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IEEE Drops DMCA Reference in Authors Copyright Form 61

aurelian writes "a follow-up on this story in April: the IEEE has announced that they have re-revised their copyright form and dropped the requirement that authors verify their work does not violate the DMCA. Seems to be as a result of feedback from their authors/members. Of course authors still have to comply with the act - they just don't have to see it mentioned in the new form."
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IEEE Drops DMCA Reference in Authors Copyright Form

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  • implied meaning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw@snkma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday July 05, 2002 @09:24AM (#3826988) Journal
    Yes, but the IEEE is implying that they realise the DMCA is silly to begin with and they do not want to deliberately force legitimate projects to comply with a silly law if they can help it.

    Of course they can't go out and say "we think it's alright to break the law" so the best they can do is imply it.

    To me, this says that the IEEE has brains.

    • Re:implied meaning (Score:3, Interesting)

      by uncoveror ( 570620 )
      I'm glad the IEEE dropped it's absurd cheerleading for a law that contradicts the first amendment. It's a shame that the Edward Felten case was dropped. It could have been the test case that drove the DMCA all the way to the Supreme Court, where it would have been ruled unconstitutional. The Dmitry Skylarov case, if it goes that far, isn't such a blatantly obvious abridgement of free speech, so the courts might not understand how much a danger the DMCA is to the first amendment. I sure hope that they are paying attention to current events. This whole thing reminds me of an old chinese curse, May you live in interesting times.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What about an IEEE member in (say) the UK where the DMCA isn't law. I assume that before any UK copyright thingy required to comply with the DMCA.

    Yours, Andrew.
    • IEEE is a US organization, thus bound by US law. They ask for the copyright form when they become a publisher. I think it's pretty easy to see why they wouldn't want to publish something in violation of US law (albeit a possibly unconstitutional one).
  • Of course not! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Of course authors still have to comply with the act [DMCA]

    Of course they do not have to - unless they live in primitive countries that pass such silly laws!

  • 2002-04-16 19:56:07 IEEE Recinds DMCA Clause (articles,slashback) (rejected) []
    • ... the story was aleady covered in a slashback [].

      Not that I complain ... ;-)
      • ah, ok. I had a feeling it made it into slashback anyway, given the recinding occured within days of the original announcement. guess that makes this article a duplicate by about 2.5 months :-)
  • lawyers (Score:2, Funny)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 )
    Normally the lawyers would have all kinds of legal protections packed in fifteen layers deep, with all kinds of disclaimers, and indemnification up the ying yang.

    So what went right this time?

  • First press release! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 05, 2002 @09:37AM (#3827036)
    From the horses mouth []...

    Bill Hagen ? 732 562 3966,
    M arsha Longshore ? 732 562 6824,

    PISCATAWAY, N.J., 22 April -- The IEEE will revise its copyright form amidst author concerns about a reference that requires authors to verify that their work does not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

    ?The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has become a very sensitive subject among our authors. It?s intended to protect digital content, but its application in some specific cases appears to have alienated large segments of the research community,? said Bill Hagen, manager of IEEE Intellectual Property Rights.

    ?We reevaluated our requirement that authors warrant their compliance because it has proven to be much more controversial than expected. We needed to respond to author objections to signing the form,? he explained. When the copyright form was last revised in November 2001, the reference to the newly passed DMCA was added in order to alert authors to the law?s requirements.

    Among its provisions, DMCA prohibits ?any technology, product, service, device component or part? that circumvents digital copy protection systems. This has been perceived as a serious problem, by scientists and engineers who fear that this could prevent them from even publishing articles about digital protection, encryption, or cryptography technologies.

    This concern stems largely from the case of Princeton University professor Edward Felton, who decided not to present research on copy protection technologies last year after entertainment industry officials warned him that he risked violating the DMCA with his presentation. The case was later dropped.

    Although the DMCA reference will be dropped from the form, IEEE continues to expect its authors to adhere to all copyright laws. The revised form, which all authors are required to sign, will be available by the end of April.

