posted Oct 30, 2000

Librarians Slam Digital Copyright Ruling
10/30/2000; 12:56:59 PM 'But Librarian of Congress James Billington said in a prepared statement that he wanted to stress the importance of preserving the fair-use principle in the digital age. 'Billington also said that the ruling specifically addresses access, not use of the content itself. "Our primary responsibility was to assess whether current technologies that control access to copyrighted works are diminishing the ability of individuals to use works in a lawful, noninfringing way."' Bull. Access control and fair use are in stark, complete opposition. Pick one or the other. Here's the problem. Copyright has traditionally granted seven rights (see question 2.1): reproduction, adaptation, distribution, performance, display, attribution, and integrity. It has also recognized the right to fair use, which is relatively complicated to fully spell out. The DMCA essentially adds "the right to control access" to the list of copyrights, and it should not stun anyone that it is fundamentally impossible to balance hundreds of years of well-formed tradition (and case law!) with this totally new 'right'. These new "rights to control access" are like foriegn bodies obstructing the airway. It was a real coup of the big companies to get this put in.


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