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Digital Millenium Copyright Act - Research Paper Example

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Your Name Name of the Class Date The Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s Effect on Downloading Music and Films The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was signed into law by President Clinton in October of 1998. It is a complicated bill, designed to protect copyright holders of software, music, and films in an increasing digital age…
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Download file to see previous pages Additionally, DMCA created fines for people violating the Act that include up to $25,000 per download in civil court and up to $500,000 or up to five years in jail in criminal court (“Public”). Two of the biggest supporters of the DMCA were the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) – both groups that represent in the MPAA’s case film production companies and in the case of the RIAA, record companies. Both see illegal downloading, which is also called piracy, as a huge threat to their industries. The RIAA claims that in in 2009, 63 percent of all music possessed by Americans was illegally downloaded or otherwise “shared” at a profit loss to the music industry of up to $20 billion a year. (“Scope”) The MPAA says their levels of piracy are not yet that enormous, but in 2010 gave the example of the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which they claim was legally downloaded 50,000 versus 1.1 million illegal downloads. (Zima 1) It’s important to note that the DMCA went into effect in 1998 to stop illegal downloading and yet, according to the RIAA and the MPAA, the situation is only getting worse. Napster, a peer-to-peer (P2P) downloading site that a RIAA member once called “the single most insidious website I’ve ever seen,” (“Recording”) didn’t start operations until several months after the DMCA was signed into law. So does the DMCA have any effect on piracy? Is this now nearly 13 year-old law still relevant to new technology? First, understand­­ that the DMCA didn’t outright ban all downloading of copyrighted material off the Internet. What it did was outlaw the use of technology to get around the anti-piracy technology that copyright holders added to digital technology. For example, the DMCA made illegal the creation and dissemination of software designed to override the anti-copy protection on a newly purchased CD, allowing that CD to be converted into MP3 or MP4 format – which then can be easily shared on-line or burned onto a blank CD. It did not specifically make it illegal to use a P2P downloading service to download pirated music or movies, but it did make it illegal to create and host a P2P downloading service where copyright protected digital material was knowingly made available by users, which was in a nutshell what caused Napster’s demise. (Skolnik 1) Here’s what the DMCA did do – it placed more restrictions on “fair use” of a copyrighted product. Fair use is “the principle that the public is entitled, without having to ask permission, to use copyrighted works in ways that do not unduly interfere with the copyright owner’s market for a work” (Von Lohmann). For example, it is presently within a person’s fair use rights to trade in or sell that DVD to a store for resale. But according to current interpretations of DMCA, it is not within fair use for the person to use software to extract the electronic information from that DVD and convert the files so the movie can be played on an iPod – even if the person it only doing this for personal use and not with any intention of sharing the file. (Von Lohmann) As one critic of the DMCA puts it, “Photocopiers, VCRs, and CD-R burners can also be misused, but no one would suggest that the public give them up simply because they might be used by others to break the law” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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