Feeds

Deadline nears for DMCA exemptions

Reason not rants, please

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Wednesday's the deadline for you to make a small difference to the draconian DMCA, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

One of the quirks of the Act is that the Library of Congress provides administrative oversight. A strange decision, since this is a job usually left to the courts. But every three years the Librarian gets to review requests and decide which cases are causing serious harm.

And small but significant progress has been made in very selective areas. Seth Finkelstein scored a victory two years ago by persuading the Librarian that censorware blacklists could be examined, and small portions of them published, as fair use.

Finkelstein is urging people affected to see if they can make a case, too. But with only one part of the DMCA affected, he has no illusions about the extent of the opportunity.

"This is a small victory we can have - but it can be achieved at even smaller costs," he told us. "I'm not being blindly optimistic but here is a specific task where victory is not certain, but it is possible."

What's at stake?

"She wants to hear a factual case for harm caused by the law," explains Finkelstein.

There are three specific parts to section 1201 devoted to circumvention in terms of access and technology. For two of these, the Librarian can do nothing:- it will remain a violation to make and distribute tools for circumventing access to a work, or making tools that alter rights access.

"This rulemaking CANNOT make distributing DeCSS code, or eBook access programs, into an exempt act," he writes.

But simple circumvention is being examined, and this can still make an enormous difference to a lot of us. Ironically, however, Finkelstein says tub-thumping populism is exactly what isn't needed. The Librarian needs specific examples"showing that the prohibition has a substantial adverse effect on noninfringing uses of a particular class of works." So diatribes about the evils of capitalism, or the tyranny of government will go straight in the wastebasket. As will, alas, very broad arguments for fair use which might be valuable in another context. They don't help here.

Quality, not quantity is what counts, and he says logical, empirical argument will be welcomed provided it can be justified that the exemption won't cause "more harm than good".

But small victories are possible as Finkelstein himself proves.

We asked if Seth thought that the once fiercely libertarian climate was warming to such civic activism:-

"Lawrence Lessig has done a great service here. You can't ignore politics, because politics won't ignore you."

And you don't even have to sell your soul to make a difference. Read more at the EFF's site here. His homepage, with his blog and lots of fine reading, is here

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.