Legal Issues

Copywrong

Salon has a Story on the U.S. Copyright Office report giving the Digital Millennium Copyright Act a passing grade.

\"Libraries could not exist without first sale. If they had to get permission or pay a fee every time they lent a copy of a book, they would have to stop lending. There would be no functional difference between a public library and a Barnes and Noble.


It\'s no secret that some big publishers have been waging commercial and legislative war on libraries for some years now. These publishers see every use of interlibrary loan as a lost sale. And the DMCA is a big ICBM in that war. These publishers would like nothing better than to be able to dictate the terms of use in libraries. And by moving all their content to digital streams, encrypted, tethered to specific devices and controlled by restrictive contracts, they can effectively squeeze libraries to death.\"

U.S. Copyright Office: No Substantial Changes to D.M.C.A.

After a review of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the U.S. has concluded that offline copyright law does not apply to the digital world, and that the anti-circumvention clause does not merit further attention:

The study does give critics some ammunition to work with. It asks legislators, for example, to clarify whether temporary copies are legal, and advises Congress to give users of digital content the right to make archival copies. But the report also rejects the argument that offline copyright law should apply to the digital world, calling the analogy \"flawed and unconvincing.\"

The study also refuses to address the energetic public outcry over the DMCA\'s controversial anti-circumvention clause, which prohibits the creation and distribution of methods for getting around copyright controls. While it acknowledges that most of the people who criticized the law -- at public hearings and via e-mail -- \"expressed general opposition to the prohibitions on circumvention of technological protection measures contained in [the anti-circumvention clause section 1201], and noted their concerns about the adverse impact that section 1201 may have on fair use and other copyright exceptions,\" the Copyright Office, which falls under the authority of the Library of Congress, sidestepped public concern. . .

More from Salon (the free part.) The Copyright Office report can be found here.

Constitutional Freedom to Read Recognized

Luis Acosta writes \"There is an interesting item in today\'s Washington Post\'s \"District Extra\" section (not to be confused with the Metro section) about a U.S. District Court decision that recognizes the freedom to read:
Full Story
The decision at issue in the story is posted on the web page of the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia,
here.
While the defendant that lost is a public library, the decision recognizes the first amendment right to freedom to read/freedom of information, and therefore is good news.\"

Lawyer Lessig raps new copyright laws

News.com has a nice little Piece on Stanford Law School professor and technology pundit Lawrence Lessig\'s keynote address at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.

\"Employees at Smith & Wesson don\'t worry if guns kill police officers,\" Lessig said. \"Some uses are illegal and some are not. But if you wrote code that could be used for good or bad, you\'re arrested and sent to jail...There\'s something screwed up about that.\"

My analogy is this:My car goes about 100, which is totally illegal, and yet I bought this car, and it\'s legal, and I can make it go 100mph if I\'m so inclined.
Imagine if they passed a law that made it illegal for just Ford to sell cars that went over the speed limit.

Publisher Dow Jones Accused of Defamation Against Aussie Businessman

From NewsRoom, someone writes...

\"An Australian businessman has won the right to have an internet defamation case against US publishing giant Dow Jones heard in Melbourne. Dow Jones argued the case should by heard in the United States, because that\'s where the company\'s internet site server is. However, the Victorian Supreme Court judge ruled in his 75-page judgement that \"publication\" occurred where the story was read, not where it was stored. The case has significant implications for internet publishers, as it could mean they are required to comply with the laws of any country in which content may be viewed.\" more...

Skylarov indicted Tuesday

Dmitri Skylarov was indicted Tuesday despite his attorney\'s attempts to reach a plea bargain. The AP news story is available at the Washington Post. The Electronic Freedom Foundation\'s reaction is here. ElcomSoft\'s Software has legitimate \'fair-use\' applications. Music CD\'s are being copy protected. These are negative indicators for the future of fair use, a principle that keeps libraries in business. Could a fight for digital rights be the next civil rights movement?

Library Says Trespassers will be Prosecuted

If you aren\'t at the Picayune, (MS) Public Library conducting public library business, don\'t bother coming, or you may be arrested. The library has received numerous complaints over the years and some patrons feel threatened by interlopers who are there for no other reason than to just hang-out. more... from The Picayune Item.

ISP Monitors User Downloads for Copyright Violations

Excite@Home Australia has announced that it will terminate the service of any user detected downloading
copyrighted material:

Excite@Home Australia users are up in arms over the telco\'s random raids on their broadband accounts in search of pirate activity, with many saying it\'s an invasion of their privacy. The ISP informed users of its Optus@Home broadband service that it would terminate customer accounts found to be downloading pirate software or copyright material. . . .

More from ZDNet. Thanks to Slashdot .

Censorship in action

Niels Ferguson, a professional cryptographer has written, Censorship in action: why I don\'t publish my HDCP results, which takes a look at why the DMCA is bad news.

\"There are lawyers who claim that a scientific paper like mine is a circumvention technology within the meaning of the DMCA, because it explains the weaknesses of a system. I have been advised by a US lawyer who works in this field that if I publish my paper, I might very well be prosecuted and/or sued under US law. \"

No, he\'s not American.

The FTAA vs. Intellectual Freedom

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has issued a call to the public to
protest the inclusion in the Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA) treaty of language that grants even
greater control to publishers of intellectual property than the Digital Millenium Copyright Act:

While Russian graduate student Dmitry Sklyarov potentially faces five years in prison under the first criminal prosecution of a controversial new US law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) passed at the request of Hollywood in 1998, its backers are now busily exporting overseas its dangerous legal theories of excessive copyright protection at the price of civil liberties. Worldwide public intervention is immediately necessary to restore freedom of speech as a value promoted by free societies. . .

The public comment period ends 8/22. The complete press release can be found here . Thanks to Slashdot.

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