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You Only Think You Own It

Following up on my recent rant about the DMCA hearings held this past week by the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office, Public Knowledge has more information about the testimony.

From what PK’s reporter is observing, it’s pretty clear that all sorts of special groups have their representatives at the table, but no one seems to be speaking for the rest of us.

I attended the last two days of the D.C. hearings and came away not only with a renewed understanding of how the DMCA is killing consumer rights especially fair use but also how much content owners are afraid of fair use. The hearing also reaffirmed something we have said always: the DMCA is used more to lock out competition than to protect copyrighted works.

What is more, the copyright owners fear that allowing documentarians and vidders to make clips would lead to a slippery slope. One day, every one would be able to circumvent TPMs and make clips for fair uses and that was not Congresses intent in enacting the DMCA!

This line, repeated often throughout the proceedings brought home the point that major copyright holders are out to stop not only “piracy” but any uncontrolled use, including fair use.

If the big content companies had their way (they have plenty of money and lawyers to make it happen), they would distribute everything on a pay-per-view basis.

Since they can’t do that right now, they’ll have to settle for pay-per-reuse.

In other words, if you own a DVD and want to watch it on your iPod, that will be an additional charge.

If you want to make a backup of that DVD for the kids to watch in the car, the MPAA’s solution is for you buy another copy.

And if you’re a teacher who wants to exercise your fair use rights by extracting a 90 second excerpt from a 90 minute documentary for your students to watch as part of the lesson, tough luck.

However, the DMCA is just one part of the totally screwed up intellectual property system in this country.

And the producers of DVD content are only one of the groups working to drastically restrict the rights of copyright users, which was as much the point of the original concept as protecting copyright owners.

For an excellent overview of the issues involved, read Cory Doctorow’s Why I Copyfight.

1 Comment

  1. Andrew B. Watt

    This is why we need to teach kids to be content-creators, of course. If they are content creators, they will be much more interested in knowing what the copyright laws are, and how those laws protect and harm them.

    They will also be much more interested in creating materials that help them learn.

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