A serious matter -- Copyright: A or B?
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sun, 7 Dec 97 00:41:24 -0800
Subject: A serious matter -- Copyright: A or B?
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From: Richard Stallman <email@example.com>
Subject: Which copyright bill? The tolerable one, or the catastrophe.
The US Congress is considering two different ways of amending copyright law.
H.R. 2281, submitted by the copyright industry via the Clinton
administration, would give copyright owners broad new powers--for example,
"fair use" would be abolished as regards digital information. To defeat
copy protection or a license manager would become a federal crime. In
addition, making a temporary digital copy, analogous to the temporary analog
copy formed by focusing an image on your retina, would be considered
copyright infringement, making it illegal to allow your friend to *read* a
copy of a document stored in your computer without getting permission.
The American Library Association and the Digital Future Coalition support
the other alternative, H.R. 3048 (Digital Era Copyright Enhancement Act of
This bill rejects many of the demands of the industry. For example, it
permits the making of temporary copies and affirms fair use, and it does
not criminalize defeating copy protection or license managers. But it does
permit the owner to sue you for defeating or altering a license manager,
even one that reports on your activity to a central site through the
This bill has the shape of a compromise concession; it suggests that
opponents of the industry/administration bill feel that the copyright
industry is too influential (that is, rich) to be thwarted entirely in
Congress, and have proposed this compromise as the best outcome that they
believe is attainable. They may be right, and H.R. 3048 is much better than
the administration alternative.
But even if there is little chance that Congress will reject extending
copyright powers, it is still important for Congress to hear public
opposition. If they extend private power without hearing complaints from
the public, they are likely to extend it even further soon.
So the Free Software Foundation asks all US computer users to call or write
to your congressional representatives, asking them to support H.R. 3048,
but also to amend it by deleting the parts that would add sections 1201,
1202 and 1203 to the law. (These are the parts that would forbid defeating
or altering of license managers.) Say that you see no need to impose any
further restrictions on the users of published works, and call on your
representatives to protect the rights of the public rather than the power
of the copyright industry.
© 1997 Peter Langston