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Congress readies broad new digital copyright bill

Old 04-24-06, 03:07 PM
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Congress readies broad new digital copyright bill

http://news.com.com/2100-1028_3-6064...4016&subj=news

I wasn't sure whether to put this in Tech, Other, or here, so move it if necessary.

For the last few years, a coalition of technology companies, academics and computer programmers has been trying to persuade Congress to scale back the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Now Congress is preparing to do precisely the opposite.
A proposed copyright law seen by CNET News.com would expand the DMCA's restrictions on software that can bypass copy protections and grant federal police more wiretapping and enforcement powers.

The draft legislation, created by the Bush administration and backed by Rep. Lamar Smith, already enjoys the support of large copyright holders such as the Recording Industry Association of America. Smith is the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees intellectual-property law.

Smith's press secretary, Terry Shawn, said Friday that the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006 is expected to "be introduced in the near future."

"The bill as a whole does a lot of good things," said Keith Kupferschmid, vice president for intellectual property and enforcement at the Software and Information Industry Association in Washington, D.C. "It gives the (Justice Department) the ability to do things to combat IP crime that they now can't presently do."

During a speech in November, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endorsed the idea and said at the time that he would send Congress draft legislation. Such changes are necessary because new technology is "encouraging large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property theft," Gonzales said, adding that proceeds from the illicit businesses are used, "quite frankly, to fund terrorism activities."

The 24-page bill is a far-reaching medley of different proposals cobbled together. One would, for instance, create a new federal crime of just trying to commit copyright infringement. Such willful attempts at piracy, even if they fail, could be punished by up to 10 years in prison.

It also represents a political setback for critics of expanding copyright law, who have been backing federal legislation that veers in the opposite direction and permits bypassing copy protection for "fair use" purposes. That bill--introduced in 2002 by Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat--has been bottled up in a subcommittee ever since.

A DMCA dispute
But one of the more controversial sections may be the changes to the DMCA. Under current law, Section 1201 of the law generally prohibits distributing or trafficking in any software or hardware that can be used to bypass copy-protection devices. (That section already has been used against a Princeton computer science professor, Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov and a toner cartridge remanufacturer.)

Smith's measure would expand those civil and criminal restrictions. Instead of merely targeting distribution, the new language says nobody may "make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess" such anticircumvention tools if they may be redistributed to someone else.

"It's one degree more likely that mere communication about the means of accomplishing a hack would be subject to penalties," said Peter Jaszi, who teaches copyright law at American University and is critical of attempts to expand it.

Even the current wording of the DMCA has alarmed security researchers. Ed Felten, the Princeton professor, told the Copyright Office last month that he and a colleague were the first to uncover the so-called "rootkit" on some Sony BMG Music Entertainment CDs--but delayed publishing their findings for fear of being sued under the DMCA. A report prepared by critics of the DMCA says it quashes free speech and chokes innovation.

The SIIA's Kupferschmid, though, downplayed concerns about the expansion of the DMCA. "We really see this provision as far as any changes to the DMCA go as merely a housekeeping provision, not really a substantive change whatsoever," he said. "They're really to just make the definition of trafficking consistent throughout the DMCA and other provisions within copyright law uniform."

The SIIA's board of directors includes Symantec, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Intuit and Red Hat.

Jessica Litman, who teaches copyright law at Wayne State University, views the DMCA expansion as more than just a minor change. "If Sony had decided to stand on its rights and either McAfee or Norton Antivirus had tried to remove the rootkit from my hard drive, we'd all be violating this expanded definition," Litman said.

The proposed law scheduled to be introduced by Rep. Smith also does the following:

Permits wiretaps in investigations of copyright crimes, trade secret theft and economic espionage. It would establish a new copyright unit inside the FBI and budgets $20 million on topics including creating "advanced tools of forensic science to investigate" copyright crimes.

Amends existing law to permit criminal enforcement of copyright violations even if the work was not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Boosts criminal penalties for copyright infringement originally created by the No Electronic Theft Act of 1997 from five years to 10 years (and 10 years to 20 years for subsequent offenses). The NET Act targets noncommercial piracy including posting copyrighted photos, videos or news articles on a Web site if the value exceeds $1,000.

Creates civil asset forfeiture penalties for anything used in copyright piracy. Computers or other equipment seized must be "destroyed" or otherwise disposed of, for instance at a government auction. Criminal asset forfeiture will be done following the rules established by federal drug laws.

Says copyright holders can impound "records documenting the manufacture, sale or receipt of items involved in" infringements.


Jason Schultz, a staff attorney at the digital-rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the recording industry would be delighted to have the right to impound records. In a piracy lawsuit, "they want server logs," Schultz said. "They want to know every single person who's ever downloaded (certain files)--their IP addresses, everything."
Why are we allowing large media corporations to define access to information? If nothing else, I think this law shows how scared they are. No one follows the DMCA, so they're trying to use draconian penalties to scare people into following it.

Patterning copyright law on drug law sure is a good idea.
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Old 04-24-06, 03:29 PM
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Why are we allowing large media corporations to define access to information? If nothing else, I think this law shows how scared they are.
Because they are the ones that own the content?
The way they think is that every back-up that you make of your CD or DVD is one less copy of the same material they could sell to you.
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Old 04-24-06, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
Because they are the ones that own the content?
I don't have any problem with a creator getting paid for his work. I do have a problem with large media corporations rewriting the copyright laws so that they have a revenue stream in perpetuity.

