Third Party & Independents Archives

DMCA and IPPA vs the USA

Instead of following the suggestion of a coalition of tech companies, academics and computer programmers that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was too oppressive and should be scaled back, congress is now determined to EXPAND the powers of the federal government to combat copy protections through a new amendment to the DMCA. IPac has recently gotten a hold of the new bill entitled The Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006 (IPPA) and it’s worse than anyone could have imagined.

This is part of a recent mailing from IPac:

This is a concerted effort to escalate Hollywood's war on America by creating a generation of criminals and sending them off to jail. That's right: the "Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006" (IPPA, link to bill below) would double the authorized prison terms for existing copyright infringement, create a host of new offenses, and establish a division within the FBI to hunt down infringers. The Members of Congress in the pockets of the Hollywood cartels want to divert $20 million a year and FBI agents from fighting real criminals.

The link to that bill is here.

So what’s the fuss? Everyone wants to combat hacking and song and movie pirating, don’t they? Yes, most people do. But the problem comes as it does with most types of copy protection in that they harm the legitimate users of a product or service than deter those who are attempting to infringe on that copyrighted use. What has been determined as ‘Fair Use’. The DCMA scoffs at the thought of fair use and this new amendment makes it clear that the recording industry has no concern about the users of their materials and the rights they enjoy, or did enjoy until now.

For example, with this new amendment, it will be illegal to even have your possession any program or device that can circumvent copy-protection schemes. For example, I play games occasionally and many of the games I play require that you have the original CD in the drive when you play. Now, this scares me because it prevents me from being able to make a playable backup of my software, something that was fought for as a right in the late 1980s; I was involved in that fight. Recently I had a copy of Madden 2005 that was damaged and I didn’t think I was even going to be able to play it anymore, but I was lucky enough that the portion of the disc that was damaged wasn’t where the copy protection code was.

So, because of this and for ease of use I purchased a program called Game Jackal. This program allows me to create a profile of the games that require original CDs and will mimic them when I play them in the future. Now I can safely put away my originals and play without concern about damaging those precious discs. However, under this new amendment, it will be ILLEGAL for me to possess this software, the expanded punishments including the destruction of my computer and 10 years in jail.

The problem is that the RIAA and the Movie Industry believe that NO copyright infringement is acceptable and will fight to prevent that one instance from happening by putting all of their legal customers through more and more jumps and hoops. The only ones who are being harmed are the legitimate users of the material that they’ve paid for or acquired through other legal means, copyright infringement still continues on.

I remember the old movie Amazon Women on the Moon. In that movie was a small vignette about ‘Move Piracy’. When the pirates stole their bounty of new movies and started playing one, the FBI warning came on and they all pointed and laughed. No one who is really out to pirate or steal movies, software or songs are going to be concerned with these types of difficulties in using them, they just find another way around it. It’s the legitimate consumer that is being punished.

When the producers of a product or service get to the point of that level of unconcern for the needs and rights of those they are producing for, one can only wonder how long they are going to survive before every one of the customers stops dealing with them altogether. Already we hear about how the music industry is taking a beating from poor record sales and the movie industry likewise. They don’t consider that it might be that their products are becoming less and less entertaining and hard to consider purchasing. Instead they want to blame it on piracy. If they could just stamp out anyone stealing their products then we’d be FORCED to purchase their mediocre garbage and smile as we do so. The reality is that we are finding other forms of entertainment in our lives.

Here are some more of the changes included in the IPPA as detailed by CNET News.com’s Declan McCullagh:

The proposed law scheduled to be introduced by Rep. Smith also does the following:

• Permits wiretaps in investigations of copyright crimes, trade secret theft and economic espionage. It would establish a new copyright unit inside the FBI and budgets $20 million on topics including creating "advanced tools of forensic science to investigate" copyright crimes.

