|Digital rights management (DRM) is a child of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed by the US Congress in 1998 to heighten the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet. It amends Title 17 of the United States Code to bolster copyright law and limits ISP liability for copyright infringement by online users. In doing so, it criminalizes (1) the manufacture and distribution of technology, devices or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works and (2) the act of thwarting an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself.
The main problem with DRM under the DMCA is that while the law may be well-intentioned, the DRM software used to enforce the law is not. In fact, software controls on content, whether consented to or not, are, in effect, a means to circumvent the legal process of prosecuting violations of copyright law in the courts by using a commercially provided, electronic private police force instead. In other words, software controls are a form of vigilante action; therefore, the likelihood is that such software will err on the side of its owner. This is so much so that copy protection code can prohibit a user from lawfully using the data on alegitimately purchased disk. For example, certain restrictions formally imposed by iTunes can interfere with a simple data transfer from one PC to another within a user’s own home or, worse, can prevent a user from restoring their data in the event of a hard disk disaster. Moreover, DRM software can inadvertently turn innocent people into criminals, as it did in the case of Jon Johansen, a Norwegian teenager who wrote a code-crack that allowed him to view his own DVDs in countries other than Norway. His “crime” turned out to be trespassing on his own property!
Related articles by Zemanta
- Google: Most takedown notices are illegitimate (news.cnet.com)
- Mozilla backs move to decriminalize iPhone jailbreaking (infoworld.com)
- AT&T; exec: ISP will never terminate service on RIAA’s word (news.cnet.com)
- Online Protest Stops New Zealand Internet Copyright Law (beatcrave.com)