Legislators Push DMCA Amendments, Back Fair Use Modifications

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Lawmakers Rich Boucher (D-Va) and John Doolittle (R-Ca) recently introduced a bill to amend aspects of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which the pair claims is overly skewed towards the interests of content creators.

Dubbed the “Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing US Entrepreneurship Act” or “FAIR USE Act,” the two representatives say the bill aims to restore balance and better serve consumers and technology innovators. “The Digital Millennium Copyright Act dramatically tilted the copyright balance toward complete copyright protection at the expense of the public’s right to fair use,” said Boucher.  “Without a change in the law, individuals will be less willing to purchase digital media if their use of the media within the home is severely circumscribed and the manufacturers of equipment and software that enables circumvention for legitimate purposes will be reluctant to introduce the products into the market.”

The legislation introduces amendments to the circumvention provisions in the original law, allowing consumers to sidestep DRM protections for specific non-infringing uses like archiving.  Additional modifications protect users of portable media devices.  “No person shall be liable for copyright infringement based on the design, manufacture, or distribution of a hardware device or of a component of the device if the device is capable of substantial, commercially significant non-infringing use,” the act states. The bill already has the support of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC), both of whom urged strong support for the changes. “We congratulate Reps. Boucher and Doolittle for stepping forward to protect legitimate businesses from intimidation, and to confirm and restore the rights of consumers, educators, libraries and other constructive users of content,” the HRRC stated in a separate release.

Story by news analyst Richard Menta.