• Amends existing law to permit criminal enforcement of copyright violations even if the work was not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

• Boosts criminal penalties for copyright infringement originally created by the No Electronic Theft Act of 1997 from five years to 10 years (and 10 years to 20 years for subsequent offenses). The NET Act targets noncommercial piracy including posting copyrighted photos, videos or news articles on a Web site if the value exceeds $1,000.

• Creates civil asset forfeiture penalties for anything used in copyright piracy. Computers or other equipment seized must be "destroyed" or otherwise disposed of, for instance at a government auction. Criminal asset forfeiture will be done following the rules established by federal drug laws.

• Says copyright holders can impound "records documenting the manufacture, sale or receipt of items involved in" infringements.

The original DMCA was horrible to begin with. While it was suppose to combat circumvention of copyrights it was used during the past seven years not against pirates but consumers, scientists and legitimate competitors.


According to the group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in their brief entitled Unintended Consequences: Seven Years Under the DMCA the anti-circumvention provisions have been used to stifle several legitimate activities. It is a major threat to several important public policy priorities. They state with glaring examples that:

    • The DMCA Chills Free Expression and Scientific Research – One of the examples given is the Sony Rootkit Vulnerability that many may remember. Because of the DMCA, the person who discovered the vulnerability had to spend several weeks discussing the impact of detailing the exploit with lawyers as it may have violated the DMCA.

    • The DMCA Jeopardizes Fair Use – No longer are we allowed to make backup copies of our games or DVD movies legally, to do so violates the DMCA even in cases of Fair Use, until a Supreme Court looks at the issue and resolves which law is constitutional and which isn’t.

    • The DMCA Impedes Competition and Innovation – One of the reasons you have to get a new phone if you change your cell carrier is because of the DCMA. Several threats and one actual lawsuit was filed by cell carriers against people who have attempted to circumvent the locking of the phones to specific carriers.


I urge everyone to become familiar with the DMCA and this proposed amendment and decide for yourselves if this is harmless copyright protection or further infringements on the rights of Americans to live their lives with as little government intrusion as possible. Don't take just my word for it, do your own research, determine for yourself what level of infringement you are going to allow in your personal lives.

Posted by Rhinehold at April 25, 2006 11:25 PM
Comments
Comment #143189

Sheesh!!! Another “Blame Hollywood” post!!! I suppose I should be grateful the word “Liberals” was never mentioned. Heh.

Before you start blaming Hollywood again, I suggest you look into the Major Corporations who own most of the “Intellectual Property” out there. I also suggest you check who the real backers of this Bill really are. Look into the Authors recent Campaign Contributors and the lobbyists.

I doubt Hollywood is really behind this. Corporate America is the more likely culprit. Intellectual Property is far more a Corporate concern profit-wise than anything else out there.

Posted by: Aldous at April 26, 2006 3:26 AM
Comment #143192

Aldous, one of the main backers of this bill is the RIAA. The movie industry has also been pushing for this. It comes from the Bush administration’s Department of Justice recommendations. It is being introduced by Lamar Smith and F. James Sensenbrenner.

If your ‘inferrence’ is that this is a post blaming democrats for the trampling of US Citizen’s rights, you’re far from reality on this one. Both congressmen mentioned earlier are Republicans and it came from the Dept of Justice.

In addition, your narrowminded view of ‘Hollywood’ being liberal and ‘Corporate America’ being conservative is equally narrowminded and will lead you down further sweeping generalizations. This is a very non-partisan issue, it’s US against the Federal Government, left or right. It’s a shame that you can’t get your partisan blinders off for the 5 minutes it would take to read the whole article…

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 26, 2006 3:41 AM
Comment #143195

Rhinehold:

I did read the whole article. You’re the one who blamed Hollywood. My position is that this will benefit major Patentholders far more than a few pirated DVDs of movies. Its not the first time a major corporation would use one of its subsidiaries to further its main goal. The Hollywood thing is just a distraction, IMO, to keep the public from seeing the full implications of this.

Again, I suggest you do deeper research.

