Freedom to Tinker is a blog run by David Robinson, the Associate Director of Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy. The blog was started by Professor Felten of Princeton, who is quite prominent to my topic as he was the professor who was forced to terminate his research on the vulnerabilities of the Secure Digital Music Initiative becasue of provisions of the DMCA. The post that I am using as a source for my paper was written on October 27, 2008, in light of the ten year anniversary of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Robinson, clearly opposed to the anti-circumvention provisions, recalls with condemnation that just ten years ago, "the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions, which became 17 USC Section 1201, made it a crime under most circumstances to 'circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to' a copyrighted work."
Robinson discusses that companies could protect the content that they 'own' by placing arbitrary limitations on one's access to them, and that the federal government made it illegal to circumvent these technologies. Even if it wasn't an infringement of the copyright per se, it still became a felony to access the content, regardless of how easy it may be. In this blog post, Robinson chronicles the procedure of passing the DMCA, and shows that its creators claimed to make the "information superhighway" more appealing to those who might have been hesitant of sharing their intellectual property. Robinson maintains that even ten years after its pass in Congress, the DMCA's anti-circumvention clauses haven't reduced the ability to bypass DRMs.
An argument that Robinson points out, which is often ignored by proponents of the DMCA, is that although the DMCA was intended to meet standards set by the WIPO, those involved in the Clinton administration's efforts to create the DMCA were also essential in creating the WIPO standards. This particular post focuses primarily on the problems with the passing of the legislation, and secondarily on the functions of the act itself.
This blog post is a great supplementary source because it is written by a respected professor who has been in the mix of the debate on the DMCA since its inception. Furthermore, it is important for me to consider the political context in which this bill was passed; this has been lacking in a lot of the scholarly work at which I have looked.
Pamela Samuelson argues, in her work "INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND THE DIGITAL ECONOMY: WHY THE ANTI-CIRCUMVENTION REGULATIONS NEED TO BE REVISED" (1999), that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention clauses exceed the scope of obtaining legislative consistency with the copyright treaty of the World Intellectual Property Organization and fails to fairly represent the interests of the "innovative information technology sector or of the public" (16). Samuelson's work, published in the Berkley Technology Law Journal [Vol. 14:1] details the ways in which the United States Congress overreached in establishing anti-circumvention provisions, and provides a corollary argument of how such device protecting provisions are economically ineffective, and demonstrate Congress' lack of understanding of I.T. products.
Samuelson contextualizes her argument by stating that the initial intention for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was for the United States to demonstrate that it adequately protects copyright owners with regards to the standards set by WIPO's copyright treaty. Samuelson makes a compelling argument that the body of United States statutes, common law precedents, and market driven IT sector prove that the U.S. had a reasonable claim to have already met WIPO standards before passing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Samuelson says that the legislation should be "predictable, minimalist, consistent and simple"; however, the anti-circumvention provisions in the DMCA are overbearing and complex. They are very detrimental to the IT sector of the U.S. economy (which comprised 8.2% of the U.S.'s GDP in 1999), and debilitates individuals from protecting copyrights from infringement in encrypted works, and limits one's ability to protect privacy and promote the public interest.
I find this work particularly useful because Samuelson portrays the DMCA as an example of over-regulation that limits innovation and is unnecessary. This work helps to show that Congress was patronizing the high rhetoric and deep pockets of Hollywood at the expense of the flow of information and technological innovation.
"Diplomatic Conference on WIPO Broadcast Treaty in Limbo." Communications Daily; September 28, 2006.
This article summarizes US involvement in the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights. A major agreement was discussed by the SCCR dealing with international broadcast and copyright rules, however the US strongly disagrees with the other member states. The treaty gained wide success from nearly all the member nations except the United States, who were strongly opposed.
The US stated that the first agreement on broadcast copyright laws should be general at first and that the committee would add specific details at later meetings. This would allow business practices to be evaluated and would permit a trial and error phase. Most other nations disagreed and stated while more preparation was needed, the escape clause that the US recommended was overkill.
Seeking more expert opinion before a decision, the US seemed to be one of the few nations that believed more research was needed. Pakistan stated that most of the issues were political rather than technical and that debated and compromise was needed over expert presentations. The US remained divided on the issue and would not support the agreement. The SCCR will likely schedule another meeting in 2007 to discuss broadcast copyright.
This event highlights US involvement in foreign copyright law. The United States resisted joining the Berne Convention for over 100 years and we the main hindering force in this round of agreements. This holds true to my thesis that the US wants to be part of the global economy, but on its own terms and for its own benefit above all others.