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Copyright Office Asks For Public Comments On DMCA 194

Posted by timothy
from the only-felons-watch-movies dept.
krygny writes "A number of news sites (ZDnet, theregister) are reporting that the US Copyright Office is accepting feedback on the affects of the DMCA. While it's unlikley to prompt changes in the law, lucid and valid anectdotes of how fair use of certain materials is infriged upon, may help determine the degree and nature of enforcement."
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Copyright Office Asks For Public Comments On DMCA

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  • Write! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vote Libertarian! (613074) <votelp@yahoo.com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:45PM (#4448442)
    Tell these people that you will vote Libertarian only until these tyrannical laws are abolished! These politicians only understand the vote count. It's the only way to change things.

    Vote Libertarian!

    • Just vote. (Score:5, Informative)

      by gpinzone (531794) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:05PM (#4448611) Homepage Journal
      All we have to do is simply get people to vote, period. Politicians only listen to people that vote for them and/or give them money. That basically means that they listen to only a small minority of the population. My philosphy used to be "if you're stupid enough not to vote, then your opinions don't count." I still don't disagree with that idea, it's just that politicians no longer look to comprimise. They just play to their particular base of supporters that gaurentee them a vote. The only solution is to make it a law that every citizen MUST vote.
      • Re:Just vote. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yokaze (70883)
        > The only solution is to make it a law that every citizen MUST vote.

        Think about it. How would that improve the situation?
        Dee Em See Ay? Lower Taxes!!!
        The difference would be that a small politically interested minority would be even smaller, and would even more dominated by the "dumb masses".
        Don't get me wrong I'm a democrat. I'm against any regulation which puts restrictions on who should able to vote, or how much a vote counts. In my opinion, children should be allowed to vote, too.
        But to choose not to vote, is in a way a vote, too.
        It's a statement: I do not know enough, or do not care enough to vote. (Which in my opinion is the same)

        Wouldn't it be better to encourage people to vote by giving them a better political education? Or giving the votes more weight by shifting the political power more to local administrations?

        BTW, I voted every election I could and consider it as one of the responsibilities of a citizen. But responsibility cannot be enforced.
        (Disclaimer: IANAA)
        • But to choose not to vote, is in a way a vote, too.

          There could be a "no vote" option at the polls. However, I doubt that many people would choose that option if they actctually HAD to make a choice. Politicians aren't looking for political education, flat tax, term limits or anything else that might jepordize their careers.
      • I want a bumper sticker:

        "Don't blame me, my vote wouldn't have counted anyway."

        Yes, you should vote for local officials, but the electoral college needs to be abolished, too, if for nothing else so we don't have to see the california take up all that space in the population-size based map.

        BTW, I vote third parties only.

      • The only solution is to make it a law that every citizen MUST vote.

        I don't think that will help; if everyone MUST vote, then those who actually care about issues will have a smaller voice. People will be picking based on who has better hair, who looks most like their grandfather, flipping coins, or whatever.

        If you really care about issues and know that votes=power, go find (or convince) other people who care about those issues and get them to vote.

        If you really care about people and know that votes=power, go find people and get them to vote for whatever issues are relevant to them.
    • Re:Write! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Voting libertarian will just make the party you disfavor least lose.

      Instead try to change people's feelings about issues, and make them feel passionately the same way you do. If each person can just convince 2 others, eventually the ideas of digital freedom will appear in the polls and the politicans will cater to those feelings.
      • Re:Write! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hope Thelps (322083)
        Voting libertarian will just make the party you disfavor least lose.

        If he's advocating voting libertarian then it's highly likely that the libertarian party is the one that he disfavors least. How would his voting for them cause them to lose?
        • Thanks, Pedantor. Now reread the comment with s/party/major party/ applied.

          Note that a preferential voting system would solve this problem.
    • These politicians only understand the vote count.

      Which is the largest flaw in your own argument. A Libertarian candidate is simply not going to win. If you're pissed off with a Republican and vote Dem, they have a much more serious chance of going under.

      You're effectively halving your political power -- you decrease the number of votes the candidate you don't like gets, but you are not able to increase the number of votes the candidate that *would* beat him will get, so you cost him one vote instead of two.
    • <Kodos-voice> Go ahead! Throw your vote away!</Kodos-voice>

    • Look, I hate the DMCA as much as the next guy, but if we write or vote to solve this problem we are just jumping through the same hoops that got us here. This is exactly what they want us to do to distract us from doing much more productive things like blowing off copyrights in civil-disobedience whenever possible from now on.

      Unlike the other options, civil-disobedience hits them right where it counts. And puts pressures in place to make sure that they are more and more limited from imposing further restrictions like the DMCA, and unlimited extensions of copyrights. If we only just wait arround for them to make the next move, next rule, or next law, and then react or comment on it - we are doomed to an endless ratrase that we will loose.
  • by macdaddy357 (582412) <macdaddy357@hotmail.com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:45PM (#4448447)
    We all enjoy posting comments here, but they won't be read by the copyright office. Carefully craft your words, and write them.
    • But now the site will be slashdotted and nobody will be able to post comments.

      At last, I know Hilary Rosen's slashdot alias [slashdot.org]!

    • by El_Nofx (514455) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:05PM (#4448617)
      Ya, and someone should remind us all on the 19th of November when they actually do start letting us comment, most /.ers have a memory like a fruit fly.

      • Re: FRUITFLY? (Score:2, Informative)

        by scalis (594038)
        Don't be so negative about fruit flies.
        They can train fruit flies to a number of different things... I read about single flies that were trained to avoid a course toward a visual object that had been associated with the aversive odor benzaldehyde. (to quote the site)
        Study your flies on cshl.org [cshl.org]

    • Here here to that.

      And additionally, don't cut and paste what somebody else has written. We need as many well written, unique critiques of the law submitted as we can muster. If you're not so great with language, then get someone to draft it for you, but don't just sit on slashdot and do nothing.
    • I have the mixed pleasure of having participated in the EC comment period for the software patent law.

