May 9, 2004 | By Fred von Lohmann

DMCA Reform Gets a Hearing

In cyber-literate circles, it's common knowledge that the DMCA has been a dismal legislative failure. For years now, every new DMCA lawsuit trumps the last for absurdity. And it sure hasn't made any perceptible dent on "digital piracy." As detailed in our "Unintended Consequences" report, it's been consumers, researchers and competitors who have had the most to fear from the DMCA.

But Congress hasn't heard the message. Until now. This Wednesday, May 12th, at 10:00 a.m., the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee on Trade, Commerce and Consumer Protection is holding a hearing on H.R. 107, also known as the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA).

Introduced by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), the DMCRA aims to reform the DMCA. If it becomes law, there will be no more Sklyarov prosecutions, no more threats against professors like Ed Felten, no more injunctions against 2600 magazine or 321 Studios' DVD X Copy. It will also ensure that copy-protected CDs are adequately labeled.

This hearing is a testament to the efforts of the roughly 30,000 citizens who have used EFF's Action Center to write to Congress to support the DMCRA, as well as the efforts of 321 Studios, which has hired top-drawer lobbyist talent to explain the importance of fair use in the digital age.

I'll be attending the hearing and will blog my impressions on Wednesday. Meanwhile, visit the Action Center and keep sending those faxes!


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