Remove the clauses in the Copyright Act that make it an offence to circumvent a DRM system or else to describe such circumvention.

Why is this idea important?

A provision in current English Law under the Copyright Act makes it illegal for a private citizen to circumvent a DRM system, or describe how to circumvent such a system – regardless of the intention (with a few very limited exceptions).

This prevents fair use of copyrighted material by legitimate users who have paid for access to the content, whilst not doing anything to reduce illegal sharing of material, which is either decrypted and distributed by criminals abroad, or else distributed as copied but still encrypted media through bitwise copying of the media.

DRM systems essentially impart a limited rights lease of the content until the "planned obsolescence" of devices that can read the protected medium by the media companies. E.g., http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2006/09/microsofts-zune-wont-play-protected-windows-media describes how Microsoft refused to support their own DRM on their music player, forcing customers to repurchase content. Microsft, Yahoo and others have all forced customers to repurchase content when they have phased out content servers. Amazon bought Mobipocket ebooks and then closed down third party relationships whilst enforcing exclusive licenses on running only their software or someone elses, not both, that force people to either upgrade to alternative formats and lose the ability to read their past purchases, or stick with the past purchases and buy no new books. 

DRM systems are deffective by design and circumvention will always be possible. In the interests of fair use, the criminalisation of people for the act of transporting content they purchased from one medium to another, for their own personal use, should be struck from the copyright act.

The moral offence lies in depriving the copyright holder of legitimate revenues from their work. Illegal copying and sharing of works is, and should remain, illegal. Restrictions on freedom of speech and fair use that entail no legitimate loss to the rights holder should be removed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.