Report: Copyright

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  Recent "Digital Copyright" Legislation: U.S.

DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

The debates in the House and Senate preceding the signing into law of the DMCA by U.S. President Clinton in October 1998 indicated that the principal object of the Act is to promote the U.S. economy by establishing an efficient Internet marketplace in copyrighted works. The DMCA implements the two 1996 WIPO treaties (WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty and WIPO Copyright Treaty) and addresses a variety of issues that arose with the increased availability of content in digital form. The Act 1) creates a series of "safe harbor" defenses (which are subject to a variety of conditions that must be met) for certain common activities of ISPs (Internet Service Provider), 2) bars the circumvention of technological protection measures that protect copyrighted works, 3) prohibits the distribution or provision of false copyright management information with the intent to induce or conceal infringement, 4) establishes an exemption for making a copy of a computer program for purposes of maintenance or repair, and 5) contains provisions concerning the "webcasting" of sound recordings on the Internet and the making of (digital) copies of copyrighted works by nonprofit libraries and archives.

A full-text version of the DMCA is available from:
The Library of Congress: Thomas (Legislative Information on the Internet): http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/z?cp105:hr796:

Moreover the U.S. Copyright Office provides a memorandum, which briefly summarizes each of the five titles of the DMCA (pdf format): http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/legislation/dmca.pdf

The DMCA has been criticized for not clarifying the range of legal principles on the liability of ISPs and creating exceptions to only some of the provisions; therefore giving copyright owners even more rights.

Among the variety of comments on the DMCA are:

Lutzker, Arnold P.: Primer on the Digital Millennium: What the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Copyright Term Extension Act Mean for the Library Community. http://www.arl.org/info/frn/copy/primer.html

Lutzker & Lutzker law firm and the Association of Research Libraries: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Highlights of New Copyright Provision Establishing Limitation of Liability for Online Service Providers. http://www.arl.org/info/frn/copy/osp.html

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    Intellectual Property and the "Information Society" Metaphor
-3   Copyright Management and Control Systems: Metering
-2   Copyright Management and Control Systems: Post-Infringement
-1   Problems of Copyright Management and Control Technologies
0   Recent "Digital Copyright" Legislation: U.S.
+1   Recent "Digital Copyright" Legislation: European Union
Technological measures
As laid down in the proposed EU Directive on copyright and related rights in the information society technological measures mean "... any technology, device, or component that, in the normal course of its operations, is designed to prevent or inhibit the infringement of any copyright..." The U.S. DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) divides technological measures in two categories: 1) measures that prevent unauthorized access to a copyrighted work, and 2) measures that prevent unauthorized copying of a copyrighted work. Also the making or selling of devices or services that can be used to circumvent either category of technological measures is prohibited under certain circumstances in the DMCA. Furthermore the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty states that the "... contracting parties shall provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures that are used by authors..."