      I wrote a small essay about what the most prominent shortcomings of the proposed practice were. My comments made it to the final report, but I felt that same report chastised my contribution together with many others for, in effect, "using my own words". I can't, and won't, write legalese. Unfortunately, the Dark Side will have its lawyers on their contributions, and by virtue of speaking the language so close to the hearts of the recipient of the comments will win on form alone.

      The long and short of it: get a lawyer to review your contribution. Offer to fix his PC if that's what it takes you to get his time. Or mow his lawn. Be creative.
  • Ummm... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by jgerman (106518)
    ... make sure you don't start your comments like so:


    The AFFECTS of the DMCA...


    Instead try:


    The EFFECTS of the DMCA...


    It'll will probably make you look a little more intelligent.


    Seriously though, we (well, we meaning those of us who oppose the DMCA) should be all over this. It's important to make your voice heard through every avenue that is made available, as well as those that aren't.

    • Re:Ummm... (Score:5, Funny)

      by miltimj (605927) on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:49PM (#4448487)
      It'll will probably make you look a little more intelligent.

      It'll certainly will.
      • lol, I knew I should have previewed my post ;) Oh well, I'll have to take solace in the fact that posting is an informal form of communication as opposed to front page stories.
        • Re:Ummm... (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I think it's one of the universal laws of the universe that anyone criticizing another's spelling or grammar has to make a similar mistake in their post. :)
        • I'm glad you took that in jest -- no harm intended, and apparently none taken. :-)
    • because it's probably a medical condition. In the northern hemisphere, the days are getting longer. This is when some people start to experience "Seasonal Effective Disorder".

      On the comments to the DMCA issue: people of the United States, please take the opportunity to provide constructive inputs that will help to effect positive change a DEEPLY flawed piece of legislation that currently serves the interests of powerful corporations at the expense of the little guy. You have a voice - those of us outside your borders are affected by the DMCA but have no effective voice.

  • Nice to see (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:47PM (#4448470)
    My submission:
    I listen to my music on my computer. I like to load up several hours worth of music then just ignore it.

    If we are only able to play music directly off the CD then I will loose the ability to do this.

    • go down to best buy and spend $100 on a cheap 5-disk CD changer - you can even get one with shuffle. it's much cheaper than a PC, and doesn't run you afoul of any copyright laws.

      -c
      • Re:CD Changer (Score:2, Informative)

        by ccady (569355)
        You already have the right to copy your own CDs. Copying them onto your hard drive is legal. (Sharing them with thousands of others is not.) The RIAA is trying to convince you otherwise.

        I don't want to spend $100 on another electronic device. I want to use the PC I already own.

        As Cher said "They're my tits. If I want them put on my back, that's my business."
  • by Illserve (56215) on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:47PM (#4448471)
    The surest way to ensure the DMCA is repealed is to have it interpreted in the strictest and most rigorous sense.

    Having the DMCA interpreted with a lenient bent is like having the constitution amended to allow "just a little" slavery.

    If we truly want all or nothing vis a vis the DMCA, let's not plead for a lenient interpretation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:48PM (#4448480)
    Since you are trying to convince the feds to
    treat copyright as a limited thing, please write
    comments as an adult and be respectful
  • Wow... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Osiris Ani (230116) on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:48PM (#4448481)
    UserFriendly [userfriendly.org] actually beat Slashdot to this one by a couple of days. Will wonders never cease?
  • by nightsweat (604367) on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:48PM (#4448482)

    While I'm certain some sort of minor repeal of the DMCA will come about, I'm also certain that the partial repeal will take effect about ten minutes before another more restrictive bill called something like "The Save America From Terror Act" will go into effect, putting all the DMCA restrictions plus more new ones in place.

    This is just a chance to vent so you can feel like you actually had a hand in the process. The only real hands in the process, of course, belong to the hands with dollar bills in them, headed for political coffers.
    • by badnews_bear (607583) on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:59PM (#4448573)
      While I agree with you in that the only people who have their hands in this are the ones with the bills (read: dollar) in their hands, we cannot continue to think that way. The idea that the only people who are making the laws are the ones with the the money or the ones who can give the money to the lawmakers is false logic. It is only that way because we, the people, LET it get that way. I said this before, but I feel that it bears repeating until everyone gets it in their heads. You can make a difference in this. QUIT BUYING MUSIC. See how long the DMCA lasts against a consumer strike on digital goods (read: CD's). And yes, I can bitch because I no longer buy music of any sort (nor do I download it)....
      • A large enough boycott of music would only further their beliefs that they are losing sales due to theft, whether or not they actually have proof of the latter occurring. This will only result yet more mecahnisms being put into place further restricting our ability to excercise fair use, which, interestingly enough, according to the very text of the DMCA itself, it wasn't actually supposed to affect -- but of course, it does.
      • While I agree with you in that the only people who have their hands in this are the ones with the bills (read: dollar) in their hands, we cannot continue to think that way.

        Why? You'd have to be an idiot to ignore reality, but that's what you're advocating here.

        The idea that the only people who are making the laws are the ones with the the money or the ones who can give the money to the lawmakers is false logic. It is only that way because we, the people, LET it get that way.

        Wrong. Repeat this until you fully understand it: You cannot vote for someone you don't know about.

        Mass media exposure is everything. Without it, the people who vote won't know a thing about you, and therefore won't be able, much less willing, to vote for you. The mass media is owned by a few large corporations with agendas. They demand money. Only large corporations or extremely wealthy individuals have enough money to influence the media corporations enough to give exposure to candidates that the media corporations wouldn't otherwise give exposure to.

        If everyone stopped buying music, the DMCA would not be repealed. What would happen instead is that a tax would be placed on internet usage, the proceeds of which would be directed to the RIAA and MPAA members. This has happened before (to DAT and, in Canada, to CD-Rs), so it's not like it's a new idea.

        It's amazing to me how naive some people seem to be...

      • Yes, stop buying music. But don't just stop buying music. Make sure that everyone, from the manager of the store where you buy the music, to the distributor who sells to the store, to the record label (and its parent company, if any), to your Senators and Congresscritters, know that you've stopped buying music, and why.

