Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and John Doolittle (R-CA) have introduced the Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act, or DMCRA. A hearing has been scheduled for May 12th. This is the first time in twelve years that there has been such public legislative support for consumers’ rights to use the digital media products they buy.
The bill has three parts. First, it requires all copy-protected CDs to bear a warning label indicating that they might not play in all CD players and might not be able to be ripped by a computer. Second, it amends the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to allow researchers and consumers to get around copy protection systems for legal purposes. Third, it codifies the Supreme Court’s “Betamax” holding that devices with a substantial noninfringing use are legal to manufacture and distribute, even if consumers can also use them to commit copyright infringement.
Here are the changes to the relevant sections of the DMCA.
Secion 1201(a)(2) is amended to read:
No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that – (A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title unless the person is acting solely in furtherance of scientific research into technological protection measures
Section 1201(b)(1) is amended to read:
No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that – (A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing protection afforded by a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner under this title in a work or a portion thereof unless the person is acting solely in furtherance of scientific research into technological protection measures;
Section 1201( c ) is amended to read:
( c ) Other Rights, Etc., Not Affected. -
(1) Nothing in this section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use, under this title and it is not a violation of this section to circumvent a technological measure in connection with access to, or the use of, a work if such circumvention does not result in an infringement of the copyright in the work.
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(5) It shall not be a violation of this title to manufacture, distribute, or make noninfringing use of a hardware or software product capable of enabling significant noninfringing use of a copyrighted work.
Write your congresssional representative and tell him or her to support the DMCRA. This bill reverses much of the damage done by the DMCA while still allowing copyright holders to continue their (unwise) efforts to lock up digital content behind technological protections.