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November 12, 2003
Wash Post Confused by DMCA
The Washington Post has published a lengthy article about some of the problems the DMCA is causing (Caught by the Act). Any sympathetic press coverage of these issues is welcome. However, this article is as confusing as it is informative. The main problem is that the article conflates three separate elements of the DMCA into, seemingly, one confusing mess: the notice-and-takedown provisions, the anti-circumvention provisions and the super-subpoena power. At one point there is a paragraph on the Diebold case (which deals with the notice-and-takedown provisions) bookended by paragraphs dealing with alleged section 1201 violations. Even those elements that the article distinguishes are often confused. For example:
The music industry uses the DMCA to sue Internet song-swappers it maintains are violating copyright law.
Actually, no the industry isn't. The industry is using section 512(h) of the DMCA to subpoena information about alleged infringers. Whether the RIAA subsequently sues or not is mostly irrelevant. Indeed, many of the targets of 512(h) requests are now settling prior to the launch of a lawsuit.
However, there is one especially nice quote in the article:
"I won't predict the date," [Rep. Rick] Boucher [(D-Va.)] said, "but eventually, we will change the DMCA."
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