Death by DMCA - pdf
In the eight years since the DMCA’s passage, however, piracy has not decreased, and hurdles to lawful uses of media have risen. The Motion Picture Association (MPA), the international arm of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), estimated worldwide losses because of piracy to be US $2.2 billion in 1997 and $3.5 billion annually in 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Meanwhile, entire consumer electronics categories have been wiped from retail shelves. If three or four years ago you didn’t buy a digital video recorder that automatically skips commercials, you’re out of luck; that feature is not in such products today. Television executives brought litigation that bankrupted the company offering DVRs with these user-friendly features, because skipping commercials potentially undermines their ability to sell commercial time.
You’re likewise out of luck if you’re looking to buy software that lets you copy a DVD onto your laptop’s hard drive; it’s no longer for sale, at least not in the United States. [...]
The Analog Hole Bill is Hollywood’s attempt to control an even broader range of devices than the DMCA does. The chips used to convert video from analog to digital are in today’s digital cameras, camera phones, and personal media players. A host of future new devices are likely to include this basic technology. The Analog Hole Bill would require that all these products incorporate content-protection technologies certified by federal regulators and include hardware and software to block any end-user modifications. The days of hardware â€œtweakingâ€ would end. The legislation would also dictate the kinds of video outputs permitted, potentially orphaning generations of older products, including television sets, stereo speakers, and VCRs. Such legislation, combined with other laws already passed and pending, would lead to a world in which federal regulators, not creative engineers, would dictate many product features and design decisions. In place of the new era’s digital developments, Hollywood’s vision takes us back to the Stone Age.
Hollywood is good at telling stories. The one it has been screening in Washingtonâ€”that music and movies will perish if the regulators don’t kill the dangerous gizmos firstâ€”is powerful drama but has about as much basis in reality as Lord of the Rings. Killing off gizmos and subjecting technological development to the whims of federal regulators will ultimately hurt not just consumers but also tomorrow’s creative industriesâ€”both technology and entertainment.