Movie studios trying to expand technology regulations

Posted 10 Oct 2003 at 22:06 UTC by schoen Share This

"The DMCA doesn't go far enough" must be the refrain of movie studio executives and lawyers (and other media companies) who are still pushing expanded technology regulations before the Federal Communications Commission.

Indeed, when challenged about the fact that their proposed regulations go beyond what was provided by the DMCA, the studios essentially said that changing circumstances justified additional regulations.

The DMCA says in section 1201(c)(3) that nobody is required by the DMCA to implement DRM in anything. (If you break DRM, or, in one common interpretation, try to interoperate with anything already containing DRM, then you can get in trouble. But you don't have to implement DRM yourself if you don't feel like it, when, for example, you're creating technology based on open standards.)

MPAA has been saying for several years that this principle (in the DMCA and prior related caselaw) is untenable. It's been saying so in court (in litigation against file-sharing software developers) and in Congress and before the FCC.

This position is remarkable. Most people in our community consider the DMCA anticircumvention rules to be insane technology and copyright policy, but MPAA still says these rules are insufficient for its needs!

Unfortunately, many people think that the FCC is about to give in and adopt a "broadcast flag" rule that bans certain devices capable of receiving cleartext signals because their developers chose not to include any DRM. No current law required these devices to include any DRM, but MPAA thinks they are creating an unacceptible risk because they give cleartext outputs from cleartext inputs.

If the FCC adopted a rule covering software, as MPAA prefers, it could make the GNU Radio program illegal.

Please write to Chairman Powell and Commissioners Martin, Abernathy, Copps, and Martin to let them know that you as a technologist think this would be exactly the wrong direction for technology policy. EFF has provided a consumer-oriented letter to the FCC, but you can send your own letter reflecting your own concerns. (There is also contact information for the Commissioners' offices on the FCC home page.)

Programmers have a lot to lose if requiring DRM in any product category MPAA finds inconvenient becomes a habit among regulators. MPAA itself said this is just the first of three initiatives to expand technology regulation beyond the scope of the DMCA; the last of these is regulating Internet software.


Commissioners, posted 11 Oct 2003 at 00:04 UTC by schoen » (Master)

That should say "Martin, Abernathy, Copps, and Adelstein".

DMCA, posted 14 Oct 2003 at 23:16 UTC by aicra » (Journeyer)

In fact, the DMCA itself goes beyond the scope of what was initially required or "requested" by the WIPO in the 1990s.

I see the template letter is located at. http://action.eff.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=2801

While I believe and understand that these sorts of letters have brought about a good course of action, I am concerned that in many cases the reviewers of such letters have stated the letters were too similar and in some of the cases I have seen and heard that those letters were not really taken into consideration due to their similarity.

This concerns me as that for decades, people were using postcards with template or duplicate information mailed to their representatives or senators. Those postcards were received and revered as a powerful statement. However, I just wanted to note that the email doesn't seem to make the same statement. Just an observation.

Keep up the great work!

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