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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 5 - Public Asks Copyright Office to Allow Common CD/DVD Uses

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 5       February 20, 2003     ren@eff.org

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 240th Issue of EFFector:

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Public Asks Copyright Office to Allow Common CD/DVD Uses

Electronic Frontier Foundation Encourages Public Comments

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today announced that it helped 245 consumers submit comments to the Librarian of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office requesting protection for certain ordinary uses of CDs and DVDs.

The consumer comments supported the EFF's December 18 request that the Librarian of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office grant four exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in order to permit bypassing of certain technological protection measures for copyrighted works.

Currently, the DMCA prevents users from making the following four uses of some digital media:

  1. Listening to copy-protected music CDs on certain stereos and personal computers
  2. Viewing foreign movies on DVDs on US players due to region-coding restrictions
  3. Skipping through commercials on some movie DVDs
  4. Viewing and making fair uses of movies that are in the public domain and released on encrypted DVDs

The commenters described their difficulties with the DMCA's ban on bypassing technological locks on copy-protected music CDs and movies released on DVD:

  • 55 comments described problems people had experienced with copy-protected CDs, ranging from inability to play music that they had purchased to complete computer operating system crashes requiring major computer repair.
  • 130 comments focused on problems playing foreign movies on region-coded DVDs. One person originally from Denmark expressed sadness and frustration at not being able to play movies his mother gave him. Others discussed special interest works, such as anime, and foreign movies that are only available outside of the United States, but unplayable on U.S. DVD players.
  • Many parents wrote comments describing their concerns about unskippable commercials and promotional material in a number of Disney movies released on DVD.
  • Several people also expressed frustration about the limited use that could be made of particular public domain movies, such as Charlie Chaplin's Movie Marathon, which was released on a CSS-encrypted DVD.

"The large number of comments reflects consumers' growing concerns about the DMCA and the very real impact that the law has on their lives," said EFF Staff Attorney Gwen Hinze.

"These EFF-inspired comments alone count for more than the total number of comments the Copyright Office received during the previous rule making in 2000," added EFF Activist Ren Bucholz. "We're hopeful that the Copyright Office will listen to the growing public voice demanding reasonable uses of their own CDs and DVDs."

Links:

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/20030220_1201_pr.php

Copyright Office website, including posted comments:
http://www.copyright.gov/1201/

EFF comments to Librarian of Congress and U.S. Copyright Office:
http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/20021218_eff_dmca_reply_comments.html

EFF volunteers special thank-you page:
http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/20030220_1201_thanks.php

FCC Considers Broadcast Flag for Digital Television

Electronic Frontier Foundation Fights Hollywood Tech Mandate

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today renewed its opposition to Hollywood's "Broadcast Flag" proposal, advising the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to set aside Hollywood's latest bid to undermine fair use and stymie innovation by requiring all manufacturers of digital television (DTV) devices to seek Hollywood approval before bringing their technology to market, and by banning the use of open source software in DTV applications.

EFF replied to comments the motion picture companies and their allies submitted to the FCC seeking to place control over DTV devices in the hands of the same companies that tried to ban the VCR.

EFF's filing replied to comments to the FCC from the motion picture companies and their allies, which argued that the DTV transition would not take place unless the Commission gave control over the design of all DTV devices to the motion picture companies -- the same companies that fought to ban the VCR from the market.

"The 'threat' of DTV piracy is both nonexistent and implausible," said EFF Outreach Coordinator Cory Doctorow. "The 'solution' proposed by Hollwood would only slow down the DTV transition by raising the cost of digital television devices while reducing their value."

"Hollywood's own admissions about the 'analog hole' -- which are in the Congressional record -- mean that the Broadcast Flag will do nothing to slow down such unauthorized copying as may occur, while setting the stage for even more restrictive mandates,"

"Despite what Hollywood will tell you, this has nothing to do with Internet piracy. Instead, the broadcast flag is Hollywood's effort to control the future of TV technologies. If they get this technology mandate, Hollywood will be in a position to force innovators to negotiate before building new digital television products. Remember, these are the same companies that, in 1976, sued to impound the VCR and, today, will tell you that skipping commercials is stealing," added EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann.

