Jeremy's almost but not quite entirely moribund blog

Monday, June 06, 2005

Score another victory for government censorship

DVD Decrypter has been taken offline by an unnamed company (probably Sony or Macrovision) for violating the EU equivalent of the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause. That program could help you make a copy of a DVD to take with you in the car to protect your investment (so the original won't get lost, stolen, scratched, or warped)--but then, it could also be used to pirate DVDs, so it must be repressed by law. Of course, the studios would rather sell you a second copy if your disc gets damaged anyway, and I'm sure they had that in mind when they purchased the DMCA.

Why stop here? Crowbars can be used to bash people in the head, so why not ban crowbars? Heck, guns are specifically designed to kill people, and they're (with a few restrictions) legal to own. But anything that is perceived to hurt the entertainment industry--ban it, with government backing.

That's the reason I hate the DMCA (and its European equivalent). Corporations can effectively write law, with no debate and no oversight. In the name of protecting their copyrights, they can dictate exactly what you can and can't do in relation to their product, regardless of whether your behavior would actually infringe their copyrights, effectively killing off fair use doctrine. What's more, the DMCA even makes it illegal to make a tool that can be used to circumvent copyrights, or even to talk about methods of circumventing copyrights, in what I see as an egregious violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.


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