Could This Be The Copyright Law Update We Need?

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding copyright law as of late that charges that it is hopelessly biased toward the rights of large, corporate media (i.e. Disney and the like).

Under current copyright law, it is apparently legal for you to make backup copies of movies and music on your computer, or for you to move the material from the original distribution disk onto a device like an iPod.  But… according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act it is illegal to bypass or crack any copy protection put on the disk by the original distributor.  So it is legal for me to make a digital copy of a movie I’ve bought to put it on my computer but illegal to break the copy protection that keeps me from making a copy.

Mother Jones magazine has a really interesting article up about a new proposed law called the “Unlocking Technology Act o f 2013” that would do the following:

  • Allow consumers to bypass copy protection as long as the user does not do so to “facilitate the infringement of a copyright.” So for example, as long as you are ripping a disk you bought for personal use, you are ok.
  • Allow consumers to unlock cell phones to move it to a different network after its contract is over. That means that if you have a Verizon iPhone that you bought under contract and you complete your contract, you could use software to reprogram the phone to work on another service provider’s network.
  • Blind consumers would be allowed to bypass copy protection on e-books to make them work with screen readers
  • Remix artists who are legally creating transformative art using copyright material would not be able to be sued for breaking the copy protection on the original work.  (Girl Talk’s Gregg Gillis, we’re talking about you.)

Great reporting from Mother Jones’ Dana Liebelson.

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