        Silent boycotts are interpreted as sales slumps. Loud boycotts are interpreted as political action [slashdot.org], and usually paid attention to. After all, things which negatively affect business' bottom lines get their attention...

  • Really (Score:5, Funny)

    by CodeWheeney (314094) <JimCassidy&mail,com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:50PM (#4448495) Homepage
    I know, this is Karma whoring, but:

    lucid and valid anectdotes?

    From Slashdot?
    • Re:Really (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Soko (17987) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:05PM (#4448618) Homepage
      lucid and valid anectdotes?

      From Slashdot?


      Which is the point, I think, for the gentle reminder from krygny.

      One would hope that any person from Slashdot would think about thier response and make it palletable for the masses, instead of just allowing thier feelings about the DMCA to come to the fore un-abated. Your opinions will be on public display if you choose to respond, so please keep the invective for Slashdot comments, not on a site whose audience won't be so tolerant of trolling. There's no moderators out there, after all.

      Soko
  • by Trusty Penfold (615679) <jon_edwards@spanners4us.com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:51PM (#4448511) Journal

    You should let your elected representitives represent you in legal & governmental issues. If you have to get involved with every trivial decision that gets made then you will soon lose patience. It will only be the extreme members of society that will influence decision making - and then where will we be?
    • It will only be the extreme members of society that will influence decision making

      You mean the way it is now? *cough* Ashcroft.
    • Huh? This isn't a failed attempt at irony, is it?

      Some of us don't think the DMCA is a trivial issue, regardless of our different opinions about copyright and intellectual property.

      If you don't make sure your representatives know what you think, they have no option but to pay attention to the people who do make their wishes known. If everyone gives up and shuts up, then the corporations, special interests and lobbyists have the field all to themselves.

      If your representative loses patience with you and shuffles you out of the office, write it up, send it to the local media, post it on a website, and make sure the other party knows about it.
    • Where will we be? Same place? I dunno. You tell me.

      For my part I will continue to write to my representatives, the President, cabinet members, agency heads, and even judges, should I feel I have something to say that I think they ought to hear. This is the only way it is even possible for them to represent me, by me telling them what positions are important to me. If I don't tell them that, they'd have to guess. Then where will we be?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:52PM (#4448518)
    We [slashdot.org] Might [slashdot.org] Have [slashdot.org] Some [slashdot.org] Problems [slashdot.org] With [slashdot.org] It. [slashdot.org]
  • This is a repeat (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This article is a repeat of this one [slashdot.org].
    • Looks like everyone who criticizes /. gets a bashing when it comes to the articles themselves. Several stories are repeated, like the one with life on Venus.
      First article [slashdot.org]
      And another one [slashdot.org]
      Obviously the editors accept certain stories without question as long as it's about the DMCA or aliens. And I will be modded down for this. I know.
    • Ok, so we just did this. But no one really posted anything concrete that we could write and complain about. So this is a second chance - they are looking for valid complaints of how the DMCA is infringing on whatever. What should be exempted from this law? Why? A clever little test really, and if we can't come up with any serious cases that qualify for exemptment, then they will just ignore the rest. So anyone????
  • by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:54PM (#4448535)
    I mean, the Copyright Office doesn't enforce anything. That's the job of the executive branch: the FBI, the DOJ, etc. They can, and do, enforce whatever laws they want to enforce, and in any way they want to (depending, of course, on the instructions they receive from their corporate masters).

    So how can writing up and sending in your thoughts about the DMCA to the Copyright Office have any more effect on anything related to the DMCA than posting to Slashdot?

    It's not like most members of Congress are going to listen to these comments, since they owe their allegience to the corporations and not the people...

    • Any opportunity for public comment is a good thing. This is the way democracy gets its voice.

      Draft up your opinons intelligently and give them to everyone who is willing to accept. The drops in the bucket are supposed to mount up to something.

    • by reallocate (142797) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:10PM (#4448645)
      Here's a passage from the Copyright Office's notice:


      "The Copyright Office is preparing to conduct proceedings mandated by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides that the Librarian of Congress may exempt certain classes of works from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. The purpose of this rulemaking proceeding is to determine whether there are particular classes of works as to which users are, or are likely to be, adversely affected in their ability to make noninfringing uses due to the prohibition on circumvention."


      The Copyright Office can, within a rather limited scope, define exceptions to the DMCA.
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:56PM (#4448549) Journal
    The Copyright Office page [copyright.gov] says "Electronic submissions may be made through this website beginning Nov. 19, 2002, through Dec. 18."

    That's more than a month away. That'll slip right off my radar screen unless I have a reminder.

    Put it in your PDA. In your favorite scheduling software. In you little black book. On your fridge. Whatever you like, but do it NOW. This is a really good way for the evils of the DMCA to be entered into record, even if (for now) it's just a formality.

    -S

  • by forevermore (582201) on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:56PM (#4448555) Homepage
    ... is not to repeal the DMCA, but if you read that first paragraph, they want to see if there are certain TYPES of work that should be exempted from the current broad coverage of the DMCA.

    The problem with this is that the items many of us feel should be exempted are exactly the types of things that the DMCA was enacted to "protect" (cd's, dvd's, etc), and it would be very unlikely that the government would do anything to change that in such a "minor" alteration of the act.

    • >> ...items many of us feel should be exempted are exactly the types of things that the DMCA was enacted to "protect"...unlikely that the government would do anything to change that.

      There's a lot of cynicism expressed here about Congress being in the pocket of rich corporation, which ususally results in a "what's the use?" attitude.

      Perhaps I'm naive, but it seems to me that the one thing even crooked politicians want more than money is to be reelected. If those of us who oppose the DMCA convince even a few incumbent Congresspersons that their reelection is at risk because of their stand on the DMCA, we might see some movement in the right direction. A few Libertarian candidate for House seats are speaking out against the DMCA, but we can expect their impact to be almost nil.

