by Grant Gross, IDG News Service
A new bill in the U.S. Congress aimed at protecting the fair use
rights for consumers of copyright material would "legalize hacking,"
the Recording Industry Association of America said.
The Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship (FAIR
USE) Act, introduced Tuesday by U.S. Representatives Rick Boucher
(news, bio, voting record), a Virginia Democrat, and John Doolittle
(news, bio, voting record), a California Republican, would allow
customers to circumvent digital copy restrictions in six limited areas
when copyright owners' business models are not threatened, Boucher
said in a press release. So-called fair use doctrine allows customers
of copyright works to make limited numbers of copies, particularly for
reviews, news reporting, teaching and research.
The bill would allow exemptions to the anticircumvention restrictions
in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed by Congress in
1998. The bill is revamped from similar bills introduced in the last
two sessions of Congress, Boucher said.
"The fair use doctrine is threatened today as never before," Boucher
said in a statement. "Historically, the nation's copyright laws have
reflected a carefully calibrated balanced between the rights of
copyright owners and the rights of the users of copyrighted material.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act dramatically tilted the copyright
balance toward complete copyright protection at the expense of the
public's right to fair use."
But the RIAA said the bill would effectively repeal the DMCA. The bill
would "allow electronics companies to induce others to break the law
for their own profit," it said in a statement. Advances such digital
music sales, online games, on-demand movies and e-books can be traced
to DMCA protects, the RIAA said.
"The difference between hacking done for non-infringing purposes and
hacking done to steal is impossible to determine and enforce," the
RIAA said in its statement.
The Boucher bill would limit the availability of statutory damages
against individuals and firms who may be found to have engaged in
contributory infringement, inducement of infringement, or other
indirect infringement. The bill would allow libraries to circumvent
digital locks or secure copies of works that have been damaged, lost
The Consumer Electronics Association applauded the bill, saying it
would give protections to consumers, educators and libraries. Without
fair use protections, consumers couldn't use devices such as VCRs and
digital TV recorders, the trade group said.
Copyright 2007 PC World Communications, Inc.
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