Report: Copyright

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  Problems of Copyright Management and Control Technologies

Profiling and Data Mining

At their most basic copyright management and control technologies might simply be used to provide pricing information, negotiate the purchase transaction, and release a copy of a work for downloading to the customer's computer. Still, from a technological point of view, such systems also have the capacity to be employed for digital monitoring. Copyright owners could for example use the transaction records generated by their copyright management systems to learn more about their customers. Profiles, in their crudest form consisting of basic demographic information, about the purchasers of copyrighted material might be created. Moreover copyright owners could use search agents or complex data mining techniques to gather more information about their customers that could either be used to market other works or being sold to third parties.

Fair Use

Through the widespread use of copyright management and control systems the balance of control could excessively be shifted in favor of the owners of intellectual property. The currently by copyright law supported practice of fair use might potentially be restricted or even eliminated. While information in analogue form can easily be reproduced, the protection of digital works through copyright management systems might complicate or make impossible the copying of material for purposes, which are explicitly exempt under the doctrine of fair use.

Provisions concerning technological protection measures and fair use are stated in the DMCA, which provides that "Since copying of a work may be a fair use under appropriate circumstances, section 1201 does not prohibit the act of circumventing a technological measure that prevents copying. By contrast, since the fair use doctrine is not a defense e to the act of gaining unauthorized access to a work, the act of circumventing a technological measure in order to gain access is prohibited." Also the proposed EU Directive on copyright and related rights in the information society contains similar clauses. It distinguishes between the circumvention of technical protection systems for lawful purposes (fair use) and the circumvention to infringe copyright. Yet besides a still existing lack of legal clarity also very practical problems arise. Even if the circumvention of technological protection measures under fair use is allowed, how will an average user without specialized technological know-how be able to gain access or make a copy of a work? Will the producers of copyright management and control systems provide fair use versions that permit the reproduction of copyrighted material? Or will users only be able to access and copy works if they hold a digital "fair use license" ("fair use licenses" have been proposed by Mark Stefik, whereby holders of such licenses could exercise some limited "permissions" to use a digital work without a fee)?

browse Report:
    Intellectual Property and the "Information Society" Metaphor
-3   Copyright Management and Control Systems: Pre-Infringement
-2   Copyright Management and Control Systems: Metering
-1   Copyright Management and Control Systems: Post-Infringement
0   Problems of Copyright Management and Control Technologies
+1   Recent "Digital Copyright" Legislation: U.S.
+2   Recent "Digital Copyright" Legislation: European Union
The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) was signed into law by U.S. President Clinton in 1998 and implements the two 1996 WIPO treaties (WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty and WIPO Copyright Treaty). Besides other issues the DMCA addresses the influence of new technologies on traditional copyright. Of special interest in the context of the digitalization of intellectual property are the titles no. 2, which refers to the limitation on the liability of online service providers for copyright infringement (when certain conditions are met), no. 3, that creates an exemption for making a copy of a computer program in case of maintenance and repair, and no. 4 which is concerned with the status of libraries and webcasting. The DCMA has been widely criticized for giving copyright-holders even more power and damage the rights and freedom of consumers, technological innovation, and the free market for information.