      This would require demonstrating to mainstream voters -- those ordinary folks ofted derisively referred to as "users" -- why the DMCA threatens them and why this one issue, by itself, merits changing their vote.
      • This would require demonstrating to mainstream voters -- those ordinary folks ofted derisively referred to as "users" -- why the DMCA threatens them and why this one issue, by itself, merits changing their vote.

        And therein lies the problem. First, one would have to muster up enough people voting (hard in and of itself), and THEN convince them why the DMCA is bad. (or do that in reverse, I'm not sure which would work better).
        We (most /. readers) understand the impact of the DMCA. Most ordinary people don't, and now the *AAs are planning to try and reach out to those people and effectively tell them the DMCA is good (not directly, mind you, but they'll get their shots in). Like it or not, the RIAA and MPAA have a huge advantage - money. They can advertise 'copying is bad' all over the place, it's a lot harder for the average /. reader to reach an the same audience with their message ('copying has legit uses, illegal copying is bad' or whatever it is they'd say).

        • >> And therein lies the problem. First, one would have to muster up enough people voting (hard in and of itself), and THEN convince them why the DMCA is bad.

          Yep, that's the way the game is played. Didn't say it would be easy or cheap.

          Frankly, I'm doubtful the DMCA and related issues will ever be more than a sideshow for most voters. Voters infrequently make a choice of candidate based on a single issue, especially an issue that involves spending discretionary income on luxury items like CD's and DVD's. ("Lemme see, buy dinner or buy that new Harry Potter DVD?")

          So, if the mainstream public can't be convinced that the DMCA is a threat to their interests, then the possibility exists that they're right -- maybe it doesn't threaten them, at least sufficiently to change their vote. In that case, the /. community is just another single-issue special interest group.

          Certainly, bread and butter issues like jobs, education, war vs peace, inflation, etc., will always sway votes more readily than issues like the DMCA.
      • Perhaps I'm naive, but it seems to me that the one thing even crooked politicians want more than money is to be reelected.

        You are naive. Not because your belief is incorrect, but because you believe there is a difference between money and reelection.

        In the United States, there is no such difference. The reason is that the only way to get enough exposure to have a chance of being reelected is through the mass media. But the mass media is owned by a few large corporations whose only concern is money. So the candidate has to pay the mass media for access, hence the strong connection between money and reelection.

        More importantly, the corporations that own the mass media have their own agenda, so they will be reluctant to give exposure to a candidate that goes against their agenda. But because they are ultimately interested in money, a sufficient quantity of it will persuade them otherwise.

        That money has to come from somewhere, and (with a few exceptions) the only entities that have that kind of money are large corporations, which also have their own agenda. So not only will these corporations contribute to the election campaign of any politician they believe will reciprocate once elected, they almost certainly make deals with the media corporations to give their candidate(s) exposure.

        The corporations are in almost complete control of the election process in the United States today. This is why you will see very little opposition to the DMCA amongst the politicians, and why the politicians passed the DMCA to begin with (unanimously with a voice vote, at that).

        • I'm no more able to refute your assertions than you are able to document them, but it seems to me that such cynicism often provides cover for an unwillingness to enter the political process. Obviously, I can't pretend to speak for you, but I've certainly known a number of people who have made the quick jump into cynicism and inaction when the rest of the world failed to rise up to support their quest. Rather than consider that others may not agree with them, they simply assert that the game is fixed and stop playing.

          Persuading Congress to repeal all or part of the DMCA will take years of organized, expensive effort by many people. Electing enough representatives to change the tone of legislation to be more aligned with the broader social ramifications of the free software and open source philosophies (somethig many posters on /. seem to be groping toward) will take even longer. It will takes years of grassroots efforts, starting at the school board and local elections level.

          None of this will happen simply because a portion of the /. community wants it to happen, or because the nation's "geeks" believe it to be morally necessary.

  • what to exempt.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alcimedes (398213) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:01PM (#4448592)
    let's see. i want cd's out of there. then movies.

    why?

    i like to listen to cd's on my computer. sadly enough, my monitor is larger than my TV, so i watch movies on there too.

    if it's already illegal to make and sell copies of these cd's and movies anyway, what the hell is the DMCA doing other than stifling research into useful apps. for everyday folks.

    if someone is making an illegal copy and selling it, throw them in jail. there have been laws in place to do this for years.

    reminds me of people who want to create more restrictive gun laws. problem is no one is enforcing the ones that we already have.

    does it make you feel any better that the criminal broke 17 laws to shoot your ass instead of 15 laws?

    didn't think so.

    same with this. if it's already illegal to mass produce and sell these cd's/movies, what's the DMCA really doing anyway?
    • does it make you feel any better that the criminal broke 17 laws to shoot your ass instead of 15 laws?

      Well, kinda. They might beat the first fifteen charges and get nailed on the last two. It's not much, but it's something.
  • Fair use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:03PM (#4448601) Homepage Journal
    I must be able to buy a movie on a DVD and play this movie on a computer of my choice under operating system of my choice. If I choose to play the movie under some distribution of open source operating system, or any GNU (free software) operating system I must be able to do so. DMCA makes it impossible to legally play my DVD under GNU/Linux for example, since MPAA will not allow a license for DVD player software to be distributed under GNU; DMCA makes it illegal to reverse engineer DVD format.

    MPAA DMCA FAQ [mpaa.org]

    Question:

    Doesn't the DMCA allow reverse engineering for compatibility, for example to allow playing of a DVD on a Linux operating system-driven personal computer?


    Answer:

    The DMCA does allow reverse engineering. However, the reverse engineering provisions in the DMCA were never intended to enable anyone to circumvent technical protection measures (TPMs) for the purpose of gaining unauthorized access to or making unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.

    The DMCA does allow a lawful user of a computer program to circumvent TPMs to ensure that the program can work with other programs (interoperability); and, with strict limitations, the research may be shared with others, as long as it does not infringe the copyright in the original or a related work. However, reverse engineering is not permissible if there is a readily available commercial alternative for that purpose. In this case, there exist MANY commercially available DVD players.
  • Education (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:07PM (#4448623)
    I'm an aspiring Visual FX animator. One day I'd like to do blue screen and green screen compositing. This is easy enough to do with a video camera and some blue tarp, but it is not the same as working under studio conditions.