Posted by: Aldous at April 26, 2006 4:12 AM
Comment #143196

Aldous, Sorry but I have done a lot of research in this. I did not ‘blame hollywood’, I blamed the congressmen who are in the pockets of copyright holders, including the likes of the RIAA, Authors’ Guild, BSA, MPAA, etc. Yes, these groups are manned by people who work for and represent the likes of VIACOM, TOR Publishing, MGM, Universal Studios, Sony, RCA, Microsoft, Electronic Arts etc.

You can pretend that these people aren’t spearheading the effort to squash Fair Use and any other number of rights that are being infringed by this new amendment, but you are sadly mistaken. If you can find anything to point to me being wrong about who is behind the effort, please feel free to provide that information here, I would be glad to read it and add it to the tons of research and fighting I’ve been doing on this front since the mid 1980s.

The point is that while these people are showing that they don’t care about their customers, they are now going after our congressmen, with success unfortunately, to make this federal law that they can then use to ‘protect their IP’. These are the people that are buckling under the pressure and money being thrown at them, only a large number of people screaming for their rights can have an effect against that.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 26, 2006 4:23 AM
Comment #143197

Rhinehold:

I confess I can’t make out the substance of the bill in the link you provided. Can you tell me how this affects downloading music? Does it affect your right to copy music that you own, but only store in your hard drive?

Thanks!

Posted by: goodkingned at April 26, 2006 4:52 AM
Comment #143201

Rhinehold, good and timely topic. But, you’re missing the much bigger and more onerous aspects of this bill. If passed, spying on Americans JUST TO SEE IF THEY ARE VIOLATING COPYRIGHT will become a favorite government and private industry pasttime, ushering in Orwell’s 1984 via every piece of software or contacts one makes with an electronic device, because they all run on software, and all software can be pirated.

Moguls are no doubt interested in protecting their copyrights, but, the government could care less about that, what they are far more interested in is the police snoop power the mogul’s copyright infringement law would give the justice department.

This law will subvert the last vestiges of the search and seizure protections of the 1960’s and 1970’s, which guaranteed citizens the right to privacy unless and UNTIL a law violation had taken place. This new law will knock that down, I guarantee it, and give the Justice Dep’t. the power to hunt into our private lives in search of a crime. It won’t be a stretch after that to find Police and FBI planting evidence on those they know are guilty of something but have can’t get any evidence on, or on those who present a challenge to their Captains, or those who oppose their political views, or those who are demonstrators and politically vocal against government policy.

This road is paved with loss of freedom and liberty, and I am not talking about the freedom to pirate. New research shows lineups and eyewitnesses have erroneously convicted countless innocent victims who were minding their own business. This law will compound that trend many fold. One of the logistical problems is oversight.

With that much surveillance of international phone calls, and then consumers of PC’s, software, music and video DVD’s and CD’s etc., there won’t be a sufficient budget or manpower to hire overseers to watch the justice dep’t and police as they abuse this newfound power to spy on folks in their own homes via the internet connection.

It will create quite a black market for the police to obtain software that will plant copyright violation software on your or my PC via the internet in order to bust us for something they think we did, but, can’t get evidence of. This is really, really dangerous to America’s civil liberties, those which we still have left.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 26, 2006 6:18 AM
Comment #143210

This is the cat’s pajamas to these software/media giants, because they didn’t get everything they wanted out of the DMCA. That law gave people fair use rights, and these companies have been violating the law ever since. You have a right to control the content you purchase on dvd and cd, but they have placed so many obstacles in the way of individual rights that you essentially don’t have fair use if you dont go around the copy protection. The new push is actually making things worse, because blu-ray and hd-dvd are going to be encrypted to a psychotic degree, and the players will be capable of rendering discs unplayable if they are considered in violation of copyright law. Your disc becomes a coaster, and i believe it may shut down your player as well. We have already seen discs including malicious software that opens back doors into your computer (it was on a sony disc, its called a rootkit, it installs without asking you and then starts phoning home), and yet no one has sued Sony.

