Wednesday, April 4, 2007

DMCA Architect Admits Defeat

[From a posting on johnmacsgroup by Michael Geist -- BSA]

Though I'm not sure simply giving up on copyright and going for a
'patronage culture' is the best solution. That methodology produces art
which serves the needs of those with money and power, and the
independant artist who is critical of the established order is left out
in the cold. Ironically, it is the hip, young, anti-commercial leftists
who are leading the way to a world where all professional artists will
work for commercial concerns. (And how will this work for art which does
not enhance the profitability of other media? A movie company would pay
for music to use in its films, for example, but who will pay for books
whose only value is the book itself, not its value as a tie-in to
something else? A quick look at shows the quality of
purely amateur writing in terrifying detail...)

Again, I state, the solution is cultural, not technological. Violating
copyright should be seen as being on the same moral plane as kicking
puppies or peeing in public -- something civilized people Just Don't Do. ================================

Friday March 23, 2007
McGill University hosted an interesting conference today on music and
copyright reform. The conference consisted of two panels plus an
afternoon of open dialogue and featured an interesting collection of
speakers including Bruce Lehman, the architect of the WIPO Internet
Treaties and the DMCA, Ann Chaitovitz of the USPTO, Terry Fisher of
Harvard Law School, NDP Heritage critic Charlie Angus, famed music
producer Sandy Pearlman, and myself. A video of the event has been
posted in Windows format.

My participation focused on making the case against anti-circumvention
legislation in Canada (it starts at about 54:30). I emphasized the
dramatic difference between the Internet of 1997 and today, the harmful
effects of the DMCA, the growing movement away from DRM, and the fact
that the Canadian market has supported a range of online music services
with faster digital music sales growth than either the U.S. or Europe
but without anti-circumvention legislation.

The most interesting - and surprising - presentation came from Bruce
Lehman, who now heads the International Intellectual Property Institute.
Lehman explained the U.S. perspective in the early 1990s that led to
the DMCA (ie. greater control though TPMs), yet when reflecting on the
success of the DMCA acknowledged that "our Clinton administration
policies didn't work out very well" and "our attempts at copyright
control have not been successful" (presentation starts around 11:00).
Moreover, Lehman says that we are entering the "post-copyright" era for
music, suggesting that a new form of patronage will emerge with support
coming from industries that require music (webcasters, satellite radio)
and government funding. While he says that teens have lost respect for
copyright, he lays much of the blame at the feet of the recording
industry for their failure to adapt to the online marketplace in the

In a later afternoon discussion, Lehman went further, urging Canada to
think outside the box on future copyright reform. While emphasizing the
need to adhere to international copyright law (ie. Berne), he suggested
that Canada was well placed to experiment with new approaches. He was
not impressed with Bill C-60, seemingly because he does not believe that
it went far enough in reshaping digital copyright issues. Given ongoing
pressure from the U.S., I'm skeptical about Canada's ability to chart a
new course on copyright, yet if the architect of the DMCA is willing to
admit that change is needed, then surely our elected officials should
take notice.