Ok, I really should be working right now but I just saw a news article that I thought really needed to be commented on. As mentioned in my post about SACD’s earlier, it appears that sometimes companies go too far in trying to protect their copyrights and impinge on a persons fair use rights (see the entirety of the DMCA).

So far, consumers have been without a reliable voice in congress arguing for their position. Well it appears that finally, at least at first glance, that someone is trying to introduce a bill that restores some sort of control to the consumers.

I saw from the Washington Post blog on technology that Representatives Rich Boucher and John Dolittle introduced legislation called the FAIR USE (a ridiculous acronym – Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship).

It certainly seems like a step in the right direction. You can check out the full text of the bill here: HR 1201 (PDF).

  • ability transmit a work over a home or personal network
  • skip commercials
  • for use in a library or classroom
  • to extract public domain works
  • to “gain access to a work of substantial public interest solely for the purpose of criticism, comment, news reporting, scholarship, or research”

I like it, but using my amazing legal knowledge (none since I am not at all lawyerly) I see that there are some loopholes that I think may end up making it effectively useless. Consider this paragraph that is supposed to contain a modification to the DMCA:

The prohibition contained in subparagraph (A) [of the DMCA] shall not apply to … an act of circumvention that is carried out solely for the purpose of enabling a person to transmit a work over a home or personal network, except that this exemption does not apply to the circumvention of a technological measure to the extent that it prevents uploading of the work to the Internet for mass, indiscriminate redistribution; (emphasis added)

This loophole, of allowing the technology for the purpose of prevention of online distribution indicates to me, that all DRM will be able to continue as is. Almost every copyrighted work that is DRM’d is done so to prevent it from ‘getting on the internet’ or some such nonsense.

Who decides why DRM was added to something? It is added to prevent copying but copying on your network is allowed but copying on the internet is not? How can you possibly engineer a solution that would prevent TCP/IP distribution on the internet but still allow it on your local subnet. It doesn’t make sense.

While I recognize that sentence was added to increase the likelihood that the legislation would pass. I feel that it still allows too much DRM on the copyrighted materials.

Also, it includes a note that circumvention is allowed “to skip past … personally objectionable content in an audiovisual work.” Will this allow more online stores that cater to individuals who would like to edit out certain sections of works and sell them online? Are we allowing people to continue to neuter works of art to fit their personal taste?

Anyway, it really is starting to seem like Steve Jobs “Open Letter” did do something to shake up the whole landscape. Interesting stuff.

2 thoughts on “FAIR USE”

  1. I haven’t seen the talking points for this yet so I don’t know what I’m supposed to think. correction: here is the EFF answer (they say it is good)

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