    Here's an example: In the Scooby Doo movie, there's a scene where a creature picks up Velma and she tugs on it's ears thinking it's a mask. In the 'Making of' part of the DVD, they show how they filmed that. They suspended the actress on wires up against a blue mockup of the creature. Then they cut out the wires and the blue parts, and inserted a CG creature in the shot.

    This is not something I can do in my garage without a huge personal expendature. Thankfully, though, the DVD of the Scooby Doo movie contains the unprocessed footage. Normally, I'd rip the section of the DVD to an .AVI file and do some practice work on that. If I can master some of the techniques the FX studio made for that movie, I have a real shot at working in the industry. In other words, the ability to legally rip this DVD would not only provide me eductational resources, but I'd also get hired by the same indsutry that's trying to prevent me from doing just that.

    The DMCA prevents me from legally extracting this footage that I purchased. It really kind of bugs me. A student who's learning to paint can copy a painting, but I cannot take the steps I need to learn a trade that I cannot learn in school.
    • Myself, and hundreds of thousands of others have had no problem doing the "garage" approach to learning. Using studio work, even the stuff you describe, doesn't help in anyway shape or form. You need to think about projects in a smaller scale and scope. You can learn a lot by just producing tiny shorts using studio techniques and if you're good, these can be included on your demo reel. You can't put any thing from the scooby-doo hack in your demo reel regardless of the DMCA.
      • You misunderstand me. I never said anything about putting that footage in my demo reel.

        Here's what I said:

        " Normally, I'd rip the section of the DVD to an .AVI file and do some practice work on that..."

        In other words, I'd liketa know what the pitfalls are and how to get around them. After Effects, in particular, has a bunch of different tools for doing rotoscoping and chroma keying. Different tools become useful at different times. You treat hair differently than you'd treat a wire, for example. You cannot argue that there is always value in finding ways of challenging yourself.

        In any case, no, I was never saying anything about using that footage in my demo reel. I wish you'd give me some credit, though. I'm working really hard here to learn.
        • My point was you don't even need this to learn how to do things like this. Don't get me wrong. I purchased movies like "Contact" and "Lost in Space" specifically for the DVD content which demonstrates how they designed and produced the special effects in their movie. When it came time to do this myself, I came up with my own project, shot footage I needed with my DV camera and hacked away in AE. I learned FAR more than the movie could have ever taught me and I have a greater respect, as well as expanded vocabulary, for the work of others in the process. Using the footage in ANY of these movies would have NEVER have taught me as much as I now know, mostly because I had to work just a little bit harder to attain my goal. Basically what I'm saying is you NEED to run into a few of thes pitfalls so you can learn to avoid them in the future, but better still, you can deal with them if you can't avoid them.
          • Which is fine, you make a good point. However, I sense that you think I want to do that in lieu of getting a camcorder out. I've already *done* the camcorder bit. No matter what, I'm going to continue to do DV exercises. But I still want to do more. The point I was making was that there are some situations that cannot easily be done in a garage that I'd like to try my hand at. I have no interest in publicizing it. Just something for me to goof around with.

            I would also like to make sure that what I learn with my video camera doesn't surprise me when I eventually end up working with film. Things change a bit there. For example: What about matching film grain? Remember when the first Star Trek movie was rereleased? They had a CG version of the Enterprise they used in bits of it. In order for the CG ship to match, they had to recreate the film grain and overlay the CG layer with it. I thought that was pretty cool! I'd like to try my hand at a trick like that. That'd be a handy skill to have. If I can pick up on how they did that, then I can also do composites with CG characters in smoke-filled rooms. (maybe?) Who knows what I'd learn from that? I just want to explore, and ripping DVD's gives me a very interesting way of doing that.

            Is my position a little clearer now? The main point I'm making is not "I want a cheap demo reel" the point I'm making is "the DMCA is inhibiting my ability to explore."
            • I understood your point from the start. You just don't get my message. You can explore all you like you just can't do it with copyrighted material. But why would you anyway? You don't need to use copyrighted material to explore ojn your own and learn. There is absolutely NO reason to do so. None. Zero. Zip. The DMCA is soing nothing to inhibit your ability to learn and explore, it is only keeping you from unlocking copyrighted material that you seem to believe will somehow make you a better post production artist. I'm telling you from experience that this is simply not true. You will learn FAR more from doing small projects that focus on particular effects than to bother with trying to duplicate the same scene you saw in a movie. As the Scooby-doo footage was likely not shot to fit any of the small projects you would likely design for yourself, it serves to do nothing more than inhibit your ability to truly explore.
              • Heh. I don't think we've attained understanding.

                "You will learn FAR more from doing small projects that focus on particular effects than to bother with trying to duplicate the same scene you saw in a movie."

                a.) I never said "I want to play with actual footage and never ever play with my own footage." If I had said that, then your point'd be true.

                b.) Who said duplicate from a movie? I just wanted an exercise to chew on.

                c.) Your assumptions are outweighing what I actually said, take it easy.

                " You don't need to use copyrighted material to explore ojn your own and learn. There is absolutely NO reason to do so. None. Zero. Zip."

                Not true. I don't know where you're getting this idea. If there's a good example of blue-screening in that shot, I would do nothing but benefit from taking a stab at chromakeying and rotoscoping it out. So your 'absolute' becomes negated. If I learn how to use splines to cut out Velma in that scene, then I have completed an exercise. Boom, I have more experience that I did not have before. Could I do the same with a video camera? Sure, even though video cameras and movie cameras capture different areas of color amd grain and blah blah blah. The DMCA prevents me from exploring that avenue.

                "You will learn FAR more from doing small projects that focus on particular effects than to bother with trying to duplicate the same scene you saw in a movie."

                Again, your point'd make sense if I were saying "use only the DVD material and never ever ever use my own footage". I've told you at least twice now that was never the intent. I guess I'll have to state again (until you get it) that it'd be an extra excercise to assure myself I can do it when the inevitable real world situation shows up. I cannot possibly do anything but benefit from providing myself with extra exercises to master. I never said anything about 'duplicating a scene in a movie', I said 'excercise'. Yeesh.

