Not an indictment under the DMCA, but an indictment OF the DMCA by Jay Sulzberger of New Yorkers for Fair Use:
- Computers today are printing presses — and it’s shocking! I have certain conservative tendencies; I am also sympathetic to the socialists. But the idea that everybody who’s a member of the middle classes can pick up a computer for 300 bucks, and pay their 20 bucks a month and get Internet access, and set up a web page — it’s shocking! Democracy is one thing, but mob rule is another. But yet, there’s nothing that America can do about this. I hope there isn’t.
But it looks as though there is. The DMCA anticircumvention clauses, in combination with the loose association, the alliance of cartels, oligopolies and monopolies which I term the englobulators, is in process of placing spy machinery and remote control machinery at this very moment, into every single Intel motherboard that’s going to be sold in the next year. When Microsoft completes the software part of its system of DRM called Palladium, this will end, completely, your right of ownership, your right of private use of your Palladiated computer.
….Copyright law has already been, I think, dreadfully misapplied for the last twenty years, to prevent people from gaining control of their own property in their own homes. This is important property. We know that Microsoft — and as a matter of fact all other vendors and makers of source-secret operating systems — it’s almost impossible not to give in to the temptation to spy somewhat on your users, particularly if they’re connected to the Internet. Sun has done it; other companies have done it. It’s mainly Microsoft because it was only interested in the Internet after 1990, although some of us have used the Net since 1970. Now most people have a computer. It is their means of personal communication; it’s also their means of authorship, and their means of publication.
Now, let me deal with the accusation of copyright infringement. Yeah, sure — there’s going to be a heck of a lot more very serious copyright — of the most dreadful sort — because there are computers on the Internet, and I don’t give a good gosh-darn about it. The invention of writing was dreadful to the ancient and honorable profession of the singing poet. The invention of the printing press did terrible things to the Catholic Church’s position in Europe, particularly once the Bible was translated and then printed.
Things change. And the cries of a small, unimportant industry — I mean the whole of the “content providers” side — who of course refuse to admit there are any more content providers — I really enjoy my own stuff much more than anything Disney has made since 1935. I stand equal to them, by the way. New Yorkers for Fair Use, one of our favorite tropes is: “Nonsense! We’re not consumers; we’re owners and we’re makers.”
And here is the bottom line:
- The natural point which will defend us against the dreadful assault on private property which is all the anticircumvention clauses of the DMCA, is to draw a natural line. Inside your house, you’ve got a copy of something, if you’ve lawfully obtained it — Oh, by the way, we’re not copyright extremists. I myself am a big supporter of the GPL, which is a somewhat strict copyright license, and I consider it actually one of the main foundations of the defense of free software.
If you don’t draw the line, if you seek for exemptions, you’ll have to make hundreds of exemptions — and even if you enforce them — and you could enforce them — the principle would remain: you don’t have control over your machine. You’d have to get lobbyists, or a grassroots organization to come to Washington, appear before you every three years, and beg, on bended knee, for particular exemptions.
You don’t have to do that. You are allowed to turn to Congress and say, we’ve seen the parade of horribles. And not just one parade. All of the people here, arguing for exemptions — the principle is the same: These people can’t reach into your house and tell you what to do! It’s absurd!
It is absurd, and until every American realizes what is at stake and chooses to d osomething about it, we will be at the mercy of the copyright industry, which has only itw own best interests at heart.