|Subject: [hangout] Time to Chime
Public to chime in on copyright law
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
March 20, 2003, 10:19 AM PT
WASHINGTON--Fans and foes of the controversial Digital Millennium
Copyright Act soon will have another chance to tell the U.S. government
what they think.
The Library of Congress' Copyright Office said on Thursday that it will
hold a series of public hearings over the next two months in
Washington, D.C. and California to decide what changes, if any, should
be made to the section of the DMCA that restricts bypassing
Anyone with strong feelings about the DMCA, one way or another, may
submit a request by Apr. 1 to testify during the public forums, the
Copyright Office said in its announcement. The hearing dates in the
U.S. capital will be Apr. 11, Apr. 15 and May 2. The dates and
locations in California have not been set yet.
The Copyright Office's announcement comes as criticism of the DMCA's
"anticircumvention" restrictions has grown. With a few exemptions,
section 1201 generally bars people from circumventing a "technological
measure that effectively control access to a work," as well as creating
or distributing tools to do the same. Copyright holders, led by groups
such as the Business Software Alliance and the music and motion picture
trade associations, have lobbied to keep that part of the DMCA intact.
Critics, however, say it stifles legitimate research.
"I'm glad they're holding hearings," said Mike Godwin, technology
counsel for the Public Knowledge advocacy group. "This will present a
chance for people to show up and make their case and build a good
The hearings extend proceedings that started in November, when the
Copyright Office began accepting comments from the public. The last
round of comments was due on Feb. 20. During that round, the Electronic
Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group, asked that it be
legal to bypass DVD region coding, skip ads on DVDs, and unlock
When enacting the DMCA in 1998, Congress ordered the Copyright Office to
conduct regular reviews of one portion of section 1201 of the law. The
Librarian of Congress, who oversees the Copyright Office, may exempt
specific groups from being covered by that part of the DMCA.
In October 2000, two exemptions were set: Researchers into filtering
could study blacklisting techniques, and obsolete copy-protection
schemes could be legally bypassed. Those exemptions are set to expire
in October 2003.
But that part of the DMCA includes two broad prohibitions--on bypassing
copy-protection technology and on distributing a program that bypasses
that technology--and the Librarian of Congress is permitted only to
offer exemptions to the former.
Because it won't affect researchers or companies that publish software
code that circumvents copy-protection technology, the practical impact
of the current proceeding may be limited. It probably would not have
helped 2600 magazine, for instance, which the movie studios
successfully sued for distributing a DVD-descrambling utility.
"The Copyright Office stresses that factual arguments are at least as
important as legal arguments and encourages persons who wish to testify
to provide demonstrative evidence to supplement their testimony,"
Thursday's announcement says. "While testimony from attorneys who can
articulate legal arguments in support of or opposition to a proposed
exempted class of works is useful, testimony from witnesses who can
explain and demonstrate the facts is also solicited."
The Microsoft Crackpipe - Everyone uses it, what harm could it be?
Geek Code v3.12
GB/MC/MU/PA d- s+:+ a C++ L+++ P E- W+++ N++ o? K? w+ O? M? V? PS+ PE+
Y+ PGP t+ 5 X R- tv++ b++ DI D G e++ h-- r++ y+
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