AfterDawn: Tech news

Two consumer rights bills introduced in States

Written by Petteri Pyyny (Google+) @ 04 Oct 2002 14:40

Two consumer rights bills introduced in States Two pretty similiar bills (proposals to become a law) have been presented this week to U.S. Congress. Both bills aim to remove and modify some controversial parts of the "evil" DMCA law to allow fair use rights for consumers.
First one that hit the Congress was introduced by "Silicon Valley" rep, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif). Bill, dubbed as Digital Choice and Freedom Act of 2002 aims to modify the DMCA law so that consumers could bypass technical protections, such as DeCSS, on material that they have purchased in order to make backups and use those backups legally. Bill would also put in place specific restrictions on "shrink-wrap licenses", licenses that consumers can read only after they've already purchased the product, such as EULAs (end-user license agreement -- those "do you agree" things you get when you install virtually any software) in software and other products.

"Consumers need a voice in this debate," Lofgren said in her statement. "Right now, it is the entertainment industry versus the technology industry, and the consumers are watching from the sidelines."

Another bill was introduced yesterday by two well-known anti-DMCA reps, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va) and Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif). Bill's ideology is pretty similiar to Lofgren's bill, but this one has been planned and coined more carefully. According to its mastermind, Boucher, he got the bill pretty much ready already two years ago, but he has gathered support and opinions during that time and waiting for a right moment to introduce the bill.

Boucher-Doolittle bill was introduced on Thursday and had an impressive number of official backers to it. Backers of the bill included Intel, Sun, Gateway, Verizon, American Library Association, Consumers Union and Philips. Bill is dubbed as Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act (DMCRA -- acronyms make it sound more official :-).

"Under the 1998 law, copyright owners now have the power virtually to extinguish the Fair Use doctrine with respect to material delivered in digital format. Even a simple technological protection measure, such as a password, can be placed in front of copyrighted material and a small payment then exacted for every use of the material. Inevitably, more and more copyright owners will use this broad legal power," Boucher's press statement said.

EFF has also asked its members to support the legislation. Bill would modify DMCA in various ways, including an exemption for scientific research, allowing bypassing technical protections if there's a solid fair-use reason (such as DVD playback on Linux for DeCSS) available and would allow manufacturing and distributing tools that allow bypassing technical protections if the valid noninfringing use exists.

To sum it up: If you're never given a damn about politics, its time to take the head out of the ground and give these three reps support if possible and ask your own politicians about their opinions on digital rights as well.

Both bills will most likely be delayed until next year because House is about to recess before fall elections.

More information:
· Lofgren's homepage
· Digital Choice and Freedom Act of 2002
· Boucher's homepage
· Doolittle's homepage
· Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act
· DMCRA summary

Previous Next  
Comments have been disabled for this article.

News archive