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A BILL To amend the Federal Trade Commission Act to provide that the advertising or sale of a mislabeled copy-protected music disc is an unfair method of competition and an unfair and deceptive act or practice, and for other purposes.
The full text of this bill is available here (PDF).
Referred to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Introduced by U.S. Representative Rick Boucher, the DMCRA requires labels on copy-protected compact discs and restores the legal use of digital content and scientific research prohibited by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Labeling Required for Copy-Protected Compact Discs
The DMCRA would help ensure that consumers are fully aware of the limitations and restrictions they may encounter when purchasing copy-protected compact discs (CDs). Currently, manufacturers of copy-protected CDs are not obligated to place notices on packaging. Unbeknownst to many consumers, copy-protected CDs may not play on personal computers and other non-compatible CD players. The DMCRA does not prohibit the sale of copy-protected CDs; instead it requires that the Federal Trade Commission provide guidelines so that these CDs have adequate labels notifying purchasers of possible limitations. This approach will enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and eliminate the confusion created by seemingly "defective" CDs that do not play on all devices.
Copy-protected CDs and other digital media will likely become more common as a means to prohibit and limit unwanted use and unauthorized distribution of music, movies and other digital content. The DMCRA ensures that new CD formats do not enter the marketplace without providing consumers notice of their limitations. The market may or may not accept limited CD functioning, but it is imperative that consumers receive complete and accurate information regarding the CDs they may purchase. No consumer should purchase a CD only to be surprised that it does not play on their computer or CD player. The DMCRA will create an informed marketplace where competition among new CD formats can prosper without consumer confusion.
Restoring Fair Use and Scientific Research Lost Under the DMCA
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prohibits the circumvention, or bypassing, of technology controls that restrict access to or copying of digital media (CDs, DVDs, Streamed Content, e-books). The DMCA also prohibits the distribution of means to bypass these controls. Unfortunately, the DMCA does not account for non-infringing, legal use and access and scientific research. In other words, it might be legal, under copyright laws, for you to access purchased content, but the DMCA prohibits, and makes criminal, the activity nonetheless if you bypass a technology control to perform the legal activity.
For example, if a blind person purchases a technology-protected e-book and then wishes to have the text transformed into audio by bypassing the technology controls, this act is a violation of the DMCA. Likewise, if you wish to make a legal back-up copy of an e-book, but this act requires bypassing controls, you are in violation of the DMCA. Congress intended to protect technologies measures designed to stop illegal activity, but the DMCA has the unintended consequence of criminalizing common activities, such as "time-sifting," "space-shifting," and the making of back-up copies, acts already deemed legal by the Copyright Act and the Supreme Court.
The DMCRA would ensure that legal, non-infringing uses are not prohibited by the DMCA. Furthermore, the DMCRA encourages scientific research into technology protections. It ensures that activities solely for the purpose of research into technology protection measures are permitted. The bill does not weaken the effectiveness of technology controls; rather it ensures that the controls function solely as intended - to stop illegal activity and infringement. Infringers will still face the same penalties, but the DMCRA enables people who have legally obtained access to digital content to exercise legal uses without fear of criminal punishment.