Entertainment Cartels Deny Fair Use and legal
sharing via Napster - Evils of DMCA
Notes by Neal McBurnett, available at
It is increasingly the case, especially as the Internet gains
increasing attention among lawyers, that the rights of
users are being affected. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has
been construed to not only prevent people from reverse engineering
technology and freely sharing the results, but even from including
relevant hyperlinks on their web pages. The success of Napster at
allowing individuals to find and share copyrighed music from the big
record labels has threatened the ability of emerging artists from
using the same technology to promote their work.
We must preserve the right share our own work in the spirit of the
Constitution's actual language on the subject.
- Science and technology has created the miracle of cheap
information distribution, lauded in books like Freeman Dyson's
"The Sun, the Genome and the Internet" as one of the big 4
advances in civilization.
Issue: too cheap to meter => too cheap to police.
- John Gilmore on
What's wrong with Copy Protection? at
"Why should self-interested companies be permitted to shift the
balance of fundamental liberties, risking free expression, free
markets, scientific progress, consumer rights, societal stability,
and the end of physical and informational want? Because somebody
might be able to steal a song? That seems a rather flimsy excuse."
- Specifically, right to hyperlink, "fair use" of copyrighted materials,
publish your own source code, learn how things
work and share it with others. Demise of open and interoperable technologies.
Right to innovate.
- US Constitution, Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power...
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for
limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their
respective Writings and Discoveries;
But what if copyright and patent laws are inhibiting the progress of
science and useful arts?
- Current strategy by media conglomerates: get more protection
than the laws allow by using flimsy "encryption" technologies
and then using the new DMCA to prohibit users from defeating the
extra technological protections.
- The Internet vastly complicates issues of jurisdiction
- Peer-to-peer networking and technologies like Freedom
from Zero-Knowledge Systems make it impractical to police
- DMCA - Digital Millennium Copyright Act introduces
- Gallery of CSS Descramblers:
- Recent DMCA appeal by EFF - link below
- Napster judgement from the Ninth Circuit, 2001-02-12:
"contributory liability may potentially be imposed only to the extent
that Napster: (1) receives reasonable knowledge of specific
infringing files with copyrighted musical compositions and sound
recordings; (2) knows or should know that such files are available on
the Napster system; and (3) fails to act to prevent viral
distribution of the works. ... The mere existence of the Napster
system, absent actual notice and Napster's demonstrated failure to
remove the offending material, is insufficient to impose contributory
- See US Rep Boucher's interview on Slashdot on these topics. He
is planning to introduce legislation to preserve fair use, and explains
how you can get involved.
- Conclusions: DMCA restrictions on Fair Use need to be overturned.
Future of copyright vs innovation is big debate....
In the meantime, sharing Technologies must not be prevented from allowing
easy sharing of content with permission of its owner.
Copy Protection paper.
Future of Music Coalition -
Artists representing themselves.
EFF "Intellectual Property Online: Patent, Trademark, Copyright" Archive
DVD for Linux et al (DeCSS) - Reverse-engineered version of DVD CSS
(Content Scrambling System)
Gallery of CSS Descramblers - excellent exposition of techniques for
communicating and hiding information via the Internet et.al (text,
pictures, MIDI, steganography, from DVD-CCA's own DNS servers! ...):
See also: http://decss.zoy.org/
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA):
Napster and peer-to-peer networking:
Gnutella network - Much harder to shut down than Napster.
League for Programming Freedom (patents, user-interface copyrights):
FRUUG presentation on "Legal constraints on Netizens: DeCSS, Napster, Clue.com, etc.", Thu 2001-02-15.
Clue.com's legal battle:
Considerations for innocent domain name owners:
Last modified: Tue Jan 8 09:45:13 MST 2002