                "As the Scooby-doo footage was likely not shot to fit any of the small projects you would likely design for yourself, it serves to do nothing more than inhibit your ability to truly explore."

                I'll say it again: It's an excercise. Exercise! As in: A test of my abilities. I never said "Small Project".

                Why are you even arguing with me? I never ever said "I want to use this material and nothing else." Yeesh dude, take it easy. You have a really bizarre image in your head of what I want to do, and no matter how I try to explain it it just isn't resonating with you. Honestly, it'd be more worth your energy to understand what it is I'm saying instead of arguing with what I'm not saying.

                Frankly, I'm insulted that you'd come up with such negative assumptions about what I meant. Never mind that I agreed on your points, no no no, you want to perpetuate the argument by making a point that would only need to be made if I said something I very specifically did not say.

              • I think you're just arguing with him because you're pro-DMCA. I don't think you're actually listening to him at all.

                Few good rational arguments contain the phrase 'absolutely no reason'. He's pointed out good reasons to enact fair-use. He wants to try his hand at playing with the footage on the DVD. You are in no position to guage whether or not he can learn anything from it. He has a start point, he has an end point, and he wants to know how to go from beginning to end. If he didn't have a video camera, the DVD would be his only resort.

                Sorry, you're not convincing me that he has nothing to gain from it. I've used ripped material for similar purposes with testing some motion tracking software. Saved me a bundle on renting steadycam equipment. Now I know what it'd take to effectively use that software, I didn't have to shell out an arm and a leg to find out with my own equipment.
    • There is a free motion-tracking program out there called 'Icarus'. I think it'd be cool to rip a DVD of popular movie scenes and use it to insert a Star Wars poster on the wall of Captain Picard's office.

      You're right, though, the DMCA prohibits that type of stuff. Funny thing is, the same technique to do what I described was used in Episode II. They digitally touched up some sets using a similar process.
    • One day I'd like to do blue screen... compositing.

      Install Windows, boot your computer, and wait.

  • by jukal (523582) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:11PM (#4448655) Journal
    in my very uneducated opinion, the whole DMCA is based on wrong foundation. IMHO, it is utterly stupid to try and define what exactly, technically you can do to software - or hardware - that you purchased. I mean, if the legislative forces really think this the correct way to fix things, then there should be the "Oil Painting Copyright Act" and "Ceramic Copyright Act". I think I have said this in some other thread as well, but..after 100 years all these legislators will be crying in their graves when they realize that software is no different and that they cannot just do the easy DMCA-kludge fix to serve needs of specific companies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:23PM (#4448761)
    Found here:
    http://www.copyright.gov/1201/fr2002-4.pdf
  • Illusion (Score:2, Insightful)

    Another case in which the government tries to continue to display the illusion that the country is still run by the citizens...
  • Maybe slashdot should consider revoking its DMCA subsection 512(c) registration [copyright.gov]. This subsection limits the liability of a service provider.
  • My $.015 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saint Mitchell (144618) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:38PM (#4448898)
    Do you like your Compaq computer?

    If the DMCA had existed back in the day Compaq wouldn't have been legally allowed to reverse engineer the IBM bios and make PCs as common as they are today. A whole insdustry sprang from something now no longer possible. Many of the asian countries don't give two shits about your IP. They will reverse engineer it and make it better/cheper/faster. Why? Because they can. All the DMCA does is screw the small guy with the dream.
    • Is this really true ? Afaik, they weren't circumventing copy protection, they were circumventing copyright.

      One team had actual source code of IBM BIOS, going though it to document everything it did. Then another team would use this as a blueprint for writing a new - compatible - BIOS from scratch.

      What part is illegal under the DMCA ?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:41PM (#4448918)

    If you feel strongly and want your voice to count, consider doing the following:

    1. Plan on spending some time (~1-2 hour(s)).

    2. Get remedial edication on DCMA
    http://anti-dmca.org/
    http://www.educause.edu/issues/dmca.html
    and many other sites.

    3. First (today/tomorrow), write to your Congressperson AND Senators on the wider view of why DMCA is a "bad thing" for society. Give some simple examples. Use your own words - no form letters, please. Write your message both in a text file so it can be pasted in an e-mail and a web-form (the method of communication varies between different legistative members).

    http://www.senate.gov/
    http://www.house.gov/writerep/

    Select the senators/congresspersons you want to write to and send them e-mail or fill out the web form.

    4. Be reasonable, respectful and all that - basic human relations stuff (and spell check!). Include your contact information.

    5. Mark your calendar for Nov 19 (OR the week of Thanksgiving - what a good thing to do after you are stuffed with leftover turkey and resting the next day when most people are shopping) to write a *separate letter* to the Copyright office. Deal only with the narrow context of their request on interpretation and exceptions (but the irst letter to the congress-folks should deal with DMCA in the wider context).

    http://www.copyright.gov/1201/fr2002-4.pdf for the context.

    6. Write a short note to the same congress-folks you wrote before and CC them the letter to the Copyright office, emphasizing that the problem is with the DMCA itself, not the narrow copyright only context.

    You may tell them it is more preferable to legistate human behavior rather than specific technologies.

    Yes, it is work to paricipate in decision making. If we aren't willing to find some time to make the right input to the right people at the right time, we can't make a difference.

    --
    Rathinam
  • by Limburgher (523006) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:49PM (#4448980) Homepage Journal
    That might be how this is used. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but is the idea of Reichschancellor Ashcroft greasing the squeaky wheel, so to speak, that farfetched?
  • With the big push for "paperless" agencies nowadays, why don't we have a real good slash-style public comment forum in place yet? Sure, many agencies accept e-mails in addition to more traditional forms of public comment, but one might think that a true online web-based public forum might be desirable for situations where government agencies wish to solicit public comment. That way we can see other posts, respond to them, have intelligent discussion where necessary, and the agencies wouldn't be limited to simply re-reading the same things over and over again, trying to pick out a gem here and there, but otherwise just tallying votes.
  • So you are implying that bad laws are simply ignored rather than repealed? Gee, you sound like the NJ Supreme Court. Of course, you're probably right.