    The IEEE has more than 375,000 members in approximately 150 countries. Through its members, the organization is a leading authority on areas ranging from aerospace, computers and telecommunications to biomedicine, electric power and consumer electronics. The IEEE produces over 100 magazines, journals and transactions in electrical and electronics engineering, computing and information technology and related fields, and sponsors or cosponsors more than 300 technical conferences worldwide each year. Additional information about the IEEE can be found at

    # # #

  • ... if they're not in the US. Journals take submissions from all around the world, and many authors are not living under repressive regimes.
    • From the US governmental point of view of course the whole world (and beyond) has to comply with US laws. Besides, since the IEEE journals are published in the US it is also reasonable to believe that US law applies to all articles, regardless where the authors are residing.

      But of course it's a good sign the IEEE is "dropping active support" for the DMCA.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The author promises to indemnify IEEE in the case of a lawsuit if he does not comply to IEEE's agreement. With the DMCA requirement in there that meant the author could end up footing the bill if IEEE was found guilty.

      Of course they now say the same as in the old agreement, but in a roundabout way ...

      "It is the responsibility of the authors, not the IEEE, to determine whether disclosure of their material requires the prior consent of other parties and, if so, to obtain it.".

      They have no fucking balls ... authors should be demanding seperate US/non-US publications for putting the burden on them IMO. They will probably be tired of the controversy by now though, and just let it slide because IEEE is nice enough not to explicitly name the beast anymore.
    • Ah but they do. You see, the way the law is written it stings countries that don't comply through trade. Why else would WTO be mentioned in the text of the DCMA. It seems a heavily implied threat that sanctions would be taken against non compliant foreign members.
  • finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @09:43AM (#3827065) Journal
    good riddance to the stated requirement. IEEE has around 400,000 members in 150+ countries. Since they are one of the largest publishers of electrical engineering/computer science literature, they were effectively extending the DMCA's censorship beyond our borders to places like Autralia and Europe, where software can't even be patented.
    • they were effectively extending the DMCA's censorship beyond our borders to places like Autralia

      They don't need to do that anyway -- we're perfectly able to do that all by ourselves.

      Australia Is Getting Its Own DMCA ml
  • safer!

    If we cannot innovate/test and break copy protections and such things to find a weakness we are safe from ourselves.. this does not take into account everyone else who will soon be lightyears ahead of us.

  • by ronfar ( 52216 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @09:47AM (#3827097) Journal
    Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal

    A mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a brush, but very ravenous.

    It's obvious that IEEE has gotten its malevolent ravening monsters confused. Certainly, the DMCA is an evil, ravening beast. Unfortunately, simply not being able to see it won't make it blind to you.

    Indeed, in this case, changing the paperwork is a disservice to the people who sign it. It served as a "Beware of the Leopard," type sign. You know, as in "there is a horrible ravenous beast out there that may decide to eat you if you draw its attention." Now, of course, the ravening beast is still out there, and will still eat you if you draw its attention.

    It would be sort of as if a park had formerly had a sign near a lake saying, "Beware Alligators," and then one day took it down.

    When asked, the park director says, "Oh, well, we were getting fewer people coming to the park, it seems that people didn't want to swim in the lake when they knew they might be eaten by and alligator."

    "Oh, so you've gotten rid of the alligators, then."

    "Well, no, but now people aren't afraid to swim in the lake any more."

  • not so great? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @09:52AM (#3827126) Homepage Journal
    Well, I'm sure my reaction to this news was similar to those of most of the slashbots. However, I've been thinking about it, and the IEEE may have done the community a disservice, in some sense.

    By removing the requirement that authors verify DMCA compliance, the IEEE has removed a constant reminder of the DMCA's blatant disregard for rights. The sneaky thing is, the DMCA still applies in all of its unconstitutional glory. So this provides no added protection to authors, but does encourage people to forget about the DMCA entirely.

    Ignoring the DMCA is not going to make it go away. We need to raise awareness by putting notices and warnings everywhere, to the point of absurdity. Imagine if segregationists had not posted "Whites Only" signs on restaurants, but had quietly asked blacks to leave instead. The reason civil rights legislation went through is because of the constant visual reminders.

    We need to bring back these kinds of requirements, and start making software that battles copyright infringement (according to the letter of the law) proactively. XMMS should present a dialog box every time a new song starts, asking the user to verify that he or she has the right to listen to it. Windows should force the user to confirm that every program run is legal and paid for.

