June 20, 2006 | By Fred von Lohmann

Wendy Seltzer v. MPAA on DMCA

Wendy Seltzer, former EFF staff attorney, now professor at Brooklyn Law School, debates Fritz Attaway, attorney for the MPAA, at the Wall Street Journal Online (subscription NOT required). It's a nice, concise exposition of the two sides of the DMCA controversy.

Ms. Seltzer: We're both talking about balance, but our equilibrium points are very different. You seem content if we can pay in lots of different ways to see the same movies on a constrained set of devices. I see balance in an ecosystem of big and small media and independent innovation of technologies around them. I want to see what iPod for movies and TiVo for radio look like, and not just from companies who can strike deals with the major movie studios and record labels before they start.

DMCA-backed DRM lets the majors dictate the terms, well beyond price, on which we can use and interact with media. It makes copyright's limited monopoly into a technology regulation, a gate on hardware and software development through which only "approved" devices can pass. More sophisticated DRM will not improve that problem, just make the approvals more onerous and the range of consumer electronics smaller.

For those who want a bit more detail (but still only 4 pages!), Wendy and I also have a lengthier article in the current edition of IEEE Spectrum magazine on the threat that the DMCA poses to innovation. If you want to know why everyone who cares about innovation should care about the DMCA, that's a good place to start.

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