Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fair Use Protections Bill to be Introduced in the House

US Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA) and John Doolittle (R-CA) announced today what they are calling the "FAIR USE act," or the Freedom And Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act. The bill seeks to help define what is considered Fair Use by the DMCA, and open up the circumvention of DRM in some specific cases. Ken Fisher of Arstechnica writes:

Current exemptions allow the circumvention of anti-copying technology for: 1) the educational library of a university's media studies department; 2) using computer software that requires the original disks or hardware in order to run; 3) dongle-protected computer programs, if the the dongle no longer functions and a replacement cannot be found; 4) protected e-books, in order to use screen-reader software; 5) cell phone firmware that ties a phone to a specific wireless network; and 6) DRM software included on audio CDs, but only when such software creates security vulnerabilities on personal computers.

Unfortunately, this bill does not take the important step of legalizing the circumvention of DRM for the creation of backups of purchased media. Likely this was a strategic choice designed to eliminate much of the animosity this bill will likely see from MPAA/RIAA lobbyists. This is in contrast to previous bills introduced by Boucher on the same subject in the 108th and 109th congress, called the DMCRA. This bill provides much wider protection for the circumvention of DRM many more cases (including the creation of backups).

On a positive end note, the bill does provide limits for the statutory damages that can be requested after infringement has been proven. It also gives a small amount of protection to those who are shown to be indirectly infringing.

But I couldn't say it better myself - this bill appears to be nothing more than "a watered-down version of Boucher's DMCRA." Positive, but not that positive.

(via arstechnica)