    If we let the DMCA become a silent force, then we have no one to blame but ourselves when in sneaks up on society and clubs it over the head.
    • Re:not so great? (Score:1, Interesting)

      by CPT Carl ( 222361 )
      While I agree with all the statements above, I still feel there is an upside to this, namely the fact that the DMCA backers (RIAA, MPAA, etc) cannot use the IEEE as an automatic enforcement agency. By leaving the clause in there, DMCA backers can strong arm the IEEE into "turning in" authors works that are submitted in violation of DMCA provision, regardless of whether they get published or not. The DMCA enforcement lawyers could say to the IEEE "You made the authors sign this form therefore you are now responsible for turning them over to us".

      There are so many things wrong with the DMCA, but my particular, most-pet-peevish provision is how it coerces common carriers, publishers, etc, to be the enforces for this. All it takes is one letter from a lawyer saying "we suspect such-and-such of DMCA violations while using your system, make them stop or YOU go to jail!".

      This aspect applies equally to ISPs and publishers like the IEEE, so I see their move in dropping the DMCA line still as a positive move.

      CPT Carl
  • But if they still have to comply with it, then what's the difference? This could actually be a bad move for them.
  • by Tune ( 17738 )
    So why all this fuss about the millenium act? Doesn't it mean that reverse engineering is "a bad thing" only within the US? Why would anybody outside the US ever bother about it? And for that matter, why should Americans? My advice: migrate to a country with more liberties.

    If the act would really be harmful to innovation, why don't all innovaters move outside the US? Since the US government preaches a global free market, they'd promote (among other things) freedom of currencies, freedom of goods and freedom of labour. So when the government will eventually discover the DMCA was a counter-innovative idea, I suppose they'd get rid of it, right?!? They'd understand that better than any other organization.

    You can't win all fights within your castle's walls.

    (This post was probably a bad (or at least arguable) idea - so forgive my ignorance. No need to flame.)

    Everything that can be invented, has been invented -- Charles H. Dueel, 1899
    • My advice: migrate to a country with more liberties.

      And go where? I really do want to know. Name one halfway modernized country whose government is on the whole more in touch with reality than all the rest. You're right, the US is bad and at the rate things are going I _will_ leave it, but I'm not too hopeful about the rest of the planet either.

      why don't all innovaters move outside the US?

      Well, they're starting to move here from without less, that's for certain.

      So when the government will eventually discover the DMCA was a counter- innovative idea, I suppose they'd get rid of it, right?!?

      Hahaha, oh, that's a good one. No, when it gets to the point where even my cat and dead grandmother can see that the DMCA was fucked up from the beginning, the politicians' response will be to enact something even worse. Exhibit A, Prohibition: 12 years before it occured to them that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't the brightest piece of legislation. Exhibit B, the War on Drugs: hundreds of billions of dollars spent, criminals running wild in South American countries because their product is illegal everywhere, American citizens spending cumulative eons of 'quality time' in the slammer, terrifying and draconian measures being taken, blatantly obvious government lies regarding the whole affair, all to keep people from _potentially_ harming themselves, with not even a pretense at a logical reason for it all, and they show absolutely no signs of giving up.

      That's just off the top of my head for this country alone. Britain, if you'll recall, has that wonderful bit about requiring disclosure of passwords on pain of prison. Canada is poised to freeze their entire computer storage market in place in with media storage taxes. France has their Language Police and have opted to emulate the US regarding international compliance with local laws. That Australian NSW Internet Censorship bill; you know, the one outlawing anything above the level of Saturday morning cartoons, is actually still a going concern. Hell, the EU as a whole is about to duplicate the whole DMCA fiasco. I swear, none of these governments actually live on the same planet as the country that pays their bills.

      I know, I know, preaching to the choir and all. But please, if you can find some place where we can go and code without fear, by all means tell us. Until then, we're kinda stuck here and can't really risk waiting for our pointy-haired legislators to grow a clue or even learn from their bonehead mistakes. They will bring the country down in flames before admitting error.

      • > And go where?

        China? They don't seem to care to much about reverse engineering, patents or copyrights...

        > Name one halfway modernized country whose government is on the whole more in touch with reality than all the rest.

