May 11, 2004 | By Fred von Lohmann

DMCRA Hearing Intrigue

Here in DC, the rumor is that tomorrow's hearing on the DMCRA may become an all-day affair, with as many as 13 witnesses on three consecutive panels. In addition, it appears that there was a last-minute, behind-the-scenes, ultimately unsuccessful effort by the motion picture industry lobby to get 321 Studios' CEO Robert Moore removed from the witness list.

Why? Perhaps because the MPAA doesn't want Congress to hear from the over one million users of 321 Studios' DVD X Copy software. Jack Valenti, in perhaps his last appearance before Congress as MPAA chief, will almost certainly testify that the American consumer cannot be trusted with the terrible power of making back-ups of DVDs they legitimately own. DVDs, he will intone, are like fine crystal -- once scratched, you'll just have to buy a new one.

321's Moore has a different view. "Moms and dads shouldn't have to fork over another $20-$30 every time little Johnny or Suzie scratches their DVD. The technology exists to prevent them from having to do that."

Valenti won't say it this way, but he'll be testifying that every American should be treated like a pirate. No matter whether we bought those DVDs. No matter if we are customers, not thieves.

And that is exactly what DRM, backed by the DMCA, accomplishes. And why it's high time for the DMCRA.

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