    Unfortunately, I think there's going to be an increasing trend of differences between what's on the books and what is really enforced. Look at speed limits... thanks to that ludicrous Federal 55 MPH speed limit way back when, speed limits are almost universally ignored by citizens and only sporadically enforced, and "equal protection" is a joke.

    Just wait until the laws are more even draconian than they already are and the enforcement is even more arbitrary than it is now. It will become like a negative lottery. Everyone breaks the law (because its stupid or unreasonable) and a few certain unlucky individuals will be singled out for punishment.

  • My stab at it: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by octalgirl (580949) on Monday October 14, 2002 @06:25PM (#4449228) Journal
    Let's look at the case of DeCSS, a software tool designed to break the Content Scramble System (CSS) used by the MPAA in an attempt to protect it's intellectual property. . The DMCA was pivotal in the MPAAs lawsuits against three separate websites that hosted DeCSS or similar copyright circumvention tools, one just for linking to it.

    Just as virus protection companies must strengthen and improve their software after each new virus is introduced, and operating system (OS) manufacturers and other software companies must develop a more secure system for each security hole found, then so must any corporation, especially so the entertainment industry, who wish to develop solid technical applications. They cannot be exempted from the forceful nature of making a better product.

    This make it-break it-make it again process is simply inherent to the development of better software and hardware. Every single technological evolution that we have experienced in the last decade alone can find its humble beginnings in some earlier discovery; whether it is software, protocol, hardware or written word.

    The DMCA fails miserably when technical experts, software engineers, scientists or the next encryption expert, are not allowed to dissect, discover and expand upon the potential of some new (or possibly old) element of technology. Especially when traditional copyrights and the patent process already exist to protect the actual inventor or original product. Can we even imagine a world if a company such as IBM were able to use something like the DMCA to prevent the creation IBM cloned PCs?

    People learn one thing, then we pull it apart, see if it will break, turn it over and inspect every corner to see if it can be made better, bigger, smaller, cheaper, easier, safer, more secure - the list goes on. It is human nature to explore in this manner, from all things in earth and science, especially in science, and most especially in technology. To exclude any portion of software or hardware development because it appears to 'infringe' on one corporate entity, basically brings future developments to a stand still. A poor product forced upon the public with little hope of change in sight because it is illegal to improve upon its humble beginnings. Since the DMCA silenced the masses in regards to creating and then breaking copyright protection devices the world may never know what could have been.

    Today, in the year 2002, we may be able to define what a "unlawful copyright circumvention device" is, using today's standards and our naïve knowledge of what they are. How will it be defined just ten years from now, or twenty? If the DMCA is not corrected, the definition will be exactly the same.

    Note - if you see any holes in this please point them out - thanks
    • Added a paragraph:

      Let's look at the case of DeCSS, a software tool designed to break the Content Scramble System (CSS) used by the MPAA in an attempt to protect it's intellectual property. . The DMCA was pivotal in the MPAAs lawsuits against three separate websites that hosted DeCSS or similar copyright circumvention tools, one just for linking to it.

      Just as virus protection companies must strengthen and improve their software after each new virus is introduced, and operating system (OS) manufacturers and other software companies must develop a more secure system for each security hole found, then so must any corporation, especially so the entertainment industry, who wish to develop solid technical applications. They cannot be exempted from the forceful nature of making a better product.

      This make it-break it-make it again process is simply inherent to the development of better software and hardware. Every single technological evolution that we have experienced in the last decade alone can find its humble beginnings in some earlier discovery; whether it is software, protocol, hardware or written word.

      The DMCA fails miserably when technical experts, software engineers, scientists or the next encryption expert, are not allowed to dissect, discover and expand upon the potential of some new (or possibly old) element of technology. Especially when traditional copyrights and the patent process already exist to protect the actual inventor or original product. Can we even imagine a world if a company such as IBM were able to use something like the DMCA to prevent the creation IBM cloned PCs?

      People learn one thing, then we pull it apart, see if it will break, turn it over and inspect every corner to see if it can be made better, bigger, smaller, cheaper, easier, safer, more secure - the list goes on. It is human nature to explore in this manner, from all things in earth and science, especially in science, and most especially in technology. To exclude any portion of software or hardware development because it appears to 'infringe' on one corporate entity, basically brings future developments to a stand still. A poor product forced upon the public with little hope of change in sight because it is illegal to improve upon its humble beginnings. Since the DMCA silenced the masses in regards to creating and then breaking copyright protection devices the world may never know what could have been.

      The bar is constantly rising in technology. After successful dissection there comes discussion - the sharing of knowledge. Yet the DMCA stifles this too. In a world full of curious and inventive educators and learners, we pass on what we know so that others may benefit from this knowledge and learn to raise the bar yet again. That is the way it has always been, and will continue to be for there is not one single human being on this earth that can successfully predict when technological growth will stop because it has finally grown up.

      Today, in the year 2002, we may be able to define what a "unlawful copyright circumvention device" is, using today's standards and our naïve knowledge of what they are. How will it be defined just ten years from now, or twenty? If the DMCA is not corrected, the definition will be exactly the same.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 14, 2002 @07:19PM (#4449579)


    Intent, and due process

    For intent, the it must be a defense to the DMCA that if the intent was to exercise a fair use right, then it is allowed. If it meets certain criteria (news commentary, satire, education, or other fair use allowable exceptions) then arguments over how much of original article was quoted (as an example), then it must be considered prima facia evidence that the use falls under fair use, and therefore, due to intent, of the alleged infringer, the complainant in a DMCA case must overcome the prima facia threshold to prove a violation of the DMCA.