The way they think is that every back-up that you make of your CD or DVD is one less copy of the same material they could sell to you.
Of course that's how they think. If they could, they'd move to a system where you rent everything. Doesn't mean we should let them.
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Old 04-24-06, 03:47 PM
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I don't have any problem with a creator getting paid for his work. I do have a problem with large media corporations rewriting the copyright laws so that they have a revenue stream in perpetuity.
One way to thwart that is to not buy the content. I don't like it either but they own the content.
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Old 04-24-06, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
One way to thwart that is to not buy the content. I don't like it either but they own the content.
Their ownership is not in question.

What is in question is their neverending quest to totally eliminate the public domain. Should the Disney Corporation be able to indefinitely profit on Walt Disney's creation of Mickey Mouse?

Aside from such questions, extending the public domain makes our shared cultural heritage more sterile. If our current copyright laws were in place in 1920, we'd never have seen a lot of the art that's been produced.
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Old 04-24-06, 03:53 PM
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Should the Disney Corporation be able to indefinitely profit on Walt Disney's creation of Mickey Mouse?
They already do. If anyone tries to use the image of Mickey Mouse, Disney sues them.
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Old 04-24-06, 05:45 PM
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Should the Disney Corporation be able to indefinitely profit on Walt Disney's creation of Mickey Mouse?
why not?
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Old 04-24-06, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by mikehunt
why not?
Well, the purpose of copyright is twofold: to protect the property rights of a creator while promoting the creation of additional creative property. I don't see how allowing corporate entitites to claim copyright ownership and thus wall off increasingly large amounts of creative work is helping to promote creativity.
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Old 04-24-06, 07:12 PM
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Permits wiretaps in investigations of copyright crimes, trade secret theft and economic espionage. It would establish a new copyright unit inside the FBI and budgets $20 million on topics including creating "advanced tools of forensic science to investigate" copyright crimes.
All the while Bush kisses the ass of China where piracy runs uncontrollably rampant. This seems like a collossal waste of taxpayer money.

Amends existing law to permit criminal enforcement of copyright violations even if the work was not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Why?

Boosts criminal penalties for copyright infringement originally created by the No Electronic Theft Act of 1997 from five years to 10 years (and 10 years to 20 years for subsequent offenses). The NET Act targets noncommercial piracy including posting copyrighted photos, videos or news articles on a Web site if the value exceeds $1,000.
These are victimless crimes. Throwing someone in jail for this is beyond radiculous. Stiff penalties are fine of course.

Creates civil asset forfeiture penalties for anything used in copyright piracy. Computers or other equipment seized must be "destroyed" or otherwise disposed of, for instance at a government auction. Criminal asset forfeiture will be done following the rules established by federal drug laws.
This seems reasonable.
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Old 04-25-06, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Gallant Pig
Creates civil asset forfeiture penalties for anything used in copyright piracy. Computers or other equipment seized must be "destroyed" or otherwise disposed of, for instance at a government auction. Criminal asset forfeiture will be done following the rules established by federal drug laws.
This seems reasonable.
Do you really think so? How about this scenario:

1) I drive to Compusa and buy a DVD movie, a stack of DVD-Rs, and a DVD burner.
2) At home I download a decryption program and copy said movie a few times.
3) That night I have a loud party and the cops are called. They find the receipt, ISP records, movie, and DVD-R copies.
4) My car, house, and equipment are all seized and sold at auction.

Does that seem reasonable? Don't assume that it is not possible. Scenarios like this play out all the time in under the drug laws that this legislation was based upon.
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Old 04-25-06, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Pistol Pete
Do you really think so? How about this scenario:

1) I drive to Compusa and buy a DVD movie, a stack of DVD-Rs, and a DVD burner.
2) At home I download a decryption program and copy said movie a few times.
3) That night I have a loud party and the cops are called. They find the receipt, ISP records, movie, and DVD-R copies.
4) My car, house, and equipment are all seized and sold at auction.

Does that seem reasonable? Don't assume that it is not possible. Scenarios like this play out all the time in under the drug laws that this legislation was based upon.

I don't think 1), 2) or 3) have anything to do with this provision though do they? Basically it's just number 4), which is no different than a stiff penalty.
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Old 04-25-06, 11:22 AM
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#4 is too stiff a penalty. Maybe ok for a major pirater who is selling thousands of copies of burned movies, games, cds etc. But not for someone just burning a few copies for friends.

They deserve punishment, but it must be proportional to the damage done.
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Old 04-25-06, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Gallant Pig
I don't think 1), 2) or 3) have anything to do with this provision though do they? Basically it's just number 4), which is no different than a stiff penalty.
Oh yes, they do. Not content with decimating fair use, the big media corporations now want to scare you into thinking you could lose anything that was used in connection with "copyright violation".

Do you think that making a copy of a DVD warrants having your car seized?
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Old 04-25-06, 11:30 AM
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well, other than your computer, I don't think they'll take your car or house. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
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Old 04-25-06, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Gallant Pig
well, other than your computer, I don't think they'll take your car or house. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
I'd rather that this bill never even sees a committee.
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Old 04-25-06, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Hinkle
#4 is too stiff a penalty. Maybe ok for a major pirater who is selling thousands of copies of burned movies, games, cds etc. But not for someone just burning a few copies for friends.

They deserve punishment, but it must be proportional to the damage done.
And how often is American Justice proportional to the crime.
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Old 04-25-06, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
And how often is American Justice proportional to the crime.
Of course. I just don't want to see another disportionate law. Our system is a joke as is.
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