DMCA – Useful or Oppressive?

From Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing:

The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows copyright holders to use “notices” to force ISPs to remove material from the Internet on a mere say-so. In the real world, you couldn’t get a book taken out of a bookstore or an article removed from the newspaper without going to court and presenting evidence of infringement to a judge, but the DMCA only requires that you promise that the work you’re complaining about infringes, and ISPs have to remove the material or face liability for hosting it.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has used the DMCA to fraudulently remove numerous non-infringing works from Scribd, a site that allows the general public to share text files with one another in much the same way that Flickr allows its users to share pictures.

Included in the takedown were: a junior high teacher’s bibliography of works that will excite children about reading Sci-Fi, the back-catalog of a magazine called Ray Gun Revival, books by other authors who have never authorized SFWA to act on their behalf, such as Bruce Sterling, and [Doctorow’s] Creative Commons-licensed novel, “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.”

Once again, the DMCA seems to rear its ugly powers in the face of freedom of expression.

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One thought on “DMCA – Useful or Oppressive?

  1. The problem isn’t so much in the law itself, but in how it is used. What is needed is harsher penalties for people that abuse the DMCA.

    Without some kind of similar provision, small copyright holders, who can not afford lawyers, would have no copyright protection at all on the Web. Furthermore, when you look at other countries, you’ll find that the DMCA is actually the best-written notice and takedown system, sad as that is, and offers the most protections.

    For example, in the EU, anyone can file a notice, there is no penalty of perjury and there is no sworn statements, just a simple tap on the shoulder will suffice.

    It’s scary stuff.

    The DMCA needs tweaking but lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater on this one.

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