Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Changing the Law and the Impact of Digital Rights

Digital rights, and digital copyright law has made plenty of news lately, and there is good reason. C|Net News is reporting on a bill coming through Congress that aims to replace the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Justice Department supports these changes, apparently because businesses making money from violating Intellectual property rights helps fund terrorism. What's the most interesting about this particular law is that it punishes piracy with harsher penalties than people involved in child pornography. As anomalous as this seems, it gets worse. The practical effects of this bill will permit the government from restricting the distribution of software that subverts digital rights management software. (see also Public Knowledge's Analysis of the new Law) I can't imagine why Congress would be interested in passing such a bill, especially because of the detrimental impact it will have on the average American computer user. Enough damage has been caused by DRM, take a look at the Sony rootkit fiasco. This will irreparably harm the rights of individual's to use the kind of software they want for their private consumption, prevent do-it-yourself projects, and stifle innovation by non-corporate entities. Something that all iPod users might be concerned about...THIS WILL PREVENT YOU FROM RIPPING CDs TO YOUR IPOD! Realistically, these kinds of laws hurt everyone but media corporations, and prevents the advancement of technology. Maybe we need to make our votes count again, instead of letting deep corporate pockets control our rights.

UPDATE: The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted against Net Neutrality today.

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