It’s been a long time since we have heard anything regarding the DMCA in any of the mainstream news outlets. Lets face it, it really is not news unless it affects you,right? The problem with that kind of thinking is that this affects you and you don’t even know it. It’s impossible for the average computer user today not to casually violate copyright law simply by using his/her computer in any ordinary way. Copyright law has just become that insane.
Right now it is not possible for you to make a backup copy of a movie or video game you own if the media on which that data exists is encrypted. I assure you that today more than 50% of what you buy is indeed encrypted in some way. You would need to decrypt that data in order to back it up and ANY form of decryption software or algorithm used to do so is COMPLETELY illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Smart phones that you own can no longer be unlocked to facilitate moving between major carriers. This too is illegal under the DMCA.
Companies as large a Microsoft and Apple have been challenged in court regarding their use of certain publicly distributed software built into their operating systems.
Even teachers and students are not immune. Recently a DMCA take down notice affected 1.5 Million Teacher And Student Blogs. You can see where I am going with all this. I believe that copyright laws which were originally designed to protect the copyright owners and their property are now doing more damage than good. It is imperative that we continue to reexamine and redefine what are the best practices for moving forward with copyright and the oversight of that copyright to both protect the owners and NOT infringe on the rights and fair use of the consumer.
We as a society created copyright for a specific purpose — to improve our society. Without fair use, our society gains little from granting copyright protection to a content creator, and there is an imbalance of rights. Some “fantasies” about what we might lose as a society if we lost the right to fair use of copyrighted materials:
Imagine that you couldn’t lend a book to a friend, without the copyright holder’s permission.
Imagine that you couldn’t give a book away after reading it, without the copyright holder’s permission.
Imagine that you could only read a book in a manner approved by copyright holder.
Imagine that a blind person was not allowed to scan the book in order for a computer to read it to him or her.
All of these are real, you don’t need to imagine them. If a publisher publishes a book in printed form, you still have these rights and the ability to exercise these rights. If a publisher publishes a book electronically, you only have the ability to read the book in a manner allowed by book-reading software chosen by the publisher. If that software does not allow you to exercise your right to fair use, what can you do?