From the EFF comments: "Proponents of a broadcast flag mandate indulge in considerable hyperbole regarding the 'threat' posed to DTV by 'Internet piracy,' but have failed to come forward with any evidence demonstrating that Internet redistribution of DTV content poses a problem today or that it will in the near future. Moreover, what evidence has been submitted in this docket makes it plain that high-quality content has not been withheld from DTV broadcast as a result of fears regarding Internet piracy."

The FCC is considering whether to enact a technology mandate that would force all DTV products to respond to the Broadcast Flag -- a bit of data implanted into DTV broadcasts that define when and whether programming can be copied. The proposed Broadcast Flag mandate would effectively force consumer electronics and computer companies to implement a DTV infrastructure for content protection.

The FCC initiated the Broadcast Flag proceedings last summer after receiving a letter from Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, author of the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA). The CBDTPA is a sweeping proposal that would require technologists to seek permission from entertainment companies prior to making new technologies available to the public. Industry observers have described the Broadcast Flag as a "mini-Hollings Bill".

EFF has led the effort to educate the public about the Broadcast Flag, attending every meeting of the Motion Picture Association of America's Broadcast Protection Discussion Group and popularizing relevant issues on the "Consensus at Lawyerpoint" weblog.

Links:

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/HDTV/20030218_bpdg_pr.php

EFF reply comments to the FCC, filed today:
http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/HDTV/20030218_fcc_comments.php

Earlier EFF comments to FCC on Broadcast Flag proposal:
http://bpdg.blogs.eff.org/archives/eff-comments.pdf

Consensus at Lawyerpoint weblog:
http://bpdg.blogs.eff.org/

GNU Radio:
http://www.gnu.org/software/gnuradio/gnuradio.html

EFF "Intellectual Property - Video - HDTV/BPDG/Digital Television/Digital Cable" archive:
http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/HDTV/

Mailing List Headaches? Contact us.

EFF believes that delivery of legitimate e-mail needs to be carefully protected as a fundamental part of any solution to the spam problem. Unfortunately, we've lately learned that more and more opt-in mailing lists are being mislabeled as spam and wrongly blocked. EFF is looking for people who administer opt-in e-mail mailing lists and have had difficulty because their messages have been mislabeled as spam, causing delivery to fail. Our hope is to connect the folks facing this problem so that they can work together to find a global solution that both respects the Internet as a place of free speech (and e-mail as a vital organizing tool) while protecting Internet users and sysadmins from the problems that *real* spam causes. Contact mailinglistsheadaches@eff.org.

Got Esq? Join the EFF Cooperating Attorney List

It probably comes as no surprise to EFFector readers that EFF has many more requests for assistance than we can possibly handle by ourselves. One way that we try to get legal assistance to those who need it is through our Cooperating Attorneys list. When we get an interesting case that we can't handle, or one where we need additional help, we send a short, non-privileged request to the list. If an attorney on the list is interested, he or she just sends us a note, and we pass along more details. Most of the cases seek pro bono assistance, but others are paid cases. The cases involve cyberlaw issues -- such as First Amendment, intellectual property, surveillance and trespass -- and can be either civil or criminal.

If you are a licensed attorney and would be interested in helping EFF with an occasional case, please send a note to henry@eff.org, letting us know the jurisdictions in which you practice and your areas of expertise, and we'll add you to the list. Thanks in advance for your help.

Deep Links

Deep Links features noteworthy news items, victories, and threats from around the Internet.

  • Labels Move to Scan AU University Email Servers for MP3s
    Citing universities and public libraries as two of the "biggest repositories of unlawful sound recordings," several music companies are asking the Australian Federal Court to force universities to preserve all data on the servers as evidence against students.
  • Microsoft Releases IM Multitool
    It wouldn't normally be news, but yet-to-be-shipped product has limited file-sharing functions with the RIAA's blessing.
  • CodeCon Registration Still Open
    And it's full of EFF-goodness. Registration info available.
  • Music Industry to Consume Own Tail
    In a nasty bit of music industry cannibalism, Bertelsmann is being sued by several music publishers for its investment in Napster.
  • Hollywood and Whine Washington Monthly says that Democrats and copyright owners are like Republicans and Big Energy. Food for thought.

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Editor:
Ren Bucholz, Activist
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