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Re: Copyright Office Notice on Anti-Circumvention (fwd)

Lynn Winebarger writes:

>    I thought this notice is important for free software developers (in
> particular) to be aware of.  My hope is that this clause of the DMCA will
> be struck down by the courts as overreaching the powers of Congress, but
> we should be letting the library of congress know there are legitimate
> fair use issues with <insert your concern here>.
>    I'm most concerned with the ability to read code (through decompiling
> or just disassembly) to understand the underlying ideas.  This is
> currently considered fair use of code (see Sega vs. Accolade) in the US,
> to the dismay of many IP lawyers.  Circumventing fair use via encryption
> and this clause of the DMCA is not a practice that should go without
> criticism.

Another instance is DVD video.  The code in DeCSS and everything resulting
from it may become illegal under DMCA.  This means that all unapproved
DVD video player software will be illegal, which means that writing such
software for minority platforms and/or as open source will be impossible.

If you want to use a system on which you insist on having only free software,
and desire to play DVDs there, the DMCA will prevent you, just because you
_could_ use the knowledge expressed in that software to make illegal
copies.  Just having the ability to make illegal copies is illegal, which
means that the technology to play DVDs can't legally be included in a free
system where the user has all knowledge and all ability represented by any
of the installed software.

If you want to use a weird new operating system that doesn't have a lot of
market share to play DVDs, you will also not be allowed to write even a
non-free DVD player for that system without the consent of the the DVD
video standard maintainers.

Explaining this convincingly to the Library of Congress might be difficult,
because this as an argument against this entire provision of the DMCA.  But
it is based on what is probably regarded as fair use.

Seth David Schoen <schoen@loyalty.org>  | And do not say, I will study when I
Temp.  http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/  | have leisure; for perhaps you will
down:  http://www.loyalty.org/   (CAF)  | not have leisure.  -- Pirke Avot 2:5

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