        Germany? The German government is well on top of web precence of extremist groups but is otherwise pretty Open Source and anti-patent minded.
        Holland? The Dutch government is pretty liberal in most respects. The XS4all service provider [] has its roots in the hacker community and has until now refused disclosure of any userinfo of non-convicted members to any organization.
        Then again you're probably right about the EU's intentions, so you're better off in Norwegia. Also, don't forget that in Europe patent lawsuits - or lawsuits in general - are less common than in the US. Most disputes are solved by common sense, rather than big bucks.

        > >So when the government will eventually discover the DMCA was a counter- innovative idea, I suppose they'd get rid of it, right?!?

        > Hahaha, oh, that's a good one. [...] Exhibit A [...] Exhibit B

        I meant that as a joke, but thanks for refreshing my memory. My rherorical question was meant to point out how a capitalistic democratic society still manages to fuck up its free market. I bet that once a government funded anti-cyberterrorism BSA-alike organization has come into place, it will take a couple of centuries to discover/uncover what went wrong...

        However, if you'd like to give them politicians a wake-up call, then you would need a clear signal. Like a general strike of all university and free-thinking-companies related professors, researchers and students. Get media attention, threaten to leave the country, point out the economy doesn't benefit from the brain-drain. Go on strike, the French way! (Also a joke ;-)

  • Couldn't the IEEE do two publications, one for the haves (non-DMCA countries) and one for the have-nots, the US, and probably soon the UK /EU, China etc....
  • So now if I give a talk for IEEE, only I get busted?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Any verdict??? or is it still going on ?
  • Of course authors still have to comply with the act - they just don't have to see it mentioned in the new form

    Not unless you live in the US. Seriously, I know /. is US based, but the DMCA does not go beyond its borders.
  • by sealawyer ( 473327 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @10:33AM (#3827353)
    Remember that the DMCA has provisions allowing exemptions for research related work. Serious papers, written by degreed and credentialed scientists and engineers, published in journals are very likely to qualify for the exemption. And that would include papers describing weaknesses in an encryption system, including the publishing of code exploiting or demonstrating those weaknesses.

    If someone were to write a similar paper without those credentials, and published the paper on the web without also putting it in a journal, that person would have an uphill battle proving that his intention was research and not hacking.

    Look at section 1201(g)(3) for factors showing how courts are supposed to determine whether you are a legitimate researcher or a criminal hacker.
    • Remember that the DMCA has provisions allowing exemptions for research related work. Serious papers, written by degreed and credentialed scientists and engineers, published in journals are very likely to qualify for the exemption.

      Tell that to Skylov.

      • I'm sympathetic with Sklyarov's position, but he was not prosecuted because of encryption research that he published in a journal, or for a speech he gave at a conference. As a doctoral candidate, perhaps he had sufficient credentials, but that only punches one of the holes in his ticket that the law requires.
    • So, according to section 1201(g)(3) (I appreciate you providing the URL), I can research all that I want into encryption technology, as long as I don't tell anyone. Or, if I do tell someone, I have to a) give a copy of my research to the person who owns the copyright on the particular song or movie that I was using in my research, and b) "reasonably calculate" that only people who aren't going to use my research to crack DVD region codes get the first shot at reading it. Oh, and I also have to be "legitimately" enrolled in a class, or be "appropriately" trained in the subject that I am researching.

      So, the first is full-on censorship. Plain and simple. You can think about whatever you like, but you don't have the freedom to tell anyone about it.
      Now, the second requirement is the same as when engineers who are trying to make a better car engine have to give Ford the results of their research because they used a Taurus engine in their study. Hmmm...
      The third means that not only am I responsible for who reads my research and what they do with it, but that a court of law has been given the power to determine whether what _I_ consider reasonable actually is "reasonable" (and of course the question is: "reasonable" according to whom?).
      The fourth is just as bad as the third, for the same reason (what is "legitimate"?), and is in fact worse because it excludes people who are interested in encryption but do not either recieve or spend money (just time!) on their involvement in it.

      Finally (my pragmatic argument), if a scientist has to worry that every time he or she writes a paper about encryption, he or she has to at the very least spend a few months defending it in court, and at the other extreme get thrown in jail, a lot of scientists probably just wouldn't bother.

      • You must be a member of the Guild to practice the craft of potentially destabilizing research.

