Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why most people in the know hate the DMCA

The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is an act that was supposed to make digital copyright piracy different from previous versions of piracy.

The basics of the DMCA is that there are "safe harbours" for businesses (they have to have a takedown process), and it is illegal to remove digital rights management (DRM for short). That, by the way, includes installing whatever you want on a computing device (if it is a locked down platform, the DMCA applies).

The DMCA is ineffective. It does not stop pirates (don't believe me? Take a look at common pirating sites, such as The Pirate Bay.) but what it does do is lock law abiding citizens to one platform.

Example:
Bob: Bob is a non-technical person. He can use Google to find solutions to problems that he has, and then follows directions slavishly. He is not going to repurchase his ebooks. He did not read the terms of service (TOS), which he should have. Then again, 95% of all people never read a Terms of Service agreement. Doesn't mean that the Terms of Service aren't enforceable, because they do have to be agreed to (and are legally binding).

Bob purchased e-books (which are licensed, not sold) from Amazon for use with his Kindle. Kindle breaks? He better get another Kindle (or an e-ink reader that has the stock Android software, which does not exist). But lets say that Bob didn't do research and get a B&N nook.
If Bob tries to read the Kindle e-books on a nook, then he has a problem (formats, DRM, etc.). So Bob searches for how to read Kindle books on the nook via Google. (Example search: how to read kindle book on nook)
The second link down (itworld.com) refers to a post that links to DRM removal tools. Which are illegal to distribute in the US.

So Bob follows the instructions (install Calibre, which is legal) and then downloads some Calibre plugins (which are illegal), and then fills in the information. Bob doesn't know that its illegal to do this. He doesn't redistribute the books that he removed DRM from.

Bob is now a pirate. He can be held liable for $150,000 per book. Now, the various publishers probably won't prosecute Bob, but if he says that he has Kindle books on his nook (to nook Tech Support, for example), then he might be prosecuted.


So the DMCA is being used to enforce a monopoly upon a consumer.
Solutions:
  1. Remove the DMCA (I'm in favor of this)
  2. Add regulations/laws that forces companies in the same businesses to use the same DRM standard and provide software to convert between formats (Amazon to everyone else and vice versa). (Probably not going to happen)
  3. Seriously scrap copyright laws. Example:
    1. Decrease copyright terms to a maximum of 42 years (what it was originally
    2. Retroactive to those copyrighted works which have already had terms extended due to retroactive changes in copyright law after they were copyrighted. (Applies to Mickey Mouse)
    3. Have copyrights be renewable (every 14 years, it must be renewed)
      1. Most copyrighted works make 80% of their profits in the first three months
      2. It prevents unpopular works from not being seen again for (author's life)+72 years (current copyright law)