2.15.2006

Hiltzik again

I'm quoting this almost in full in the manner of Brad DeLong:Golden State: Who Owns Your CD/DVD Collection? A Follow-Up:

"Back in December, I wrote a column and posted an alert about the efforts of big media companies to tighten the rules on fair use of purchased entertainment, all in the ostensible name of combating piracy.

The evil is getting deeper. The ever-vigilant Electronic Frontier Foundation has vacuumed up a recent regulatory filing by the Recording Industry Assn. of America and several other media industry lobbies complaining about the now-common practice of transferring your purchased CDs to your iPod (or any other mp3 player). The filing states that they've never conidered this behavior to be permitted under fair use; the implication, as noted by the EFF, is that they wish to reserve the right to outlaw it.

A close reading of the document reveals that the industry isn't any happier about its customers' making back-up copies of their CDs, DVDs, or books for private purposes. What about preserving purchased content against the chance that the original disc or book might get damaged, or for the convenience of traveling light? These uses are not 'compelling,' the moguls say, and shouldn't be afforded a blanket permission. (See the filing page 39.) This despite the fact that making back-up copies of material for personal consumption has always been treated as a fair use in the past.

The filing, by the way, was made in connection with a rulemaking procedure at the U.S. Copyright Office under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It's apparent that this DMCA rulemaking is going to afford industry plenty of opportunities for mischief, and should be watched closely.

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