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June 22, 2004

DMCA Reform Gathering Momentum?

Ed Felten's Freedom to Tinker has the details on the latest development in the effort to reform portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (pdf) to allow the distribution and use of circumvention technologies for non-infringing purposes. Tech giants Sun Microsystems and Intel, along with a number of other powerful tech firms, will announce today that they've banded together to form the Personal Technology Freedom Coalition focused on supporting Rep. Rick Boucher's (D-VA) DMCA Reform Bill, H.R. 107.

The coalition announcement follows last week's announcement that influential congressman Chris Cox (R-CA) -- member of the Energy and Commerce committee and Chair of the Homeland Security committee -- had agreed to co-sponsor HR 107.

However, it still appears that HR 107 has an uphill road to climb this Congress. While the House Energy and Commerce committee has already held a hearing on the issue at the subcommittee level, it's not clear whether the full committee will have the time or inclination to review the bill. The bill has also been referred to the House Judiciary committee, which has also not shown any great interest in moving the bill. Perhaps the new coalition can bring pressure to bear on both committees and get the bill brought to the House floor....

Update: I guess this qualifies as not showing any great interest. Here's the statement released by the House Judiciary Committee yesterday concerning HR 107:

Judiciary Committee Leaders Issue Statement on H.R. 107, the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.), Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), and Judiciary Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex.) issued the following statement regarding H.R. 107, the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act.

"We strongly oppose the substance of H.R. 107. This legislation would eviscerate a key provision of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which is successfully protecting copyrighted works and providing consumers access to more digital content than ever before. In fact, a DVD player is now as common a household item as the VCR was 15 years ago precisely because of the DMCA. H.R. 107 would undo a law that is working and destroy the careful balance in copyright law between consumers' rights and intellectual property rights.

"Furthermore, our strong objections to the substance of H.R. 107 are matched by our objections to what appears to be a bold jurisdictional power grab. The Judiciary Committee has - and has long had - exclusive jurisdiction over copyright law. Rest assured, we will wholeheartedly oppose this move in a bipartisan fashion, as we would expect Energy and Commerce Committee leaders to do if we attempted to write energy legislation."

Posted by PeterHarsha at June 22, 2004 01:31 PM | TrackBack
Posted to Policy