Does The DMCA Still Matter?

from the you-better-believe-it dept

Kevin Donovan writes in to point to law professor Tim Armstrong wondering if the DMCA is still relevant at all, now that so many content providers are dumping DRM. He also notes that we're seeing fewer DMCA-related cases. Kevin supplies his own excellent response talking about the legacy of the DMCA, including the anti-circumvention clause, noting that it's still holding people hostage. For example, he points out that everyone who bought an HD DVD player (picking the losing side in the battle) now would be breaking the law if they merely wanted to move the HD DVD content they legally purchased over to a more usable format. He also points to the importance of the DMCA's safe harbor provisions, which protect service providers from copyright infringement by their users. Both of these are good points. Also, I find Armstrong's first point, about fewer DMCA cases, unconvincing. All it really means is that many of the larger points related to how the law should be interpreted have been decided by the courts. That doesn't change the chilling effects that those rulings have left behind. The law itself is still very, very relevant -- mostly for unfortunate reasons.

Filed Under: copyright, dmca, relevancy


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  1. identicon
    DanC, 6 Mar 2008 @ 6:33pm

    Re:

    Yep, what Hellsvilla said.

    If I purchase a book, I can legally sell it, loan it, give it away, etc.

    If I purchase an ebook, I can no longer do any of those things without violating the DMCA. Furthermore, it's a violation to attempt to retrieve those rights by attempting to remove those restrictions.

    Another example I thought was funny was the Family Guy Star Wars spoof DVD that came out a while ago. On the front it was advertised that it also came with a "bonus" digital copy. In other words, they gave the consumer a compressed video version of the movie that anyone should be able to make for themselves. But it's currently illegal because of the DMCA.

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