8
December
2005

DRM is for limiting fair use 23:33 on Thursday

Tämä kirjoitus suomeksi.

In an earlier post I casually wondered why the music industry is so keen to jump on people trading music for free on P2P networks instead of focusing on real piracy, the selling of illegally manufactured CDs, which allegedly feeds all kinds of horrifying phenomena from drug lords to human trading.

While piracy is an issue, the real motivation for DRM systems is not to fight casual piracy but to technically limit fair use under copyright law. The copyright ambassadors may talk about “retaining rights the rights-holders had before digital”, but they’re not after some lost rights, they’re after rights they never had. They want to limit the public’s right to fair use, which has been an integral part of copyright law since day one, which amounts to a few hundred years. They want to remove their limits for controlling the use of copyrighted works.

I’m not saying they don’t have a point. To me fair implies an agreement, and as a copyright owner the unlimited copying of my album to 5000 of your “best friends” who you don’t even know by their nicks on P2P is not fair. If you have 10 brothers and sisters, you having to select three of them who can listen to the album you bought is not fair either.

What I am saying is the ambassadors are side-stepping the real issue. They now have protection on DRM measures, and they’re lobbying for rights to intrude your privacy for grabbing a song from P2P. To get real change, though, instead of micro-managing (micro-lobbying?) laws on changing technology, they should be hauling a major campaign for rethinking the fundamental part of copyright law that is fair use.

Fair use in a digital world is a complicated issue. Shifting the focus from the real problem to technologies, counter-technologies and strict numbers that set the limits isn’t making it any easier.

More on fair use from Financial Times, touching Sony’s DRM fiasco, consumer electronics and innovation.

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