    Due process:

    From the previous stories and posts on slashdot of ISPs receiving demand notices of shutdowns of customers for DMCA violations, there must be due process prior to shutdowns. Currently, as reported on slashdot, and as testified to in Congressional Committee hearings, the MPAA and other leeches are sending demand notices to ISPs alleging that account holders, identified by IP address, are sharing copyrighted works. They demand the immediate shutdown of the accounts. Some ISPs are capitulating, some are shutting down only the most egregious violators after negotiating with the leeches, and some are holding out a little more. What is happening in this process is that the account holder is not receiving any notice, the plug is just being pulled.

    Testimony has been heard in Congress of accounts being shut down without notice from account holders whose child had written a book report on Cinderella on one case, Snow White on another case, and Lord of the Pigs in another case. In all three cases, the leeches alleged that the account holders were trading copyrighted works. In all three cases, the accounts were shut down.

    If my child writes a book report on my computer, based on a copyrighted work, does that give Jack Valenti the right to pull the plug on my dns servers, web servers (hosting other peoples' web sites, other peoples' email accounts, other peoples' voicemail services, other peoples' pager services, other peoples'...

    There must be due process for this procedure. The internet is no longer a luxury. Children use the internet for research for school. Parents and teachers use the internet for communicating about their children, school closings, emergencies, and more. On September 11, cellular sites were overloaded, and cell phone service was knocked out for most of NYC. But the internet stayed up. People who died in the WTC were able to get email out to loved ones. People who survived were able to notify relatives that they were safe, and were on their way to sleep at a co-worker's home, or stay at a bosses' office, home, whatever. Children were able to contact their parents and tell them they had made it out of ground zero and were with their teacher. Libraries have argued to protect the rights of people to access pornography on their computers, and against filtering software, because people have the right to access the internet, it is a necessity, and they can access at the internet if they can't afford a computer. Laptops are now standard requirements at Universities.

    Running a web site on your server? Does your child access the internet on your small home network? Can you afford to have your web site taken down without notice because your small ISP can't afford to fight the leeches' deep pockets? Care to guess how long your site will be down while you make arrangements to find another ISP, negotiate the price for additional static IP addresses, dns server use for your site, changing the registrar info for new dns servers, changing the dns server entries, having the information from the dns servers filter through the internet so your site is recognized once again by name not number?

    If you make a living off of your site, I doubt you can afford to have the plug pulled on it for what could turn out to be a minimum two week period of downtime, and the associated costs of a new isp, deposits, minimum contracts, lost time, lost profits and more.

    There must be due process before a disconnect is allowed. The due process time must be equal to whatever filing time periods are given to the leeches. Nothing less. During this due process, it must be structured to allow the account holder to dispute the allegations, and to fill out the form that transfers liability from the ISP to the account holder, thereby forcing the leeches to go after you instead of the ISP (which is all the ISP really wants, a transfer of liability), and which will therefore keep your internet connection up.

    Who would fill out the form [cmu.edu] ? Since I run a "news site" or blog or whatever the current terminology is in fashion at the moment, and am therefore a reporter and publisher who quotes other news sites, it is therefore very likely that at some point in the future, I will be accused of a DMCA violation. I will not view it as such, I will view it as a Fair Use issue, news commentary. The only thing that will be at issue is how much I quoted, and whether the amount that I quoted falls under fair use or not. Since I'm willing to take the liability risk on what I publish, and since I don't want my plug pulled, I would fill out the letter as the law provides [copyright.gov] , but currently, the DMCA, as the leeches are applying it, does not even require my notice and opportunity to respond in this fashion, or give me the ability of defending my right to connectivity. This must change.

    As to the other problems with the DMCA, that will be dealt with as the issues arise. But we must defend Fair Use at every corner, and take every opportunity and opening given to us to try and restore Fair Use rights to the public.

    So, I am not a lawyer. A lawyer needs to take my arguments above on intent, on prima facia evidence, and on due process, and make them into a lucid statement, and submit them. Thank you. From all of us.

  • Since artists don't get too much from record companies anyway, if you are angry enough, don't buy cd's. If you are against being a music pirate, just download winamp and listen to Shoutcast radio (www.shoutcast.com). I found a station with very very little interruption which plays songs I really like and some new ones which I like the first time I hear them. Besides, when you can listen to a particular song on demand, the song can become tiring. I haven't listened to winamp radio for all of my life.

    And for the Linux diehards, you can just download the playlist file (.pls) and use XMMS to listen. No hassle, the music you want, and not illegal.
  • by Cerlyn (202990) on Monday October 14, 2002 @09:17PM (#4450297)

    I hate to say it, but no one has said it before me: READ the notice of inquiry [copyright.gov] BEFORE you comment! In it is a list of issues that were confused during the last filing, what the Library of Congress *can* change, and what the Library of Congress *cannot*.

    If you filing a comment without reading this straightforward (albeight long) 19-page document, and you submit a comment that does not match its formatting/requirements or goes off base, chances are you will be IGNORED.

    So please, read what the Library of Congress can and cannot do as well as how to format your submissions *before* the time to submit comments arrives, so when you do submit a comment, it will be taken in a good light.

  • by 4of12 (97621)

    I saw this article and was bugged by the fact that they're only interested in hearing about specific concrete examples of where the DMCA legislation has created a problem.

    In my mind, that means that they've thrown in the towel on challenges based on fundamental principles, thinking either that the fundamental principles trod upon by the DMCA are negligible, and/or that the political battle to get it changed cannot be won on fundamental grounds. The latter meaning that the legislators who passed the bill thought the abridgement of peoples rights by the bill was negligible.

    I find that sad.

    Just as I found it sad reading a number of weeks ago that the much of the U.S. public was willing to give up most of the protections guaranteed under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution in the interests of "fighting terrorism".

    "We're interested in specific concrete examples where the abridgement of freedom of the press has resulted in documentable harm. Please include receipts so we can calculate the relative harm."

    Dammit, I should be able to do anything I want with the digital information I purchase, short of selling copies. Make a million copies for backup, play it backwards, put Arnold Schwarzenegger's head on top of Mickey Mouse when I view it, whatever, as long as I don't sell copies.

"It is easier to fight for principles than to live up to them." -- Alfred Adler

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