Friday, February 18, 2011

DCMA - Don't Control My 1st Amendment

Copyright, in its basic form, is just as useful as it ever has been. The definition of copyright, as defined by Lessig, is to prevent piracy by “The taking of something of value from someone else without permission.” This is the common expression of theft, but should it be used for Piracy too?

Over the last few years, I have really come to appreciate the value of money and corporate profits. Working for an Intellectual Property and Services company, and counting on the money that comes in for that job, it is not as easy as it one was to blow off the money that is owed to entities that put expense in creating content. As Mark Halperin puts it: “No good case can exist for treating with special disfavor the work of the spirit and the mind.”

To that end, I agree with many of the ideas of privacy and copyright today. Taking value from a copyright holder that has vested interest in the work is wrong and should be prosecuted. The DCMA takedown system, though burdensome and imperfect, has a good intention of preventing copyright infringement.

The case YouTube brought against Viacom is a perfect example of a way to abuse DCMA and Copyright Law. According to Lessig, “The burden of this law now vastly outweighs any original benefit.” Like many things in America, the American corporations and organizations found out how to game the system. The original intentions have been lost, and in the end, I agree that the copyright law needs to be updated to reduce the burdens that these corporations can place on innocent people.


  1. Interesting post - I am curious, though, about where you see the First Amendment fitting into all of this, along with Fair Use. You say that "taking value from a copyright holder that has a vested interest in the work" is wrong, yet our laws do allow Fair Use exceptions for those who want to critique or comment on the copyrighted work. So whose First Amendment right is protected in that case? And is this even an issue of free speech, or is it more about property rights? Food for thought...

  2. Thanks for putting the two sides so clearly. There is a line between Free Speech and Property Rights, and I expressed that that line was when someone purposefully or substantially took value from someone else's work.