The right to control your purchases is being eroded gradually by these companies and by technology. They’re gradually making all media digital at every access point, and creating the means to check authenticity at every point of data transfer. It used to be recorded on magnetic tapes, now its on cd’s and dvds, the cd and dvd player would convert the digital signal into an analog signal, and anything you plugged into it would carry that signal. As we start to use HDMI signals and digital audio we begin to rely more and more on their encryption. They push to control their media more and more, and the rest of us are left holding the check. The problem is, they can only make things so difficult for everyone before we stop buying their stuff. You’ll see a large pull away from major labels if they continue their abusive tactics, against both the bands and consumers. The internet is gradually making it so we dont NEED them the way we used to.

On the other front, we really do need to reform our digital copyright law, because what happens now is parasitic companies copyright a bunch of ideas, never produce anything, then they sit around and sue other companies for violating their vaguely worded copyrights, despite those people having done all the research and development themselves. Just look at the burst.com lawsuit against apple, its pure BS. These kinds of laws (like the ones that allow companies to own algorithms…WTF i can’t own a math equation, how is this any different) are going to gradually impede how business is done, and I hope in time that they will be changed.

Posted by: iandanger at April 26, 2006 8:11 AM
Comment #143218

Regarding music and movie industry, here in France one judge last year said this about (lack of) digital fair use:

When more than half people is de-facto guilty under a law, or there’s no more a nation or the law is just plain wrong.

Majors want to keep their business model based on analogic space: you didn’t buy a content but a physical media they’re the only one(s) to produce. That’s a model based on physical quantities.

But since digital era, such content can easily (and will be even more in the future) change from one (physical or not) media to another one, thanks to digital devices and networks. In such digital space, majors don’t/can’t produce anymore the media providing the content. Internet access, harddisks, flash memories, multimedia softwares, multimedia playing devices are sold by others actors, not them. See Apple and its iPod/iTune business model.

Sure, once Cds were only produced and available from music producers, like vinyl discs were before and VHS tapes were for video. Then recordable CDs/DVDs and disc recorders hit the mass market. Some media majors were even the one that market these (hi, Sony!). But since these days, music (but also video now) contents could be *produced* by John Doe. technically speaking.
And even if it’s illegal, since its possible technically, the “physical media”-based business model is dead. Period. That means their “per physical unit” business model is dead, too. They should get over it. The sooner the better.

Maybe they’ll figure out one day it’s time they shift to a “quality” business model. Where are 5.1 digital music? Why don’t they released music album *with* the TV clips of every single on a DVD in 5.1? Where are 96Mhz 24bits music?

Why nobody seems to know what’s a “product life curve” in these majors? Wake up, classic CDs are in their very end of life in the consumer mind!

No wonder many these days consider that a plain stereo 44.1Mhz 16bits music-only media worth less than 15 years ago… It’s very old digital technology. And, no, adding a copy protection technology layer over it don’t increase the overall value perceived by the potential consumer. Quite the reverse, when he’ll realize he can’t play his latest CD in his car player because the protection is too *hacky* for such player device for example…

Oh well, they don’t really know how to create a quality business model even. Instead, they’re trying to enforce a “per play” one. Aka renting you the right to play something you’ve actually buy the same price you used to pay with unlimited playing rights.

Good luck, guys!
;-)

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at April 26, 2006 9:45 AM
Comment #143227

I agree that with Rienhold that it the protections put on music/movies ect. is ridiculus. Also, aldous, I couldn’t find where in his post he blamed the elusive and legendary liberal hollywood. When I read it I interperated it as blaming the corporations and thier salaried employees in congress.

I also have a good solution to this problem that I have been implementing myself lately. I haven’t bought a CD or DVD in years. This solution is made easier by the fact that everyting available for purchase is a lode of crap.

