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  • Issue:

How can access to digital media be encouraged while protecting the rights of the Copyright holders

During the last decade there has been an exponential increase in the peoples ability to access information via new technology, e.g.via the Internet, DVD's etc. At the same time there has also been an increase in the laws to control this access by the distribution owners.

The next few years will define how people can get at information and then the Legal, Judicial, and Technological frameworks will be established for the next decades. As discussed there are two opposing groups, those in favor of an OPEN access to information and those in favor of CONTROLLED access to the copyright material.

OPEN -- The Users would prefer that the access be totally open so that any use be available with no payment or restriction -- EFF

CONTROL -- The Distributors would prefer to control all access to the content so that any use of content, reception, recording, viewing, etc. is chargeable each reading and only as permitted by the distributors. -- MPAA and RIAA

Current "Digital Access" Issues:

Currently technology generally supports open access while the laws are being written to limit and control the access. Under the current laws,

There are 4? laws to increase the control of digital access as well as 3 opposing laws to require open access proposed for the next congress as well as a number of suits relative to digital access pending in the court.

Now is the time for all good persons to understand the actions that are being proposed so that they can assist in the setting of the balance between controlled and open access. If not now, then in a few years the balance will be set and anyone who disagrees with it will be fighting an up hill battle against the newly established status quo.

Ways that Digital Access can be open or controlled

Areas that Digital content may be controlled -- There are a number of places that may be used to control access, each one of these is able to either permit or control the access and they are somewhat parallel to the various issues that are included in the general digital access issue set:

Source -- Generally it is accepted that a person who publishes copyright material for general access, e.g. an open site that contains Movies, etc., is in violation of the copyright laws. The new developments are that the distributors are attempting to control Peer to Peer P2P sites by intimidation, expensive nuisance suites or by direct interference with the sites operation and to be given a safe harbor against legal actions.

Channel -- The distributors are attempting to extend their legal control to the channels that may carry copyright material. They have asked the internet to filter out source sites that seemingly are violating sites as well as to remove links to sites that either contain illegal code or links to sites discuss matters that the copyright owner wishes to not be discussed and may be copyright. These controls on the channels may either be on the source channel, e.g. the ISP that connects the originating user to the Internet, the backbone channel that carries multiple steams, or the destination channel, e.g. the ISP that connects the destination user to the Internet

Destination -- Generally it is also accepted that the person who "downloads" the copyright material may be in violation of copyright laws, though in the past the distributors have mainly left the individual users alone and have gone after the pirate publishers and sometimes after the mass users. The new developments are that the distributes are also going after the individual users and requesting permission to interfere with the P2P access of these users as well as warning these users organizations that they must police their own users.

Content -- It has been accepted that the distributors can implement content protection systems, e.g. Digital Rights Management, to deter counterfeiting, or piracy, but only recently have the distributors been passing laws that make it illegal to manufacture hardware, use software, etc. that might not "honor" the encryption used to protect content.



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October 26, 2003 13:31