        You may join the Guild only if your father was a member of the Guild.

        In this way, Venice will always control the spice trade with the far East!

        . . .

        Science must serve a social purpose! Science must be subordinate to the needs of the State and the People. Thus only the State can determine what is proper science, and who is really a scientist.

        The 'Jewish Science' is not true Science.

        Thank the Furher we threw out that proponent of ridiculous Jewish Science, "Doktor" Einstein! How fortunate that Mussolini got rid of that trouble-maker Fermi! The Jew and Bolshevik scientists are fleeing Europe: John von Neumann, Otto Meyerhof, Otto Loewi, Konrad Bloch, Erwin Chargaff, Fritz Lipmann, Rudolf Schoenheimer, Ernst Boris Chain, Hans Krebs, Max Perutz, Michael Polanyi!

        By stamping out the Jewish Science, Germany will once again grow strong!

        . . .

  • There is still another debate to be had apart from the one on the IEEE author copyright agreement. It has to do with the IEEE copyright policy for their digital publications.

    As an IEEE member who pays for subscriptions to several journals I get to keep paper copies of the journals. I can do what I like with them. In particular, I can annotate interesting papers. I can give (or sell as used) my journals to anyone I like, including any annotations I may have made. That's fine but paper takes up shelf space and it would be better if I could do the same things with electronic copies as I do with paper copies. In fact, the IEEE and various sub-groups like the Computer Society are strongly pushing for members to take out the Digital Library subscription which gives access to digital copies of the journals.

    Problem: if you read their copyright policy, you are not allowed to do any of the things I can do with a paper journal subscription. Among many other restrictions:

    • You may not download and archive copies of their digital journals.

    • If you cease to be an IEEE member, you do not have access anymore to any of the digital journals you paid to see during your membership.

    • You cannot and may not modify or otherwise annotate digital journals.

    In November 2000, I talked to the IEEE copyright officer. I explained that the IEEE is a society that exists to promote scientific research and should not be imposing obstacles on researchers wishing to access and use research articles. He said that he sympathised with my argument but that it was basically the Marketing Department of IEEE who had almost total control over their digital copyright strategy and policy. The board of directors has always rubberstamped the Marketing Department peoples' proposals. The marketing people are from non-technical backgrounds with large corporations. They are trying to maximise revenue for the IEEE by designing restrictive copyright policies. They do not consider the wider benefits of the IEEE to science. He said the only way it would change is if many other IEEE members were to start requesting the IEEE offer equal terms of access to digital and paper materials.


  • by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:58PM (#3828176) Journal
    President Eisenhower asked me to say "I pledge allegience to the Flag...."

    The Grand Inquisitor Torquemada tortured me until I said, confessionem esse veram, non factam vi tormentorum, I declare that I am a true and unheretical Catholic....

    The good fathers of Salem required that I say I am not a witch, nor have I trafficked with Satan...

    Senator Joe McCarthy demanded that I say that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party, or else name names....

    Queen Elizabeth I, insisted I renounce Catholicism and "utterly testify and declare in my conscience, that the Queen's Highness is the only supreme Governor of the Realm . . . as well in all Spiritual or Ecclesiastical things or causes as Temporal, . . . So help me God."....

    Jack Valenti and Hilary Rosen told me to swear my code does not circumvent or allow others to circumvent the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, under pain of Senator Fritz Hollings's Security Systems Standards and Certification Act requiring me to "include and utilize certified security technologies" on all my electronics.
  • Stange...

    I had to sign the IEEE copyright form about a week ago for a paper that will appear in the proceedings of the Conference on Intelligent Robotic Systems (which is in Switzerland by the way, not in the USA). The form still had the DMCA clause in it. Too bad I don't have it with me now to post it.

    Actually, it was a DCMA clause. They referred to the law as the "Digital Copyright Millenium Act." It looked like a joke. I thought lawyers who write copyright forms were supposed to know what they are writing about.

    I was pissed off when I saw the DMCA mentioned, since I remember reading somewhere that they were going to remove it. I was planning to investigate but damn thesis --- takes all of my time.

    So, it looks like their timing was wrong. They should have done this before the deadline for the conference, not after that. More than 400 authors (from all over the world) now had to put up with this insanity.

    Glad to see this go, though.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers