Here’s an article on Wired about how the DMCA prevents fair use of DVDs, with the result that making a copy of a DVD you own is technically against the law.
As usual, the situation is complicated and the status is in doubt, depending on how the lawsuit against ReadNetworks turns out.
Santa Clara University Law School had a conference last Thursday in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 1909 Copyright Act. It was the first copyright act to protect works upon publication with notice, without prior registration; the first to recognize the right to make derivative works; and the first to recognize public domain. Since the 1909 law was in effect for almost 70 years, it had a profound impact on our society and a significant influence on the copyright law of today. Mike Masnick posts a fascinating discussion of some of the things that were talked about at the conference on Techdirt.
Mark Helprin, author of A Solder of the Great War and Winter’s Tale wrote an op-ed in the New York Times two years ago arguing for further extension of copyright protection. He wrote a book, solidifying his argument, called Digital Barbarism: A Writer’s Manifesto.
If Helprin is right, then I can’t share his persuasive arguments with you, because they are part of his book and under copyright. If I thought Helprin was right, my only option, to propagate his ideas and try to gain their universal acceptance, would be to recommend that everyone in the world buy his book. You can see the problem here.
Fortunately, those of us who think some intellectual property is important enough to belong to society at large and that after some limited period of protection all intellectual property should eventually revert to the public, that fair-use plays an important role in society, etc. are not so hampered by our belief system.
See the great discussion at the Lessig Wiki.