online collaborative space for the open-source community, when its users initiated projects involving the Playstation 3 console. Citing a lack of resources to fight Sony, Gitorious not only removed the projects, but it also blocked search requests for “playstation,” “sony ” and “ps3.”

• In 2011, Activision threatened hacker Brandon Wilson when he published research on the workings of a scanning device that was part of one of the company’s video games. Activision’s claim that Wilson’s research would allow users to unlock game content without purchase was unwarranted, but it nevertheless succeeded in pressuring Wilson to remove his research from his blog and to abandon his work on the project.

“Section 1201 has done a lot more harm than good,” McSherry said.

“It’s long past time to fix it, or, even better, get rid of it altogether.”

If you agree that the DMCA needs to be fixed/changed, you can visit http://fixthedmca.org/.

EFF’s entire document can be viewed here.