Other Important Copyrights Issues

This section will cover other significant copyright issues that are at stake today and require a struggle.

The first is the lengthening of the copyright term. Recently the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act that was passed in American congress extended the copyrights act by 20 years. One should note that the term was already extended several times in the past, since the first American copyrights law. 95 years for a copyrights of works of corporations is far too long, and we also risk that copyrights will be extended indefinitely this way. (“Forever minus a day”)

A different issue is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or DMCA for short). This law that was passed in the 90’s criminalises a lot of valid activity. It prohibits the writing of “circumvention devices” to bypass copyright protection (and some say every computer security measure, in general). It is actively used to threaten to remove allegedly copyrighted content from web sites, because they may violate it. (See Cory Doctorow’s excellent essay “Save Canada’s Internet from WIPO”.) It also contains a lot of other damaging clauses.

The Free Expression Policy Project has an excellent report on the various issues in copyrights law in the past and today. It is a very recommended read.

A different issue is that of the so-called “Digital Restrictions Management” measures (or DRM for short), which are measures meant to prevent the copying or ripping of digital media. Perhaps the most extreme form of this is The “Sony Rootkit” scandal, in which a copyright-protection measure, turned out to put one’s Windows installation at risk, once the CD was inserted to the computer.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has many resources related to activity against various harmful copyrights regulations.