The U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property has requested public comment on digital music & copyright issues. This request for comments is part of the Subcommittee's ongoing process of reviewing proposals and amendments concerning copyright in the digital environment. For more details, see http://www.eff.org/alerts/20020329_eff_drm_alert.html
I just sent this email:
Dear Chairman Coble and Members of the Subcommittee:
The current DMCA is too restrictive at the expense of fair-use rights; please don't ignore those rights. While copyright violations may be an issue, the DMCA is much too powerful a law for the scale of the problems. With the DMCA, content authors could prevent me from making backups. If I buy a new computer the DMCA could allow authors to prevent me from transferring the media to my new computer. If I'm done with a song (or book or…) in digital form, the DMCA would allow authors to prevent me from loaning the song to my brother.
Many proponents of DMCA argue that they would never go to such draconian measures. But as long as the law exists, what happens if they change their mind next year?
Proponents also argue that DMCA does not prevent me from sharing the music, just copying it. But the problem is that the DMCA allows authors to create systems where the music (or book or …) will only work with a specific player (hardware). This is more like saying I can share a CD, but only if my brother comes to my house to listen to the CD. Or even more silly, if I give my house to my brother so he can listen to the CD. With the DCMA, I might have to give my entire player to my brother just so he could listen to one song. This is ridiculous.
In closing, the penalties and effects of laws should be in proportion to the risk and effects of the behavior the law is trying to regulate. Consider this: In the U.S. it's legal to own a guns and knives, but it is illegal (thanks to the DMCA) to own software that "could be used to circumvent copy protection. How can misuse of software be that much worse than misuse of guns and knives so that we need to make software completely illegal? Furthermore, the software that might circumvent copy protection (such as making backups) is just as useful as knives (for cutting vegetables), yet the DMCA ignores this usefulness.
The DMCA is completely out of proportion to the problems it is purported to solve.