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TechLaw Journal: Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia on the DMCA and Fair Use Doctrine

Mar 08, 2001, 17:10 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rick Boucher)

"The time, in my opinion, has come, for the Congress to reaffirm the fair use doctrine, and to bolster specific fair use rights, which are now at risk. In 1998, responding to the concerns of copyright owners, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The announced purpose was to protect from piracy copyrighted material in an environment which poses special concerns for copyright owners. They made the point that with digital technology, a copy of a copy of a copy has the same clarity and perfection as the original of the work. They also made the point that in the networked environment, with the single click of a mouse, thousands of those perfect copies can be sent people throughout the nation and the world."

"The DMCA is the result of the effort by Congress to respond to those realities. There are some today who believe that the legislation went too far. For example, it creates, in Section 1201(a), a new crime of circumventing a technological protection measure, that guards access to a copyrighted work. Under Section 1201, the purpose of the circumvention is immaterial. It is a crime to circumvent the password or other gateway, even for the purpose of exercising fair use rights. There is no requirement that the circumvention be for the purpose of infringing the copyrights. Any act of circumvention, without the consent of the copyright owner, is made criminal under Section 1201."

"Some now foresee a time when virtually all new material will be sent to libraries on CD ROMs, with the material encrypted or guarded by passwords. In exchange for a fee for each viewing, the password may then be used. And so it is predicted that under Section 1201, what is available today on the library shelves for free will be available on a pay per use basis only. The student who wants even the most basic access to material to write his term paper will have to pay for each item that he uses.""

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