[free-sklyarov] What I'd like to see: fixing DMCA and IP

Stephen R. Savitzky steve at theStarport.org
Fri Aug 24 21:58:09 PDT 2001

"Karsten M. Self" <kmself at ix.netcom.com> writes:

> on Thu, Aug 23, 2001 at 07:49:01AM -0700, Stephen R. Savitzky (steve at theSta=
> rport.org) wrote:
> > I'd like to see it made illegal to sell, distribute, traffic in,
> > etc. any file format or software that *prevents* fair use of
> > legitimately purchased copyrighted material, that prevents such material
> > from reverting to the public domain when its copyright has expired, or
> > that restricts in any way the use of public domain material.
> I wouldn't.  As noted, this produces serious problems where encryption
> is applied.  Would you hold that there are no privacy rights for
> encrypted materials, or that there is no time after which those privacy
> rights are exhausted?

I think I phrased that wrong.  What I really meant was selling copies of
copyrighted material in a format, or requiring a dedicated reader, that
prevents fair use.  

> I'd prefer returning to the situation prior to the passage of the DMCA.
> It's possible to apply DRM to media, however, there are no bars on
> utilizing first amendment rights (e.g.:  reverse engineering, applied
> crypto circ) to practicing Fair Use and other rights.
> I've also argued that, should the DMCA continue in force, publishers
> have an obligation to provide "best edition" forms of their works on
> request that Fair Use rights might be exercised. 

That would do it. 
> > I'd like to see compulsory mechanical licensing for works distributed
> > electronically, at the same rate per copy as works distributed on
> > physical media.  [This ought to be extended to compensate performers as
> > well as authors.]
> Similar to what I'm suggesting above.

Not exactly.  What it says is that anyone could distribute the material
as long as the author gets paid.  If Napster had paid the appropriate
fees to ASCAP and BMI, the publishers would have been in a much worse

> > I'd like to see the term of copyright protection reduced to something
> > reasonable, e.g., the same term as a patent.
> There's strong economic evidence to suggest that the original terms of
> copyright -- 14 years, possible extension -- are about on the money,
> give or take ten years.  Which puts us in about patent territory
> (currently 20 years from filing, US).

More or less.  I'd be tempted to say "same term as a patent,
non-renewable, or the life of the author, whichever is greater". 
> There's little practical market for any materials over 5 years old,
> numbers I've seen say 90-95% of all media works sold are newer. 

Largely true, though there are a couple of cash cows in any genre that
just go on and on ("Happy Birthday" and _Snow White_ come to mind). 

> Clearly though, life plus 90 years is an utterly unreasonable amount of
> time, has no economic basis in present-value terms, and is an
> unconcionable distortion of the Constitutional mandate "to authors...for
> limited times".


> > I'd like to see an international treaty that prohibits any
> > juristiction from applying its laws to individuals who are breaking no
> > law at their own physical location.  Call it Dmitry's Law.
> How about calling it Al Megrahi's Law?  [1]
> 1.  If that's too obscure, try The Lockerbie Doctrine.

Needs more detail, then.  I had in mind primarily acts of speech.
> > Maybe the next step is a "Universal Declaration of [*] Rights"
> > comparable to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  [*] I don't
> > know what word best fills this slot; suggestions will be gratefully
> > accepted. =20
> "Speech".

I've also thought of "electronic" or "Intellectual".  The latter is nice
because "Intellectual Rights" balances the current nonsense of
"Intellectual Property".

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