The LA Times on Tech Mandates

by on July 11, 2006

The LA Times has an editorial attacking the entertainment lobby’s pet causes this year: tech mandates for copy protection in digital TV and radio:

The bills would pressure device makers and service providers to limit or eliminate features from some products, such as the ability to record individual songs off satellite radio. In essence, tech companies would have to alter what they are selling to safeguard the entertainment industry’s wares.

Protecting intellectual property is a legitimate goal for Congress–after all, the Constitution called on Congress to give authors and inventors exclusive rights “to promote the progress of science and useful arts.” The task has grown more urgent with the emergence of an Internet-fueled global information economy. But what the entertainment industry is seeking in this year’s proposals isn’t merely protection from piracy; it’s after increased leverage to protect its business models.

That’s why lawmakers must bear in mind the balance needed between copyright holders’ interests and the public’s, something Congress has not done well lately. In 1998, it gave copyright holders broad power to block legitimate uses of works, even those in the public domain, through the use of electronic locks that impede copying of digital products. And that same year, it prolonged the public domain’s starvation diet by extending copyrights an additional 20 years, to 70 years beyond the death of the creator.

Whatever your views on the DMCA and copy protection in general, mandating particular copy-protection standards is clearly bad policy.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: