What Technologies Has The DMCA Killed? What Will It Kill Next?

from the take-your-pick dept

John writes in to point out an excellent article by Fred von Lohmann and Wendy Seltzer talking about the legacy of innovations destroyed by the DMCA. There really isn’t anything all that surprising in the article, but it notes that, thanks to the US gov’t influencing other countries, we may be killing off all sorts of innovations worldwide. There’s an extremely weak rebuttal at the end from Fritz Attaway of the MPAA who claims that we wouldn’t have DVDs without the DMCA — which is flat-out false. Once again, it appears that the entertainment industry is defending the DMCA by conveniently shifting back and forth on what they claim it’s designed to do. If it’s supposed to have prevented internet copying, then it’s failed completely. Every product they offer is available online — so to claim that the industry is only releasing content now because the DMCA “protects” it is completely false. Instead, the DMCA has succeeded in destroying technologies (as described in the main article) that provided legal customers (the ones who pay money) from making use of their fair use rights.

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Comments on “What Technologies Has The DMCA Killed? What Will It Kill Next?”

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Mousky (user link) says:

Some People (or Industries) Are Stupid

Great article. I am noticing that I am having more problems playing DVDs that I buy and rent. Scrubs Season 3 would not play in my ‘ancient’ Apex AD-700 DVD player – it did play in my PS2, my laptop and my newer Apex AD-1200. Wow, thanks for making a product I legally purchased not work in another product I legally purchased.

NSMike says:

The Truth Shall Set Us Free

I’m all for this, actually. I can’t wait to see the day when they actually 100% prevent all forms of time-shifting and piracy, and realize that they’re STILL losing money. That’ll be a sweet moment of realization.

“Why are we losing money!? We’ve protected EVERYTHING from any form of digital copying!”

Maybe because movies and music anymore is nothing but total SH*T. That’s why.

Paul says:

The DMCA is only one of a number of congress backed industry protection schemes that are killing off US innovation wholesale. This government talks out of both sides of its mouth when it claims that ‘markets are smarter than governments and should be left alone’ and that “Americas ‘Intellectual Property’ needs to be protected worldwide”. The problem is always ‘whose’ IP they are adamant about protecting.

The RIAA, MPAA and many other industry lobbying groups have coopted congress. Political corruption and graft are core US issues that the, also coopted, and consolidated media continue to hide from the general public. Average Americans are undereducated about things like Net Neutrality, DMCA and other monopolistic concerns that continue to put large amounts of power and capital into the hands of relatively few.

Aren’t you tired of this? Then DO something about it! Get lobbyists hands out of government pockets and push for campaign finance reform. Educate your family and friends about the dangers of industry lobbyist and ‘K’ street. Write your Congressman and tell him/her that they will not survive this November unless they push for campaign finance reform and push away from the lobbyist feeding frenzy themselves. Email, blog, spam do whatever it takes to get the message out loud and clear that we the people of the United States want an end to business backed government!

Maybe then we can protect important IP, like the next book/cd/dvd produced by some member of congress, without requiring a new round of DMA restrictions on the next generation of devices.

Anonymous Coward says:

Paul, great points, but I think that before the younger generations begin to do the things you advise, maybe they should register and actually vote.

Why should politicians care about what young people think when they don’t vote? Why do politicians care what the AARP thinks? Because their 40 million members vote, thats why.

steve says:


I remember recording music off the radio stations as a kid. I listened to it on my cassett deck. I never sold it. What’s the difference if i record it off XM radio and listen to it on my PC. It used to be called fair use. now the DCMA is fighting XM radio because of this and wants them to pay more. just another example of a Technology that is having problems with and may be destroyed by the DCMA Thugs.

Michael says:

I haven’t checked out the actual article yet, but if somebody is claiming we wouldn’t have DVDs but for the DMCA — How does that jive with the fact that DVDs were out in 1996 (or so) but the DMCA was passed in 1998-99 (I don’t have the citation at hand…)? Were the movie folks that prescient about what Congress was going to do?

(Maybe I shouldn’t ask that question — I might get the answer I don’t want to hear.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Love the rebuttal:

“the DMCA and related legislation have fostered a climate of unbridled innovation and development and an explosion of consumer entertainment choices”.

If that is true, then I guess…

The seat belt law and related legislation have fostered a climate of unbridled innovation and development and an explosion of consumer automotive choices like minivans, SUVs, and hybrids.

Next thing you know the MPAA and the RIAA will be standing beside Al Gore claiming that he didn’t create the Internet, they did.

And what is Fritzy-boy smoking if he honestly thinks “neither consumers nor innovators in the technology and entertainment industries imagined that just eight years later people would be viewing movies and TV shows on their computers, and their [portable video devices].” Technology innovators were not only imagining it years prior to 1998, but trying to make it happen even then.

emceay says:

‘fraid I have to go with anonymous coward, Paul.

Your speech is impassioned but nontheless bleeding heart. The only people that are knowledgeable about these things vote against our favor, and my peers are too busy watching wondershowzen to surf the net and read about boring stuff like politics.

We want it to change, but really there’s a mountain of resistance with flimsy ideaology but also the capital to make change. If voices mattered, we wouldn’t vote in representatives.

I want it to change so bad, but in the end one just ends up sticking to the shadows and doing what they damn well please. Goons in suits crying to politicians about the paltry millions they made last year will always be around. The politicians speak the language of money so it’s no surprise we are where we are now.

I just can’t wait to tell my grandkids in 40 years about the good ol’ days of information and pirates.

Tim Arview (user link) says:

Conflict of Interest??

After reading the article, I can’t help but think that this is a violation of law on some level.

The movie/music industry is influencing the development of recording devices? Sorry, that was a typo. Did I say “influencing”? Make that “regulating.”

Tell me, is it against the law for a car manufacturer to make a more fuel-efficient car?

Is there some government regulation that requires computer manufacturers to prevent the installation of Linux?


So why does Congress feel it’s perfectly alright for the entertainment industry to regulate the development of recording devices?

Yes, I agree. Let’s tell our representatives how we feel. Sure, as AC pointed out, the younger generation will have a tough time doing this. However, they have parents. And if they tell their parents what the industry is doing, then their parents can put that pressure on.

Those who have read my comments will undoubtedly think I’ve gone off my rocker. However, I am – if nothing else – a logical thinker. And the logic is clear on this one.

But if we remain silent, then it will only continue, and worsen.

monkey says:

Re: Conflict of Interest??

I agree with the whole process regulation being outside the legal (and ethical) power of the mpaa thing. But the federal government HAS begun forcing fuel efficiency on automobile manufacturers.

Another argument is that if there is quality loss in the media transfer then there should not be a purchase issue. If I cannot view my serenity in 720p with 5.1 in portugese with commentary, then I am viewing only a taste or shadow of the media i purchased. Doesn’t this ADD to the marketing capability of the media producers?

Etienne says:

It seems to me that copyright laws, should be in place to protect the content from being plagerized it should not prevent people to enjoy the content where and when they want(i.e. watching directly from a laptop’s harddrive). The technology used for the plagerism should not be punished if it was designed to be used for good. It’s kind of like weapons, if someone has a gun and shoots someond else is it the guns fault? Or even better, if someone has a kitchen knife designed to cut vegetables, and someone else stabbes someone with it, is it the knifes fault?

If someone rips a DVD movies and sells it, is it the ripping software’s fault?

I could go on and on with these examples… but I hope you see my point. 🙂

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