Earlier today we talked about Rep. Cliff Stearns' comments concerning copy protection, which suggested he didn't have a very good grasp on technology. However, at the same hearing, it seems like Stearns' comments were the least worrisome. The hearing itself was about the potential to make some changes to the DMCA along the lines of Rep. Rick Boucher's views guaranteeing fair use provisions. However, to hear some of our elected representatives speak, you'd think that fair use was a dangerous thing. Rep. Mary Bono, of the famed Bono Copyright Extension Act, is quoted as saying that the entertainment industry will stay out of the digital world "if the federal government decides their intellectual property is free for the taking under the 'fair use' doctrine." This shows a huge misunderstanding of fair use, intellectual property and free markets. As we've said before, it's time to call this bluff. If the entertainment companies don't want to go digital, that's their problem -- because plenty of people will, and new companies will show up with new business models that meet people's needs. Also, "fair use" isn't about "intellectual property being free" at all -- and Bono is clearly being misleading in her statement. Fair use is clearly limited. The other scary statement comes from Rep. Marsha Blackburn saying that such changes making fair use clearer, "codifies something that condones theft." This shows a misunderstanding of the law, which you would think she should know about. As we've pointed out before, copyright infringement is very much illegal, but even the Supreme Court says it's not theft. So, is there any hope at all when the politicians debating this issue don't seem to know much about what they're actually creating laws about?
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