Rock the vote: The United States Copyright Office is now taking public comments on the section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that prohibits users from breaking encryption technologies, such as those used in peer-to-peer file-swapping services. When the DMCA was signed in 1998, a provision was included that requires the registrar of copyrights and the assistant secretary for communications and information to revisit sections of the act. This time around, the Copyright Office seeks comments from librarians, academics and researchers. Responses are due by December 19; visit www.copyright.gov/1201/comment_forms/. Rebuttal comments to the new files will be taken until February 19, 2003. If applicable, the new version of the DMCA will be released on October 28, 2003. Meanwhile, several bills have been introduced into Congress that currently seek to modify the DMCA. Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Vt.) and John Doolittle (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that adds fair-use protections to copyright law (which would re-establish the “Betamax” standard that allows users to make copies of a copyrighted material for home or personal use) and also imposes tough labeling requirements on watermarked CDs. On the flipside, Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) crafted the P2P Privacy Prevention Act, which requires electronics manufacturers to create and implement security technology on their products. Working off of the privacy issue, Rep. Howard Berman's (D-Calif.) bill gives media companies the right to “peek” into users' computers to see if they are illegally trading files. Of course, this would require the cooperation of the user's ISP.
Take it to the street: In the newest series of assaults on the end-user, the recording industry — under the auspices of an umbrella organization dubbed MUSIC (Music United for Strong Internet Copyright) — began taking out full-page ads in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the congressional paper Roll Call with the punchy headline “Who Really Cares About Illegal Downloading?” What follows is a slew of quotes from top-selling musicians, including Britney Spears, Luciano Pavarotti and P. Diddy, condemning online file trading. Similar TV spots are set to air this month.