Posted by: montanademocrat at April 26, 2006 10:35 AM
Comment #143230

I’m glad to see this finally come up on a non-tech related site.

iandanger,

in your last paragraph you should be saying patents not copyright, they are 2 very different things from a legal standpoint.

Aldous,

Laws increasing penalty for infringing copyright has nothing to do with corporate america’s patent craze.

Posted by: SirisC at April 26, 2006 10:47 AM
Comment #143247

Rhinehold,

You are exactly right when you mentioned the RIAA war on downloading. When the music companies actually put out CDs that are worth buying, downloading will become a background issue.

When you pay $17 for a CD that has one good song on it and 12 songs that suck…why pay the $17? To get 10 songs that you like, you’ll have to pay $170. Not to mention the CD case that you’ll need to carry all those CDs in…AND the traffic hazard you’ll be changing out those CDs after each song.

The answer to music downloading? Put out a CD that’s WORTH buying.

Downloading DVDs? Copying DVDs?

Downloading movies really aren’t a problem, as downloading an entire movie (4.7 gigs)…converting it to a format the DVD player will recognize…and then burning it is a two day affair at the very least…IF your download isn’t interrupted…and IF your download isn’t loaded to the eyeballs with trojans and virii. And once you get your download, is it a DVD rip? Or is it from a video camera stuck in a seat in the front row of a theatre? Downloading movies, as I said is not the problem. And making dupes of the movies you buy as a backup isn’t the problem either.

The problem with piracy are the pirates (mostly in S.E. Asia and China) that take an original movie or CD and dupe it 20,000 times.

If there is to be an anti-piracy law, it should be in China and S.E. Asia. And it MUST be rigorously enforced. If the government wants to spend $20 million, then that’s where the money should go. Not to people who don’t want to get ripped off with a scratched DVD or CD by making a backup.

Copy protection for CDs and DVDs? That’s a whole ‘nuther subject. Can you imagine having to buy 5 or 10 DVD players so that you can play movies from 5 or 10 different movie companies because each one has their own unique encryption?

You don’t even want to go there.

Posted by: Jim T at April 26, 2006 12:18 PM
Comment #143281

I buy alot of music. The vast majority is downloaded into my harddrive from a licensed vender, usually Rhapsody. I don’t get lyric or cover art that way, but a cd costs between $10 and $12.

I found that even the music I purchased a copy of is in a format that is protected and can only be played on a player provided through the Rhapsody site and can only be burned five times. In order to remove the limitations on this music and guarantee that I can play it even if I no longer subscribe to Rhapsody, I have taken to burning a disc of the purchased music immediately and then ripping the disc back in my hard drive. This saves the music in a file type that is not protected. This is a very cumbersome way to secure rights to a product that I purchased and now I am unsure if this practice will be legal under the proposed law.

I have always maintained that irresponsible unauthorized duplication of music was unethical and would have a legal backlash and here it comes.

Posted by: goodkingned at April 26, 2006 2:22 PM
Comment #143283

Rhinehold:

We agree. This is a battle that has been going on ever since music has been made available on the Internet. Now they are concerned with what happens to videos. They want control and do not care about fair use.

I think this ties in with what I say on my post on net neutrality. The carriers can team up with hollywood to squelch fair use. They can also prevent new people from entering the movie field.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at April 26, 2006 2:32 PM
Comment #143289
This is a very cumbersome way to secure rights to a product that I purchased and now I am unsure if this practice will be legal under the proposed law

It is illegal, you are circumventing the anti-piracy protection scheme. It is unfortunate, but true. :( The EULA that you signed when joining Rhapsody will either change or already has a provision in it I believe that you agree this is not allowed.

Personally, I believe that you are well within your rights to do this under Fair Use, create a back of product you have purchased. But we already see that this doesn’t help backing up DVDs or games either…

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 26, 2006 2:48 PM
Comment #143297
and yet no one has sued Sony

Actually, California, Texas and the EFF have all filed suit against Sony so far, I’m not sure how many others will join the bandwagon but there is hope that some of these lawsuits may make it difficult for Sony to continue their harassment of the American Citizen they provide product for.

