Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Extending And Expanding The DMCA

from the fun-for-everyone dept

Susheel Daswani writes in to let us know that Rep. Lamar Smith is planning to introduce new legislation sometime soon that would expand the DMCA in some fairly draconian ways. Among the provisions is one that, instead of just banning the distribution of tools that circumvent copy protection methods would make it illegal to simply possess such tools. As the article notes, if that became law, anyone who had a security product that removed Sony's rootkit would be breaking the law. Obviously, this seems to be taking the DMCA in the wrong direction -- and shows a scary misunderstanding of how much harm the law has caused. Unfortunately, the law also has the backing of many software firms, because they hope to use its overly broad powers against software copyright infringement as well -- not recognizing how much harm they may be doing to their own industry if they go down that path. Rep. Smith is scheduled to give some opening remarks at the Cato event I'm participating in this week, if anyone wants to stop by. It's not clear if the event will allow for questions of Rep. Smith (or, of course, whether or not Rep. Smith will bother to listen to any objections).

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Spartacus, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 12:58am

    Let us know

    Let us know if you get the chance to talk to him Mike. It'll be fun to read about the goofy reasons he has for this law that just boil down to "the gave my campaign a lot of money to support this bill".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Nick, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 2:03am

    Shift keys and black markers

    So, does this mean having a shift key on your keyboard, or a black marker on your computer desk would become illegal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mike G, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 2:08am

    Cato Inst

    You do know that Cato's famous advice was to sell slaves when they got too old, because they were no longer economical. The Cato Institute is right in line with that hunman sentiment. Wash your hands after you touch, better not to touch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. Re: Shift keys and black markers

    The proper authorities have been alerted and are on their way to arrest Nick, and anyone else who has said illegal copy protection bypassing tools (ie black markers and shift keys)

    ... and you thought that we only monitored myspace

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Chuck, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 3:21am

    It is illegal all over europe

    Many countries in the EU now forbid possession of such tools; this is another step towards suppression of our freedoms. Imagine this: taking quotes out of a tyrannical literary work - encoded for the purpose of making it unimpeachable - results in mind police putting dissenters in a gulag. This scenario is just a step away. While we are inviting every fucking illegal alien in, giving them welfare and providing world-class health care, we're maintaining the world's largest prison population of our own citizens. This country is at war with itself and it will surely be the loser.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Just One Guy, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 3:25am

    Re: It is illegal all over europe

    Is it?

    Since when and in which countries?

    It is not illegal to own any piece of software, last time I checked, just illegal to *use* it to illegally access to protected content. VERY different.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Duane, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 5:02am

    So stupid...

    The DMCA has always struck me as one of the most stupid pieces of legislation out there, but this takes the cake!

    In real-wrld (meatspace) terms it's like lawmakers saying "bolt cutters can be used to cut off padlocks, lets make possession of bolt cutters a crime so noone will break into padlocked buildings" I think its just typical though, our lawmakers seem to have made all the wrong decision on technology and privacy issues since before I was born. Just think how much fun Next-Gen DRM will be when its illegal to even posess a toll which can unlock what you have payed for. It's like if I went to a nice department store and bought some clothes, and the clerk refuses to remove the big, clunky plastic anti-shoplifting tags, and then informs me that possession of any tool which is desgined to remove them is illegal.

    And another thing while I'm on a rant... what about brick-and-mortarf stores treating all their customers like shoplifters? Why, when I go to CompUSA does my CLEAR bag have to be inspected 10 feet from the cash register, by someone who was in plain view when I paid for it? Or why can I no longer exit wal-mart or k-mart without being subject to having my property searched? I mean, I've already paid for it.. it's mine, including the bag they gave me to put it in, unless they have a real reason to think I've slipped something in, why assume your paying customers are shoplifting?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    mmrtnt (profile), Apr 24th, 2006 @ 7:36am

    Re: So stupid...

    "Or why can I no longer exit wal-mart or k-mart without being subject to having my property searched?"

    Actually, you don't have to submit to that store-exit search.

    You can ask to be arrested (highly unlikely). I remember reading somewhere about a person who does that to protest the practice - but I can't remember the source of the story. Boingboing maybe?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Steve, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 8:10am

    Re: Cato Inst

    Yes, the Cato Inst. is such a bad organization that they are actually hosting an event discussing modern copyright law, and inviting speakers that (gasp) have differing opinions, will disagree with each other, and provide (hopefully) good debate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: So stupid...

    When they say, "Can I check your bag?"
    You say, "No." and keep walking
    If they say ANYTHING else simply ask, "Are you accusing me of stealing something?" You'll never see anyone back off quicker.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Tin Ear, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Re: So stupid...

    Too true!! A store employee asking to check your bag is asking your consent to a search. If you refuse (as is your right) and they make an issue out of it, DEMAND to have them call a police officer! When the officer gets there, allow him/her to check your bag (and person, if need be). If the officer does not find anything in your bag or on your person, FILE A CIVIL COMPLAINT with said officer that the store was attempting to violate your constitutional right against illegal search and seizure!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Starky, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: So stupid...

    I prefer to say, "Do you have a valid search warrant for my bag?", and when they say no, keep walking, and if they say yes, then they're lying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Hersh, Apr 24th, 2006 @ 3:39pm

    Go get em Mike ...

    Someone has to put a verbal beat down on those sacks...preferably in public. Honestly, what kind of idiotic sense does it make to criminalize a behavior that you know 80% of your young people are indulging in.

    Oh, never mind. These are the same idiots that thought it would be a good idea to go against the market and to try and brute-force marijuana out of high-schools. Yeah that worked real well, assclowns, I haven't heard of anyone that had access to weed in highschool, in the last 20 years.

    And yet the same sort of technique is gonna work to block people from pirating music and movies? Ungah.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    TuxGirl, Apr 25th, 2006 @ 1:29am

    Taking this to an extreme....

    Does this mean that hex editors, C compilers, text editors and such would become illegal? That could put a rather quick damper on the software development industry...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    JohnsGone, Apr 25th, 2006 @ 10:27am

    Going Nucking Futz

    I want to live in Canada, or Sweden were the govt. really does leave you alone. I'd Ask for donations to help me move but... oh wait... THAT'S ILLEGAL TOO!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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