Rep. Boucher leads reform of DCMA

Congressman Rick Boucher (D) of southwest Virginia has a broad coalition of industry and consumer rights groups for his
reform of the DCMA law

Boucher's proposal to fix the worst excesses of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act would legalize the distribution and use of descrambling utilties and circumvention of copy protection schemes as long as no copyright violation takes place. Put another way, consumers would be no longer arrested for breaking and entering simply because they possess a crowbar, which is the way the current DCMA is written.

Boucher also wants to give the FTC broad new powers to police the labeling of CDs, DVDs, and other digital media. Currently, some CDs and DVDs have copy protection schemes that limit the buyer's ability to make copies, but the CDs are not always labeled to indicate that. This part of Boucher's plan is more controversial, since it expands the government's role in the entertainment industry.

It will be interesting to see how this effort progresses in Congress. The entertainment industry will likely spend heavily to defeat this bill, but the DMCA, as it stands, has limited innovation and dramatically curtailed the rights of consumers (i.e. voters) while giving enormous power to a few corporate conglomerates (which do not vote but donate a lot of money to political campaigns).

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