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 26, 2006 3:00 PM
Comment #143300

When I was a teenager the only way I could get music was to tape it from the radio. A local college station would play entire albums including warning tones to announce when commercials were coming or ending. As an adult, I purchased hundreds of albums and later CD’s. I’ve wathced the prices for CD’s and tickets rise. Tom Petty was famous for his spat with his record company over pricing.

This is pure unadulterated greed driving these protectionist laws. They are killing their own business. They will crank out more and more Britney Spears to spoiled rich kids and kill the business. The Dead understood this and built their business model around it. They didn’t go broke. They got rich.

Good post Rhinehold.

Posted by: gergle at April 26, 2006 3:12 PM
Comment #143335

Rhinehold:

I never thought I would say this, but I agree with you entirely on the Evil of this legislation and of the RIAA. (However, I also agree with Aldous in that this is being driven by Corporate Greed, and not by Poor Starving Artists. SONY Corp. [not even American] is one of the prime offenders.) I am a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

http://www.eff.org/

and strongly suggest membership for anyone who is concerned about Digital Rights and Freedoms.

Posted by: Betty Burke at April 26, 2006 5:55 PM
Comment #143343

Betty,

Of course it’s not the actual artists who are pushing this, most artists are signed into slavery by the recording companies when they sign their contracts, if they push the record company the wrong way they can be basically shelved and none of their music made available for the rest of their lives.

The recording companies and the RIAA are Evil Bastards, that’s why I support those artists like Harvey Danger who have gone into self-producing and manufacturing their own albums and even giving out the albums for free (Harvey Danger’s latest album ‘Little by Little’ is free for download at http://harveydanger.com).

http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/feature/2000/06/14/love/index.xml is a good example of how the RIAA and record companies work agasint the artists, this article follows Courtney Love through the money issues related to an album release.

And yes, as a disclaimer, I have been playing music for decades and am friends with many published artists. The real stories are more horrifying than you can believe…

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 26, 2006 6:39 PM
Comment #143351

Oh, except for Metallica who are corporate shill whores for the RIAA…

Posted by: Rhinehold at April 26, 2006 7:04 PM
Comment #143385

my bad, i meant patents, i should never post before waking up.

still, the fact remains that our intellectual property laws need to change or things are going to stagnate.

Posted by: iandanger at April 26, 2006 9:44 PM
Comment #143405

I think the real danger is in medicine. The Pharmaceutical Companies are patenting GENES and DNA right now. Say goodbye to any independent and cheap breakthrough on that end.

Posted by: Aldous at April 26, 2006 11:42 PM
Comment #143441

Aldous,

The real danger is all these Patents Offices worldwide: they’re not doing their job anymore, except maybe for the Japan’s one. How dare judges still try to enforce them based on such un/wrong checked patents and IPs registered (with huge ammount of money; smallest innovators can’t anymore patent their inventions) by untrustfull offices???

These days, patents are used like stock options. Their contents doesn’t matter anymore. Which means they’re not “patented” for innovator(s) protection but for their legal protection or, in worst cases, as a business model (see Burst.com, indeed).

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at April 27, 2006 4:46 AM
Comment #143456

Thanks for your answer Rhinehold. And thanks for posting information on this topic.

Posted by: goodkingned at April 27, 2006 10:12 AM
Comment #143473

Senate Republicans Propose $100 Gas Rebate
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12509275/


Could someone please BLOG on this asinine idea some republicans are floating? This has to be the most transparent election year gimmick in sometime. Is the GOP for free markets or socialism?

Thanks

Posted by: DCC at April 27, 2006 10:54 AM
Comment #143647

Rhinehold: how do you feel about Frank Zappa?

Posted by: Betty Burke at April 27, 2006 5:06 PM
Comment #293816

Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

www.onlineuniversalwork.com

Posted by: coetsee at January 15, 2010 6:18 AM
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