Monday, May 29, 2006

DMCA 2.0

I find that a lot of people I know don't have any idea what the Digital Millenium Copyright Act is, and they certainly don't know about the new one (nicknamed 2.0) squishing its way through the bowels of our government right now.

Imagine spending ten years in jail for illegally copying a song. Now imagine not knowing what "illegally copying" means until you're in orange overalls. Now you understand the DMCA 2.0.

As has often been pointed out, you don't get ten years for shoplifting a CD, so why should you get ten years for ripping or downloading one? And the law is so broad, so vague, that no one will actually know whether he's breaking it or not until he ends up in court. At the sole discretion of the RIAA.

(By the way, you don't get ten years for manslaughter, or attempted murder! And I've always thought they should eliminate "attempted murder" as a charge anyway. Why, if you stab me twenty times, and I manage to crawl five miles to a hospital and fight to survive, should you get your charge reduced? But I digress.)

Copyright is important, and should be protected, but not at the expense of decency and dignity. Consumers' rights and the interests of corporations are supposed to be a tug of war, but our end of the rope always seems to be greased.

It's unfair (I've paid for Quadrophenia alone over a dozen times in my life) and it's bad business: you cannot treat your customers like criminals without turning them into... well... criminals.

Like Net Neutrality and the Broadcast Flag and the Sony Rootkit and DRM, this is another example of an issue that isn't "sexy" enough for the media to cover, yet it seriously affects our lives. Stay informed. News.com and the EFF are good places to start, or just search Google News for those terms from time to time.

Trust me, the DMCA and Net Neutrality are infinitely more important to you and me than the estate tax or immigration reform, or any of the other shiny objects being waved in front of us on a daily basis.

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