DRM does take away rights
Posted Oct 12, 2006 16:54 UTC (Thu) by quintesse
In reply to: DRM does take away rights
Parent article: Similar in spirit?
Saying the Fair Use is only some kind of excuse to allow infringement is showing a lack of respect for the intelligence of the people that actually penned down the act.
You have to remember that in those days the right you had as an auther either did not exist or followed the english model (IIRC) where the protection was absolute and for eternity.
It was recognized that neither was really any good because if you have no protection what incentive do you have in doing any original work? Somebody can just copy it 5 minutes after you put it on sale. But the other way around didn't work either because it stifled cultural and scientific progress.
So that's when they thought that a time-limited protection would be a good idea, I think it was only something like 7 years in the beginning? The idea being that in those years you could make enough money of your work but also recognizing that the term shouldn't be too long because again, what would be the incentive to make new work if you could live the rest of your live of a couple of good works? (In those days there was still a strong feeling that you actually had to work for a living)
But 7 years can still be a long time if you talk about scientific discoveries or about new important cultural developments. So in their wisdom they included, exactly, "Fair Use". With Fair Use you couldn't copy wholesale for publication or claim a work for your own but you could copy parts of it _for_publication_. You see, I'm not even talking about the possibility that you were able to extract part of the work, but you were even allowed to use it in your own works! That was considered to be a _very_ important part of the Copyright Act and can not be seen seperate from it or as being "tacked on" somehow.
In the end the Copyright Act was never about the authors, but about society: how to keep authors producing while preventing them from having a monopoly on their works and thereby depriving the society as a whole from learing and profiting from it.
But DRM is threatening to change all that. If you say that the Copyright Act says nothing about copyright holders being obliged to allow Fair Use you are exactly right, but you also have to remember that until now it was never _impossible_ to use your Fair Use rights given to you by the Copyright Act. And these protections are ever lasting as well, who is to say that in 90 years we're actually able to "crack" the DRM? Would we even be allowed to? Who knows existing work will still use the same DRM so it might still be illegal to crack the DRM because it would make existing work vulerable as well.
So yes, the best thing to do if you want to keep the spirit of the Copyright Act is to change it to include some limitations on what copyright holders can do in their crusade to prevent piracy. But with the kind of power the media companies have nowadays it's going to be a tough battle.
to post comments)