EFF Report Highlights More Unintended Consequences in Seven Years of DMCA

San Francisco - In the seven years since Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), examples of the law's impact on legitimate consumers, scientists, and competitors continue to mount. A new report released today from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), "Unintended Consequences: Seven Years Under the DMCA," collects reports of the misuses of the DMCA -- chilling free expression and scientific research, jeopardizing fair use, impeding competition and innovation, and interfering with other laws on the books. The report updates a previous version issued by EFF in 2003.

The report tells the story of the delay of the disclosure of the Sony BMG "rootkit" vulnerabilities on millions of music CDs. The dangerous software flaws were initially discovered by Princeton graduate student J. Alex Halderman. But Halderman delayed sounding the alarm about the security problems for several weeks so he could consult with lawyers about potential violations of the DMCA. The report also details the DMCA's role in impeding RealNetworks from selling digital music to Apple iPod owners, along with other unintended consequences from the DMCA.

"Rather than being used to stop 'piracy,' the DMCA has predominantly been used to threaten and sue legitimate consumers, scientists, publishers, and competitors," said EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann. "This law is not being used as Congress intended, and a review of the past seven years makes it clear that reform is needed."

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Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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